Josemaria Escriva. Founder of Opus Dei - Opus Dei founder St Josemaria Escriva, his life day by day, teachings on holiness, apostolate, laity, Catholic Church. Testimonies from Opus Dei members <![CDATA[Future Priests of Opus Dei ]]> Video. Jeff, from the United States, Juan Carlos, from Ecuador; Paulo, from Brasil; José Enrique, from Spain; Javier, from Chile, and James, from Kenya, explain what they think about the service of God that they're going to provide as priests once they are ordained on May 9th.

In his homily A Priest Forever, St. Josemaria ponders the nature of the Catholic priesthood, its necessity, dignity, relation to the Mass, as well as the relationship between priests and laity in the Church. Download pdf.]]>
<![CDATA[May, the Month of Mary]]> The Catholic faith sees Mary as a sign of God's special love. God calls us his friends; his grace acts in us, winning us from sin, enabling us to reflect in some way the features of Christ. We start wanting to speak to her, who is also our mother. ]]> <![CDATA[The First Pilgrimage: “What beautiful eyes: they are suns!”]]> On May 2, 1935, St. Josemaria went to visit a shrine in Spain, the shrine of Our Lady of Sonsoles. "It wasn’t a pilgrimage in the normal sense: nothing noisy or elaborate, just three of us." ]]> <![CDATA[Blessed Alvaro, a key figure in the history of Opus Dei]]> The theme of the monographic study section of Volume 9 of the journal Studia et Documenta is Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo, who was beatified on September 27, 2014 - in the centenary year of his birth. A series of four articles, preceded by an Introduction, analyze several aspects of the life of St. Josemaría Escrivá's first successor at the helm of Opus Dei. These articles do not constitute a definitive biography. Instead, they are studies which seek to clarify facts or provide useful tools for future research about Blessed Alvaro, as a key figure in the history of Opus Dei.

The first article, by F. Requena, in Spanish, looks at the men who taught Blessed Alvaro del Portillo theology. St. Josemaría was determined that the first members of Opus Dei to be ordained should receive thorough ecclesiastical training. Accordingly, he took care to select a highly qualified set of teachers for them. Blessed Alvaro's studies for the priesthood provide the key to various aspects of his later life and work, from his responsibilities as head of Opus Dei to his relationship with many twentieth-century theologians and canon lawyers, as well as his work for the Second Vatican Council and, afterwards, the revision of the Code of Canon Law.

It is his work for the Second Vatican Council that is the subject of the second article. In this article, also in Spanish, Manuel Valdés examines Blessed Alvaro’s work as secretary to the Commission De Disciplina Cleri et Populi Christiani ("on the discipline of the clergy and the Christian people"), as well as his contribution to producing the final draft of the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis on the priesthood.

The remaining two articles in the monographic study section deal with aspects of Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo's life as head of Opus Dei. The first article, in Italian, by Carlo Pioppi, explores the expansion of Opus Dei between 1978 and 1993 in some South and Central American countries (Bolivia, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua) and Europe (Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland) – this study will be followed by a second article to be published in a future volume of Studia et Documenta. The final article, in Spanish, by M. E. Ossandón, describes the friendship between Blessed Alvaro and St. John Paul II. This friendship, grounded in Blessed Alvaro's filial attitude towards a Pope who was six years younger than himself, characterized the greater part of his time as head of Opus Dei.

Learn more about Volume 9 of the journal Studia et Documenta.]]>
<![CDATA[The Founding of Nagasaki Seido School]]> A study of the foundation in 1978 of Nagasaki Seido School, a primary and secondary girl’s school representing the first school in Japan inspired by the teachings of St. Josemaría, has just been published in the Volume 9 (2015) of the journal Studia et Documenta, by the Isituto Storico San Josemaría Escrivá. The article also explores the beginnings of Opus Dei in Japan and in Nagasaki. This is a continuation of an article on this topic published in Volume 1 (2007) of Studia et Documenta.

It was in April of 1978, three years after the death of the Founder of Opus Dei, that the first school in Japan inspired by his teachings was opened. Now there are six schools in Nagasaki: Nagasaki Seido Elementary School for Girls, Nagasaki Seido Junior High School for Girls, Seido Mikawadai Elementary School for Boys and Seido Mikawadai Junior High School for Boys, followed in April 2009 by Seido Mikawadai High School for Boys. In April 1983, Mikawa Cooking School, a professional school, was also established.

This article describes the path taken for founding Nagasaki Seido Elementary School and the first decade of its operation. After narrating briefly the beginnings of the apostolic work of Opus Dei in Japan, the first part discusses the birth of the idea of opening a school and the initial projects that followed. Choosing Nagasaki, the place where more Catholics live, as the site for starting a school, encouraged some Opus Dei members to move to this city. The second part deals with the different stages of putting up the school: acquisition of land, preparation of the faculty, definition of the mission statement of the academic institution and legal approval of the proprietor. The article concludes with a summary of the first decade of operations of this academic initiative which started with Nagasaki Seido Elementary School. The epilogue talks about the importance and impact of Christian formation imparted from this academic setting.

Despite Japan being a country with a small minority of Catholics, it is easy to understand Saint Josemaría’s insistence on the importance of human virtues; for example, sincerity, cheerfulness, generosity, courage, the spirit of hard work, to name only a few of the qualities necessary to live a good life anywhere. He emphasised the daily struggle needed to value the little things in life, using them not only as a way of making things easier and more pleasant for others and for society in general, but as a fundamental way of turning ordinary life and work into something that can be offered to God.

This approach to education was very innovative for the Christians of Nagasaki, who had a long history of keeping themselves apart from nonCatholic society. After three or four years passed by, the mother of one Seido
pupil said with emotion, “I am so happy to know that we can live our ordinary life in open coherence with our faith… My father worked up to a high position in the Nagasaki Police Department, but to do so he felt he had to hide his Christianity; we had all grown used to hiding our Christian life for so long!”.

The teachers, almost all non-Catholic, who study what Saint Josemaría did and taught, can be seen making efforts to apply those teachings themselves to their daily work. They put into practice the important emphasis of
Escrivá on the dignity of each student. This allows them to develop as persons in all areas of their lives.

The students are stimulated by the example of their teachers and seek to imitate them. The school foments an atmosphere of friendship and confidence among all who participate in its activities—the teachers, the parents
and the students. From the very beginning an effort was made to attend first of all to the parents, next to the teachers, and then to the students, who benefit greatly from this wise hierarchy promoted by Saint Josemaría.

Because of the professional prestige of the teachers and the high standard in imparting intellectual and moral formation to the students, the school gained the confidence of parents, which was the main aim of the educational program and the key to the official recognition of the school in this society.

It has been 37 years since Nagasaki Seido Elementary School opened. During that period of time we have met many and varied people who have been influenced by Saint Josemaría’s spirit including more than 1,000 former
students of the girls’ school, teachers, families, prefectural and city officials, people connected with the construction and material care of the school, and many, many others… in total more than 6,000 people.

Read the complete article.]]>
<![CDATA[The Pantheon and Santa Maria Sopra Minerva]]> Download pdf.

On entering the Piazza della Rotonda, the Pantheon looms unexpectedly before one’s eyes, looking as though its gray stone bulk has emerged unscathed from the depths of time. It is possibly the best preserved of all the buildings of ancient Rome, and its gigantic dome is an unequalled triumph of architecture.

The most impressive part of all is to cross the portico of ancient pillars, pass through the open bronze doors and enter the interior of the temple. There an unsuspected marvel is to be seen: the light that flows from the circular opening in the ceiling, slips round the curved walls and fills the whole space with serene golden luminosity, majestic and restful.

The Pantheon, as its name suggests, was the temple that the Romans dedicated to all their gods. The building we have today was built in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, between 118 and 128 AD. Centuries later, when the Roman Empire had been almost completely evangelized, the Emperor Phocas gave it to the Church, and in the year 609 Pope Boniface IV transformed it into the church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres. From that time on the church was also a great reliquary, because the Pope wished it to be the final resting-place of the mortal remains of thousands of Christians, many of them martyrs, which had been buried until then in the Catacombs.

At that late stage, almost at the dawn of the Middle Ages, the dedication of the former Pantheon to the Christian martyrs showed how deeply indebted the Church felt to those who had borne witness to Christ to the extreme of giving their lives for their faith. Children like Tarcisius, virgins like Agnes and Cecilia, mothers like Perpetua, old men like Polycarp, had proved, amidst their weakness, to be stronger than all the Roman legions. They had triumphed, like their Master, in the madness of the Cross, and so merited to be hymned and venerated down the centuries.

In the history of the Church, there are very many Saints who spent at least part of their lives in Rome and showed outstanding devotion to the martyrs. One of these is St Catherine of Siena, who lived in Rome at the end of her life, from November 28, 1378 to April 29, 1380, and loved to go and pray before the shrines commemorating the Apostles and the first Christians who had given their lives for the Faith.

St Catherine went to Rome at the request of Pope Urban VI, who needed her prayers and advice to resolve the crisis of the Western Schism. St Catherine lived in a house very near the Pantheon, together with more than twenty “Caterinati”, as her disciples were known, who had followed her from Siena.

St Josemaría, founder of Opus Dei, was another saint with deep devotion for the martyrs who, throughout the world, have been the seeds from which new Christians have grown in the Church. This is evidenced by his words in a homily given in 1972: “I venerate with all my strength the Rome of Peter and Paul, bathed in the blood of martyrs, the center from which so many have set out to propagate throughout the world the saving word of Christ.” 1

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Behind the Pantheon, and very close to the street where St Catherine lived, is the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where St Catherine’s mortal remains rest, in a sarcophagus under the main altar. This church is the only Gothic church in Rome, and it holds a large number of works by notable artists, but ever since the end of the fourteenth century, it has been visited above all by faithful who wish to appeal to the intercession of St Catherine of Siena.

In Rome, Catherine devoted herself fully to the service of the Church and the Pope. At the invitation of Urban VI, she spoke at a consistory of Cardinals, urging them to trust in the Lord and stay firm in defense of the truth. She wrote to the kings of the different countries in Europe to persuade them to recognize the one true Vicar of Christ. She also wrote persuasive, fiery letters to several leading figures of Christendom, appealing to them to come to Rome per fare muro, to create a bulwark around the Pope. And she pacified the inhabitants of Rome when riots broke out in the city because of the intrigues of schismatics.

Above all, St Catherine committed herself to prayer. In a letter written a few months before her death, when she was already seriously sick, she described her day. “At around nine o’clock, when I come out from Mass, you will see a dead woman walk along the way to St Peter’s, and go in there once more to work [i.e. to pray] in the nave of the holy church. There I stay until it is nearly time for Vespers. I would wish to remain there day and night, until I see this people submit and render obedience to their Father, the Pope.” 2

St Catherine made her own the sufferings of the Church in those difficult times. In Rome, God accepted the offering of her life for the Church, which the Saint had made repeatedly. And so, exhausted by the suffering that oppressed her heart because of the schism that rent the Mystical Body of Christ, and additionally afflicted by serious sickness, she surrendered her soul to God surrounded by her disciples, whom she did not cease to admonish to live in fraternal charity, urging them to be ready to give their lives too for the Church.

St Josemaría had great devotion to St Catherine of Siena ever since he was young. For instance, in her honor he gave the name catalinas, “catherines”, to the notebooks in which he wrote personal notes about matters of his soul.

Years later, when the Church was going through difficulties, St Josemaría again had recourse to St Catherine, since she had been a passionate defender of the truth in somewhat similar circumstances. He wrote, “I’ve stoked up the devotion, which in me goes back a long time, to Saint Catherine of Siena – because she knew how to love the Pope with filial love, because she know how to serve God’s holy Church sacrificially, and because she knew how to speak out heroically.” 3

All Christians need to be able to speak out, to explain the marvels of God in lively and convincing ways – the reality of the Church, the incomparable beauty of Christian life, which provides the answers to the deepest aspirations of the human heart. And so, like the Christian faithful of the early centuries, we will transform this world of ours. We will make it possible for more and more people to embrace the truth and proclaim it in their turn, to bring others to share in the freedom of the children of God, which leads to the good of human society and international relations. “Ignorance,” the founder of Opus Dei often said, “is the greatest enemy of our faith, and at the same time the greatest obstacle to carrying out the redemption of souls.” 4 He also said, “We must spread the truth, because veritas liberabit vos (Jn 8:32), the truth makes us free, while ignorance enslaves. We have to uphold the right of all men to live, to own what is necessary to lead a dignified existence, to work and to rest, to choose a particular state in life, to form a home, to bring children into the world within marriage and to be allowed to educate them, to pass peacefully through times of sickness and old age, to have access to culture, to join with other citizens to achieve legitimate ends, and, above all, the right to know and love God in perfect liberty, for conscience, true conscience, will discover the imprint of the Creator in all things.”5

1. St Josemaria Escrivá, “Loyalty to the Church” (11), In Love with the Church, Scepter, 1989.
2. St Catherine of Siena, Letter 373.
3. Letter to Florencio Sanchez Bella, quoted in A. Vazquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei, Volume III: The Divine Ways on Earth, p. 372.
4. St Josemaría, Letter dated January 9, 1951, no. 8, quoted in Vazquez de Prada, vol. III, p. 202.
5. St Josemaría, Friends of God, no. 171.]]>
<![CDATA[Dora del Hoyo speaks about Saint Josemaria]]> In an interview dating from September 2000, Dora del Hoyo talks about her first impressions of Saint Josemaria. She stresses his love for the Holy Father.

Dora del Hoyo Alonso was born on January 11, 1914, in Boca de Huergano, a small town in northern Spain. She was the fifth of six children, the daughter of farm workers. She was raised in a deeply Christian home where she learned to love the work of the home and to value working hard and working well.

When Dora was 26, she moved to Madrid. With the aid of the Religious of Domestic Service, she found employment as a housekeeper to several families. Very quickly she showed herself to be intelligent, capable, hardworking, and a quick learner. In 1945 she began to work in the Moncloa Residence, a student residence which had recently been established by St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. He quickly recognized that Dora would be indispensable in establishing the order and creating the family atmosphere that he intended there to be among the more than 100 students living in the Moncloa Residence. The experience she had gained during her early years in Madrid helped her to improve the laundry, housekeeping, and cooking, and as a result the atmosphere in the residence became increasingly serene and cheerful.

In 1946, Dora went to Bilbao to help establish a new residence and in that city, on March 14, 1946, she asked for admission to Opus Dei, seeking, by means of her work, to spread the message of the universal call to holiness preached by St. Josemaria. Just months later, on Dec. 27 of the same year, St. Josemaria asked her, along with other women, to move to Rome to take care of the first center of Opus Dei in Rome. From that moment until the day of his death, Dora supported the founder of Opus Dei with her work and with her fidelity. She worked selflessly and with a sense of initiative in setting up the central headquarters of Opus Dei.

After his death she worked in the Roman College of the Holy Cross, where university students came from all over the world to study philosophy and theology. There, also, many young women learned from her example and hard work how to sanctify their ordinary work, how to work with a sense of responsibility, and how to live with the serenity and cheerfulness that comes from knowing oneself to be a child of God.

Dora died on January 10, 2004. The fact that her mortal remains are buried in the Prelatic Church of Opus Dei "Our Lady of Peace", close to the tomb of St. Josemaria and of his first successor Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, reflects the essential role Dora played in the development of Opus Dei.

Since her death thousands of the faithful of the Prelature of Opus Dei and others have come forward to bear witness to Dora's influence in their lives. Those who knew her testify to her intense life of piety, her strength, her charity towards everyone, and her joyful work rooted in her love of God.

On June 18, 2012, in Rome, Bishop Javier Echevarria, Prelate of Opus Dei, opened the process of canonization for Dora del Hoyo. During the ceremony he stated: "I am more and more convinced of the vital role that this woman has had and will have in the life of the Church and in society. The Lord called Dora del Hoyo to carry out the same tasks as Our Lady did in Nazareth."

"The Christian example of this woman," he continued, “with her faithful Christian life, helps to give life to the idea of service and communicates to our society the importance of the family, the authentic domestic Church, which she brought to life by means of her generous and cheerful daily work."

Many people have submitted and continue to submit accounts of favors which they attribute to Dora's intercession.

Read more.]]>
<![CDATA["Read the Pope's encouraging words on the family"]]> Opus Dei is celebrating a Marian year for the family. On convoking it, you asked the members of the Work to pray to our Lady for families, thus uniting themselves to the intentions of Pope Francis. What is the present situation of the family, what are its principal challenges? And in relation to the Pope, what do you hope for from the upcoming Synod on the Family?

The celebration of this Marian year seemed to me to be a way of seconding the Pope, who is insistently asking all Christians for prayers for the fruit of the Synod on the Family. It is a cause of joy to see that many families feel loved by God and are a reflection of Trinitarian love. Through the efforts of fathers and mothers, often heroic, they become “bright and cheerful homes," as Saint Josemaria used to say. They pour out their affection on the society around them. But there are also many other families that are going through grave difficulties, or in which coldness and selfishness hold sway. Uniting myself to the Pope's intentions, I would like to see the Synod become an acknowledgement and expression of gratitude for the first, and a strong point of support for a positive transformation of the second group of families. I would also like it to be an opportunity for families to realize that they are the Church and that the entire Church accompanies them in their daily efforts.

If in this year of grace, between the two Synods, we can manage with God's help to focus people's attention on the families in greatest need and reduce, although only by a small proportion, the number of families with serious difficulties, we will have achieved something very important for the Church, for society as a whole and for the good of many people. Therefore I advise families to read the Pope's encouraging catecheses on fathers and mothers, on grandparents and relatives, on brothers and sisters and children.

How would you evaluate the results of the Marian year for the family up to now?

Drawing up a balance sheet in spiritual matters is always difficult. But our Lady will certainly present to our Lord the continuous and incalculable prayer, the generous and abundant offering of suffering on the part of so many sick people, so many hardships and shortages offered up by people all over the world for the same intention, the thousands and thousands of visits to Marian shrines…, and also so many hours of catechesis and reflection on the family, from every aspect: anthropological, philosophical, theological, pastoral. I ask the faithful and Cooperators of Opus Dei to draw up their own personal balance sheet: to examine how their deeper grasp of the Gospel reality of the family is leading them to love marital fidelity and to be generous; and also to assist so many married couples who are undergoing special difficulties, often heightened (we should never forget it) by the global financial crisis.

Your address in Valencia for the “Almudi Theological Dialogues" centered on the figure of your predecessor at the head of Opus Dei, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, in his role as secretary for the Council's Commission on the Clergy. What memories do you hold of him, what stands out in his way of being?

Two words with Don Alvaro were enough for one to be filled with peace. He was a man, a priest, a bishop of great humanity, with a smile and goodness that, from the first moment, broke down barriers. It was impossible not to feel loved, respected, understood… I think his natural way of being had a certain predisposition for this special empathy, but above all it was clear that his welcoming attitude reflected the style of the Gospel, which he had learned from Jesus through the example of Saint Josemaria.

Many of the Council Fathers who got to know him or interacted with him during the sessions of Vatican II have given testimony to Blessed Alvaro's way of being and acting…

The “Almudi Theological Dialogues" center this year on the Second Vatican Council and the priesthood, on the 50th anniversary of the decree “Presbyterorum ordinis." How do you view the current state of the priesthood, especially in Europe, where problems such as the decline in the number of priestly vocations are evident. How can we re-energize the calling to the priesthood?

Certainly problems exist, but I think the Council documents and the magisterium of the Popes and of many bishops are helping the new generations to take up the calling to be a priest with an eagerness for holiness and for service, although we would all like to see greater fruit. Thanks be to God and to people of good will, quite a few countries are seeing an increase in the number of priests and seminarians.

Saint Josemaria used to ask: “Do we want to be more?" And right away he responded: “Then let us be better!" If we bishops and priests strive more zealously for sanctity; if Catholics pray more for us and for vocations; if we have the nobility and courage to challenge many souls with following Christ; if families, schools and those engaged in pastoral work with young people carry out a deep work of Christian formation… then despite all the problems, despite the reigning atmosphere of relativism and hedonism, the materialism that is afflicting the world, the Lord of the harvest will not fail to send workers for his fields. He himself has promised it, as long as we ask him sincerely and with our deeds…

Entire interview with Bishop Javier Eschevarria as published in Paraula.]]>
<![CDATA[How Could I Not Bless Human Love?]]> Video. “I bless human love with both of my hands as a priest,” said St. Josemaría. He also recommended that spouses argue as little as possible and always make up at the end, asking one another for forgiveness.]]> <![CDATA[Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage]]> Download pdf.

The Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage is a publication from the St. Josemaria Institute, inspired by Saint Josemaria's desire to help all married couples, and those preparing for marriage, to find meaning and encouragement in their vocation through a commitment to daily prayer and friendship with God, especially when facing inevitable difficulties and times of trial.

The novena reflections are all taken from the homily by Saint Josemaria Escriva, Marriage: A Christian Vocation, published in the book Christ is Passing By (Scepter Publishers, 1974).

Who should pray the Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage?
The Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage is ideal for those who are thinking about marriage as a vocation, for engaged couples, and for married couples.

How to pray the Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage:
- Choose a date and time (e.g. end of day, after dinner) to start the novena.
- Read the reflection of the day slowly in front of a crucifix or image of the Holy Family.
- Meditate on the reading and ask God to let you see what you need to understand.
- Pray one of the two prayers indicated for the day (for the married or engaged).
- End with the Prayer for the Family and ask God for your specific request(s).

Printed copies can be ordered from:
St. Josemaria Institute
4340 Cross Street, Suite 1
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 541-9742]]>
<![CDATA[How can I receive Jesus well in Holy Communion?]]> “Dear friends, we won’t ever thank the Lord enough for the gift he has given us in the Eucharist! It is a very great gift and that is why it is so important to go to Mass on Sunday. Go to Mass not just to pray, but to receive Communion, the bread that is the Body of Jesus Christ who saves us, forgives us, unites us to the Father. It is a beautiful thing to do!” (Pope Francis, Audience, 5 February 2014.)

1. What does receiving Holy Communion (the Eucharist) mean? Who can receive Holy Communion?

Receiving Holy Communion, the Blessed Eucharist, is receiving Christ himself, the Son of the Living God, who is hidden beneath the sacramental species of bread and wine.

The Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. This presence is called the “Real Presence” – not so as to exclude the other types of Christ’s presence, as if they were not “real” too, but because here Christ is present in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present in our souls when we receive Holy Communion.
(Cf.Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374.)

Therefore, to receive Christ in Eucharistic Communion, it is necessary to be baptized and to be in a state of grace. If one is conscious of having committed a mortal sin, in other words, of having offended God deliberately in a serious matter, one should not go to receive Holy Communion without having first confessed the sin and received absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Contemplating the mystery
We are going to receive our Lord. On this earth, when we receive an important person, we bring out the best – lights, music, formal dress. How should we prepare to receive Christ into our soul? Have we ever thought about how we would behave if we could only receive him once in a lifetime?
When I was a child, frequent Communion was still not a widespread practice. I remember how people used to prepare to go to Communion. Everything had to be just right, body and soul: the best clothes, hair well-combed – even physical cleanliness was important – maybe even a few drops of cologne... These were manifestations of love, full of finesse and refinement, on the part of manly souls who knew how to repay Love with love.
Christ is Passing By, 91

Jesus has remained in the Eucharist for love... of you.
He remained, knowing how men would receive him... and how you would receive him.
He has remained so that you could eat him, so that you could visit him and tell him about your things; and so that you could talk to him as you pray beside the Tabernacle, and as you receive the Sacrament ; and so that you could fall in love more and more each day, and make other souls, many other souls, follow the same path.
The Forge, 887

2. Why is it important to receive Holy Communion?
Jesus invites us urgently to receive him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).

Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.

What is more, Holy Communion separates us from sin. The Body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is “given up for us,” and the Blood we drink is “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him.

By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins – that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church, in the grace of God.
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1391-1395)

Contemplating the mystery
As he was giving out Holy Communion that priest felt like shouting out: “This is Happiness I am giving you!”
The Forge, 267

Your Communions were very cold: you paid little attention to the Lord: you were distracted by the smallest trifle... But ever since you began to realise during an intimate dialogue with God that the angels are present, your attitude has changed... “Let them not see me like this!”, you say to yourself... And see how, as a result of thinking, “What will they say?” – this time, for a good motive – you have advanced a little towards Love.
Furrow, 694

3. How should we prepare for Holy Communion?
To respond to our Lord’s invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11: 27-29). Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.

Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed” (Matt 8:8). To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required by the Church: to abstain from all food and drink for one hour before receiving Holy Communion, except water and medicines.
Bodily demeanour (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1384-1387)

Contemplating the mystery
We should receive Our Lord in the Eucharist as we would prepare to receive the great ones of the earth, or even better: with decorations, with lights, with new clothes...
And if you ask me what sort of cleanliness I mean, what decorations and what lights you should bring, I will answer you: cleanliness in each one of your senses, decoration in each of your powers, light in all your soul.
Forge, 834

Have you ever thought how you would prepare yourself to receive Our Lord if you could go to Communion only once in your life?
We must be thankful to God that he makes it so easy for us to come to him: but we should show our gratitude by preparing ourselves very well to receive him.
Forge, 828

4. When should we go to Holy Communion?
The Church warmly recommends the faithful to receive Holy Communion when they go to Mass, and requires them to receive it at least once a year.
The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1388-1389)

Contemplating the mystery
Go to Communion. It doesn’t show lack of respect. Go this very day when you have just got over that “spot of trouble”.
Have you forgotten that Jesus said: “It is not by those who are well, but by those who are sick, that the physician is needed?”
The Way, 536

Build up a gigantic faith in the Holy Eucharist. Be filled with wonder before this ineffable reality! We have God with us; we can receive him every day and, if we want to, we can speak intimately with him, just as we talk with a friend, as we talk with a brother, as we talk with a father, as we talk with Love itself.
The Forge, 268

5. What should we do when we have received Holy Communion?
After receiving Holy Communion we are advised to spend some minutes thanking Jesus for his real presence in our souls. This shows our respect and love. Each of us can find a way of thanking God personally for enabling us to receive him.

Contemplating the mystery
The Holy Spirit does not guide souls collectively, but inspires each one with resolutions, inspirations and affections that will help it to recognize and fulfil the will of the Father. Still, I feel that, on many occasions, the central theme of our conversation with Christ, in our thanksgiving after holy Mass, can be the consideration that our Lord is our king, physician, teacher and friend.
Christ is Passing By, 92

He is our king. He desires ardently to rule our hearts, because we are children of God. But we should not try to imagine a human sort of rule – Christ does not dominate or seek to impose himself, because he “has not come to be served but to serve.”

His kingdom is one of peace, of joy, of justice. Christ our king does not expect us to spend our time in abstract reasoning; he expects deeds, because “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord! shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”

He is our physician, and he heals our selfishness, if we let his grace penetrate to the depths of our soul. Jesus has taught us that the worst sickness is hypocrisy, the pride that leads us to hide our own sins. We have to be totally sincere with him. We have to tell the whole truth, and then we have to say: “Lord, if you will” – and you are always willing – “you can make me clean.” You know my weaknesses; I feel these symptoms; I suffer from these failings. We show him the wound, with simplicity, and if the wound is festering, we show the pus too. Lord, you have cured so many souls; help me to recognize you as the divine physician, when I have you in my heart or when I contemplate your presence in the tabernacle.

He is a teacher, with knowledge that only he possesses – the knowledge of unlimited love for God, and, in God, for all men. In Christ’s teaching we learn that our existence does not belong to us. He gave up his life for all men and, if we follow him, we must understand that we cannot take possession of our own lives in a selfish way, without sharing the sorrows of others. Our life belongs to God. We are here to spend it in his service, concerning ourselves generously with souls, showing, through our words and our example, the extent of the Christian dedication that is expected of us.

Jesus expects us to nourish the desire to acquire this knowledge, so that he can repeat to us: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” And we answer: teach us to forget ourselves, so that we may concern ourselves with you and with all souls. In this way, our Lord will lead us forward with his grace, just as when we were learning to write. Do you remember that childish scrawl, guided by the teacher’s hand? And we will begin to taste the joy of showing our faith, which is yet another gift from God, and showing it with clear strokes of Christian conduct, in which all will be able to read the wonders of God.

He is our friend, the Friend: “I have called you friends,” he says. He calls us his friends; and he is the one who took the first step, because he loved us first. Still, he does not impose his love – he offers it. He shows it with the clearest possible sign: “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends.” He was Lazarus’ friend. He wept for him when he saw him dead, and he raised him from the dead. If he sees us cold, unwilling, rigid perhaps with the stiffness of a dying interior life, his tears will be our life – “I say to you, my friend, arise and walk,” leave that narrow life which is no life at all.
Christ is Passing By, 93
<![CDATA["The Way of the Cross" in Vietnamese]]> The Way of Cross is now available in Vietnamese under the title “Đường Thánh Giá." The 3rd book by Saint Josemaria Escriva officially translated into Vietnamese, it was published in Ho Chi Minh City just in time for Holy Week 2015.*

The other books of Saint Josemaria Escriva that have been published in Vietnamese are The Way (“Con Đường") and The Holy Rosary (“Tràng Hạt Mân Côi"). The first edition of The Way in Vietnamese was published last July and has already sold out. Another 2,000 copies have now been printed.

The Way of the Cross was first published in 1980 (as Via Crucis in the original Spanish), five years after the Founder of Opus Dei's death. In the ensuing years it has been translated into more than 20 languages with over 400,000 copies sold.

In the
foreword to the first edition
, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo wrote: “'Enter into the wounds of Christ Crucified' (The Way, 288). When Monsignor Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer proposed this way, to those who asked him for advice on how to deepen their interior life, he was doing no more than pass on his own experience, pointing out the short cut he had been using throughout his life, and which led him to the highest peaks of spiritual life. His love for Jesus was always something real, tangible and strong; it was tender, filial and very moving. . . The Way of the Cross is not a sad devotion. Msgr. Escriva taught many times that Christian joy has its roots in the shape of a cross. If the Passion of Christ is a way of pain, it is also a path of hope leading to certain victory."

The Way of the Cross seeks to help the reader to pray, meditate and live the paschal mystery in a more vivid and personal way: not only to “read" but to “live" those Gospel passages, to be present there as “someone taking part in those scenes" (9th Station, Point for Meditation 3).

Saigon, Feast of the Annunciation, 25 March 2015


* Translated into Vietnamese by Msgr. Barnabas Nguyễn Văn Phương.
Printed in color, with illustrations courtesy of Demetz Art Studio (Italy). The book is sold in the Catholic bookshops in Vietnam. Price: 20,000 VND. For large quantity orders, please contact the bookshop “Our Lady of Peace," 1 Cong xa Paris, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam. Tel: (848) 38250475.]]>
<![CDATA[Love for religious brothers and sisters]]> 2015 is the Year of Consecrated Life in the Church. It was inaugurated with a Mass celebrated by the Holy Father Pope Francis on February 2.

St Josemaría always loved and venerated the religious. A hand-written note of his, addressed to members of Opus Dei, says: “A great mission of ours is to bring people to love the religious.”

Devotion to canonized religious
St Josemaria had a lot of devotion to founders of religious orders like St Joseph of Calasanz, to whom he was distantly related. His grandfather on his father’s side was born in the same town as St Joseph of Calasanz, in Peralta de la Sal, twenty km from Barbastro. St Joseph of Calasanz was the founder of the Piarists, the religious of the “Pious Schools”.
In his preaching and writings, St Josemaria would often quote St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, St Theresa of Lisieux, and other Carmelite saints. He had a particular affection and devotion for St John Bosco.
His deeply Christian family counted among its members several priests and religious sisters.

Like very many children of his time, St Josemaria went to schools run by religious. When he was three he started at the kindergarten of the Barbastro school run by the Daughters of Charity, a religious congregation founded in 1633 by St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac. St Josemaria was at the infants’ school, the first one opened by the Daughters of Charity in Spain, from 1905 to 1908, and was always deeply grateful to the Daughters of Charity. He suffered and wept when he learnt that one of them, who had been a friend of his mother’s, had been murdered during the religious persecution in Spain.
When he was seven, he went to the Piarist Brothers’ school in Barbastro – interestingly, also the first Piarist-run school in Spain. A Piarist Father, Father Manuel Laborda de la Virgen del Carmen (1848-1929), taught him religion, history, Latin, and handwriting, prepared him for his First Holy Communion, and taught him a prayer for spiritual communion that he used all his life and passed on to thousands of other people. The prayer is:

“I wish, Lord, to receive You with the purity, humility and devotion with which Your most holy Mother received You; with the spirit and fervor of the Saints.”

St Josemaria’s vocation
Our Lord made use of a devout Carmelite friar to show St Josemaria his call to the priesthood. When still a youth, St Josemaria was deeply moved by seeing the bare footprints in the snow of Father Jose Miguel de la Virgen del Carmen at Christmas 1917-1918 in Logroño.

He went to speak to him, to discern what God was asking for him, and decided to become a priest. He always had a great love for the Carmelite Order, and remembered Father Jose Miguel with gratitude; they met again in Burgos in 1938. Father Jose Miguel died on September 23, 1942.

When he moved to Madrid he was in contact with several very holy nuns, such as the foundress of the Damas Apostolicas, or Mercedes Reyna O’Farrill, a religious of the Foundation for the sick, who was born in Havana and died with a reputation for holiness on January 23, 1929. St Josemaria attended her spiritually during her final illness and felt impelled to pray to her for protection after her death.

An Augustinian monk, Father Eduardo Zaragueta, bore witness to St Josemaria’s love for religious in the San Sebastian newspaper La Voz de España, July 8, 1975. “We Augustinians have heard about his character and his friendly simplicity when he gave a spiritual retreat in the Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real, in El Escorial. Escriva loved St Augustine and the rich tradition of the Order he founded seventeen centuries ago, in circumstances very similar to the present.”

Brother Joaquin Sanchis Alventosa, a Franciscan, who worked in several leading posts within his Order and took an active part in the Second Vatican Council, has not forgotten Opus Dei’s first steps in Valencia, around 1939. The house in Samaniego Street, where there was a students’ residence, was close to his priory, San Lorenzo, and the director of the residence requested an Augustinian to celebrate daily Mass in the residence and to give Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament every Saturday. A deep friendship sprang up, and Brother Joaquin speaks in glowing terms of the “affection and deference with which we Franciscan friars were treated by those university students who were learning to live according to a lay spirituality. Their veneration for us proved the love for the religious state which Msgr. Escriva infused into those sons of his, who were pursuing holiness amidst their professional work.”

It was quite clear – as was confirmed by the universal Church years later – that life in Opus Dei is very different from the religious vocation. But this sharp difference was not a reason for separation; it led to mutual admiration and affection. Brother Joaquin was delighted to be treated so affectionately by some university students; in his turn, with true greatness of spirit – Christian magnanimity – he rejoiced to see God’s mercy at work in the activities organized by Opus Dei. “Many ex-pupils of our Franciscan schools have told me about the decisive role played in their lives by the apostolate of Opus Dei when they got to university. Many of them have received a vocation to Opus Dei. I now recall how happy I was to meet, in Rome, one of my beloved ex-pupils, who had been ordained as an Opus Dei priest.”

Universal call to holiness
The Founder of Opus Dei, St Josemaria, spread throughout the world the universal call to holiness, especially for lay-people. But, as Father Aniceto Fernandez, former General of the Dominicans, recognizes, that fact never meant that St Josemaria or any of the faithful of Opus Dei “despised or criticized the religious life, or belittled in any way the excellence of the religious vocation.”

Another practical proof of St Josemaria’s love for religious is the decisive help he gave in the restoration of the Hieronymite Order in El Parral, Segovia, Spain, from 1940 onwards. The Hieronymite monk Jose Maria Aguilar Collados testifies that he owes his vocation to Msgr. Escriva de Balaguer, and goes on to give the names of some other students whom St Josemaria also confirmed in their calling as religious.
St Josemaria went out of his way, without neglecting his own duties, to give spiritual care to religious when they asked him. Blessed Alvaro del Portillo recalled the retreat that he preached in El Escorial:

“From October 3 to 11, 1944, the founder preached (as I have already mentioned) a retreat for the Augustinian monks of the Monastery of El Escorial, at a time when he was in very poor health. He had a virulent boil on his neck and a very high fever; it was also during this time that he was diagnosed as a diabetic. Even so, he kept his promise of preaching to them. The Augustinian provincial, Fr. Carlos Vicuña, wrote to me on October 26: ‘I would like to convey to you a brief impression of the spiritual exercises preached by Fr. Jose Maria Escriva to the Augustinian religious of the Royal Monastery of El Escorial, in this month of October. Everyone agrees he has surpassed all expectations; he has completely satisfied the desires of the superiors… We are now waiting on God, expecting that the fruits will be abundant. Everyone without exception – every one of our fathers, theologians, philosophers, brothers, and young men in formation – was hanging on his words and, as the expression goes, holding their breath. Every one of those half-hour conferences seemed to them to last only ten minutes, overpowered as they were by that torrent of fervor, enthusiasm, sincerity, and outpouring of the heart. “It comes from within – he speaks that way because he has an inner fire and life”; “he is a saint, an apostle – if we outlive him, many of us will see him raised to the altars”… These are some of the statements I have heard from the participants. The unanimity of the praises is highly unusual and remarkable, especially when you consider that the audience was composed mostly of intellectuals and scholars. Not a word was heard that was less than approving. It is true that he came preceded by a reputation for sanctity, but it is no less true that, far from gainsaying that reputation, he has completely confirmed it.’”
(Quoted in A. del Portillo and C. Cavalleri, Immersed in God, Scepter Publishers 1996, p.177)

The miracle for the beatification
During the final years of St Josemaria’s life, whenever he could, he would visit enclosed monasteries or convents, to ask for their prayers and show his love for religious. He made several such visits during the catechetical trips he undertook in Spain and Latin America.
St Josemaria was a founder who opened up new paths of renewal in the Church and reminded lay-people of the universal call to holiness. A happy coincidence is that the miracle recognized by the Church for his beatification (prior to his canonization) was worked on an elderly religious sister, Sr Concepcion Bouillon Rubio. It was yet another confirmation of the veneration and love for religious felt by a Saint who brought to the Church a genuinely lay charisma.

Sources: “Escriva y los religiosos” by Jose Miguel Cejas; Msgr Josemaria Escriva: a Profile of the Founder of Opus Dei by Salvador Bernal.
<![CDATA[Infinite thanks]]> Infinite thanks to St Josemaria for favors received: my nephews and siblings all found jobs.
<![CDATA[Ten years]]> Ten years have gone by since our son came home from an operation on his head and got straight on his bicycle and when we said maybe he should wait, he retorted, “The operation was on my head, not my feet!” Every day for the past ten years we have thanked God and Saint Josemaria, because thanks to his intercession that operation was a marvelous Miracle. When we took him to the Austral University Hospital in Buenos Aires for tests, we picked up a magazine with a picture of Saint Josemaria, and that very moment we started praying through his intercession for Felipe’s recovery, since the prognosis was very bad indeed. A few days later, on 18-03-2005 he was operated on by Dr. M. in F. Hospital. The outcome was so extraordinary that when Dr M. came out of the theater he could only say “It was a miracle.” Felipe woke up from the anesthetic asking for a fizzy drink as if nothing had happened…

A few days afterwards he went back to school, totally normal. And today, thank God, he is a lively, strong, healthy teen, outstandingly intelligent, and growing well… with a few adolescent traits, but a lovely, healthy son who has lived a completely normal life ever since the operation. Ten years have gone by, and, thank God, a few months ago my wife and were able to fulfil our dream of going to the Church of Our Lady of Peace to thank Saint Josemaria for Felipe’s health and pray through his intercession for everyone in our family. Greetings from Argentina.

<![CDATA[1941.5.4]]> “I don’t have any tears left for crying: Our Lord has asked of me my good name and my mother. I think I’ve given them [...]]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis on child abuse: We must all work to ensure that children are defended]]> Video. (Rome Reports). Pope Francis asked the thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for the Regina Coeli to participate in the Sacraments so that they can remain close to God. He said that it lets people receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and makes it so that society can identify them as Christians. ]]> <![CDATA[Christian Joy]]> Video. The founder of Opus Dei, in Valencia, Spain, explains that deep joy is the result of fighting against ourselves. ]]> <![CDATA[What can I do to love our Lady?]]> St Joseph has a lot of influence with our Lady. He was her spouse, he is her spouse. He is the person who was closest to our Lady.]]> <![CDATA[Confession: a marvel of love]]> St Josemaria explains why Confession is a marvel of love.]]> <![CDATA[March 28: Josemaria ordained a priest]]> On March 28, 1925, aged 23, St Josemaria was ordained in St Charles' Church, Saragossa, Spain. From that day on, his life revolved around celebrating the Eucharist and his priestly apostolate.]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis: Upcoming Jubilee an “intense and extended time” to embrace God's mercy]]> During the Regina Coeli prayer, Pope Francis discussed the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, which begins in December. "The Year of Mercy is to be an intense and extended time in which to welcome and embrace the immense riches of God's merciful love.” ]]>