Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Lent in Honduras

Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. If all goes well, I'll get up early and go to the 6:00 am Mass at the Catholic radio station to be signed with ashes.

This is the fourth Lent I've spent here in Honduras. It's hard to know how to "celebrate" Lent here. I live fairly well - with enough food and a comfortable place to live in Santa Rosa.

But the people I work with in the countryside struggle each day to survive. Yet when I visit they always offer me food enough to eat. Many times I have to say to them, "Just a little."

I also occasionally I have to explain that I don't eat meat (or else they would kill a chicken to feed me). I tell them that I have enough protein and want to leave the meat protein for them. (And that is why I became a vegetarian in 1976.)

What will I do? A little more prayer and attentiveness. A little more time directly with the people in the countryside. Eating a little less. But mostly a time to share more with the poor.

These words of Monseñor Oscar Romero in a homily he gave on March 2, 1980, just weeks before his martyrdom, speak to me as I begin this Lent.
This Lent, which we observe amid blood and sorrow, ought to presage a transfiguration of our people, a resurrection of our nation. The church invites us to a modern form of penance, of fasting and prayer – perennial Christian practices, but adapted to the circumstances of each people.

Lenten fasting is not the same thing in those lands where people eat well as is a Lent among our third-world peoples, undernourished as they are, living in a perpetual Lent, always fasting. For those who eat well, Lent is a call to austerity, a call to give away in order to share with those in need. But in poor lands, in homes where there is hunger, Lent should be observed in order to give to the sacrifice that is everyday life the meaning of the cross.

But it should not be out of a mistaken sense of resignation. God does not want that. Rather, feeling in one’s own flesh the consequences of sin and injustice, one is stimulated to work for social justice and a genuine love for the poor. Our Lent should awaken a sense of social justice.

Let us observe our Lent thus, giving our sufferings, our bloodshed, our sorrow the same value that Christ gave to his own condition of poverty, oppression, abandonment, and injustice. Let us change all that into the cross of salvation that redeems the world and our people. And with hatred for none, let us be converted and share both joys and material aids, in our poverty, with those who may be even needier.


The quotation from Romero is taken from The Violence of Love, a compilation of quotes from Archbishop Romero by Father James Brockman, S.J., published by Orbis Books.

The photo is of a crucifix found in a chapel in the parish center in Erandique, Lempira, Honduras.

1 comment:

Joseph de Lange said...

Thanks for this insight on Lent. Your writing shocked me into: "Yeah it's here". It is an encouragement to become more involved with Social Justice issues and, in our western world, with prayer to bring some kind of austerity into our lives. Keep well!