Monday, March 24, 2008

Archbishop Oscar Romero's Letter to President Carter

Archbishop Oscar Romero sent this letter to President Carter on Feb. 17, 1980.
Just a few weeks later,
Romero was murdered at the altar,
a single shot to the heart felled this great leader.
He died within minutes.
Later, at his funeral, 40 more would die.

On this anniversary of his death,
I'd like to share the letter written by Archbishop Oscar Romero.

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San Salvador February 17, 1980

His Excellency
The President of the United States
Mr. Jimmy Carter

Dear Mr. President:

In the last few days, news has appeared in the national press that worries me greatly. According to the reports, your government is studying the possibility of economic and military support and assistance to the present government junta.

Because you are a Christian and because you have shown that you want to defend human rights, I venture to set forth for you my pastoral point of view in regard to this news and to make a specific request of you.

I am very concerned by the news that the government of the United States is planning to further El Salvador’s arms race by sending military equipment and advisors to “train three Salvadoran battallions in logistics, communications, and intelligence.” If this information from the papers is correct, instead of favoring greater justice and peace in El Salvador, your government’s contribution will undoubtedly sharpen the injustice and the repression inflicted on the organized people, whose struggle has often been for respect for their most basic human rights.

The present government junta and, especially, the armed forces and security forces have unfortunately not demonstrated their capacity to resolve in practice the nation’s serious political and structural problems. For the most part, they have resorted to repressive violence, producing a total of deaths and injuries much greater than under the previous military regime, whose systematic violation of huamn rights was reported by the Inter-American Commission on Huamn Rights.

The brutal form in which the security forces recently evicted and murdered the occupiers of the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Party, even though the junta and the party apparently did not authorize the operation, is an indication that the junta and the Christian Democrats do not govern the country, but that political power is in the hands of unscrupulous military officers who know only how to repress the people and favor the interests of the Salvadoran oligarchy.

If it is true that last November a “group of six Americans was in El Salvador…providing $200,000 in gas masks and flak jackets and teaching how to use them against demonstrators,” you ought to be informed that it is evident that since the security forces, with increased personal protection and efficiency, have even more violently repressed the people, using deadly weapons.

For this reason, given that as a Salvadoran and archbishop of the archdiocese of San Salvador, I have an obligation to see that faith and justice reign in my country, I ask you, if you truly want to defend human rights:
  • to forbid that military aid be given to the Salvadoran government;
  • to guarantee that your government will not intervene directly or indirectly, with military, economic, diplomatic, or other pressures, in determining the destiny of the Salvadoran people;

In these moments, we are living through a grave economic and political crisis in our country, but it is certain that increasingly the people are awakening and organizing and have begun to prepare themselves to manage and be responsible for the future of El Salvador, as the only ones capable of overcoming the crisis.

It would be unjust and deplorable for foreign powers to intervene and frustrate the Salvadoran people, to repress them and keep them from deciding autonomously the economic and political course that our nation should follow. It would be to violate a right that the Latin American bishops, meeting at Puebla, recognized publicly when we spoke of “the legitimate self-determination of our peoples, which allows them to organize according to their own spirit and the course of their history and to cooperate in a new international order” (Puebla, 505).

I hope that your religious sentiments and your feelings for the defense of human rights will move you to accept my petition, thus avoiding greater bloodshed in this suffering country.

Oscar A. Romero


Quotes from Archbishop Oscar Romero

Today markes the anniversay of the death
of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.
Romero was murdered at the altar on this day
twenty-eight years ago.
I remember it distinctly, even though I was just a teenager in high school.

And so,
I offer a this video,
which contains actual footage
and the voice of Archbishop Romero.
A few quotes from this great man of our history
follow the video.
Please take the time to reflect on these words of his.

Oscar Arnulfo Romero; Pray for us.

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How beautiful will be the day
when all the baptized understand
that their work, their job, is a priestly work,
that just as I celebrate Mass at this altar,
so each carpenter celebrates Mass at his workbench,
and each metalworker,
each professional,
each doctor with the scalpel,
the market woman at her stand,
is performing a priestly office!
How may cabdrivers, I know,
listen to this message there in their cabs,
you are a priest at the wheel, my friend,
if you work with honesty,
consecrating that taxi of yours to God,
bearing a message of peace and love
to the passengers who ride in your cab.
November 20, 1977

What good are beautiful highways and airports,
beautiful buildings full of spacious apartments,
if they are only put together with the blood of the poor,
who are not going to enjoy them?
July 15, 1979

A religion of Sunday Mass
but of unjust weeks does not please the Lord.
A religion of much praying but with hypocrisy
in the heart is not Christian.
A church that sets itself up only to be well off,
to have a lot of money and comfort,
but that forgets to protest injustices,
would not be the true church of our divine Redeemer.
December 4, 1977

To those who bear in their hand, or in their consciences,
the burden of bloodshed, of outrages,
of the victimized, innocent or guilty,
but still victimized in their human dignity, I say:
Be Converted!
You cannot find God on those paths of torture and outrages.
God is found on the ways of justice,
of conversion,
of truth.
August 6, 1978

Everyone who struggles for justice,
everyone who makes just claims in unjust surroundings,
is working for God's reign,
even though not a Christian.
The church does not comprise all of God's reign,
God's reign goes beyond the church's boundaries.
The church values everything
that is in tune with its struggle to set up God's reign.
A church that tries only to keep itself pure and uncontaminated
would not be a church of God's service to people.
The authentic church is one
that does not mind conversing
with prostitutes and publicans and sinners,
as Christ did
-- and with Marxists
and those of various political movements
-- in order to bring them salvation's true message.
December 2, 1978

Not just purgatory
but hell awaits those who could have done good
and did not do it.
It is the reverse of the Beatitude
that the Bible has for those who are saved, for the saints,
"who could have done wrong and did not."
Of those who are condemned
it will be said:
They could have done good and did not.
July 16, 1977

How beautiful will be the day
when a new society,
instead of selfishly hoarding and keeping,
apportions, shares, divides up,
and all rejoice because
we all feel we are children
of the same God!
January 27, 1980

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Second Letter to St. Peter

March 20, 2008
Holy Thursday

My Dearest St. Peter,

I know it’s Holy Thursday
and you’ve probably got a lot of major work to do today,
inspiring the faithful and all.
But I just couldn’t let this day pass
without asking some more questions.
You see, I’ve been really reflecting all week
on the words of Jesus,
especially on the words he spoke
during those last days of his earthly life.

Good St. Peter, you were there.
I mean, tomorrow afternoon at the liturgy of Good Friday
churches all over are going to sing, "Where you there."
But you, St. Peter, you were there.
So I really believe you are an expert
and will be able to answer my questions.

San Pedro, what did Jesus mean when he said,
"Take this, all of you, and eat it. . ?."
We seem to be getting that all confused.

Did he mean,
"Take this all of you and eat it. . .
. . . . unless you are divorced and remarried
and the tribunal hasn’t finished
processing your annulment yet."

What did he mean by,
". . all of you?"

Did he mean,
"Take this, all of you and eat. . .
unless you are a homosexual. . .
. . . .well, if you are a practicing homosexual
do not approach the altar.
Celibate gays may receive..."
Is this what Jesus meant by "all of you?"

St. Peter, I do not understand.
I mean, I have always found the Eucharist to be nutritive.
So, how can we deny Eucharistic
to people who are starving for it?
I have also found the Eucharist to be transformative.
We become what we receive.
How can someone become what they receive
if they are not allowed to receive?

San Pedro,
how can we sing "All are Welcome" and "Come to the Feast"
during the Sundays of the year,
but then exclude some people
from approaching the table?
I’m confused.
I’m really confused.
What we sing and what we pray
do not match what we do.

And today at Cathedrals around the world
clergy will recommit themselves to their ministry.
Ah. . .what a beautiful, beautiful thing that is.
But. . .it’s problematic.
Clergy numbers are dwindling.

St. Peter,
I was in church recently
and we were told that the priest
was going to be a little bit late.
He was a visiting priest who was filling in for the pastor
who was out of town.
But he had to preside at mass at his own parish first,
so he would be late.
So we waited.
And waited.
More than a half hour late,
he finally arrived and we celebrated the Eucharistic together.
I didn’t mind the wait
and I don’t think the people really did either.
But I began to realize
that this will be a reality more often than not.
Clustering, merging and closing parishes
is really only a stopgap.
By giving these gentlemen 2, 3 or more parishes
we are only aiding in adding stress to their lives.
St. Peter, by placing all of this added responsibility on them
aren’t we really only committing a genocide of sorts?
"Take this, all of you, and eat. . ."
I don’t think he meant to give our priests
stress related heart attacks in the process.

In giving him several parishes,
a priest will preside at several masses on the weekend,
but may never have
a pastoral relationship with the congregation.
He will only arrive on the scene to "do" Eucharist.
St. Peter,
is this turning the ministerial priesthood
into nothing more than a hocus pocus moment?
Are we turning these gentlemen
into sacramental gumball machines?
"Take this, all of you, and eat it."
How can we if we don’t even have someone who will preside?
And will it really be Eucharist
if the one presiding
is so totally detached from the community?
How can this detachment serve The Body of Christ?

San Pedro,
in no way do I wish to tell you
or any of the other santos what to do.
But it just seems like that if we don’t redefine
the ministerial priesthood,
redefine who can be a priest,
the church is slowly but surely
only going to end up holding the Eucharist hostage.
"Take this, all of you, and eat. . . ."
How will we ever be able to fulfill Christ’s command then?

We become what we receive.
But St. Peter,
it almost seems like the faithful
will become The Body of Christ,
will be The Body of Christ,
in spite of the Church
and not because of Her.

And today at churches all over the world
priests will wash the feet of the faithful.
This is another beautiful,
yet often misunderstood, ritual.
You were there, St. Peter.
You were there.
You didn’t want Jesus to wash your feet.
He had to explain it to you.
I think there are some who are still in need
of having this ritual explained to them.
It’s all about being a servant.
God bless you, Good St. Peter.
You dared to enter into the dialogue.
You understood what it all meant in the end,
even if you resisted at first.
Why is it, St. Peter,
that so many are afraid to enter into the dialogue?
Why is it
that so many refuse the role of servant?

San Pedro,
I know that it won’t happen today,
but I long to attend the sacred liturgy
where St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke
washes the feet of Fr. Marek Bozek.

San Pedro,
I know that it probably won’t happen today,
but I long to sing God’s praises during the liturgy
where Cardinal Bernard Law
washes the feet
of those who suffered sexual abuse
at the hands of priests of his diocese.

San Pedro,
I know that it probably won’t take place today,
or even in my lifetime,
but I long to witness the liturgy
where Pope Benedict XVI
washes the feet of
Leonardo Boff and Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.

St. Peter,
I hope you don’t think I’m crossing any lines
by asking and suggesting some of these things.
The thing is,
I work hard at raising my son in the Catholic faith.
It hasn’t been easy,
but I think it’s very, very important.
Sadly, I don’t think there will be anyone left
to preside at Eucharist when he is my age.
And I don’t want my
yet-to-be-born grandchildren
to come into this world
without ever having had the opportunity
to know Jesus in the Eucharist.

Please know, Good St. Peter,
that I am not looking to cause trouble or problems.
I’m just stating to you in this letter
what’s crossed my mind this past week
as I reflect on the words of Jesus,
"Take this, all of you, and eat it. . ."
And so, I ask these questions.
I really would like to know
how you see it all,
from your heavenly perspective.
And then I’d like you to let me know
what I can do,
from my little place in history,
to help bring about God’s plan for us all.

Please say "hello"
To John Paul I for me.
Although his time as Pope was short,
he continues to inspire me.
Be sure to let him know
that his Letter to Pinochio is one of my favorites.
Especially, where he writes:
" My Pinocchio,
there are two famous sentences on the young people.
I recommend you the first one, by Lacodaire:
‘Have an opinion and assert it.’
The second one, by Clemenceau,
and I do not recommend it at all
‘He has no ideas,
but he defends them passionately."

I think John Paul I
is one of the reasons I write and think so much today.

Oh, and please say "hello"
to Oscar Romero for me.
I realize that the anniversary of his death
is coming up.
His words and actions
have served to inspire me more than any other.
Boy, could we use some bishops
like San Romero de América today.

And finally,
remember me to my abuelita.
My grandmother died on Good Friday, you know.
I hope you remembered the Mariachis
to welcome her home!

Thank you,
St. Peter,
for once again taking the time
to listen to all I have to ask,
for taking the time to really listen to me.
I promise that I will do the same for you.

Tu hermana en la lucha,

© 2008, Rubi Martinez-Bernat. All Rights Reserved.

First Letter to St. Peter

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What's Up With the Sound Snipet?

White Animated Rose MySpace Picture Comment

You may be wondering what the little sound snipet
is that you hear sometimes on this blog.
Basically, it's a little advertisement.

Why would I add that to my liturgy blog?

I'm a mom who works for the Roman Catholic Church. Sadly, if one works for the church these days one really cannot afford to send their child to a good Catholic High School. Now, that's not a complaint. I love my ministry, the work that I do. It's just a very sad reality that what I earn won't pay my son's tuition to a good Catholic High School.

So to help pay for my son's tuition,
I permit various advertisers a 5-second spiel on my blog.
It's really that simple.

Besides, I figured that 5 seconds wasn't so long that it would become intrusive to those who visit this blog. And I do have the wherewithall to turn off the advertisements when I think it would be appropriate to do so (as I will probably do during Triduum).

Anyhow, that's it in a nutshell.

If you are interested
in adding a little bit of monetization
to your blog or website,
please feel free to visit this site:

It's free and easy to use.
It will only require you
to add a little bit of code to your site.

So, thank you for tolerating
the 5 second sound snipet advertisement.
By doing so,
you are helping to keep
my son in a good Catholic High School.

Thanks, again.
And God Bless!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Letter to St. Peter

March 4, 2008
Dear St. Peter,

I just read an article that made me cry about a parish in Minnesota. . . . Rules and Regulations. . Rules and Regulations. . . I know we need them to keep order. But sometimes the rules just get in the way.

I have a lot of questions I’d like to ask you. I just don’t know. I just don’t understand all of these rules and regulations and what they have to do with Life Eternal. Again, I know we need the rules to keep things running smoothly. But, well, it’s just that lately the rules create more darkness than light.

I mean, we just heard the story of the Man Born Blind at mass this past weekend. Yet, so many fail to be able to see. Please, St. Peter, answer my questions. I’d really like a clearer vision of what Diosito wants this Church of ours to look like for our day.

If David danced before the Lord
why isn’t o.k. for the faithful to do so today?

If Judith played her tambourine,
wouldn’t tambourines at worship
make liturgy more scripturally sound?

If a woman proclaims the Gospel at mass on Sunday
does that mean The Word is uttered without effect?

If the Paschal Candle
is placed 12 inches too far to the left
does that, somehow,
make the Holy Fire
of the Easter Vigil less sacred?

If some can’t even see
the metaphor in the previous question
without my pointing it out for them,
How can they possibly hope
to proclaim The Word,
which is so full of metaphors and creative imagery,
to today’s world?

If someone says,
"The Lord be with you,"
and I respond, "and also with you,"
instead of, "and with your spirit,"
does that mean that the Lord,
will not be with that person
because of the phrase I respond with?

And why is the church
worried about translations right now anyway?
Don’t we really have
things of much greater importance to be focused on?

If the vestment for Advent
Is closer to the color blue than purple,
will the Liturgical Police arrest someone?
Who will they arrest?
The priest who wore it?
The Worship Commission who decided upon it?
The parish secretary who ordered it?
The owners of the liturgical supply house
whose catalogue advertised it?
The owners of the company in China who made it. . . .
. . .who probably aren’t even Catholic anyway?
What would the Liturgical Police
say about a blue zarape?

If a Catholic priest gets married
does this, somehow, erase the Sacrament of Ordination?
If so, then,
if a married Anglican priest becomes a Catholic priest,
shouldn’t this, then, erase his marriage??

St. Peter,
When will you tell you us more about your wife?
I’m certain she could give many
the inspiration needed to keep going right now.
Can you tell her that there are many of us
that would like for her to start her own blog?
Her site would get plenty of hits,
that’s for sure!

And Oh. . . St. Peter. . .
. . when what’s going on in the country
goes and gets all mixed up the teachings of Jesus. . .
St. Peter, tell me,
before I feed the hungry
do I really need to ask to see their Green Card first?
And please explain to me, Good St. Peter,
how we can break the bread at the Eucharistic Table,
And then tell some of God’s children
it’s o.k. for them to harvest the grapes,
but it’s not o.k. for them to drink the wine?

And when Leonardo Boff was silenced,
didn’t anyone realize
that this would only make us hungrier for his words?

And Good St. Peter,
Please tell me the truth.
Wasn’t it a woman who first said these words,
"This is my Body.
This is my blood,"
When she embraced her newborn son
in the cave of Bethlehem?

And all this talk
Of what is or is not appropriate music for the liturgy.
Please tell me, San Pedro,
Is there a Mariachi Band in Heaven?
You see,
I just can’t imagine walking in through those pearly gates
Without the trumpet making music, "El Son de la Negra."

Quite frankly, it’s not The Kingdom without Mariachi.
If a Mariachi Band isn’t allowed,
then please don’t have them come for me
until you can straighten out the books on that one.

Please be sure to straighten out the rule about dancing, too.
Nothing celebrates the joy of life
that our Good and Gracious God has given us
like a really good Cumbia.

I’ll await your response on the rest of my questions.
In the meantime,
I’ll try to work them out from this earthly plain.

Say a hello to my dad for me.
You know, he was named after you.
I hope this isn’t asking too much,
But when it is time for me to Come Home,
I would prefer it if he was the San Pedro to open up the gates.
Actually, he’ll be able to do a lot of the grunt work for you.
I’m sure he’s already got a Mariachi band all picked out.

Oh, and say hello to Lupita for me, too.
I’m sure She couldn’t imagine Dec. 12th
without a really good Mariachi band
and really good Matachin dancers either.

I’m sure you have a lot of important work to do,
Being one of the major santos and all.
So I’ll close here.
Thank you for all that you do for us.
Estamos muy agradecidos.

Tu hermana en la lucha,

© 2008, Rubi Martinez-Bernat.
All Rights Reserved.
Second Letter to St. Peter

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Detroit Area Mariachi
Performing The Well Loved Celestial Song:
El Son De La Negra

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