E. Ethelbert Miller, D.C.’s poet-troubadour, worked with composer Richard J. Clark to produce this stunning rendition of Miller’s poem “I Am the Land,” a tribute to Salvadoran martyr and archbishop Oscar Romero.
I offer it here as a Christmas blessing to you all in these days.
The BBC’s Heart and Soul ran an incredible 2-part radio show on Oscar Romero this week on the 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination. Join Julian Miglierini as he speaks to those who remember Romero, and travels to a village in El Salvador’s poor north, where he is revered as a saint.
“Thirty years ago, El Salvador’s Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot dead while celebrating mass. He knew he was in danger – not long before his death, he said that if he was killed – he would rise again in his people. Today, his face is everywhere in the country – on murals, T-shirts and key rings. Many compare him to Martin Luther King, Gandhi or even Che Guevara.
But how was it that this man of the church became such an outspoken advocate of the poor and oppressed? And why did he become such a threat to the rich oligarchy that someone wanted him dead?Listen to BBC’s Julian Miglierini as he speaks to those who remember Romero, and travels to a village in El Salvador’s poor north, where he is revered as a saint.”
Every year on 24th March, the people of El Salvador remember the death of the man who throughout Latin America became known as the voice of the voiceless poor: Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot dead at the altar on 24th March 1980. But is the Catholic church he loved in terminal decline, in a country where more than one-third of the population now attend evangelical Protestant churches?
BBC’s Julian Miglierini goes to a Baptist megachurch in San Salvador where close to 80,000 people worship every week, and asks why its message should have such enormous appeal in a traditionally Catholic country. But while the Catholic church may be losing members, Oscar Romero himself seems to have lost little of his appeal. El Salvador’s new left-wing President, Mauricio Funes, calls him his inspiration. And this bookish Archbishop in his 60s has also become an unlikely icon of youth culture. Hear why the Hip Hop band, Pescozada, have just released a track in homage to him.
Here’s a very moving 3-minute video of images (some graphic) from El Salvador’s war and the voice over of Archbishop Romero’s last Sunday sermon on March 23, 1980, in which he appeals to the members of the Army to put down their weapons. Romero was shot and killed while celebrating Mass the following day.
The 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination will be in March 24, 2010. I’ll be interviewed on NPR’s Latino USA by Maria Hinojosa with Salvadoran theologian Ernesto Valiente who teaches at Boston College. The English translation of an excerpt of Romero’s sermon is below the video.
“We want to greet the entities of YSAX, which for so long have awaited this moment which, thanks to God, has arrived. We know the risk that is run by our poor station for being the instrument and vehicle of truth and justice, but we recognize that the risk has to be taken, for behind that risk is an entire people that upholds this word of truth and justice….
We give thanks to God that a message that doesn’t mean to be more than a modest reflection of the spoken Word finds marvelous channels of outreach and tells many people that, in the context of Lent, all of this is preparation for our Easter, and Easter is a shout of victory. No one can extinguish that life which Christ revived. Not even death and hatred against him and against his Church will be able to overcome it. He is the victor!
As he will flourish in an Easter of unending resurrection, it is necessary to also accompany him in Lent, in a Holy Week that is cross, sacrifice, martyrdom; as he would say, “Happy are those who do not become offended by their cross!” Lent is then a call to celebrate our redemption in that difficult complex of cross and victory. Our people are very qualified, all their surroundings preach to us of cross; but all who have Christian faith and hope know that behind this Calvary of El Salvador is our Easter, our resurrection, and that is the hope of the Christian people….
Today, as diverse historical projects emerge for our people, we can be sure that victory will be had by the one that best reflects the plan of God. And this is the mission of the Church. That is why, in the light of the divine Word that reveals the designs of God for the happiness of the peoples, we have the duty, dear brothers and sisters, to also point out the facts, to see how the plan of God is being reflected or disdained in our midst. Let no one take badly the fact that we illuminate the social, political, and economic truths by the light of the divine words that are read at our Mass, because not to do so would, for us, be un-Christian….