2014 Stanford Delegation

2014 Stanford Delegation
Stanford Delegation in the UCA Chapel

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Carry On

It is the eve of the 31st year of commemoration when Archbishop Oscar Romero, in the chapel of a small hospital in San Salvador, was horrendously assassinated while he was behind the altar celebrating Mass in the early evening of March 24, 1980. Today, we had the remarkable opportunity to visit this profoundly sacred space and recall a deeply disturbing time in history when this extraordinary leader was killed because of what he preached, how he lived and what he said. Archbishop Romero never said anything that was not consistent with the Christian gospels and the teachings of his Catholic Church. If these teachings have been given, it is clearly so that they might be carried out. At least this is how Monsenor Romero understood it. It has been said that he was not one to accept things "calmly" or "with prudence." He was faithful to and firmly convinced of these teachings. He died for them and for the Salvadoran people he unequivocally loved. Because of this, he was clearly guilty. Our world does not tolerate people like Romero. Our world tolerates and accepts those who are mediocre, those who are complacent. Archbishop Oscar Romero, the one who spoke out passionately about defending life in El Salvador did not want to defend his own life. He only wanted to be faithful. He had been truly converted.

Our guide today at Divina Providencia chapel was a young and articulate Carmelite nun. I suspect that many of us will not soon forget her. Though perhaps something she has done dozens of times for groups such as ours, she indeed conveyed a profound connection to everything she said, and likewise facilitated an experience for us that moved far beyond an ordinary tour of a small chapel. She asked each of us to speak one word that came to mind when we thought of Archbishop Romero. Compassion, justice, love, humility, courage, faithful, peace, sacrifice, among others were named. We were asked to remember our word.

There, gathered around the very altar behind which Romero stood and was cruelly slain by an assassin's bullet, we were invited to put one hand on the altar and call out that word again to palpably remind us that it is now up to us to carry on in the world with the conversion of our hearts the concerns of the marginalized, the oppressed, the forgotten. We must resist the tendency to remain silent or indifferent in full view of injustices of economic, political or social natures, all of which by virtue of being in El Salvador are unveiled to us daily as realidad - reality.

Today in that small chapel we were called to resucitar or resurrect that compassion, justice, love, humility, courage, faithfulness, peace, sacrifice and more in our own lives that we may be instruments of God, of Divine presence manifest in the world we inhabit. In 1979 Archbishop Romero wrote: It is God that makes use of people..... even if they don't have Christian faith. All of these...are instruments of God to love, to give encouragement, to give hope.....

Am I willing, are you willing, are we willing....to carry on?

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