Here are three examples of the witness to Faith that conveys truth and inspires people from my perspective.
Yesterday was the Feast of Corpus Christi in most of the world. I watched the liturgical celebration from Rome of Mass, Eucharistic Procession and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament led by our Holy Father on EWTN. The procession from Saint John Lateran where Mass was celebrated to Saint Mary Major where the closing took place, was along a normally very busy street, set aside for this occasion by the Roman authorities, and was particularly beautiful. To see thousands upon thousands of the faithful lining the streets and in the procession itself with the Blessed Sacrament, in reverent and prayerful attitude, witnessed to the power of faith and the presence of Church in a very large and secular city. It was moving and edifying.
Last Saturday I went to see a new movie entitled "For Greater Glory" directed by Dean Wright. Starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Peter O'Toole among a large cast, it is an historical drama of dark days in the Mexican Republic in the early 1920, days of persecution for the poor, for farmers and for the Catholic Church in particular. The denial of basic rights, including freedom of religion, were fought against in often violent ways in an armed conflict known as the Cristeros War and by a group called the Cristeros. Their rallying cry was "Viva, Christo Rey!" - "Long live, Christ the King". The story centers on a retired general of little faith who is enlisted to lead the Cristeros and who comes to deep faith and a young boy in his teens who stands up for his faith even under torture and with the threat of death hanging over him, and who eventually is put to death for not denying Christ even to save his own life. Pope Benedict has declared this young man, Jose, a blessed of the church. He was played in a remarkable way by Mauricio Kuri.
The critics panned the movie as being too Catholic in scope, too boring in presentation, too preachy in tone. Yet I found it at first a little slow moving, but eventually very inspiring. It was in 10th place at the box office with $1.9 million brought in this week, but it is showing in only 757 theatres. Of the 354 fan reviews that I saw on Fandango today, 14 said that they'll pass or told us not see it, but the vast majority found it inspiring and definitely worth while. One shared an observation that I had experienced at the screening on Saturday. With a sizable crowd present, nearly everyone stayed for all of the credits (and they had not fallen asleep). The Knights of Columbus is promoting the film since they have a mention in it. Many of the Cristeros were K of C members.
This is true witnessing ... not in easy times but in the most challenging of times. We need the example of such witnessing ... not to violence but to strength and conviction of spirit. After being tortured, young Jose was brought to his empty grave where his family were standing and told to renounce the Cristeros. His mother pleaded with him "Just say the words!" He looked at her with tears in his eyes, told her he loved her, then said "Viva, Christo Rey!" He was then stabbed, shot in the head, and kicked into his grave. And this was not just Hollywood ... this actually happened. Talk about witness.
And yesterday I came across another kind of witness to the grace and mercy of God. It is a book entitled "A Lost Shepherd" An ex-priest's Journey from Sin to Salvation by Michael Ripple, a friend of mine. Since I know Mike, I'll let the comments from the cover by Father Larry Richards speak for the book. "Come and walk with a man on his journey from faith, to sin, to redemption. It is the story of the power of grace and the love of our Father and how he calls each of us home no matter how far we might have strayed. Read this book and believe in Christ's mercy and redemption and you will be touched!" The book is published by New Hope Press.
I give Mike great credit. I can't imagine writing about my life in such detail. It takes courage and since God is given the glory and his Mother, Mary, the acknowledgement of guidance, it, too, gives witness to Faith.