Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Gift of Listening

photo: Oak Creek Canyon by Jude Nagurney Camwell

The Gift of Listening
Author unknown

We believe that we listen, but it's not true.

Listening, if we did it deeply and fully, would transform our lives.

Listening is an experience of communion when we choose to be present, when we "hear" with our heart and not just with our ears.

Listening is not a casual or insignificant act, but an act of great purpose and beauty, an act that will inspire and uplift.

It is a way that we can offer each other love and respect.

We listen not to agree or disagree, but simply to hear each other's experience.

And we speak not to obtain attention or approval, but to communicate what is in our hearts and minds.

Our greatest joy is not to find agreement with others, but to experience hearing and being heard deeply and without judgment.

25 Years After Oscar Romero

"People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive..."
(2Timothy 3:2)

"I the Lord do not change."
(Malachi 3:6)

25 Years After Oscar Romero

The prophet is a light for our world, a voice that illuminates the darkness of sin and points the way towards overcoming that darkness. We are called to be light. Take with utmost seriousness what you are doing. We do not pass this light to one another as mere ritual or inspiration, something to make us feel good and to look beautiful.

Consider the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Slavador, who was killed 25 years ago. He gave his last homily on March 24, 1980 moments before a sharpshooter from a death-squad felled him, silencing his radical message of love. Two months earlier, Romero had written to U.S. President Jimmy Carter pleading with him to cease sending military aid to El Slavador because, he wrote, "it is being used to repress my people." The U.S. had sent $1.5 million in aid every day for 12 years. His letter went unheeded.

Romero had a simple message, but it contained the words that are hardest to hear, hardest to learn, hardest to live.

Many people complained that the film, The Passion of the Christ, contained too much gratuitous violence. When you consider that it was a message about the suffering of the world throughout the sad history of mankind's greed and often-violent oppression of the poor, the blood and gore displayed in the film begins to make all too much sense. Movies are generally meant to take us on a breezy route to beauty, but real beauty lies in the the light that reveals the angels of our higher nature. Those angels do not resemble Raphael's flowery vision, but bear the essence of the martyrs of Jusepe De Ribera's artistc interpretation.

Archbishop Romero said:

"God needs the people themselves to save the world. The world of the poor teaches us that liberation will arrive only when the poor are not simply on the receiving end of hand-outs from governments or from the churches, but when they themselves are the masters and protagonists of their own struggle for liberation."

"Unjust social structures are the roots of all violence and disturbances. The church's hard mission is to uproot sins from history, from the political order, from the economy."

"The church has put itself on the side of the poor and has assumed their defense. This means that the church incarnates itself in the world of the poor, proclaims a good news, gives hope, inspires a liberating praxis, defends the cause of the poor and participates in their destiny.

A Christian who does not wish to live this commitment of solidarity with the poor is not worthy of the name Christian. Go out and be light. May your word burn like the word of the prophets. May your defense of the poor and suffering, the victims of injustice and oppression, be a transforming power for our world."


Oscar Romero was once a little boy like the one who may be sleeping warm and snug in your cribs or tiny beds tonight. Being a witness to unspeakable injustice changed his heart and gave him focus. He was a prophet who lived in our time.

George W. Bush beats a mean drum when it comes to giving rhetorical lip service to Jesus, but he isn't going to be the one to save the world through his perverted politics. It's up to us - every one of us - to see that justice comes to the poor in the name of true liberation, regardless of their country of origin or their religion. They must be free to be the masters and protagonists of their own struggles.

I am not ashamed to say that I am committed to bear the force of love, no matter how radical that idea may seem to you; no matter how hard it may be for your ears to hear or your eyes to see.

I thank God for sending men like Oscar Romero to show us the face of angels who dwell among us.

Obispo Romero y los Martires de El Salvador
by House of Escalet - works by Frank Diaz Escalet

"No, brothers and sisters,
El Salvador need not always live like this.
I will tear off the veil of shame
that covers it among all peoples.
I will wipe away the tears
” (Isaiah 25:7–8.)
of all those mothers who no longer have tears
for having wept so much
over their children who are not found.
Here too will he take away the sorrow
of all those homes that this Sunday suffer
the mystery of dear ones abducted
or suffer murder
or torture
or torment.
That is not of God.
God’s banquet will come;
wait for the Lord’s hour.
Let us have faith;
all this will pass away
like a national nightmare,
and we shall awake to the Lord’s great feast.
Let us be filled with this hope."

Oscar Romero
October 15, 1978

See Sojourners article - "San Romero de la America"