Yesterday we were gifted with a poem on the cosmic love that birthed us and our Earth by Rafael Jesús González.

“Tribute to Archbishop Oscar Romero” Mural by Jamie Morgan, 2001 Balmy Alley, San Francisco. Photo by Franco Folini on Flickr

Speaking of love, let us listen to Archbishop (now Saint) Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who gave his life fighting for social and economic and ecological justice.  Therefore for love.

Romero knew that his work on behalf of the poor was making him enemies in high places and that his life was in danger.   In response, he gave this instruction:

You can tell the people that if they proceed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize that they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.

Notice how he defines “church” as people—not as buildings or hierarchy, rules and laws.

Live footage of Saint Oscar Romero describing his vocation as the Archbishop of a persecuted community. Vatican News – English NOTE: this video may take time to load.

The church would betray its own love for God and its fidelity to the gospel if it stopped being a defender of the rights of the poor, or a humanizer of every legitimate struggle to achieve a more just society . . . that prepares the way for the true reign of God in history.

Notice how “fidelity to the gospel” is love defending the rights of the poor, thus bringing about a new era of God in history.

When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.

Romero foresaw his own murder, for this speech was given shortly before he was gunned down while celebrating the liturgy. Around the same time, he wrote the American president begging him to cease providing money for the Salvadorian military, which was making war on its citizens. Romero stood for those with very little voice.

“Sophia: Mother Wisdom, Mother Church.” Manuscript illumination from Scivias (Know the Ways) by Hildegard of Bingen (Disibodenberg: 1151).

In understanding the church “as the people,” more than as structure or hierarchy, he was echoing Hildegard of Bingen who also described the church as lay people and not the hierarchy as such. 

The Second Vatican Council also tried to understand “church” as “the people of God” and not as structures and those who manage them.

On the other hand, it seems that all humans are God’s people. There are Jewish people and Buddhist people and Muslim and indigenous and atheist people.  People of God everywhere.

And all beings are God’s people. As indigenous traditions remind us, there are tree people, cloud people, 4 legged, slithering, winged and finned people.  People of God everywhere. 

Creation is a family of all our relations, therefore all us people.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, p. 265. 

See also, Fox, Original Blessing.  

And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

Also see Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Mural honoring Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, martyr and “voice of the voiceless.” San Salvador, exterior of La Hospital Divina Providencia. Photographer unknown, posted to Twitter by BAMEAnglican.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree with Romero and Hildegard and Vatican II that the church is “the people.”  What follows from that?  Do you agree that all beings are “the people of God”?  What follows from that?

Recommended Reading

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

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Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.


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14 thoughts on “Speaking of Love, A Word from Oscar Romero”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You remind us today of the powerful poem on “the cosmic loved that birthed us and our Earth by Rafael Jesús González.” And now, “Speaking of love, let us listen to Archbishop (now Saint) Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who gave his life fighting for social and economic and ecological justice. Therefore for love.” Romero knew that his life was in danger. In response, he gave this instruction: “You can tell the people that if they proceed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize that they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.” Then you add: “Notice how he defines ‘church’ as people—not as buildings or hierarchy, rules and laws.” And you say he was “echoing Hildegard of Bingen who also described the church as lay people and not the hierarchy as such.” But then you end by saying that ALL people are the people of God, and ALL beings are as well for you end in saying: “As indigenous traditions remind us, there are tree people, cloud people, 4 legged, slithering, winged and finned people. People of God everywhere. Creation is a family of all our relations, therefore all us people.” And “Yes” I believe that ALL beings are the people of God…

  2. Avatar

    Yes I agree and by extension believe that the church is the people and all beings are children of God. However admittedly, and sometimes shamefully believing it and living it out day to day are not always one and the same. The trap of capitalism/ materialism can be hard shackles to break. What follows from this is placing the value of all beings above any and all material capitalist agendas. Only then can we be aligned and congruent with what Greta Vosper says in the subtitle of her book ” With or Without God : Why the way we live is more important than what we believe”. This to me is the crux of the dilemma which we face at the crossroads of our history. Can we congruently realign ourselves to find the healthy rapport with Mother Earth which is essential to our survival so that this relationship becomes the yardstick by which we evaluate our social structures; ultimately seeking to evolve these structures towards symbiotic relationships with mother earth and all beings. This will require the courage which John O’Donohue puts so succinctly
    “May I have the courage
    today, to live the life that i would love, to postpone my dreams no longer but to do at last what I came here for and waste my heart on fear no more.”
    May it be so.
    David Chuipka
    MDiv student
    Ontario, Canada

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      David, Thank you for your comment today. Especially what you say here is not to be missed: “The trap of capitalism/ materialism can be hard shackles to break. What follows from this is placing the value of all beings above any and all material capitalist agendas. Only then can we be aligned and congruent with what Greta Vosper says in the subtitle of her book “With or Without God : Why the way we live is more important than what we believe”. In Judaism they can say the Halakah if more important than the Haggadah and it means pretty much the same that the way we live is more important than the stories/theologies we believe.

  3. Avatar

    There are many unsung Saints among us, fiercely loving, without fear… amidst the chaos, the trials, tribulations and calamities… continously giving birth to compassion and mercy… manifesting the Holy Spirit of the divine essence and presence of God/Goddess incarnate within… in solidarity with those whom suffer. This is the hidden potential seeded and sealed within all… the unfolding, evolving emergence of the Cosmic Christ, through not just one human being, but through the many. Each soul is potentially a Saint in the making… given infinite opportunities daily, again and again, to express this spiritual reality in their own unique way.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Today you write: “Each soul is potentially a Saint in the making… given infinite opportunities daily, again and again, to express this spiritual reality in their own unique way.” This is true in the Catholic sense in that saints are extraordinary people who lived lives of deep devotion. We think of St. Hildegard, St. Francis, St. Thomas, and here St. Oscar Romero. But in the Protestant traditions other than the Anglican / Episcopal and sometimes Lutheran, see saints as just the people of God, so in that sense you are St. Jeanette !!!

  4. Avatar

    Romero’s radical act of forgiveness to his executioners echoes Jesus’ “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”….. a mind bending deep soul miracle of grace….

  5. Avatar

    “All beings are the people of God.” Yes, I definitely believe and have faith in that… For me, that means that the sacredness of God’s Love and Presence is in All living and ‘non-living’ things, All of ongoing co-Creation~Evolution, especially in our unique human eternal hearts~souls, in our beautiful Sacred Mother Nature-Earth, and within All of our multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos of Loving Diverse Oneness….
    ????

  6. Avatar

    Yes. I believe the President was Jimmy Carter who denied his request. The Democratic Party’s hands are very dirty in there complicity with imperialism. The US was supporting these right wing militias in it’s fight against “communism”. Here is an interesting article on Brazil’s struggles with Pentecostal churches in Brazil who are in league with Israel and the paramilitary forces in Brazil.
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/democraciaabierta/rise-narco-militia-pentecostal-brazil-en/

  7. Avatar

    What a contrast to the “churches” that most of society is indoctrinated into.
    Unfortunately children are exposed and indoctrinated to inaccurate and false teachings at an early age. It takes a long time to shed the teachings that come from authoritarian know it alls.
    Are we blessed, chosen or different that we have a view and experience that is not the same as main stream?

  8. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    David, You write today: “Are we blessed, chosen or different that we have a view and experience that is not the same as main stream?” I say “Hopefully, yes!”

  9. Avatar

    What follows from the knowledge that the church is the people and that all people are of God is simply acting out the great commandment, to love God with all one’s heart and soul and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. This is countercultural and very dangerous as Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, jr., discovered, as have many lesser known saints, who have been vilified by their own colleagues before being murdered. It takes a great deal of courage based on faith to take on the powers and principalities, the seats of empire, and still we must take them on, each in our own way.

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