Sunday, June 3, 2012

For Greater Glory

Speak Out for the Greater Glory
By Daniela Delvescovo

Movie Review of 
For Greater Glory
Director: Dean Wright
Cast: Andy Garcia, Oscar Isaac, Eva Longoria 


“The Bible says there is a time for peace and a time for war.”

Editor’s Note: This is an independent film in limited release.  We need to support it every way possible to help it make a bigger difference in our world today. Recommend it not only to your Catholic friends but also Protestants. The timing of its release seems to me to be divine intervention at a time when US politics is increasingly threatening Catholic freedom of conscience, particularly now with the health insurance mandate. If our government can control and suppress the Catholic Church’s stand on the immorality of abortion and birth control and the meaning of marriage, the people of Protestant denominations, who have no central voice like our bishops and pope, will be even more vulnerable to suppression. We need to stand together fearlessly in opposition to immoral government mandates.

For Greater Glory is based on a true story.  The Mexican government tried to outlaw the Catholic Church in the mid to late 1920s. Many priests and lay people were martyred, and Catholics responded by rising up to fight for their lost freedom. The heroic boy in the movie was a real person: Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, teen martyr, was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005. His feast day is February 10, the day he died. Read about him online. As he lay dying, he drew a cross in the sand with his own blood! 

You can find out more about this important film at http://www.forgreaterglory.com/ (including the theaters nearest you).
~ Terry Modica, Executive Director of Good News Ministries


Few movies manage to bring forth action, emotion, and a faith-filled message. For Greater Glory does it successfully in an entertaining, high-energy film. It will leave you laughing, crying, and desperate to make a change in the world.

For Greater Glory is based on the true story of the Cristero war (a conflict between persecuted Roman Catholics and the anticlerical government that controlled them) in Mexico during the late 1920’s. It follows Enrique Gorostieta Velarde (played by Andy Garcia) and José Luis Sánchez del Rio (played by Mauricio Kuri) making their impact on the war.

This film contains many violent scenes. There is a lot of death, blood, and torture. It accurately depicts what was going on at the time, and I recommend it for anyone over 13, even with the R rating. There is no profanity nor sexual/explicit content; the R rating comes only from the graphic violence that makes the film quite scary for children.

The movie opens with José as a young boy who is always getting into trouble. One day he throws a plum at a priest, and his godfather (a powerful mayor) catches him and sends him to the church to work for that priest. Father Christopher (played by Peter O’Toole) is a kind, old priest who sees the best in José. He believes in him and begins teaching José to be an altar boy. Soon José begins to change his attitude toward the Church and life in general.

Then the government interferes. New laws against the Catholic Church threaten his transformation. It becomes illegal to wear religious garments in public or even to serve at Mass. The Federalists arrive to punish all who break the new laws. They head for the church and Father Christopher. José runs to warn the padre, but Fr. Christopher refuses to escape with him. He decides instead to stay and become a martyr, giving José his rosary beads. The boy watches Father Christopher die in a heart-wrenching scene and is forever changed: He decides to join the war effort.

Resistance against the new anti-Catholic laws begins to form. 20,000 men gather to fight against the government, which is killing priests and bishops in their very churches, as well as men, women, and children who are attending Mass. There is one problem though, the Cristeros  have no leader.

Enrique Gorostieta Velarde is a retired war general who is now running a soap factory. He is an atheist who longs to once again take his place on the battle field. The resistance fighters come to him and asks him to lead their army, but Enrique doesn’t want to fight for a religion he doesn’t believe in. Eventually he is convinced to get involved, because he does believe in the people’s right to have freedom of religion. He becomes commander of the Cristeros.

“In order to go to Heaven, we have to go to war.”
~ Blessed José Luis Sanchez Del Rio

When most of us think of war, the first thing that pops into our minds isn’t usually Christ. It is proven though, that most wars end up being fought over only three things: Glory, Gold, or God. Why is it that so many conflicts break out over religion, a thing that preaches so much peace?

Well, as this film states, “The bible says there is a time for peace and a time for war”, but what does this really mean? God gave us the gift of free will, and with that is a choice to do evil or to do good. Some choose evil and try to suppress or kill the goodness in others. Our duty as Christians is to always speak out and fight for good when it is threatened; therefore, there will be times of war.

The film is dark, and it has a very bittersweet ending: Many main characters die slow, painful deaths, and I found myself uncontrollably sobbing through half of the film. When reflecting on this however, I realized something: I really should not have been crying at all, because each individual died a martyr. They died for their God; they were going Home!

I’m not saying that the movie should inspire us all to strive for martyrdom. What we should take away from it is that if so many could die just for the sake of going to Mass every Sunday, we could at least speak up when we see any injustices taking place. Nowadays it seems that when we see something evil happening in our society, or anything else we know is against God’s teachings, we are afraid to speak out.

“Whatever you do, think not of yourself, but of God.”
~ St. Vincent Ferrer

God wants us – no, he needs us – to fight for him. Maybe not with guns or war, but with our words and actions. St. Vincent Ferrer teaches with the quote above that we have to stop worrying about what people might think of us if we speak out against the unjust evils present in the world (such as abortion and legalization of same-sex marriage). We as Christians need to find our voice and speak out, because in the end there is a greater glory.

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (please feel free to post comments below):

  1. What is Martyrdom?
  2. What are some current political issues we as Christians can all speak out against?
  3. What are some other ways, besides with our voices, we can fight for Christ? 


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a good review and have read a couple others also on this history based movie. If I'm not mistaken, will have to check to make sure, but the priest martyred at the beginning of the movie has been canonized (hope I spelled that right) by Pope Benedict XVI.
On political issues right now are marriage, abortion, and un-just laws that force Catholics/Christians to make a stand, to bend to man's laws or follow God's laws and our moral beliefs.
Richard

Anonymous said...

The movie also shows the manipulating power of the U. S. government where oil resources are involved.

Biblelady said...

This movie should be a "must see" for Catholics, but not only for Catholics but all Christians. I highly recommend it. There is no bad language or sexual content but there is violence, hence the 'R' rating. When the movie ended, I noticed that everyone in the theater were frozen in their seats. We all just continued to sit there, trying to take in all that we had just witnessed. I did research on the events after seeing the movie and the movie did not embellish or distort the facts but rather followed the facts to a tee. This is a factual movie that shows it just as it was and it was horrific but something we all need to know about. I implore my brothers and sisters in Christ to see this movie. Gail Buckley, president, Catholic Scripture Study International

Anonymous said...

thanks for this- we need this - Catholics and all Christians need to stand up speak out dor our Faith and for God. Bless you. n.h.

Good News Ministries said...

Duane Arnold has a music video honoring Oscar Romero that I'd like to recommend. It can be viewed at TheMartyrsProject.com and on youtube at http://youtu.be/21CN815v2G0

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