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Asking for Courage to See Suffering of the Poor

December 2, 2010

By Sister Claudia W.

What would you do if you were invited to speak up against injustice, to be the voice for the poor? What would you do if you were told to put aside your views, to go with the status quo, or worse, be told you have no voice? What would you do if you became aware that your life is in danger? Would you continue to follow your heart? Would you take up the cross and offer your life for hope, for justice, for peace?

Msgr. Oscar Romero and many others have and continue to, in Catherine McAuley’s words, “give their all to God without any reserve” each and every day.

Today, as I stood in front of the mural outside of the gates of the chapel, where Msgr. Oscar Romero was martyred, these questions became real to me.

As I looked at the expressions of the people (all with stigmatas), at Msgr. Oscar Romero, at the heads of people covering their ears and eyes with expressions of “I don’t want to see or hear”, I felt moved to come closer, to feel the people’s energy, to touch their wounds and to pray with them for courage to open my heart, my ears and my eyes to the suffering of the poor. I couldn’t help but ask for courage, that in the midst of their sufferings, our sufferings, “nothing could happen to me (to us) which God does not appoint,” as Catherine McAuley would say.

I was also reminded, that just as it was a process of conversion for Oscar Romero, so it continues to be for us all. Each and every day we are given the gift to choose, to not lose hope, for in time, conversion can and does occur.

Then when I entered the chapel where Msgr. Oscar Romero was killed, I was immediately drawn to the cross behind the altar, where a sign hangs with the enscription: “Msgr. Oscar Romero offered his life to God for us – for God’s people.”

There’s also a picture of Msgr. Oscar Romero lying on the altar, the cross in the background, and a chalice filled with blood, emptying out over his head.

Powerful images!

It’s been said that Msgr. Oscar Romero has risen in the people of El Salvador. How true! He is very much alive in the people, for they, too, are willing to risk, to risk their lives, to advocate on behalf of the poor.

Listening to the many stories and efforts to pass legislation to legally protect women’s rights — to end the violence, torture, and sexual abuse towards women — and witnessing the women who have been abused come in support of those tirelessly advocating to change systems, offers me hope and encouragement, to risk, to speak, because I do see and hear, and to advocate for and with those who have no voice.

Other blog posts about the experience in El Salvador:

More photos of the El Salvador delegation can be found on our Facebook Page.

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