Last Friday marked Good Friday. Many Catholics here in El Salvador observe the stations of the cross on each Friday of Lent, but particularly on good Friday. Last Friday the Comunidades Eclesiactica de Base met at Ricardone High School to observe the stations of the cross. Ricardone was selected as a sight to begin the procession as April 18th was the 34th anniversary of the assassination of Elvira Daires at the school. 34 years ago Elvira and her friend Miguel came to school to hang a banner that read ‘Yankee Go Home’ in protest to the ongoing support of the US for the Salvadoran government. Soldiers arriving at the school killed her and her companion.
In a leter to that eloquently articulated the objection of many Salvadorans and Americans to ongoing US aid in El Salvador Monsenor Romero wrote ‘The contribution of your government instead of promoting greater justice and peace in El Salvador will without doubt sharpen the injustice and repression against the organizations of the people which repeatedly have been struggling to gain respect for their most fundamental human rights’. And on Friday, the base communities gathered to recall the words and sacrifice of Monsenor Romero, the sacrifice made by Elvira, and the sacrifice that Christ made for the world. A central part of the work of the base communities is to apply the lessons outlined in the Bible to their lives and understand how Christ’s example can help us work for a more just world. We were invited to reflect on the The Viacruces progressed from Ricardone to Las Fosas the neighborhood where Elvira lived and is buried. Along the way we passed other viacruces marches. One of the most noticeable differencesbetween the base community procession and other processions we passed was the amount of energy that emenating from the CEB procession. And I don’t think any of the other processions had a drum corp with them, which helped to keep spirits high.
In Las Fosas we paused at a community house where Elvira and Miguel are buried. Due to military repression during the 80s it was not possible for their families to bury them in the cemetery. Instead they were laid to rest beneath the floor of this community home. Here again we reflected on the sacrifice these children made for the idea of justice, and were reminded that as long as we keep alive their struggles they have not died but live on through our work.
Finally we stopped at a home in the community. Here we listened to Father Pedro de Kler a Belgian priest who lives in Usulatan. He reminded us of some of the words of Monsenor Romero before sharing communion with those in attendance. We finished the day with delicious tamales, made of beans, as no meat is eaten on Fridays during Lent. Members of the communities who had come from all over San Salvador and communities beyond, slowly broke up to return home and enjoy good Friday, having reflected on our commitment to the gospel that motivates the CEBs, the sacrifices that have been made for us, and the work we do to honor those sacrifices and create a more just and equitable world.