In a new pastoral letter, San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas argues that newly canonized Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero is a “Martyr of the Eucharist.” The pastoral letter, entitled «La Santa Misa llevada a la vida diaria» ("The Holy Mass brought to daily life") and dated October 14 of the current year—the date on which Romero was canonized (but released this week)—is the third one by the martyred saint's successor, after earlier ones published in 2017 and 2016, both Romero-themed.
In «La Santa Misa,» the Archbishop presents Romero as a eucharistic martyr because “his life, passion and death were founded on the Eucharist and strengthened by It as well. His martyrdom in odium fidei was thanks to the Eucharist.” (SM, 16). “From his First Communion, he loved the Eucharist, he was ordained a priest to be able to consecrate the bread and the wine; he lived eucharistically and he died as a Host in oblation to the Lord during the celebration of the Eucharist,” recounts the Archbishop. (SM, 369.)
Presenting the document last Sunday during a press conference after Sunday Mass, the prelate introduced its thesis saying that “the Holy Mass” must be “not only celebrated, but brought to daily life, because faith needs to be not only celebrated, but lived on a day-to-day basis.” He explained that the letter has three parts, and that the first part goes through the history of Eucharistic devotion in the country and ends with an analysis of the current situation of social conflict in the country. “Then the big question is: Why, if we live the Holy Mass, how is it possible that the injustices that lead us to a situation of so much violence could take place?” The second part includes a theological and catechetical meditation on the Eucharist. The third part constitutes an exhortation that takes as models Christ, the Virgin, and the saints, primarily St. Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
Escobar Alas told the press that Romero “lived the Eucharist in its fullness and preached it, he celebrated it every day and had the blessing of dying celebrating the Eucharist, and that is why we repeatedly affirm in the Letter that ‘Monseñor’ is also a Martyr of the Eucharist; without taking away the other merits and the other titles he already has, but we also wanted to mint this one, because we feel that—of course—he deserves it: [he is] the Martyr of the Eucharist.”
Escobar Alas chose the theme for his new pastoral last year, practically before the ink of his previous letter had dried. Certainly, the Eucharist is a theme that is very close to the heart of the Archbishop, whose episcopal shield incorporates a chalice and a Host over it, with the motto “Take this, all of you, and eat of it,” under the shield. The need to impart a great national catechesis (over 200 pgs. long) on the Eucharist as part of his episcopal legacy has been a great impetus behind the Archbishop's decision to publish this letter.
The coincidence with Romero's canonization has been a bit of a stellar alignment, and the overlap between Escobar Alas' devotion to the Eucharist and Romero's distinction as a ‘Martyr of the Eucharist’ has been providential.
“Blessed is Saint Romero who took his priesthood to the point of martyrdom, bearing witness not only with words but with deeds,” proclaims his successor in his third letter (SM, 409)—words that could become a new prayer to insert at the end of the recitation of the Saint Oscar Arnulfo Romero Chaplet (also focused on the Eucharist).
|With the Archbishop, my daughter, and the painter Gothy Lopez.|