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The simplicity of maternal martyrdom

In the homilies of Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador

In a celebration of the Eucharist attended by mothers of desaparecidos children, Archbishop Romero presents Mary as their model: "From the beginning – he tells them – that is, from when she presents her son in the temple, Mary hears it said that a sword will pierce her soul." He continues: "None of you at the beginning of your own children's lives has heard a prophet announcing to you the terrible and bloody end of your child. If a mother, as happened to Mary, knew from the beginning that her son would die tragically and that her heart was to be pierced by a sword, her whole life would have been an ordeal and unspeakable suffering. Mary, therefore, is the model of mothers who suffer. "

The archbishop, at this point, broadens the horizon and interprets the pain of those mothers as also a testimony against injustice: "Like Mary at the foot of the cross, every mother who suffers for the tragic end of her son, is also a denunciation. Mary, the sorrowful Mother, confronted by the power of Pilate who has unjustly killed her son, becomes herself a cry for justice, a cry of love, a cry for peace, a cry to tell the world what God wants us to do and what God does not want to happen. "

And towards the end of the homily, he addresses himself to all those attending the Mass, and identifies Mary with people who suffer. "Here is the secret: the pain is useless when you are suffering without Christ. But when human suffering continues that of Christ, it becomes a suffering that saves the world. It's like the pain of Mary: a pain serene and full of hope. Even when all were in despair at the death of Jesus on the cross, Mary was serenely waiting for the hour of the resurrection. Mary is the symbol of people suffering under oppression and injustice. Her pain is serene because she awaits the hour of the resurrection. This is Christian suffering, this is the pain of the Church that never fits in with injustice. Mary, without bitterness, awaits the hour when the Risen One will return to give us the redemption that we are expecting "(homily, 1 December 1977).

A seventeen year old girl, G. Mirna Garcia writes this letter to the Archbishop thanking him for his homilies that he continues courageously to address to his people: "Monsignor, I have never before spoken to you but now I need to do so to thank you deeply for all the efforts that you are making so that the rights and duties of all of us are respected. From that humble farmer so full of goodness, of pain, so cruelly mistreated right up to those who directly experience your constant labour I say to you an eternal thank you. I'm seventeen years old, with very little experience in life but enough to express to you this pain I feel in seeing my homeland and my brothers and sisters suffer (...) We need to become convinced that material wealth gives no advantage if it is produced selfishly as seems to be the case in our country. Reading or listening to your homilies I recognize that you are showing us the path open for our salvation (...) I think that the Virgin is working a great deal for us, but I think that what needs to change is our attitudes (...) I firmly hope that children can receive a more clear example, that might point to noble goals and that they can achieve them. I believe that an old person has the right to reach their last day in full security. I hope you feel that I am at your side (...) You are with the poor, and I know they, and we young people are a great hope. (...) More difficult days will come, and in them faith must sustain us, the certainty that God is with us, and if he is with us nothing can be against us."

And this passage of the homily Archbishop Romero pronounced - it was May, 1977 – during the funeral of one of his priests who had been murdered, is very significant: "Not everyone, says the Second Vatican Council, will have the honour of giving their physical blood, of being killed for their faith, but God asks the spirit of martyrdom of all those who believe in him, that is we all have to be willing to die for our faith, even if the Lord does not give us this honour, we, yes, are available, so that when our time to give an account comes, we can say, "Lord, I was willing to give my life for you. And I have given it." Because to give your life does not only mean to be killed; giving your life, having the spirit of martyrdom is to give in duty, in silence, in prayer, in the honest fulfillment of one’s duty; in the silence of everyday life; giving life little by little? Yes, just as a mother gives, who without fear, with the simplicity of maternal martyrdom conceives a child in her womb, gives birth to the child, nurses it, helps the child to grow and cares for it with affection. She gives life. This is martyrdom."




St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 19, 2019