Sunday, August 25, 2013

(121) WE ARE St. Louis Church Gallipolis……. A Vibrant Parish Community of Faith and Prayer; Love of God and His People

                St. Louis Church Gallipolis of the Diocese of Steubenville is the only Catholic church in rural Gallia County nestled in the southeastern Ohio in the middle of the Bible Belt.  It has only one priest, Fr. Thomas Hamm and 120 families or some 300 souls.  It has many of the same problems that plagues the Catholic Church……decreasing Mass attendance and interest in parish functions and organization, financial struggles, a drifting youth after Confirmation, etc.  Yet miraculously, St. Louis Church thrives with the help of God as it guides souls to Him.  Our goal for this Sunday Bulletin insert is to promote parish community and an appreciation of our parish and all that it has to offer.  At the same time I hope to show the importance and recognize the contributions of each person.  As with anything I write for the Bulletin I ask for the imprimatur (approval) of the Theology involved from our Pastor………that there is nothing that contradicts the Magisterium of Holy Mother the Church.

WE ARE St. Louis Church

            Our annual parish festival not only celebrates the feast day (August 25) of St. Louis IX, the patron of our parish church, but also its members who make up our parish community as part of the mystical Body of Christ.  It’s a time when we all come together to pray, to celebrate, and work together to raise funds for the common good of our parish community.  So many different people pull together and contribute to the success of the Festival year after year with their time, energy, donations, and participation.

        That’s what community is all about……a group of interdependent people organized to obtain common goals, the ultimate goal in our case being holiness and Heaven for all of us.  You have talents and skills I don’t have and I have skills and talents you don’t have.  So we work together to help each other here on earth on the way to eternity under the leadership and coordination of our pastor who is the celebrant at Mass, administers the sacraments, teaches, admonishes, counsels, visits the sick, and manages the parish with the assistance of the secretaries and the Parish Council.  It is the parish priest that brings us into the Church in Baptism, educates and forms us along the way, prepares couples and officiates at our marriages, and ultimately sends us off into eternity at our funerals and finally the grave site.  He is there during success and health, during illness, accident, and personal or family crisis.   

          Since there’s no way that the pastor can do it all, he needs our help.  Thus our time, talent, and treasure are indispensable throughout the year.  This is especially evident at Sunday Mass, in our different parish organizations and activities such as our Annual Church Festival, dinners after funerals, etc. 

          Help in Our Quest for Holiness.  To achieve that by one’s self is impossible without the graces received through Mass, the Sacraments, teachings, parish activities, and the prayerful support of the parish community.  Every week we gather to fulfill our very serious Sunday obligation to offer with the priest the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass as Calvary is brought to us in a mysterious unbloody way that transcends time.  Then as the Jews would consume the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament, we consume the Lamb of God as we receive Christ Himself……body and blood, soul and divinity plus sacramental graces.  The ushers greet and direct the people to their seats, collect our material offerings, and pass out the bulletins.  The well-rehearsed choir leads us in poetic songs of praise.  Melodic beauty is added to the Mass as they who sing, pray twice.  The servers assist the priest at the altar.  The lector does the readings and leads the Offertory Petitions.  Families are honored as gift bearers in bringing up the gifts to the priest.  Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers help the priest distribute Holy Communion when there are too many communicants for the priest to handle in a short time.   

         When everyone enthusiastically participates in song and devoutly follows along with the priest, the Mass becomes vibrant, fulfilling, and powerful as we get a little taste of Heaven.  Only the passive, who do not really understand the Mass, become bored.

            In addition to Sunday Mass, the parish offers numerous opportunities to help us to become holy.  To enter Heaven, we must first be holy; otherwise we will become holy at best during a long and difficult stay in purgatory.  It’s much easier on earth.  There are numerous opportunities to get back on track and advance in holiness in Confession…..before every Mass, during Adoration, after the morning Mass on the first Thursday of every month, special Penance services before Christmas and Easter, and by appointment.  Soon to be Saint John Paul II went to confession every week.

         It was a tough old Vietnam combat veteran, who suggested to Msgr. Myers that we have Eucharistic Adoration.  Father consented under the condition that he would guarantee that there would always be somebody there even if that has to be him alone.  He has been faithful to that promise including during the annual all-night vigil for life on December 8.  Now he’s praying for a great revival in our parish that would make perpetual adoration possible.  One step forward is an hour of adoration three mornings before daily Mass.  The first Sunday of the month adoration from 11 am – 4 pm is a great opportunity to know the Lord in a more personal way, obtain consolation and help to cope with problems and decisions, to do spiritual reading, to meditate, to pray.  The afternoon of adoration concludes with vespers from the Divine Office and Benediction.  Nationwide, perpetual adoration has transformed parishes.  Even our limited adoration has had a significant effect and our parish has become more dynamic since it started.

         Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who is on the road to canonization, would prepare his nationally televised homilies in front of the Blessed Sacrament (see EWTN for weekly reruns).  During the late 1950s and 1960s, he often had the top audience rating when placed head to head against the top comedian of the day on Tuesdays 8 pm on prime time.  They became friends by the way.  

          Before each Mass on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, we say the holy rosary.  During Lent there are Stations of the Cross that help us to appreciate and learn from our Lord’s passion.  In October on the Saturday closest to the 13th, the anniversary of Our Lady’s last appearance to the three shepherd children and the Miracle of the Sun sign at Fatima in 1917, we have a Rosary Prayer Rally at the City Park on 1st Street.  In response to a deathbed wish of Fred Edelmann, the Knights of Columbus sponsor the recitation of the rosary before all the Masses on the first Saturday and first Sunday of every month. 

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is the Patroness of the Diocese of Steubenville.
              In the background is our John Paul the Great Parish Hall constructed in 2010. 

    The beautiful church, rectory, parish hall, and grounds are the fruits of years of work, planning, fund raising, and sacrifice since 1908.  Even the century old windows are a testament to this.  The flowers are the result of the tender loving care of a few “little flowers”, i.e., a group of our ladies.  In addition, Josh Davison did some great work on the landscaping outside.

     Although parents for good or bad are always the primary educators in the faith, lay volunteers help them as a supplement by teaching and preparing their children for First Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation, and the spiritual life in CCD plus the Vacation Bible School.  An hour and a half per week is nowhere near enough, yet crucial, especially when parents don’t take their great mission seriously. 

     Adult Education provides opportunities to learn more about the faith.  There’s a series during Lent and we have had Bible Study while the kids are in CCD.  Our pastor is so knowledgeable and informative, a walking encyclopedia.  He’s a holy priest, one who enjoys performing his priestly functions.  We’re so blessed, but don’t realize it.  We have had week long parish missions in the past.  RCIA is not only for those interested in possibly converting to the Catholic Faith.  Everybody is welcome to learn more about the faith, especially lapsed Catholics.  We participate in diocesan men’s and women’s conferences plus retreats, excursions, and mini-pilgrimages as to EWTN in Alabama. Our diocese has Marriage Encounter to strengthen marriages be they strong or on the verge of breaking. With fewer Catholic schools and nuns, the sad reality is:  the average Catholic in the pew does not know his/her faith.  Thus it is so easy to convert to another faith or lose the true faith entirely. 

     Social functions are excellent to foster parish solidarity as people get to know each other better and develop friendships.   We have pancake breakfasts after every Mass on the second Sunday of the Month, including Mother’s Day.  There is a parish New Year’s Party with ribs, another party before the start of Lent, Friday evening fish fries during Lent, occasional pot-luck dinners after Sunday Adoration, the Knights of Columbus Awards Dinner, and the Parish Picnic in the summer.  The Women’s Club occasionally holds a movie night.  “For Greater Glory” was a thriller and so historic.  Your attendance is crucial at any parish function for parish solidarity and developing a strong parish community.  Indeed your presence can make the difference between success and failure of any event.  Your absence produces a little vacuum and can be demoralizing to all.  Something is missing that you can add.

     Did you know that St. Louis Church has a men’s softball team and a women’s team in the Gallipolis Church League for great ecumenical fellowship and fun?  Our men’s teams are always competitive.  Call Mike Edelmann at 441-1989.  It even attracts lapsed Catholics to its team.  That’s a positive step.  Come to one of the games and see the “Not Top Ten Plays” and even some great ones.   Once when they were desperately short-handed, I made a dramatic comeback from retirement, but my feet got tangled as I tripped and fell on my way to first base.  I was out.

     Work Sessions.  Every year all members of the parish are invited to put up and take down the Christmas decorations inside and outside.  For Lent and Easter, there’s decorations again.  Mike Haas, Red Babbit, Matt Bokovitz, and others have given much of their time, talent, and energy to numerous maintenance projects in the parish and some outreach to the poor as well.   Occasionally there’s cleaning of the Church to help our wonderful janitorial staff.  Before Memorial Day, volunteers spruce up the cemetery.

             Our Lenten Fish Fries bring not only us together, but the surrounding community as many as 200 people from other churches coming for a great meal and fellowship, community leaders, politicians, retirees, families, etc.  Inspiring is the way our parish family pulls together to put in on.......organizing it, buying the food, cooking, serving, waiting on tables, busing tables, cleaning up, etc.  John Payne, a master cook, shares his culinary gifts with us at this function and other dinners.  John is at the center on the grill.   

     Parish Organizations.  The Catholic Women’s Club has great fellowship, fosters the spiritual growth of its members, and helps out in the parish and in the community (call Marty Edelmann at 446-0150).  The Knights of Columbus do the same with the men and more.  Being a national Catholic fraternal organization, its projects in the community are more developed as Special Olympics at GD, Coats for Kids, etc.  Its life insurance program to protect families is probably the best in the insurance industry.  Besides having among the very highest financial ratings in the insurance industry, it gives rebates and provides millions not for the stockholders, but for Knights of Columbus charities.  Call Matt Bokovitz at 745-709-1021.  

     The YACHT Club, our youth group, has service projects and fun activities with opportunities to grow in the faith.  Call Barbara White at 740-853-1868.  Furthermore, the parish provides a Catholic presence at the University of Rio Grande with the Newman Club (call Paul Sebastian at 245-9404).  These parish groups can do so much more; the only limitation is the number of members willing and able to actively participate with their energy and enthusiasm.

     The Sick.  We bring Holy Communion to the sick twice a week.  Fr. Tom administers the Anointing of the Sick as needed.  Be sure to inform the parish at 446-0669 especially when a family member is very sick, hospitalized, or confined to a nursing home.  Patty Hays manages a prayer chain on line.  You can contact her with your prayer request at  Two of our ladies visit patients of all faiths in nursing homes to comfort and show that we care. 
     The Poor.  Outreach, a community effort to help the poor with clothes and food, has its origins with St. Louis Church.  Call Sherry or Gary Fenderbosch at 446-8657 to help.  The Giving Tree of presents for children during Advent is a tradition.  Members donate food for Christmas baskets and pantries.  Furthermore, there are special collections for local people who are hurting as well as others for diocesan Catholic Charities and abroad in Catholic Relief, etc.   

     Our parishioners participate in the monthly ecumenical Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen every month (call Jaga Sebastian at 245-9404) as well as ecumenical Lenten luncheons.  The French 500 Free Clinic (the last Thursday of the Month 1-4 pm for the uninsured) has its origins in St. Louis Church.  In addition Allie Clark is very involved in a prison ministry, playing a vital role in rehabilitation which aspires to turn the lives of her women around.

     Right to Life of Gallia County is ecumenical, but St. Louis Church is the driving force.  Every January it participates in the March for Life in Washington, educates with booths at the fairs and flea markets, and organizes a Life Chain in October.  Call Mike Merry at (740)395-6226.
     So many have contributed.  THANK YOU all for helping to make our parish more active and vibrant.  Imagine what we could do if everyone would be active!  Are you taking advantage of everything our parish has to offer?  It is amazing how much goes on in our little parish of 120 families and 300 souls. 

     Lord God, constantly renew our parish and us too.  Please help us and our parish to become more dynamic, cohesive, and holy, ever closer to you.  Keep us faithful.  Help us to not only keep the faith, but to spread it.  Then individually and as a parish we as your instruments will become according to your will a force for good in the surrounding community, state, and nation as we reverse the national slide into godless secularism and put Christian principles into our jobs in the market place, in the schools as teachers, in government, in health care, etc. as your case may be. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

(120) The Cristero War in Mexico: The Historical Context of "For Greater Glory", the Star Studded Movie


       The year 1917 was a year of turmoil.  The United States entered World War I; the atheist Communist Revolution took control of Russia and had its influence even as far off as Mexico. Secular atheist leaders pushed through a new constitution, which severely restricted religious freedom.  It was aimed particularly at the Catholic Church.  In the midst of this evil Our Lady appeared to the three Children of Fatima with her message of prayer and repentance or worse evils will befall the world.  The famous Miracle of the Sun gave her message instant credibility. 
 In Mexico, a new constitution for the country had been signed and served as a model for the 1918 Constitution of Soviet Russia.  Five articles of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico were particularly aimed at suppression of the Catholic Church. Article 3 mandated secular education in schools, prohibiting the Church from participating in primary and secondary education. Article 5 outlawed monastic religious orders. Article 24 forbade public worship outside of church buildings, while Article 27 restricted religious organizations' rights to own property. Finally, Article 130 took away basic civil rights of members of the clergy: priests and religious were prevented from wearing their habits, were denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to comment on public affairs in the press. Most of the anti-clerical provisions of the constitution were finally removed in 1998.  It was on the books for 81 years. 
      In the following years a war against the Church was simmering.  In 1921 a terrorist hid a bomb within flowers and placed it in front of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The bomb blew out all the windows of the basilica shrine, destroyed an image of St. James near-by and severely bent a metal cross in front of the image.  But the image and its glass covering was left untouched.

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe today.

Metal crucifix destroyed in the 1921 bomb blast.

       It’s 1926 and Mexico was ruled by the virulently anti-Catholic President Plutarco Calles, a Mason and an atheist, expanded and began brutally enforcing the anticlerical laws of the 1917 Constitution.  Catholic churches, schools, publications, and its charitable institutions were closed.  Hundreds if not thousands of priests and religious were martyred.  Many people were jailed or even executed for speaking out against the Government.  Holy relics, objects, statues, art, and even the Eucharist itself were often desecrated.  Churches were used as stables and dance halls.  Calles once openly boasted: “I have a personal hatred for Christ”.


Graham Greene (1904-1991), a best selling British author in his time, wrote two books that have this period of Mexican history as a backdrop: the 1939 travelogue, “The Lawless Roads” and arguably his greatest novel in 1940, “The Power and the Glory”.  He called these persecutions of the 1920s and 1930s “the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth”.

 The Knights of Columbus, being staunchly Catholic and serving the Church, were also targeted by Calles.  Numerous knights were jailed and even executed.  About two thirds of the numerous councils were shut down.  The Knights of Columbus pledged to raise $1 million to educate the American public.  The vehemently racist and anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan countered with $10 million to support the Calles Government. 
   Pope Pius XI wrote three encyclicals that condemned these persecutions in the land of Our Lady of Guadalupe:  the 1926 Iniquis Afflictisque (On the Persecution of the Church in Mexico – See, Acerba Animi in 1932 (See, and Firmissimam Constantiamque in 1937.  The Pope severely criticized the state's interference in matters of worship, outlawing of religious orders and the expropriation of Church property.  He noted that, "Priests are ... deprived of all civil and political rights. They are thus placed in the same class with criminals and the insane." 

         “Cristero Wars” of 1926-1929.  The Catholic response to the Calles regime first took the form of non-violent petitions, suspended religious services and economic boycotts. But bloody popular resistance broke out in 1926. By 1929, 50,000 Cristero rebels were fighting the federal government. A small number of priests took up arms with their people. More than 90,000 persons died in the fighting. In the process, the authorities murdered thousands of Catholic laypeople and hundreds of priests.  For some excellent documentaries on the Cristero War, click on in Spanish or click on Cristero War in English.  Others include,, and  a summary of the movie, “For Greater Glkory, plus a commentary at  

The Federal soldiers hung martyrs from trees in village squares and telegraph poles along rail lines.

It is said that a visionary asked Mary, “Where were you during all this time”.  She answered lovingly, “I was there all the time”.  The famous observation of Tertullian: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” will continue to ring true in God’s time perhaps decades later not only in Mexico, but in the world as people learn about the heroism and conviction of these martyrs, becoming inspired and strengthened in their faith.  The movie, “For Greater Glory” is just one of these fruits as it brings to light a suppressed and forgotten, but bloody chapter in Mexican History, literally a battle between good and evil.

      As the movie describes, Catholics loyal to the Church rose up against this persecution and tyranny and were called Cristeros  Just the same as the Knights of Columbus lobbied Congress for the “under God” insertion in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, it also lobbied President Coolidge to put a stop to the persecutions.  This is the backdrop of the exciting movie with international stars as Peter O'Toole, “For Greater Glory”.  The Knights of Columbus helped to underwrite this acclaimed movie. Even the New York Times reviewed it. Simply click on

A 1927 Poster: Long live Christ the King.  The Liberation Army.
During the 1914 persecutions the Wilson administration of the United States did nothing.  United States troops were sent to protect U.S. interests.  Although they took some women religious to the states as refugees, the male religious were left to fend for themselves.  During the Cristero Wars United States Ambassador Morrow collaborated with President Calles and even facilitated the purchase of 10,000 rifles, 10 million rounds of ammunition, and even aircraft.   The very anti-Catholic international Masons with members in the Coolidge administration approved of their fellow Mason Calles and his bloody policies.    Although the Masons have mellowed considerably over the years, its doctrines and leadership are still anti-catholic and the Church continues to condemn Freemasonry.  To find out why, see

A contingent of the Cristero Army.
Another group of Cristero soldiers.

        During the month of October 1927, 300 Catholics were executed for publicly professing their faith.  A Jesuit priest, now Blessed Padre Miguel Pro clandestinely, ministered to the people under different disguises and outwitted his persecutors.  Finally he was caught and placed in front of a firing squad as a public show with newspapers invited to cover it.  As the soldiers were given the command: Ready, aim........, the future saint cried out the rallying cry of the Cristeros:  “Viva Cristo Rey!  (Long live Christ the King!)”  and was mowed down by a shower of bullets.  For more detail and pictures of it, go to my Blog #42 at,
Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, a passionate and happy youth, had a great love and enthusiasm for the Blessed Sacrament from an early age and encouraged his friends to have more devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  At the age of 14 in 1928, he wrote a letter to the Cristero General Prudencio Mendoza, pleading to be allowed to be part of the army.  They used him as a gofer for such tasks as taking ammunition to the soldiers as needed.  One day he noticed that the commander-in-chief, General Gorostieta's horse was shot from under him and was on foot.  At risk to himself, he gave the general his own horse.

Soon José was caught by the Federalists.  They put him into a church, turned into a prison.  Four days before his death, he wrote: “I am resigned to the will of God.  I die happy because I die beside Our Lord.  Do not afflict yourselves because of my death, since to die for God gives me joy.  He was heard saying the rosary and singing sacred hymns.  José not only kept the faith; he actually desired martyrdom.  A guard kept some of his prized fighting roosters there.  Repulsed by this sacrilege, José wrung their necks.

Blessed José refused to give information or deny his faith.  The soldiers cut off the skin from the soles of his feet and forced him to walk to the cemetery barefoot.  Concerned about their souls, he told his executioners:  I forgive all of you since we are Christians……I want you all to repent.  After each torture, each blow with a machete, each stab with a bayonet, Blessed José cried out: “Viva Cristo Rey!  Viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!  Long live Christ the King!  Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe”.  Those were also the last words of this martyr before he was finally shot on February 10, his feast day. Obtain more detail on his life by clicking on Particularly good is
Blessed José Sanchez was one of the chief characters of the movie described as follows on the cover of the DVD:  In the exhilarating epic FOR GREATER GLORY, an impassioned group of men and women risk everything for family, faith, and the very future of the country --as the film’s adventure unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War-- the daring people’s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.  Academy Award winner Andy Garcia headlines an acclaimed cast as General Gorostieta, the retired military man who at first thinks he has nothing personal at stake as he and his wife (Golden Globe Winner, Eva Longoria) watch Mexico fall into a violent civil war.  Yet the man who hesitates in joining the cause will soon become the resistance’s most inspiring and self-sacrificing leader, as he begins to see the cost of religious persecution on his countrymen…….and transforms a rag-tag band of rebels into a heroic force to be reckoned with.  The General faces impossible odds against a powerful and ruthless government.  Yet it is those he meets on the journey –youthful idealists, feisty renegades, and most of all, one remarkable teenager named Jose—who reveal to him how courage and belief are forged even when justice seems lost.  

        That’s much better than I can describe the movie.  After seeing the movie twice, I can only enthusiastically second that description.  I can see no essential contradiction with historical facts.  However, the movie does take some liberties that cause historical inaccuracies in some details.  José never did meet General Gorostieta.  He was really the flag bearer for General Rubén Guízar Morfin.  Margaret Galitzin gives an excellent historical critique of the movie at  

Events that Followed After the End of the Cristero War

The movie is unclear as to what actually happened later.  The Vatican and U.S. diplomacy, naively trusting the Calles government, brokered a peace in which the president signed an agreement, promising to modify the laws and stop the persecutions.  Although the anti-Catholic laws remained on the books, religious worship was allowed.   For the sake of peace the Vatican and the Mexican bishops asked the Cristeros to lay down their arms.  Reluctantly, they obeyed.  They felt betrayed because Calles later rounded up the Cristeros for mass executions.  Almost all of their officers were executed…….5000 of them.  Ironic was the fact that at the time, the Cristeros had control of close to three fourths of the country although the government  remained in control of the cities.  The Cristeros were winning; victory was in sight and it would have been a matter of time before this dictator would fall as so many had been overthrown in Mexican history. 

Overall, the clergy was decimated…….having been killed or in exile.  Christ remained with the Church and the few priests who remained; seventeen states had no priests at all.  Catholic publications and institutions remained suppressed.  Are we in the United States headed in the same direction where we will be free to worship within the confines of our homes and church buildings while church institutions are regulated out of existence?

 Through the 1940s and 1950s the governments continued to mellow and these strict laws were being enforced less and less.  By April 1965 which I spent in Mexico learning Spanish, these anti-clerical laws were still on the books, but many were no longer enforced.  I was blessed to be placed with a Mexican family within the same neighborhood as the old Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Thousands visited the shrine every day, many would walk the two hundred or so yards from the entrance to the altar of the beautiful image on their knees.  Some were organized pilgrimages such as the one which brought a float of flowers which said:  “Estamos a tus pies, Madrecita (We are at your feet, Mother)”.  On Easter, Indians in traditional native garb danced at the shrine.  Nuns and priests were still forbidden from wearing their religious garb and one of the old churches was still being used as a warehouse, but there was freedom of worship if not freedom to publish newspapers, open schools, and run charitable institutions. 

    By 1998 most of the stringent laws of 1917 were repealed.  Today Mexico has very secular governments, but there is relative religious liberty.  As always Christ remains with His Church; as he promised, the gates of hell will never prevail and the Church in Mexico is reviving while Plutarco Calles and his henchmen are relegated to the ash heap of history the same as Soviet Communism in Russia.  There too the faith is reviving.  Today Our Lady of Guadalupe has a new basilica financed by the money that the people raised.

    Most Mexicans don’t know anything about the Cristero Wars and these violent persecutions because succeeding governments have kept this chapter of Mexican history out of the school textbooks.  Private Catholic schools, now allowed to function in Mexico, do however teach that chapter in Mexican history.  In 2012 during his visit to Mexico Pope Benedict XVI had an open air Mass on one of the battlefields of the Cristero War. 
I suggest that parishes show this great movie, “For Greater Glory” as a Movie Night with a Cine Forum instead of paying $7.00 to see a trashy movie at the local cinema.  I guarantee that it will hold you at the edge of your seat.  I often fall asleep during movies, but not this one.  Everyone who has seen this movie loved it.  DON’T MISS IT!  You can obtain the DVD from Ignatius Press by clicking on or call 1-800-651-1531.  The edition in Spanish is under the title of “La Cristiada” also at Ignatius or
    We can identify with the Cristeros to an extent, because our own government is encroaching upon the religious freedom of Catholic institutions in regard to the health care mandate on abortifacients and contraceptives as well as attempting to force Catholic Charities to arrange for adoptions by gay couples.  Catholic nurses who refuse to participate in abortions have lost their jobs.  It won’t be long before Catholic doctors will be forced to prescribe abortifacients and drug stores owned by Catholics to sell them.  Priests, who preach against the immorality of the homosexual lifestyle, will be open to arrest for committing a “hate crime”.  The secularists are already advocating that church property should be taxed.  But unfortunately, most Catholics just go along with it all and continue to vote for those in power instead of fighting to preserve our precious religious liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
     Michael J. Miller wrote in the Catholic World Report a beautiful summary of the lesson to be learned from this great movie:  We Americans in 2012 live in a different land in a different time. We’re blessed with freedoms the Cristeros could only imagine. But those freedoms depend on our willingness to defend them. Religious liberty is never guaranteed by anything but our own vigilance. Even in this country, contempt for religious faith, and especially the Catholic faith, is alive and well. For Greater Glory captures with memorable power and grace where that bigotry can lead—and the cost of resisting it.

           Archbishop Chaput Reviews "For Greater Glory"

                                                       By Michael J. Miller

Friday, June 01, 2012

        Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is an insightful commentator on the culture, as he demonstrated in his book Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (2008) and his recent e-book, A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America.  He regularly writes a column (posted at in which he addresses current events from a pastoral perspective.  Around Memorial Day, as vacation season was beginning, he devoted his column to the theme of quality recreation and “enthusiastically” recommended For Greater Glory as “a film that no Catholic should miss this summer”. 

         Written, directed and acted with outstanding skill, it’s the story of Mexico’s Cristero War (also known as La Cristiada, 1926-29). Largely ignored until recently—even in Mexico—the war resulted from Mexico’s atheist constitution of 1917, subsequent anti-religious legislation and fierce anti-clerical persecution by the government of President Plutarco Elias Calles, who came to power in 1924.

         The Catholic response to the Calles regime first took the form of non-violent petitions, suspended religious services and economic boycotts. But bloody popular resistance broke out in 1926. By 1929, 50,000 Cristero rebels were fighting the federal government. A small number of priests took up arms with their people. More than 90,000 persons died in the fighting. In the process, the authorities murdered thousands of Catholic laypeople and dozens of priests.

         Blessed Miguel Pro, a Jesuit priest, was executed without trial in 1927. Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio, age 14, was shot to death for refusing to deny his faith in 1928. In both cases, the martyrs’ last words were Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!) The Church has since honored dozens of other Mexican martyrs for their heroism during the Calles persecution.

         By 1929, pressured by Cristero success and U.S. diplomacy, federal authorities agreed to ease some restrictions on the Church and end violent persecution. Mexico’s bishops accepted the brokered peace. The Cristero rebellion slowly died out. But the government soon betrayed its promises….

          Federal authorities murdered hundreds of former Cristero leaders and thousands of former Cristero fighters in reprisals. And the government continued its belligerence against the Church throughout the 1930s—a campaign of atheist violence and anti-religious hatred that provided the backdrop for two of Graham Greene’s finest books: his travelogue, The Lawless Roads (1939), and arguably his greatest novel, The Power and the Glory (1940).

         Of course, gripping history does not automatically translate into good drama. Too many films for the family and religious markets suffer from lots of good intentions, but a lack of resources, inadequate talent and weak professional skills.  For Greater Glory succeeds where so many similar films have failed.
Archbishop Chaput praises the “superb” cast and a screenplay that “gives them the kind of robust material they need to work with: strong dialogue, fully developed characters, vivid moral conflicts in a time of revolutionary violence, and a compelling story”. 
          For Greater Glory is … an extraordinary portrait of ordinary people struggling to defend their convictions. It’s among the most absorbing films by any director or movie studio that I’ve seen in the past few years.

          We Americans in 2012 live in a different land in a different time. We’re blessed with freedoms the Cristeros could only imagine. But those freedoms depend on our willingness to defend them. Religious liberty is never guaranteed by anything but our own vigilance. Even in this country, contempt for religious faith, and especially the Catholic faith, is alive and well. For Greater Glory captures with memorable power and grace where that bigotry can lead—and the cost of resisting it.

From Catholic World Report | Copyright © 2012 Catholic World Report All Rights Reserved.
         "For Greater Glory" is probably the last film in which Peter O'Toole played.  He died on December 14, 2013.

Peter O'Toole, Star Of 'Lawrence Of Arabia,' Dies

  • Actor Peter O'Toole performed on stage and on film in many leading roles, and began his acting career in the 1950s when he was serving in the Navy. He died on Dec. 14 at the age of 81.

  • Throughout his career, launched by Lawrence of Arabia, O'Toole was nominated for eight Oscars.
    Dennis Oulds/Getty Images
  • O'Toole receives an honorary Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards, presented by actress Meryl Streep, in March 2003.
    Kevork Djansenzian/AP
  • In 1983, O'Toole stars as Professor Higgins with Canadian actress Margot Kidder as Eliza Doolittle in a U.S. television production of Pygmalion.
  • O'Toole started on the stage in London. In 1960, he stars as Petruchio, with Peggy Ashcroft as Katherine, in Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", at the Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
  • Lawrence of Arabia is filmed in the Jordanian desert in 1961. The role of T.E. Lawrence would make O'Toole famous.
Peter O'Toole, the legendary Hollywood star made famous by his leading role in 1962's Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday, his agent Steve Kenis said.

O'Toole went on to be recognized as one of the premiere actors of his generation. He was nominated for eight Oscars, but never won until he was given an honorary honor in 2003.

O'Toole was born in Ireland and grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire. O'Toole honed his acting chops in the London theater, before he beat out Marlon Brando and Albert Finney for the role of Lawrence of Arabia.

"In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor," the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, said in a statement. "He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean Sonnets in particular. While he was nominated as Best Actor for an Oscar eight times, and received a special Oscar from his peers, for his contribution to film, he was deeply committed to the stage."

At first, O'Toole declined the honorary Oscar, telling the Academy to hold off until was 80, because he was "still in the game and might win the bugger outright." At age 79, O'Toole announced that he was retiring from acting.

O'Toole died in a London hospital following a long illness. He was 81.

 They talked about how he got into acting in the 1950s just as he was serving in the Royal Navy.  "I served with men who'd been blown up in the Atlantic, who'd seen their friends drinking icy bubbles in oil and being machine gunned in the water," O'Toole told Melissa. "And I mentioned that I wasn't particularly satisfied with what I was doing in civilian life, which was working for a newspaper. And the skipper said to me one night, have you any unanswered calls inside you that you don't understand or can't qualify? I said, well, yes, I do. I quite fancy myself either as a poet or an actor. He said, well, if you don't at least give it a try, you'll regret it for the rest of your life."

We'll leave you with an iconic scene from David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia.  Click on the following link:

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