Friday, July 25, 2008

Mamma Mia

"Honey, I'm still free... Take a chance on me... Gonna do my very best, baby can't you see? Gotta put me to the test... Take a chance on me!" - Lyrics from Take a Chance on Me by ABBA

Commitment is something many people fear, and often times run away from when life gets rough or uncomfortable.

Mammia Mia is a story about long lasting commitments, and how we all struggle with them.

In this film, young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to commit to a future together with her fiancee in a picturesqe wedding on a Greek island where she and her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) have lived all their lives. This is one commitment story, but the real drama takes place around the commitment (or lack thereof) of her mom and her three former lovers.

Sophie has invited her mom's three lovers (played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard) to the wedding, in hopes of finding out who her real dad is. Back twenty years ago, Donna and these three men had their own problems with commitment, which ultimately resulted in a confused mess where all rejected it in favor of their own comfortability.

And finally, when the three men find out about the possibility of being a father, another commitment struggle faces them: are they ready to commit to being a parent or being together again with the mother?

All of us can understand their struggles because everyone has faced commitment questions in their lives at one point or another, and in various degrees of seriousness. Whether it's commiting to a job or a task, or commiting to a relationship, marriage, or vowed religious life, we all make these important decisions throughout our lives.

When we are first faced with commitment, we might be foolishly ready to agree, finding out later that we should not have rushed in so willingly. Other times we avoid commitment altogether, but find ourselves miserable because we never took the chance. There isn't a full-proof method on how to handle commitment because it all depends on the circumstances and on our own selves.

Our faith calls us to discernment before making any decision in life. St. Ignatius of Loyola called his followers to spend long hours in prayer, contemplation, and discernment before engaging in any major commitment in their lives.

What if we took a breath before "taking a chance" (as the ABBA song goes)? What if we discerned first before making rash decisions on commitment?

Chances are, we would probably make better choices. And for some, the discernment might need to be longer than for others, but after that period, we can confidently make a decision and accept the consequences of that action (or inaction).

Throughout the movie, young Sophie discerns her own life, seeing the results of her mother's poor choices and lack of commitment, and in the end of the film, makes her own mature choice on her commitment to her fiancee. Let us all pray that we have the courage to make good choices, and that we will discern well beforehand.

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