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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Last Mountain

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

This feature-length documentary is about a group of people from Coal River Valley, W.Va. and their efforts to stop Massey Energy from blasting Cold River Mountain, the last of five hundred Appalachian mountaintops that had been blasted for coal.

Not only are local activists featured, but Robert Kennedy, Jr., an environmental attorney and activist lends his considerable support and legal knowledge to stop the destruction of Cold River Mountain.

The aerial cinematography of the vast destruction resulting from coal mining are especially powerful, as are Kennedy’s encounters with Massey Coal executives who are unable to respond adequately to charges of environmental and human destruction brought about by the corporation’s practices.

I was impressed by Kennedy’s passionate explanation of Big Coal’s greatest success: the destruction of the democratic process from the local level to the federal. At a recent press day he told film critics: “They (Massy Energy and others) have succeeded in doing catastrophic damage to the state (of West Virginia); they flattened an area the size of Delaware, 1.4 million acres over the last ten years according to the EPA, buried 2200 miles of rivers and streams, cut down 500 of biggest mountains in West Virginia.

“The problem,” Kennedy continued, “is where you see large scale destruction of the environment of this magnitude you also see the subversion of democracy and that is the real victory big coal has accomplished in West Virginia.”

“The Last Mountain” was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Bill Haney of UnCommon Productions. Tim Disney, grandson of Roy and Edna Disney, is one of the executive producers as he was on another of Haney’s documentaries, “The Price of Sugar” (2007) that exposed grave human and social tragedy perpetrated by large corporations in the Dominican Republic.

The good news is that there are two remedies available to citizens and believers who care about people and the environment: become involved in the democratic process from your local zoning office to town and city councils and support alternative energy sources such as wind farming. The film concludes at Portsmouth Abby in Rhode Island where the Benedictine monks installed a windmill, inspiring the town to switch to wind energy as well.

“The Last Mountain” is the most important film I have seen this year.


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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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