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Viva Cristo Rey! June 18, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, disaster, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Holy suffering, persecution, priests, Saints, sickness, Society, unadulterated evil.

So, I finally saw For Greater Glory over the weekend.  I really enjoyed it.  I found it very moving.  There was the usual Hollywood problems of re-writing and condensing history in order to tell a better story, but I thought it was very, very well done.  The acting was extremely good throughout (especially Oscar Isaac and Bruce Greenwood), and the Mexican locations added a great deal of authenticity to the film.  I thought it was generally quite well done, much better than most movies of a religious bent of late.

Some minor aspects, before i get to the major ones.  There were some details I just loved to see.  Cassocks abounded.  As did Roman chasubles.  There was much Latin Mass.  There was Mass facing the Lord in the tabernacle!  The producers/director got many aspects of the Faith right, unlike so many modern movies that just totally botch the Mass and the meaning of aspects of the Faith.  Communion was received on the tongue, if not kneeling, but given the circumstances (Mass in an armed camp), that is perhaps understandable.  Communion was even denied to a man who had not practiced the Faith and who admitted having committed serious sins and having a general problem with belief. 

Peter O’Toole did a good job but looked very frail.  I wish he hadn’t had the cosmetic surgery, he looks freaky.

The Church was presented in a very dignified manner.  There was no Church-bashing whatsoever – the perspective of the film was definitely on the Catholic side.  The atrocities of the Cristiada were shown to varying degrees – one major character experiences terrible horror, based on a real life story of a young Mexican martyr and Saint.  There were scenes of churches being broken into, statues and other art smashed, a soldier riding his horse into the sanctuary, etc.  But not many. I actually wished there had been more scenes like this, to convey how frequently the occurred.  For they happened many, many times.

I don’t want to go too much into the specifics of the story.  I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen the movie, and, again, there were certain liberties taken with the actual history and with characterization in order to tell a better story.  That’s fine and understandable.  What I want to talk about is how the movie portrayed the Cristiada as a reality faced by millions of Mexican Catholics and the horrors it contained.

For something horrifically evil was unleashed in Mexico in the 1920s, something that I don’t believe has fully gone away.  The persecution that really got going in 1926 lasted up until 1940, at least.  In reality, it’s still ongoing, for there are still onerous restrictions on the Church in Mexico that would be baffling and unacceptable to an American protestant, let alone a faithful Catholic. 

Questions that still linger in my mind are…….how did this happen?  How would I react?  Yes, the persecution was instituted by a Church-hating Bolshevik freemason, Plutarco Elias Calles, and was carried out in some locales by fire-breathing marxists that hated anything related to the Catholic Church with a satanic passion.  But, at the same time, much of the persecution was carried out by ordinary soldiers, police, and government workers, almost all of whom, I’m certain, were raised at least some degree as Catholics.  Alcohol, drugs, and rapacious (literally) sins of the flesh abounded among these persecutors, but I have to wonder why they fell so far?  Why did they willingly urinate on altars, mix in consecrated Hosts with horse manure, rape women, kill priests, and do a thousand other God-hating things with such abandon?  How did they fall so easily and so far into satan’s eager grasp?

There is a semi-major character in the film who works as a mid-level government functionary.  At the start of the film, he’s a defender of the Faith and supporter of what is right.  But, due to fear of losing his very comfortable livelihood, and general moral cowardice, he falls, and becomes the very model of the morally compromised man.  He winds up going along with horrific acts perpetrated against his god-son. 

The point is, these kinds of things could happen to anyone.  This persecution, which Graham Greene described as the worst since the reign of Elizabeth I, could happen here.  It may already be starting.  How would we react, as Catholics?  How would I react?  It’s easy to see the soldiers and others who so horrifically persecuted the Church, and even tortured little boys, as monsters – and they were.  But they did not start out that way.  There but for the Grace of God go any of us.  It’s so easy to fall. I’m sure the mid-level functionary I described above really did believe that saying “Death to Jesus Christ” was just some “meaningless” words.  But, it didn’t turn out that way – he became more and more complicit in more and more acts of persecution and brutality with each step of the way.  It’s like that in almost every sin.  We don’t start out with big ones, usually, we start with small ones and work our way to very grave sins.

Unsurprisingly, I highly recommend the movie.  It’s the best movie I’ve seen produced, from a faithful Catholic perspective, in years.  It’s amazing it got made. I was glad the small theater I was in yesterday was pretty full.  The showings now are getting limited, so the movie may be on its way out, but I pray it does well enough to encourage more such movies being made.  I have other aspects of the movie I’ll post on later, maybe tomorrow, God willing.

Viva Cristo Rey!  Que Viva!


1. irishsmile - June 18, 2012

This movie opened on only about 750 screens nationwide and was literally not possible to view in most/many areas. My son, a priest in Pennsylvania, was fortunate enough to see it and he shared your approval. I sent an E Mail to the production company and asked if it was going to be available in any other venue other than movie theaters. They responded that it would definitely be for sale in the Fall. I’m hoping for Redbox and/or Pay Per View. Catholics need to organize showings at their church halls… even in their own homes and invite friends… especially young people to see it.

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