Two weeks ago in El Salvador, I met a man who was a guerilla during the 12-year civil war. He told us, “I was a guerilla from the ages of 17-28. Now I'm 47. During the war, I believed in what we were doing. But now, I see that on both sides, rich people were profiting from the sale of arms, and poor people were killing each other. And to me, not much has changed for the poor.”
War is not a solution. Have you seen that bumper sticker, “War is Not Working”? Violence begets violence. That includes verbal violence, attitudes of hatred or contempt, abuse - all the ways we try to dominate each other with the force of our actions or words. God doesn't dominate or control. That’s not the way of love.
Our president had a beautiful response to the terrible violence in Arizona last week. He said that we should “make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” When violent acts like that tear at our collective soul, I like to let them remind me to be aware of what I’m putting out into the world. Are my words, my attitudes and actions contributing to healing the world, or adding to the pain? Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Every time we add to the light and love in the world by praying for our enemies – praying for those we disagree with politically, praying for the gunman in Arizona at the same time that we’re praying for healing for those he wounded, and for comfort and peace for the families of those who died – every time we pray past what’s comfortable and into the place where it hurts, and ask God for healing – we grow a little bit. And when you pray for people you find yourself starting to love them, and you’re less likely to speak words that wound them.
“We may not be able to stop all the evil in the world,” President Obama said, “but I know that how we treat each other is entirely up to us.”
This week after Mass we will talk about plans for a Naming Ceremony for the new church, hopefully a time to invite folks in and celebrate together the birth of Oscar Romero church. Join us if you’d like to help plan our first event!
Some of us have been talking about meeting weekly to learn to celebrate Mass in Spanish together, in preparation for bringing St Romero’s masses out to the migrant camps in the spring. We’ll also work on our conversational Spanish. If you’re interested in joining this group, send me a note. We don’t have the details of time and place worked out yet, although Sunday nights seem likely.
Love to all
“Say to those that hate and curse you, ‘You are our brothers!’” [sisters, too!] ~ Theophilus of Antioch
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Church in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14603