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[St Josemaría’s writings serve as an inspiration for theology]]> "What impetus can theology receive from the teachings of Saint Josemaría?" is the title of the paper given by Msgr. Fernando Ocariz on November 14, 2013, during the conference “Saint Josemaria and Theological Thought” held at thePontifical University of the Holy Cross.

These are some excerpts from the paper, which was published in no. 57 of the journal Romana. To read the full text, click here.

The saints and the sources of theology

In 1993, in the context of a conference on the teachings of Saint Josemaría, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said: “The theologian should be a man of scholarship; but he should also, precisely because he is a theologian, be a man of prayer. He must pay attention to the developments in history and scholarship, but, even more than that, he needs to listen to the testimony of those who, having gone the full way on the path of prayer, have, even in this life, attained the highest reaches of divine intimacy; that is, the testimony of those who, in ordinary language, we call saints.”

Contemporary theology acknowledges the capacity of the spiritual life to give inspiration to its work, and consequently the role of the great saints, thus overcoming the rupture in previous centuries between theologians and spiritual authors. Nevertheless, sufficient attention does not seem to have been paid, at least not explicitly, to the writings of the saints, except in questions more directly related to spirituality. In many cases, the testimonies of the saints influence theological work to some degree as regards the approach and verification of conclusions; but they are not seen as authentic sources or “sites” for the theologian’s work. In fact, they are cited scarcely or not at all, perhaps because the saints have not set forth their teachings in a discursive and deductive manner and, in many cases, these touch more directly upon the subjective states of the soul than on the objective topics of dogmatic theology. But in reality, as noted by the International Theological Commission in 2011, “theology is not only a science but also a wisdom . . . The human person is not satisfied by partial truths, but seeks to unify different pieces and areas of knowledge into an understanding of the final truth of all things and of human life itself. This search for wisdom, which undoubtedly animates theology itself, gives theology a close relationship to spiritual experience and to the wisdom of the saints.” (...)

It is true that “the great spiritual teachers, each with their own nuances, always bring particularly deep insights not so much to theology, in the strict sense, as to the content and meaning of Christian life, on the imitation of and identification with Christ.” These lights, however, can contribute greatly to academic theological reflection. The fact that they are masters of the spiritual life does not exclude their offering clear lights to systematic theology and being sources of inspiration for theological work. As John Paul II stated, Saint Josemaría, “like other great figures in modern Church history, can also be a source of inspiration for theological thought. In fact, theological research, which has an irreplaceable role of mediation in the relationship between faith and culture, progresses and is enriched by drawing on the Gospel, under the impulse of the experience of Christianity’s great witnesses.” There is certainly a theological knowledge attained by a discursive process of reasoning, but there is also another form of knowledge made possible by the “connaturality” brought about by the love of God. This second type is found especially in the saints, and theologians need to take it into account. (...)

Saint Josemaría and Theology

(...) Saint Josemaría’s inspirational value for theological studies extends to many areas of theology. Cornelio Fabro wrote that Saint Josemaría has “the spirit of a Father of the Church.” His teachings are always centered on Christian life, also when he includes explicit references to its dogmatic foundations, doing so often in a novel way. For example, his quite original and apparently paradoxical way of referring to the kenosis of the eternal Word: “God humbles himself to the point of becoming man, and in doing so does not feel degraded for having taken on flesh like ours, with all its limitations and weaknesses, sin alone excepted . . . He does not lower himself by his self-emptying.” We are offered here, not a paradox, but an insight to develop theologically: the “self-emptying” of God, who takes on a nature that on its own and without him would be nothing, is combined with the reality that this very humanity of Christ is the peak and perfection of creation; all of creation is ordered towards Christ’s humanity, united without confusion to the divine nature in the unity of his Person, as Saint Paul words to the Colossians make clear (cf. Col 1:16).

Saint Josemaría’s writings contain many profound teachings that can serve as an inspiration for theology. For example, the universal call to holiness and apostolate; the Christian meaning of temporal activities as the material and place for sanctification and apostolate; the laity’s identity and mission within the Church; the centrality of divine filiation in the life of the faithful and their identification with Christ; the Holy Mass as the center and root of Christian life; the sanctification of work and the possibility of contemplation in the midst of professional, family and social activities; the relationship between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood; unity of life; the original goodness of the world and the understanding of history, after original sin, as the process of redirecting all creation to God; etc. As is well known, with regard to some of these topics—especially the universal call to holiness and the laity’s identity and mission within the Church—many people (among whom we should first mention the soon to be Saint John Paul II) have pointed to the Founder of Opus Dei as a precursor of the Second Vatican Council.

The Christological roots of the teachings of Saint Josemaría

The above-mentioned aspects are intimately interconnected and each contains new lights to develop. Since it is impossible to deal exhaustively with all of them here, I will try to show how Saint Josemaría’s vision of their common theological root imbues them with unity and thus a particular inspirational force for theology. Lying at the root of all his teachings is a profound contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation. Saint Josemaría’s Christocentrism presents “a deeply coherent vision. From whichever vantage point it is perceived—divine filiation, unity of life, identification with Christ, Jesus’ example for us as true God and true man—the essential content of this spiritual message remains the same: the life of prayer and the sanctification of work, the universal call to sanctity and the effort to co-redeem with Christ. But rather than speaking of different vantage points, it would be better to speak of understanding Christian life from one vantage point: Christ himself and the mystery of his Incarnation, seen in parallel lines of inquiry.”

Above all, Saint Josemaría contemplates Christ as the revelation of God. We can certainly attain knowledge of God without explicit reference to Jesus. But it is only in the mystery of Christ that the supreme mystery of the Trinity is revealed: He who has seen me has seen the Father (Jn 14:9). Saint Josemaría expresses this core Christian truth in many ways, but I have always found special light in his words on the human actions of Christ: “All this human behavior is the behavior of God . . . Everything Christ did has a transcendental value. It shows us God’s way of being and beckons us to believe in the love of God who created us and wants us to share his intimate life.”

The consideration that Christ’s humanity shows us “God’s way of being” offers theology a light-filled perspective that needs to be developed and studied more deeply with the assistance of metaphysics. By recognizing with Saint Thomas the unity of Christ’s act of being, we contemplate his human nature as the human way of being of the divine Person, which renders visible his divine way of being, to which it is united without confusion. Any deeper understanding, therefore, of the humanity of Christ—his words, reactions, emotions, actions—speaks to us of how God is. (...)

Mgr. Fernando Ocáriz is the Vice-Chancellor of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

<![CDATA[Immaculate Conception Novena]]> Download the Immaculate Conception Novena with passages by St Josemaria in pdf, epub and kindle.]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis' eight tips to improve family life]]> Video. (Rome Reports). Pope Francis is not only the 266th Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Jorge Mario Bergoglio is also the oldest of 5 siblings. "Even the Pope has a family. We are 5 siblings and I have 16 nephews and nieces. One of these nephews had a car accident.”

His personal experience as well as meeting thousands of people have made the Pope an expert on the family. His advice, simple yet direct, can help in day-to-day life. There is no doubt that his advice to married couples has spread around the world.

1. "I always give this advice to newlyweds: 'Argue as much as you want. If the plates fly, let them. But never end the day without making peace. Never!

2. "It isn't necessary to call the United Nations to come to one’s home to make peace. A small gesture, a caress, a hello is sufficient! And until tomorrow - and tomorrow one begins again.”

3. To learn about forgiveness, there is nothing better than the Bible, something that the Pope recommends to improve family life.

"It is not for putting in a shelf, but rather for having it at hand. It is for reading it often, every day, either individually or in groups, husband and wife, parents and children; maybe at night, especially on Sundays. That way, the family can move forward with the light and the power of the Word of God!”

4. He speaks to engaged couple on the beauty of marriage but is also very sincere with them. To move forward, they must strive. "It is a journey full of challenges, difficult at times, and also with its conflicts, but that is life.”

5. A life filled with children. The Pope never tires of denouncing a culture that does not favor the family. For this reason, he invited couples to throw themselves into the adventure of parenthood.

"This culture of comfort has, in the last 10 years, convinced us that it's better to not have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on vacation, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free.”

6. And when the children are already here, family life can be complicated at times. Pope Francis has asked to reflect on the frantic life that families sometimes experience.

"When I confess young couples and they talk to me about their children, I always ask one question: 'And do you have time to play with your children?' And many times the father tells me: 'But Father, they are sleeping when I go to work in the morning and when I come back at night they are already asleep in bed.' This is not life.”

7. He also has advice for children. Misused technology, he said, has become one of the elements that separates a family.

"Many children and young adults waste so much time on hollow things: Chatting on the internet, playing with the cell phone, seeing soap operas. High tech products are meant to make life simple and to improve the quality of life. But often, they distract us from what's really important.”

8. For the Pope, a fundamental pillar of family life are the elderly. They are the future of the people because they are its memory. For this reason, Pope Francis knows the imprint left by grandparents.

"One of he most beautiful things in the life of a family, of our lives, is to caress a child and to let them be caressed by a grandfather or grandmother.”

Striving, forgiveness, prayer and dedication are the ingredients that Pope Francis offers to strengthen family life. ]]>
<![CDATA[New version of the Novenas to St. Josemaria]]> We offer a downloadable pdf version of the Novena for the Family, the Novena for Work and the Novena for the Sick, to St. Josemaria, prepared in Canada.

These new versions, in an attractive new design, are based on the original texts by Fr. Francisco Faus, who wrote them out of his love for St. Josemaria. Fr. Faus lived with St. Josemaria for several years, and wanted to spread devotion to him so that many more people could be helped by his intercession.

Readers often write in to this website about favours they have received through St. Josemaria’s intercession. Many of them invoked his intercession by means of these novenas, asking for help to get a job, solve a family difficulty, or bear a sickness patiently and joyfully.

Download pdf format of the Novena for the Family.

Download pdf format of the Novena for Work.

Download pdf format of the Novena for the Sick.

<![CDATA[Laura Busca, a wife on the path to holiness]]> Following the advice of Saint Josemaria Escriva, Laura and her husband Eduardo strove to make their family a “bright and cheerful home.” Her life was marked by an extraordinary self-giving in caring for her husband and children, and for many other people, drawing strength from her deep piety and love for God.

Laura Busca (1913 - 2000) was the mother of seven children, with a degree in pharmacology and a great love for study and reading. After a long illness, she died in Pamplona, with a reputation for sanctity, on October 11, 2000. The Archbishop of Pamplona opened her Cause of Canonization on June 14, 2013. The Canonization Cause of her husband, Eduardo Ortíz de Landázuri, a prestigious doctor and university professor, was opened in December 1998.

Who was Laurita Busca?

Laura Busca Otaegui (called “Laurita” by those who knew her well) was born on November 3, 1912 in Zumárraga, in the Basque region of Spain. In 1935, she obtained a degree in pharmacology at the Central University in Madrid. That same year she met her future husband, Eduardo Ortiz de Landazuri. After they both lived through the civil war years in Spain, they were married on June 17, 1941, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu. Their marriage was a fruitful one, with seven children.

A warm-hearted and understanding person, she sought holiness in the midst of her daily work as the mother of a large family. She asked for admission to Opus Dei on January 8, 1953. Following the advice of Saint Josemaria Escriva, Laura and her husband Eduardo strove to make their family a “bright and cheerful home.” Her life was marked by an extraordinary self-giving in caring for her husband and children, and for many other people, drawing strength from her deep piety and love for God.

From the 50’s on she suffered from a painful back ailment, which she bore with fortitude and joyful acceptance of God’s will.

On December 11, 1998, she had the joy of being present, in Pamplona, at the opening of the diocesan Process on the virtues of her husband Eduardo, and soon after was given the opportunity to offer testimony in the Process. After a painful illness borne with extraordinary Christian fortitude, she died in Pamplona, with a reputation for holiness, on October 11, 2000.

<![CDATA[14 Questions about the Family]]> What is a family? How can one become a good father or a good mother? What role does the family have in the children’s education and development? How can parents combine authority and freedom? How should families exercise trust and confidence in daily life?

“What is the family?” asked Pope Francis, and then answered, “Over and above its most pressing problems and its peremptory necessities, the family is a ‘centre of love’, where the law of respect and communion reigns and is able to resist the pressure of manipulation and domination from the world’s ‘power centres’. In the heart of the family, the person naturally and harmoniously blends into a human group, overcoming the false opposition between the individual and society.

In the bosom of the family, no one is set apart: both the elderly and the child will be welcome here. The culture of encounter and of dialogue, openness to solidarity and transcendence, originates in the family.

For this reason, the family constitutes a great and ‘rich social resource’. In this sense I would like to highlight two primary factors: stability and fruitfulness.”
Pope Francis, Message to the First Latin American Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Family, Panama City, August 4–9, 2014

The following are 14 answers offered by St Josemaria to questions about love in the family, family conflicts, parent-child relationships, raising children, and faith in the family.

1- How can we fill our family life with love?

2- How can one become a good father or a good mother?

3- Their surroundings influence children’s behaviour and attitudes. What role does the family play in the children’s education and development?

4- Many parents feel they don’t have time to spend with their children, or on family life. Women who work outside have all the care of the home as well; full-time homemakers can feel their horizons are too narrow. Where is the work-homelife balance to be found?

5- It’s not easy to raise children well. What is the key to it?

6- How can parents combine authority with giving children freedom?

7- What do trust and understanding between parents and children imply for daily life together?

8- Sometimes parents want to decide on their children’s career, who they marry, and even want to stop them from following God’s call to a life of dedication to the service of souls. Would it not be better to give children their freedom and let them grow up?

9- Everyone basically wants to have a stable family, peaceful family life. But in marriage and families there are inevitably daily frictions and sometimes major conflicts, differences of opinion and opposing ideas. How can these be overcome?

10- What should parents do when their children tell them they wish to dedicate their lives completely to God?

11- We have talked about parents so far. What about the children’s role in a family?

12- How is faith shown in the family?

13- How important is prayer for families?

14- Should families pray together?

1. How can we fill our family life with love?
When I think of Christian homes, I like to imagine them as being full of the light and joy that were in the home of the Holy Family. (…) Every Christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep-rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice.

Husband and wife are called to sanctify their married life and to sanctify themselves in it. It would be a serious mistake if they were to exclude family life from their spiritual development. The marriage union, the care and education of children, the effort to provide for the needs of the family as well as for its security and development, the relationships with other persons who make up the community, all these are among the ordinary human situations that Christian couples are called upon to sanctify. (…)

The aim is this: to sanctify family life, while creating at the same time a true family atmosphere. Many Christian virtues are necessary in order to sanctify each day of one's life. First, the theological virtues, and then all the others: prudence, loyalty, sincerity, humility, industriousness, cheerfulness....

Would you like to know a secret to happiness? Give yourself to others and serve them, without expecting to be thanked.

2. How can one become a good father or a good mother?
Parents teach their children mainly through their own conduct. What a son or daughter looks for in a father or mother is not only a certain amount of knowledge or some more or less effective advice, but primarily something more important: a proof of the value and meaning of life, shown through the life of a specific person, and confirmed in the different situations and circumstances that occur over a period of time.

If I were to give advice to parents, I would tell them, above all, let your children see that you are trying to live in accordance with your faith. Don't let yourselves be deceived: they see everything, from their earliest years, and they judge everything. Let them see that God is not only on your lips, but also in your deeds; that you are trying to be loyal and sincere, and that you love each other and you really love them too.

For me there is no clearer example of this practical union of justice and charity than the behaviour of mothers. They love all their children with the same degree of affection, and it is precisely this same love that impels them to treat each one differently, with an unequal justice, since each child is different from the others.

This is how you will best contribute to making your children become true Christians, men and women of integrity, capable of facing all life's situations with an open spirit, of serving their fellow men and helping to solve the problems of mankind, of carrying the testimony of Christ to the society of which they will be a part.

3. Their surroundings influence children’s behaviour and attitudes. What role does the family play in the children’s education and development?
The parents are the first people responsible for the education of their children, in human as well as in spiritual matters. They should be conscious of the extent of their responsibility. To fulfil it, they need prudence, understanding, a capacity to love and a concern for giving good example.

Imposing things by force, in an authoritarian manner, is not the right way to teach. The ideal attitude of parents lies more in becoming their children's friends – friends who will be willing to share their anxieties, who will listen to their problems, who will help them in an effective and agreeable way.

Being a father or a mother is not simply a matter of bringing children into the world. The capacity for generation, which is a share in the creative power of God, is meant to have a continuation. Parents are called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the development of their children into men and women who will be authentic Christians.

4. Many parents feel they don’t have time to spend with their children, or on family life. Women who work outside have all the care of the home as well; full-time homemakers can feel their horizons are too narrow. Where is the work-homelife balance to be found?
The problem you pose is not confined to women. At some time or other, many men experience the same sort of thing with slightly different characteristics. (…)

Smaller remedies, which seem trivial, must also be used. When there are lots of things to do you have to establish priorities, to get organised.

Parents should find time to spend with their children, to talk with them. They are the most important thing – more important than business or work or rest.

In their conversations, parents should make an effort to listen, to pay attention, to understand, to recognize the fact that their children are sometimes partly right – or even completely right – in some of their rebellious attitudes. At the same time, they should help their children to direct their efforts and to carry out their projects properly, teaching them to consider things and to reason them out. It is not a matter of imposing a line of conduct, but rather of showing the human and supernatural motives for it. In a word, parents have to respect their children's freedom, because there is no real education without personal responsibility, and there is no responsibility without freedom.

5. It’s not easy to raise children well. What is the key to it?
It is a question of trust. Parents should bring up their children in an atmosphere of friendship.

Listen to your children. Give them your time, even the time that you have reserved for yourselves. Show them your confidence; believe whatever they tell you, even if sometimes they try to deceive you. Don't be afraid when they rebel, because, at their age, you yourselves were more or less rebellious. Go to meet them half-way and pray for them. If you act in this Christian manner, they will come to you with simplicity, instead of trying to satisfy their legitimate curiosity by taking it to some rough or vulgar friend.

Your confidence, your friendly dealings with your children, will receive an answer in their sincerity in dealing with you. Then, even if there are quarrels and lack of understanding, they will never amount to much; and this is what peace in the family and a truly Christian life mean.

6. How can parents combine authority with giving children freedom?
I always advise parents to try to be friends with their children. The parental authority which the rearing of children requires can be perfectly harmonised with friendship, which means putting themselves, in some way, on the same level as their children.

Children – even those who seem intractable and unresponsive – always want this closeness, this fraternity, with their parents. It is a question of trust. Parents should bring up their children in an atmosphere of friendship, never giving the impression that they do not trust them. They should give them freedom and teach them how to use it with personal responsibility.

It is better for parents to let themselves 'be fooled' once in a while, because the trust that they have shown will make the children themselves feel ashamed of having abused it – they will correct themselves. On the other hand, if they have no freedom, if they see that no one trusts them, they will always be inclined to deceive their parents.

Since in matters which are open to opinion no one can claim to be in possession of absolute truth, friendly and loving relations offer a real opportunity for learning from others what they can teach us. All the members of the family can learn something from the others if they want to.

It is not Christian, nor even human, for a family to be divided over such matters. When the value of freedom is fully understood and the divine gift of freedom is passionately loved, the pluralism that freedom brings with it is also loved.

7. What do trust and understanding between parents and children imply for daily life together?
This friendship, this knowing how to put oneself on the children's level, makes it easier for them to talk about their small problems; it also makes it possible for the parents to be the ones who teach them gradually about the origin of life, in accordance with their mentality and capacity to understand, gently anticipating their natural curiosity.

I consider this very important. There is no reason why children should associate sex with something sinful, or find out about something that is in itself noble and holy in a vulgar conversation with a friend. It can also be an important step in strengthening the friendship between parents and children, preventing a separation in the early moments of their moral life.

Parents should also endeavour to stay young at heart so as to find it easier to react sympathetically towards the noble aspirations and even towards the extravagant fantasies of their youngsters. Life changes, and there are many new things which we may not like. Perhaps, objectively speaking, they are no better than others that have gone before, but they are not bad. They are simply other ways of living and nothing more.
On more than one occasion conflicts may arise because importance is attached to petty differences which could be overcome with a little common sense and good humour.

8. Sometimes parents want to decide on their children’s career, who they marry, and even want to stop them from following God’s call to a life of dedication to the service of souls. Would it not be better to give children their freedom and let them grow up?
EIn the final analysis, it is clear that the decisions that determine the course of an entire life have to be taken by each individual personally, with freedom, without coercion or pressure of any kind.

This is not to say that the intervention of others is not usually necessary. Precisely because they are decisive steps that affect an entire life and because a person's happiness depends to a great extent on the decisions made, it is clear that they should be taken calmly, without precipitation. They should be particularly responsible and prudent decisions. And part of prudence consists precisely in seeking advice. It would be presumption – for which we usually pay dearly – to think that we can decide alone, without the grace of God and without the love and guidance of other people, and especially of our parents.

Parents can, and should, be a great help to their children. They can open new horizons for them, share their experiences and make them reflect, so they do not allow themselves to be carried away by passing emotional experiences. They can offer them a realistic scale of value. Sometimes they can help with personal advice; on other occasions they should encourage their children to seek other suitable people such as a loyal and sincere friend, a learned and holy priest or an expert in career guidance.

Advice does not take away freedom. It gives elements on which to judge and thus enlarges the possibilities of choice and ensures that decisions are not taken on the basis of irrational factors. After hearing the opinions of others and taking everything into consideration, there comes a moment in which a choice has to be made and then no one has the right to force a young person's freedom.
Parents have to be on guard against the temptation of wanting to project themselves unduly on their children or of moulding them according to their own preferences. They should respect their individual God-given inclinations and aptitudes. If their love is true, this is easy enough. Even in the extreme case, when a young person makes a decision that the parents have good reason to consider mistaken and when they think it will lead to future unhappiness, the answer lies not in force, but in understanding. Very often it consists in knowing how to stand by their child so as to help him overcome the difficulties and, if necessary, draw all the benefit possible from an unfortunate situation.

9. Everyone basically wants to have a stable family, peaceful family life. But in marriage and families there are inevitably daily frictions and sometimes major conflicts, differences of opinion and opposing ideas. How can these be overcome?
I have only one prescription: strive to live together in harmony and to understand and pardon each other.

Let's be frank – the normal thing is for the family to be united. There may be friction and differences, but that's quite normal In a certain sense it even adds flavour to our daily life. These problems are insignificant, time always takes care of them. What remains firm is love, a true and sincere love which comes from being generous and which brings with it a concern for one another, and which enables the members of the family to sense each other's difficulties and offer tactful solutions. Because this is the normal thing, the vast majority of people understand me perfectly when they hear me say (I have been repeating it since the 1920s) that the fourth commandment of the Decalogue is a 'most sweet precept'.

The problem is an old one although perhaps it arises now more frequently or more acutely because of the rapid evolution that characterises modern society. It is perfectly understandable and natural that young and older people should see things differently. This has always been the case. The surprising thing would be if a teenager were to think just as an adult does. We all felt a tendency to rebel against our elders when we began to form our own judgement autonomously. But we have come to understand, with the passing of the years, that our parents were right in many things in which they were guided by their experience and their love. That is why it is up to the parents to make the first move. They have already passed through this stage. It is up to them to be very understanding, to have flexibility and good humour, avoiding any possible conflicts simply by being affectionate and farsighted.

10. What should parents do when their children tell them they wish to dedicate their lives completely to God?
After giving their advice and suggestions, parents who sincerely love and seek the good of their children should step tactfully into the background so that nothing can stand in the way of the great gift of freedom that makes man capable of loving and serving God. They should remember that God himself has wanted to be loved and served with freedom and He always respects our personal decisions. Scripture tells us: 'When God created man, He made him subject to his own free choice' (Sir 15:14).

I think Catholic parents who do not understand this type of vocation have failed in their mission of forming a Christian family. They probably are not aware of the dignity that Christianity gives to their vocation to marriage. But my experience in Opus Dei is very positive. I often tell the members of the Work that they owe ninety per cent of their vocation to their parents because they have known how to educate their children and have taught them to be generous. I can assure you that in the vast majority of cases, practically in all, the parents respect and love their children's decision. They immediately see the Work as an extension of their own family. It is one of my greatest joys and yet another proof that in order to be very divine you have to be very human as well.

11. We have talked about parents so far. What about the children’s role in a family?
The children also have to play their part. Young people are always capable of getting enthusiastic about great undertakings, high ideals, and anything that is genuine. They must be helped to understand the simple, natural and often unappreciated beauty of their parents' lives. Children should come to realise, little by little, the sacrifice their parents have made for them, the often heroic self-denial that has gone into raising the family. They should also learn not to over-dramatise, not to think themselves misunderstood nor to forget that they will always be in debt to their parents. And as they will never be able to repay what they owe, their response should be to treat their parents with veneration and grateful filial love.

12. How is faith shown in the family?
The virtues of faith and hope [are exercised by] facing serenely all the great and small problems which confront any family, and persevering in the love and enthusiasm with which they fulfil their duties.

In this way they practice the virtue of charity in all things. They learn to smile and forget about themselves in order to pay attention to others. Husband and wife will listen to each other and to their children, showing them that they are really loved and understood. They will forget about the unimportant little frictions that selfishness could magnify out of proportion. They will do lovingly all the small acts of service that make up their daily life together.

13. How important is prayer for families?
I think it is precisely the best way to give children a truly Christian upbringing. Scripture tells us about those early Christian families which drew new strength and new life from the light of the Gospel. St Paul calls them 'the Church in the household' (1 Cor 16:19).

Experience shows in all Christian environments what good effects come from this natural and supernatural introduction to the life of piety given in the warmth of the home. Children learn to place God first and foremost in their affections. They learn to see God as their Father and Mary as their Mother and they learn to pray following their parents' example. In this way one can easily see what a wonderful apostolate parents have and how it is their duty to live a fully Christian life of prayer, so they can communicate their love of God to their children, which is something more than just teaching them.

14. Should families pray together?
Customs vary from place to place, but I think that one should always encourage some acts of piety which the family can do together in a simple and natural fashion.
How can they go about this? They have excellent means in the few, short, daily religious practices that have always been lived in Christian families and which I think are marvellous: grace at meals, morning and night prayers, the Holy Rosary (…).

This is the way to ensure that God is not regarded as a stranger whom we go to see in the church once a week on Sunday. He will be seen and treated as He really is, not only in church but also at home, because our Lord has told us, 'Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them' (Matt 18:20).

I still pray aloud the bedside prayers I learnt as a child from my mother's lips, and I say so with the pride and gratitude of a son. They bring me closer to God and make me feel the love with which I learned to take my first steps as a Christian. And as I offer to God the day that is beginning, or thank Him for the day that is drawing to a close, I ask him to increase, in heaven, the happiness of those whom I especially love and to unite us there forever.

The above quotations were selected mainly from the book Conversations with Msgr. Escriva de Balaguer, a collection of interviews with St Josemaria published between 1966 and 1968 in Le Figaro, The New York Times, Time, L'Osservatore della Domenica, Telva, Gaceta Universitaria and Palabra; and from “Marriage, a Christian Vocation” from the book Christ is Passing By.

For further reading on the subject, see:
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos 2232-2233.
- 10 questions about marriage.
- Letter to families from Pope John Paul II.
- Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio
<![CDATA[Pope: Blessed Alvaro loved and served the Church ]]> Pope Francis’ letter to Msgr. Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei, on the occasion of the beatification of Alvaro del Portillo.

Dear brother,

The beatification of the Servant of God Álvaro del Portillo, faithful collaborator of St Josemaría Escrivá and his first successor at the head of Opus Dei, is a moment of special joy for all the faithful of the Prelature, and also for you, who were for so long a witness of his love for God and others, and his fidelity to the Church and to his vocation. I too wish to unite myself to your joy and to thank God, who embellishes the face of the Church with the holiness of her children.

His beatification will take place in Madrid, the city where he was born and spent his childhood and youth. Here his life began to take shape in the simplicity of family life, through friendship and service to others, as when he went to outlying districts to help provide human and Christian formation to so many people in need. And in this city, above all, there took place the event that definitively marked the course of his life: his meeting with St Josemaría Escrivá, from whom he learned to fall more in love with Christ every day. Yes, to fall in love with Christ. This is the path to holiness that every Christian has to follow: to let ourselves be loved by the Lord, to open up our hearts to his love, and to allow him to be the one who guides our lives.

I like to recall the aspiration that the Servant of God would often repeat, especially for personal celebrations and anniversaries: “Thank you; forgive me; help me more!” These words bring us closer to the reality of his interior life and his relationship with the Lord, and can also help to give a new impulse to our own Christian life.

In the first place, Thank you. This is the soul’s immediate, spontaneous reaction on experiencing God’s goodness. It cannot be otherwise. He always goes ahead of us. However hard we try, his love always gets there first, touches and caresses us first, He beats us to it. Álvaro del Portillo was aware of the many gifts God had given him, and thanked God for that manifestation of his fatherly love. But he did not stop at that: his recognition of Our Lord’s love awakened in his heart desires to follow him with greater commitment and generosity, and to lead a life of humble service to others. Especially outstanding was his love for the Church, the Spouse of Christ, whom he served with a heart devoid of worldly self-interest, far from discord, welcoming towards everyone and always seeking in others what was positive, what united, what was constructive. He never spoke a word of complaint or criticism, even at especially difficult times, but instead, as he had learned from St Josemaría, he always responded with prayer, forgiveness, understanding and sincere charity.

Forgive me. He often confessed that he saw himself as empty-handed before God, incapable of responding to so much generosity. But to admit our poverty as human beings is not the result of despair but confident abandonment in God who is our Father. It means opening ourselves to his mercy, his love, which is able to regenerate our life. His love does not humiliate us, nor cast us into the depths of guilt, but embraces us, lifts us up from our prostration and enables us to go forward with more determination and joy. The Servant of God Álvaro knew the need we have of God’s mercy, and devoted a lot of his own energy to encouraging the people he met to go to the sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of joy. How important it is to feel the tenderness of God’s love, and discover that there is still time to love!

Help me more. Yes, the Lord never abandons us, he is always at our side, he journeys with us, and every day he expects new love from us. His grace will not fail us, and with his help we can take his name to the whole world. The heart of the new Blessed beat with the desire to bring the Good News to all hearts. And so he travelled to many countries to foster new projects for evangelization, undeterred by difficulties, moved by his love for God and his brethren. Someone who is very immersed in God is able to be very close to other people. The first condition for announcing Christ to them is to love them, because Christ loves them before we do. We have to leave behind our selfish concerns and love of comfort, and go out to meet our brothers and sisters. That is where Our Lord is awaiting us. We cannot keep our faith to ourselves: it is a gift we have received to give away and share with others.

Thank you, forgive me, help me! These words express the thrust of a life that is centered on God. It is the life of someone who has been touched by the greatest Love and who lives totally on that love; someone who, while experiencing their own human weakness and limitations, trusts in God’s mercy and wants all mankind, their brothers and sisters, to experience it too.

Dear brother, Blessed Álvaro del Portillo is sending us a very clear message. He is telling us to trust in the Lord, that he is our brother, our friend, who never lets us down and is always at our side. He is encouraging us not to be afraid to go against the current and suffer for announcing the Gospel. He is also teaching us that in the simplicity and ordinariness of our daily lives we can find a sure path to holiness.

I ask all the faithful of the Prelature, priests and lay-people, as well as all those who take part in its activities, to please pray for me. At the same time, I give them all my Apostolic Blessing.

May Jesus bless you, and may the Holy Virgin watch over you.


<![CDATA[Novena to St Josemaria]]> I wrote a job test that I was really interested in with my cousin. Seven months passed and we weren't called. I did a nine day novena to St. Josemaria which ended on a Saturday. The following Monday my cousin was called up. I promised I will tell my story when my prayers were answered and I believe this is not yet the end of my story.
<![CDATA[I passed with a high score]]> Thank you to St Josemaria Escrivá. I passed my practical driving test. The first test I failed and I was depressed. I prayed to St Josemaria Escrivá and I passed with a high score! Thank you, St Josemaria.]]> <![CDATA[A stroke]]> I am grateful for St Josemaria Escriva’s intercession in helping my Mom to recover from a stroke and subsequent convulsions. Thank you!
<![CDATA[1932.11.24]]> “A friend is a treasure. But what about the Friend?… For where your treasure is, there is your heart,” Saint Josemaría wrote.]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis at General Audience: All baptized people can be saints]]> Video. (Rome Reports). Pope Francis explained during his General Audience that holiness is not a state reserved for bishops or religious. He said that it is a gift that is given by God and that all baptized people can be saints. ]]> <![CDATA[Towards Holiness]]> Audio in English of the homily: "Towards Holiness", given by St Josemaria on November 26, 1967. Published in Friends of God.]]> <![CDATA[The Way made a deeply impression in my life]]> Fr Paul Mimbi, from Kenya ]]> <![CDATA[Advice for couples]]> Video. (DigitoIdentidad) St Josemaría gives very practical advice to couples for their marriage and family life, as shown in the DVD “Take a chance on happiness”.]]>