Life with the Great Santini
Great Santini,... outwardly a beacon of discipline, responsibility, and heroic virtue
stepping in to save the Church much as the Marines are seen as the backbone of the military.His ,Q>children, are model citizens of the Kingdom, smart, talented and obedient but inwardly they are oppressed, misunderstood, and degraded.
To discuss this article or give feedback, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps you are familiar with the excellent movie, The Great Santini. It was about a Marine Corps fighter pilot (played by Robert Duvall), married with four children, reassigned from the West Coast to a base in the South. Rather than living on base, he buys a rambling home in town, where he wakes up early each morning to have breakfast in the local diner. He fulfills his job as one of the commanding officers in a squadron, and enthusiastically follows his son's basketball career at the local high school.
To this town, who doesn't know him, he's a
For whatever reasons, he was a tyrant behind closed doors. Outwardly affable, to those who lived with him he was wildly dysfunctional - treating his children like recruits, forcing them down paths they didn't want, and squashing their individuality through shunning and ridicule. He awoke them all early each morning like a drill sergeant, pushed his son to play in a sport beyond where his natural interest led him, ignored his older daughter and her legitimate emotional needs, and dictated all decisions without input from or interest in his family's desires. With the mother's help, they were to be the perfect military family - well turned out, masters of self-control, and conformed to his vision of order.
One scene bears special interest, based on a friendship that the older son made with the son of the family maid. The two boys, one black and the other white, got along very well and shared many interests, despite the black boy's stutter and other idiosyncrasies. When the pilot's son discerned that there was trouble brewing and that the local boys were going to attack his friend, he wanted to intervene - but his father insisted,
What this has to do with the work of ReGAIN is that this movie is an excellent analogy for the Legion of Christ. It would not be a stretch to see Maciel as the
The unsettling scene of the racist attack on the innocent black boy - where Santini tried to keep his son from intervening - reminds me of the numerous testimonies of Legionaries who were ordered to ignore the homeless, to step over the beggars (with a smile), or to focus exclusively on their own projects despite glaring needs in other areas. Mass media apostolates, family centers, and rubbing elbows
efficientlywith well-heeled and influential Catholics is the business of the Legion, not helping others - or even tending to the crushed families in their own wake. Women who have pressing needs with difficult children, fallen-away husbands, or unforeseen illnesses in their families are not supported, but used for the little they can offer the Legion, and then dropped.
Children in Regnum Christi aspostolates are not encouraged to develop their unique talents and interests, but herded into vocation discernment events and pressured to
In no way do I mean to denigrate the military and the excellent service they provide. My family has its share of officers who served their country. Likewise, the Church needs disciplined priests and generous apostles - but one cannot be fooled by shiny shoes, a good haircut, and a crisp demeanor alone. It's what forms an army that matters. You can create it one of two ways: through inner discipline, joy of service, and human respect - or by badgering, fear, and crushed spirits. Both methods will put a contingent of men and women on the ground ready to take orders, but the former will be ranks of healthy souls using their freedom in the proper way, while the latter will be just as dysfunctional as the formator - slaves to appearances with the integrity of dust.
Disclaimer: ReGAIN and this site are neither endorsed by, nor sponsored by, nor affiliated with the Catholic congregation of priests and religious with the names Legion of Christ, and Legionaries of Christ, nor with the group called Regnum Christi.