A Film For Our Time, and All Times

Sunday, June 3, AD 2012

 

No one, surely, Venerable Brothers, can hazard a prediction or foresee in imagination the hour when the good God will bring to an end such calamities. We do know this much: The day will come when the Church of Mexico will have respite from this veritable tempest of hatred, for the reason that, according to the words of God “there is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord” (Prov. xxi, 30) and “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. xvi, 18) against the Spotless Bride of Christ.

Pius XI, INIQUIS AFFLICTISQUE

 

I knew that my viewing of For Greater Glory was going to be something special when two Dominican nuns, in habits,  came out of the showing before the one my family and I attended and one of them remarked to me that it was a very powerful film.  I replied that we were looking forward to seeing it.  Well, that wasn’t completely true.  My worldly, jaded 17 year old daughter would much have preferred to have been back home killing zombies online with her internet chums.  By the end of the film  she was weeping over the scene in which 14 year old Blessed  José Sánchez del Río, stunningly portrayed by Mauricio Kuri,  was martyred.  I did not blame her.  I have not been so deeply moved by a film since I saw The Passion of the Christ.

Before we go any farther, I should announce the obligatory spoiler alert.  I will be mentioning plot elements that people who have not seen the film might not wish to have revealed to them.  For those wishing to continue on, if you have not read my initial post here on the historical background of the Cristeros War, you might find it helpful to look at it before reading this review.

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25 Responses to A Film For Our Time, and All Times

  • I saw the film on Friday, opening day, and was very moved by it. I am a B16 kind of Catholic and find the LCWR and their supporters in a role of harrassment against those of us who accept the teaching magisterium of the Church and want to be faithful to its dogma and sacramental life. I wonder how the dear nuns would react to a film where courageous Mexicans were willing to give their very lives for God, where heaven cost them everything. I admire their deep faith and am grateful for their example. What are the LCWR nuns examples of? New Age faux theologies, feminism that supports abortion on demand, gay marriage. Who would die for those things?! They need to wake up. Go see the movie, sisters, and find out what the Church is really about. Certainly not your power struggle with the bishops. Viva Christo Rey!

  • I saw the film on Friday evening with some young men from the Church. The martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río reminded me of Revelation 6:9-11:

    9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

  • The Mexican Constitution to this day contains many anti-Catholic articles,
    forbidding the church to own property, interfering in Her administration,
    banning monasteries, limiting seats in seminaries, prohibiting Church schools,
    even prohibiting both processions and the wearing of clerical dress outside
    the walls of a church. Some of these laws are now ignored by the authorities,
    but they remain as a threat. For example, a few years back the Cardinal
    Archbishop of Mexico City made a public statement condemning government
    corruption and collusion with drug cartels. As I recall, the president of
    Mexico responded by pointing out that the provisions of the constitution
    remain in effect. The Church’s social services and schools are permitted to
    operate only on the sufferance of the government, and could be swept away
    should She make herself too troublesome.

    I’d imagine our president rather envies Mexico for her modern, progressive
    constitution.

  • My wife and I saw this movie last night. I noted one of the liberties that the film too, namely the burning of the train by Vega. I also noted in retrospect that they made it a point of showing him with several women smuggling ammunition when he meets General Ramirez, who seems to raise an eyebrow about the circumstances. In wanting to be charitable to the filmmaker, I wonder if it’s possible that perhaps other sources picked up Mexican government propaganda and used that as a source on Fr. Vega. I’m sure you’re right about the character of Fr. Vega, but I’m not a historian, so I have no idea what kind of evidence was used in the sources which present Fr. Vega in a rather negative light. Perhaps you can give us more information?

  • I’d like to think this movie may be a lesson for Obama and the secularist. Is there a point beyond which we will resist?

  • “I’d imagine our president rather envies Mexico for her modern, progressive
    constitution.”

    Not just Obama:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/06/ginsburg-to-egyptians-wouldnt-use-us-constitution-as-model/

  • Just saw the movie and certainly can’t add to what you’ve said. All I can say I hope my faith is never put to the test.
    Can you suggest any books on the Cristero war or the period generally? My knowledge of Mexican hiistory is spotty at best.

  • The literature on the Cristero War in English is fairly sparse. The best book is probably Jean Meyer’s The Cristero Rebellion

    http://www.amazon.com/Cristero-Rebellion-1926-1929-Cambridge-
    American/dp/0521102057/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338758811&sr=1-1

    A good short history is in Latin American Wars, volume II

    http://www.amazon.com/Latin-Americas-Wars-Professional-1900-2001/dp/1574884522/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338758811&sr=1-10

  • Wikipedia has what I would consider to be a reasonable section on the Cristero War, but I am hardly one to speak authoritatively. It “seems” accurate, to me.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) Don tells me the Wikipedia article on the Cristero War is accurate, Don the Kiwi. (Although I’m the one with the university degree in Spanish, Don’s read more Latin American history than I have. At least I can translate the Spanish-language resources for him!)

  • What is the story behind José Victoriano Huerta Márquez, 35th President of Mexico, whose dictatorship the Church allegedly supported, because of which support the anti-clerical laws in the Mexican Constitution were established? Did the Church shoot itself in the foot? I also read that at first the US supported Victoriano Huerta, and then Woodrow Wilson admonished him to restore / institute democratic reforms. Is this liberal progressive revisionist history, or is there some truth to all of this?

  • Few events in history are more convuluted and confusing then the Mexican Revolution that started in 1910. Madero toppled Diaz. He was overthrown by Huerta in 1913 after Madero proved unable to cope with the revolts that he faced. Huerta had initial US backing, but the incoming Wilson administration opposed him and backed Carranza who toppled Huerta in 1914. The Church in the chaos of the Mexican Revolution simply attempted to survive. Mexico has a long tradition of anti-clericalism dating back the first half of the nineteenth century. Anti-clericalists were at the helm when the 1917 Constitution was written. The Church was attacked at the time as supporting conservative forces in the Mexican Revolution, notably Huerta, but that was a false allegation:

    http://pittsburgh.academia.edu/ReynaldoRojoMendoza/Papers/150348/The_Church-State_Conflict_in_Mexico_from_the_Mexican_Revolution_to_the_Cristero_Rebellion

  • Thanks for the clarification, Donald. It’s always best to be properly informed.

  • From Fr Seraphim Beshoner’s podcast “Catholic under the Hood” (Franciscan humor there) an episode about the role of women in the revolt.

    http://catholicunderthehood.com/2011/12/10/278-las-brigadas-femeninas/

    Looking a the show notes he does give sources that interesting.

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  • Wow, it’s like we watched two different movies. As important as this story is and as much as I wanted to like this movie as a practicing Catholic, a combination of poor directing, an overblown and hammy score and average to sometimes cringeworthy acting (with a few exceptions – Blades and Greenwood) just ruined it for me. Despite their obvious anti-Catholic bias, I have to admit the secular critics were right in panning this seriously flawed movie. It seems that Catholics are so
    hungry for any movie that treats the faith favorably these days, some are willing to overlook the fact that a movie is just not that good (There Be Dragons is another recent example). We should expect better than this.

  • “It seems that Catholics are so hungry for any movie that treats the faith favorably these days, some are willing to overlook the fact that a movie is just not that good ”

    Or simply have a completely different opinion from yours as to the film. Everyone should go see it and make up their own minds as to the merit of the movie.

  • The movie was GREAT! Absolutely awesome. And head and shoulders above any of the recent releases (e.g., Battleship, Avengers, etc.).

  • I can’t get the scene of the martyrdom of Jose out of my head. The kid was fantastic throughout the entire movie.

  • Dear Donald,
    I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to my paper. Thanks very much!

    I would be happy to hear comments about it and to answer questions anyone may have about the Cristero Rebellion, or about the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary (anti)religious policies.

  • Thank you Reynaldo for writing an epic paper that clarifies a topic I have always found somewhat confusing.

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  • My sole complaint about the movie comes at the very end. In order to give the pretense of a happy ending all that’s mentioned is that the church bells rang again. There was no mention of the 6,000+ Cristeros that Calles executed once they laid down their arms. Guess that was his idea of “amnesty.”

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For Greater Glory: Viva Christo Rey!

Thursday, March 22, AD 2012

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  I have been waiting for this movie for over a year and now it is finally being released on June 1, 2012.  For Greater Glory (formerly entitled Cristiada).  The must see movie for 2012 for all American Catholics and all of our fellow Americans who cherish religious liberty.  At a time when the Obama administration is firing the opening shots in a struggle against the religious freedom of Catholics, and exploiting a de facto schism within the Church in America to accomplish their ends, a film is being released this election year detailing the struggle of Mexican Catholics in the last century against a bitterly anti-Catholic regime.  Most of the time in life coincidences are merely coincidences, but sometimes I suspect they are sent by God for His purposes.  In any case it appears to be a worthy movie to retell the heroic story of Mexican Catholics and their fight for the Church and freedom.

The story of the Cristeros is the tale of the attempt by the Mexican government to crush the Catholic Church.  Mexico had a long history of anti-clerical political movements prior to the revolution of 1910.  However, the Mexican Revolution brought to the fore radical elements that pushed through the Constitution of 1917 with its anti-clerical articles 3, 5, 27 and 130.  In his encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque, the first of three encyclicals he wrote condemning the persecution of the Church in Mexico, Pius XI described the war against the Church waged by the Mexican government:

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21 Responses to For Greater Glory: Viva Christo Rey!

  • That’s good news, I’ve been anticipating this for some time. This past year I began studying this history. Amazing how ignorant we are of what happened right next door, not too long ago and appears to be happening here – with less macho attitude, more insidious.

    I assume the name change has to do with having a wider appeal. I hope it educates people.

    Viva Christo Rey!

    Arriba!

  • The name change probably is for that reason AK. Likewise the more recent trailer emphasizes the fight for freedom rather than the war on the Church as the older trailer, at the bottom of the post, does. None of that matters to me as long as the story is told. I suspect that the producers of the film have begun to realize that they could have an unexpected hit on their hands, and I am glad it is getting a summer release. I am going to do my best to spread the news about this film.

  • Thank you, Donald. I knew nothing about the persecution of the Church in Mexico during the 20th century. None of this is taught in public school. As the American Knight correctly pointed out, how amazingly ignorant we are of the history of a country right next to us. Thus apparently are we doomed to repeat its mistakes. Pray to God this isn’t the case!

  • I think the producers are cunning like serpents and innocent as doves. Sell an action movie about freedom and the audience gets the truth about religious persecution. Brilliant! Plus it has the politically-correct appeal of being ‘ethnic’.

    Paul, what is worse is that our government was complicit in the whole thing. We both turned a blind eye and supported the massacre. the WASP establishment has been maintaining its dominance in our land at any cost (most recent example – Myth RINO-Money – I know he’s a Mormon, but he is the Northeast WASP choice over against the Catholic choice – no not that one – I am referring to Newt.)

    The one voice that petitioned our government to stop the persecution and not assist it, was Holy Mother Church – especially the Knights of Columbus. As the membership ages and grows larger in the middle with good food and beer, perhaps it is time for the KofC to begin battle preparations, we may actually need Knights soon.

  • “Paul, what is worse is that our government was complicit in the whole thing. We both turned a blind eye and supported the massacre.”

    Complete and total rubbish AK. The American government, through its ambassador to Mexico Dwight Morrow, worked with the Vatican to bring about peace and the ending of the worst of the persecution of Catholics in Mexico:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_Whitney_Morrow

  • How appropriate on the eve of Pope Benedict’s visit to Mexico.

    And very symbolic, he is visiting Guanajuato (my mother’s home town as well as JEB Bush’s wife’s hometown), where the Mexican rebellion against the Spanish Empire began.

    Another symbol in the visit is that when JP2 visited Mexico for the first time, provisions were put forth by the Vatican that those anti-Catholic laws in the Mexican Constitution be removed.

    God is great!

    ?Viva Cristo Rey!

  • Donald, you write : “Most of the time in life coincidences are merely coincidences, but sometimes I suspect they are sent by God for His purposes.”

    Be assured, Donald “Coincidence” is the Second Name of the Holy Spirit. This Film has come out at the right time – God’s Right Time for your beloved country, U.S. of America and for the World. + Lautedur Iesus Christus +

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  • My first inkling of Communism in Mexico came when I saw the movie “the Assassination of Trotsky” — 30 years later I read Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory” — Please God my personal “organic growth” and development of understanding during those 30 interim years will continue apace!

  • This is a must-see movie. The last (I imagined it would be) time I went to see a movie in a theater was 2003.

    Sorry that I don’t have the attribution for the following quote.

    “The Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn bore witness to this truth in his 1983 Templeton address: It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.”

    This is the motive behind Obama’s all-out, dirty war against Holy Mother Church.

  • My sophomores are in the midst of studying the 20th century persecution of the Church in Mexico right now, with the emphasis on Miguel Pro. I’ve encouraged them to see the film when it finally hits theaters.

  • I studied during the 70s and 80s in a Catholic school in Mexico. Eventhough we had religion classes it did not appear in the report card because it was not legal to teach it. In the report card there was a row with grades but no subject. Most mexicans know nothing about the Cristeros war since it is not in the history books. However, there is still a strong anticatholic rhetoric in the history books, most government official, and public universities.

  • God bless Andy Garcia for his wonderful, TRUTHFUL films! Every one I’ve seen is marvelous! I can’t wait to see “Vivo Christo Rey” !

  • this movie means alot to my family .. my great grandpa fought in this war.. my 95 year old grandma still talks about her dad fighting for cristo ray.. she told us that my great grandpa was a vary importent man in this war. vary proud. lots more of this story but i would telll it to any one that wants to listen

  • Your great grandfather’s story sounds fascinating Eric. Tell us more if you wish. I might include it in a future post.

  • T Shaw: Thank you for the quote which accurately describes what is happening here in America.

  • Another great film dealing with this time period in Mexico was John Ford’s 1940’s, “The Fugitive” with Henry Fonda. The story of a hunted priest who finally escapes but comes back to his death. Saw it as a boy and have never forgotten it.

  • I have tried to put out a lot of informative posts regarding this topic.

    Jean Meyer, the premier historian of the Cristero Wars, is behind this film.

    Mr. Meyer, a French-naturalized Mexican, began his research in the 70’s and was antagonistic to the Cristeros. As he interviewed hundreds and hundreds of eyewitnesses, the Cristeros won his respect.

    http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com/search?q=cristiada

  • I passed this to all my family and friends. My father, in turn, passed it to his friends. He mentioned he was ashamed because he knew nothing of this period, of how the Church dealt with persecutions just south of our borders. He urged everyone to prepare, to gather together and pray, and fast, and rally in support of religious liberty now while we still can. “Viva Cristo Rey! “should be proclaimed by all of us, loud and clear, and inserted into every protest sign, email, letter, phone, contact we make with our elected officials…

    Thanks, Mr. McClarey, for helping us understand the enormous task before us…

    Jesus – help us!

Viva Cristo Rey

Tuesday, April 5, AD 2011

The must see movie of 2011:  Cristiada.  When this film comes out I will make it my personal mission to see that as many people view this movie as possible.  A movie retelling the heroic struggle of the Cristeros deserves all the support it can get, and I hope it is a box office smash. 

The story of the Cristeros is the tale of the attempt by the Mexican government to crush the Catholic Church.  Mexico had a long history of anti-clerical political movements prior to the revolution of 1910.  However, the Mexican Revolution brought to the fore radical elements that pushed through the Constitution of 1917 with its anti-clerical articles 3, 5, 27 and 130.  In his encyclical Iniquis Afflictisque, the first of three encyclicals he wrote condemning the persecution of the Church in Mexico, Pius XI decribed the war against the Church waged by the Mexican government:

In the first place, let us examine the law of 1917, known as the “Political Constitution” of the federated republic of Mexico. For our present purposes it is sufficient to point out that after declaring the separation of Church and State the Constitution refuses to recognize in the Church, as if she were an individual devoid of any civil status, all her existing rights and interdicts to her the ac quisition of any rights whatsoever in the future. The civil authority is given the right to interfere in matters of divine worship and in the external discipline of the Church. Priests are put on the level of professional men and of laborers but with this important difference, that they must be not only Mexicans by birth and cannot exceed a certain number specified by law, but are at the same time deprived of all civil and political rights. They are thus placed in the same class with criminals and the insane. Moreover, priests not only must inform the civil authorities but also a commission of ten citizens whenever they take possession of a church or are transferred to another mission. The vows of religious, religious orders, and religious congregations are outlawed in Mexico. Public divine worship is forbidden unless it take place within the confines of a church and is carried on under the watchful eye of the Government. All church buildings have been declared the property of the state. Episcopal residences, diocesan offices, seminaries, religious houses, hospitals, and all charitable institutions have been taken away from the Church and handed over to the state. As a matter of fact, the Church can no longer own property of any kind. Everything that it possessed at the period when this law was passed has now become the property of the state. Every citizen, moreover, has the right to denounce before the law any person whom he thinks is holding in his own name property for the Church. All that is required in order to make such action legal is a mere presumption of guilt. Priests are not allowed by law to inherit property of any kind except it be from persons closely related to them by blood. With reference to marriage, the power of the Church is not recognized. Every marriage between Catholics is considered valid if contracted validly according to the prescriptions of the civil code.

9. Education has been declared free, but with these important restrictions: both priests and religious are forbidden to open or to conduct elementary schools. It is not permitted to teach children their religion even in a private school. Diplomas or degrees conferred by private schools under control of the Church possess no legal value and are not recognized by the state. Certainly, Venerable Brothers, the men who originated, approved, and gave their sanction to such a law either are totally ignorant of what rights pertain jure divino to the Church as a perfect society, established as the ordinary means of salvation for mankind by Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer and King, to which He gave the full liberty of fulfilling her mission on earth (such ignorance seems incredible today after twenty centuries of Christianity and especially in a Catholic nation and among men who have been baptized, unless in their pride and foolishness they believe themselves able to undermine and destroy the “House of the Lord which has been solidly constructed and strongly built on the living rock”) or they have been motivated by an insane hatred to attempt anything within their power in order to harm the Church. How was it possible for the Archbishops and Bishops of Mexico to remain silent in the face of such odious laws?

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