Thursday, June 7, 2012

For Greater Glory...

If you haven't watched For Greater Glory yet please step away from your computer, phone or ipad and drive yourself to  the nearest theater. Seriously, you'll get to see big names like Peter O'Toole, Eva Longoria, and Andy Garcia. And if you've ever viewed the beauty that is Bella, you'll recognize Eduardo Verastegui.

Andy Garcia is looking at you!

What is so great about this film? It's about the Cristero War. A little known Mexican uprising that occurred after the Mexican Revolution, when the atheist government decided to stymie the Catholic Church and freedom of religion. Ring any bells? Whoa, sounds a little too close to home, perhaps? Don't worry the Mexican government had the cajones to do things our government isn't quite stupid bold or capable enough to do...yet.

Anyhow, this isn't a spoiler post, review of the movie or conspiratorial bashing of our government. Instead, I want to discuss a central historical character whose portrayal was surprisingly accurate. Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio.

Young Jose at confirmation

The short background on Jose is that he was a 14 year old martyr during the war. I'd never heard of him before I saw this movie. Actually, I'd never even heard of this war before, and I love history! 

So I'm totally captivated during the first hour and a half, of this 150 minute movie, until slowly I start to have doubt. Uh oh, I'm thinking. This little kid is getting a lot of screen time and this movie is starting to get a little Hollywood in the last hour. They seriously want me to believe he endured this much suffering in real life? There was really this much focus on a young kid accepting apostasy or death at the hands of the government? Nah, it's the movie gods trying to have a good story

But then as I leave the theater and head to my car, I get a thought. Wait, l need to do a little research on this kid. And then I found it was all true. Why did I think the movie was lying? Because in my rational and moral mind, no rational and moral person would sadistically focus on torturing and killing a child for the greater good of a political agenda. And then slowly I remembered something in the cool breeze of the evening, riding home on the streets of Phoenix:

"When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything." 

Yes, great and true words from Gilbert Keith Chesterton. What stops a person from attempting to redefine order and morality if they don't acknowledge the established authority of order and morality? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. When I think of  Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio's sacrifice I'm reminded that if the most innocent of beings can be tortured and killed daily (yes I'm talking about abortions) then why should anyone expect their life to be considered valuable to the next man? How do you expect someone to respect your life when their value of life is subjective?

When Paul spoke to the Ephesians (6:10-20) he utilized the imagery of a Roman soldier to teach the importance of courage and prayer. He needed them to know that they must be prepared to fight a war, not against man, but against the power of spiritual evil. Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio was that soldier. There is a line often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words." Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio preached the gospel without using words. In doing so, this courageous young man accepted the greatest honor on earth.

He died for Christ. 

Would you be willing to do the same? 

¡Viva Cristo Rey!


  1. Amen! I remember hearing the story of this amazing kid when I went on a retreat with a bunch of young Catholic guys to the Grand Canyon. I remember thinking something like this: "How the hell does a kid like that endure such suffering?" It has to be true faith. There is probably nothing else in this world that could really keep you going. I must admit, it would be super hard for me at this point in my life to have the extraordinary faith to die for Christ. I guess we need more examples like Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio.Keep posting LaToya, I expect more soon!

  2. I keep telling my children (and myself) that when the grace is needed to be martyred, God will give it. I pray that's true, ha ha!!! Well, from the example of the saints, I know that is true. Hard to see it now, when I'm such a wimp, not wanting to suffer even a cold or a headache.

    1. And yes, I have viewed the beauty that is Eduardo Verastegui.

  3. Maybe it's my ego, but honestly, knowing that someday I will die, I don't want to go any other way but in the name of Christ. Granted, I can't even handle having the flu without laying in bed begging God to take me now, but I'd like to think that when faced with imminent death, he'd give me the grace to stay strong.

  4. LOL ladies, we're such wimps! I am currently under the weather and I try to look at the cross and think it's nothing compared to what Christ suffered for us, but then my body's like, hey this HURTS and YOU'RE NOT JESUS! Good thing we don't have to depend on ourselves...we just need to learn how to depend solely on Him who sees all things from beginning to end.

  5. Wow, thanks for sharing this boy's story. Amazing! Don't forget though... there are multiple kinds of martyrdom. Some martyrs die in a very dramatic, defined fashion that goes down in (some) history books and others are asked to die quiet, slow, day to day private deaths that could drag out for... years. I am pretty I am too wimpy to be martyred in the more common sense of the term but I KNOW I am too wimpy to be martyred in the second way! Yeah, I hate having an off day when my hair doesn't look right and I didn't get exactly 8.5 blissful hours of sleep. One tough chick here. Thank goodness for good examples in the Saints (and God's grace).

  6. Although I haven't seen the movie yet, if you're interested in learning more about the time period, I *highly* recommend Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory. It's set in approximately the same time period, when priests and religious were being persecuted in Mexico. Greene is one of my favorite authors; I love the way he portrays his characters as real people, without hiding their flaws.

  7. Saw the movie yesterday. It touched my soul in a way that is unexplainable.