“The violence of love”

election-day-and-ciudad-arce-0311Yesterday, March 24, 2009 was the 29-year anniversary of the assassination of Monseñor Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador. Google his name and you will find countless eloquent and impassioned accounts of his life, his beliefs, his works, his death, his legacy.

I urge you to do this, but I also urge you to listen to Romero’s own words (English, Español), words considered conspiratorial, revolutionary, enough so to get him killed. Romero knew there was a good chance that his teachings and actions would lead to his death. After all, they were modeled after the teachings and actions of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

election-day-and-ciudad-arce-013I visited Romero’s tomb the day after El Salvador’s presidential elections, and looking around at the Cathedral and the streets and square surrounding it, I was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to imagine the massacre of civilian mourners that took place at his funeral.

Downstairs in the crypt where he is buried, a small but steady stream of visitors quietly approached his tomb, took pictures, prayed. One young boy grabbed hold of a posted prayer card, carefully read it, and then spent the next ten minutes explaining the sculpture, the man buried beneath it, the prayer of the people to his friends.

These children are growing up in a new era of Salvadoran history and will have to decide how best to carry on Romero’s legacy. The only violence he ever practiced or preached was the violence of love:

THE VIOLENCE we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred.

It is the violence of love, of brotherhood,

the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work.

oscar romero, november 27, 1977






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