Los martires – ¡Presente!

jesuit-martyrs-poster-draft-2-2

On this day in 1989 a group of Jesuits and two women who worked with them were martyred in their home in El Salvador. They are known today as the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador.

Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Ignacio Martín-Baro, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Amando López, S.J., Joaquin López y López, S.J., Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Elba Ramos, and Celina Ramos were all brutally murdered by gunmen who stealthily snuck into their compound under the cover of darkness.

You can read more about the incident from this link, a from The Jesuit Post in 2017. Below you will find a video that also goes into their story. As will all those who have gone before us, may their memory forever be a blessing. As with all martyrs, especially those from El Salvador in the 1980’s, we say ¡presente! after their names because as ever, they are present, they are with us, they remind us to press on in the name of justice that can only come through the peace of the Gospel. Their lights shine on, may we always keep those flames burning, passing the light to others with every action in our lives.

Advertisements

Holy Thursday ¡Presente!

Today we celebrate Holy Thursday and we remember the martyrdom of Blessed Oscar Romero. ¡Presente! – this is a term is meant to say that they who once were are with us now. So it is with Christ our Savior and with all those who have gone before us.

a-young-romero-celebrating-mass

A young Bl. Oscar Romero celebrates mass

Let us look at the words found in one of the Eucharistic Prayers that are used at mass in the Catholic church. They speak to what we do on Holy Thursday, and what we do every time we celebrate liturgy.

He always loved those who were his own in the world. When the time came for him to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father, he showed the depth of his love.

While they were at supper, he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take this, all of you, and eat it:
this is my body which will be given up for you.

In the same way, he took the cup, filled with wine. He gave you thanks, and giving the cup to his disciples, said:

Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Take this,” Jesus said, “all of you, and eat it.” These words are powerful, a reminder of the real presence we know today. Christ made real and present, as Flannery O’Connor once famously said, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”  That’s why on Holy Thursday, punctuated this year by the anniversary of Blessed Oscar Romero’s death, the real should be very clear to us. Things were very real for Romero as he was martyred while offering mass in El Salvador on this day in 1984. Make no mistake, we do not need martyrs for any
“real” to happen.

Today let us live deeply the meaning of eucharist, which is rooted in eucharistia, or thanksgiving. Let us live deeply that thanksgiving for the life of Christ, the lives of the saints and martyrs, meaning those known to us, and those unknown. Many an unnamed saint is an anonymous person to the world, but a treasure to God. Everything we do is very real, may the real presence of Jesus nourish us all, and give us strength.

(If you are in the Albany, NY area please join us for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Roman Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park at 7:30pm. All are truly welcome.)

Not mine, dear friend

IMG_0423_0 ¡Presente! Today is the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Maura Clarke M.M., Jean Donovan, Ita Ford M.M., and Dorothy Kazel O.S.U. in El Salvador.  These words from Jean Donovan, the one lay missioner among the sisters speaks to their presence the violent and war-torn land.

The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave…. Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave. I almost could, except for the children, the poor bruised victims of adult lunacy. Who would care for them? Whose heart would be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.

During this time Continue reading

¡Presente!

312093129_b64d023f134womenOn this day in 1980, those now known as “the four churchwomen of El Salvador” were brutally raped and murdered. Their bodies were found in these shallow graves two days later. And yes, I did place the grisly photo there for a reason.

A few weeks back, the New York Times published an excellent account of the story as part of their “Retro Report” series on the website. It is worth your time – 13 minutes -to watch this video. You can find “Killed in El Salvador: An American Story” here.

And yes, it should be distressing to all of us – all of us – to learn or to be reminded of the involvement of the US government in this event. We have a complicated history with El Salvador during that era.

The four women, Ita Ford MM, Maura Clarke MM, Dorothy Kazel OSU, and Jean Donovan lived and worked among the poor and destitute. The following words from Jean Donovan, the only lay person in the group always goes straight to my heart, particularly at this time of waiting during Advent.

The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave…. Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave. I almost could, except for the children, the poor bruised victims of adult lunacy. Who would care for them? Whose heart would be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.

We have many creature comforts and conveniences, as well as distractions and demands in our lives. It is easy to look away, it is easy in fact, to never look in the first place. Hence my choice of a single photo for this post.

During this time of Advent, we are called in fact to wait and to watch. It can be boring, it can be distressing. And to do otherwise might cause more spiritual harm than many of the things identified as “sin” in the world. Hannah Arendt’s remarks on the “banality of evil,” in which she reflects on Adolf Eichmann’s involvement in the Holocaust come to mind. She wrote about how he was a dutiful servant, with some ambition – not simply an anti-semetic ideologue. (A great link to explore Arendt and her work is here.)

Today’s Gospel should remind us of what we “see” and don’t see, of what holds our gaze and what causes us to turn away – and possibly to never look again, as Jesus says:

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Our Advent journey is meant to have us see it and hear it, even when – perhaps most especially when – we do not have the patience or courage to wait, to watch, to see and to hear.

The Four Churchwomen of El Salvador, as evidenced in Jean Donovan’s words above, waited, watched, they saw and heard – and it cost them their lives. So much might not be demanded of most of us, but make no mistake, remaining anything other than present – ¡Presente! – is not an option.

Ultimately, if you can’t stare at the Cross, deeply gazing at the Creche is not possible.

¡Presente! The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador

jesuits-martyred-UCAOn November 16, 1989, 25 years ago today, eight lives ended tragically and barbarically.  Yes, that is a photo of some of their dead bodies.   I am posting it here – a a reminder and also as a prayer, for the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador.

 

El-Salvador-Martyrs+Ignacio Ellacuria SJ, +Ignacio Martín-Baró SJ, +Segundo Montes SJ, Juan Ramón Moreno SJ, +Joaquín López y López SJ, Amando López SJ, along with their housekeeper, +Elba Ramos, and her 16 year old daughter, +Celina Ramos, were brutally assassinated by a death squad from the Salvadoran Army.

Oh yes, this was legit army business, trained and supported by our own US Continue reading