Friday, June 8, 2012

Viva Christo Rey!

A week ago, my husband and I went to see the movie "For Greater Glory," starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, and Peter O'Toole.  I cannot recommend this movie highly enough!  It tells the true story of the Christero War of 1926-1929 in Mexico.  The Christero army was composed of tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers, and common middle class Catholics who rose up in response to the bitter persecution of the Church by the government of Plutarch Calles.

Calles, an atheist and a socialist, was determined to extinguish the Catholic Church and all religious freedom in Mexico, and he strictly enforced anti-clerical laws; but the faithful decided they were not going to take that lying down.  When peaceful resistance was unsuccessful, they armed themselves and fought bravely against the government soldiers under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Their battle cry was "Viva Christo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!")  And ultimately, they were victorious against the tyrannical Calles government.  The war had claimed the lives of 90,000 people, but on June 27, 1929, church bells rang again in Mexico for the first time in almost three years.

Countless Catholic priests were exiled, jailed, or mercilessly tortured and executed in public during this dark period in Mexican history (dying with the words "Viva Christo Rey!" on their lips), and many of these martyrs were canonized by Pope John Paul II.  Another brave soul who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005 is a boy named Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio.  At 13, he wanted to be a Christero, but he was too young to fight.  The general allowed him to join the Christeros as a flag bearer, and he carried the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe on horseback when they went into battle.  This amazing young man gave his life for Christ at the age of 14, but I don't want to tell you any more than that, as it will give away the ending of the movie.  All I can say is that if you decide to see it, you will be moved beyond words by the actions of young Jose.  When you watch the heartbreaking scenes depicting the martyrdom of this future saint, if you're anything like me you'll be asking yourself, "If I'd been in his place, what would I have done?"--and you'll worry that faced with the same choice, you wouldn't be as courageous.
This is the real Blessed Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio.  You are looking at the face of a saint!
This movie will inspire you to fight for your Faith!  It will remind you just how lucky we are in this country to have religious freedom, and how easily the forces of evil can take it away from us if we're not vigilant in our efforts to protect it.  And it will make you want to be a saint.

Two enthusiastic thumbs up for "For Greater Glory."  Don't miss it!

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