Óscar Romero and ‘The Long View’

Today is the 30th anniversary of Bishop Óscar Romero.
Sarah Smith-Pearse has written a reflection on his life for the Caritas blog.

Below, from Bishop Romero himself (Ed: actually Bishop Ken Unterer—see below), a poem he wrote entitled “The Long View”:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is 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 another 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.

That is what we are about:
We plant 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 effects 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 God’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.


Monseñor Óscar Romero

Editor’s note: While these words have been broadly attributed to Bl. Oscar Romero, as noted below, they are correctly attributed to Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw.

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4 Responses to “Óscar Romero and ‘The Long View’”

  1. mabel perlas Says:

    very inspiring when we are discourage in service.

  2. The art of living with continuous failure - Diocese of London Says:

    […] like to end with the final part of a poem called ‘The Long View‘. It was attributed to the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, who was martyred in […]

  3. Demanding Justice, Provoking Love | MCC Palestine Update Says:

    […] a love that is universal and actions that are often courageous; actions that necessitate a “long-view” and tireless persistence towards just peace. He believed, “At the center of non-violence […]

  4. Kendall Says:

    Beautiful words. Someone suggested I look up the author–Bishop Ken Untener, not Archbishop Romero as I had thought. Peace to you.

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