Beginning in 1969, the movement of Christian base communities took root in the poor communities of El Salvador. Small groups gather, often in their homes, to study the Bible and celebrate the sacraments as communities of faith. Their discussions lead to new interpretations of the Gospel based on their daily experiences, and to new understandings of their situation, illuminated by scripture reflection.
The Christian base communities have been attacked for their devotion to the Gospel. Christ the Savior church in the Zacamil district of San Salvador was bombed in 1980 and remained closed for four years. In November 1989 the church was desecrated again by Army troops who violated the tabernacle and scattered the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. The following prayer was offered by the people of the parish to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the Christian base communities in Zacamil on February 12, 1984. The church was decorated with red flowers in memory of the 623 martyrs from this parish. The Eucharist was celebrated by a thousand people, among them twelve priests and the Archbishop.
WE BELIEVE in God,
who created us free and walks with us in the struggle for liberation.
WE BELIEVE in Christ,
crucified again in the suffering of the poor, a suffering which calls out to the conscience of people and nations, a suffering which ends in resurrection.
WE BELIEVE in the power of the Spirit,
capable of inspiring the same compassion which has led our best brothers and sisters to martyrdom.
WE BELIEVE in the Church,
called forth by Jesus and by the Holy Spirit.
WE BELIEVE that when we gather,WE BELIEVE in the Christian community
Jesus is with us, Mary, our Mother, is at our side, a sign of faithfulness to the Lord.
where we proclaim our ideals, through which we practice our Christian faith.
WE BELIEVE in building a Church
where we pray and reflect on our reality, and share in the prophetic, priestly and pastoral mission of Jesus. In this way, we make the Kingdom of God present on earth.
WE BELIEVE in unity in the midst of differences.
WE BELIEVE that Christ calls us
to communion and to live as sisters and brothers.
WE BELIEVE that we need
to love one another, to correct one another compassionately, to forgive each other’s errors and weaknesses.
WE BELIEVE that we need
to help one another recognize our limitations, to support each other in faith.
WE BELIEVE that the poor,
the illiterate and the sick, the persecuted and tortured, are closest to the Gospel of Jesus. Through them, Christ challenges us to work for justice and peace. Their cause is our cause.
WE BELIEVE that Christ is also present
in those who are slaves to their passions, their vices, lies and injustice, to power and money.
WE COMMIT ourselves
to never give up hope in the possibility of their conversion; to love them even though they slander, persecute and kill us; to pray for them and to help them so that one day they may live simply and humbly in the way that the Gospel calls us to live. Amen.
From El Salvador: A Spring Whose Waters Never Run Dry, edited by Jon Sobrino (Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean, 1990), pp. 48-9.