I remember sensing so deeply God’s presence during my junior year at Georgetown while I was kneeling in the Rose Garden at the University of Central America (UCA). Earlier that morning I looked through what seemed like countless photos of the murdered, bloodied and brutalized bodies of the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter. I found myself asking where was God in this horrific scene. How could something so brutal and inhuman happen?
Though their martyrdoms took place two decades before my visit, I experienced in some small way the agony of their deaths. So too did I feel God’s presence. I knew that God was manifesting his love in the presence of these men and women who fought injustice, who heard the cry of the poor and who encountered those excluded from society. They were men and women who were laboring with God in the work of building the Kingdom of Heaven.
This encounter with the martyrs of El Salvador contributed to my discernment and ultimate decision to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps after graduation from Georgetown. I was moved by their witness and St. Ignatius’ advice that, “love must manifest itself more in deeds than in words.”
This reflection originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Connections.