News, views, notes, and quotes

Signs of the Times  •  11 October 2018 •  No. 174

¶ Processional.I Am the Land,” a musical tribute to Salvadoran martyr and Archbishop Oscar Romero, by E. Ethelbert Miller and Richard J. Clark, performed by the Seraphim Singers. (7:21. Thanks Rose.)

¶ Invocation. “Dear Jesus: Don’t do that. Don’t go saying “I come not to bring peace, but division.” You’re scaring us. Don’t you know there are children in the room!” —continue reading “Peace, peace but there is no peace,” a litany for worship inspired by Luke 12:49-53, Jeremiah 6:13-15, and former Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero

Above: Oscar Romero portrait carried by procession 2014. Photo by Jessica Orellana, Reuters.

Special edition

This Sunday, 14 October, former Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romeo will be officially canonized—declared a saint—by the Roman Catholic Church during its 2018 Synod of Bishops in Rome.

        In 1997 Romero was declared a “Servant of God,” a process which makes him a candidate for sainthood. But the process stalled when the hierarchy worried if such a move would be too “political.” Then in February of 2015 Pope Francis decreed that Romero had died “for the faith” (in odium fidei); and then in May announced his beatification, the final step before canonization as a saint of the church. A quarter of a million Salvadorans attended Romero’s beatification service.

        When in 1977 Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, many in the government, wealthy landowners, the military, and the Catholic hierarchy were pleased. Romero was known as a traditionalist, compliant on matters of piety, doctrine, and relations with the state.

        They would be proven wrong. —continue reading “Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero: Canonizing El Salvador’s beloved archbishop

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Call to worship. “The saints of old don’t wear golden crowns, or sit on lofty perch, mouthing caustic comments on how poorly we yet-mortal souls measure up to the glory of days past. They, too, knew about keeping hope alive while getting dinner on the table, faucets fixed, carpools covered, and budgets balanced. After the ecstasy, there’s always the laundry.” —continue reading “All Saints Day,” a litany for worship for use on All Saints Day

¶ “For Romero the poor was the key to understand the Christian faith. He reformulated the maxim Gloria Dei, vivens homo (‘the glory of God is the living person’) of St. Irenaeus, into Gloria Dei, vivens pauper (‘the glory of God is the living poor person’).” Hans Egil Offerdal

Romero's candidacy for sainthood "languished for decades under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who expressed unease with his connection to liberation theology and his vocal denunciations of government killings and kidnappings.” —Joshua J. McElwee, NCRonline

¶ “[Jesuit priest Fr. Jon] Sobrino has said it for us [in his recent reflection on the 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination]: ‘The church of Jesus is the one that God wants. It is both necessary and possible. We, the people of God, say ‘Give us Jesus back!’ A great cloud of witnesses with Romero in their midst has returned him to us.’” —“Another model of church is possible,” National Catholic Reporter, April 16, 2010

Óscar Romero’s assassination death “was caused not from simple political motives, but from a hatred of the faith kneaded with the charity that would not remain silent in the face of the injustices that implacably and cruelly struck down the poor and their defenders.” —Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, at a Vatican press briefing on Feb. 4, on the eve of his beatification, quoted in Gerald O’Connell, America Magazine

Left: Art by Ricardo Levins Morales

¶ “Actor Raúl Juliá [who plays the archbishop in the 1989 movie, “Romero”] says something strange happened to him while he was filming. He became a Catholic. Again. "I had been a lapsed Catholic," he told New York Newsday columnist Dennis Duggan, "and I had what you might call a conversion back to my faith during the filming. I had stopped going to church. For years I saw only the negative aspects of my church." Washington Post

¶ “Romero points the Church forward. This is the way we have to go. We have to walk with the crucified people today. Romero understood that, if it was not good news for the poor, it was not the gospel.” —Father Dean Brackley SJ

¶ “While emerging as an international figure, Romero cannot be understood without understanding the context in which he lived.

        “In Romero’s day, soldiers—in large part financed by the U.S. government—and militia death squads wrought terror on large sections of the population. Most Salvadorans continue to live in poverty; many have escaped to the United States, Canada and Europe in search of work.

        “At the time of Romero’s appointment, those who clamored for change openly expressed disappointment. Romero was perceived at the time as timid and allied with the wealthy. He was, critics said, a man chosen so as not to disturb the powerful, who saw the emergence of liberation theology and the growing movement in the Church for a ‘preferential option for the poor’ as a threat.” —Peter Feuerherd, “The Ongoing Legacy of Oscar Romero,” Franciscan Media

¶ “You have just heard in Christ’s gospel that one must not love oneself so much as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life that history demands of us, and that those who try to fend off the danger will lose their lives, while those who out of love for Christ give themselves to the service of others will live, like the grain of wheat that dies, but only apparently. If it did not die, it would remain alone. The harvest comes about only because it dies, allowing itself to be sacrificed in the earth and destroyed. Only by undoing itself does it produce the harvest.” —John Dear, “Archbishop Romero’s Conversion

¶ “In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the ‘International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims’ in recognition of the role of Archbishop Romero in defence of human rights. Romero actively denounced violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable people and defended the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.” —“Óscar Romero,” Wikipedia

For more on the US role in the Salvadoran military government’s brutal reign of terror, see Raymond Bonner’s “Time for a US Apology to El Salvador,” The Nation

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Óscar Romero quotes

¶ “A church that does not provoke crisis, a gospel that does not disturb, a word of God that does not touch the concrete sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed—what kind of gospel is that?”

¶ “As a Christian I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will be reborn in the Salvadoran people.”

¶ “Thus, the poor have shown the church the true way to go. A church that does not join the poor in order to speak out from the side of the poor against the injustices committed against them is not the true church of Jesus Christ.”

¶ “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty.”

¶ “The guarantee of one’s prayer is not in saying a lot of words. The guarantee of one’s petition is very easy to know: how do I treat the poor? The degree to which you approach them, and the love with which you approach them, or the scorn with which you approach them – that is how you approach your God. What you do to them, you do to God. The way you look at them is the way you look at God.”

¶ “Let my blood be a seed of freedom and the sign that hope will soon be realized.”

¶ “Whoever believes that my preaching is political, that it provokes violence, as if I were the cause of all the evils in the republic, forgets that the word of the Church is not inventing the evils which already exist in the world, but illuminating them. The light illumines what already exists. It doesn’t create it. The great evil already exists, and the word of God wants to do away with those evils. It points them out as part of a necessary denunciation so that people can return to good paths.”

 ¶ “Aspire not to have more, but to be more.”

¶ “A preaching that makes sinners feel good, so that they become entrenched in their sinful state, betrays the gospel’s call. . . . A preaching that awakens, a preaching that enlightens – as when a light turned on awakens and of course annoys a sleeper – that is the preaching of Christ, calling: Wake up! Be converted! That is the church’s authentic preaching. Naturally, such preaching must meet conflict, must spoil what is miscalled prestige, must disturb, must be persecuted. It cannot get along with the powers of darkness and sin.”

¶ “Of those who are condemned it will be said: They could have done good and did not.”

 ¶ “It would be sad, if in a country where murder is being committed so horribly, we were not to find priests also among the victims. They are the testimony of a church incarnate in the problems of its people.”

 ¶ “A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and support of the things of the earth—beware! It is not the true church of Jesus Christ.”

¶ “It is very easy to be servants of the word without disturbing the world: a very spiritualized word, a word without any commitment to history, a word that can sound in any part of the world because it belongs to no part of the world. A word like that creates no problems, starts no conflicts.”

One cannot be “a true follower of the gospel, if one does not draw from the gospel all the conclusions it contains for this earth, that one cannot live a gospel that is too angelical, a gospel of compliance, a gospel that is not dynamic peace, a gospel that is not of demanding dimensions in regard to temporal matters also.”

 ¶ “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”

 ¶ “The transcendence that the church preaches is not alienation; it is not going to heaven to think about eternal life and forget about the problems on earth. It’s a transcendence from the human heart. It is entering into the reality of a child, of the poor, of those wearing rags, of the sick, of a hovel, of a shack. It is going to share with them. And from the very heart of misery, of this situation, to transcend it, to elevate it, to promote it, and to say to them, ‘You aren’t trash. You aren’t marginalized.’ It is to say exactly the opposite, ‘You are valuable.’”

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• Archbishop Oscar Romero will be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday 14 October. Watch this short (4:17) video summary of his life. Romero Trust

• “Oscar Romero: 20th Century Martyr,” (1:38). —interestmedia

• “Oscar Romero Animation,” a short (4:46) video illustrating the life and legacy of Romero.

• Watch this brief (1:17) video summary’s of Romero’s life from The Plough.

The Plough Publishing House published The Violence of Love, a marvelous collection of quotes from Romero sermons. They also offer a free ebook download and audio book
        You can also read the book online, from the Romero Trust.

Watch this brief (2:58) trailer from the biopic of Romero’s last sermon,  from the 1989 film, “Romero,” starring Raúl Juliá, which focuses on the last three years of the archbishop life. Unfortunately, the film is mostly silent on the history of US involvement with El Salvador’s oppressive government.

• For more background on Romero, see Dan Buttry’s brief biographical summary.  (Dan’s website has hundreds of such short biographical sketches of peacemakers from around the world and of a host of religious traditions.)

Altar call. “You may never enter a lion’s den, or travel through a war zone, or hear a prison door close behind your act of conscience. Mostly, you don’t get to custom-design the witness you bear, the woe you endure, or the promises you make to mend the world as it crosses your path. By and large, you weigh the choices that come your way without the fanfare of stardom’s spotlight, your picture in the paper, or even angels whispering in your ear.” —continue reading “All Saints Day,” a litany for worship for use on All Saints Day

Benediction. “Stand amazed, you betrothed of unimagined Grace. Your siege is ending. In those days the remnant of pardon will arrive from every far-flung hill and hamlet. Among them will be the shamed and forsaken, the exposed and exploited; the blind and the lame and the laboring women.” —continue reading “Unimagined grace,” a litany for worship inspired by Jeremiah 31

Left: “If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.”

Recessional. “Romero,” by The Project on their album “Martyrs’ Prayers.”

Lectionary for this Sunday.

        “The earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

        “Allahu Akbar,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 104

Lectionary for Sunday next.

        “Unimagined grace,” a litany for worship inspired by Jeremiah 31

        “Faith on the run: Why I’m still a Baptist,” a Reformation Day sermon rooted in Mark 10:46-42 and selections from Hebrews 11

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