Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Honoring Romero

In a few ways I feel bad that I haven’t written about Monseñor Romero today on the 35th anniversary of his martyrdom in the chapel of the Divina Providencia Hospital in San Salvador. 

The alter where Monseñor Romero was martyred

But I spent almost 12 hours with two members of the small coffee coop in formation in El Zapote de Santa Rosa. We took soil samples from ten of the producers to a laboratory at the Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agricola in La Lima, Cortés, just past the San Pedro Sula airport – a 3.5 hour drive from El Zapote. 

After getting up at 4:30 to wash, make coffee and pray, I left home at 5:30 am, picked up the guys and the samples in El Zapote and headed out toward San Pedro Sula. We talked a bit. I mostly tried to avoid the potholes and the crazy drivers.

As we talked, I learned, sadly, that Oscar and his wife lost an infant last June – due to severe pneumonia. But here he is, taking part in the coop and being its secretary, serving as president of his village’s water board, and teaching the confirmation class in religious education. Oscar is a quiet guy and shows some of what is best about Honduran campesinos.


We spent almost three hours in the lab office. The woman who prepared the samples for the lab was very helpful, extremely pleasant, and even worked through her lunch hour.

The director of the lab is a Honduran who was born and raised in Santa Rosa de Copán and then studied in the US. He seemed to take a liking to the two guys, especially connecting with their Copán ties.  He was also helpful in cutting down the number of samples (close to 100) to 38, thus cutting the costs. It was fascinating watching him going through the soil samples.

It still cost a little more than $1,000 for the analyses, but – thanks be to God and a generous anonymous donor – I had the funds to cover the costs, though I had to run out to an ATM to get more lempiras.

We finished about 1:30 pm and left immediately for home – stopping for a quick 3:00 pm lunch. I left them in El Zapote about 5:45 pm and got to Plan Grande in about 15 minutes.

As I look back on today, I think that what I saw and what we did are truly ways to honor Romero and live out the commitment to our Lord.

Though we are in the middle of Lent, these words from a 1978 Advent sermon of Romero, speak to me of how today, taking soil samples to be analyzed was a great way to honor our blessed martyr, Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero.

Advent should admonish us to discover
  in each brother or sister
    that we greet,
  in each friend whose hand we shake,
  in each beggar who asks for bread,
  in each worker who wants to use
    the right to join a union,
  in each peasant who looks for work
    in the coffee groves,
       the face of Christ.

Then it would not be possible
  to rob them,
  to cheat them,
  to deny them their rights.

They are Christ,
  and whatever is done to them
      Christ will take as done to himself.

This is what Advent is:

Christ living among us.

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