June 5 – St. Boniface, Bishop & Martyr

SaintBoniface-2

Winfrith had expected to return to England from Friesland (in what is now Holland) in triumph. He had left the land where he was a respected scholar, teacher, and priest because he was convinced he was called to missionary work. He had argued and pestered his abbot into letting him go because he would gain greater success for God in foreign lands. He had abandoned a successful, safe life in his mid-forties to win souls for God.

But from the moment he stepped off the ship, his trip to Friesland to join the famous missionary Willibrord had been a disaster. Winfrith and his companions had landed to discover that the ruler of Friesland, Radbod, had declared war on Christians, destroying churches and monasteries, driving Willibrord into exile, and sending what was left of the Church into hiding. Winfrith tried in vain to convince Radbod to let him and his companions preach. Finally, he had no choice but to return to England a few short months later in defeat.

It would have been easy to give up missionary work at this point. Almost anyone would have looked at this fiasco and said that God was trying to tell him that he was called to stay and serve in England. Winfrith agreed that God had given him a message and he agreed that he had been mistaken. But his mistake had not been in the call but how he followed it. He had believed all he needed to ensure the mission’s success was an enthusiastic response to God’s call.

It’s surprising that Winfrith ever would have believed this since so much of his previous life had depended on training and organization. Born about 675, he had convinced his parents to send him to a monastery for schooling because he admired the monks who had visited his home. Through diligent study he rapidly learned all that this local monastery could teach him and was transfered to the monastery at Nursling for further schooling. There he became such a well-known teacher that students circulated notes from his classes.

Back in England he started planning for his second missionary journey. He kept his enthusiasm but directed his zeal into organization and preparation for the journey. He would go to the pagan lands … but first he would travel to Rome. When he had traveled to Friesland he had had no authority to back him up. No one had sent him there, no one would stand up for him if he needed support or help. Now he went to the pope asking for an official mission and the backing of the Church. Pope Gregory II was intrigued but uncertain and talked to Winfrith all winter long before finally sending him on a test mission to Thuringia in Germany.

In the pope’s commission on May 15, 1719, we have the first record of Winfrith’s new name, Boniface. The pope apparently gave him this new name because the previous day had been the feast of a martyr by that name. From then on he was known as Boniface to all who knew him.

Missionaries had come to Thuringia before but the Church there was in bad shape, isolated and subject to superstition and heresy. Boniface saw that he was going to get no help from the local clergy and monks, but he had learned in Friesland he could not spread God’s word alone. He was about to send for help when he heard that Radbod had died and the missionary Willibrord was back in Friesland. Boniface immediately took off for Friesland, the site of his former humiliation. Perhaps he returned in hopes of redeeming his earlier disaster. It seems more likely, however, that he was following through on the lesson he had learned at that time and was going to get training from the expert in missions: Willibrord.

In the three years he spent with Willibrord, Boniface gave as much as he gained. So helpful was he that Willibrord, who was in his sixties, wanted to make Boniface his successor. But with his training over, Boniface felt the pull of the German missionary work he’d left behind, and, despite Willibrord’s pleas, went to Hesse.

Unlike Thuringia or Friesland, Hesse had never been evangelized. Boniface had to start from scratch. Needing even more authority in dealing with chieftains who were his first goal for converts, he appealed to the pope again. During a trip to Rome, the pope consecrated Boniface bishop.

Boniface returned to find that his problems had worsened. People were attracted by Christianity but unable to give up their old religion and superstitions, perhaps out of fear of being different or of how their old “gods” would react. Knowing that the people needed a reason to let go, Boniface called the tribes to a display of power. As the people watched, Boniface approached the giant oak of Geismar, a sacred tree dedicated to Thor, with an axe. Some of the people must have trembled with each stroke of his axe, but nothing happened. Finally with a crack, the tree split in four parts that we, are told, fell to the ground in the shape of a cross. There stood Boniface, axe in hand, unharmed by their old gods, strong in the power of the one God.

After his success in Hesse, he returned to Thuringia to confront the old problem of the decadent remnants of the Church there. Unable to get help from the suspect clergy in Thuringia, he called to England for help. Nuns and monks responded to his call enthusiastically for many years. We still have many of Boniface’s letters, including correspondence with his helpers in England. Reforming the Church was the biggest challenge in Thuringia and he had many thorny questions to answer. When a rite of baptism had been defective was it valid? What should he do about immoral clergy? Still remembering his first lesson, he appealed to Rome for answers from the pope. All his appeals to Rome helped him — but it also helped forge a much stronger bond between Rome and Europe.

Boniface was called upon to lend his own support to Frankish Church which was also sadly in need of reform. He set up councils and syonds and instituted reforms which revitalized the Church there.

Few saints retire, and Boniface was no exception. At 73, a time when most are thinking of rest and relaxation, Boniface headed back to Friesland on a new mission. One day in 754 while he was awaiting some confirmands, an enemy band attacked his camp. Although his companions wanted to fight, Boniface told them to trust in God and to welcome death for the faith. All of them were martyred.

Boniface is known as the Apostle of Germany. He not only brought the Christian faith but Roman Christian civilization to this portion of Europe.

Advertisements

April 29 – St. Catherine of Siena

stcforchurchweb

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine of Siena was born during the outbreak of the plague in Siena, Italy on March 25, 1347. She was the 25th child born to her mother, although half of her brothers and sisters did not survive childhood. Catherine herself was a twin, but her sister did not survive infancy. Her mother was 40 when she was born. Her father was a cloth dyer.

At the age of 16, Catherine’s sister, Bonaventura, died, leaving her husband as a widower. Catherine’s parents proposed that he marry Catherine as a replacement, but Catherine opposed this. She began fasting and cut her hair short to mar her appearance.

Her parents attempted to resist this move, to avoid marriage, but they were unsuccessful. Her fasting and her devotion to her family, convinced them to relent and allow her to live as she pleased. Catherine once explained that she regarded her father as a representation of Jesus and her mother as Our Lady, and her brothers as the apostles, which helped her to serve them with humility.

Despite Catherine’s religious nature, she did not choose to enter a convent and instead she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, which allowed her to associate with a religious society while living at home.

Fellow Dominican sisters taught St. Catherine how to read. Meanwhile, she lived quietly, isolated within her family home.

St. Catherine developed a habit of giving things away and she continually gave away her family’s food and clothing to people in need. She never asked permission to give these things away, and she quietly put up with their criticisms.

Something changed her when she was 21. She described an experience she referred to as her “mystical marriage to Christ.” There are debates over whether or not St. Catherine was given a ring with some claiming she was given a bejeweled ring, and other claiming the ring was made of Jesus’s skin. St. Catherine herself started the rumor of the latter in her writings, but she was known to often claim the ring itself was invisible.

Such mystical experiences change people, and St. Catherine was no exception. In her vision, she was told to reenter public life and to help the poor and sick. She immediately rejoined her family and went into public to help people in need.

She often visited hospitals and homes where the poor and sick were found. Her activities quickly attracted followers who helped her in her mission to serve the poor and sick.

St. Catherine was drawn further into the world as she worked, and eventually she began to travel, calling for reform of the Church and for people to confess and to love God totally. She became involved in politics, and was key in working to keep city states loyal to the Pope. She was also credited with helping to start a crusade to the Holy Land. On one occasion, she visited a condemned political prisoner and was credited with saving his soul, which she saw being taken up to heaven at the moment of his death.

St. Catherine allegedly was given the stigmata, but like her ring, it was visible only to herself. She took Bl. Raymond of Capua has her confessor and spiritual director.

From 1375 onwards, St. Catherine began dictating letters to scribes. She petitioned for peace and was instrumental in persuading the Pope in Avignon to return to Rome.

She became involved in the fractured politics of her time, but was instrumental in restoring the Papacy to Rome and in brokering peace deals during a time of factional conflict and war between the Italian city states.

She also established a monastery for women in 1377 outside of Siena. She is credited with composing over 400 letters, her Dialogue, which is her definitive work, and her prayers. These works are so influential that St. Catherine would later be declared a Doctor of the Church. She is one of the most influential and popular saints in the Church.

By 1380, the 33-year-old mystic had become ill, possibly because of her habit of extreme fasting. Her confessor, Raymond, ordered her to eat, but she replied that she found it difficult to do so, and that possibly she was ill.

In January of 1380, her illness accelerated her inability to eat and drink. Within weeks, she was unable to use her legs. She died on April 29, following a stroke just a week prior.

Mass Readings – Friday of the 2nd Week of Easter

iStock_000014121945XSmall

Reading 1 – Acts 5:34-42

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,
stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time,
and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel,
be careful what you are about to do to these men.
Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important,
and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed,
and all those who were loyal to him
were disbanded and came to nothing.
After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census.
He also drew people after him,
but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered.
So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him.
After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged,
ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus,
and dismissed them.
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

One thing I ask of the LORD
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

Gospel – John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Mass Readings – Thursday of the 2nd Week of Easter

6a0133f0b2fdc2970b0162fc50bb59970d.jpg

Reading 1 – Acts 5:27-33

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this,
they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34:2 AND 9, 17-18, 19-20

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.

Gospel – John 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.

Mass Readings – Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Easter

a17a96ff2507a39ef8b2406f5120db00

Reading 1 – Acts 5:17-26

The high priest rose up and all his companions,
that is, the party of the Sadducees,
and, filled with jealousy,
laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail.
But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison,
led them out, and said,
“Go and take your place in the temple area,
and tell the people everything about this life.”
When they heard this,
they went to the temple early in the morning and taught.
When the high priest and his companions arrived,
they convened the Sanhedrin,
the full senate of the children of Israel,
and sent to the jail to have them brought in.
But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison,
so they came back and reported,
“We found the jail securely locked
and the guards stationed outside the doors,
but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”
When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report,
they were at a loss about them,
as to what this would come to.
Then someone came in and reported to them,
“The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area
and are teaching the people.”
Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them,
but without force,
because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Gospel – John 3:16-21

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

April 25 – St. Mark the Evangelist

st__mark_the_evangelist_by_lordshadowblade-d62zolm

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist. Much of what we know about St. Mark, the author of the Second Gospel, comes largely from the New Testament and early Christian traditions. Mark the Evangelist is believed to be the ‘John Mark’ referred to in the Acts of the Apostles, the history of the early Church found in the Canon of the New Testament.

He was the son of Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12) whose home became a meeting place for the apostles. He is also the cousin of St. Barnabas (Colossians 4:10), a Levite and a Cypriot.

Mark joined St. Paul and St. Barnabas on their first missionary journey to Antioch in 44 A.D. When the group reached Cyprus, Christian tradition holds that Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem, possibly because he was missing his home (Acts 13:13). This incident may have caused Paul to question whether Mark could be a reliable missionary. This created a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas and led Paul to refuse Mark’s accompaniment on their second journey to the churches of Cilicia and the rest of Asia Minor.

However, it can be assumed the troubles between Paul and Mark did not last long, because when Paul was first imprisoned, Mark, who was at the time in Rome with plans of visiting Asia Minor, visited him as one of his trusted companions (Col 4:10).

Mark’s hopes to visit Asia Minor were most likely carried out, because during Paul’s second captivity and just before his martyrdom, Paul wrote to Timothy at Ephesus advising him to “take Mark and bring him with you [to Rome], for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). If Mark returned to Rome at this time, he was probably there when Paul was martyred.

According to Christian tradition, Mark also held a close relationship with St. Peter, who referred to Mark has ‘his son’ in his letter addressed to a number of churches in Asia Minor (1 Peter 5:13). Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Papias all indicate that Mark was an interpreter for Peter.

Although Papias states Mark had not personally heard the Lord speak firsthand and, like Luke, Mark was not one of the twelve apostles, some believe Mark was likely speaking of himself when he wrote the description of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemani. “Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked” (Mark 14:51-52).

St. Mark lived for years in Alexandria, where he died as a martyr while being dragged through the streets.

Mark’s Gospel was probably written between 60 and 70 A.D., and was based upon the teachings of St. Peter. It is believed Mark provided both Luke and Matthew with basic sources for their Gospel’s.

He was probably the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, although he is not mentioned in connection to the city by either Clement of Alexandria nor by Origen.

In 828, relics of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria and taken to Venice, Italy. There they are enshrined in a beautiful cathedral dedicated to the saint.

St. Mark’s symbol is a winged lion. This is believed to be derived from his description of St. John the Baptist, as “a voice of one crying out in the desert” (Mark 1:3). The wings come from Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures as the evangelists.

He is often depicted as writing or holding his Gospel. He is sometimes shown as a bishop on a throne or as a man helping Venetian sailors.

St. Mark is the patron saint of Venice.

Mass Readings – Monday of the 2nd Week of Easter

Jesus And Nicodemus

Reading 1 – Acts 4:23-31

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord
and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the Holy Spirit
through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.

Indeed they gathered in this city
against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,
Herod and Pontius Pilate,
together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and your will
had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 2:1-3, 4-7A, 7B-9

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples utter folly?
The kings of the earth rise up,
and the princes conspire together
against the LORD and against his anointed:
“Let us break their fetters
and cast their bonds from us!”

He who is throned in heaven laughs;
the LORD derides them.
Then in anger he speaks to them;
he terrifies them in his wrath:
“I myself have set up my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD.

The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you.
Ask of me and I will give you
the nations for an inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
You shall rule them with an iron rod;
you shall shatter them like an earthen dish.”

Gospel – John 3:1-8

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
for no one can do these signs that you are doing
unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him,
“How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills,
and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Statement from Deacon Mark regarding recent action in Syria

Dear Children of God,

Like many of you, I watched in horror at the events which have taken place in Syria as innocent men, women, and children were the victims of a gas attack by the brutal Assad regime, a regime of evil.

Also like many of you, I have seen the news this morning that Mr. Trump has retaliated with 70 cruise missiles launched on Syria.

On both accounts, my heart is deeply troubled, dear Children of God.

Make no mistake: our nation is one of immigrants and refugees, built with the blood, sweat, and tears of those who fled their countries seeking a better life. Yet, when they asked for asylum, for refuge, they were denied, turned away and sent to their death. Those who fake their tears over this recent tragedy while not lifting a finger to bring them out of their terrible situation are just as culpable as the Assad regime, complicit in the murders of those men, women, and children.

Those “Christians” who this morning are praising Mr. Trump for “bombing the crap out of them” and saying “I prayed for the Lord to do something about Syria, and God sent Trump’s missiles” do not realize that for Christians, war is never the answer. “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. They shall not study war again,” the Scripture tells us.

These same “Christians” who feigned anger over the death of Syrias most precious ones, while ignoring their cry for refuge, are the same ones who rejoiced this morning as even more carnage, destruction, and chaos was introduced to the region by yet another brutal dictator.

I am concerned that we live in a country today that would rather see military action than peaceful negotiation, that spends more money on military action than on education, that exercises brute force over mindfulness and intelligence. I am concerned, folks, and you should be too.

I do not make it my policy to comment on politics, however, justice is at stake, lives are at stake, and Christians are rejoicing at carnage, all in the name of Mr. Trump. I see a severe injustice being served on the backs of the Syrian people by two brutal and authoritarian regimes, and can not keep silent.

Pray for Syria and her people. Most of all, pray for peace.

Deacon Mark

The Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord

annunciation-feast-virgin-mary-jpg.jpg

 

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. This great feast finds its origin in Luke’s account of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

March 24 – Blessed Oscar Romero

1541283_orig

 

Today the Church commemorates Blessed Oscar Romero. When Monsignor Oscar Romero was installed as Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador in February 1977, he was thrust into a tumultuous situation. A military coup in October 1979 led to a gruesome, twelve year civil war. These events were precipitated by the great disparity between a small number of powerful, wealthy families – who were backed by local politicians and the military – and the rest of El Salvador’s citizens. Many people suffered extreme poverty. Laborers worked for minimal pay for wealthy landowners, yet they could not hope to obtain land for themselves. The military terrorized the people in order ensure that the families held onto land and money. The Catholic Church became a target when some clergy began to defend the poor. In response to these injustices, some Salvadorans took up arms and fought against the military. While some Latin American clergy promoted violence as a response to injustice, Archbishop Romero advocated for a different weapon: Christian love. Before becoming archbishop, Monsignor Romero was not aware that the government was responsible for the deaths of many civilians. Because of his quiet nature, some thought that he would be good for the position, assuming he would not meddle in controversial affairs. However, shortly after his installation, his close friend, Fr. Rutilio Grande, a priest who openly opposed the unjust practices of wealthy landowners, was assassinated by gunmen while traveling with two people to celebrate Mass. This experience awakened Archbishop Romero to the reality of the corruption in his country and prompted him to take a stand for his people’s freedom. Archbishop Romero preached many homilies that were broadcast throughout San Salvador. He persistently defended the rights of the people, calling government leaders to conversion and challenging them to uphold God’s law. He reminded the people that they were loved by God and that fighting back with Christian charity was the way to victory. His vocal response to government violence against the poor led to difficulties with other clergy members and his religious superiors as well as death threats from government accomplices. In spite of these challenges, he continued to speak out on behalf of the poor. On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Romero was shot to death while celebrating the Eucharist in the chapel of Divina Providencia hospital. Blessed Oscar Romero was beatified by Pope Francis in May 2015.