TIMOTHY VAVEREK Guest column
Saturday March 27, 2010
Christians worldwide are preparing to celebrate the great feast of our Lord’s death and resurrection. For the people of El Salvador, a Central American country named after “The Savior of the World,” this year’s preparation coincides with the observance of the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero during a brutal civil war that claimed 75,000 lives.
A concert of sacred music is being held at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow — Palm Sunday — at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bellmead in remembrance of these events. This ecumenical concert will provide a unique opportunity to experience the way in which music and history can be taken up into celebration of God’s love for us.
The chamber and vocal ensemble Brothers and Sisters In Christ will present a number of choral works, including two by Waco composer and Baylor graduate Carlos Colón-Quintana. Colon, a native El Salvadoran, and the ensemble just returned from performing in El Salvador where his piece in commemoration of Archbishop Romero, “Obertura Para Un Mártir,” premiered this week.
The horrific events that unfolded during the civil war in El Salvador, like the events in the Passion of Christ, confront us with the brutality of evil entering the world through our sinful hearts. Although we may view our sins as “no big deal” or as “necessary compromises,” the truth is they spring from the same self-justifying refusal to love that leads to unspeakable crimes against God and man. This refusal caused the 20th century to eclipse the violence of all human history with 100 million civilians sacrificed in the name of security, the people and liberation.
Such atrocities arise when people give way to hatred. First they despise their enemy, then anyone who might become an enemy, and finally anyone who fails to support their ruthless efforts to obtain “victory.”
Archbishop Romero stood in the name of God’s love against the hatred and violence of right-wing and communist groups threatening to drag El Salvador into the abyss of what became a decade-long civil war. He was gunned down while celebrating Mass at the cathedral in San Salvador.
Hatred and desperation grew in that nation as citizens simply disappeared and open combat spread. On occasion, entire villages were massacred. The inhumanity was extreme, taking in its wake women, children and the elderly. The victims endured profound psychological and physical torment. It can rightly be called “demonic.” One survivor, Rufina Amaya, was driven almost senseless by what she saw and heard as her children, husband and entire village were brutally slaughtered.
Colon sought to interpret these events as a Christian and a musician in his new “Obertura” and in his earlier works, “Vencera el almor (for slain Jesuit priests)” and “Las Lamentaciones de Rufina Amaya.” These earlier works will be included in the concert together with “Ave Verum Corpus” (Byrd), “Lift up Your Eyes” (Medema) and other pieces. They remind us that Christ, crucified and risen, is with humanity in the midst of evil to strengthen us by his love and to bring us all to victory in that love.
As we enter Holy Week, please join us in contemplating God’s love shining in the darkness of our lives and bringing us to the bright dawn of Easter.
Reverend Timothy V. Vaverek was ordained in 1985 and has been pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Waco since 1992.