BY NATALIE TERRY | May 23, 2015
Natalie Terry is participating in the events surrounding Archbishop Oscar Romero’s beatification in El Salvador and will be sharing reflections about her experience throughout the weekend. Natalie is a graduate of John Carroll University ’10 and the Jesuit School of the Theology of Santa Clara University ’14 and is currently in further studies at JST. Other reflections can be found here.
If you live out a Christianity that is good but that is not sufficient for our times, that doesn’t denounce injustice, that doesn’t proclaim the kingdom of God courageously, that doesn’t reject the sins humankind commits, that consents to the sins of certain classes so as to be accepted by those classes, then you are not doing your duty, you are sinning, you are betraying your mission. The church was put here to convert humankind, not to tell people that everything that they do is all right; and that because of that, naturally, it irritates people. Everything that corrects us irritates us. I know that I have irritated many people, but I know that I am well liked by all those who work sincerely for the conversion of the church.
Archbishop Oscar Romero | August 24, 1977
Romero knew he irritated people. For his prophetic stance against poverty and oppression he received opposition, not only from the Salvadoran government, but from the structures of the Roman Catholic Church. He was criticized for being too politically involved. He received death threats that would ultimately lead to his assassination. But, as we know well, after his death he rose again in the people.
For that reason, people are still irritated with Romero. Maybe more accurately, people are still afraid of the prophetic message and unrelenting hope that he imparts on the world. In 1989 when the six Jesuits, their housekeeper Celina and her daughter Elba were brutally murdered at the Jesuit Residence in the Central American University (UCA), their assailants tore apart their home, ransacked their rooms, and set fire to a photograph of Oscar Romero that hung on their wall. The action was symbolic, an attempt to eradicate Romero’s lingering presence in the Salvadoran people.
Today, the burnt photograph of Romero hangs in the museum at the UCA. Sharing this photograph with the world is also symbolic, for no matter how hard anyone tries, the memories of those who raise their arms to oppression will live on. A man named Jesus of Nazareth assures us of this.
On the day before he died, March 23, 1980, Romero announced the words to a new hymn written for the Salvadoran Folk Mass:
The explosive songs of joy vibrate
I am going to meet my people at the cathedral
Thousands of voices join together today
to sing at the fiesta of our patron saint
But the gods of power and wealth, oppose transfiguration
Because of this, now, you, Lord, are the first
to raise your arm against oppression.
As you read this post on Saturday morning an estimated 250,000 people will be gathering at the Plaza Salvador del Mundo to celebrate the beatification of Oscar Romero. May we raise our arms in prayer today, calling on the One who loved us first, to bring justice to His people and giving thanks to Oscar Romero, for teaching us again and again how to live lives rooted in God’s love.
God, may we be humble enough
to be irritated by Oscar Romero’s prophetic voice,
for we are still learning how to love our neighbors.
May we have courage enough to not be afraid
to continue on this journey
striving to love all as You love us.
Oscar Romero, we call your name…Presente
Natalie Terry is director of the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center, a ministry of St. Agnes Parish in San Francisco, CA. She has a Masters of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. She is currently working on her thesis for a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in the area of sacramental theology. She graduated from John Carroll University in 2010 with Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and served as a volunteer with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in Pulaski, Pennsylvania. Natalie has been a facilitator and prayer leader with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and she serves as a lay preacher, lector, Eucharistic minister and presider of Communion services and Liturgies of the Word. She is also currently serving as the Director of Children’s Faith Formation at St. Agnes Parish. She is originally from Wynantskill, New York.