Blessed Oscar Romero

From Vatican Radio and other sources:

March 24th marks the Church’s day of prayer for missionary martyrs, in memory of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero who was murdered while celebrating Mass on that day in 1980.

During Romero’s beatification in San Salvador last May, March 24th was also recognized as his feast day, yet this year the date marks Holy Thursday and will therefore not be celebrated as an official saints day.

Romero spoke out on behalf of the poor, “decrying the violence of death squads and private militias, calling for political and economic reforms that would bring some measure of dignity to both campesinos — rural peasants — and the urban poor,” Gordon wrote. “For his efforts, the government redoubled its persecution of the Church.”

On March 24, 1980,  Romero celebrated Mass in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital. “Those who act out of love for Christ and give themselves to the service of others will live,” he told the small congregation, including nuns from a nursing order. Referring to the Eucharist he was about to celebrate, he said, “May this body immolated and this blood sacrificed for humans nourish us also, so that we may give our body and our blood to suffering and to pain — like Christ, not for self, but to bring about justice and peace for our people.”

Moments later, as he elevated the chalice filled with the Precious Blood, a gunman shot Romero from the back of the chapel. He died almost immediately.

 

 

Romero 1

Pope Francis on Palm Sunday

From the homily in St Peter’s Square on Palm Sunday

Today’s liturgy teaches us that the Lord has not saved us by his triumphal entry or by means of powerful miracles. The Apostle Paul, in the second reading, epitomizes in two verbs the path of redemption: Jesus “emptied” and “humbled” himself (Phil 2:7-8). These two verbs show the boundlessness of God’s love for us. Jesus emptied himself: he did not cling to the glory that was his as the Son of God, but became the Son of man in order to be in solidarity with us sinners in all things; yet he was without sin. Even more, he lived among us in “the condition of a servant” (v.7); not of a king or a prince, but of a servant. Therefore he humbled himself, and the abyss of his humiliation, as Holy Week shows us, seems to be bottomless.

Further reflections on Holy Week

Beatrice Bruteau from The Easter Mysteries

 

What does the powerful Nothingness mean? For it is meaningful, exceedingly meaningful. It is not just a matter of “waiting.” This is a high symbol, indeed the symbol to which everything else has led. All the exercises of Lent, all the concentration of Holy Week, all the final abandonments of Good Friday are intended to bring us to this Great Nothing. It is our way of pointing to that which cannot be said; this is why the Word is gone. There is no object outside us on which we may fasten. Nothing to observe, nothing happening, nothing to do. Our usual, finite, comparative, means-to-end activity is suspended. We are in the presence of the Infinite; we are in fact in the Infinite.

 

Reflections in Holy Week

From an article on Edith Stein, later Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Cross

1928. The liturgical reform movement in Germany is centered in the Benedictine Abbey in Beuron. Edith goes there for a retreat during Holy Week. She briefly meets with Abbot Raphael Walzer. He will become her spiritual advisor for the remainder of her life, apparently coming to know her more profoundly than anyone else. After her death, he will refer to her as “one of the greatest women of our time, gifted with mystical graces in the true sense of the word.”

She makes a Holy Week retreat at Beuron each year until she enters the cloister. She is drawn to Benedictine spirituality and her reaction to the liturgical reforms is warm, but her attachment to interior devotion is deep and unshakable even at public Mass. A Benedictine nun reports: “I was sent as a young religious to attend to community business near Speyer and was thus able to spend some time with Edith Stein. Sunday morning we attended solemn high Mass in the Cathedral together. For almost the entire liturgy, Edith Stein remained on her knees with her eyes closed and her face resting in her hands. To a young, liturgically-minded Benedictine like myself, that made no sense at all. Afterwards, I told her [so]. I don’t remember what she answered.”

Edith Stein would shortly write an essay, “The Prayer of the Church,” in which she provided a detailed answer; she said that “true prayer” can only be “the mutual self-giving of God and the soul.” When this inward, hidden union between the soul and God, “the high-priest love of Jesus living within them,” is not present, all public prayer will degenerate.

Abbot Walzer speaks of Edith’s sense of worship this way: “All she wanted was to be with God in church, and to have the great mystery in front of her. The almost rigid exterior she presented while praying was matched by the interior of a soul enjoying the blessed contemplation of God.”

 

Edith Stein 1934 Kolner Karmel