Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reading Monseñor

A while back, I bought one volume of the six-volume set of Monseñor Romero's homilies, the volume that holds his reflections (in Spanish) on the liturgical readings for Cycle B, from June to November, 1979. Thirty years later, we're hearing those same readings proclaimed on Sundays.

Reading Monseñor's 1979 homilies is a multilayered experience. I'm aware of the passion and power of his reflections, of his deep love for scripture and for the church. He also comments every week on what is going on, the increasing repression and reprisals that would lead to his own assassination only a few months later. Reading what he said over the radio to the people of El Salvador (and everybody sat by their radio to listen, I'm told) I feel a great sorrow for the loss that is still to come, the loss of this great and clear and loving voice.

It's powerful to hold these homilies and the terrible times in El Salvador 30 years ago in mind and heart as I look at today's world. Better here, yes, but tonight there's another tense situation in Honduras, and there are places of loss and agony all over the world. I've also just finished The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn, a book that took me back 70 years to see and know some of the ordinary lives that were wasted in the Holocaust. Reading Monseñor and Daniel Mendelsohn, one sees the horrible, repetitive, banal quality of evil, of what can be unleashed when the restraints are off, when some humans have become prey, have been seen as less than human because they're Jewish or Tutsi or thought to be communists. The supposedly civilized times of my life have known too much of evil unleashed.

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