Monsr. Oscar A. Romero Day: A Reminder that Theology has Already Been Liberated

March 24, 2008

As we continue pondering the black vs white simplicity of the very base discussion of politics and religion raging in the Empire right now, I offer you some wisdom from Monsr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the patron saint of the that tiny, but powerful, flea of a country, El Salvador, home of my ancestors and family. On this day in 1980, Romero was cut down by death squad operatives led by Roberto D’Abuissoon, a pathological killer trained, funded and politically-backed by the Administration of Ronald Reagan. Romero’s transformation from very conservative priest to pastor of the pueblo is among the more stunning, St. Paul-like transformations in memory.

If the Catholic church hierarchy were less in league with the darker forces of this earth, Romero would already be officially recognized as the saint that he is. Yet, as you will note form his words below (and from this FREE BOOK OF ROMERO QUOTATIONS), Romero would likely look upon such official recognition as a sign of failure and decadence.

Friends of mine who knew and worked with Romero all say knowing him was one of the formative and unique experiences of their entire lives. I would hope that my own life reflects at least some of the goodness and clarity I still find in his example, his words, his will to the transcendent.

Happy Monsr. Romero Day.

Romero Quotes taken from “The Violence of Love”:

Transcendence means breaking through encirclements.
It means not letting oneself be imprisoned by matter.
It means saying in one’s mind:
I am above all the things that try to enchain me.
Neither death nor life
nor money nor power nor flattery–
nothing can take from one this transcendent calling.
There is something beyond history.
There is something that moves the threshold
of matter and time.
There is something called the transcendent,
the eschatological,
the beyond,
the final goal.
God, who does not let things contain him
but who contains all,
is the goal to which the risen Christ calls us.
MAY 27, 1979

A civilization of love
that did not demand justice of people
would not be a true civilization:
it would not delineate genuine human relations.
It is a caricature of love to try to cover over
with alms what is lacking in justice,
to patch over with an appearance of benevolence
when social justice is missing.
True love begins by demanding what is just
in the relations of those who love.
APRIL 12, 1979

If there is not truth in love, there is hypocrisy. Often, fine words
are said, handshakes given, perhaps even a kiss, but at bottom
there is no truth.
A civilization where trust of one to another is lost, where there is
so much lying and no truth, has no foundation of love. There can’t
be love where there is falsehood.
Our environment lacks truth. And when the truth is spoken, it
gives offense, and the voices that speak the truth are put to silence.
APRIL 12, 1979

A church that suffers no persecution but enjoys the privileges and
support of the things of the earth–beware!–is not the true church
of Jesus Christ.
MARCH 11, 1979

When we speak of the church of the poor,
we are not using Marxist dialectic,
as though there were another church of the rich.
What we are saying is that Christ,
inspired by the Spirit of God,
declared, “The Lord has sent me
to preach good news to the poor”–
words of the Bible–
so that to hear him one must become poor.77
DECEMBER 3, 1978

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