There are moments in life when you are struck by the power of the spoken or written word and it stops you in your tracks.

It happened to me recently when I was sent some quotes made by St Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated 44 years ago on 24th March 1980 while celebrating Mass in the small chapel of the hospital where he lived.

His ‘crime’ was speaking out in defense of the persecuted peoples of El Salvador who were being indiscriminately killed by armed actors on behalf of the ruling elite of the day. Archbishop Romero knew the risks he was taking and had received numerous death threats, which makes his words all the more poignant:

Black and white photograph of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

“This is the hope that inspires us as Christians. We know that every effort to improve society, especially when injustice and sin are so widespread, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us. We have the assurance that we will never fail in all the work we do on earth if we infuse it with Christian hope. We will find it purified in that kingdom where our merit will be according to what we have done on this earth. If we illuminate with Christian hope our intense longings for justice and peace, and all that is good, then we can be sure that no one dies forever. If we have imbued our work with a sense of great faith, love of God, and hope for humanity, then all our endeavours will lead to the splendid crown that is the sure reward for the work of sowing truth, justice, love, and goodness on earth. Our work does not remain here; it is gathered and purified by the Spirit of God and returned to us as a reward.”
Seconds before his martyrdom on 24 March 1980.

I am inspired anew by his faith, hope and courage in the face of such violence and pray for the courage to speak out on behalf of those who are voiceless and are being persecuted today and I hope the little I am able to do in my work and life may be as richly blessed by God.

I hope his words inspire you who read them, to speak out on behalf of the many people who are suffering from poverty, injustice and conflict and respond with generosity to those who are in need of help, here at home and around the world.

With grateful thanks to Julian Filochowski, Director of the Archbishop Romero Trust.