Saint Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador when he was assassinated while officiating Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence. Pope Francis canonized Romero as a saint on 14 October 2018.

A Mass for the Archbishop

 holy mary mother of god
  have mercy
Virgins murmur at street corners
­  tapping five-inch heels
Officer Christos in a cruiser presses fingers to baton
On #14 the congregation rises for a hymn
 gloria
  peace to his people on earth

Over the spires of San Salvador the generals sang
 glory  glory
Rutilio Grande  Alfonso Navarro  Ernesto Barrera
kneeling at the altar
Choirboys in camouflage raised candles to the chancel
 holy  holy

“I’d like to suggest to you
that some of the investigations
would lead one to believe
that perhaps…”

 sanctus  sanctus sanctus dominus
  deus sabaoth

“And this could have been
at a very low level of both
competence and motivation
in the context of the issue itself.”

Maria Evangelista draws a red heart on her face
Props a red shoe on the sheet
Pulls a rosary between her breasts
Blows smoke from a cigarette
 pray for me a sinner
  i have squandered the inheritance of your saints

Margarita opens her door for pious men
Pouring oil she warms her hands
Schubert plays the violin
Raphael reclines on sandalwood
Lilies sway on the mantelpiece
Jasmine wafts from a celadon vase
 lamb of god have mercy
  grant us peace
 the blessing of god almighty  the father  the son

©Lena Tan, 1993

Quotations from Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State, 1980, during an investigation into the murder of four American nuns in  El Salvador. Fathers Grande, Navarro and Barrera were murdered in 1977 and 1978.

From the Wikipedia page on Oscar Romero:

“‘In less than three years, more than fifty priests have been attacked, threatened, calumniated. Six are already martyrs–they were murdered. Some have been tortured and others expelled [from the country]. Nuns have also been persecuted. The archdiocesan radio station and educational institutions that are Catholic or of a Christian inspiration have been attacked, threatened, intimidated, even bombed. Several parish communities have been raided. If all this has happened to persons who are the most evident representatives of the Church, you can guess what has happened to ordinary Christians, to the campesinos, catechists, lay ministers, and to the ecclesial base communities. There have been threats, arrests, tortures, murders, numbering in the hundreds and thousands…. But it is important to note why [the Church] has been persecuted. Not any and every priest has been persecuted, not any and every institution has been attacked. That part of the church has been attacked and persecuted that put itself on the side of the people and went to the people’s defense. Here again we find the same key to understanding the persecution of the church: the poor.’
  — Óscar Romero, Speech at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, 2 February 1980″

Also:

“A 2000 article by Tom Gibb, then a correspondent with the Guardian and later with the BBC, attributes the murder to a detective of the Salvadoran National Police named Óscar Pérez Linares, on orders of D’Aubuisson  [Roberto D’Aubuisson, Salvadoran politician and death-squad leader, President of the Constituent Assembly from 1982 to 1983]. The article cites an anonymous former death squad member who claimed he had been assigned to guard a house in San Salvador used by a unit of three counter-guerrilla operatives directed by D’Aubuisson. The guard, whom Gibb identified as ‘Jorge,’ purported to have witnessed Linares fraternizing with the group, which was nicknamed the ‘Little Angels,’ and to have heard them praise Linares for the killing. The article furthermore attributes full knowledge of the assassination to the CIA as far back as 1983. The article reports that both Linares and the Little Angels commander, who Jorge identified as ‘El Negro Mario,’ were killed by a CIA-trained Salvadoran special police unit in 1986; the unit had been assigned to investigate the murders. In 1983, U.S. Lt. Col. Oliver North, aide to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, is alleged to have personally requested the Salvadoran military to ‘remove’ Linares and several others from their service. Three years later they were pursued and extrajudicially killed – Linares after being found in neighboring Guatemala. The article cites another source in the Salvadoran military as saying, ‘they knew far too much to live.'” [Guardian article is here]

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Peace on Earth (please?)

 

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The Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK) plays In the Bleak Midwinter.

Recall the homily of Pope Francis on November 19:

We are close to Christmas: there will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war. The world has not understood the way of peace.

What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?

What shall remain? Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims: and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers. Jesus once said: ‘You can not serve two masters:  either God or riches.’ War is the right choice for him, who would serve wealth: ‘Let us build weapons, so that the economy will right itself somewhat, and let us go forward in pursuit of our interests. There is an ugly word the Lord spoke: ‘Cursed!’ Because He said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers!’ The men who work war, who make war, are cursed, they are criminals. A war can be justified – so to speak – with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war – piecemeal though that war may be – a little here, a little there, and everywhere – there is no justification – and God weeps. Jesus weeps.

Peace, please?

 


 

In the Bleak Midwinter
Text: Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934

Last verse:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him –
Give my heart.

The year at dusk

 

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Du Fu “Night in a Pavilion”

Translation and artwork: Lena Tan, 2003

Du Fu

(712-770, Tang Dynasty)

Du Fu came from a family of distinguished scholars and officials. In his youth, he showed a talent for poetry and calligraphy. All his life he longed to serve his emperor and country but failed to secure a stable role in officialdom, which consigned his family to a life of relative poverty. He observed the extravagance of the emperor’s court, the suffering of the people, and the ravages of war, and wrote about that in his poetry.

Du Fu is an acknowledged virtuoso in technique and language, master of the perfect couplet while innovative in style and content. Another Tang poet, Yuan Zhen, inscribed on Du Fu’s tomb: “Since there have been poets, there has never been Du Fu’s equal.”

More poets…