Oscar Romero’s Prayer

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. This is what we are about.

We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are the workers, not the master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that should be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

Oscar Romero (1917-1980), bishop of El Salvador, Archbishop of San Salvador, martyr.  Romero’s surprisng elevation to Archbishop is viewed by many as a compromise by the conservative Roman Catholic Church leaders trying to appease their government during a period of great political unrest.  Largely an intellectual with little experience of the poor and reluctant to consider liberation-minded activism, Romero began campaigning against poverty, social injustice, torture tactics and systematic killings after the death of his close friend and activist, Jesuit Rutilio Grande.  Ultimately, his transformation led to his assassination on March 24, 1980.

According to the website of the Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) established by Visitation Province of the Congregation of Notre Dame, this prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests.  As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.”



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