The final resting place of Archbishop Romero has become a focus of spiritual reflection on Romero’s life work and legacy and the locus of Eucharistic celebrations and continued orientation of the faithful along the approved social doctrine of the Church. This is evidenced from the content of regularly held Sunday worship services held by the side of Romero’s grave by the “Community of the Crypt,” a pastoral community of Romero followers who take the San Salvador Cathedral where Romero is buried as their home church. Super Martyrio has reviewed published reports of the sermons preached in the Crypt in 2012 and finds a mainstream Catholic ministry—with an emphasis on social doctrine, naturally.The progressive Salvadoran newspaper Diario Co Latino regularly covers the Crypt sermons, and provides a broad insight into the content of the preaching, carried on by a variety of guest homilists who included high ranking prelates such as the Jesuit Provincial for Central America (who came to preach on the anniversary of the Central America University Jesuit martyrs) as well as visiting priests from all over El Salvador. Regular preachers in the rotation include the Vicar of the San Salvador Cathedral as well as the parish priest of the nearby El Rosario Church. Together, these clerics offer the Crypt Community a consistent message that Archbishop Romero calls on society to put aside greed and consumption to make generous provision for the poor and to purify oneself of hedonistic urges. “Selfishness and envy take over people’s hearts”—a young priest named Fr. Edgardo Reyes preached on July 1, 2012, the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time—“which gives rise to unhealthy passions and when things are acquired easily we do not learn any type of responsibility,” he said. “God calls on us to not be so selfish.” (Scroll down for summaries of all the homilies.)
Other homilists incorporated broader themes of the Church into the preaching which typically centered on Archbishop Romero’s own homily for the same liturgical occasion. For example, Fr. Gerardo Potter, the El Rosario pastor, who preached five of the reported sermons, often wove Pope Benedict’s emphasis on traditional family values into his sermons. In his Pentecost Sunday sermon, Fr. Potter lamented the plight of children who have to go hungry. Later, on October 7, the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Fr. Potter recalled Archbishop Romero’s message of family unity and urged the faithful to smooth over family conflicts by showing “compassion.” And on the Feast of the Holy Family, Fr. Potter preached that the traditional family is the nucleus of a just society. Other preachers took their cues from the current Archbishop of San Salvador, criticizing the Salvadoran legislature for its attempts to skirt the authority of the Salvadoran Supreme Court in a legal crisis that consumed Salvadoran political news during much of the summer.The close fidelity to the magisterium and to the hierarchy in these homilies shows dramatic progress from the situation in previous years. During the archbishopric of Msgr. Fernando Sáenz Lacalle, there was sometimes such a disconnect between the Archbishop’s pastoral line and the doctrinal tendencies of the Community that some of its activist members gloated that there were “two churches” in the Cathedral, and they provocatively used language that played on the symbolism of hierarchy—one Church imposed on top of another, the hierarchical church upstairs and the “popular” church downstairs, etc.—to play up a scandalous division. Not only was such partisan hyperbole gone from the scene last year, so too was any notion of inappropriate superstition or folklore which might color the spirituality. When Fr. Mario Romero (no relation) preached on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, which coincides with a local celebration during which the Cross is decorated with fruits and flowers, in keeping with a former indigenous celebration, Fr. Mario recalled that Archbishop Romero had cautioned that the celebration must be more than mere folklore: “Let us consider the Cross of Christ to be our only hope.”
The following is a recap of all the sermons preached in the Crypt that were reported by Co Latino. During much of the first half of the year, the San Salvador Cathedral was occupied by Salvadoran Civil War veterans protesting the lack of government benefits available to them, and therefore there were no masses, either in the Crypt or in the main worship space of the Cathedral. Services resumed in May. Super Martyrio is thankful to Co Latino and to the journalists who reported on the Crypt sermons in 2012—they are all women! They are: Leonor Cárdenas, Beatriz Castillo, Patricia Meza, Gloria Silvia Orellana, Bianca Segura, Zoraya Urbina, and Alma Vilches.
RECAPS OF THE 2012 HOMILIES
Homilist: Fr. Antonio Rodríguez, Franciscan priest. Excerpt: Fr. Rodriguez preached that we must put aside anything that tends to marginalize or devalue life. “This admonition is not directed to a specific group, we all need to practice our moral, social and spiritual values, because many people end up reducing their faith and practices to mere folklore, completely surrendering to the powerful.”
Homilist: Fr. Mario Romero. Excerpt: Fr. Mario criticized the role of politicians in the Salvadoran constitutional crisis. “The deputies,” he said, “are not and never will be shepherds. They have left a bad taste in people’s mouths because they are salary drawers, not good shepherds. They cannot continue betraying the people.”
Homilist: Fr. Jorge Aguilar. He spoke about Archbishop Romero as an inspiration for mothers and their children (the homily coincided with Mothers’ Day in Latin America).
Homilist: Fr. Antonio Rodríguez, Franciscan priest. Fr. Rodríguez said that the normal human response to injustice was indignation. He turned the concept to the country’s gang problem: “We need to raise awareness of this phenomenon through indignation, so we can begin to make a difference from within our own homes.”
Homilist: Fr. Gerardo Potter, pastor of El Rosario Church. Excerpt: “Where have we come to that we do not think it’s important to know that there are many children who are starving in the world? That is not right, because there is so much food in the world that could feed all of humanity twice over, but at the same time there are many others in the world who are starving.”
Homilist: Fr. Gerardo Potter, pastor of El Rosario Church. Fr. Potter said Archbishop Romero was a “magnet” for the international community. He said Archbishop Romero’s words were always “surprising, precise and inspiring,” which is why people come to the Crypt from all over the world to venerate him and be near to him.
Homilist: Fr. Miguel Hernández, from the parish of Santa Lucía in Ilopango (El Salvador). Excerpts: “Men were born to us who worked for the transformation of our country and that transformation still has not come. It is unfortunate that we should still be seeing victims for the liberation of our people … Archbishop Romero offered himself like a sacrificial lamb, because he accepted his sacrifice and then released himself into the Salvadoran people, but the transformation will not come if we do not all work for it … We make Christ current every time we celebrate Mass, his sacrifice of body and blood returns in a Communion of love, just like the impoverished mother who shares bread in her humble table with her children as an act of love.”
Homilist: Fr. Fredy Sandoval. Fr. Sandoval criticized the consumerist culture. Excerpts: “32 years later [after Romero was assassinated], we are still murdering children, born and unborn, men and women, regardless of age … Life is opposed by economic, political, and labor forces that distort its meaning … El Salvador is the greatest consumerist country in Latin America. It’s embarrassing.”
Homilist: Fr. Edgardo Reyes. Excerpt: “Selfishness and envy take over people’s hearts, which gives rise to unhealthy passions and when things are acquired easily we do not learn any type of responsibility. God calls on us to not be so selfish.”
Homilist: Fr. Balmore Pedroza, Vicar of the San Salvador Cathedral. Fr. Pedroso denounced the desecration of Archbishop Romero’s statue during protests in San Salvador. Excerpt: “Archbishop Romero encountered numerous difficulties in his time and they often told him ‘Leave the country, go and stop denouncing injustice.’ This is why we see in Archbishop Romero the figure of a prophet.”
Homilist: Fr. Antonio Rodríguez, Franciscan priest. Fr. Rodríguez bemoaned the lack of leaders in El Salvador. Excerpts: “That sense that Jesus gives us, exists today, in our people who live without knowing the truth, without anyone to shepherd, guided or govern them, without a structure or model of pastors who generate liberation, life, or alternatives … These new pastors or leaders of the world or of the country, are not interested in people, are not interested in living in a state of law. The only thing that motivates them is what they might obtain and generate with the hegemony of the power structure and the State.”
Homilist: Fr. Andrés Oriestini, pastor of Cuyultitán. Excerpt: “Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, it is simply encouraging peaceful coexistence in acknowledging the mistakes of others.”
Homilist: Fr. Pedro D‘Clear. Excerpt: “Archbishop Romero was a new benchmark, a new model of life, especially for Christians, as he was especially concerned about the defense of human life.”
Homilist: Fr. Gerardo Potter, pastor of El Rosario Church. Excerpt: “Jesus stripped himself of his flesh and blood to give it to us to us. Like Him, we are asked to strip and to give to others and to think about them … We are called to think about how we can contribute to the Kingdom of God and to work for real change.”
Homilist: Fr. Balmore Pedroza, Vicar of the San Salvador Cathedral. Excerpts: “Today's Gospel invites us to live in accord with the Word of God and good works, Jesus makes a critique of the Pharisees, they wanted to live the eternal questions but forgot the most important commandment, which is love.” Fr. Balmore said that Romero urged the faithful to live a life in the face of God and not “empty lives,” “which is why he said, let us gain more and more every day, the conscientiousness to be able talk to the Lord, our Father, and that leads us to love our brothers. In the end, what the Church asks of us as Catholics is to be consistent in our faith … When there are so many problems that go unnoticed in our country, men and women who are sick in hospitals and we forget about them, others are killed and extorted and we get lost in the details. We forget about others and bottle ourselves in our own interests, in our selfishness.”
The homilist preached about pilgrimages as a symbol of faith in honor of Archbishop Romero.
Homilist: Fr. Gerardo Potter, pastor of El Rosario Church. Excerpt, on family unity: “We cannot apply the law to the letter, because we have heart and we must have compassion for others.”
Homilist: Fr. Edgardo Reyes. Excerpt: “Detachment from material things is critical to gaining the Kingdom of Heaven … We should not cling to riches. Jesus gives the example of the young man who is saddened when asked to be stripped of his possessions and follow him. Jesus says it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven … Those who have a gift should share it with others and we are meant to do in our daily life … Prudence must be fostered in the rulers so they make decisions that benefit others and not just those that get them out of problems more easily.”
Homilist: Fr. Antonio Rodríguez, Franciscan priest. Excerpt: Archbishop Romero “only needed to be in love with God and his people,” to evangelize the whole country. “The situation of the country is serious, the economy is bad, but keep the evangelizing mission is clear, there should be no proselytizing and we should be instead more human ... we must not give up the values of the gospel and we should not be afraid … I call on the under-trodden to learn to believe and trust in themselves, because only then can we transform life.”
omilist: Fr. Carlos Torres, pastor of Tecoluca, San Vicente. Excerpt: “when we are compassionate, we reach the goodness and mercy of the Lord.”
Homilist: Fr. Jesús Sariego, Jesuit Provincial for Central America. Excerpts: “We are joining the two memories [of the Jesuits and Romero] … We carry them in our hearts, with a great satisfaction to have been partners and friends of such great people that gave so much for this country, and whose sacrifice was not in vain, since peace was achieved, but there is still much do, that is our commitment … The most relevant part of their religious principles is that there cannot be a change for this country that does not take into account the poor, their future, their alternatives, their situation, which was the great message of Archbishop Romero.”
Homilist: Fr. Balmore Pedroza, Vicar of the San Salvador Cathedral. This was another commemoration of the Jesuits.
Homilist: Fr. Carlos Osorio, a young priest of the Costa Rica district and Fr. Enrique Gómez, from Spain. Excerpts: “How many Pilates do we know today that say they have no money to strengthen the development of their cities, but they do increase their own salary or purchased Humvees? … We're like Pilate when we do not allow Christ the King govern within us, in our homes, where there are men who beat their wives and they think they are the masters of the world, just because they have money … You have to understand the feast of Christ the King, for he is the Lord of history, because He is rooted in the hearts of each of us and tells us to build His kingdom in this society.”
Homilist: Fr. Manuel Cardona, of the San Carlos Borromeo parish. Excerpts: “Christians must open their hearts and expand hope for everyone. Just as John the Baptist did. We take our task in the name of God … With the death of Father Rutilio Grande, Archbishop [Romero] decided to make his the work of evangelizing and defending the oppressed in this country. We all need to take up our own responsibility in this … This government assumed the responsibility to commemorate Archbishop [Romero]. That responsibility was not theirs, but the government of ARENA, who forgot our martyr. It is important that we remember but not only with material aspects, he also should be in our hearts and in our commitment to change this country.”
Homilist: Fr. Alan de Jesús Ventura. Excerpt: “In this world greed does not stop, selfishness has progressed to incredible heights, we do not have our hearts set on God, this is why terrible things are done.”
Homilist: Fr. Alejandro Celso. Excerpt: “These are no longer Christmases in which we recall the birth of Jesus, but the commerce of the season that envelops us … It is the birth of the Prince of Peace.”
Homilist: Fr. Gerardo Potter, pastor of El Rosario Church. Fr. Potter preached that the traditional family is the nucleus of a just society.
2010 Crypt Recap (Spanish)