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 http://www.josemariaescriva.info/ <![CDATA[Please, Thank you, and I’m sorry Three Keywords for Married Couples]]> Following Pope Francis' teachings, we offer some quotations from St. Josemaria about marriage and how husband and wife can ensure that their love always stays as young and joyful as it was on the first day. ]]> <![CDATA[June 26, 2015 Around the World]]> Here are a few photos of the Masses celebrated in honour of Saint Josemaria, on dates close to June 26th. The photos come from different countries where the saint of ordinary life is celebrated.]]> <![CDATA[Feast of St Josemaria in Greece]]> June 27, 2015, the Mass for the feast of St Josemaria was celebrated for the first time in Greece, in St Paul’s Church, Kokinakki Street, Athens.

Fr Alberto Paima, the Argentinian-born parish priest, was joined in the concelebrated Mass by Don Carlo Pioppi, who came over from Italy, and other priests who travelled over for the occasion. Families came for the Mass from different parts of the country including the Peloponnese and Thessaloniki.

In the homily, Don Carlo underlined two aspects of St Josemaria’s message: our father-child relationship with God, and seeking holiness in an ordinary life of work.
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<![CDATA[A New Biography of St Josemaría]]> To the Ends of the Earth, by William Keenan, is the final volume of a compelling biography of St Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.

To the Ends of the Earth charts the spread of Opus Dei across five continents. It also details St Josemaria's battles to get the most important message of our time heard: that holiness is for ordinary men and women who can become saints.

This book, the conclusion of a trilogy chronicling the life of St Josemaria, was completed in the final days of Bill Keenan's life. Lying in bed with advanced cancer, eyes closed, he listened as the final paragraphs of his dictated text were read out to him. After a few seconds' silence, he made the final changes to this third volume.


PUBLISHED BY BATCHWOOD PRESS, ST ALBANS. HERTFORDHIRE
RETAIL PRICE: £12
ISBN 978-0-9549689-3-9
FOR COPIES, PLEASE CONTACT THE PUBLISHERS BATCHWOOD PRESS, ST ALBANS, DIRECTLY.


The two other books in the trilogy are available via Amazon.
The Day the Bells rang out
The Path through the Mountains]]>
<![CDATA[St Josemaria and the Marian Year for Families]]> Video. Opus Dei is living a special year of prayer for families. June 26, 2015, the 40th anniversary of the death of Saint Josemaria, marks the halfway point of the year. Bishop Javier Echevarría recalls some advice from Saint Josemaría for families.

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<![CDATA["Never Stop Working on Making Your Marriage Better"]]> Emily Marcucci, a Harvard grad from Massachusetts, has been married for 15 years and is mother to 8 children. "I would tell newly married couples to never stop working on making your marriage better and stronger with each passing day… It should be a daily concern to find ways to give yourself generously to your spouse."

Tell us a little about yourself and your family. What do you do, and what does your husband do?
My husband, Michael Marcucci, is a trial lawyer and a partner at Jones Day, a global law firm,in its Boston office. I am at home with our 8 children – Madeline, 14, John, 11, Theresa, 9, Josephine, 8, Anthony, 6, James, 4 and Thomas, 4, and Anne, 11 months.

When you were dating and getting to know each other, how did you and Mike approach the topic of family? Did you guys plan to have many children?
Mike and I met in college at Harvard University and only dated for 6 months before getting engaged. Mike proposed shortly after he graduated and I still had a year left. Both the short dating period and the young age at which we were engaged put us in a unique category already – especially at our alma mater. While dating and during our engagement period, we spoke about a mutual desire to have a large family. I grew up with 10 siblings and loved the love and affection I received from each of them. Mike also grew up in a tight knit family – he and his sisters and parents are very close. So, we were ready from day one of our marriage to be open to any children that God sent us. But it’s not so much that we planned to have this number of children – it was part of God’s plan, and we were open to it.

It was beneficial to speak of family and our ultimate trust in God before starting our marriage. Thus, we began our married life on the same page. In our case, God did not wait long to bless us with children! Madeline was born before our first wedding anniversary and we became pregnant with our second child when Madeline was just 9 months old. We were thrilled! Madeline brought us such joy – we could not wait to meet our second child. However, our son Phillip was stillborn at 32 weeks. We were devastated. Through our sorrow, our marriage grew stronger. It also opened our eyes a bit. We wanted a large family, but we also realized through our loss that each child is a special gift from God and that no one is guaranteed the number of children they want or plan for. They are miracles given by God in His own time. After losing Phillip, Mike and I still desired a large family, but we began to think only about each child as he or she came, to be grateful for the miracles that each child was and is. Except when God sent twins; then we had to think about two children at once!

Based on your experience, how would you describe the role of parents?
A parent’s job is to lead their children to become responsible adults. Parents are called to love each child unconditionally and help each child reach their full potential. Their role, as parents, is to teach their children what is right and what is wrong and ultimately aid them on their journey towards heaven.

Additionally, parents must love and respect their children’s freedom. This balance between teaching what is right yet allowing them to make mistakes gives them room to grow in virtue and ultimately learn how to be happy. Teaching virtue, or good habits, is best done through example, so actually, it is also a parent’s responsibility to be working on his or her own human virtues. In this way, we try to show that “love is deeds, not sweet words” as St. Josemaria would put it. We have that and other inspirational mottos on the white board that serves as our family’s “chore chart” (see below)

8 children is more than the average couple takes on these days. Is it hard to be a mother to so many? How do you organize such a household?
Parenting is hard work – whether you have one child or 16!! So, to answer your question – YES, it is absolutely difficult to be a mother to so many, but I like the word “challenging” better. There may be different challenges in raising a large number of children versus a smaller number, but there are fringe benefits as well. More children mean more people who can help to run the household.

There are certain tips for organizing big families that I’ve learned from other parents, including my own parents who have 11 children. First, a spirit of service in the family is crucial so that everyone knows they have a part in taking care of the house and of each other. Chore charts tell everyone what they are expected to do. We have a big white board in the kitchen which outlines the schedule for the day and who has what chore. We try to make it fun, though, because why not? For the summer, we are having the kids take turns cooking a meal once a week. An older child is paired with a younger child. They are so excited for it! I am too – it means a night off for me!

Parenting any number of children is also a challenge because (like all of us) they are works in progress, some more so than others. It is easy to get frustrated with our children from time to time; with more children, there are more opportunities to be frustrated at the difference between who they are today and who we are raising them to be. That is why it is so important to have a spirit of mortification and patience concerning the organization of the house. Outside of productions of the “Sound of Music,” there are few large households that run with military precision all the time. It always helps to keep your sense of humor, even during, or maybe especially during particularly challenging moments.

One last piece of advice for any mom – I heard this from a friend. She said she has learned to “beat her children up” meaning she wakes up before anyone else and has a cup of coffee, prays, and plans her day. I find this early morning ritual can really put everything in perspective. Sometimes it is hard to wake before the children, but the extra effort can make for a better day.

Pope Francis is asking us to pray a lot for the family right now, as well as for marriage. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the family today?
One of the biggest challenges facing families today, at least in the United States, is a busy life style that leaves little time for reflection. We run from activity to activity, sometimes at the expense of the family dinner – and a sit down family dinner is special family bonding time. Again, it takes a lot of effort to coordinate everyone’s schedules but being together at the table gives us an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and learn some manners. We sometimes play a game at dinner called “Highs and Lows”. We go around the table, person by person, sharing our high and low points of our day. Even the littlest family members can participate. Our youngest, Anne, is so happy when we are all seated at the table together. Her joy is contagious.

How do you go about helping your children to embrace the faith, learn how to pray, develop Christian habits, etc.?
We try to integrate habits of faith into our everyday routine. We teach our children to say a morning offering, a grace before meals and prayers at bedtime. Since they are woven into the fabric of the day they become part of a larger Catholic culture of our family. We attend Sunday mass as a family and try to attend our parish monthly Eucharistic Adoration. When possible, I take the children to daily Mass with me as well. We celebrate the saint feast days of the children’s names. We also encourage the children to read about some of our favorite saints. Between birthdays and feast days there is always a reason to celebrate! During Advent and Lent we have certain traditions to help each child prepare their hearts during that liturgical season. Finally, we have a list of people we are praying for as a family – if a relative is sick, or a family member is expecting a new baby. All these little habits of prayer add up – and they often spark good teachable moments where the faith is explained to the children in context. The goal is for these things to be a natural part of our daily lives, and not something that is just done on Sundays or is otherwise cordoned off from the rest of what we do.

Do you have any advice for newly married couples?
Yes! I would tell newly married couples to never stop working on making your marriage better and stronger with each passing day…each passing year! Marriage requires total self-giving, but sometimes it takes time and effort – more time and effort than you think – to discover the best ways to give oneself more generously to one’s spouse.These ways may change over time and as the children grow older. It should be a daily concern to find ways to give yourself generously to your spouse.

After we had been married about ten years, Mike and I took a marriage class called Marital Love. Through it, we met other couples who were also committed to building strong marriages. One couple taught us about a concept that illustrates what I mean by working on your marriage daily. They called it making a “DTL” or a Decision to Love the other person each day and in little ways. We don’t fall in love without our will and intellect. We choose to love a person and we can renew this decision again each day by choosing to do small acts of service for the other person. For example, if the trash needs to be taken out, a husband can make a DTL by taking out the trash. His wife could make a DTL and fix the shower head without asking her husband to do it. It’s a lot of fun to point out all your daily DTL’s to your spouse. Or to gently ask for something of your spouse as in “Honey, can you make a DTL and bring me a glass of ice water?”


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<![CDATA[St. Josemaria Taught Me How to Work with Love]]> In 1965, Ana Lorente came to Rome to work, at St. Josemaria's request. A nurse by profession, she also specializes in photography. For 10 years she took photos of various activities, encounters and large get-togethers that St. Josemaria had during that time. On June 26th, 1975, she happened to be in Opus Dei's central headquarters and on that day, she took a series of final photos of St. Josemaria, for posterity's sake.



Can you tell us some details of June 26th, 1975, from your experience of that day?
I was working in the photo-lab with some technicians, when at 12:30 the telephone rang: an urgent call asking me to come immediately. Excusing myself, I accompanied the technicians to the door telling them that something had come up.

When I asked what had happened, they gave me the news: the Father had just died, he had gone to heaven. My mind blocked up. My place of work was very close to the house where St. Josemaria was living, and all the others working in that house had already heard the news I had to return to the laboratory, where I was working on a bunch of photos of the recent trip of St. Josemaria to Venezuela, because we were preparing a publication on the catechesis he gave in Latin America, in 1974 and 1975. For a moment, none of it made sense to me...

Who asked you to take photos of St. Josemaria at that moment?
Don Alvaro called and asked us to go and take pictures in Our Lady of Peace, which is where they had brought the body of St. Josemaria - there were already people praying there. His face was glowing, and the peace that it transmitted was mesmerizing.


It was generally pretty difficult to take photos of the Founder of Opus Dei, because he didn't like to be the center of attention; after 3 or 4 clicks of the camera, he would always say, "that's enough". I took photos of him for 10 years. It almost always ended with an indication or a look that left no room for contesting.

But on June 26th, I found myself in Our Lady of Peace, taking photos from one side and the other, with nobody telling me to stop. It was like another shock for me, along with that smile on his face. Seeing me and Helena Serrano (the other photographer), Don Alvaro told us, "The Father would have liked you to take these photos". I always knew that St. Josemaria had confidence in us, but I never realized to what extent.


¿Has St Josemaria influenced your life?
To say that he has influenced my life would be an understatement - I learned everything from him, even in terms of material details with no apparent importance. He didn't like "chapuzas" - that means things done without thinking, without putting one's mind to it, without love, as he used to say. For example, one time I did something rapidly with the hope of finishing early, without revising it. He gave it back to me and, with his caracteristic handwriting, he had written "Let's not make 'chapuzas' - this is where we find the 'intringulis' (or 'essence') of our holiness".


Is there something that you are especially grateful for?
I'm thankful for his affection, and for the amiable way of life that he transmitted even while pushing us to be better. For example, in reference to the anecdote I mentioned earlier, once I had redone that particular project, he wrote me again, this time saying, "Thank you, you have done this very well - you know how to sanctify your work."

One final memory?
For his Aragonese way of being, he didn't like to show affection in a visible way. I remember one occasion when he asked me if I could take ID photos of him for a legal document. Don Alvaro came with him and distracted him a bit so that he wouldn't make a "camera face", because if we spent too long on it he would become serious. But when we did these same photos for Don Alvaro, it was St. Josemaria who was telling him jokes so that he would smile.
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<![CDATA[My Life Opened to the Beauty of Life Itself]]> Gina Garcia from Muntinlupa, Philippines danced ballet professionally for years and is now a home-maker, a part-time ballet teacher, and also teaches Parenting Education courses as a volunteer. On raising kids, Gina says, "The greatest challenge is in reminding ourselves that these are the children we taught to think and encouraged to express their ideas. The challenge is then for us to remember that we have to listen to their ideas and open our own minds to different perspectives".

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My husband and I have been married 28 going on 29 years this 2015. We met during our senior year at university. We have 6 children, 2 have completed their university studies, 2 are in university, one is in senior high school, and our youngest in grade 8. We live in the Philippines, born and raised here. My husband's field of work is in business development, while I am a homemaker and help out in various activities related to parent education. I also teach ballet part-time.

Before being a full-time mom, you danced ballet at a professional level. What was it like to give that up? Do you still manage to have dancing in your life?
Anyone immersed in her art will know what a wonderful experience it is! Giving it up was of course painful. I stopped as I was peaking at my career. There were more roles I dreamed of performing, but I struck a deal with myself. Just one major dream role and I would stop. That was because it was getting more and more difficult to leave for work, knowing that I was leaving my daughter (she was an only child then, and she would look at me with such a sad look on her face, saying "Mama, please don't leave me...") and to top it all, for nearly five years, my husband would come home from work and I wasn't there to greet him nor be with him for dinner. And for those 5 years, he would be the one to pick me up from my work that ended 10:30 PM and sometimes beyond. His constant companions while waiting for me were the mosquitoes at the parking lot. He never asked me to stop, never hinted, nothing of the sort because he knew how happy I was dancing. But then I knew it couldn't go on. I stopped as I was reaching my peak because I did not want to retire when my body was just too old and tired and I could not serve my husband and my then only child. So with my deadline, I just stopped. Yes it was hard. But in giving up what I enjoyed most for myself, my husband and I were blessed with 5 more children, and my life was opened to the beauty of life itself.
How does the advice and teachings of St. Josemaria help you in your daily activities?
When I first heard about sanctification of ordinary life, I was floored! It made so much sense for life---anything that is pleasing to God can be one's way to heaven. I remember reading a line from Furrow, #495: "You asked what you could offer the Lord. —I don’t have to think twice about the answer: offer the same things as before, but do them better, finishing them off with a loving touch that will lead you to think more about Him and less about yourself."

I then learned more and more beautiful things about my faith, and all I have is gratitude for St Josemaria's example of love and dedication as a son of God, our Loving Father. St Josemaria, in his obedience to God, has made it possible for many of us to love God deeply through our ordinary life.

Based on your experience, how would you describe the role of parents in the lives of their children?
Parents are there to guide their children to be the children God wants them to be. Always with love and affection, but firm and uncompromising in whatever our Lord asks of His children. There was one time when I was exhausted from trying to be a good example to my children (and I felt they never got the point) and I felt like a total failure, until I received the advice that reminded me that I am not the example of "goodness" and that Christ is. And that made so much sense. Our role is to help our children know Christ more intimately. Our role is to teach them to care of and serve others. As to MAKE them do it, well, wish I could... but that lies in the mystery of Freedom.

Raising children is not an easy task, and the dimension that involves educating in the faith presents its own specific challenges. What are your thoughts on that?
You are right. It is not easy, and it is not getting any easier, what with so many intruders into a family's life. Seeing that the Christian lifestyle ultimately leads to a happier life, better relationships, and more authentic freedom is the result of actually living one's faith. We talk with them about it, and only when they trust us enough do they live the demands and consequently they understand its fruits. Time spent with our children either at meal times or during one-on-one time spent together is when we "talk the walk". Yes, talk the walk, not just walk the talk. We go back and explain the lifestyle we choose to live. We have been blessed with children who think, and who are willing to talk to us when we feel we need to talk to them. Knowing that we as parents were given the authority and grace to form our children, we bank on that grace from our Lord.

What challenges do teenage children present for you and your husband?
The greatest challenge is in reminding ourselves that these are the children we taught to think and encouraged to express their ideas. The challenge is then for us to remember that we have to listen to their ideas (of course what is non-negotiable is that they speak to us in a respectful manner) and open our own minds to different perspectives. The additional challenge then is to stick to what we know is right, to trust the authority given to us by Our Lord, and hold on to tried and tested values that some no longer care about. We have to be strong in defending the family as it ought to be, but always understanding the unfortunate circumstances that other families face.

Do you have any advice for newly married couples?
Keep counting on God's grace. Stay in love with your spouse, keeping your relationship as fresh as that point of your first attraction! Know that your life is now shared and will forever be shared with your one and only spouse, and THAT should give you great joy! And yes there are some difficulties, but never so big as to overpower the reason that you said yes to marriage. Count only the good things that have happened and forget the painful episodes. Spend time talking (face to face, of course), sharing, and listening. Find the right time to correct each other. All these are possible only by the grace of God!

During Pope Francis' visit to the Phillipines earlier this year, he said that husbands and wives should "dream together" about their children. Do you have dreams for your children's future?
Our dreams are for them to live as loyal, loving children of God, working wherever God wants them to be, wherever they can serve God best, and finding happiness in that.]]>
<![CDATA[Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage]]> Download pdf.

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

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

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

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


Printed copies can be ordered from:
St. Josemaria Institute
4340 Cross Street, Suite 1
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 541-9742
www.stjosemaria.org]]>
<![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?

Download pdf, epub and kindle.

“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
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<![CDATA[A Scholarship]]> I would like to give thanks with all my heart for the favor my daughter has received through Saint Josemaria’s intercession: she won a scholarship to be able to study at a well-known private secondary school. We are both very grateful for this favour.
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<![CDATA[Maternity: a Lost Job and a Return to Work]]> First of all, forgive me, St. Josemaria, for taking so long to write about this favor. In 2013, with a very precarious employment contract, I became pregnant. I lost my job, and after the time for maternity leave had passed, it was very difficult for me to get back into the company. I did the Novena to St. Josemaria, and two months later they called me and gave me my job back. I am so grateful to this great saint for granting me this favor.
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<![CDATA[1974.7.8]]> “I’ll say to the Mother of God, ‘Mother of mine, I love you as much as these people do. Grant me as much faith as [...]]]> <![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[Marriage: a Christian Vocation]]> Download pdf of the homily "Marriage: a christian vocation", given by St Josemaria in Christmas 1970. ]]> <![CDATA[Pope: Families Who Care for a Sick Loved One, Show Daily Heroism]]> Video (Rome Reports). In his catechesis, the Pope reflected on families that deal with the illness of a loved one. He said families are in essence, the first hospitals, showing heroism on a daily basis. ]]> <![CDATA[My Family Helps Me with Everything]]> Video. In this clip from The Homemakers Project Xavi, 19, explains how he finds pleasure in the littlest things and focuses on his whole family.]]> <![CDATA[Coming back to the Faith and to happiness]]> Video. (Digito Identidad). A personal look at how we can find our faith through the example of our friends, taken from a DVD about marriage and family entitled “Take a chance on happiness”.]]> <![CDATA[St. Josemaria's Impact]]> On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of St. Josemaria's death (June 26th, 1975 - June 26th, 2015) Testimonies from around the world showing the ways in which different people have been inspired to take their Christian faith seriously, thanks to St. Josemaria.]]> <![CDATA[How Could I Not Bless Human Love?]]> Video.“I bless human love with both of my hands as a priest,” said St. Josemaría. He also recommended that spouses argue as little as possible and always make up at the end, asking one another for forgiveness.]]>