Jon Sobrino: Spiritual Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert Lassalle-Klein

Spiritual Writings
Selected with an Introduction
by Robert Lassalle-Klein
Spiritual Masters Series
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York 10545
Paperback. 203 pages, $31.00 CAD.
ISBN #978-1-62698-300-7.
Publisher’s Promo:

A new volume in the popular Modern Spiritual Masters series, this work focuses on the spiritual writings of Jesuit Jon Sobrino of El Salvador, one of the original voices of liberation theology and one of the most significant theologians in the church todayYou ask, ‘Who are you?’ . . . It would be better to ask the crucified people. They know who we are, who I am—an answer that is not far from another traditional reply: God knows us better than we know ourselves.”

Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit priest in El Salvador, is one of the original voices of liberation theology and among the most influential and prophetic theologians in the church to­day. After studies in Germany, he returned to El Salvador, where his immersion in the world of the suffering poor transformed his theology. It was like “awakening from the sleep of inhu­manity.” From this perspective came a new understanding of Jesus’s life, death, and resur­rection, and their meaning for the “crucified peoples” of the planet.

Sobrino’s work was further shaped by his rela­tionship to Archbishop Romero and the other martyrs of El Salvador, particularly his own Jesuit community, who were massacred in 1989. This collection of his “spiritual writings,” including many texts translated here for the first time, conveys a powerful understanding of the meaning of discipleship in terms of soli­darity with the poor and rejected people of our world.

Editor’s Bio:

Robert Lassalle-Klein is professor of religious studies and philosophy at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA. He is the author of Blood and Ink: Ignacio Ellacuría, Jon Sobrino, and the Jesuit Martyrs of the University of Central America (Orbis 2014), and co-editor of Love That Produces Hope: The Thought of Ignacio Ellacuría (Liturgical Press).

Sobrino Comments:

I am surprised and grateful for the interest in a collection of my spiritual writings. At the same time, I rejoice in this book because I believe that the topics addressed here will do some good: concerning God, Jesus of Nazareth, the martyrs, and the victims… I also believe that the topics, though weighty, generate hope… I desire that making these texts of mine widely available will bring inspiration and hope to everyone who reads them.

– from the foreword
  Jon Sobrino, Romero Centre, San Salvador

Sobrino Wikipedia Bio:

Editorial Remarks and Wayne’s Comments:

Both new and experienced readers of Jon Sobrino will find
fresh questions and insights in the spiritual writings collected
here, some of them appearing for the first time. Several go to
the heart of what it means to be human in an often inhumane
world. Others take the reader inside remarkable friendships,
profound joys, and real suffering.

Jon Sobrino is perhaps the leading witness and interpreter of
the epoch-changing religious and political events that rocked
Latin America and the Catholic Church in the decades after
World War II.

(As a result of political and religious developments in Latin
America) many people there and around the world were
called to respond to the signs of the times in light of the

Their prayerful conclusion was that God was calling the
Latin American church to claim a “preferential option for
the poor” in support of the aspirations of the continent’s
poor majorities for liberation and development.

(A long-standing friendship existed between Sobrino
and Archbishop Oscar Romero but Rome responded to
the theology of men like Sobrino by declaring that it gave
the “impression of errors”. Sobrino responded with a blunt
and painful recitation of injustices against him and the
people he served. While he was never officially prevented

from writing, Rome had issued a “warning” against it.)

(After many years, however, the pendulum has reversed
direction. Recently, another progressive Latin American,
pope – Francis, has encouraged Sobrino to keep writing
and has reversed the negative Roman reaction by
declaring Romero a saint).

At long last, many personal letters sent by Sobrino to
his friends and to authorities in Rome appear for the
first time. Much pathos is recorded here as he tries to
be both faithful to his church authorities and to the
people he felt truly called to serve.

Sobrino speaks of the profound mystery living amid
this dichotomy presented to him. Out of these struggles,
he developed a theology “grounded in the poor and the
rejected of this world”.

This resulting book leads readers through a developing
spirituality that was hard won but profoundly meaningful
and significant. It is a true grace to be able to participate
in the evolution of this spirituality. It is also proof that
“the arc of history does indeed tend toward justice”.

– adapted from The Introduction

Review by Wayne Holst

My Thoughts:

I first encountered the early writings of Jon Sobrino and
his nascent liberation theology while serving as a missionary
in Trinidad WI during the late 1960’s – fifty years ago.

Little did I realize the impact of this movement and its
theological antecedents at the time, but I have since come to
discover just how important and far-reaching it was.

I was able to include themes learned in the 1960s with thesis
writing for my doctoral dissertation written during the 1980s.

We have also come to see the “spill-over” effect of liberation
theology in such movements as those promoting race, creed
and gender (even #me-too) equality into modern times. Who
knows what future implications remain to appear?

Another important shift resulting from liberation theology was
the evolution of theology from theory to practice. The good
theology I was first exposed to in the 1960s has developed
dramatically from “belief” to “praxis” for me. Theology that
cannot influence my behaviour is really not good theology
at all.

I continue to be grateful to the people at Orbis Books,
Maryknoll NY, and particularly colleague Robert Ellsberg
for continuing to publish new titles in the Spiritual Masters
Series, now numbering at least 70.

If you lived through the era when liberation theology first
appeared on the scene, or if you would like to be taken on
a guided tour of how it was formed in the writing of Jon
Sobrino, I encourage you to secure this book.

The witness of Jon Sobrino and his friend Oscar Romero are
now indelibly ingrained into Christian history, theology and

Buy the book from

Buy the book from Orbis:


Wayne A. Holst was a Lutheran pastor (ELCIC) for 25 years. He taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary for a quarter century and co-ordinates adult spiritual development at St. David’s United Church, Calgary.
Colleagues List, Vol. XIV. No. 20. November 25, 2018

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