creating personal relationships between communities of hope in the United States and El Salvador in order to share learning experiences, spiritual accompaniment, and material support in our faithful work to build communities based on justice for all who seek a dignified, sustainable life

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Study Trip Reflections: Rutilio Grande

The April 2nd departure date for the Cielo Azul Study Trip in El Salvador is drawing near!  Our participants will be considering brief reflections each week to begin to enter into this experience prayerfully together.  We'll be posting those here on our blog so that you can share this with us.

Our first reflection comes from Ron Morgan, whose enduring relationship with the people of El Salvador began in the late 1980s, during the civil war.  Ron is a member of the Cielo Azul advisory board and member of Central Baptist Church in Wayne, PA.


Rutilio Grande memorial on the road to El Paisnal
This morning I attended a session of the Alternative Seminary here in Philadelphia. The subject was “THE CROSS OF CHRIST: A Justification for Redemptive Violence Or a Call to Gospel Nonviolence?” One of the themes of our discussion was the “scandal” as theologian Jon Sobrino put it, that by being nameless and faceless, poor people suffer--are ground to bits by structural injustices--without attention being paid to their lives and deaths. But, Sobrino continues, it was the contribution of murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero and Jesuit Ignacio Ellecuria that began to “give a name” to these hundreds of thousands when they referred to them as “Christ crucified in history,” or as “the crucified people.”

We also talked about the historical fact that Jesus was executed by Rome as a subversive threat both to the power of Rome and to the power of the Jewish Temple hierarchy, both of whose authority he undermined with his call to “announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to let the broken victims go free.” (Luke 4: 18-19)

As I have been anticipating our trip to El Salvador next month, I couldn’t help remembering that March 12th is the anniversary of the murder of the Salvadoran Jesuit priest Rutillio Grande. A friend of Romero’s from their student days, he was murdered for his advocacy of peasant workers and his attempts to “give names” to those who were being oppressed by landowners. Many people think that Rutillio’s death had a profound impact on the more cautious, bookish Romero, pushing him to begin to listen to the stories of the poor.

Here are some of the things people remember Rutillio Grande saying:

  • “Some people cross themselves in the name of the father (money), and the son (coffee), and the spirit (especially if it's cane liquor!). That's not the God who is the Father of our Brother and Lord, Jesus, who gives us the good Spirit so that we can all be sisters and brothers in equiality, and so that we, the faithful followers of Jesus, can work to make His Reign present here among us.”
  • “Don't be like fireworks—all noise and hullabaloo towards the heavens way up there! We have to fix this mess here on earth. Here on earth! God isn't in the clouds lying in a hammock. He cares about thte way things are going so badly for the poor down here."
  • “I've said many times that we have not come with the sword—or the machete. Our work is not that. Our violence is in the Word of God, the Word that forces us to change ourselves so that we can make this world a better place, the Word that charges us with the enormous task of changing the world.”
  • “Brother and sisters, I fear that if Jesus were to return today, walking from Galilea to Judea, which for us is from Chalatenango to San Salvador.... I dare say that with his words and actions, he'd never get as far as Apopa. They'd detain him around Guazapa, and they'd beat him up, even silence him or have him disappeared!”
  • “The orioles have the conacaste tree where they can hang their nests so they can ive there and sing. But the poor campesion is not allowed his conacaste, or even a little patch of land on which he can live or be burried. Those who have money and power organize themselves, and they have plenty of resources to do so. But campesinos don't have land, or money, or the right to organize so that their voice can be heard, so that they can defend their rights and their dignity as children of God and of this nation.”
  • “We are children of this Church and of this country which is named after El Salvador – the Divine Savior of the World. We can't just say: “It's every man for himself, as long as things go well for me!” We have to save ourselves together as a whole ear of corn, a whole cluster, a whole bagful. We have to save ourselves in community.”
(quotes from Memories in Mosaic by Maria Lopez Vigil)

Ron Morgan and Ruth Orantes
during a meeting at The Simple Way

I can honestly say that it has been one of my greatest joys to help folks to visit “the children of this Church and of this country....” I am anticipating our time together next month!

Ron Morgan
Cielo Azul Advisory Board

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your thoughts Ron! I am very excited about the coming trip!