Catholicism in the Daredevil: Part 2 - EpicPew

Catholicism in the Daredevil: Part 2

There’s a lot to enjoy in episode 2 of Daredevil. The acting, the revelations about Matt Murdock’s past, the introduction of new characters — including, and especially, Claire. [If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to read Part 1 in this series.]

Played by Rosario Dawson, Claire is a nurse who has the pleasure(?) of pulling Murdock from a dumpster in the opening scene. He ended up there after playing into the mob’s trap, set by kidnapping a young boy. While Claire is nursing Matt’s wounds in her apartment, one of the mobsters responsible for Matt’s condition comes knocking. And this is where the story turns…

To avoid being caught, Murdock assaults the mobster, brings him to the roof, and strings him up to be interrogated. And while Matt and Claire wait for the mobster to wake, this bit of dialogue takes place:

Claire: “Okay, that right there, that’s what I’m talking about! I find a guy in a dumpster who turns out to be some kind of blind vigilante who can do all this really weird shit, like smell cologne through walls and sense whether someone’s unconscious or faking it. Slap on top of that, he can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint.”

Matt: “The last part’s the Catholicism.”


[Chuckle] I still laugh about it now. Is that something Catholicism is recognized for, the ability to bear an “unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint”? I suspect many people might attribute this ability to “Catholic guilt”. Out of a sense of guilt and shame we refrain from complaining. And perhaps that’s true, partially. Recognizing one’s guilt — a skill at which I’ve grown more adept since entering the Church — often leads to tight lips.

Or it could be that complaints don’t flow as easily when one is especially cognizant of the grace that is flowing through oneself. How could I, the recipient of so much love, complain about any lack? I mean, think about your most recent complaint. Now, imagine that you’re kneeling in an adoration chapel or 5 seconds away from receiving Communion. Could you, in that moment, make the same complaint?

Still, I think there’s another possibility. Maybe the Catholic finds in pain and suffering identification with his Savior. Maybe the temporal grief we bear today is somehow a lighter burden because it was already carried by Christ. That same grace we recognize as a reason to choose gratitude over complaints has its origin in the suffering of Jesus, and by sharing in the fullest act of liturgy that was his self-sacrifice, we unite our lesser sacrifice to his perfect oblation.

Sharing in the divine death and life should be the reason Catholics don’t complain. This is a sign of a virtuous life.

Pursuing Virtue

As you watch Daredevil, think about the virtues that Murdock manifests and the degrees to which they’re exemplified in him. The cardinal virtues, in Catholic teaching, are:

Prudence, which “disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it”.

Justice, which “consists in the constant and firm will to give [one’s] due to God and neighbor”.

Fortitude, which “ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life”.

Temperance, which “moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods”.

To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).

And the theological virtues are: faith, hope, and charity. Murdock is no saint, but perhaps his character can grow in grace and the virtuous life. Maybe the absence of grumbling is a sign of hope.