Our Lenten series, «Septem Sermones ad Pauperem» (“Seven Sermons to the Poor”) is inspired this year in Pope Francis’ Lenten Message. From February 14, 1980 through March 24, 1980, Archbishop Óscar A. Romero lived the last 40 days of his life—a period I call his Quaresima d’amore (because it starts on St. Valentine’s Day), in which he preached his final seven sermons, some of his very best, encapsulating the message of his life.
Pope Francis has focused Catholics on poverty by making his message for Lent 2014 about St. Paul’s statement that Christ “became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). The poverty of Christ, said the Pope, “is his way of loving us” by suffering for our cause. Archbishop Romero taught the same lesson by preaching about the readings for Lent and what they teach a poor Church for the poor. Accordingly, we will unpack the Pope’s Lent message this year by reviewing seven messages we have drawn from Archbishop Romero’s final seven sermons from 1980:
- Poverty is a central feature of Christ
- Poverty is a valued spiritual trait in the Church
- Poverty is appropriate for Lent
- Poverty points us to God
- Poverty sheds light on sin
- Poverty is not to be confused with misery; and—
- Mere poverty is not enough
In our pass through the seven sermons this year, we will discuss each of these lessons over the next seven weeks and, rather than focus on a specific sermon each week, we will focus on one theme and how that message is reflected in the sermons as a whole.
Let’s begin by reviewing how we have analyzed Romero’s final seven sermons over the past three years.
The Barren Fig Tree
The Prodigal Son
The Grain of Wheat
«Septem» 2014 will kick off next with a discussion of poverty as a central characteristic of Christ.