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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twilight's Beloved

“This my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

I did it. I went to see the movie, Twilight, five times.

There really isn’t anything else to see at the theater, so my husband and I checked the list and just kept going back to see Edward Cullen and Bella Swan fall in love again. Normally, I will never watch a movie more than once, but both of us enjoyed it.

My husband liked it because of the acting and the music, and because he loves me. And I liked it – well, because of the acting, the music and the well-done romance.

As time progressed, the audience became increasingly female. They hooted when Robert Pattinson made his entrance as the handsome, but conflicted vampire hopelessly in love with the very human Bella. “I just don’t think I have the strength to stay away from you anymore,” Edward tells Bella in a husky voice. “Then don’t,” she responds with tears in her eyes. My husband loved Edward’s line when he tells Bella she is his particular brand of heroin. If I hadn’t laughed, I think he would have said, I was his brand of heroin. We’ve been married 25 years and I am 55 years old, so that’s good news.

The last time I saw it, I overheard a woman say it was the eighth time she had seen the movie. Another time, I was in the ladies room after the movie and I overheard a teenager longingly say, “I have got to find myself a vampire.”

I am reminded of the time, my husband, son and I went to see, “Wall-E,” the little robot who was in love with the robot Eva. She would say, “Wall-E,” with a cute and longing inflection and he would say, “Eva,” the same way. I went into the ladies room (as usual) after the movie, and there were a ton of seven-year-old girls imagining themselves to be Eva, all saying “Wall-E” with the same inflection.

The hearts of those young girls were stirred by Wall-E’s incredible fidelity to Eva through space, time and difficult circumstances.

The character Edward Cullen shows the same fidelity to Bella. If you read the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer on which the movie was based, you will find that Bella has two lovers, Edward and Jacob Black. The second movie – yet to be released -- will be about the Jacob affair. I found the key to the Twilight phenomenon in Meyer’s books.

The author created three races of men. Human men and women are unfaithful and get divorced. Vampires fall in love once, marry and then are incapable of changing, and werewolves “imprint” on their beloved, and are incapable of cheating. Bella is lucky as she is loved, truly loved by two men incapable of being unfaithful.

Clearly the author is trying to set up relationships for Bella that won’t fail.

Isn’t that what every woman longs for in her heart – a love that will last into eternity?

Yes, but . . . It’s true the whole Twilight Phenomenon is a sad commentary on the state of our culture in which marriages so easily dissolve into divorce.

But those seven-year-olds crying “Wall-E” and those 18-year-olds hungering for their vampire lover also reveal the deepest heart of man. Men and women all desire a Love that really lasts into eternity.

I have a love that will last until death. I don’t walk into the ladies room and wish I had my own vampire. I have him. He’s 52, bald, funny, good-looking and good. I’ve been happily married 25 years to my best friend. My husband is romantic and sexy. There is nothing missing in our relationship.

But I do have an emptiness in my heart that won’t be filled until I am in a permanent and eternal relationship with God Who is Love. That is what the poets and theologians call the state of heaven. All the saints experienced this emptiness profoundly. “On the very heights of the spiritual life, indeed, we feel that our desires are not satisfied – not because God is not enough, but because we do not yet possess him fully,” wrote Archbishop Luis M. Martinez in the spiritual classic, The Sanctifier, “because we have not yet captured him in a final and perfect way.”

“For this reason those most intimately united with God, the saints, have suffered the unspeakable torment of desire. That martyrdom, according to St. Teresa (of Avila) who endured so much of it, is the greatest anguish that can be felt on earth.”

Most of us try not to suffer that anguish. We avoid the cross. And we do that is by reaching for our other little “loves” – brownies, romance novels, television, work, computer games, pornography, shopping, even our own spouse can become an idol. Sex – made by God and good in itself – can become the escape from our suffering. We are all dying of love for God, but most of us cannot recognize it. We color our hair, tattoo our body, redecorate our house, but never recognize the One we really want. Not understanding this, many people marry, find the relationship does not completely satisfy them, and so then go looking for another relationship that does not completely satisfy them. No human relationship will satisfy them.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O God. (St. Augustine).

Or as the Donut Man says on EWTN, only God can fill the donut-sized hole in my heart.

Martha discovered this secret when she complained to Jesus that she had to do all the cooking, while her sister, Mary, sat at Christ’s feet. Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are busy about many things. Mary has chosen the better part.” Martha was busy in her mind as well as with her hands.

We have to work, but we can work and “sit” at the same time. There’s a little room in our heart where we can sit, “Be still and know that I am God.”

“The better part” makes this vale of tears a little easier to bear until we abandon that “dusty little threshing ground that makes us mad for our sins.” (Dante’s Paradiso)

And the good news? We are beloved of God. He loves us with a more perfect and divine love than any werewolf, vampire, man, woman, child, cat or goldfish.

He revealed His infinite passion for us by sending his Son, to die on a cross for us. "For God so loved the world that He sent His Son." "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."

Man, woman, child come to know your Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Open the door. He is knocking.

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