Bishop Kenneth Edward Untener penned a homily for John Cardinal Dearden, Archbishop of Detroit, to deliver on the occasion of the Mass for Deceased Priests, October 25, 1979. This poetic reflection, “We are Prophets of a Future Not Our Own,” was taken from Untener’s text of Cardinal Dearden’s message.
As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero,[a]On 24 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero delivered a sermon in which he called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s … Continue reading
Bishop Untener included it in a reflection titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that words never uttered by Romero are attributed to him.
Pope Francis quoted this reflection verbatim in his remarks to the Roman Curia on December 21, 2015.
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
|↑a||On 24 March 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero delivered a sermon in which he called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights. Later, that evening, Romero celebrated Mass at a small chapel at Hospital de la Divina Providencia (Divine Providence Hospital), a church-run hospital specializing in oncology and care for the terminally ill. Romero finished his sermon, stepped away from the lectern, and took a few steps to stand at the center of the altar. A gunman emerged from a red automobile that had stopped in front of the chapel and fired at the bishop. Romero was struck in the heart, and the vehicle sped off.|