In some of the classic Disney movies, the princess is in the forest surrounded by animals that befriend her and even sing with her. They follow her and adore her. These scenes reveal a character with purity of heart, a soul that was so undefiled that even nature was unafraid of her.
These scenes spoke to people at the time the movies were released, and even to myself when I was a child. They reminded us of a memory we all instinctively carry within us: the memory of Eden. In the Garden all of nature was subject to man and was at peace with him. After the fall into sin, the animals became afraid of man because while we are still in the image of God, that image has been soiled and defiled by sin.
Now, division exists between man and nature, and it is our fault. To be pure is the most natural state for humans, it is a naturally divine mode of existence. As the activity of sin progresses within us, we continually regress from being unnatural to being anti-natural.
Today our society is so far from being natural that we laugh and scoff at these scenes where the Disney princess is in complete harmony with all around her. We call this unreal, when it is we ourselves who have lost our grip on reality. I write this with pain in my heart, knowing that I too have greatly contributed to the impure state of the world.
May she move us to tears as we see just how far we have fallen away from what is truest to our nature. May we not settle for the vulgarity and stupidity that is called “entertainment” today. May we weep and repent of our hardheartedness: that we look upon purity and call it “silly” or “ridiculous.”
A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, “You are mad, you are not like us.” -Abba Anthony
For this reason, I think it is imperative that both children and adults today read the lives of the saints. These blessed women and men are an extension and expression of the life of the resurrected God-man; they remind us of what it truly means to be both natural and normal. This reminder is crucial in a society that is not only abnormal, but anti-normal and anti-natural.
Even what we consider beauty today confirms this idea. Gray hair and wrinkles are despised while we embellish natural qualities to an unnatural state. Men get “buff” in the gym while women have surgery to modify their God-given bodies to fit the abnormal ideal of beauty, which seems to center exclusively upon sexuality.
Let us look to the saints, many of whom were real life examples of the Disney princesses, in that they were pure of heart and completely at harmony with nature. May we cast aside worldly vanities to cling to the Cross, to Life, and to purity. Our Lord Jesus taught that the pure of heart will see God, and it is only those who attain that purity who are able to see God around us, God within us, God in nature, and God in those people surrounding us.
While the classical Disney princesses are certainly not perfect examples of the saintly life, they are a good starting place that children can understand.
Also, I think the way we treat Disney Princesses today reveals why so many Protestant converts wrestle with honoring the Theotokos and actually believing that she is the “ever-virgin Mary” who lived a life of prayer and purity. We mock this concept because the idea of a chaste, pure, enlightened soul is nothing more than a pious fairy tale to us who have slumped so far into abnormality.