Saturday, June 16, 2012
Viva Cristo Rey!
My mom and I went last night to see For Greater Glory. Neither of us go to theaters much anymore, nor do we watch television. Today's culture is so full of death, we both prefer to live in a thick plastic bubble through which we don't see the world as it really is.
For Greater Glory is really not my idea of a great movie, nor my mother's, but we both felt we should support the makers of the film. It is a film that many American Catholics need to see, for the insight it provides to the possible future of our own country.
Just a quick synopsis for those who know nothing about this period of time, just 80 years ago in Mexican history...and if you have never heard of this horrible persecution of Catholics, you're not alone. It's essentially been wiped from the history books:
In 1917, the Mexican government wrote anti-religious laws into the Constitution (why? I have no idea). In the 1920's, President Calles (raised atheist) felt the Church was too powerful in Mexico and passed a law which allowed him the enforce the laws in the Constitution (known as the Calles Law). This essentially shut down the Catholic Church and lead to the persecution of Catholics, including torturing and killing clergy and religious, as well as citizens who defied the laws and practiced their religion in secret. As a result, Catholics fought back and the country fell into civil war. Rebels formed an army and fought the Cristero War.
The film is about the war. It's graphically violent. There is a scene in which a young altar boy, who joined the army, is tortured and marched through the village streets leaving a trail of blood. He is killed and his mother receives his dead body, a scene hauntingly similar to the death of Our Lord, and His mother holding His body. Many scenes broke my heart and I cried through half the film.
But it's a film that needs to be seen, as hard as it is to watch.
My only criticism of the film is if the filmmakers wanted to draw similarities between the persecution in Mexico and the crisis of religious freedom we are experiencing now in the U.S. (and maybe they didn't), they should have shown more of the persecution which led to the war. The film was really about the war itself, so we didn't see a lot of the religious persecution leading up to it. There were some scenes where soldiers shut down the cathedral, and a few priests were killed (they were horrible), a scene where soldiers broke into a locked church where the Mass was being celebrated and they shot and killed many people there, but I think from the perspective of "why did the war happen" we didn't really see how badly the Catholics in Mexico were persecuted before the war began.
It's frighteningly familiar how it all began. Pay attention to what is going on around you today.