My wife and I went to see For Greater Glory on Saturday 6-2. I’ve known about the Cristero War (also known as the Cristiada) for about a decade, when I read about it in Latin Mass Magazine. By the way, Latin Mass Magazine is an excellent publication.
I am far from an expert on the Cristero War. Upon finding out about it from Latin Mass Magazine, I asked my father (our family historian) who filled me in on a few details of this Masonic assault upon the Church. As far as verifying any historical details, I will defer to sources such as Rorate Caeli and the National Catholic Register. My review is going to concentrate on what I took away from the movie, and my impressions of it.
(warning: spoilers ahead. If you don’t want to read spoilers, don’t read this post).
The acting was excellent, especially the stars such as Andy Garcia who played General Enrique Gorostieta, Peter O’Toole (Father Christopher), Catalina Sandino Morena (Adriana), Santiago Cabrera (Father Vega), Eva Longoria (Tulita Gorostieta), Ruben Blades (President Plutarco Elias) and Mauricio Kuri (Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio). All of the characters were believable. The actors ceased to exist as you got drawn into the movie, into the loves, fears, and motivations of the characters.
Peter O’Toole was excellent, as always, filling the shoes of a kindly old priest whom we know from the movie as Father Christopher. Early in the movie he takes Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio under his wing, and was preparing him to be an altar boy. Jose moved from being a delinquent who would throw fruit at Father Christopher, to a pious young man. Father Christopher is murdered by government troops early in the film, a tragic scene which Jose watched from a bell tower. I could feel my wife’s hand squeeze mine tightly as Father Christopher began mouthing words to Jose (whom he spotted), I assume telling him to leave, to run, and Jose also speaking silently to the priest he loved so much.
General Gorostieta’s conversion from atheist to believer was very touching for me, especially as he asked Father Vega for Confession before going into his final battle. I do not know if this is rooted in history, or just added for the movie, but for someone to move from being an atheistic Mason back to his Catholic Faith was incredible. For me that was the highlight of the movie, as it is moving from the kingdom of Satan into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful scene.
Another one of the story lines in the film (there were several) was that of Jose, a 14-year old boy who grew from being a trouble-maker to someone who loved our Lord and died for Him. Jose joined the Cristeros in order to fighting for his faith, and courageously gave up his horse for General Victoriano Ramírez López, and was captured, tortured, and then martyred by the government of President Calles. He died with the battle cry of the Cristeros on his lips, ¡Viva Cristo Rey! (“Long Live Christ the King”), expressing his love of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
One of the things I loved about the movie were the visuals. The battle scenes were intense, the type that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The Mexican countryside in which it was filmed was gorgeous.
But one thing that was so beautiful, and so authentic, were the depictions of the Catholic Church at the time: The way everyone received Our Lord in the Eucharist upon the tongue. How everyone would wear their best for Sunday Mass. The women wore long dresses and chapel veils – the chapel veils are still common today if you go to the Latin Mass. The men were in suits. It was a different culture, a different time. Though, again, if you go to a Latin Mass you will still see these customs – especially those offered by groups such as the Institute of Christ the King, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, or the Society of Saint Pius X.
It was a hard movie to watch. Most of the people people depicted in the film (the main characters) actually lived, risked their lives, fought, and died for Our Lord, and for His Church. Their churches were destroyed, their priests murdered, because of their love for for Jesus Christ. The movie was heart-wrenching, as it shows how evil rises up, again and again, against the Catholic Church. What happened in Mexico is what happened in the French Revolution (also a Masonic persecution of the Church).
It is also a warning for our own time. Persecutions start by laws being passed which infringe on the rights of the Church, the rights of a country’s citizens. Satan hates the Catholic Church, and he will attack Her every chance he gets. As the Church gets stronger, Satan weakens, and vise-versa. Persecutions can start suddenly in any country. We must always remain vigilant.