[ Español ]
Today’s 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Oscar Romero has been a subdued affair, given the state of affairs with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put El Salvador under one of the strictest quarantines in the world (mostly preventative; there are relatively few cases). As a result of this situation, commemorations are largely private affairs, with masses and vigils that usually take to the streets going online this year. So too are private reflections, and I want to share my own with you.
My main reflection this year is a piece I wrote for Catholic News Service, in which I reflect on the passage of forty years and the biblical significance of that period of time. In the Bible, forty years represents a generational change, a time when people who may have been around originally have passed away, resulting in a change in the spirit, atmosphere or dynamics of a situation. Using this standard, we can look at the world in which St. Romero died, and our own world, and recognize many significant changes.
Few places are those changes more remarkable than in El Salvador. In a post on El Salvador Perspectives, I lay out the changes in El Salvador which accompanied Romero’s changing fortunes, as he went from a taboo subject to an ubiquitous presence that nonetheless seems “hidden in plain sight.” It was very special to write this piece because the blog’s author, Tim Muth, was an early and consistent supporter of my own blogs.
Writing for El Salvador under quarantine is as unique an angle as I have ever had to consider, but that angle was put in even more intense focus in a post I wrote for Where Peter Is, a new influential Catholic site of associated pro-Francis bloggers. In this post, I defended the Church’s decision to cancel public masses in favor of broadcasted or webcasted masses, using St. Oscar as a reference point, in particular certain aspects of martyrdom which are misunderstood by some hardliners.
Here, in my own blog, I posted Spanish-language pieces intended for a Salvadoran audience on the 40th anniversary of Romero’s last Sunday sermon (the so-called “Fire Sermon” in which he exclaimed, “Stop the repression!”) yesterday, and a piece today about commemorating Romero in an intimate, family setting (as opposed to in a large gathering, as had typically been the case). I also shared this paper cut-out of a Romero light for home use!
Finally, the Vatican also was ‘Johnny on the Spot’ this year, with Vatican News stories and a video, in English, Spanish and Italian, on Romero’s legacy on the 40th anniversary of his martyrdom. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints also disseminated its robust page on Romero, including materials from his beatification and canonization (so far, only in Italian).
I will update other sources, to include other notable reflections authored by others.