OREMUS: 24 March 2007

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Mar 23 17:00:01 GMT 2007

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OREMUS for Saturday, March 24, 2007 
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, rich in mercy,
you so loved the world 
that when we were dead in our sins,
you sent your only Son for our deliverance.
Lifted up from the earth,
he is light and life;
exalted upon the cross,
he is truth and salvation.
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 34

I will bless the Lord at all times;*
 his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the Lord;*
 let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord;*
 let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me*
 and delivered me out of all my terror.
Look upon him and be radiant,*
 and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me*
 and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the Lord
   encompasses those who fear him,*
 and he will deliver them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;*
 happy are they who trust in him!
Fear the Lord, you that are his saints,*
 for those who fear him lack nothing.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger,*
 but those who seek the Lord
   lack nothing that is good.
Come, children, and listen to me;*
 I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who among you loves life*
 and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
Keep your tongue from evil-speaking*
 and your lips from lying words.
Turn from evil and do good;*
 seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,*
 and his ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,*
 to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
The righteous cry and the Lord hears them*
 and delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted*
 and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
Many are the troubles of the righteous,*
 but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.
He will keep safe all his bones;*
 not one of them shall be broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,*
 and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
The Lord ransoms the life of his servants,*
 and none will be punished who trust in him.

A Song of Repentance (1 John 1:5-9)

This is the message we have heard from Christ
and proclaim to you:
that God is light,
in whom there is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with God
while we walk in darkness,
we lie and do not do what is true.

But if we walk in the light
as God is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another.

And the blood of Jesus, the Son of God,
cleanses us from all our sins.

If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves
and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins,
the One who is faithful and just will forgive us
and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 149

Sing to the Lord a new song;*
 sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in his maker;*
 let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance;*
 let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people*
 and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;*
 let them be joyful on their beds.
Let the praises of God be in their throat*
 and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To wreak vengeance on the nations*
 and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains*
 and their nobles with links of iron;
To inflict on them the judgement decreed;*
 this is glory for all his faithful people.

FIRST READING [Exodus 12:21-27]:

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to
them, 'Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter
the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the
blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the
two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you
shall go outside the door of your house until morning.
For the Lord will pass through to strike down the
Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on
the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and
will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to
strike you down. You shall observe this rite as a
perpetual ordinance for you and your children. When you
come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has
promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your
children ask you, "What do you mean by this observance?"
you shall say, "It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord,
for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt,
when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses."
' And the people bowed down and worshipped.

Words: John Ellerton, 1858, rev. 1867
Tune: Old 112th, St. Chrysostom     
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God of the living, in whose eyes
unveiled thy whole creation lies,
all souls are thine; we must not say
that those are dead who pass away,
from this our world of flesh set free;
we know them living unto thee.

Released from earthly toil and strife,
with thee is hidden still their life;
thine are their thoughts, their works, their powers,
all thine, and yet most truly ours;
for well we know, where'er they be,
our dead are living unto thee.

Not spilled like water on the ground,
not wrapped in dreamless sleep profound,
not wandering in unknown despair
beyond thy voice, thine arm, thy care;
not left to lie like fallen tree;
not dead, but living unto thee.

Thy word is true, thy will is just;
to thee we leave them, Lord, in trust;
and bless thee for the love which gave
thy Son to fill a human grave,
that none might fear that world to see
where all are living unto thee.

O Breather into man of breath,
O Holder of the keys of death,
O Giver of the life within,
save us from death, the death of sin;
that body, soul and spirit be
for ever living unto thee.

SECOND READING [John 11:45-57]:

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did,
believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had
done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said,
'What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this,
everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy
place and our nation.' But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said
to them, 'You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to
have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.' He did not
say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about
to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed
children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there
to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with
the disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to
Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and
were asking one another as they stood in the temple, 'What do you think? Surely he
will not come to the festival, will he?' Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had
given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that
they might arrest him. 

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

O Lord, answer us in the day of trouble,
Send us help from your holy place.

Show us the path of life,
For in your presence is joy.

Give justice to the orphan and oppressed
And break the power of wickedness and evil.

Look upon the hungry and sorrowful
And grant them the help for which they long.

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad;
May your glory endure for ever.

Your kingship has dominion over all
And with you is our redemption.

Mercifully hear our prayers, O Lord, 
and spare all those who confess their sins to you; 
that those whose consciences are accused by sin 
may by your merciful pardon be absolved; 
through Jesus Christ your Son 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

May God give us
his comfort and his peace,
his light and his joy,
in this world and the next. Amen.

The psalms and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from _Celebrating Common
Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with

The canticle is 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 _New Patterns for Worship_,
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

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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