2 December, 2022

A crisis with the voice of friend

By Diego Recinos

Sweden. Amid the coronavirus pandemic crisis, the Catholic Church Swedish, with an organization of Salvadorans, He commemorated the 40 anniversary of the martyrdom of San Oscar Arnulfo Romero. Whom they took as a model of hope amid the health crisis.

The silence in the church Santa Eugenia, of central Stockholm it was larger than usual. For the surrounding streets, They are always full of people, this day are semidesert. In the park opposite and the passage of the apple trees, a few people are taking pictures clueless. Not many people in the Garden Park King, or trains, or in malls. Stockholm silent.

But nevertheless, a grown man, walks briskly, holding scarf around his neck brings and serves, at once, of tapabocas. Hurriedly enters the temple and find a seat on the right side of the nave of the church. Before sitting, kneels and crosses himself. After, he settles on the bench brown clear and carefully look at those attending the church service. Discreetly the account and the result amazes. Only 33 people.

Gerardo and the man in black

Gerardo is a native of El Salvador. Born, He grew up and lived all his childhood and adolescence in a municipality cataloged high-risk by the strong presence of gangs in place. this reason, He made to leave his home to seek a better future in Europe. "My family had a shop in a central location of Ciudad Delgado. Over time, the store grew and thank God we did well. The store became a convenience store and became suppliers (wholesalers). Nobody gave us anything, My mom worked hard and honestly to lift the place ", expresses Gerardo, between feelings, it recalls her childhood as a happy period.

My mother was Catholic, very devout. Attending church and helped whenever he could. For that reason, the picture of a man dressed in black lens, with folded hands and a red cap; It was common in my house. That figure was that of the bishop of San Salvador Oscar Arnulfo Romero. "My mom believes in him. Talk to him and lights a candle every time he speaks. Because, when gang members began to threaten and blackmail cobranos. She came to him for advice ".

A few years ago, the family business Gerardo was the subject of the collection of income. In addition to the money, Gerardo asked incorporating the gang. Given this family decided to sell the business and get Gerardo of the country. After wandering for several countries, Gerardo arrived in Sweden with the help of a friend.

As it was expected, cold, loneliness, lack of work, despair and frustration they penetrated deep the heart of a Salvadoran who saw his life vanish in a second. The result was a depression. Amid this, Gerardo, on the advice of his mother, He began attending church. Remember a year ago, He came to a church in central Stockholm. In a small chapel, kneeled and cried. He cursed everything and got angry with God for making him live as he was living. At the end catharsis, dried tears and for some strange reason and coincidence, to the right side of it, hanging on the orange brick wall, He was the picture of a man dressed in black lens, with folded hands and a red cap. It was the figure that her mother spoke. It was the figure of Monsignor Romero. "And, I came here following. Sos is a fool ", were the words uttered remembers Gerardo between tears and laughter.

Since that day, Gerardo agree that, in the midst of her loneliness, He formed a friendly bond with Monsignor Romero. At the same his mother, he speaks, crying with him and telling him about their sorrows and joys. In the church found a support group and people with whom to talk and share their pains to overcome her depression. Life has less bittersweet dyes since.

An anniversary without many voices

Maybe that's why, when Gerardo saw the sign where an association of Salvadorans by the Catholic Church of Santa Eugenia, were invited to commemorate the 40 anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero, something within his heart rejoice. It was not for less, now that, celebration it was personal.

But nevertheless, the 24 March this year is in the midst of a health crisis unprecedented in the world. For the coronavirus has affected the life of the entire planet, causing quarantines, dead, infected and closure of many borders. Causing fear of contact or proximity with others. Nobody is safe from the pandemic. It affects us all in one way or another.

Wonder why Gerardo. The only attended Mass 33 people, which kept a considerable distance from one another. No holy water, or no handshake to wish peace in the midst of the Mass, and communion is given in hand. A rite that feels frivolous and aloof.

But, the distance between, frivolity and distance; Monsignor Romero seems to remain a sign of hope and joy. At the beginning of the Eucharist, the celebrant, Father Dominik, It begins with the sign of the cross and the initials prayers. Then he says calmly: “This is not just any celebration, so it comes amid a time that is not any time. For God always gives hope amid crisis. San Oscar Romero is God's call to have hope ". Many of the participants changed their face and smile accompanied with an accomplice movement of their faces, He gave reason to the priest.

Next to the main altar, on the right side of the table of sacrifice, hanging on the top of a lectern white, is the image of the martyred archbishop of El Salvador. The image is framed in the middle of a golden frame on black background. And it is a silent witness and an omnipresent guard the faces of the guests. Most of them are faces of men and women Caucasians, a few of black and just three Latinos. Two Salvadorans and one Colombian. Ironically, those attending the celebration of the first Salvadoran saint are not Salvadorans, Swedes are mostly.

The above, demonstrates the universality of the message of Archbishop. Because after the consecration, Father Dominik makes a moment of silence, her hands together and then incorporated, extending his arms began to pray the prayers in Spanish. Yes, in Spanish! The face of astonishment and bewilderment of the audience confused, looking from one side to the other, It was only comparable to the joy of the faces of three Latinos who were at Mass. For hope seems to be written in Spanish. A term of prayers, all respond Amen and Father continues in the Eucharist in the Swedish language.

"You heard, I speak spanish. feels nice is to hear the language of one, even a short time. This is what causes a man like Monsignor Romero. Drive around the church ", Gerardo expresses excited after Mass. In his homily, the Father said: "One of the interesting things about Bishop's conversion, your change, as I could call. And how this change occurred? He was changed by reality and the things he saw. It was moved by the lives of the poor. Their experiences and their living conditions moved him. Everything he saw, He heard and felt, awakened something in your life. And he did turn his defense ".

At the end of Mass, Gerardo approached the small altar and quietly made his prayers. Then he left the church. "It gives me great joy and peace. It's true. Hopefully after this coronavirus reality compels us to look back to where we're more screwed. As we are always those who ended up paying for everything ", express. Definitely, realities change people.