Friday, March 23, 2012

San Romero of the Americas

Tomorrow in San Salvador Patti Moore and I will join those remembering Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez, San Romero of the Americas, a man who turned toward the beloved people of El Salvador in their struggle for peace and justice, and who did not turn away in the face of all the threats that became reality on March 24, 1980.  Thirty-two years later, my Salvadoran friends still remember listening to his voice on the radio, how everyone tuned in to listen to the Sunday homilies in which he told the truth about the events of the unfolding civil war.

In his last Sunday homily on March 23, 1980, he had spoken to the soldiers: "In the name of God, then, and in the name of this suffering people, whose cries rise to heaven more tumultuously every day, I beg you, I pray you, I order you in the name of God: cease the repression!"

The next day he presided at a family memorial Mass in the small chapel at the Hospitalito Divina Providencia, where he lived in the simple house the Sisters had built for him.  The gospel for his homily was John 12: 23-26: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24).  As he came to the end of his homily - when he must have seen the assassin's car driving up to the open door of the chapel, the rifle being aimed - he said: "May this body immolated and this flesh sacrificed for us nourish us also to give our body and our blood to suffering and to pain, like Christ: not for itself, but to give the idea of justice and of peace to our people."  As he turned to begin the Eucharistic prayer, a single shot was fired from the door.

Monseñor, your people of El Salvador will always remember you. 

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