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[Towards Holiness]]> Audio in English of the homily: "Towards Holiness", given by St Josemaria on November 26, 1967. Published in Friends of God.

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We are deeply moved, and our hearts profoundly shaken, when we listen attentively to that cry of St Paul: 'This is God's will for you, your sanctification.' Today, once again, I set myself this goal and I also remind you and all mankind: this is God's Will for us, that we be saints.

In order to bring peace, genuine peace, to souls; in order to transform the earth and to seek God Our Lord in the world and through the things of the world, personal sanctity is indispensable. In my conversations with people from so many countries and from all kinds of social backgrounds, I am often asked: 'What do you say to us married folk? To those of us who work on the land? To widows? To young people?'


To follow Christ — that is the secret. We must accompany him so closely that we come to live with him, like the first Twelve did; so closely, that we become identified with him. Soon we will be able to say, provided we haven't put obstacles in the way of grace, that we have put on, have clothed ourselves with Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord is then reflected in our behaviour, as in a mirror. If the mirror is as it ought to be it will capture Our Saviour's most lovable face without distorting it or making a caricature of it; and then other people will have an opportunity of admiring him and following him.

Read the homily here.]]>
<![CDATA[The Feast of Christ the King]]> - DOWNLOAD text: "Christ the King" homily published in Christ is passing by:

What does He rule?
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. (Matthew 7:21)” Christ is Passing By, 93

Where is the king?
Could it be that Jesus wants to reign above all in men’s hearts, in your heart? That is why he has become a child, for who can help loving a little baby? Where then is the king? Where is the Christ whom the Holy Spirit wants to fashion in our souls? He cannot be present in the pride that separates us from God, nor in the lack of charity which cuts us off from others. Christ cannot be there. In that loveless state man is left alone.
Christ is Passing By, 31

Christ should reign first and foremost in our soul. But how would we reply if he asked us: “How do you go about letting me reign in you?” I would reply that I need lots of his grace. Only that way can my every heartbeat and breath, my least intense look, my most ordinary word, my most basic feeling be transformed into a hosanna to Christ my king.
Christ is Passing By, 181

Only by serving can we know and love Christ
If we let Christ reign in our soul, we will not become authoritarian. Rather we will serve everyone. How I like that word: service! To serve my king and, through him, all those who have been redeemed by his blood. I really wish we Christians knew how to serve, for only by serving can we know and love Christ and make him known and loved.
Christ is Passing By, 182

Which is our task in this kingdom?
That is the calling of Christians, that is our apostolic task, the desire which should consume our soul: to make this kingdom of Christ a reality, to eliminate hatred and cruelty, to spread throughout the earth the strong and soothing balm of love. Let us ask our king today to make us collaborate, humbly and fervently, in the divine task of mending what is broken, of saving what is lost, of fixing what man has put out of order, of bringing to his destination whoever has gone off the right road, of reconstructing the harmony of all created things.
Christ is Passing By, 183

We are celebrating today the feast of Christ the King. And I do not go outside my role as a priest when I say that if anyone saw Christ’s kingdom in terms of a political program he would not have understood the supernatural purpose of the faith, and he would risk burdening consciences with weights which have nothing to do with Jesus, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Let us really love all men; let us love Christ above all; and then we cannot avoid loving the rightful freedom of others, living in harmony with them.
Christ is Passing By, 184]]>
<![CDATA[10 Tips For Getting Peace ]]> 1 Holy Mary is the Queen of peace, and thus the Church invokes her. So when your soul or your family are troubled, or things go wrong at work, in society or between nations, cry out to her without ceasing. Call to her by this title: Regina pacis, ora pro nobis — Queen of peace, pray for us.'' Have you at least tried it when you have lost your calm? You will be surprised at its immediate effect.
Furrow, 874

2 In your heart and soul, in your intelligence and in your will, implant a spirit of trust and abandonment to the loving Will of your heavenly Father. From this will arise the interior peace you desire.
Furrow, 850

3 There is a remedy for those anxieties of yours. Be patient, have rectitude of intention and look at things with a supernatural perspective.
Furrow, 853

4 God is with you: so cast far away from you that fear and spiritual agitation. They are reactions to avoid in the first place, for they only serve to multiply temptations and increase the danger.
Furrow, 854

5 Everything may collapse and fail. Events may turn out contrary to what was expected and great adversity may come. But nothing is to be gained by being perturbed. Furthermore, remember the confident prayer of the prophet: ``The Lord is our judge, the Lord gives us our laws, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.''
Say it devoutly every day, so that your behaviour may agree with the designs of Providence, which governs us for our own good.
Furrow, 855

6 If you fix your sight on God and thus know how to keep calm in the face of worries; if you can forget petty things, jealousies and envies, you will save a lot of energy, which you need if you are to work effectively in the service of men.
Furrow, 856

7 As soon as you truly abandon yourself in the Lord, you will know how to be content with whatever happens. You will not lose your peace if your undertakings do not turn out the way you hoped, even if you have put everything into them, and used all the means necessary. For they will have turned out the way God wants them to.
Furrow, 860

8 When darkness surrounds us and our soul is blind and restless, we have to go to the Light, like Bartimaeus. Repeat, shout, cry out ever more strongly, Domine, ut videam! — Lord, that I may see. And daylight will dawn upon you, and you will be able to enjoy the brightness He grants you.
Furrow, 862

9 The task for a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being anti anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy and peace. We should be understanding with everybody, with the followers of Christ and with those who abandon him, or do not know him at all.
But understanding does not mean holding back, or remaining indifferent, but being active.
Furrow, 864

10 A paradox: I have had fewer worries on my mind every day since I decided to follow the advice of the psalm: ``Cast your cares upon the Lord, and he will sustain you.'' And at the same time, once we have done whatever needs doing, everything can be solved more easily.
Furrow, 873]]>
<![CDATA[The Family Impact]]> Since 1968, UNIV has offered a profound experience to roughly 3000 young people each year, encouraging their ideas to come to life and grow, all in the context of Rome’s cultural, spiritual and artistic heritage.

Year after year, our students come together and listen to leaders from a variety of fields: people who can testify to and explain the challenges facing our society.

The topic for this year's Univ Congress is "The Family Impact":

Univ Congress 2016 wishes to offer a deep reflection on the importance of the family, not only as the basic cell of society, but as the foundation and model of social life. If societies manage to resemble the family more each day, and become real spaces for encounter and solidarity, we can aspire to overcome egocentrism and see the future with greater optimism.

UNIV places itself at the service of the university, which occupies an irreplaceable role in the progress of society. As a meeting point for university communication and debate, UNIV fosters dialogue on the principle questions affecting the person and culture.
<![CDATA[14 Questions about the Family]]> Answers offered by St Josemaria to questions about love in the family, family conflicts, parent-child relationships, raising children, and faith in the family. ]]> <![CDATA[Heaven, Death, Purgatory… What are the Last Things?]]> In Catholic tradition the “Last Things” are the things that man will encounter at the end of his life on earth: death, judgement, and his eternal destiny in heaven or hell. The Church focuses on them particularly in November each year. Her liturgy invites Christians to meditate on these realities.

1. What is there after death? Does God judge each person for their lives?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.” “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven – through a purification or immediately –, or immediate and everlasting damnation.”
St John of the Cross describes the particular judgement of each individual by saying that “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1021 and 1022

Contemplating the mystery
Everything can be put right... except death. And death puts everything right.
Furrow, no. 876

When facing death, be calm! I do not want you to have the cold stoicism of the pagan, but the fervour of a child of God who knows that life is changed, not taken away. Dying?... Living!
Furrow, no. 876

Don’t make a tragedy out of death, for it is not one. Only unloving children do not look forward to meeting their parents.
Furrow, no. 885

A true Christian is always ready to appear before God. Because, if he is fighting to live as a man of Christ, he is ready at every moment to fulfil his duty.
Furrow, no. 875

“I was amused to hear you speak of the ‘account’ that our Lord will demand of you. No, for none of you will he be a judge in the harsh sense of the word; he will simply be Jesus.” These lines, written by a good bishop, have consoled more than one troubled heart, and could well console yours.

2. Who goes to heaven? What is heaven like?

“Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” St Paul writes: “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).
After the particular judgement, “Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they ‘see him as he is,’ face to face.” They enjoy his happiness, possess him as their own, and rejoice in his truth and beauty.

“This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity – this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed – is called ‘heaven.’ Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. To live in heaven is ‘to be with Christ.’ The elect live ‘in Christ’, but they retain, or rather find, their true identity, their own name” (Cf. Jn 14:3; Phil 1:23; I Thess 4:17).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1023–1027

Contemplating the mystery
Men lie when they say “forever” in temporal matters. The only true “forever”, in the complete sense, is the forever of eternity.
And that is the way you have to live, with a faith that brings a foretaste of the sweet honey of Heaven whenever you think about that eternity which is truly everlasting.
The Forge, no. 999

Think how pleasing to God Our Lord is the incense burnt in his honour. Think also how little the things of this earth are worth; even as they begin they are already ending. In Heaven, instead, a great Love awaits you, with no betrayals and no deceptions. The fullness of love, the fullness of beauty and greatness and knowledge... And it will never cloy: it will satiate, yet still you will want more.
The Forge, no. 995

If we transform our temporal projects into ends in themselves and blot out from our horizon our eternal dwelling-place and the end for which we have been created, which is to love and praise the Lord and then to possess him for ever in Heaven, then our most brilliant endeavours turn traitor, and can even become a means of degrading our fellow creatures. Remember that sincere and well-known exclamation of St Augustine, who had such bitter experience when God was unknown to him and he was seeking happiness outside God: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you!”
Friends of God, no. 208

In our spiritual life, we often have to be ready to lose on earth so as to win in Heaven. This way we always win.
The Forge, no. 998

3. What is Purgatory? Is it for ever?

All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.

This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Macc 12:46). From the beginning the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice (cf. DS 856), so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030-1032

Contemplating the mystery
Purgatory shows God’s great mercy and washes away the defects of those who long to become one with Him.
Furrow, no. 889

You shouldn’t want to do things to gain merit, nor out of fear of the punishments of purgatory. From now on, and always, you should make the effort to do everything, even the smallest things, to please Jesus.
The Forge, no. 1041

“This is your hour; this is the reign of darkness.” So the sinful man has his hour? Yes... and God his eternity!
The Way, no. 734

4. Does hell exist?

To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.

The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt 7:13-14).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033-1036

Contemplating the mystery
Don’t forget that it is more comfortable (though it is a mistake) to avoid suffering at any cost, with the excuse of not wanting to hurt others. This inhibition often hides a shameful escape on our part from suffering, since it isn’t usually pleasant to correct someone in a serious matter. My children, remember that hell is full of closed mouths.
Friends of God, no. 161

A disciple of Christ can never think as follows: “I try to be good; as for others, if that’s what they want... let them go to hell.”
Such an attitude is not human. Nor is it in keeping with the love of God, or with the charity we owe our neighbour.
The Forge, no. 952

Hell alone is a punishment for sin. Death and judgement are only consequences, which those who are in the grace of God do not fear.
Furrow, no. 890

5. When will the Last Judgement be? What will it consist of?

The resurrection of all the dead, “of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15), will precede the Last Judgment. This will be “the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment” (Jn 5:28-29). Then Christ will come “in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:31 and 32).

The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvellous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death (Song 8:6).

The message of the Last Judgment calls men to conversion while God is still giving them “the acceptable time, . . . the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). It inspires a holy fear of God and commits them to the justice of the Kingdom of God. It proclaims the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) of the Lord’s return, when he will come “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all who have believed” (2 Thess 1:10).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038-1041

Contemplating the mystery
When you think about death, do not be afraid, in spite of your sins...For he already knows that you love him... and what stuff you are made of.
If you seek him, he will welcome you as the father welcomed the prodigal son; but you have to seek him!
Furrow, no. 880

“I know some men and women who don’t even have the strength to ask for help”, you tell me with sorrow and disappointment. Don’t leave them in the lurch. Your desire to save yourself and them can be the starting-point for their conversion. Furthermore, if you think about it carefully you will realise that someone also had to lend you a hand.
Furrow, no. 778

The world, the flesh and the devil are a band of adventurers who take advantage of the weakness of that savage you bear within you, and want you to hand over to them, in exchange for the glittering tinsel of a pleasure which is worth nothing, the pure gold and the pearls and the diamonds and rubies drenched in the lifeblood of your God, your Redeemer, which are the price and the treasure of your eternity.
The Way, no. 708

To save mankind, Lord, you died on the Cross. And yet, for one mortal sin you condemn a man to a hapless eternity of suffering. How much sin must offend you, and how much I ought to hate it!
The Forge, no. 1002

6. At the end of time God has promised a new heaven and a new earth. What should we hope for?

Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1). It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head “all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).

For man, this consummation will be the final realization of the unity of the human race, which God willed from creation and of which the pilgrim Church has been “in the nature of sacrament” (Lumen Gentium 1). Those who are united with Christ will form the community of the redeemed, “the holy city” of God. She will not be wounded any longer by sin, stains, self-love, that destroy or wound the earthly community. The beatific vision, in which God opens himself in an inexhaustible way to the elect, will be the ever-flowing well-spring of happiness, peace, and mutual communion.

“We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man, nor the way in which the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, distorted by sin, is passing away, and we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, in which happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of peace arising in the hearts of men” (Gaudium et Spes, 39).

“Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come. That is why, although we must be careful to distinguish earthly progress clearly from the increase of the kingdom of Christ, such progress is of vital concern to the kingdom of God, insofar as it can contribute to the better ordering of human society” (Gaudium et Spes, 39).

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038-1041

Contemplating the mystery
But as long as we live here the kingdom can be compared to yeast which a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour so that the whole batch was leavened. Anyone who understands the kingdom Christ proposes, realizes that it is worth staking everything to obtain it. It is the pearl the merchant gets by selling all his property; it is the treasure found in the field. The kingdom of heaven is difficult to win. No one can be sure of achieving it, but the humble cry of a repentant man can open wide its doors.
Christ is Passing By, no. 180

In this life, the contemplation of supernatural reality, the action of grace in our souls, our love for our neighbour as a result of our love for God – all these are already a foretaste of heaven, a beginning that is destined to grow from day to day. We Christians cannot resign ourselves to leading a double life: our life must be a strong and simple unity into which all our actions converge.
Christ awaits us. We are “citizens of heaven”, and at the same time fully-fledged citizens of this earth, in the midst of difficulties, injustices and lack of understanding, but also in the midst of the joy and serenity that comes from knowing that we are beloved children of God.
Christ is Passing By, no. 126

Time is our treasure, the “money” with which to buy eternity.
Furrow, no. 882
<![CDATA[I'm Short of Time]]> A doctor asks St Josemaria Escriva: “Some days our work leaves us no time for anything else. How can we keep sanctifying ourselves and manage our homes?”]]> <![CDATA[What are the Works of Mercy?]]> Pope Francis has announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy, and asks the faithful to practise the works of mercy during this year. What are they?

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“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
Pope Francis, Bull Misericordiae Vultus, 2

1. What are the works of mercy?
It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples. Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.
Pope Francis, Bull Misericordiae Vultus, 15

Mercy is more than simply being compassionate. Mercy is the overflow of charity, which brings with it also an overflow of justice. Mercy means keeping one’s heart totally alive, throbbing in a way that is both human and divine, with a love that is strong, self-sacrificing and generous. Here is what St Paul has to say about charity in his hymn to this virtue, “Charity is patient, is kind; charity feels no envy; charity is never perverse or proud, never insolent; does not claim its rights, cannot be provoked, does not brood over an injury; takes no pleasure in wrong-doing, but rejoices at the victory of truth; sustains, believes, hopes, endures, to the last” (I Cor 13: 4-7).
St Josemaria, Friends of God, 232

You cannot think of others as if they were digits, or rungs on a ladder on which you can rise, or a multitude to be harangued or humiliated, praised or despised, according to circumstances. Be mindful of what others are – and first of all those who are at your side: children of God, with all the dignity that marvellous title entails.
St Josemaria, Christ is Passing By, 26

2. What are the works of mercy?
The seven Corporal Works of Mercy are:
1. To feed the hungry.
2. To give drink to the thirsty.
3. To clothe the naked.
4. To welcome the stranger.
5. To visit the sick.
6. To visit the imprisoned.
7. To bury the dead.

The seven Spiritual Works of Mercy are:
1. To admonish sinners.
2. To instruct the ignorant.
3. To counsel the doubtful.
4. To comfort the sorrowful.
5. To bear wrongs patiently.
6. To forgive injustice.
7. To pray for the living and the dead.

Most of the corporal works of mercy are taken from our Lord’s description of the Last Judgement (Matt 25: 34-46), and from Tobias chapters 1 and 2.
The Church has drawn up the list of the spiritual works of mercy from various parts of the Bible, especially Christ’s teachings on forgiveness, fraternal correction, consoling others, bearing suffering, etc.

3. What effect do the works of mercy have on the people who practise them?
The works of mercy gain graces for those who practise them. In St Luke’s gospel, Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given you” (Lk 11:9). Therefore, by doing works of mercy we are doing God’s will, we are giving to others, and our Lord has promised that he will also give us what we need.

Another consideration is that one way to get rid of the debt of punishment remaining in our souls for sins that have been forgiven, is to do good works. The obvious good works we can do are the works of mercy. One of the Beatitudes is: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7).

What is more, the works of mercy help us to keep going forward on the path to heaven, because they make us progressively more like Jesus, our model, who taught us what our attitude to others should be. St Matthew gives us these words from Jesus: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt 6:19-21). If we act on this lesson from our Lord, we will be exchanging earthly possessions for the riches of eternity, which are the truly priceless treasures.

Contemplating the mystery
Think first about others. That way you will pass your life on this earth, making mistakes certainly, for they are inevitable, but leaving behind you a trail of good.
And when the hour of death comes, as it must inexorably, you will welcome it gladly, like Christ, because like Him we too will rise again to receive the reward of his Love.
St Josemaria, The Way of the Cross, 14th station, point 4.

If we know Jesus, we realize that we can live only by giving ourselves to the service of others. As Christians we can’t be caught up in personal problems; we must be concerned about the universal Church and the salvation of all souls.
St Josemaria, Christ is Passing By, 145

We must give our life for others. That is the only way to live the life of Jesus Christ and to become one and the same thing with Him.
St Josemaria, The Way of the Cross, 14th station.

4. The corporal works of mercy: a brief explanation

St Matthew gives us Jesus’ description of the Last Judgement (Matt 25: 31–46). “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

1) To feed the hungry, and 2) To give drink to the thirsty.
The first two corporal works of mercy go together, and describe the help we should provide – food and other necessities – to the poorest and most needy, who do not have enough to eat every day.
In St Luke’s gospel, chapter 3, verse 11, our Lord tells us: “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

3) To clothe the naked.
This work of mercy provides for another basic need: clothes. It is often made easy for us by collections of clothes organized in a local church or other center. It can be a good thing to think about giving not only what we do not need or can no longer wear, but also clothes that we still like to wear.
In the Letter of St James we are encouraged to be generous: “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (Jas 2:15-16).

4) To welcome the stranger.
In ancient times, sheltering strangers was a matter of life and death, because journeys were so complicated and risky. That is not always the case today. Even so, we should take opportunities to offer a place in our homes not simply as hospitality to a family member or friend, but to someone in real need.

5) To visit the sick.
This is a very practical way of helping the sick and elderly, both caring for their physical needs and offering them company and friendly conversation for a while.
The best example in Scripture is the parable of the Good Samaritan, who cared for the wounded man and, when he could no longer do so himself, committed him to the care of another, whom he paid out of his own pocket (Lk 10: 30-37).

6. To visit the imprisoned.
This involves visiting prisoners not only to offer them material assistance but spiritual help too, to help them improve their lives, change their ways, learn a skill so that they can earn their living when they finish their prison sentence, and so on. It also means ransoming the innocent and people who have been kidnapped. In ancient times, Christians used to offer payment to set slaves free, or offered themselves in exchange for innocent captives.

7. To bury the dead.
Christ had no burial-place of his own. A friend, Joseph of Arimathea, gave the use of his tomb. And not only that: he was brave enough to go to Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body. Nicodemus also helped to bury him (Jn 19: 38-42).
It might seem unnecessary to specify burying the dead as a work of mercy, because everyone gets buried. But in times of war, for instance, it may be a very demanding and merciful task indeed. Why is it important to give decent burial to the dead? Because the human body, if it was Christian, was the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit: we are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (I Cor 6:19).

Contemplating the mystery
If we want to help others, we must love them – I insist – with a love clothed in understanding, dedication, affection and voluntary humility. Then we will understand why our Lord summed up the whole law in that double commandment, which is really just one: love of God, and love of one’s neighbour, with all our heart.
Maybe you are thinking that sometimes Christians – not just other people, you and I – forget the most elementary applications of this duty. Perhaps you bring to mind all the injustices which cry for redress, all the abuses which go uncorrected, the discrimination passed on from one generation to the next with no attempt to find permanent solutions.
I cannot propose to you a particular way to solve problems of this kind, there is no reason why I should. But, as a priest of Jesus Christ, it is my duty to remind you of what sacred Scripture says. Meditate on the scene of the judgment which Jesus himself has described: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; naked and you did not clothe me; sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”
A man or a society that does not react to suffering and injustice and makes no effort to alleviate them is still distant from the love of Christ’s heart. While Christians enjoy the fullest freedom in finding and applying various solutions to these problems, they should be united in having one and the same desire to serve mankind. Otherwise their Christianity will not be the word and life of Jesus; it will be a fraud, a deception of God and man.
St Josemaria, Christ is Passing By, 167

I give you thanks, my Jesus, for your decision to become perfect Man, with a Heart which loved and is most lovable; which loved unto death and suffered; which was filled with joy and sorrow; which delighted in the things of men and showed us the way to Heaven; which subjected itself heroically to duty and acted with mercy; which watched over the poor and the rich and cared for sinners and the just... I give you thanks, my Jesus. Give us hearts to measure up to Yours!
St Josemaria, Furrow, 813

It is love that gives meaning to sacrifice. Every mother knows well what it means to sacrifice herself for her children; it is not a matter of giving them a few hours of her time, but of spending her whole life in their benefit. We must live thinking of others and using things in such a way that there will be something to offer to others. All these are dimensions of poverty which guarantee an effective detachment.
St Josemaria, Conversations, 111

The spiritual works of mercy: a brief explanation

1) To admonish sinners.
Fraternal correction is explained by Jesus himself in St Matthew’s gospel. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matt 18:15).
We should correct our neighbour gently and humbly. We will often find it difficult, but if so we can recall what St James says at the end of his Letter: “Whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Jas 5:20).

2) To instruct the ignorant.
Enlightening people in any field, including that of religion, whether in writing, conversation, or any other of the available media. As the Book of Daniel says, “those who turn many to righteousness [shall shine] like the stars for ever and ever” (Dan 12:3b).

3) To counsel the doubtful.
One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of Counsel. Anyone who aims to give good advice to others must first have a clear conscience and be able to listen to God, because what we should give is not our personal opinion but true guidance to those who need it.

4) To comfort the sorrowful.
Being there for our brothers and sisters all the time, but especially in times of difficulty, means acting like Jesus, who was moved to pity by the suffering of others. We see this in St Luke’s gospel, with the incident of the widow’s son at Naim (or Nain). “As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother” (Lk 7:12-15).

5) To bear wrongs patiently.
Patience in the face of wrong is a virtue, and a true work of mercy. However, in cases where bearing other people’s defects or wrong-doing in silence causes objective harm to the person doing wrong, or to others, we also need to have the courage and charity to correct the wrong-doer gently and positively.

6) To forgive injustice.
In the Our Father, we say “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, and our Lord underlines this point clearly: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). Forgiving offences means overcoming our feelings of resentment and desire for revenge, and instead, treating the offender kindly. The best example of forgiveness in the Old Testament is that of Joseph, who forgave his brothers, after they had tried to kill him and then sold him as a slave. “Do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). And the greatest example of forgiveness in the New Testament is that of Christ on the Cross, teaching us that we must forgive everything, always. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).

7) To pray for the living and the dead.
St Paul recommends us to pray for everyone without distinction, including those who hold posts of government and responsibility, since God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim 2:1-4). The Holy Souls in Purgatory depend on our prayers. It is a good work to pray for them to be freed from their sins (cf. 2 Mac 12:46).
Pope Francis asks all Christians and people of good will to pray especially for persecuted Christians. We can stop and think how we are fulfilling his express wishes, so that our brothers and sisters in the faith may be supported and consoled by our prayer.

Contemplating the mystery
We have to open our eyes; we have to look around us and recognize how God is calling us through the people at our side. We cannot turn our backs on others, ignoring them, because we are caught up in our own little world. That wasn’t how Jesus lived. The Gospel often speaks of his mercy, his ability to feel the sorrow and share the needs of others. He consoled the widow of Naim; he wept at the death of Lazarus; he felt compassion for the crowds that followed him with nothing to eat; he also had pity on sinners, on those who go through life without knowing light or truth. “And when he landed, Jesus saw a large crowd, and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”
When we are truly sons and daughters of Mary, we understand this attitude of our Lord, and our heart expands and becomes tender. We feel the sufferings, doubts, loneliness and sorrow of all other people, our brothers and sisters. And we urgently want to help them and speak to them about God, so that they can treat him as their Father and understand the motherly care which Mary is offering them.
Christ is Passing By, 146

We should accompany others so that no one is left, or can feel, abandoned. Our charity has to be affectionate, full of human warmth.
Christ is Passing By, 36
<![CDATA[Learning a difficult language]]> I prayed persistently for St Josemaria’s intercession in helping me to learn a difficult language and he granted it to me. I found many free learning resources, and several people have helped me. Thank you, St. Josemaria, and I hope that one day I will speak the language fluently so that I can travel to that great country which I find so fascinating.]]> <![CDATA[Final exam]]> I give thanks for St Josemaria’s intercession for my son to pass his final exam and graduate as a mechanical and electronic engineer. I know he prayed for us.]]> <![CDATA[1932.11.25]]> “Don’t be troubled if, as you consider the wonders of the supernatural world, you hear that other voice, the intimate, insinuating voice of your ‘former [...]]]> <![CDATA[The Sacrament of Reconciliation]]> Video. Confession is the sacrament of God’s forgiveness. In it, says St Josemaria, we find Christ, “who is both father and mother”.]]> <![CDATA[Pope asks for prayers for his trip to Africa, the most delicate one he's taken]]> Video (Rome Reports). Thousands of pilgrims attended Pope Francis' Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, with some carrying posters calling for peace in the world. The Pope asked everyone to pray for his journey to Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic this Wednesday. And they did it right away.]]> <![CDATA[Love Our Lady!]]> Father, could you tell us, more than ever in times like these, what genuine devotion we should have for our Blessed Lady as her sons, what our relationship with her should be as priests, to stay faithful to our priesthood?]]>