Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 25, 2015 / 09:26 am
Los Angeles Catholics gave thanks for Archbishop Oscar Romero's upcoming beatification and prayed that his "shining example" of sacrificial love and solidarity with the poor and oppressed will continue to be fruitful.
"Archbishop Romero preached nonviolence and reconciliation in a time of hate and vengeance. He spoke out against every form of violence, every violation of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person," Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said in a March 22 homily, noting that this included "the violence of abortion."
"Like the grain of wheat that dies, his life has produced a great harvest - fruits of love," the Los Angeles archbishop continued. "As he did, let us live for the love of Jesus and give ourselves to the service of others. May our lives produce much fruit - in this world and for eternal life."
On Sunday, over 3,000 people gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels for a Spanish-language Mass in honor of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who will be beatified in San Salvador May 23.
The Mass marked the 35th anniversary of Archbishop Romero's March 24, 1980 assassination during his celebration of Mass at a hospital chapel.
Archbishop Gomez concelebrated the Los Angeles Mass with Salvadoran priests who had worked closely with the martyred archbishop. Attendees at the Mass included California Gov. Jerry Brown and diplomatic leaders from Central and South America.
Oscar Romero y Galdamez was archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until his murder. No one has been prosecuted for his assassination, but right-wing death squads are suspected.
The archbishop was a vocal critic of the human rights abuses of the repressive Salvadoran government, which sponsored death squads and conducted forced "disappearances" of its opponents.
Romero spoke out on behalf of the poor and the victims of repression. The Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that he was murdered as an act of hatred for the faith.
Archbishop Gomez said Romero pastored people who lived in "desperate poverty" and "radical inequality."
"He walked with his people during this dark time of sorrow and fear - living and working alongside this people, sharing in their struggles."
He said Romero was "most certainly a martyr" who died for his witness to the Christian faith.
The Los Angeles archbishop reflected on Archbishop Romero's final homily, which was based on a reading from the Gospel of John: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."
In his final homily, Archbishop Romero said: "whoever out of love for Christ gives themselves to the service of others will live, like the grain of wheat that dies... Whoever offers their life out of love for Christ, and in service to others, will live like the seed that dies."
Archbishop Gomez gave thanks for Romero's upcoming beatification.
He said the slain archbishop is "a shining example to all of us," showing humility and courage, love for the poor, and his "witness of solidarity and service to others, even to the point of laying down his life."
"May the seeds he planted with his life continue to bear fruit in our hearts and in the Church," Archbishop Gomez. He added that every Christian must "follow Jesus in our own way" through reaching out to neighbors, seeking the face of God in the poor, the immigrant, the prisoner, the sick, the hungry and the lonely.
Archbishop Gomez prayed that Our Lady of Peace, the patron saint of El Salvador, watch over Salvadorans and "guide them to know the freedom, justice and peace that Blessed Oscar Romero gave his life for."