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June 26

St Josemaria Escriva - June 26

Saint Josemaría Escrivá

Priest, Founder of Opus Dei

(1902 – 1975)

“The task for a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being anti anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy and peace.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Days 

Josemaría Escrivá was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902. He was the second of six children born to José Escrivá and María Dolores Albás. His parents were devout Catholics who gave Josemaría a firm grounding in the faith and the Christian virtues:  love for frequent Confession and Holy Communion, a trusting recourse to prayer, devotion to Our Lady, helping those in greatest need. 

Between 1910 and 1913 his three younger sisters died and in 1914 his family suffered financial ruin.   In 1915, the Escrivás moved to Logroño, a nearby town, where their father found a job with which to keep his family. In the winter of 1917-18 something happened, which was to have a decisive influence on Josemaría Escrivá’s future.   The snow fell very heavily that Christmas in Logroño, and one day Josemaría saw some frozen footprints in the snow.   They had been left by a discalced Carmelite.   Josemaría found himself wondering if others sacrifice so much for God and their neighbor, couldn’t I do something too? This was how God started to speak to his heart.

His Ordination and Start as a Priest

Having completed his secondary education, Josemaría started his priestly studies at the Seminary of Logroño. In 1920, he passed on to the Seminary of Saragossa, at whose Pontifical University where he completed his formation prior to his ordination.   At his father’s suggestion and with the permission of his ecclesiastical superiors, Josemaría also studied Law at the University of Saragossa.   His generous and cheerful character and his straightforwardness and calm approach to things won him many friends.   His life of piety, respect for discipline and endeavour in study were an example to his fellow seminarians.  In 1922, when he was but twenty years of age, Josemaría was appointed an inspector or prefect in the Seminary by the Archbishop of Saragossa.

During that time he spent many hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament.   His spiritual life became deeply rooted in the Eucharist.   Each day he would also visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar, asking Mary to request God to show him what He wanted him to do.

On March 28 1925, Josemaría was ordained a priest by Bishop Díaz Gómara in the church of the Seminary of St Charles in Saragossa.   Two days later, he celebrated his first Solemn Mass in the Holy Chapel of the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar. Then on March 31, Josemaría moved to Perdiguera, a small country village, where he had been appointed assistant regent to the parish.

In April 1927, with the consent of his Archbishop, Josemaría took up residence in Madrid to study for his doctorate in Civil Law. In Madrid, his apostolic zeal soon brought him into contact with a wide variety of people:  students, artists, workers, academics, priests. Josemaría spent many hours caring for children and for sick and poverty-stricken people in the outer suburbs of the city.   At the same time he taught law to earn a living for himself and his mother and sister and young brother. 

Founding Opus Dei (Work of God) 

Opus Dei was born on October 2, 1928.  Josemaría was spending some days on retreat.  While doing his meditation on some notes regarding the inner motions, he “saw” Opus Dei (English: Work of God), a way by which Catholics might learn to sanctify themselves by their secular worke.   A few months later, on February 14, 1930, God made him understand that Opus Dei was to spread among women also.

From that moment onward, Josemaría devoted all his energies to the fulfilment of his foundational mission. He was to foster among men and women from all areas of society a personal commitment to follow Christ, to love their neighbour and seek holiness in daily life.  Josemaría did not see himself as an innovator or reformer. He was convinced that Jesus Christ is eternally new. Josemaría thought that the Holy Spirit is constantly rejuvenating the Church, for whose service God has brought Opus Dei into existence.

While Opus Dei was thus taking its first steps, the Spanish Civil War broke out.   It was 1936.   There were serious outbreaks of religious violence in Madrid.   To these Fr Josemaría responded heroically with prayer, penance and apostolic endeavor.  

During the Spanish Civil War, Josemaría fled from Madrid, which was controlled by the anti-clerical Republicans, via Andorra and France, to the city of Burgos, which was the headquarters of General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist forces. After the war ended in 1939 with Franco’s victory, Josemaría was able to resume his studies in Madrid and complete a doctorate in law. For his doctorate, he submitted a thesis on the historical jurisdiction of the Abbess of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas. By 1939, with the war over, the Founder of Opus Dei was able to give new vigour to his apostolic work all over the Spanish peninsula. 

On June 25, 1944 three engineers were ordained to the priesthood – the first ordained in Opus Dei. In 1946,  Josemaría moved to Rome, in order to obtain papal recognition for Opus Dei. Three years later, on June 16, 1950, Josemaría received the Church’s definitive approval for Opus Dei.

St Josemaria Escriva-vatican-statue

Later Years

In 1948, Josemaría founded the Collegium Romanum Sanctae Crucis (Roman College of the Holy Cross), Opus Dei’s educational center for men, in Rome. In 1950, Josemaría was appointed an Honorary Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XII, which allowed him to use the title of Monsignor. In 1953, he founded the Collegium Romanum Sanctae Mariae (Roman College of Saint Mary) to serve the women’s section (these institutions are now joined into the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.) In 1955, he received a doctorate of theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. Josemaría also established the University of Navarre, in Pamplona, and the University of Piura (in Peru), as secular institutions affiliated with Opus Dei.

As the director of Opus Dei during the 1960s and 1970s, Josemaría promoted and oversaw the design and construction of a major shrine at Torreciudad. The new shrine was inaugurated on July 7, 1975, soon after his death. To this day the shrine remains the spiritual center of Opus Dei as well as an important destination for pilgrimage.

During the last years of his life, Josemaría undertook a number of catechetical journeys to countries in Europe and Latin America.   Wherever he went,thousands heard him speak about God, the sacraments, Christian devotions, the sanctification of work and his love for the Church and the Pope.   On March  28, 1975 he celebrated his priestly Golden Jubilee. 

Josemaría died of cardiac arrest on June 26, 1975, aged 73.  Three years after he died, the then Cardinal Albino Luciani (later Pope John Paul I) celebrated the originality of his contribution to Christian spirituality. He is known as the “Saint of the Ordinary”.

At the time of his death, Opus Dei was present in all five continents, with over 60,000 members from 80 nationalities.   His books of spirituality  that include The Way, Holy Rosary, Conversations with Mgr Escrivá, Christ is Passing By, Friends of God, Love for the Church, The Way of the Cross, Furrow, The Forge, have reached multi-millions of copies.

Beatified:           May 17, 1992 by Pope John Paul II

Canonized:        October 6, 2002 by Pope John Paul II

Feast Day:         June 26

Patron Saint:    Opus Dei, Ordinary Life, People with Diabetes

Source:

Reflection

In a homily from 1967, Josemaria states his spirituality in clear terms: “…God is calling you to serve Him ‘in and from’ the ordinary, material, and secular activities of human life. He waits for us every day in the laboratory, in the operating room, in the army barracks, in the university, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”

In other words, there is no need for a serious lay Catholic to abandon his work and routine, his family life, or his everyday relationships to fulfill God’s will. God is found in and through ordinary life. It is not a question of praying the rosary while sweeping the floor, or contemplating scripture while driving. It is about “materializing” holiness by converting ordinary, well-done work into a sacrifice and prayer to God. 

What will you convert today in your ordinary day-to-day life as a sacrifice and prayer to God?

Source: Saint Josemaría Escrivá – My Catholic Life!

Prayers

Saint Josemaría, may your intercession help us to follow your teachings in making our daily labors divine labors. May our work, well done, mingle with Christ’s work and sacrifice to form one perfect offering of praise and thanksgiving to God the Father.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, pray for us. Amen.

Source: Saint Josemaría Escrivá – My Catholic Life!

Saint Links 

Aleteia – 10 Sayings of St. Josemaría Escrivá to encourage us to be joyful

Anastpaul – Saint of the Day – 26 June – St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás (1902-1975) – “The Saint of Ordinary Life”

Catholic Culture – St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

Catholic Exchange – St. Josemaría Escrivá

Catholic Fire – St. Josemaria Escriva

Catholic Ireland – St Josemaria Escriva

Catholic News Agency – St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer Feast Day: Jun 26

Catholic Online – St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

CatholicSaints.info – Saint Josemaría Escrivá

My Catholic Life – Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Priest

Opus Dei  – Saint Josemaría

Vatican – St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer

The Way of the Cross by Josemaría Escrivá

Wikipedia – Josemaría Escrivá

Video Link

Who is Josemaría Escrivá? What is Opus Dei? – Yube Video (Opus Dei)