Forcibly after sentence, he was taken. Which of his contemporaries was concerned at his having been cut off from the land of the living, at his having been struck dead for his people’s rebellion? He was given a grave with the wicked, and his tomb is with the rich, although he had done no violence, had spoken no deceit. Isaiah 53:8-9
Romero said, ‘The most important meeting today was one we had with lawyers and law students we had brought together to explain to them the difficulties the Church encounters and to ask them for legal help with so many cases of abuses of human rights. We have a small Legal Aid office… but it is powerless in the face of so many different kinds of cases.’
Let us pray: Jesus, you stood before Pilate, defenceless, without legal representation. We ask that you stand beside those who are imprisoned without trial or have been sentenced without a fair hearing.
Romero said, ‘We should not wonder that a church has a lot of cross to bear. Otherwise, it will not have a lot of resurrection. An accommodating church, a church that seeks prestige without the pain of the cross, is not the authentic church of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Jesus, like Abraham you were obedient to the Father’s call, and by taking up your cross you carried the burden of sin on behalf of us all. Remove from us any love of prestige or status so that we may help to carry your cross.
The Third Station Jesus falls for the first time
A hard lot has been created for human beings, a heavy yoke lies on the children of Adam from the day they come out of their mother’s womb, till the day they return to the mother of them all. Ecclesiasticus 40:1-2
Romero said, ‘Nothing is so important to the Church as human life, as the human person, above all, the person of the poor and the oppressed. Besides being human beings, they are also divine beings, since Jesus said that whatever is done to them he takes as done to him. That bloodshed, those deaths, are beyond all politics. They touch the very heart of God.
Let us pray: Jesus, as you struggled under the weight of your burden you fell with all the frailties of human weakness. Remember us in our weakness when we stumble and when we fall.
Romero said, ‘Even when all despaired at the hour when Christ was dying on the cross, Mary, serene, awaited the hour of resurrection. Mary is the symbol of the people who suffer oppression and injustice. Theirs is the calm suffering that awaits the resurrection. It is Christian suffering, the suffering of the Church, which does not accept the present injustices but awaits without rancour the moment when the Risen One will return to give us the redemption we await.’
Let us pray: Jesus, your mother suffered as she watched you on your journey to the cross. To this day she suffers as she watches over people who are excluded and kept in poverty by unjust political and economic systems. We pray that we may draw inspiration from her as we work for a better world.
Romero said, ‘If people want to look into their own mystery – the meaning of pain, of their work, of their suffering, of their hope – let them put themselves next to Christ. If they accomplish what Christ accomplished – doing the Father’s will, filling themselves with the life that Christ gives the world – they are fulfilling themselves as true human beings.
Let us pray: Jesus, following Simon’s example, we want to put ourselves next to you and walk along with you. Help us to be genuinely human by doing God’s will, speaking out and taking action for the poor.
The Sixth Station Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
‘You see this woman?’ said Jesus, ‘I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason I tell you that her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she would not have shown such great love. Luke 7:44-48
Romero said, ‘There is one rule by which to judge if God is near us or is far away – the rule that God’s word is giving us today: everyone concerned for the hungry, the naked, the poor, for those who have vanished in police custody, for the tortured, for prisoners, for all flesh that suffers has God close at hand.
Let us pray: Jesus, the tenderness of Veronica came briefly to your aid. May we take a share of that tenderness in the knowledge that God is close at hand. May we demonstrate our love through our actions as well as our words.
It is, then, about my weakness that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me, and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Romero said, ‘Brothers and sisters, what a beautiful experience it is to try to follow Christ a little bit and for that to receive the broadside of insults, of disagreements, of slanders, of lost friendships, of being suspect! All this was prophesied.’
Let us pray: Jesus, your weakness in falling a second time was to become your strength as you gathered yourself to pick up the cross and resume your journey. Help us to face, with honesty, our own weaknesses so that we may build our strengths in fellowship with you.
The Eighth Station Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
Large numbers of people followed him, and women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children’. Luke 23:27-28
Romero said, ‘Some want to keep a gospel so disembodied that it doesn’t get involved at all in the world it must save. Christ is now in history. Christ is in the womb of the people. Christ is bringing about the new heavens and the new earth.’
Let us pray: Jesus, we give thanks for all the women and men who stand on the front line of protest to confront injustice. We pray for their continued courage and persistence; and that their sadness and anger be turned into a powerful force for good.
My strength is trickling away, my bones are all disjointed, my heart has turned to wax, melting inside me. My mouth is dry as earthenware, my tongue sticks to my jaw. You lay me down in the dust of death. Psalm 22:14-15
Romero said, ‘The Church, entrusted with the earth’s glory, believes that each person is the Creator’s image and that everyone who tramples it offends God. As holy defender of God’s rights and of his images, the Church must cry out. It takes as spittle in its face, as lashes on its back, as the cross in its passion, all that human beings suffer, even though they may be unbelievers. They suffer as God’s images. There is no dichotomy between human beings and God’s image. Whoever tortures a human being, whoever abuses a human being, whoever outrages a human being abuses God’s image, and the Church takes as its own cross, that martyrdom.’
Let us pray: Jesus, under the weight of the cross your strength ebbs as the hour of execution draws near. We pray for a world free from torture, abuse and outrage.
The Tenth Station Jesus is stripped of his garments
They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he refused it. Then they crucified him, and shared out his clothing, casting lots to decide what each should get. Mark 15:23-24
Romero said, ‘In Potonico we celebrated a Mass of atonement for the sacrilegious robbery of the sacred hosts from that church… Before most of the crowd had arrived, a group of children approached me with signs in their hands and with a letter in which they told me of their solidarity with the many orphaned children, victims of this situation of abuses of human rights, and that they were asking me to support their cause.’
Let us pray: Jesus, stripped of your clothing, you are made ready for the cross. May we be like the parishioners and the children of Potonico, stripped of their possessions, but still practising forgiveness and compassion.
The Eleventh Station Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified and killed by men outside the Law. Acts 2:22-23
Romero said, ‘A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties, do not light up the world they live in.’
Let us pray: Jesus, bloodied and broken, you were nailed to wood and hoisted up high. Fill us with courage as we try to live the gospel in truth in face of conflict and difficulties.
It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ With these words he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46
Romero said, ‘I have often received death threats. I must tell you, that as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection… If God accepts the sacrifice of my life, let my blood be the seed of freedom and a sign that hope will soon be a reality… If they kill me, you can say that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully they will be convinced that it is a waste of time. A bishop will die, but the Church of God, which is the people, will never perish.
Let us pray: Jesus, your life ended with violence. May we learn how to combat violence today through our love of peace and our work for a fairer world.
The Thirteenth Station Jesus is taken down from the cross
Joseph of Arimathaea asked Pilate to let him remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission, so they came and took it away. Nicodemus came as well… and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom. John 19:38-40
Romero said, ‘Let us not think that our dead have gone away from us. Their heaven, their eternal reward, makes them perfect in love; they keep on loving the same causes for which they died. Thus, in El Salvador the force of liberation involves not only those who remain alive, but also all those whom others have tried to kill and who are more present than before in the people’s movement.’
Let us pray: Jesus, as you were laid to rest you were still with us; your light continued to shine. Comfort us over the loss of lives from hunger and war and lead us in our work for peace.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. Matthew 27:59-60
Romero said, ‘The Christian, the Christian community, must not despair. If someone dies in the family, we must not weep like people without hope. If the skies have darkened in our nation’s history, let us not lose hope. We are a community of hope, and like the Israelites in Babylon, let us hope for the hour of liberation. It will come.’
Let us pray: Jesus, you were laid to rest by your friends. We understand their sadness and despair even though we believe in the life to come. We pray that we may be a community of hope and faith, yearning and working for a better world.
The Fifteenth Station Christ is risen, Alleluia!
When they looked they saw that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need to be so amazed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. Mark 16:4-6
Romero said, ‘The Church cannot be deaf or mute before the entreaty of millions of persons who cry out for liberation, persons oppressed by a thousand slaveries. Those who put their faith in the Risen One and work for a world more just, who protest against the injustices of the present system, against the abuses of unjust authorities, against the wrongfulness of humans exploiting humans; all those who begin their struggle with the resurrection of the great Liberator – they alone are authentic Christians.’
Let us pray: Jesus, you broke the shackles of death and showed us the path to life. May we become authentic Christians, united with our sisters and brothers throughout the world to confront injustice and end violence and poverty.
"Many would like the poor to keep on saying that it is God's will for them to live that way. But it is not God's will for some to have everything and others to have nothing. That cannot be of God. God's will is that all his children be happy." Oscar Romero, homily, September 10, 1978
May the courage of Oscar Romero inspire us to work with integrity for an end to poverty.
Writer: Anthony Singleton Photo Credits: Julio Etchart, SIPA Press, Marcella Haddad, Carol Lee, Sean Sprague, Annie Bungeroth, Mike Goldwater.