In ‘The power and the Glory’ by Graham Greene, Mexico’s religious persecution is made known. This took place after the 1910 revolution in Mexico. The conflict arises due to the church and the state, which lasts for almost four years. At that time in history, Plutarco Elias Calles is the president. His rule is authoritarian, as he implements measures, which are anticlerical. This means that religion, which is of an organized nature, is banned. Calles is mostly against the practices upheld by the Catholic Church (Bergonzi, 2006, 38).
This paper seeks to give an analysis of virtues and values demonstrated by a priest. This is despite the fact that he risks being imprisoned by the existing regime.
An exemplary priest upholding vital values and virtues
A Catholic priest is a protagonist whose plight is highlighted. Many years have passed by, as he attempts to provide his congregation with sacraments, in order to satisfy their souls. Unfortunately, the regime in Mexico is extremely revolutionized, thus such ritual practices by the Catholic faith are outlawed. Courage is a quality the priest demonstrates, as he is aware of the consequences of his actions. Church work is of greater value to him than anything else in his life. Thus, the reason why he relentlessly visits different villages is to let people know about God’s message to mankind. A police lieutenant, who is still young and full of passion, tries to stop the priest from fulfilling his mission (Bergonzi, 2006, 40). The lieutenant is extremely revolutionized and does not believe in the importance of religion in society. He further claims that poverty can be eradicated if people stop being brainwashed by religion, which they highly regard. The lieutenant’s heart is filled with hatred for the Catholic Church. People should first satisfy their physical and material needs before they can bother about needs, which are spiritual kind.
Two key fronts are being waged by the courageous and persistent priest. Emotions play a vital role in influencing the priest’s behaviour. Before his commitment to the Catholic Church, his life was filled with sin. It seems his conscious made him to try and find a way of redemption. Most times he battles with himself in regards to the qualms in his life (Bosco, 2005, 13). The authority might be relentlessly in trying to catch up with him, but he easily evades them. Determination is another quality, which the priest has, as he tries everything possible to achieve his goals. Compared to the heroes known in this generation, the priest is quite different. Some of the qualities which set him apart from others is being suspicious, self- interest, pleasure-oriented, as well as being cowardly at times. “Why, after all, should we expect God to punish the innocent with more life “(Greene, 2003, 50) this means that he believed that people should strive to live a sinless life.
Human nature is not the same as that of the priest as most people lived sinful lives without thinking about redemption. People view him as a saviour, who is to redeem them from their thirst for spiritual nourishment. His life is full of hardships and the virtue of patience has been beneficial to him. For eight years, he has evaded being captured by government enforcers of the law. His is as strong mentally as the resilience he demonstrates. The irony is that he believes that he is worthless due to his feelings of extreme guilt. The fault is blamed on him since he dwells a lot on criticizing himself and his past actions (Gilvary & Darren, 2011, 12).
Actions committed by the priest in the past are not known, as only his noble nature is known. Thus he should focus on the sins he committed before in his life. His heroic actions are shown and how weaknesses to him are nothing but obstacles, which can be avoided easily. Selflessness is a virtue, which should be upheld by courageous people. Despite knowing that he risks being put in prison, he does what he believes is right. In order to hear a dying man’s confession, together with a Mestizo, they go to a land where his life is in danger. In the midst of being caught, his actions are that of a determined person of utmost principles. He tells the lieutenant that “I am the one you want” (Greene, 2003, 87). People’s lives have been changed due to the efforts of the priest. His life’s mission is to ensure that other people’s lives are changed and for the benefit of society. Most times, he obtains information regarding his life from people, who have had an association with him. By being empathetic, he is able to help people who seek his help. His influence is widespread and most people view him in a positive light. His naïve nature makes him to be admired by many people as he is not aware of the impact he has on society. His humble quality is remembered even after he dies. For example, when he is captured by the lieutenant, he says that he is “not a saint…not even a brave man” (Greene, 2003, 96). This shows that even death could not make him change his humble nature.
Attempts to always satisfy his commitment to the Catholic Church is the reason why many admire his character. Despite the many attempts by the Mexican regime to destroy church efforts, the priest and the church are triumphant. The lieutenant succeeds and he kills the priest, but the Catholic Church does not die in the process. Even after the priest dies, another priest continues with the church duties. Spiritual faith cannot be destroyed, despite many attempts in trying to do so (Cloetta, 2004, 88). The priest is a great example of a martyr, who dies because of his belief in the Christian faith. Death was the only way through, which he would be stopped from his commitment to the church. The priest’s ethical values are questionable since it seems that he is trying to escape from the Lieutenant, yet he has not done any wrong thing. It might also seem that he is using his priesthood as a means to redeem himself. The priest’s life is seen to be filled with the challenges, which are incurred, as a result of abiding by a certain faith.
Faith is the reason why he is able to face everything that he encounters in life despite trying to hide from the law. While still a priest, he impregnated a woman and a child was conceived (Lewis, 2010, 45). He loves the child despite knowing that she was conceived due to a sin, which was committed by her parents. The priest makes many attempts to ensure that she does not bear the consequences of the sin, which was committed. The priest values his beliefs, that he devotes his life to ensuring that people are his first priority. Knowing that the woman in need of help, he helps her “gets up as though unwillingly” (Greene, 2003, 112). His role as a priest is responsible for most of his moral actions.
Greene, Graham. The Power and the Glory. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.
Lewis, Jeremy. Shades of Greene: One Generation of an English Family. Jonathan Cape, 2010.Print.
Bosco, Mark. Graham Greene’s Catholic Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.Print.
Gilvary, D. & Darren J. Middleton. Dangerous Edges of Graham Greene: Journeys with Saints and Sinners. New York: Continuum, 2011. Print.
Cloetta, Yvonne. In Search of a Beginning: My Life with Graham Greene, translated by Euan Cameron. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004.Print.
Bergonzi, Bernard. A Study in Greene: Graham Greene and the Art of the Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.Print.
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