“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. …We must be hatched or go bad." ~ C.S. Lewis
Pumpkin spice coffee is making its comeback, to the delight of some and the chagrin of many.
‘Tis not the season for pumpkin, they say. Those who wait out the winter with dreams of sun, sand and sea are not ready, mid-August, to move into fall.
Me … I can’t wait.
So, on a day of monsoon rains and cooler temperatures I brew a mug of spice tea and pop in a DVD . Not a feel good kind of movie, but one I watch at least once a year to remind me of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
“Romero” is the powerful story of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador and his commitment to social justice and the poor. It is a disturbing movie, not only because of the violence, which was an historical reality, but because it challenges us as Christians to a moral vision that moves us from complacency and calls us, as Church, to live what Jesus preached through a preferential option for the poor.
What unfolds during the movie is a dynamic journey of faith demonstrating that conversion is always possible, even for a bishop.
A timid, orthodox, predictable bookworm, Bishop Romero was elected as archbishop in February of 1977 by conservative bishops who believed he would not make waves in a land ravished by conflict as rich and poor, brother and sister, fought against each other in the struggle for land reform.
Just one month later, following the brutal death of his friend, Father Rutilio Grande, along with two parishioners – a peasant farmer and a seven-year-old child – Archbishop Romero experienced a turning point, a transformation that would stir up its own storm leading to his assassination on the altar three years later as he raised the consecrated host and prayed.
Soon after Father Grande’s death, the archbishop would say, prophetically, “We must learn this invitation of Christ: ‘Those who wish to come after me must renounce themselves.’ Let them renounce themselves, renounce their comforts, renounce their personal opinions, and follow only the mind of Christ, which can lead us to death but will surely also lead us to resurrection.”
Then, in a hospital chapel in March, 1980, Archbishop Romero spoke his last words before an assassin’s bullet took his life: “We know that every effort to better society, especially when injustice and sin are so ingrained, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”
Archbishop Romero surely walked in the footsteps of Christ, and his journey has led him to sainthood.
Pope Francis will declare him a saint of the Church on Oct. 14 during the Bishops’ Synod on Youth, recognizing him as a martyr who died defending human rights, justice and peace.
Though I have watched “Romero” innumerable times over the years, it continues to be a stark reminder of how far I often travel away from the path Jesus calls me to follow, the path of service and humility and surrender to God’s will.
Once, after showing the movie to my adult faith formation class, one of my students sat in silence for a long time after the movie, finally saying to me, “I hate when you do that. You ask me to think about how I’m living my faith. I was comfortable with it all before this movie. Now I’m not comfortable anymore.”
Archbishop Romero reminds us that “we must overturn so many idols, the idol of self first of all, so that we can be humble, and only from our humility can learn to be redeemers, can learn to work together in the way the world really needs.”
There is no right season for conversion. It happens in all times and places – on street corners, in prison cells, in the work place, in our classrooms, and in our homes.
The important thing is that, with hearts open to God, it happens.
Mary Morrell is the former managing editor of The Monitor and an award-winning writer, editor and educator working at Wellspring Communications. She can be reached at [email protected], and read at her blog, “God Talk and Tea.”[[In-content Ad]]