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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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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Ultimately there is no friend who can fully understand us, who can walk with us all the way. We must go forward and walk on our own in response to who we are and who we are called to be in God. —Thomas Merton

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