It is nearly thirty years since Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador, was martyred whist taking a communion service in a hospital chapel.

He had spoken out repeatedly about violations of human rights and social injustice in El Salvador and been deeply moved by the murder of other Catholic workers and clergy. As a result of his experiences he moved from a conservative Catholic position to an advocate of liberation theology - which emphasises social justice and political activism.

Although these words of his are often called a prayer, they are more of a reflection. Romero does not address God but he addresses us.

The Prayer of Oscar Romero

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.


  1. Colin  

    10 May 2010 at 21:25

    Hi - I just came across your blog for the first time tonight while looking for a different Romero quote. Thank you for posting this one. I work for Christian Aid where I am responsible for talking with supporters considering leaving a legacy to support our work. I have come across this prayer and have recently used part of it on a bookmark that aims to ask people to consider this type of gift. The prayer speaks so wonderfully of sowing what we will not reap... but we should still sow.