This weekend, we celebrate the canonization of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero. Both had great influence on the Church towards the end of the 20th century. Yesterday, we posted a prayer in commemoration of Pope Paul VI’s canonization. Today’s post pertains to Archbishop Oscar Romero.
Blessed Oscar Romero had a life experience which allowed him to relate to many different kinds of people. He was trained by his father to be a carpenter, before he discerned his calling to the priesthood. In his teenage years, he took some time away from the seminary so that he could help his family, and worked briefly as a miner. During his late 20’s, Romero was detained, most likely as a political prisoner in Cuba, though the specific cause is still unclear. Upon his return to El Salvador, he served as a parish priest for many years.
Romero was no stranger to the issues that are faced by today’s families. In one parish, he started Alcoholics Anonymous meetings so that people who were affected by the disease of alcoholism could recover. Ministry became emotionally exhausting. In the late 1960’s, he was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Fr. Oscar Romero was ordained a bishop in 1970. During the 1970’s El Salvador was in civil turmoil. Rising oil prices and insufficient food supply made life difficult for the people in the countryside. Children were dying. Some people thought violence was the answer, but Romero encouraged peaceful resistance, and spoke out when violent insurgents took action against Christians who organized peacefully. Nuns and priests were also violently murdered during this era of Salvadoran history.
In 1977, Romero was named Archbishop of San Salvador. In the very same year, Romero’s friend, Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., was murdered. This stirred within Romero a deeper conviction to speak truth to power. He used his diocesan radio station and newspaper as outlets to raise awareness about the injustice that was plaguing his country. On March 24, 1980, a man was paid to shoot Archbishop Romero, and he died while saying mass in a hospital chapel. At his funeral, 40 more people were killed by bombs and gunfire.
Blessed Oscar Romero used his voice to advocate for a better future. He can be remembered for saying,
“Each one of you has to be God’s microphone. Each one of you has to be a messenger, a prophet. The church will always exist as long as there is someone who has been baptized… Where is your baptism? You are baptised in your professions, in the fields of workers, in the market. Wherever there is someone who has been baptised, that is where the Church is. There is a prophet there. Let us not hide the talent that God gave us on the day of our baptism and let us truly live the beauty and responsibility of being a prophetic people.”
“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.”
When you gather for parish activities this week, you might also consider praying the prayer below, which is part of Praying With Youth and Young Adults: Real Life Prayers for Today’s Parish.
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A PRAYER UPON THE CANONIZATION OF ARCHBISHOP OSCAR ROMERO
Let us take the words of Archbishop Romero to prayer
Gracious God, through the intercession of St. Oscar Romero,
help us to live as we are called in Baptism,
to share in Christ’s role as priest, prophet and leader.
Inspire us to seek peace,
Peace that is not the result of bullying or intimidation,
but the peace that comes from civil dialogue & honest conversation
Peace that is not the silence of the dead,
but the peace of song of the living,
Peace that is not the silent result of violence or abuse,
but the peace that is the sound of people like us,
in a place where we are free to express ourselves.
Inspire us to seek peace that is the generous, harmonious and friendly effort
to make the world a better place for everyone.
Help us to seek peace that is dynamic: flexible, and tolerant.
Help us to seek peace that is truly the gift of oneself, the gift of unconditional love.
Help us to seek you, for it is only in you that we can truly know
how to give of ourselves, how to love unconditionally,
and how to find lasting peace.
We ask this in Jesus name,
May we always remember
that you Lord, are the reason for being,
and the source of every good thing.
We ask this in the name of Jesus your son,
Who lives and reigns with you
In the Unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever, Amen.