Remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero at 97

Archbishop Romero from the Ignatian Solidarity Network

Archbishop Romero from the Ignatian Solidarity Network

Today, in addition to being the Feast of the Assumption, would have been martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero’s 97th birthday. It’s been a big eighteen months (or so) for Romero news. In April of last year his path to sainthood was unblocked, and although there hasn’t been any movement thus far, when Pope Francis met with the bishops of El Salvador in May of this year he reportedlyassured the bishops of El Salvador that the sainthood cause of slain Archbishop Oscar Romero was proceeding well.”

I was reminded of all this by my friends over at the Ignatian Solidarity Network this morning when I saw their piece “Man as God’s Microphone,” a collection of twelve of Romero’s most powerful quotes.

It was in that list that I found these words of Romero’s:

I don’t want to be an anti, against anybody. I simply want to be the builder of a great affirmation: the affirmation of God, who loves us and who wants to save us.

The builder of a great affirmation. Yes. That’s what I want as well. Or maybe just to be a worker alongside the master builder. Or to trust in that great affirmation that is the God of life. Yes, something like that is what I want: to lean so far in towards the God of life that my life teaches what Romero (and all the martyrs) teach, kenosis.

It’s the same desire that is evoked in a beautiful song I’ve been listening to today. It’s a song that is part of a compilation called The Martyrs Project, and is composed almost wholly using Archbishop Romero’s own words. It opens with these words: “A martyrs death is a / grace of God that I / do not believe I deserve,” and the refrain is a haunting petition:

Let my blood be a seed of freedom
Let my blood be a seed
Let my blood be a seed of freedom
Let my blood be a seed

Listen to it here:


When the news that Romero’s cause for sainthood had been unblocked came it came in a homily. The homilist was Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

In that same homily he said, using other words, what is sung above: “Martyrs help us live, help us understand there is more joy in giving than in receiving. This is why we need to preserve their memories.” It is because we take this to be true, because we believe that there actually is more joy in giving than receiving, that we ask you to pray for us today, Father Romero.

Please, ask the Father today to bring peace to this holy, broken, world. That the blood of all those dying these days, in Iraq and Palestine, Israel and Missouri, will also be seeds of freedom.

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About Paddy Gilger, SJ

Paddy Gilger is a pastor and teacher of sociology and philosophy at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He's happy to talk at anytime except when the NBA is on. He lives in hope of the Milwaukee Brewers being known for something other than the sausage races.