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[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. We want to treat her as someone who is alive.]]> <![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[Mercy and Reconciliation ]]> The Pope is giving some special audiences for the Year of Mercy. On April 30, he recalled that the “Jubilee of Mercy is a favorable time for everyone to discover the need for the tenderness and closeness of God our Father, and for turning back to him with all our hearts.” The following are some passages from St Josemaria’s writings, to help pray about this subject. ]]> <![CDATA[Forgiving – and asking for forgiveness]]> In The Way St Josemaria wrote “Force yourself, if necessary, always to forgive those who offend you, from the very first moment. For the greatest injury or offence that you can suffer from them is as nothing compared with what God has pardoned you” (no. 452).

This actually tells us the story of St Josemaria’s own life. Previously, he had written in a personal notebook, “I will force myself, if necessary, always to forgive anyone who offends me, from the very first moment, because however great the injury or offence they cause me, God has forgiven me even more.”

Other points in The Way speak about how God forgives us (nos. 262, 267, 309, 436). And now St Josemaria shows us how, as in the parable of the two debtors (Matt 18:23-35), God’s forgiveness is the basis for our forgiving our brothers and sisters, which is one of Jesus’ most characteristic teachings.

This article gives some examples of how St Josemaria practised forgiveness himself and said sorry, asking forgiveness of others. The excerpts are taken from the book The Man From Villa Tevere by Pilar Urbano.

St Josemaria practised, and taught his children in Opus Dei to practise, a reaction he summarised in five steps, patient but not passive ones: “pray, keep silent, understand, forgive ... and smile.” This was not intended as a sort of pain-killer; he was guiding them towards an attitude of great fortitude.

Mercedes Morado and Begoña Alvarez, who were among those who worked with Monsignor Escriva for years, wrote that his spirit of forgiving, forgetting and understanding towards those who slandered him was something that grew progressively, up to the point where he could say in all simplicity, “I don’t feel any resentment towards them. I pray for them every day, just as hard as I pray for my children. And by praying for them so much, I’ve come to love them with the same heart and the same intensity as I love my children.”

He was putting onto paper something of his own personal experience when he wrote, “Think about the good that has been done you throughout your lifetime by those who have injured or attempted to injure you. Others call such people their enemies. (...) You are nothing so special that you should have enemies; so call them ‘benefactors.’ Pray to God for them: as a result, you will come to like them.”

In 1962, Rafael Calvo Serer went to see him in Rome. He unburdened his heart and told him about the calumnies and persecutions he was being subjected to by certain petty officials of the Franco regime. Monsignor Escriva listened and then said, “My son, it is hard, but you have to learn how to forgive.”

He was silent for a little and then, as if thinking aloud, he added, “I didn’t need to learn how to forgive, because God has taught me how to love.”

Asking for forgiveness

St Josemaria did not care whether he lost merit in other people’s eyes, or ran the risk of lowering his authority by asking for forgiveness when he realised he was wrong or had been carried away by the first impulse of his strong character.

One day in Madrid in 1946, he went into the catering department of the Diego de Leon residence in the middle of the morning. It looked a mess: a cupboard door was half open; another cupboard was all untidy inside; the shopping had not been put away in the larder but was still in baskets and bags; and there was a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. It did not look like an Opus Dei Centre at all. Father Escriva, much upset, called for the director, but she was not in. Flor Cano, another woman of the Work, came instead received the full flood of Father Escriva’s protest.

“This can’t be allowed! It just can’t! Where is your presence of God while you’re working? You have to do things with much more sense of responsibility!”

Without realising it, Father Escriva had been raising and hardening his voice. Suddenly he stopped and was silent for an instant.

Then immediately, in a completely different tone, he said, “Lord ... forgive me! And you, my daughter, forgive me too.”

“Father – please – you’re absolutely right!” said Flor.

“Yes, I am, because what I’m saying is true,” he responded. “But I ought not to have said it in that tone of voice. So please forgive me!”

On another occasion in Rome he reprimanded Ernesto Julia on the intercom for not doing an important job. Ernesto did not protest or make any excuses. Shortly afterwards, someone informed Monsignor Escriva that Ernesto had not known about the matter because he had not been asked to do it. That very instant, without delaying a second, Monsignor Escriva picked up the intercom again to speak to Ernesto, and asked him to come to the place where the two buildings, Casa del Vicolo and Villa Vecchia, met.

When Ernesto got there he found Monsignor Escriva waiting for him with his arms wide open and a gesture of opening his heart wide too, in welcome. And with an engaging, affectionate smile he said, “My son, I’m sorry. I beg your forgiveness and restore your good name to you!”

It hurt him to leave anyone feeling hurt, so he never delayed healing any wound he might have caused inadvertently. He was quick and generous whenever he needed to put something right or ask for forgiveness.

One day in January 1955, also in Rome, while some students of the Roman College were chatting with Monsignor Escriva in a corridor in Villa Tevere, Fernando Acaso came by. Monsignor Escriva asked him if he had collected some furniture which was to due be placed near some stairs. Fernando gave an evasive, roundabout reply without making it clear whether the furniture was in the house. Monsignor Escriva interrupted him, “But have you brought it home, or not?”

“No, Father,” said Fernando.

Monsignor Escriva then told all of them there that they ought always to be “sincere and direct, unafraid of anything or anybody” and “without making excuses, because no one’s accusing you!”

At that moment along came Don Alvaro, looking for Fernando Acaso. He greeted everyone and said directly to Fernando, “Fernando, you can pick up the furniture whenever you like; there’s money in the bank for it now.”

Monsignor Escriva then realised that this was the reason for Fernando’s elusive explanation. Immediately, in front of everyone, he apologised. “Forgive me, my son, for not listening to your reasons. I can see that it wasn’t your fault. With your attitude you’ve given me a splendid lesson in humility. God bless you!”

In the summer of that same year, 1955, Monsignor Escriva went to Spain and spent a day in Molinoviejo with a big group of his sons in the Work who were doing a course there and having a rest.

A group of them were talking together outside the front door, which gave on to a pine wood. Monsignor Escriva saw Rafael Caamaño, who had just come back from Italy where he had done a three-year course in naval engineering, and, suddenly remembering something, he beckoned him and Javier Echevarria over to a stone fountain nearby, among the trees.

When the three were together, Monsignor Escriva said to Caamaño, “Rafael, I have to beg your pardon for maybe having scandalised you that time by not giving money to the beggar. I needed to tell you that that’s not my spirit. Although I never carry any money, I could have, I ought to have asked one of you to give some coins to that poor man. Now you know: the Father did wrong and begs your forgiveness.”

Rafael said nothing; he was astonished and confused. He could not remember what episode Monsignor Escriva was referring to. Only much later, and having thought it over laboriously, he managed to recall the event. Some months or maybe a year previously, he had gone with Monsignor Escriva and two other people of the Work on a drive in the outskirts of Rome. They had stopped to have a coffee in one of the castelli. While they were there a beggar came forward asking for alms, and with a vague gesture of refusal they had given him to understand they had no money or were not going to give him any. Recalling it at this time, Caamaño recognised Monsignor Escriva’s sensitive conscience and realised that this commonplace event had touched Monsignor Escriva unforgettably, like a moral debt he had an absolute need to atone for: “I needed to tell you ... the Father did wrong.”

After all, Monsignor Escriva had made the resolution years before “not to spend five cents if a beggar in my position would not spend them”!

One day in Villa Tevere Monsignor Escriva went into the office of the Secretary General of the Work. Speaking to two or three of the people working there, he corrected some errors which they had introduced into a document. It was no mere question of literary style; by saying one thing instead of another, they had misrepresented the very spirituality of Opus Dei. After making plain in no uncertain terms the far-reaching consequences such mistakes could have, he left the room.

After a while he came back, looking peaceful and joyous. “My sons,” he said, “I’ve just been to confession to Don Alvaro, because what I said to you before was something I had to say, but I shouldn’t have said it the way I did. So I went to Our Lord to ask him to forgive me, and now I’ve come to say sorry to you.”

Another time he was hurrying along a corridor when one of his spiritual daughters, who happened to be there at that moment, tried to stop him with some question which had nothing to do with anything; it was neither the time nor the place for it. Hardly even slowing his pace, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “How should I know? Ask Don Alvaro!”

Later on that day, the same girl was tidying some things in the hall of Villa Vecchia, as Monsignor Escriva and Don Alvaro went by. They stopped for a moment, and Monsignor Escriva said, “I’m sorry, my daughter, for having answered you as I did earlier on. Those of you who live with me have so much to put up with!”

<![CDATA[God’s Mercy]]> How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy]]> <![CDATA[Novena for forgiveness]]> Written by Fr Francisco Faus, is available in pdf, epub and Kindle formats, in which, while meditating on texts by St Josemaria, we ask God through his intercession for the grace of learning to forgive.]]> <![CDATA[The baptism papers]]> I found my friend a bit sad one day and asking her the reason of that she told me that a friend of hers was going to be received into the Catholic Church. For that she needed to apply for the baptism papers from her country. She got them but they got lost (not her fault). At that moment I told my friend to pray to saint Josemaria to find them and we started a novena together. For some reasons we didn't finish it we were missing two prayers. The next day we started the novena again and again we didn't finish missing two. I told my friend that this was the reason of not finding the papers.
My friend went away for some days and I tried to carry on with the prayers for this intention.
My surprise was great when after a few days my friend came and she told me that the papers were found while she was away and her friend was able to be received into the Catholic Church!
I am complete sure that this was thanks to saint Josemaria even though we missed two prayers!
<![CDATA[In God's grace]]> Last year and also many times I ask St Josemaria to pray for me to get a job and I obtain my favor. His words encourage me and my family to live and work in God's Grace. Thank you St Josemaria for your good example in life and in prayer.]]> <![CDATA[Saint Josemaria and Our Lady of Montserrat]]> St Josemaria had a lot of devotion to Our Lady of Montserrat. Records exist of frequent visits made by him to the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat in Barcelona, Spain, during the 1940s, especially towards the end of 1946, the year when he moved to Rome.

Despite the move, his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary under this advocation continued throughout his life. And it was on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, 27 April 1954, that he was cured of diabetes, after a very severe attack which brought him to the point of death. The story is told by Jose Miguel Cejas in his book Josemaría Escrivá, un hombre, un camino y un mensaje (“Josemaria Escriva, a man, a way and a message”):

April 27, 1954, and life was going on as usual in Villa Tevere, the headquarters of the Opus Dei prelature in Rome. It was the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat, an ordinary day, filled with prayer and work in the warm Italian springtime. Recently Escriva’s diabetes had intensified. Every week he went for a blood test and the results were progressively worse, in spite of a strict diet and the high doses of insulin he was given daily.

Escriva did not lose his peace of mind over this: God led him along paths of abandonment, humility, simplicity, and trust. That day, following the doctor’s instructions, at ten to one in the afternoon, Alvaro del Portillo had given him an injection with a new prescription of delayed-action insulin. Afterwards they went down to the dining-room.

Escriva sat down at table and suffered a physical collapse. He realized that he could be about to die and his instant reaction was to ask for absolution.

“Alvaro, give me absolution.”
“But, Father, what are you saying?”

As Fr Del Portillo was too surprised to do anything, Escriva began the words for him, “Ego te absolvo – ” and fell unconscious on the floor.

It was an anaphylactic shock. Del Portillo gave him absolution, put some sugar in his mouth and made him swallow it, dashed water in his face and moved his head and limbs, and quickly summoned a doctor. Some minutes later, Escriva slowly began to come round, though he found that he could not see anything.

The doctor was astonished, since these types of insulin reaction are normally fatal. However, after some hours Escriva felt better, and recovered his sight again. From that day on, his diabetes was cured. It had been a caress from his Heavenly Mother, on the feast of Our Lady of Montserrat.
<![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[1945.5.6]]> Saint Josemaría wrote: “A moment arrives when we find it impossible to tell where our prayer ends and our work begins, because our work is [...]]]> <![CDATA[How can we live if we arent in love?]]> Without love, life wouldnt be worth living. Therefore St. Josemaría counseled: Fall madly in love, both when our love is in heaven and when its on earth.]]> <![CDATA[Loving our Lady]]> Video. St. Josemaria explains how we should love Mary, the Mother of God- with the simplicity, tenderness, and confidence of children..]]> <![CDATA[Our Lady of Peace, the prelatic church of Opus Dei]]> Video. On January 24 is celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Peace. "Our Lady of Peace" is a place of prayer, housing the mortal remains of Saint Josemaría Escrivá. Millions of people throughout the world turn to Saint Josemaría's intercession to gain graces of every kind from God.]]> <![CDATA[Working for love]]> What sanctifying one’s work means: finding God in the material things of this world.]]> <![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?”]]>