Thursday, June 7, 2012

For Greater Glory--A Must See Movie for Catholics

   For Greater Glory, a movie about the Cristero War that erupted in Mexico during the mid-1920s, is a must-see movie for Catholics.  The movie tells the story of the Catholic rebellion against the anti-Catholic persecutions unleashed by Plutarco Elias Calles (played by Ruben Blades), who was president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928. 
   Not everyone likes the movie. Wesley Morris, writing in the Boston Globe, called the movie "a total embarrassment."  
   I agree with Morris's suggestion that the film is too long.  (Morris described the movie as an "epic run-on sentence").  At 2 hours and twenty minutes, For Greater Glory would have benefited from some editing. Nevertheless, For Greater Glory is an accurate portrayal of a dark period in Mexican history that Catholics should know about. 
Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río
   I think movie goers will appreciate the movie more if they know going in that many of the events portrayed on the screen really happened. José Luis Sánchez del Río, for example, played by José  Mauricio Kuri, was a teenage Cristero soldier who was captured by the Federales and executed on February 10, 1928. His cinematic death may seem overplayed and melodramatic, but the real-life  del Río, like the movie character, was tortured before his execution and made to watch another prisoner being hanged. His captors told him that he could save his life if he would only utter the words, "Death to Christ the King," but he refused. Del Rio's dying words--in real life and the movie--were "Viva Cristo Rey!" Pope Benedict XVI beatified del Rio in 2005.
   Likewise, the Mexican attorney Anacleto González Flores, portrayed in the movie by Eduardo Verastegui, was a leading figure in the Cristero revolt. Flores was executed by the Calles regime on April 27, 1927 and canonized by Pope Benedict in 2005.
Blessed Anacleto González Flores
   American Catholics may believe that anti-Catholic persecutions like those that occurred during the Cristero War could never happen in the United States. And I hope they are right. Nevertheless, the federal government recently imposed an odious health-insurance mandate on Catholic institutions, and the New York Times published a full-page advertisement urging people to leave the Catholic church. Maureen Dowd, a New York Times columnist, has attacked our Church repeatedly in recent months. In her most recent column, Dowed accused the Vatican of "thuggish" behavior.
   The day may come when it will take courage to be an American Catholic. Let us pray for the courage of Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río and Blessed Anacleto González Flores should the day come when we are called to suffer for our faith. 

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