OREMUS: 24 March 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Thu Mar 23 17:00:01 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Friday, March 24, 2006 
Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980

O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Blessed are you, God of compassion and mercy:
your steadfast love is shown to every living thing;
your word calls us forth and your law revives and refreshes.
You call us to repent our misuse of your gifts,
that we may be transformed by your wisdom
to manifest for others
the mercy of our crucified and risen Lord.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your loving-kindness;*
 in your great compassion blot out my offences.
Wash me through and through from my wickedness*
 and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,*
 and my sin is ever before me.
Against you only have I sinned*
 and done what is evil in your sight.
And so you are justified when you speak*
 and upright in your judgement.
Indeed, I have been wicked from my birth,*
 a sinner from my mother's womb.
For behold, you look for truth deep within me,*
 and will make me understand wisdom secretly.
Purge me from my sin and I shall be pure;*
 wash me and I shall be clean indeed.
Make me hear of joy and gladness,*
 that the body you have broken may rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins*
 and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,*
 and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence*
 and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again*
 and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
I shall teach your ways to the wicked,*
 and sinners shall return to you.
Deliver me from death, O God,*
 and my tongue shall sing of your righteousness,
   O God of my salvation.
Open my lips, O Lord,*
 and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Had you desired it, I would have offered sacrifice,*
 but you take no delight in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit;*
 a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Be favourable and gracious to Zion,*
 and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with the appointed sacrifices,
   with burnt-offerings and oblations;*
 then shall they offer young bullocks upon your altar.

A Song of Christ the Servant (1 Peter 2.21b-25

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example,
that you should follow in his steps.

He committed no sin, no guile was found on his lips,
when he was reviled, he did not revile in turn.

When he suffered, he did not threaten,
but he trusted himself to God who judges justly.

Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

By his wounds, you have been healed,
for you were straying like sheep,
but have now returned
cato the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Psalm 147:1-12

How good it is to sing praises to our God!*
 how pleasant it is to honour him with praise!
The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;*
 he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted*
 and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars*
 and calls them all by their names.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;*
 there is no limit to his wisdom.
The Lord lifts up the lowly,*
 but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;*
 make music to our God upon the harp.
He covers the heavens with clouds*
 and prepares rain for the earth;
He makes grass to grow upon the mountains*
 and green plants to serve us all.
He provides food for flocks and herds*
 and for the young ravens when they cry.
He is not impressed by the might of a horse,*
 he has no pleasure in human strength;
But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him,*
 in those who await his gracious favour.

READING [John 3:1-15]:

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the
Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi,
we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for
no one can do these signs that you do apart from the
presence of God.' Jesus answered him, 'Very truly, I tell
you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born
from above.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can anyone be
born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time
into the mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered,
'Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of
God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born
of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is
spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You
must be born from above." The wind blows where it
chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not
know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with
everyone who is born of the Spirit.' Nicodemus said to
him, 'How can these things be?' Jesus answered him, 'Are
you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand
these things?
'Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and
testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our
testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and
you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you
about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven
except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that
whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

For another Biblical reading,
Job 22:1-20

Words: William Walsham How, 1876
Tune: North Coates   
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O my Savior, lifted
from the earth for me,
draw me, in thy mercy,
nearer unto thee.

Lift my earth-bound longings,
fix them, Lord, above;
draw me with the magnet
of thy mighty love.

Lord, thine arms are stretching
ever far and wide,
to enfold thy children
to thy loving side.

And I come, O Jesus:
dare I turn away?
No, thy love hath conquered,
and I come today.

Bringing all my burdens,
sorrow, sin and care,
at thy feet I lay them,
and I leave them there.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

 Gracious God and Father,
you have given your Son for us all,
that his death might be our life
and his affliction our peace.

We pray for the suffering...
the hungry....
the refugees....
the prisoners....
the persecuted....
all who bring sin and suffering to others....
ministries of care and relief....
the Church in all its work, especially the Diocese of Bukedi, Uganda,
The Rt Revd Nicodemus Engwalas-Okille, Bishop...

Gracious God and Father, we give you thanks

for the cross of Christ at the heart of creation,
the presence of Christ in our weakness and strength,
the power of Christ to transform our suffering....

for all ministries of healing,
all agencies of relief,
all that sets men free from pain, fear and distress....

for the assurance that your mercy knows no limit,
and for the privilege of sharing
your work of renewal through prayer.

In darkness and in light,
in trouble and in joy,
help us to trust your love, to serve your purpose
and to praise your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, 
you know us to be set in the midst 
of so many and great dangers, 
that by reason of the frailty of our nature 
we cannot always stand upright: 
Grant us such strength and protection 
as may support us in all dangers, 
and carry us through all temptations; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God,
whose Son became incarnate among the poor
and lived, worked and died in the midst of a city,
give us grace to follow the example of your servant Oscar Romero
and proclaim the message of life,
that we all may come to know
the eternal truth of your Gospel,
as revealed in your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Trusting in the compassion of God,
let us pray as our Savior taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

God of love,
turn our hearts to your ways;
and give us peace. Amen.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray),
(c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle, the opening thanksgiving and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer
from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary Edition_,
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving adapts phrases from _Opening
Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_. Canterbury Press,
Norwich, 1999.

The closing sentence is from An Invitation to Prayer, (c) The Church of
England, 2001-2003.
The second collect is by Stephen Benner, 2002, and is based on phrases from
the writings of Archbishop Romero.

Oscar Romero was born in Ciudad Barrios, a town in the mountainous east of
El Salvador, on 15 August 1917. He was the second of seven children. When
he was thirteen he declared a vocation to the priesthood.
He went to a seminary in San Miguel, then to the capital San Salvador, and
from there to Rome. He was ordained in 1942. In January 1944 he was
recalled to San Miguel by his bishop and was soon secretary of the diocese.
This position he held for  twenty-three years. In San Miguel his work
flourished and his reputation grew. He established a succession of new
organizations and inspired many with his sermons, broadcast by five local radio
stations and heard across the city.
Romero was impressed, though not always uncritical, of the new Catholicism
that was affirmed with such confidence in Vatican II. In 1970 he became
auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, and there he busied himself with
administration. Many found him a   conservative in views and by temperament.
In 1974 he became bishop of a rural diocese, Santiago de Maria. Three years
later, in February 1977, Oscar Romero became archbishop of San Salvador.

In that month a crowd of protesters were attacked by soldiers in the town
square of the capital. Then, on 12 March 1977, a radical priest, Rutilio Grande,
was murdered in Aguilares. Romero had known him. Now he observed that
there was no official  enquiry. He recognized that power lay in the hands of
violent men, and that they murdered with impunity. The wealthy sanctioned the
violence that maintained them. Death squads committed murder in the cities
while soldiers killed as they wished in the countryside. When a new
government which represented a coalition of powerful interests was elected it
was seen to be by fraud.  There was talk of revolution.
More and more Romero committed himself to the poor and the persecuted,
and he became the catalyst for radical moral prophecy in the church and
outside it. Meanwhile, his church began to document the abuse of human
rights, and to establish the truth in a country governed by lies, where men and
women simply disappeared without account. The press attacked him
vehemently. Romero, it was said, allied the church with revolutionaries. This
he repudiated: the church was not a political movement. But when a succession
of priests were murdered Romero found in their deaths 'testimony of a church
incarnated in the problems of its people.'
In May 1979 he visited the Pope in Rome and presented him with seven
dossiers filled with reports and documents describing the injustices of El
Salvador. But his friends sensed his isolation in the church, while the threats
and dangers against him mounted outside it. On 24 March 1980 he was
suddenly shot dead while celebrating mass in the chapel of the hospital where
he lived.
Today the memory of Oscar Romero is cherished by the people of El Salvador,
and by countless Christians across the world. [Westminster Abbey website]

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