Yesterday, in preparation for the plenary indulgence, I went to confess my sins and receive absolution. Then I watched the movie For Greater Glory, whose timely opening - as nearly every blogger has noted- is one of the more notable examples of God's Providence, being a film about religious liberty and the extent to which faithful Christians will dedicate themselves to preserving it for future generations-- in spite of the fact that the movie was filmed in Mexico two years before the HHS Mandate was even a twinkle in Obama's eye. Steven Greydanus gave it the usual brush-off because it doesn't fit the norms of fine cinema as defined by Hollywood (and apparently the success of Christian cinema in his mind and the mind of others will be defined as not being overtly or explicitly evangelical). It had moments where I can see his point, and it also had moments where the heavy emotionalism of Latino acting dripped off the screen. But the most compelling moment, and really the focus of the entire plot, was the moment when the boy-martyr Jose gives his life for Jesus.
It's almost like the filmmakers said, "Let's make a movie about this new Beatus and his incredibly dramatic death and in the meantime tell the story of the Cristiada," because that's pretty much what happened. The other events depicted and the other plotlines woven only had significance in that they provided context for this compelling drama of Jose's martyrdom. Such a depiction of heroic fidelity to the Sacraments made for an excellent backdrop as I entered into this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. As we processed behind the monstrance today, I reflected on this supreme gift of self, exemplified perfectly in Christ's self-emptying on the Cross and hearkened to in the shedding of blood by young Blessed Jose.
"I am also pleased to stress that the sacred has an educational function, and its disappearance inevitably impoverishes the culture, in particular, the formation of the new generations. If, for example, in the name of a secularized faith, no longer in need of sacred signs, this citizens' processions of the Corpus Domini were abolished, the spiritual profile of Rome would be “leveled,” and our personal and community conscience would be weakened. Or let us think of a mother or a father that, in the name of a de-sacralized faith, deprived their children of all religious rituals: in reality they would end up by leaving a free field to so many surrogates present in the consumer society, to other rites and other signs, which could more easily become idols. God, our Father, has not acted thus with humanity: he has sent his Son into the world not to abolish, but to give fulfillment also to the sacred. At the height of this mission, in the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood, the Memorial of his Paschal Sacrifice. By so doing, he put himself in the place of the ancient sacrifices, but he did so within a rite, which he commanded the Apostles to perpetuate, as the supreme sign of the true sacred, which is Himself."