Modern Day Saint

Blessed Josemaria Escriva

Blessed Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902. He was ordained to the priesthood in Saragossa on March 28, 1925.

On October 2, 1928, in Madrid, by Divine inspiration he founded Opus Dei, which has opened up a new way for the faithful to sanctify themselves in the midst of the world, through the practice of their ordinary work and in the fulfillment of their personal, family and social duties. They thus have a leaven of intense Christian life in all environments. On February 14, 1930, Blessed Josemaria Escriva by God's grace understood that Opus Dei was meant to develop its apostolate among women as well. On February 14, 1943, he founded the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, inseparably united to Opus Dei. Opus Dei received the definitive approval of the Holy See on June 16, 1950. On November 28, 1982, it was erected as a personal Prelature, a juridical form desired and foreseen by Blessed Josemaria Escriva.

He guided and inspired the growth of Opus Dei throughout the whole world with constant prayer and penance and by the heroic practice of all the virtues. In so doing, he showed loving dedication and untiring concern for all souls, and continual and unconditional surrender to God's will. When he yielded his soul to God, Opus Dei had spread to five continents and with over 60,000 members of 80 nationalities, serving the Church with the same devotion for, and complete loyalty to, the Pope and bishops that Blessed Josemaria Escriva always lived.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was the root and center of his interior life. His profound awareness of being a son of God, expressed on a constant presence of the Holy Trinity, moved him to seek complete identification with Christ in everything, to live a deep and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and to enjoy a continual and confident friendship with the holy guardian angels. This made him a sower of peace and joy along all the ways of the earth.

Blessed Josemaria Escriva told his children that life can be holy, to seek holiness, that our Lord tells us that we are all called to be saints. In one of his homilies he taught: "Christianity is not an easy way of life. It is not enough just to be in the Church, letting the years roll by. In our life, in the life of Christians, our first conversion -- that unique moment which each of us remembers, when we clearly understood everything the Lord was asking of us -- is certainly very significant. But the later conversions are even more important, and they are increasingly demanding. To facilitate the work of grace in these conversions, we need to keep our soul young; we have to call upon the Lord, know how to listen to him and, having found out what has gone wrong, know how to ask for pardon."

He taught that conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results, which continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again -- in new situations -- the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for help so we will know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there is no other way. Our Lord, who is asking us to change, is not a tyrannical master or a rigid and implacable judge: he is our Father. He speaks to us about our lack of generosity, our sins, our mistakes, but He does that in order to free us from them, to promise us His friendship and His love. Awareness that God is our Father brings joy to our conversion: it tells us that we are returning to our Father's house.

Once when Blessed Josemaria Escriva was giving a fellow priest a tour through one of the larger churches in Rome, the priest asked him which was his favorite chapel? Blessed Josemaria went to a window and said; "That is my favorite chapel -- the streets." He emphasized that one can encounter God everywhere, but especially in his professional work. He taught that one's profession could be a revelation of God to each one of us. To members of Opus Dei, this is an important aspect of their lives. Opus Dei gives them a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fullfillment of the Christian's ordinary duty. Whether doctor, carpenter, painter, artist, bricklayer, nurse, or other profession, they can bring God with them to their work.

Blessed Josemaria's life was an example of a life dedicated fully to the service of the Church, from beginning to end. He had a great love for the Pope and he taught all of his children -- and he practiced this himself -- to pray for the Pope every day and to offer something up for him. Msgr. Escriva has repeatedly offered his life for the Church and the Pope. Our Lord accepted this offering, and on June 26, 1975, in Rome in the room where he worked, he surrendered his soul to God with the same holy simplicity that characterized his entire life.

His body rests in the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace at Viale Bruno Buozzi 75, Rome. There it is accompanied by the constant prayer and gratitude of his sons and daughters and countless others who have come closer to God through his example and teaching. His Cause of Canonization was introduced in Rome on February 19, 1981. Pope John Paul ll, on April 9, 1990, declared that he lived the Christian virtues to a heroic degree, and on July 6, 1991, decreed that a cure attributed to his intercession was miraculous. The founder of Opus Dei was beatified by Pope John Paul ll on May 17, 1992, in Rome.

Jim Fritz


Information for this article was obtained from Bulletin on the Life of Msgr. Escriva, 330 Riverside Drive, New York NY 10025. Visit www.opusdei.org

 

 

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