The following comes from the website of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. It is attributed to “a Carmelite Sister after seeing ‘For Greater Glory,’” and dated June 1.

We rarely go to a movie theatre. Yet, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was offered my community, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, to be a part of a premiere showing of “For Greater Glory” on May 31st in Beverly Hills. 75 of our sisters immediately said “yes” to the gracious invitation of Archbishop Jose Gomez. Why? Because it was during those days, the days of the horrendous religious persecution in Mexico in the 1920s that our community began. Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, affectionately known as Mother Luisita, had already accepted 55 sisters into the new community.

It was on July 31, 1926, that President Plutarco Elias Calles enforced the anti-clerical laws throughout Mexico. The following day, August 1, 1926, all religious services were stopped throughout Mexico. No more Masses. No more marriages. No more first Communion. No more religious practices of any kind. This is where the movie begins. And that is why we are so interested. Our community was just beginning at that time also.

Regular folk, people like you and me, felt the loss of their religious freedom all the way to their deepest soul. In the region of Los Altos, where my community and the cristeros originated, a new group formed made up of these Catholics who protested the law. There was a boycott. There was a petition. When all these failed, there rose up a group known as “cristeros” who fought for three years to reclaim their churches and their religious freedom.

Now I had read about the cristeros, researched the elements of the persecution in Mexico, and a few times I’ve given talks on the beginnings of our community. I had read about how some of our first sisters had been put in jail. I had heard about sleeping on mats and having to get up at a moment’s notice and take all belongings and escape over rooftops to safety. I had read coded letters in which our holy foundress, Venerable Mother Luisita, wrote in detail about current fashions. She was a very simple and austere soul and wore only a mended Carmelite habit. I used to think why such detail about current women’s fashions, for heaven’s sake. Well after seeing the movie, I understood. It was for the sisters to wear a better disguise so they would not be discovered and arrested. After I saw the movie, “For Greater Glory,” it all became real to me. The blood. The torture. The injustice of it all. Above all, the faith of the people. What faith!

Some of you reading this column might know us, because your child is in one of our schools, or a family member is in one of our health centers. Or perhaps you participated in one of our retreats we offer. But, today, in this column you will learn more. Our community was born in religious persecution. Our first sisters and the people who stood by them were courageous, strong Catholics. When Mother Luisita arrived by train into the United States in June 1927, she stepped down from the train and kissed the ground of a free country with religious freedom She could wear her Carmelite habit.

Groups of sisters remained in Mexico, hidden by families who knew they would be killed if the Sisters were found in their homes. That’s how our schools stayed in session during those dark years, with private lessons and small group lessons which took place in private homes. Our sisters following Mother Luisita’s example became beacons of hope and helped God’s people deepen their spiritual resources through prayer. That is our mission, “to promote a deeper spiritual life among God’s people.” Our mission is aimed at fortifying each one of you with the spiritual intimacy with God that will give you strength in hard times.

I urge you to see the movie “For Greater Glory” and when it is over, like me, you will probably see some parallels. Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!)



Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 2:48 AM By Father Karl
I am very well acquainted with the wonderful Carmelite Sisters. My father, a physician, used to care for Mother Margarita Maria and other sisters both at Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte, and the Little Flower Missionary Home in Los Angeles. All throughout our childhood these magnificent brides of Christ were shining examples of what it was to be a member of the Church Militant. The dear sisters had told us on many occasions about their plight in Mexico, and how they had to escape the brutal atheistic regime of Mexico. I also recall, many years later when I believe the television orogram 60 Minutes interviewed Mother Margarita Maria, contrasting the Carmelite Order with that of a liberal religious congregation. The dear Carmelite sisters have kept the precious Catholic faith alive in their apostolates, and I congratulate them as we all celebrate the glorious feast of the Sacred Heart, These devoted sisters are known specifically as The Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart. God love, bless and be with you dear Carmelite Sisters, and may God reward you for all the good you do for the Mystical Body of Christ.

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 7:54 AM By Whole Truth
Certainly what happened in Mexico was terrible. But it is also important for all of us to remember that nothing happens in a vacuum. What happened in Mexico was the reaction of the people against extreme examples of abuse of power by many members of the Church hierarchy in Mexico leading up to the social explosion of violent reaction. In many instances the clergy were complicit, too cozy, with the government and enjoyed royal treatment. Many religious were not serving the poor but were lackys to the rich and powerful. This is what pushed normally peaceful and humble people to revolt against the Church. There are two sides to every coin. The deaths of faithful clergy and laity was caused by clergy hungry for power and wealth.

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 9:43 AM By Catherine
This is excellent news! Was Sister Edith Prendergast and the other organizers of the Los Angeles Religious Ed Congress given tickets too? How about tickets for all of the families with children in religious education classes?

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 9:57 AM By rosaryfixer
I would like to know the REAL WHOLE truth. This is just a portion, perhaps a small one, of the real cause of the war. Masonry and atheism in government leaders drove much of the revolution. Of course there are always corrupt clergy and thankfully a tiny minority in most cases. So to lay much of the blame on a clergy hunger for power and wealth is a very incomplete picture. I would like to read first-hand accounts (primary sources) of the revolution by clergy and lay people who lived through it, if they are available.

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 9:59 AM By Fr Bob B
To “Whole Truth”: Respectfully, a question. You write that it was the Church’s conduct that “pushed normally peaceful and humble people to revolt against the Church”; that it was “the reaction of the people against [the Church’s] abuse of power”. Who are these “people” you refer to? Certainly not the faithful Mexican Catholic laity of the time—-as far as I know they didn’t “revolt against the Church”. They were the victims of it. And what did Calles and friends do with the properties they expropriated? You’ve never read how they lined their own pockets? In the old days of the USSR, every Communist satellite, and most third world countries, “blamed America first” (in the words of then UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick) for everything wrong in the world. That’s been replaced these days by “blame the Church first”.

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 11:07 AM By MacDonald
WHOLE TRUTH states a very sad truth: when any religion becomes too powerful, it runs the risk of corruption. This is perhaps why Blessed John Paul II was such a good priest and bishop, and later pope: his Church was under attack first by the Nazis and then by the Communists and thus had to purify itself constantly. When any religion RULES a country, as in Sharia Law, people suffer mightily because the religious zealots go wild, often twisting and corrupting their very religion to keep themselves wealthy and powerful. I think of the Taliban, who “pretended” to be ultra-holy, but were in fact corrupt in so many ways, including the abuse of little boys. And yet, in their “holier than thou” façade, they would beat women for not wearing the burqa and men for not wearing a full beard.

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 11:22 AM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Whole Truth, 7:54 AM, Mexico in the late twenties was not like America today. There were very few priests and religious abusing power. My Grandmother (Mama Grande) had to flee Mexico where she was of the upper Class, because she wanted to raise her children Catholic, Her Uncle, My Great Uncle was the Archbishop of Chihuahua during the French persecution. It is far too obvious that you are a product of our modern indoctrination centers called schools. Do you have any Mexican background, if not please refrain from commenting on those hard times in Mexico. You may find out what it was like soon in this country! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 11:23 AM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Fr. Karl, Please contact me and give me your contact information. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 11:47 AM By Garvan Kuskey
I disagree that the Church brought the Calles persecution on herself. Calles was a virulent atheist who was raised by an atheist uncle who named one of his sons “Satan.” Powers not of flesh and blood animated Calles’ attack on the Church, not “complicit, cozy” clergy.

Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 12:56 PM By ALL4HIM
To Whole Truth…Where did you find your facts..or is this just perspective of “hearing” information? The freedom to practice their Roman Catholic religion was threatened under penatly of death. And most certainly from the lips many family members who recalled fleeing to the North to avoid being brought under an ungodly regime, is the WHOLE TRUTH!

Posted Saturday, June 16, 2012 1:45 AM By Angelo
Whole Truth, You must have gotten your information from a disgruntled Federalist or a Mexican government history book. My Paternal and Maternal Grandfathers fought in the Mexican revolution against the Federalists. My Maternal Grandfather would recount to me what happened. The people oppressed by a wealthy and greedy government. The people were not happy and were getting restless. In 1913 the Mexican government decided hungry people could not do battle, so the government went all out and burned the peoples corn, the main staple food. All gehenna broke loose and the bloody revolution began in Northern Mexico. I don’t think the Mexican Government would ever make that mistake again. Your version of what happened is only a fable fed to the gullible. Tell it to these Good Sisters, then run, very fast!

Posted Saturday, June 16, 2012 7:09 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Garvan, 11:47 AM, Interestingly enough, I know a priest who ministers to the Calles descendants in Sonora, Mex., and he tells me they are devout Catholics who try to convince others that Plutarco Calles was misunderstood! I told him that we and the many Martyrs know better. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Saturday, June 16, 2012 7:22 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Rosary Fixer, 9:57 AM, Most of those who personally witnessed what happened in Mexico have gone into the next life, hopefully with God. You will have to accept the personal testimonies of their descendants such as myself, Angelo, Abeca, and others, and we are telling you that the Mexican and American History books don’t tell you the truth. For instance, Woodrow Wilson illegally sent the U.S. Fleet to Vera Cruz Harbor to block the supplies that the Cristeros were receiving from then Catholic Europe, and action that even brought the admonishment of his brother 33rd Degree Mason, Teddy Roosevelt. Oh yes, Calles was a 33rd Degree Mason as was Benito Juarez. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher

Posted Sunday, June 17, 2012 12:38 AM By Gratias
If you google “Cristeros Soldiers of Christ” you will find a very interesting youTube video of interviews to people that fought in the Cristero war in Mexico. It is a fascinating documentary, highly recommended. President Calles was a big time Freemason and therefore anti-Catholic.

Posted Sunday, June 17, 2012 8:19 PM By JLS
Those whose foundational dependency on books for the truth will miss it by a mile. Even simple books by the govt or govt funded universities screw up the facts on wildlife … they present some politically correct mockery of what actual unbiased eyewitnesses observe. When it comes to critical matters such as history and politics, the books should be seen only as opinions, and a wary eye kept open while reading them.

Posted Monday, June 18, 2012 7:21 AM By max
JLS until recently i never knew what persecution the catholicc church faced during the early days of our country — the history books we had in grade school were all about one big happy family, escaping religions persecution in eruope, etc. what a wakeup clal for me to read more ACCURATE depictions of what catholics went thorugh here in the new world!

Posted Monday, June 18, 2012 7:44 PM By JLS
max, have you ever grown up in a materialist family? It can be much different from the family focused on religion.

Posted Monday, June 18, 2012 10:47 PM By Abeca Christian
These traditional nuns are so beautiful, it’s like heaven on earth seeing them dressed in their habits. God bless them!

Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012 12:16 AM By Anne T.
Long live Christ the King!

Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012 11:35 AM By bill mckinnon
the free masons dominated all government positions, the military went aong with the slayings of the catholic clergy and laity except for a few. so blame free masony for the persecutions.

Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012 1:40 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
When I last visited Spain, my cousin there told me exactly what some of you have written about Mexico. That is that it was the Masons supplying the Communist in the Spanish Revolution. Viva Cristo Rey! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher