Missionary Saints – St. Oscar Romero

On March 24 the Church remembers Saint Oscar Romero who was canonized by Pope Francis in 2018. Saint Oscar Romero’s feast day is the day of his martyrdom. On March 24, 1980, while saying Mass in San Salvador, Bishop Oscar Romero was assassinated. Six of his priests were also martyred during his time as Bishop. Imagine the terror, the heartache. It was a period of protracted political violence and extreme repression. The United Nations estimated 80,000 people were killed in the tiny Central American country of El Salvador during their civil war which lasted from 1979 to 1992.

It was in that time and place where Oscar Romero proclaimed the Gospel affirming the God given dignity of all persons, requiring compassionate care for the poor, and renouncing violence. He preached, “There is no dichotomy between man and God’s image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being, abuses God’s image.” He persuaded, “When we speak for the poor, please note that we do not take sides with one social class. What we do is invite all social classes, rich and poor, without distinction, saying to everyone let us take seriously the cause of the poor as though it were our own.” He pleaded, “You are killing your own brothers. Any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God, which says, ‘Thou shalt not kill’. No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you obeyed your consciences rather than sinful orders. The church cannot remain silent before such an abomination. …In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cry rises to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you: stop the repression.” He prayed, “This is my Body, which will be given up for you…this is my Blood, which will be poured out for you.”

His proclamation, preaching, persuading, pleading and prayers were the expression of his firm belief that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conquered sin and death demonstrating that Divine Love is the greatest force in the universe. It was the grace of Divine Love that enabled Oscar Romero’s witness of Christ to be so authentic and compelling. The same is true for us.

It should not escape our attention that his feast is one day before the Feast of the Annunciation. The Magnificat of Mary resounded in the words and deeds of Saint Oscar Romero. In his life and death he reminded the people of El Salvador during a particularly dark time in their history when it might have been difficult to remember that “the Lord has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Who is it today that needs to be reminded of the Lord’s promise of mercy? Through the intercession of Saint and Martyr Oscar Romero, a living example of Divine truth, justice, and compassion, may our words and deeds renew humanity’s hope in Divine Mercy by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives and reigns with the Father and the Son, God forever and ever.

Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us.