Monday, August 31, 2015

A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to His People Volume 1 (Convivium Press)

Oscar Romero was born in 1917 and died in March of 1980 (three years before I was born). He was the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador and spoke bravely against social injustice, poverty, and other issues affecting people in his city. He died a martyr, being assassinated while offering Mass. Many people proclaim him a proponent of liberation theology (interpreting Scripture and the Christian faith through the experience of the poor), but according to Romero's biographer he was not interested in liberation theology. He was beatified on May 23, 2015 by Pope Francis.  Convivium Press has undertaken an ambitious project of publishing a six volume set of all his homilies, which are entitled A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to His People. Today, I am featuring Volume 1.

Archbishop Oscar Romero is credited with delivering 193 homilies while he was Archbishop. They were broadcast on the radio for everyone to hear and later transcribed and published. Due to the nature of radio broadcasts, there are times that not all the words were intelligible or caught on the tape recording. A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to His People Volume 1 contains 46 homilies, which span from March 14, 1977 to November 25, 1977. Many of the homilies in this book were given on Sunday, but sadly there are a couple of funeral Masses as well, which were given for assassinated priests.

Homily 28 was one of my favorite in this volume, as it discusses characteristics of the Church. Romero tells us that we must protect and defend the dignity of all human beings. He also tells us that our aim is not to turn our back on this world or worse, conform to this world, but instead we are called to transform the world and sanctify it. Romero also describes the Church using two words - missionary and pilgrim. We are called to be missionaries to the whole world by spreading the Gospel of Jesus, and we are on a pilgrimage to the heavenly Jerusalem. He also talks about the eschatological mission of the Church. Yes, we are called to help people and their physical needs down here, but it cannot stop there. We must point people to Heaven and instruct them that this world will one day pass, but there is an eternity one way or the other (Heaven or Hell), and that they will only find eternal happiness in Heaven.

Reading through these homilies, one can sense a great deal of wisdom in Romero's words. However, there is also great sadness in reading his words. It seems like every homily, he is discussing the assassinations and deaths of innocent priests and citizens. As indicated by the title of this series of books, one also sees a prophetic mission in his words. Romero was a lot like John the Baptist in that he had no fear in speaking out against what he knew in his heart was wrong. It ultimately cost them both their lives, and I believe they both knew that it would. The blood of the martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church, and because of Romero's death, reform eventually came in El Salvador. Three of the six volumes of his homilies have been published so far, and I can't wait to read more of them.

This book was provided to me for free by Convivium Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!