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[Footprints of our faith collection]]> The completed collection of Footprints of our Faith in epub format “to come close to our Lord through the pages of the Holy Gospel, I always recommend you to try and get inside each scene and take part in it like another of the people there” (Friends of God, 222). This collection will help to make the places where Christ lived on earth more widely known and will also serve as useful guide to those who are able to visit the Holy Places for themselves.]]> <![CDATA[Communion of saints]]> What is the meaning of the “communion of saints”?
This expression indicates first of all the common sharing of all the members of the Church in holy things (sancta): the faith, the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the charisms, and the other spiritual gifts. This expression also refers to the communion between holy persons (sancti); that is, between those who by grace are united to the dead and risen Christ. Some are pilgrims on the earth; others, having passed from this life, are undergoing purification and are helped also by our prayers. Others already enjoy the glory of God and intercede for us. All of these together form in Christ one family, the Church, to the praise and glory of the Trinity. (Compendium of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 194 and 195).

How shall I explain it?
Communion of Saints. — How shall I explain it? You know what blood-transfusions do for the body? Well that is more or less what the Communion of Saints does for the soul.
The Way, 544

Live a special Communion of Saints: and, in the moments of interior struggle just as in the hours of professional work, each of you will feel the joy and the strength of not being alone.
The Way, 545

Constantly call to mind that at every moment you are cooperating in the human and spiritual formation of those around you, and of all souls — for the blessed Communion of Saints reaches as far as that. At every moment: when you work and when you rest; when people see you happy or when they see you worried; when at your job, or out in the street, you pray as does a child of God and the peace of your soul shows through; when people see that you have suffered, that you have wept, and you smile.
The Forge, 846

A moment ago, just before the Lavabo, we invoked the Holy Spirit, asking him to bless the sacrifice offered to his holy name. After washing his hands, the priest, in the name of all those present, prays to the Holy Trinity — Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas — to accept our offering in memory of the life of Christ and of his passion, resurrection and ascension; and in honour of Mary, ever Virgin, and of all the saints.

In every Mass
May this offering be effective for the salvation of all men — Orate, fratres, the priest invites the people to pray — because this sacrifice is yours and mine, it is the sacrifice of the whole Church. Pray, brethren, although there may not be many present, although materially there may be only one person there, although the celebrant may find himself alone; because every Mass is a universal sacrifice, the redemption of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
Through the communion of the saints, all Christians receive grace from every Mass that is celebrated, regardless of whether there is an attendance of thousands of persons, or whether it is only a boy with his mind on other things who is there to serve. In either case, heaven and earth join with the angels of the Lord to sing: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus...
Christ Is Passing By, 89

United in prayer and intention
We are here, consummati in unum! united in prayer and intention, and ready to begin this period of conversation with Our Lord, having renewed our desires to be effective instruments in his hands. Before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament — how I love to make an act of explicit faith in the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist! — use your prayer to stir up in your hearts the eagerness to spread the fervour of their resolute beating to every part of the earth, to the utmost corner of the planet where even one man may be found generously spending his life in the service of God and souls. Thanks to the ineffable reality of the Communion of Saints, we are indeed all joined together — 'fellow workers', St John says — in the task of spreading the truth and the peace of the Lord.

It is right that we should think about how we are imitating the Master. We should pause and reflect so that we can learn directly from Our Lord's life some of the virtues which ought to shine out in our lives, if we are really anxious to spread the Kingdom of Christ.
Friends of God, 154
<![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[Javier Echevarría met St Josemaría for the first time]]> “Javi!” And he added, in a much weaker voice, as Fr Javier came into the room, “I don’t feel well.” Those were the last words on earth of St Josemaría, founder of Opus Dei. It was mid-day on June 26, 1975, in Rome. Fr. Javier Echevarría was the person to whom that final phrase was addressed, after twenty-five years of daily life together.

He had joined Opus Dei in 1948, was appointed St Josemaría’s secretary in 1952, and in 1956 he was chosen as one of the Custodes, two people who, in accordance with Opus Dei’s statutes, always had to live with the President General (or, as he was termed from 1982 onwards, the Prelate) and help him in his daily life and work. In an interview, Bishop Echevarría recalled his impressions on the day he first met the founder of Opus Dei.

"It was in Madrid on November 2, 1948, in the Centre of Opus Dei in Diego de León Street in Madrid. I went to a get-together with other members of the Work, in which St Josemaría talked to us about faithfulness to our vocation and turning our lives into continuous apostolate. Afterwards he had to go to Molinoviejo, a conference centre near Madrid that was being restored at the time, and he asked three of us who were there to go with him, if we had time. He sang a lot during the trip, and showed us that we ought be very happy because of being children of God and because of having received the call to Opus Dei to serve God and souls. He emphasized strongly that we should orientate all human tasks and occupations to God; and he gave as an example the songs we had just heard him singing, which had surprised us at how natural, joyful and enthusiastic he was. He added that he used the words of those songs for his conversation with our Lord and with our Lady.

I was car-sick during the journey and we had to stop to clean the inside of the car and my clothes. St Josemaría helped me without any sign of disgust. He could see how embarrassed I was, so he treated me with extra affection and, once we were back in the car, made sure that the window was open so that I could get some fresh air, although it was cold for him.

Before I was sick he had been teasing us by pointing to some of the small, half-ruined buildings that could be seen along the way as though they were the conference centre. He was amused by our disappointed looks and laughed, “No, that’s not it, we haven’t got there yet!” But after that he was concerned about how I was feeling, and asked me frequently, “Are you alright? Don’t worry, we’re nearly there; everything’s fine. When we get there, they’ll clean your suit for you, we’ll get you something to calm your stomach, and you’ll feel better than ever.” I was very much struck by the fatherly and motherly, and very natural, way he treated me; he talked as though we had known each other for a long time.

Some years later I began to work with Msgr. Escrivá de Balaguer. When I became his secretary, although I was still so young, he told me: “All the cupboards and drawers I use, you can open and shut with complete freedom, and look at all my things.” For me it was a proof of undeserved trust, if you think of the position and supernatural standing of the founder of Opus Dei.

When, in 1956, I became his Custos for material things, I saw for myself something I’d once heard him say: that he lived in a sort of glass house, because those closest to him knew when he got up and went to bed, if he was in the oratory or working, when he had his meals, what time he left the house and who he was with. This was also partly because he was extremely orderly and he wanted to ensure that if anyone needed him he could be found straight away.

When I began working with him in the 1950s, I felt he was someone filled with good qualities, humanly speaking: friendly, approachable, affectionate, sympathetic, always ready to serve others, centred on others, with a great capacity for perceiving people’s needs and when they were worried about something. I also saw him as a good teacher, able to encourage and correct people as necessary; as a leader who inspired confidence in those working for him; and above all, as a priest and Father who, day by day, moment by moment, through his work, dedicated himself totally to the service of God and souls, immersed all the while in very intense prayer.

Extracts from: Echevarría, Javier y Bernal, Salvador, Memoria del Beato Josemaría Escrivá, Madrid, Rialp, 2000 (1st edition).]]>
<![CDATA[A Christian Family]]> St Josemaria recalled gratefully how his parents introduced him step by step to the Christian way of life.

Little Josemaría was only two years old when he got sick, so seriously sick that the doctor expected him to die. Around him, the Escrivá household fell silent. Finally, Doctor Campos, who had done everything possible to save him, told his father:
“He won’t last through the night.”

But José Escrivá and his wife Maria Dolores Albás Escrivá were devout Catholics who prayed to God with great faith for their child’s cure. Dolores promised the Blessed Mother that, if he got well, she would bring him on pilgrimage to the ancient chapel of Torreciudad perched on a sloping cliff in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

The next morning the doctor returned to call on the family. “At what time did the little boy die?” he asked. The boy’s father, unable to contain his joy, replied, “Not only did he not die, but he seems completely recovered!”

His parents

Josemaría was born in Barbastro, a small town in upper Aragon, on January 9, 1902. His father, well known in town, was a young textile merchant with strong Christian principles. His mother was entirely devoted to her family and to raising their two children, Carmen and Josemaría. Later, other children would arrive: Asunción (nicknamed Chon), Lolita, Rosario, and years later, Santiago.

“I remember those happy days of my childhood,” Josemaría reminisced: “My mother, my father, my sisters and I always went together to Mass. My father used to give us the alms that we would bring to a disabled man who leaned against the wall of the bishop’s residence. After that, I would run ahead to get holy water to give to my family (He is referring here to the custom of dipping one’s hand in the holy water and then passing it along to friends or relatives who follow behind by dabbing their fingers with it). Then, Holy Mass. Afterwards, every Sunday, in the chapel of the Christ of the Miracles, we used to pray the Creed.” At home, he said prayers that he would never forget: “Even now, I recite every morning and evening the prayers that my mother taught me… When I was six or seven my mother brought me to her confessor, and I was glad to go.” A little later, on April 23, 1912, he made his First Holy Communion on the feast of St. George, as was the custom in that part of Spain.

José dedicated a good deal of time to his children. Young Josemaría used to wait impatiently for him to come home and greeted him by putting his hands in his father’s pockets, hoping to find some candy. In winter the father would take his son for a walk, stopping to buy roasted chestnuts from street vendors so Josemaría could amuse himself by warming his hands with them in the pockets of his father’s overcoat.

Dolores was calm but hard-working. “I don’t ever remember seeing her with nothing to do. She was always busy, whether knitting, sewing or mending some piece of clothing, reading… I never remember seeing her idle. She was a good Christian mother of a family, and knew how to use her time well.”

“When I was a child, two things really bothered me: having to kiss my mother’s friends when they came to visit, and wearing new clothes. When I was dressed up in new clothes, I would hide under the bed and stubbornly refuse to come out. My mother would give a few gentle taps on the floor with one of the canes my father used, and then I would come out — for fear of the cane, not for any other reason.

“Then my mother would say to me affectionately, ‘Josemaría, only be ashamed to sin.’ Many years later it dawned on me what a profound meaning lay in those words.”

Unexpected silences

So life continued in the household. But soon sorrows arrived. In 1910, Rosario died, only 9 months old. Two years later, Lolita died at the age of 5. A year later, Chon died at the age of 8. Troubled by all this misfortune, Josemaría told his mother, not realizing the pain it would cause her,

“Next year it’s my turn.”
“Don’t worry,” she consoled him, “I offered you to our Lady, and she will take care of you.”

Around the same time the career of José Escrivá suffered an abrupt turn due to the unjust actions of one of his partners. The family’s savings were lost, although the parents attempted to keep this from the children. Years later Josemaría found a supernatural explanation for these painful events. “I have always made those I had around me suffer a lot. I didn’t provoke catastrophes. But our Lord, to hit me, the nail — (forgive me, Lord), landed one blow on the nail and a hundred on the horseshoe. I saw my father as the personification of Job. He lost three daughters, one after the other in consecutive years, and then lost his fortune.

“And life went on. My father reacted heroically, then he fell ill, as I realize now, from undergoing such great misfortunes and worries. He was left with two children and my mother. And he found the strength to bring us forward, not sparing himself any humiliation to provide us with a decent life. He might have remained in a position that was very comfortable for those times, if he had not been a Christian and a gentleman, as they say in my country. I can’t remember a harsh gesture from him. I recall him as always calm, with a cheerful look. He died worn out, when he was only 57. He died exhausted, but he was always smiling.”

Saint Josemaría must certainly have recalled his own family’s experience when, teaching the spirit of Opus Dei, he encouraged Christian parents to make their homes into bright and cheerful ones. Matrimony, he said, is “a divine pathway, a vocation, and this has many consequences for personal holiness and for apostolate.” The first and principal field of sanctification and apostolate is precisely the family. “Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctify themselves and to sanctify others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in their home. They should understand that founding a family, educating their children, and exercising a Christian influence in society, is a supernatural task. The effectiveness and the success of their life — their happiness — depend to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission."]]>
<![CDATA[10 questions about marriage]]> St Josemaria answers ten questions about love, marriage, engagement, faithfulness, raising children, the main values in achieving a united family, what happens when a couple can’t have children…

1- What are the most important values in Christian marriage?

2- Father, what is your advice for a newly-wed couple seeking holiness?

3- The theory that love justifies everything is current today and as a result, engagement is looked upon by some people as a sort of ‘trial marriage’. People say that it is hypocritical and reactionary not to follow what they consider to be imperative demands of love. What do you think of this attitude?

4- What would you advise married women to do to ensure that their marriages continue to be happy with the passing of the years and that they do not give way to boredom? This question may not seem very important, but it is one asked by many people.

5- Disagreements between husband and wife are also frequent and sometimes they seriously upset family peace. What advice would you give to married couples in this respect?

6- Many married couples find themselves confused regarding the number of children that they should have. What advice would you give them?

7- There are some women who are afraid to tell their friends and relations that they are going to have another child. They fear the criticism of those who think that large families are old-fashioned. What would you say to us on the subject?

8- The frustration caused by not being able to have children leads, at times, to discord and misunderstanding. In your opinion, what meaning should Christian couples who are childless give to their married life?

9- The frustration caused by not being able to have children leads, at times, to discord and misunderstanding. In your opinion, what meaning should Christian couples who are childless give to their married life?

10- You have just spoken about family unity as a great value. In the light of this fact, how is it that Opus Dei does not organize activities of spiritual formation for husbands and wives together?

Questions et réponses

1. What are the most important values in Christian marriage?

The majority of the members of Opus Dei are married people, so in this field I can speak from the experience of many years of priestly activity in many countries. For the married members of Opus Dei human love and marriage duties are part of their divine vocation. Opus Dei has made of marriage a divine way, a vocation, and this has many consequences for personal holiness and for apostolate. I have spent almost forty years preaching the vocational meaning of marriage. More than once I have had occasion to see faces light up as men and women, who had thought that in their lives a dedication to God was incompatible with a noble and pure human love, heard me say that marriage is a divine path on earth!

The purpose of marriage is to help married people sanctify themselves and others. For this reason they receive a special grace in the sacrament which Jesus Christ instituted. Those who are called to the married state will, with the grace of God, find within their state everything they need to be holy, to identify themselves each day more with Jesus Christ, and to lead those with whom they live to God.

That is why I always look upon Christian homes with hope and affection, upon all the families which are the fruit of the Sacrament of Matrimony. They are a shining witness of the great divine mystery of Christ’s loving union with His Church which St. Paul calls sacramentum magnum, a great sacrament (Eph 5:32). We must strive so that these cells of Christianity may be born and may develop with a desire for holiness, conscious of the fact that the Sacrament of Initiation — Baptism — confers on all Christians a divine mission that each must fulfill in his or her own walk of life.

Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctity themselves and to sanctify others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in the home. They should understand that founding a family, educating their children, and exercising a Christian influence in society, are supernatural tasks. The effectiveness and the success of their life — their happiness — depends to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission.

But they mustn’t forget that the secret of married happiness lies in everyday things, not in daydreams. It lies in finding the hidden joy of coming home in the evening, in affectionate relations with their children, in the everyday work in which the whole family cooperates; in good humor in the face of difficulties that should be met with a sporting spirit; in making the best use of all the advantages that civilization offers to help us rear children, to make the house pleasant and life more simple.

I constantly tell those who have been called by God to form a home to love one another always, to love each other with the love of their youth. Anyone who thinks that love ends when the worries and difficulties that life brings with it begin, has a poor idea of marriage, which is a sacrament and an ideal and a vocation. It is precisely then that love grows strong. Torrents of worries and difficulties are incapable of drowning true love, because people who sacrifice themselves generously together are brought closer by their sacrifice. As Scripture says, aquae multae, a host of difficulties, physical and moral, non potuerunt extinguere caritatem, cannot extinguish love (Cant 8:7).

Conversations, 91

2. Father, what is your advice for a newly-wed couple seeking holiness?

First, love each other very much, in accordance with God’s law. Second, don’t be afraid of life; love each other’s defects as long as they don’t offend God; and, for the wife: don’t neglect the way you look, because you’re no longer your own! You’ve been told, and you know it’s true, that you belong to your husband, and he belongs to you. Don’t let anyone steal him from you! He is a soul who should go to Heaven with you, and what’s more, who should give real Christian quality, and human quality, to the children God sends you. Pray together. Not a lot, but a little every day. When you forget, he can remind you, and when he forgets, you remind him. Don’t scold him when he does something wrong, and don’t nag.
Colegio Tabancura, Chile, July 1974

3. The theory that love justifies everything is current today and as a result, engagement is looked upon by some people as a sort of ‘trial marriage’. People say that it is hypocritical and reactionary not to follow what they consider to be imperative demands of love. What do you think of this attitude?

Any decent person, and especially a Christian, would consider it an attitude unworthy of men. It debases human love, confusing it with selfishness and pleasure.

Reactionary? Who are the reactionaries? The real reactionaries are the people who go back to the jungle, recognizing no impulse other than instinct. Engagement should be time for growing in affection and for getting to know each other better. As in every school of love, it should be inspired, not by a desire to receive, but by a spirit of giving, of understanding, of respect and gentle consideration. Just over a year ago, with this in mind, I gave the University of Navarra a statue of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Fair Love, so that the undergraduates who study there might learn from her the nobility of love, human love included.

A trial marriage? How little anyone who uses the term knows about love! Love is a much surer, more real, more human reality. It cannot be treated as a commercial product that is tested and then accepted or rejected on the basis of whim, comfort and interest.

This lack of moral standards is so pitiful that it does not even seem necessary to condemn people who think or act in this way. They condemn themselves to the barrenness, the sadness, the desolate loneliness they will suffer within a very few years. I never stop praying for them, loving them with all my heart and trying to make them understand that the way back to Christ is always open. They can be saints, upright Christians, if they make an effort. They will lack neither the necessary grace nor our Lord’s pardon. Only then will they really understand love — divine Love and also noble human love. And only then will they experience peace, happiness and fruitfulness.

Conversations, 91

4. What would you advise married women to do to ensure that their marriages continue to be happy with the passing of the years and that they do not give way to boredom? This question may not seem very important, but it is one asked by many people.

I think it is in fact an important question and therefore the possible solutions are also important even though they may seem very obvious. If a marriage is to preserve its initial charm and beauty, both husband and wife should try to renew their love day after day, and that is done through sacrifice, with smiles and also with ingenuity. Is it surprising that a husband who arrives home tired from work begins to lose patience when his wife keeps on and on about everything she thinks has gone wrong during the day? Disagreeable things can wait for a better moment when the husband is less tired and more disposed to listen to them.

Another important thing is personal appearance. And I would say that any priest who says the contrary is a bad adviser. As years go by a woman who lives in the world has to take more care not only of her interior life, but also of her looks. Her interior life itself requires her to be careful about her personal appearance; naturally this should always be in keeping with her age and circumstances. I often say jokingly that older facades need more restoration. It is the advice of a priest. An old Spanish saying goes: ‘A well-groomed woman keeps her husband away from other doors.’

That is why I am not afraid to say that women are responsible for eighty per cent of the infidelities of their husbands because they do not know how to win them each day and take loving and considerate care of them. A married woman’s attention should be centered on her husband and children, as a married man’s attention should be centered on his wife and children. Much time and effort is required to succeed in this, and anything which militates against it is bad and should not be tolerated.

There is no excuse for not fulfilling this lovable duty. Work outside the home is not an excuse. Not even one’s life of piety can be an excuse, because if it is incompatible with one’s daily obligations, it is not good, nor pleasing to God. A married woman’s first concern has to be her home. There is a Spanish saying which goes: ‘If through going to church to pray a woman burns the stew, she may be half an angel, but she’s half a devil too.’ I’d say she was a fully-fledged devil.

Conversations, 107

5. Disagreements between husband and wife are also frequent and sometimes they seriously upset family peace. What advice would you give to married couples in this respect?

I would advise them to love one another and to realize that although disagreements and difficulties will crop up throughout their lives, if they are solved with ordinary common sense they can even contribute to the deepening of their love.

We each have our own character, our personal tastes, our moods — sometimes our bad moods — and our defects. But we all have likeable aspects in our personality as well, and for this reason, and many others, everyone can be loved. It is possible to live happily together when everyone tries to correct their own defects and makes an effort to overlook the faults of others. That is to say, when there is love which cancels out and overcomes everything that might seem to be a motive for coldness or disagreement. On the other hand, if husband and wife dramatize their little differences and reproach each other for their defects and mistakes, they put an end to peace and run the risk of killing their love.

Couples have the grace of the married state — the grace they receive in the Sacrament of Marriage — which enables them to live out all the human and Christian virtues in their married life: understanding, good humor, patience, forgiveness, good manners and consideration in their mutual relations. The important thing is not to give up the effort, not to give in to irritation, pride or personal fads or obsessions. In order to achieve this, husbands and wives must develop their interior life and learn from the Holy Family the best way to practice the virtues of a Christian home, for both supernatural and human reasons. I repeat again that God’s grace will not be lacking.

Anyone who says they cannot put up with this or that, or finds it impossible to hold their peace, is exaggerating in order to justify themselves. We should ask God for the strength to overcome our whims and to practice self-control. When we lose our temper, we lose control of the situation. Words can become harsh and bitter, and we end up by offending, wounding and hurting, even though we didn’t mean to.

We should all learn to keep quiet, to wait and say things in a positive, optimistic way. When her husband loses his temper, the moment has arrived for the wife to be especially patient until he calms down, and vice versa. If there is true love and a real desire to deepen it, it will very rarely happen that the two give in to bad temper at the same time.

Another very important thing is to get used to the fact that we are never a hundred per cent right. In fact one can say that in matters like these, which are usually so debatable, the surer we are of being completely right, the more doubtful it is that we really are.

Following this line of reasoning makes it easier to correct oneself later on and if necessary to beg pardon, which is the best way of ending a quarrel. In this way peace and love are regained. I am not encouraging you to quarrel but it is understandable that we should fall out at times with those we love most, because they are the people we are always with. We are not going to fall out with someone in Timbuktu! Thus small rows between husband and wife, as long as they are not too frequent, (and they should see to it that they are not) are not a sign that love is lacking; and in fact they can help to increase it.

Finally, I would advise parents never to quarrel in front of their children. They can remind each other of this with a certain word, a look or a gesture. If they cannot avoid the argument altogether they can, at least, put it off till later when they are calmer. The family atmosphere should be one of peace between husband and wife because peace is a necessary condition for deep and effective character training. Children should see in their parents an example of dedication, sincere love, mutual help and understanding. The small trifles of daily life should not be allowed to hide from them the reality of a love that is capable of overcoming all obstacles.

Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. Each of us gets angry now and again. Sometimes because it is necessary; other times because we lack a spirit of mortification. The important thing is to show, with a smile that restores family warmth, that these outbursts of anger do not destroy affection. In a word, the lives of husband and wife should consist in loving one another and loving their children, because by doing this they love God.

Conversations, 108

6. Many married couples find themselves confused regarding the number of children that they should have. What advice would you give them?

Married couples should remember, when they receive advice and recommendations on this matter, that what they have to do is to discover what God wants of them. With sincerity, a right intention, and a minimum of Christian formation, our conscience knows how to discover God’s will in this sphere as in others. There are cases in which we seek advice that will favor our own selfishness, and suppress with its apparent authority the voice of our inner convictions. Then we even go from adviser to adviser until we find a ‘benevolent’ one. This is a pharisaical attitude which is unworthy of a child of God.

The advice of another Christian and especially a priest’s advice, in questions of faith or morals, is a powerful help for knowing what God wants of us in our particular circumstances. Advice, however, does not eliminate personal responsibility. In the end, it is we ourselves, each one of us on our own, who have to decide for ourselves and personally to account to God for our decisions.

Over and above any private advice stands God’s law, which is contained in sacred Scripture, guarded and taught by the Magisterium of the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. When a particular piece of advice contradicts God’s word as taught by the Magisterium, we have to reject it decisively. God will give His grace to those who act with an upright intention. He will inspire them as to what to do and, when necessary, He will enable them to find a priest who knows how to lead their souls along pure and right paths even though at times they may be difficult ones.

Spiritual guidance should not be used to turn people into beings with no judgment of their own, who limit themselves to carrying out mechanically what others tell them. On the contrary, it should tend to develop men with their own Christian standards. This requires maturity, firm convictions, sufficient doctrinal knowledge, a refined spirit and an educated will.

It is important for married people to acquire a clear sense of the dignity of their vocation. They must know that they have been called by God not only to human love but also to a divine love, through their human love. It is important for them to realize that they have been chosen from all eternity to cooperate with the creative power of God by having and then bringing up children. Our Lord asks them to make their home and their entire family life a testimony of all the Christian virtues.

I shall never tire of repeating that marriage is a great and marvelous divine path. Like everything divine in us, it calls for response to grace, generosity, dedication and service. Selfishness, in whatever shape or form, is opposed to the love of God which ought to govern our lives. This is a fundamental point which one must always bear in mind with regard to marriage and the number of children.

Conversations, 93

7. There are some women who are afraid to tell their friends and relations that they are going to have another child. They fear the criticism of those who think that large families are old-fashioned. What would you say to us on the subject?

I bless parents who, joyfully accepting the mission that God entrusts to them, have many children. Moreover, I ask married couples not to block the well-springs of life and I invite them to have enough supernatural outlook and courage to bring up a large family, if it is God’s will.

When I praise large families, I do not refer to those which are the result of mere physiological relations. I refer to families founded on the practice of human virtues, which have a high regard for personal dignity and know that giving children to God consists not only of engendering their natural life but also undertaking the lengthy task of raising them. Giving them life comes first, but it is not everything.

There may be particular cases in which God’s will, which shows itself in ordinary ways, is precisely that a family be small. Nevertheless, the theories that make birth control an ideal, or a universal or general duty, are criminal, anti-Christian and humanly degrading.

To appeal to a presumed post-conciliar spirit opposed to large families would be to adulterate and pervert Christian doctrine. The Second Vatican Council has proclaimed that ‘especially worthy of mention among the married people who fulfill the mission entrusted to them by God, are those who, with prudent mutual agreement, generously accept a more numerous offspring to educate worthily’ (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 50). Moreover, Pope Paul VI, in an address on 12 February 1966, commented ‘that the recently concluded Second Vatican Council should diffuse among Christian couples a spirit of generosity in order to increase the new People of God... that they should always remember that this expansion of God’s kingdom and the possibilities of the Church’s penetration among mankind in order to bring about eternal salvation and the salvation of the world are also entrusted to their generosity’.

The number is not in itself the decisive factor. The fact of having few or many children does not on its own make a family more or less Christian. What matters is the integrity and honesty with which married life is lived. True mutual love transcends the union of husband and wife and extends to its natural fruits — the children. Selfishness, on the contrary, sooner or later reduces love to a mere satisfaction of instinct and destroys the bond which unites parents and children.

I was saying that, in itself, the number of children is not a decisive factor. Nevertheless, I see clearly that attacks on large families stem from a lack of Faith. They are the product of a social atmosphere which is incapable of understanding generosity, trying to conceal selfishness, and unmentionable practices under apparently altruistic motives. Paradoxically, the countries where most birth control propaganda is found, and which impose birth control on other countries, are the very ones which have attained a higher standard of living. Perhaps their economic and social arguments in favor of birth control could be taken more seriously if they led them to give away a sizeable part of their great wealth to those in need.

Until then it will be hard not to think that the real motive behind their arguments is hedonism and ambition for political domination, for demographic neo-colonialism.

I am not unaware of the great problems facing humanity, nor of the actual difficulties which a particular family can confront. I often think of this and my fatherly heart, which I have to have as a Christian and as a priest, is filled with compassion. Nevertheless, it is not lawful to look for the solution in this direction.

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8. The frustration caused by not being able to have children leads, at times, to discord and misunderstanding. In your opinion, what meaning should Christian couples who are childless give to their married life?

In the first place I would tell them that they should not give up hope too easily. They should ask God to give them children and, if it is His Will, to bless them as He blessed the Patriarchs of the Old Testament. And then it would be good for both of them to see a good doctor. If in spite of everything God does not give them children, they should not regard themselves as being thwarted. They should be happy, discovering in this very fact God’s Will for them. Often God does not give children because He is asking them for something more.
God asks them to put the same effort and the same kind and gentle dedication into helping their neighbors as they would have put into raising their children, without the human joy that comes from having children. There is, then, no reason for feeling they are failures or for giving way to sadness.

If the married couple have interior life, they will understand that God is urging them to make their lives a generous Christian service, a different apostolate from the one they would have fulfilled with their children, but an equally marvelous one.

If they look around they will discover people who need help, charity and love. There are, moreover, many apostolic tasks in which they can work. If they give themselves generously to others and forget themselves, if they put their hearts into their work, they will be wonderfully fruitful and will experience a spiritual parenthood that will fill their souls with true peace.

The particular way of doing this may vary in each case, but in the last analysis it is a matter of being concerned for others with a sense of loving service. God, who always rewards, will fill with a deep joy those souls who have had the generous humility of not thinking of themselves.

Conversations, 96

9. There are couples who separate, in degrading and unbearable conditions. In these cases it is difficult for them to accept the indissolubility of the marriage bond. Those who find themselves in these situations complain that they are denied the possibility of building a new home. What answer would you give to people in such a situation?

While understanding their suffering, I would tell them that they can also see in their situation God’s Will, which is never cruel, for God is a loving Father. The situation may be especially difficult for some time, but if they go to our Lord and His blessed Mother, they will receive the help of grace.

The indissolubility of marriage is not a caprice of the Church nor is it merely a positive ecclesiastical law. It is a precept of natural law, of divine law, and responds perfectly to our nature and to the supernatural order of grace. For these reasons, in the great majority of cases, indissolubility is an indispensable condition for the happiness of married couples and for the spiritual security of their children. Even in the very sad cases we are talking about, the humble acceptance of God’s Will always brings with it a profound sense of satisfaction that nothing can substitute. It is not merely a refuge, or a consolation, it is the very essence of Christian life.

If women who are separated from their husbands have children in their care, they should understand that their children continue to need their loving motherly devotion, and especially now, to make up for the deficiencies of a divided home. They should make a generous effort to understand that indissolubility, which for them means sacrifice, is a safeguard for the integrity and unity of the great majority of families and ennobles the parent’s love and prevents the abandonment of the children.

Surprise at the apparent hardness of the Christian precept of indissolubility is nothing new. The Apostles were surprised when Jesus confirmed it. It can seem a burden, a yoke, but Christ Himself said that His yoke was sweet and his burden light.

On the other hand, although recognizing the inevitable hardship of a good many situations, which often could and should have been avoided, we should be careful not to overdramatize. Is the life of a woman in these circumstances really harder than that of other maltreated women, or of people who suffer any of the other great physical or mental sorrows that life brings with it?

What really makes a person unhappy and even destroys a whole society is the frenzied search for well-being and the attempt to eliminate, at all costs, all difficulties and hardships. Life has many facets, very different situations. Some are harsh, others may seem easy. Each situation brings its own grace. Each one is a special call from God, a new opportunity to work and to give the divine testimony of Charity. I would advise those who feel oppressed by a difficult situation to try to forget about their own problems a bit and concern themselves with the problems of others. If they do this they will have more peace and, above all, they will sanctify themselves.

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10. You have just spoken about family unity as a great value. In the light of this fact, how is it that Opus Dei does not organize activities of spiritual formation for husbands and wives together?

In this, as in so many other aspects of life, Christians can choose different solutions in accordance with their own preferences or opinions, and no one may impose an exclusive system upon them. We would flee like the plague from that approach to pastoral work and the apostolate in general which seems to be no more than a revised and enlarged edition, in religious life, of the one party system.

I know that there are Catholic groups that organize retreats and other formative activities for married couples. I have no objection whatever to their doing what they think is best nor to people taking part in their activities if they find that they help them live their Christian vocation better. But I do not consider this to be the only way of doing things and it is by no means self evident that it is the best.

There are many facets of Christian life in which married couples, and in fact, the whole family can, and sometimes should, take part together, such as the Mass and other acts of worship. I think, nevertheless, that certain activities of spiritual formation are more effective if they are attended separately by husband and wife. For one thing, it highlights the fundamentally personal character of one’s own sanctification, of the ascetic struggle, of union with God. These certainly affect others, but the role of the individual conscience in them is vital and irreplaceable. Furthermore, it makes it easier to suit the formation given to the particular needs, circumstances and psychology of each person. This does not mean to say that in these activities the fact that the participants are married is disregarded; nothing could be further removed from the spirit of Opus Dei.

For forty years I have been preaching and writing that each person has to sanctify himself or herself in ordinary life, in the concrete situations of every day. Married people, therefore, have to sanctify themselves by living their family obligations perfectly. One of the aims of the retreats and other means of formation organized by Opus Dei for married men or women is to make them more fully aware of the dignity of their vocation to marriage and help them prepare themselves, with the grace of God, to live it better.

In many aspects the demands which married love makes on men and on women are different and their love shows itself in different ways. With specific means of formation they can be helped effectively to discover these details of love in their daily lives. In this way, separation for a few hours or a few days will, in the long run, make them more united and help them to love each other more and better than they did before, with a love full of respect.

I repeat that we do not claim that our way of acting in this is the only good one, or that it should be adopted by everyone. It simply seems to me that it gives very good results and that there are strong reasons — as well as long experience — for doing things this way, but I do not take issue with the contrary opinion.

Furthermore, I would add that if in Opus Dei we adopt this procedure in certain types of spiritual formation, nevertheless in numerous other activities married couples, as such, participate and cooperate. I am thinking, for example, of the work which is done with the parents of pupils in schools conducted by members of Opus Dei, in the meetings, lectures etc., especially arranged for the parents of students who live in halls of residence run by the Work.

So you see, when the type of activity requires the presence of the married couple, husband and wife both take part. But these types of meetings and activities are different from those that are directed towards personal spiritual training.

Conversations, 99

See further: the chapter on marriage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
<![CDATA[Novena for the family to St Josemaria]]> On Sunday, Pope Francis asked the pilgrims not to forget to pray in the upcoming days for the Synod on the Family.

The Novena for the family to St Josemaria can help to follow the Pope's invitation and pray for all families around the world.

Fr. Francisco Faus of São Paulo, Brazil has taken passages from St Josemaria’s writing and preaching to produce the Novena for the family to help people turn to St Josemaria specifically for family needs – whether in the normal course of family life, or when they encounter some particular difficulty.

People around the world invoke St Josemaria’s intercession, often using the prayer-card , for all sorts of needs, material and spiritual. Novena for Work and the Novena for the Sick. Many people have written to this website with grateful accounts of how St Josemaria has helped them through these Novenas.

Download pdf.]]>
<![CDATA["Let us ask Paul VI for all the families in the world"]]> 19-X-2014. The beatification of Pope Paul VI is a cause of great joy for the entire Church. Paul VI was the Pope who led Vatican II to its conclusion. His pastoral and apostolic impact on the world, as a young priest and in his later responsibilities until taking on his universal mission as Roman Pontiff, is well-known to all Catholics. His pastoral charity helped inspire in Catholics a desire for generous spiritual renewal and deep fidelity to the Gospel message.

I am happy to recall the spirit of service that the then Monsignor Montini showed in serving the Pope and all mankind in his various responsibilities in the Holy See. Today I go to the new Blessed asking him to infuse in all Catholics this same affection, both human and filled with faith, for the Vicar of Christ, now Pope Francis.

Besides welcoming Monsignor Escriva and Alvaro del Portillo with sincere friendship (later transformed into the affection of our common Father in the Church), I recall very vividly the affection and interest he showed when inaugurating a center run by faithful of Opus Dei for young working-class people in Rome. I realized even more forcefully that day his love for all souls, especially for the most humble, and his desire for social justice: may no one lack what they need. The Holy Father's visit to Centro Elis ended with his giving a fatherly hug to Saint Josemaria, saying "qui, tutto è Opus Dei!" ["everything here is the Work of God"].

As the Church reflects in a special way on the institution of the family, let us also ask Paul VI for all the families in the world, so that they might be the "communion of love" and the "school of the Gospel" of the spouses, which he spoke to us about during his pilgrimage to Nazareth in 1964, and on so many other occasions when speaking about marriage.

+ Javier Echevarría

Prelate of Opus Dei]]>
<![CDATA[Thanks to St. Josemaria for bringing me to the catholic faith]]> Through knowing the Catholic Faith I decided to become a Catholic.

Meeting Christ and Learning the Catholic faith

My first encounter with Christ was when I was studying in a Christian primary school in Macau. I joined some Christian spiritual activities because of some difficulties, disappointments, and a feeling of being lost in life. By believing in Christ, I gathered enough courage and perseverance to move ahead daily.

During my pre-university studies, I happen to meet a person named Joseph, who is a member of Opus Dei. This is the start of my knowing about Opus Dei. It became the seed for me to journey into the Catholic Faith.

With guidance from Opus Dei, I have decided to become a Catholic

I felt that in my previous faith as a Christian, it was not substantial enough, and felt some things were missing. I was fortunate to have contact with people of Opus Dei. In the year 2013, I became a Cooperator of Opus Dei in Macau. Through the guidance of Fr. Mandia, Joseph and Tony, I received a deeper knowledge of the Catholic faith. For example, I learned that the church originated from the first disciples of Christ. Also, how to pray and most especially, the meaning of the Holy Eucharist. I learned about Confession and The Way of the Cross, too.

Moreover, I felt very at ease with the spiritual guidance I was receiving, and I resolved to become a Catholic. I am very thankful to the people of Opus Dei because I was baptized at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Macau in April 2014. I will follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ in trying to love people, having a spirit of sacrifice, and always be kindhearted. I can definitely say that to be a Catholic my life will be more wonderful, happy and meaningful.

To sanctify oneself and help the family, relatives and friends to get closer to God

This is what I learned through the guidance of Opus Dei: that I can be united with Christ through sanctifying myself. In learning Catholic doctrine, it will bring my profession, family life, and the education of children in closer union with Christ. My aim is to glorify God, and do what Jesus wants of me. For example, that we should live in the way Jesus lived, such as being humble, to offer sacrifice to God, and to sanctify our work. In June 2009, I became a father. I experienced for the first time the love between a father and a child. Indirectly, I experienced the love of God for me.

Last, but not least, in order to be more effective for me to bring my relatives and friends towards God, I would need to go through more doctrine classes and recollections. We can also do apostolate with other people to spread the Gospel of the Lord, with the help of the people of Opus Dei, so as to let them know about God the Father.
<![CDATA[Pope Paul VI Letter to St Josemaria]]> Part of a letter written by the Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, to Msgr Josemaria Escriva, in 1964:

“In your words we can see the vibrancy of the ardent, generous spirit of the whole Institution, which was born in our times as an expression of the perennial youthfulness of the Church (…). We contemplate with paternal satisfaction how much Opus Dei has done and is doing for the Kingdom of God; the desire to do good which drives it; the burning love for the Church and her visible Head which distinguishes it; and the ardent zeal for souls which impels it along the arduous and difficult paths of an apostolate of presence and witness in all sectors of contemporary society.”

Quoted in Tiempo de Caminar, Ana Sastre, p. 484.
<![CDATA[We had a child after 8 years]]> I write to let you know of a miracle obtained through the intercession of St. Josemaria. My wife and I were unable to conceive a child for eight years. Each day over many months I prayed the Prayer to St. Josemaria asking for his help and in time we conceived a wonderful little girl who is a great joy to us. This child would not have been possible without the intervention of St. Josemaria.
<![CDATA[Two thousand tiles]]> We are repairing our Cathedral and we get no help from the government. While I was away on a study course for priests someone from our parish called me and said we needed 2000 more tiles to make the roof over the church and sacristy water-tight. I was extremely worried, because we had run out of money and I hadn’t expected the costs to be so high. The total we needed was 30,000 bolivars. That night I couldn’t sleep, and I remembered how St. Josemaria used to tell us to have great trust in Providence. I prayed, “Father, if this is pleasing to God, help me, because you know I’m not doing all this for my sake but for the people. But if it isn’t pleasing to God, leave it all as it is.” In the evening prayer the next day I heard a voice within me telling me, “Have trust.” When I was in my room, at around 11 at night I got a text message saying “Father I want to contribute towards whatever is needed for the repairs to the church. Let me have the account number to send it to.” I did so, but thought that what one of the parishioners could give would not be very much.

The next day, to my immense surprise I received a notification from the bank that the sum required had been deposited – a total of 30,000 between two families. I was overjoyed and said to St. Josemaria, “Thank you for your help, I knew I could count on you!”

Greetings from this corner of the Lord’s Vineyard. I encourage you to trust always, no matter what.

<![CDATA[I’d never contacted the firm I’m now working for]]> Hi everyone, I want to testify to a favour received through Saint Josemaria Escriva. I am 32 and was unemployed. I send my CV to many different companies but never got called for an interview, or if I did, it always ended the same way: “We’ll contact you.” Just by chance I found the story of Saint Josemaria on the internet. I’d never heard of him before. I read about how he was a saint who obtained favours for the jobless. To cut a long story short, I started the Novena for Work to Saint Josemaria, and on the ninth day, as I finished the novena, I begged the saint to intercede before God for me to get a job. The next day, the long-awaited grace arrived: the saint had got me a job. The extraordinary thing is that I don’t even remember contacting the firm I’m working for now. This is my testimony. Praised be Jesus Christ!]]> <![CDATA[A favor so quickly granted]]> I started a novena for an after-school job for my daughter. That was four days ago. On day one my daughter submitted a job application which was immediately acknowledged and an interview arranged for 11:00 am today. My daughter was hired to start next week. Thanks a lot St. Josemaria Escriva for a favour so quickly granted.
<![CDATA[1931.10.31]]> “Thank you, my God for the love for the Pope that you have placed in my heart,” he wrote on this date.]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis: The Church is not limited to Bishops and parishes]]> Video. (Rome Reports). During his weekly general audience, Pope Francis explained how God makes himself present in the Church. It's through the Baptized, explained the Pope, that God acts and makes Himself present. ]]> <![CDATA[Sophie's testimony]]> Video. A simple and clear example of marriage and family. Sophie, 41, is married with four children and lives in France. In this video-clip she talks about her family. "Cedric and I were married in 1997. Eight months after our wedding he had a bicycle accident. He was in hospital for a long time, and spent several months in a coma. He only came out of it very slowly. St Josemaria often talked about how small we are in the face of all this: we can’t understand everything. But when we are humble, when we recognize our weakness, God really can take a hand and help us. God’s grace is powerful!"]]> <![CDATA[Highlights of Alvaro del Portillo's Beatification]]> Video. A 36 min. video with highlights from the events in Madrid and Rome for the beatification of Alvaro del Portillo. The Solemn Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato on September 27, 2014. It was attended by more than two hundred thousand of faithful. This video also includes highlights of the Rome events.]]> <![CDATA[Marriage, a Christian vocation]]> St Josemaría teaches that marriage is a Christian vocation to which many people are called, as shown in “Take a chance on happiness”.]]> <![CDATA[John Paul II and Alvaro del Portillo]]> Video. A brief video about the friendship between John Paul II and Bishop Alvaro del Portillo.]]>