Following up on Katie’s post on prayer and militarism, let us remember that today is the 31st anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero, killed while celebrating mass in a hospital chapel for standing with the people of El Salvador against the violent oppression of the US-backed government.

From the homily given minutes before his assassination:

Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ will live like the grain of wheat that dies…The harvest comes because of the grain that dies…We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.

At Archbishop Romero’s funeral, bombs were thrown into the crowd of mourners, and army sharpshooters fired bullets at those gathered.

No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God…In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you–I implore you–I command you in the name of God: stop the repression!

The Notre Dame Kellogg Center offers a good overview of his life, and a free e-book collection of small pieces of his homilies and letters (The Violence of Love) is available in English and Spanish.

Lenten fasting is not the same thing in those lands where people eat well as is a Lent among our third-world peoples, undernour­ished as they are, living in a perpetual Lent, always fasting. For those who eat well, Lent is a call to austerity, a call to give away in order to share with those in need. But in poor lands, in homes where there is hunger, Lent should be observed in order to give to the sacrifice that is everyday life the meaning of the cross.

Related: Dan Horan finds hope in President Obama’s visit to Archbishop Romero’s grave, even with the troubling failure to acknowledge the US role in his murder — and our memory of the violence of the past open our eyes, rather than occlude, the violence of the present.


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