In these days, The Lumen Christi Institute has seen dispersed the community of scholars we bring together regularly for conversation and dialogue. We are separated from the communion of physical presence and interaction with our friends.
Communio, communion, was central to the vision of Cardinal Francis George, OMI, who blessed the founding of the Lumen Christi Institute in 1997. On April 17, we will observe the fifth anniversary of his death. The idea of communion united the three books he published with the assistance of the institute: The Difference God Makes, God in Action, and A Godly Humanism. To put his thought into one phrase: We come to know and to be ourselves in relationship to others and to God.
Today, when Masses are celebrated without a congregation, we are encouraged to make acts of spiritual communion. Our communion with friends is via the phone or the internet. By faith, we know that spiritual communion in the Eucharist is more real than the innovative technological forms of communication we employ. Cardinal George would remind us that the communion we have both with God and the friendship we enjoy with the saints are also more real.
As part of the communion of the saints, today we remember St. Oscar Romero, former archbishop of San Salvador, who was martyred on this day 40 years ago. In his fidelity to Christ, he challenged violence against the innocent and the injustice of a corrupt social order. He sacrificed his life as a witness to the love of God in Christ and in solidarity with the poor.
Cardinal George would recognize the importance of solidarity with the poor in Christian discipleship; he had planned in his retirement to write a memoir that would reflect on his experience of being with the poor as he traveled worldwide to support communities of missionaries as the vicar general of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
HERE is a video of a presentation that Professor Michael Lee gave at Lumen Christi last year in honor of Oscar Romero’s canonization. Prof. Lee considers how Romero’s witness challenges Christians in the United States to reimagine a robust Christian spirituality that is at once a mystical encounter with God and a prophetic engagement in the struggle for justice. He also reflects on the implications of the archbishop’s recognition as a martyr and on the model of holiness he offers for the wider Church today.
HERE is never-before released audio from a conversation that the great Latin American theologian Father Gustavo Gutierrez, OP, held with University of Chicago students in November 2015 on the topic of Oscar Romero and Pope Francis.
St. Oscar Romero, in your life we see the difference God makes. We are afraid, physically threatened, and separated from our friends. May we who are spiritually poor come to know and to be ourselves in relationship to the poor and to the God who loves them. In your life, we see God in action. St. Oscar Romero, pray for us.
- Thomas Levergood, Executive Director