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[The Founder of Opus Dei in Ars]]> A special traffic office for Ars

For many years in the nineteenth century, Ars, a little French village, was the center of the religious life of the whole of France. Between 1818 and 1859, such huge crowds of pilgrims went there that the train company that covered the district had to open a special office in Lyons to organize the trains between the big city and the little village.

The reason for this was the village priest, John Baptiste Marie Vianney, who was born in 1786. He had had to overcome very many difficulties to be ordained to the priesthood, and when he was sent to the church in Ars, he infused a new zeal for holiness into the village by his preaching, penance, prayer and charity.

For forty-two years St John Marie Vianney’s life was marked by his limitless love for his vocation to the priesthood and his dedication to souls. The Curé of Ars, as he is commonly known, ended up spending over sixteen hours a day in the confessional, forgiving sins in God’s name, offering people encouragement and the warmth of his human affection and his identification with Jesus Christ the Priest. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1925 and declared him the patron of all the secular clergy.

St Josemaria in Ars, France

St Josemaria always had recourse to the intercession of St John Marie Vianney with great faith, and talked a lot about the features of his priesthood. St Josemaria’s first journey to Ars, to see the places where St John Marie Vianney had carried out his priestly work so faithfully, and to pray before his tomb, was in 1953. Afterwards, always accompanied by Don Alvaro del Portillo, he went back often: in 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960.

St Josemaria, speaking of priests’ dedication to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, said: “Go and sit in the confessional every day, or at least two or three times a week, waiting for souls there like the fisherman waits for fish. At first maybe no-one will come. Take along your breviary, a spiritual reading book or something for your meditation. The first few days you’ll be able to use it. Then a little old lady will come and you’ll explain to her that it’s not enough just for her to be good, she needs to bring her grand-children. After four or five days two little girls will come, then an adolescent boy, and then a man, almost secretly. And at the end of two months they’ll give you no peace, you won’t have time to pray in the confessional, because your anointed hands will be busy, like Christ’s – configured with Christ’s, because you are Christ – saying, ‘I absolve you’.” And he wound up, “Love the confessional. Love it, love it! (…) That’s the way to atone to God our Lord for so many of our brother priests who don’t want to sit in the confessional now, or listen to souls, or administer God’s forgiveness” (St Josemaria, notes from a meeting with priests in Oporto, Portugal, October 31, 1972. AGP, P04, vol. II, p. 758).

For the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed a Year for Priests, “to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends” (Speech to participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, March 16, 2009).

Ars has currently under one thousand inhabitants, but every year it attracts 500,000 pilgrims from around the world.

<![CDATA[Is holiness for me?]]> He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him… in love. St Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 1:4-5.

All for love
All for Love! This is the way of holiness, the way of happiness.
Face up to your intellectual tasks, the highest things of the spirit and also those things that are most down to earth, the things we all of necessity have to do, with this in mind; and you will live joyfully and in peace.
The Forge, 725

Personal sanctity is not an unrealistic idea, but a precise reality, which is both divine and human. And it manifests itself constantly in daily deeds of Love.
The Forge, 440

Just think, there are so many men and women on earth, and the Master does not fail to call every single one.
He calls them to a Christian life, to a life of holiness, to a chosen life, to life eternal.
The Forge, 13

Today once again I prayed full of confidence. This was my petition: “Lord, may neither our past wretchedness which has been forgiven us, nor the possibility of future wretchedness cause us any disquiet. May we abandon ourselves into your merciful hands. May we bring before you our desires for sanctity and apostolate, which are hidden like embers under the ashes of an apparent coldness...”
“Lord, I know you are listening to us.” You should say this to him too.
The Forge, 426

Sanctity has the flexibility of supple muscles. Whoever wishes to be a saint should know how to behave so that while he does something that involves a mortification for him, he omits doing something else — as long as this does not offend God — which he would also find difficult, and thanks the Lord for this comfort. If we Christians were to act otherwise we would run the risk of becoming stiff and lifeless, like a rag doll.
Sanctity is not rigid like cardboard; it knows how to smile, to give way to others and to hope. It is life — a supernatural life.
The Forge, 156

Filled with joy
You should be full of wonder at the goodness of our Father God. Are you not filled with joy to know that your home, your family, your country, which you love so much, are the raw material which you must sanctify?
The Forge, 689

Sanctifying one’s work is no fantastic dream, but the mission of every Christian — yours and mine.
—That is what that lathe-worker had discovered, when he said: “I am overwhelmed with happiness when I think how true it is that while I am working at the lathe and singing — singing all the time, on the outside and on the inside — I can become a saint. How good God is!”
Furrow, 517

More is achieved by whoever goes up closer to plead… That is why you must get close to God and be intent on becoming a saint.
Furrow, 648

We have to get moving, we have to set to work! Bravely, energetically, and joyfully, because love casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18); daring, undaunted! You mustn’t be rash and imagine that everything is easy because you rely on your own strength; but neither must you be cowed into thinking that everything is an insuperable barrier because you feel your own weaknesses.
Don’t forget that where there’s a will, there’s a way: God does not deny his grace and help to those who do what they can.
Letter dated 6 May 1945, 44.

But what about failings, falls, and sins?
Sanctity is to be found in struggling, in knowing that we have defects and in heroically trying to overcome them. Sanctity, I insist, consists in overcoming those defects… although we will still have defects when we die; because if not, as I have told you, we would become proud.
The Forge, 312

“You told me, Father, that after my past life it is still possible to become another Saint Augustine. I don’t doubt it, and today more than yesterday I want to try to prove it.”
But you have to cut out sin courageously from the root, as the holy Bishop of Hippo did.
Furrow, 838

Sanctity consists precisely in this: in struggling to be faithful throughout your life and in accepting joyfully the Will of God at the hour of death.
The Forge, 990

Holiness is attained with the help of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in our souls, through grace given us by the sacraments and as a result of a constant ascetical struggle.
My son, let us not have any false illusions about this. You and I — I will never tire of repeating it — will always have to struggle, always, until the end of our lives. So we will come to love peace, and we will spread peace around us, and we will receive our everlasting reward.
The Forge, 429

In your life, there are two things that do not fit together: your head and your heart.
Your intelligence — enlightened by faith — shows you the way clearly. It can also point out the difference between following that way heroically or stupidly. Above all, it places before you the divine greatness and beauty of the undertakings the Trinity leaves in our hands.
Your feelings, on the other hand, become attached to everything you despise, even while you consider it despicable. It seems as if a thousand trifles were awaiting the least opportunity, and as soon as your poor will is weakened, through physical tiredness or lack of supernatural outlook, those little things pile up and excite your imagination, until they form a mountain that oppresses and discourages you. Things such as the rough edges of your work, your resistance to obedience; the lack of proper means; the will-o’-the-wisp attractions of an easy life; greater or smaller repugnant temptations; bouts of over-sentimentality; tiredness; the bitter taste of spiritual mediocrity… And sometimes also fear; fear because you know God wants you to be a saint, and you are not a saint.
Allow me to talk to you bluntly. You have more than enough “reasons” to turn back, and you lack the resolution to correspond to the grace that He grants you, since He has called you to be another Christ, ipse Christus! — Christ himself. You have forgotten the Lord’s admonition to the Apostle: “My grace is enough for you!”, which is confirmation that, if you want to, you can.
Furrow, 166

You will have as much sanctity, as you have mortification done for Love.
The Forge, 1025

Holiness and work
Professional work — including working in the home, which is a first-class profession — is a witness to the worth of the human creature; a chance to develop one’s own personality; a bond of union with others; a fund of resources; a way of helping in the improvement of the society we live in, and of promoting the progress of the whole human race...
For a Christian, these grand views become even deeper and wider. Because work, which Christ took up as something both redeemed and redeeming, becomes a means, a way of holiness, a specific task which sanctifies and can be sanctified.
The Forge, 702

Sanctity does not consist in great concerns. — It consists in struggling to ensure that the flame of your supernatural life is never allowed to go out; it consists in letting yourself be burned down to the last shred, serving God in the lowest place… or in the highest: wherever the Lord may call you.
The Forge, 61

Look, even humanly speaking, it is good not to find it all done for you, with no hitches. Something — a lot! — depends on you. Otherwise, how could you become a saint?
Furrow, 113

When I preach that we have to make ourselves a carpet so that the others may tread softly, I am not simply being poetic: it has to be a reality!
It’s hard, as sanctity is hard; but it’s also easy, because, I insist, sanctity is within everyone’s reach.
The Forge, 562

<![CDATA[Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, in the life of Opus Dei]]> He had a very strong sense that his vocational life was to help St Josemaría, and to be available to him.]]> <![CDATA[That's how Bishop Alvaro was]]> Video. A teacher, a father, a man of God, a faithful man... these are the memories different people who met Bishop del Portillo.]]> <![CDATA[A physics question]]> In 2012 I was 16 and was in the fourth year of the Baccalaureate. I failed a very important section of fundamental physics, which I found especially difficult. I began to re-do it and everything went well until the problems got progressively more difficult and there was one that I had to spend a lot of time on. I had attempted it 5 times already and I could not get the solution. I was getting more and more desperate, using the eraser until the piece of paper ended up grey and crumpled. I burst into tears at my own inability to get the solution. Then I remembered that I had a prayer-card of St Josemaria in my pencil-case. I got it out with a lot of faith and, still crying, began praying it in the certainty that he was going to help me. When I finished praying, I dried my tears, took a new piece of paper, sharpened my pencil, took a deep breath, and began to work through the problem again. I was astonished at the way I was able to solve it using a method that maybe I hadn’t applied before. When I got to the solution, it matched the correct answer. I was so excited I started jumping and dancing for joy. I thanked St Josemaria from the bottom of my heart for the favor received. ]]> <![CDATA[I am now working for a finance company]]> I am writing from Medellin, in Colombia. I prayed a novena to St Josemaria Escriva, and I have now been working for a month in a finance company. I give thanks to this wonderful saint. Now I understand that when you pray for something with faith, it is granted. I am writing about this because I found the address on the back of the prayercard and it said to write in with favors received to the office for the causes of the saints of the Opus Dei Prelature. Have a good day!]]> <![CDATA[Thomas, USA ]]> Thomas, 21, lives in Tampa, Florida. He is studying history and literature at Harvard and this year is working for a Real Estate firm. “God keeps me grounded.” ]]> <![CDATA[Chinasa, Nigeria]]> Chinasa is currently living with her husband and two lovely children in Lagos, Nigeria: "God is My Friend. He lives in my heart in grace."]]> <![CDATA[ St. Josemaria at Work before Sunrise]]> Since 2012, the Mass of St. Josemaría Escrivá has been an annual event at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in V&G Subdivision, Tacloban City, Philippines. In the days leading up to the mass, the parish also has the custom of praying a novena to St. Josemaria’s intercession for work, the family, and the sick. The novena consists in praying together for nine days, meeting in the church a half an hour before the 5:30 daily Mass. It ends on the last day with the celebration of the Mass on June 26th, the feast day of St. Josemaria. For this year’s feast, Margot de Leon, a cooperator of Opus Dei, invited the parishioners to take breakfast with her family at their house following the Mass.

Nida Catubao and her husband Gaudencio helped organize the celebration of the Mass of St. Josemaria in 2012 and continue to attend each year. During the days of the novena, they woke up at 4:00 a.m. to be able to get ready for the day and make it to the novena and mass before work. At the end of the novena, Nida received a very timely favor. Apart from the “official” intentions of the novena, Nida was also praying that she finally be given her birth certificate so that she could obtain her passport and visa for her trip to Spain and Rome for the beatification of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, in September. She had started processing it in March of this year, but had run into some technical difficulties, complicated furthermore by the fact that Nida was born outside the city. In addition, the various consequences of typhoon Yolanda which hit last November are still very much felt in the province, not least by the governmental offices that process these documents. Things were definitely not in Nida’s favor, and on June 23rd she learned that the earliest she could expect the birth certificate would be in 3 months! This would be too late to make the trip in September.

But Nida was not beset by this news and trusted confidently that St. Josemaría would help her. Then on June 26, in the wee hours of the morning, she was awakened by a telephone ring. It was a call from someone working in a government office, who communicated to her that she would no longer have to wait for 3 more months and would be able to get her birth certificate now! This early call was not an expected one nor is it a common thing. Perhaps St. Josemaría just wanted to show that he works even earlier than the novena before sunrise!
<![CDATA[Other people and me]]> Our Lord says: ‘I give you a new commandment: Love one another. By this love everyone will know that you are my disciples’.
And Saint Paul: ‘Carry each other’s troubles and you fulfil the law of Christ’.
I have nothing to add.
The Way, 385

How very insistent the Apostle Saint John was in preaching the mandatum novum, the new commandment that we should love one another!
I would fall on my knees, without putting on any act — but this is what my heart dictates — and ask you, for the love of God, to love one another, to help one another, to lend one another a hand, to know how to forgive one another.
And so, reject all pride, be compassionate, show charity; help each other with prayer and sincere friendship.
The Forge, 454

Children of God! A condition which transforms us into something that goes far beyond our being people who merely put up with each other. Listen to what the Lord says: Vos autem dixi amicos! We are his friends who, like him, give our lives for each other, when heroism is needed and throughout our ordinary lives.
Furrow, 750

At times, in their behaviour, some Christians don’t give the commandment of charity the full scope and value it has. In that last wonderful discourse of his, we find Christ surrounded by his chosen ones and leaving them these words as a form of testament: Mandatum novum do vobis, ut diligatis invicem — a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.
Then he went further: In hoc cognoscent omnes quia discipuli mei estis — by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
If only we would make up our minds to live as he wants!
The Forge, 889

Heroism, sanctity, daring, require constant spiritual preparation. You can only ever give to others what you already have. And, to give God to them, you yourself need to get to know him, to live his Life, to serve him.
The Forge, 78

With Respect
Practising charity means respecting other people’s way of thinking. It means rejoicing at their road to God, without trying to make them think like you or joining you.
It occurred to me to put this consideration to you. These other ways are different, but parallel; each person will reach God by following his own way. Don’t get sidetracked in comparisons, or in wanting to know who is higher. That does not matter; what does matter is that we should all attain the end.
Furrow, 757

It’s easier said than done. With that cutting, hatchet-like tongue, have you ever tried, even by chance, to do ‘well’ what, according to your ‘considered’ opinion, others do less well?
The Way, 448

Do not forget that in human affairs other people may also be right: they see the same question as you, but from a different point of view, under another light, with other shades, with other contours.
Only in faith and morals is there an indisputable standard: that of our Mother the Church.
Furrow, 275

My son, where is the Christ that people look for in you? In your pride? In your desire to impose yourself on others? In those defects of character which you don’t wish to overcome? In your stubbornness?... Is Christ to be found there? No, he is not!
You need to have your own personality, agreed. But you should try to make it conform exactly to Christ’s.
The Forge, 468

Think of the good that has been done you throughout your lifetime by those who have injured or attempted to injure you.
Others call such people their enemies. You should imitate the saints, at least in this. You are nothing so special that you should have enemies; so call them “benefactors”. Pray to God for them: as a result, you will come to like them.
The Forge, 802

I would like — help me with your prayer — all of us within Holy Church to feel that we are members of the same body, as the Apostle asks of us. I would like us to be vividly and profoundly aware, without any lack of interest, of the joys, the troubles, the progress of our Mother who is one, holy, catholic, apostolic, Roman.
I would like us to live in unison with one another and all of us with Christ.
The Forge, 630

You show bad spirit if it hurts you to see others work for Christ without regard for what you are doing. Remember this passage in Saint Mark: ‘Master, we saw a man who is not one of us casting out devils in your name; and because he was not one of us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said, ‘You must not stop him: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us’.
The Way, 966

With Responsibility
Child of God, what have you done up to now to help the souls around you?
You cannot be content with that passiveness, with that idleness of yours. He wants to reach others through your example, through your words, through your friendship, through your service...
The Forge, 880

Apostolic soul: first of all, yourself. Our Lord has said, through Saint Matthew: ‘When the day of Judgment comes, many will say to me: “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: “I have never known you; away from me, you evil men”‘.
God forbid — says Saint Paul — that I, who have preached to others, should myself be rejected.
The Way, 930

Yes, that abuse can be eradicated. It shows lack of character to let it continue as something hopeless, with no possible remedy.
Don’t shirk your duty. Carry it out conscientiously, even though others neglect theirs.
The Way, 36

It is you — in spite of your passions — who have the responsibility for the sanctity of the others, for their Christian behaviour and for their effectiveness.
You are not on your own. If you stop you could be holding up or harming so many people!
The Forge, 470

Many people ask with an air of self-justification: Why should I get involved in the lives of others?
Because it is your Christian duty to get involved in their lives, in order to serve them!
Because Christ has got involved in your life and in mine!
The Forge, 24

Here is a thought to help you in difficult moments. “The more my faithfulness increases, the better will I be able to contribute to the growth of others in that virtue.” How good it is to feel supported by each other!
Furrow, 948

An indispensable requirement in the apostolate is faith, which is often shown by constancy in speaking about God, even though the fruits are slow to appear.
If we persevere and carry on in the firm conviction that the Lord wills it, signs of a Christian revolution will appear around you, everywhere. Some will follow the call, others will take their interior life seriously, and others — the weakest — will at least be forewarned.
Furrow, 207

Once you used to “enjoy” yourself a lot. But now that you bear Christ within you, your whole life has been filled with a sincere and infectious joy. That is why you attract other people.
Get to know Him better, so that you can reach all people.
Furrow, 673

<![CDATA[Meeting with St Josemaria Escriva in Peru ]]> St. Escriva: Questions & Answers in Cañete, Peru (July, 9 1974)

These are only excerpts of the question and answer portion of the meeting. It shows the fraternal and jovial nature of St. Escriva.

In July 1974, Saint Josemaría Escrivá was in Peru, where he had several informal meetings and get-togethers with people who worked on the land there. A meeting in Valle Grande (

Condoray ( had been open since 1963. It is a women's training center situated 145 km from Lima, whose goal is to train people who can then stimulate development among other Cañete Valley families. In Condoray Saint Josemaría told them, among other things, «We have to work joyfully, enthusiastically. You can do that, partly because you are earning money and raising your family; but especially to please God, because work is prayer, work dignifies the worker.»
<![CDATA[What is the Church?]]> 1. What is the Church?
The word “Church” (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to “call out of”) means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people (cf. Exodus 19). By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is “calling together” his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means “what belongs to the Lord.”

In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 751-752.

Contemplating the mystery
What is most important in the Church is not how we humans react but how God acts. This is what the Church is: Christ present in our midst, God coming toward men in order to save them, calling us with his revelation, sanctifying us with his grace, maintaining us with his constant help, in the great and small battles of our daily life.
Christ is Passing By, no. 131.

People from different countries, different races, and very different backgrounds and professions... When you speak to them about God, you become aware of the human and supernatural value of your vocation as an apostle. It is as if you are re-living, in its total reality, the miracle of the first preaching of Our Lord’s disciples. Phrases spoken in a strange tongue, which open up new ways, have been heard by each one, in the depth of his heart in his own language. And in your mind you can see that scene taking on a new life, in which “Parthians, Medes and Elamites” have come joyfully to God.
Furrow, no. 186.

2. Why was the Church born?
The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratuitous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own divine life, to which he calls all men in his Son. “The Father . . . determined to call together in a holy Church those who should believe in Christ.”

This “family of God” is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father’s plan. In fact, “already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvelous fashion in the history of the people of Israel and the old Alliance. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, she will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time” (Lumen Gentium, 2).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 759.

Contemplating the mystery
Let us love the Lord our God; let us love his Church, Saint Augustine writes. Let us love Him as our Father, and her as our Mother. (…) What use will it be to someone not to offend his Father, if his Father will avenge his Mother whom he offends? (St Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 88, 2, 14; PL 37, 1140). And Saint Cyprian puts it more briefly: No one can have God as his Father who does not have the Church as his Mother (St Cyprian, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, 6, PL 4, 502).
The Supernatural Aim of the Church, no. 29

The same thing applies to the lives of institutions, and in a very special way to the life of the Church, which does not follow a precarious human plan but a God-given design. The world’s redemption and salvation are the fruits of Jesus Christ’s loving filial faithfulness to the will of the heavenly Father who sent him, and of our faithfulness to him.
Conversations with Msgr. Escriva, no. 1.

The Church belongs to God and has only one aim, the salvation of souls. Let us draw near to Our Lord and speak to him face to face in our prayer. Let us ask him forgiveness for our personal weaknesses and let us make reparation for our sins and for those of other men who may not realize in this climate of confusion, how gravely they are offending God.
The Supernatural Aim of the Church, no. 33.

3. Who founded the Church?
It was the Son’s task to accomplish the Father’s plan of salvation in the fullness of time. Its accomplishment was the reason for his being sent. “The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures.” To fulfill the Father’s will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church “is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.”

“This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.” To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.” The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the Eucharist and fulfilled on the cross. “The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus” (Lumen Gentium, 3)
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 763, 764, and 766.

Contemplating the mystery
Christ has given his Church sureness in doctrine and a flow of grace in the sacraments. He has arranged things so that there will always be people to guide and lead us, to remind us constantly of our way. There is an infinite treasure of knowledge available to us: the word of God kept safe by the Church, the grace of Christ administered in the sacraments and also the witness and example of those who live by our side and have known how to build with their good lives a road of faithfulness to God.
Christ is Passing By, no. 34.

Become more Roman day by day. Love that blessed quality which is the ornament of the children of the one true Church, for Jesus wanted it to be so.
The Forge, no. 586.

Christ is alive in his Church. “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” That was what God planned: Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave us the Spirit of truth and life. Christ stays in his Church, her sacraments, her liturgy, her preaching – in all that she does.
Christ is Passing By, no. 102.

4. How does the Church continue Christ’s mission through history?
The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head. Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem. The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ’s mission and his power, but also in his lot. By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 765.

As the Acts of the Apostles narrates, the twelve Apostles are the most obvious sign of Jesus’ will for the Church’s existence and mission, the guarantee that between Christ and the Church there is no conflict or opposition: they are inseparable, in spite of the sins of those who make up the Church.
The Apostles were aware, because this was what they had received from Jesus, that their mission had to be continued in perpetuity. Accordingly they made sure that they found successors, so that the mission that had been entrusted to them would be continued after their deaths, as the Acts of the Apostles bears witness. They left behind a community that is structured through the apostolic ministry, under the guidance of the legitimate pastors, who build up and sustain the Church in communion with Christ and the Holy Spirit, in whom all men are called to experience the salvation offered by God the Father. (Anon.)

Contemplating the mystery
But what is the Church? Where is the Church? Bewildered and disoriented, many Christians do not find sure answers to these questions. And they come to believe that perhaps the answers which the Magisterium has formulated for centuries – and which good catechisms have proposed with the necessary precision and simplicity – have now been superseded and must be replaced by new ones. (…)
The Church today is the same one Christ founded. It cannot be any other. The Apostles and their successors are the vicars of God with regard to the rule of the Church as instituted through faith and with regard to the sacraments of the faith Hence, just as it is not lawful for them to constitute any other Church, so too it is not lawful for them either to hand down any other faith or to institute any other sacraments. Rather, the Church is said to have been built up with the “sacraments which flowed from the side of Christ hanging on the Cross” (St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 3, q. 64, a. 2 ad 3).
The Church must be recognised by the four marks in the profession of faith of one of the first Councils, as we pray in the Creed of the Mass: One, holy, catholic and apostolic Church (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed).
These are the essential properties of the Church, which are derived from its nature as Christ intended it. And, being essential, they are also marks, signs, which distinguish it from any other human gathering, even though in the others the name of Christ may be pronounced.
Loyalty to the Church, no. 2.

5. Who belongs to the Church?
The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through Baptism, have been constituted as the people of God; for this reason, since they have become sharers in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each one (Code of Canon Law, canon 204, 1; cf. Lumen Gentium, 31).

In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and the activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with each one’s own condition and function (Code of Canon Law, canon 208; cf. Lumen Gentium, 32).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 871-872.

Contemplating the mystery
God’s call, the character conferred by Baptism, and grace mean that every single Christian can and should be a living expression of the faith. Every Christian should be ‘another Christ, Christ himself’, present among men. (…) “It is necessary to restore to Holy Baptism its full significance. By means of this sacrament we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church... To be a Christian, to have received Baptism, should not be looked upon as something indifferent or of little importance. It should be imprinted deeply and joyously on the conscience of every baptized person” (Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, part 1).
Conversations with Msgr. Escriva, no. 58.

Seeing how so many Christians express their affection for the Virgin Mary, surely you also feel more a part of the Church, closer to those brothers and sisters of yours. It is like a family reunion. Grown-up children, whom life has separated, come back to their mother for some family anniversary. And even if they have not always got on well together, today things are different; they feel united, sharing the same affection.
Christ is Passing By, no. 139.

6. Is it necessary to belong to the Church to be saved?
Christ himself is the mystery of salvation (…). The saving work of his holy and sanctifying humanity is the sacrament of salvation, which is revealed and active in the Church’s sacraments (which the Eastern Churches also call “the holy mysteries”). The seven sacraments are the signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body. The Church, then, both contains and communicates the invisible grace she signifies. It is in this analogical sense, that the Church is called a “sacrament.”

“The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament - a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (Lumen Gentium, 1). The Church’s first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God. Because men’s communion with one another is rooted in that union with God, the Church is also the sacrament of the unity of the human race. In her, this unity is already begun, since she gathers men “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9); at the same time, the Church is the “sign and instrument” of the full realization of the unity yet to come.

As sacrament, the Church is Christ’s instrument. “She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all,” “the universal sacrament of salvation,” by which Christ is “at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for men” Lumen Gentium, 9). The Church “is the visible plan of God’s love for humanity.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 774-776.

Contemplating the mystery
In the Church there is a diversity of ministries, but there is only one aim: the sanctification of men. And in this task all Christians participate in some way, through the character imprinted by the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. We must all feel responsible for the mission of the Church, which is the mission of Christ. He who does not have zeal for the salvation of souls, he who does not strive with all his strength to make the name and doctrine of Christ known and loved, will not understand the apostolicity of the Church.
Loyalty to the Church, no. 15.

The Church has no reason to try to pander to men, since they, individually or in community, cannot save themselves. The only one who saves is God.
The Supernatural Aim of the Church, no. 27

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who founded the holy Church, expects the members of this people to strive continually to acquire sanctity. Not all respond loyally to his call. And in the spouse of Christ, at one and the same time, both the marvel of the way of salvation, and the failings of those who take up that way, are visible.
Loyalty to the Church, no. 6.

7. What is the identity of Christians, the People of God?
The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:

– It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9)

– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit” (Jn 3:3-5), that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.

– This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”

– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple” (Lumen Gentium, 9).

– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us” (cf. Jn 13:34). This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:2; Gal 5:25).

– Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world (Mat 5:13-16). This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”

– Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 782.

Contemplating the mystery
When the Lord brought you into the Church he put an indelible mark upon your soul through Baptism: you are a son of God. Don’t forget it.
The Forge, no. 264.

God is right there in the centre of your soul, and mine, and in the soul of everyone who is in a state of grace. He is there for a purpose: so that our salt may increase, that we may acquire more light and that each one of us from his place may know how to distribute those gifts of God.
And how can we share out these gifts from God? With humility and piety, and by being very united to our Mother the Church.
Do you not recall the vine and the branches? How fruitful is each branch when united to the vine! What large bunches of grapes! And how sterile the broken-off branch that dries up and becomes lifeless!
The Forge, no. 932.

Pray to God that in the Holy Church, our Mother, the hearts of all may be one heart, as they were in the earliest times of Christianity; so that the words of Scripture may be truly fulfilled until the end of the ages: Multitudinis autem credentium erat cor unum et anima una – the company of the faithful were of one heart and one soul.
I am saying this to you in all seriousness: may this holy unity not come to any harm through you. Take it to your prayer!
The Forge, no. 632.

8. What is the mission of the Church?
The Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all the nations to make disciples of them.
So that she can fulfill her mission, the Holy Spirit “bestows upon [the Church] varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her” (Lumen Gentium, 4). “Henceforward the Church, endowed with the gifts of her founder and faithfully observing his precepts of charity, humility and self-denial, receives the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God”. “The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven” (Lumen Gentium, 48), at the time of Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, “the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world’s persecutions and God’s consolations” (St Augustine, De Civitate Dei, 18, 51; cf. Lumen Gentium, 8).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 767-769.

Contemplating the mystery
How good Christ was to leave the Sacraments to his Church! They are the remedy for all our needs. Venerate them and be very grateful both to God and to his Church.
The Way, no. 521.

Our Holy Mother the Church, in a magnificent extension of love, is scattering the seed of the Gospel throughout the world; from Rome to the outposts of the earth. As you help in this work of expansion throughout the whole world, bring those in the outposts to the Pope, so that the earth may be one flock and one Shepherd: one apostolate!
The Forge, no. 638.

A Christian can’t be caught up in personal problems; he must be concerned about the universal Church and the salvation of all souls.
Christ is Passing By, no. 145.

Charity towards everyone means, therefore, apostolate with everyone. It means we, on our part, must translate into deeds and truth the great desire of God ‘who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth’.
Friends of God, no. 230.

9. What are the Church’s characteristics?
The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5), at whose fulfilment all divisions will be overcome.

The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners.” Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.

The Church is catholic, universal: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is “missionary of her very nature” (Ad Gentes 2).

The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14). She is indestructible (cf. Mt 16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.

“The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines”(Lumen Gentium 8).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 866-870.

Contemplating the mystery
We are contemplating the mystery of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. It is time to ask ourselves: Do I share with Christ his zeal for souls? Do I pray for the Church of which I form part, in which I must carry out a specific mission which no one else can do for me? To be in the Church is already much, but it is not enough. We must be the Church, because our Mother must never be a stranger to us, something external, foreign to our deepest thoughts.
Loyalty to the Church, no. 16.

To defend the unity of the Church is to live very united to Jesus Christ who is our vine. How? By growing in fidelity to the perennial Magisterium of the Church: For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not that they should manifest a new doctrine by his revelation, but rather that with his assistance, they should religiously safeguard and faithfully teach the revelation that was handed down through the Apostles – the deposit of faith. By venerating this Mother of ours without stain, and loving the Roman Pontiff, we will preserve unity.
Loyalty to the Church, no. 3.

By seeing ourselves as part of the Church and united to our brothers in the faith, we understand more deeply that we are brothers of all mankind, for the Church has been sent to all the peoples of the earth.
Christ is Passing By, no. 139.
<![CDATA[St. Josemaría, a Teacher of Forgiveness (Part 2)]]> This study published in no. 53 of of the journal Romana, it focuses on some aspects of St. Josemaría’s teachings on forgiveness and their relevance in fostering a peaceful co-existence.

In the first part of this study we discussed St. Josemaría’s teaching about forgiveness, its place in the message of Opus Dei, and how the Founder of the Work lived it personally. Special emphasis was placed on the “liberating newness” of forgiveness and its direct connection with charity. The Christian’s response, says St. Josemaría, should be “to drown evil in an abundance of good” and to open wide one’s arms to all humanity as did Jesus Christ the priest.

In this second part we will consider some key ideas from the homily “Christian Respect for Persons and their Freedom.” Then we will look at how St. Josemaría reacted towards calumnies in his own life. Finally, the study will end with a reference to the practice of forgiveness in contemporary society in striving to foster a culture of peace.

Excerpts of the article. Download the complete article.

1. The homily “Christian Respect for Persons and their Freedom”

This homily, a meditation on “Christian Respect for Persons and their Freedom,”, also includes a reflection on certain events that had left a deep imprint on his own heart, meditated on in the light of charity and a love for freedom and justice.

The connecting thread is the identification of the Christian with Christ in the exercise of charity. “The charity of Christ is not merely a benevolent sentiment for our neighbor... Poured out in our soul by God, charity transforms from within our mind and will. It provides the supernatural foundation for friendship and the joy of doing what is right.” St. Josemaría referred to this progressive transformation of the person who draws close to Christ as “good divinization,” which enables us to overcome evil with good.

The origin of the homily seems to be the misunderstandings that can arise from the “mistaken idea that grants to the public... the right to know and to judge the most intimate details of the lives of others.” He speaks movingly of the twisted interpretation of the actions of other people, who “time and again, over a number of years... have served as a bull’s eye for the target practice of those who specialize in gossip, defamation and calumny.”

St. Josemaría was referring here to his own experience in spreading the message of Opus Dei. The great majority of people understood him, while others who did not share his apostolic methods respected the Founder and his apostolates. “But there will always be a partisan minority who are ignorant of what I and so many of us love. They would like us to explain Opus Dei in their terms, which are exclusively political, foreign to supernatural realities, attuned only to power plays and pressure groups. If they do not receive an explanation that suits their erroneous and twisted taste they continue to allege that here you have deception and sinister designs.”

The calumnies stemmed above all from two sources. First, the inability to understand the novelty of the message of the universal call to holiness in the middle of the world and a certain jealousy regarding the Founder’s apostolic work The second source was the tendency to confuse Opus Dei with a new political or pressure group, erroneously attributing to the Work the free actions of its members in their professional or political activity.

It is in this context that he presents his view of Christian freedom and the right to protect one’s own intimacy, and the harm done to both of these goods by others’ calumnies. At the end, he returns to the connecting thread, charity. When love for God is present, there will also be love for neighbor, respect for each person. “Christian charity cannot be limited to giving things or money to the needy. It seeks, above all, to respect and understand each person for what he is, in his intrinsic dignity as a man and child of God.”


Charity: from darkness to the light

St. Josemaría then considers the reactions of the person offended, and how to confront calumnies with a Christian spirit, with an attitude of forgiveness. He describes how, by coming to know Jesus, one begins a path of personal transformation that leads to perceiving the dignity of each person, and consequently to a change in one’s outlook and relationships. One begins to live the justice and charity that lead to respecting and loving all men and women, and showing it with deeds.

St. Josemaría compares the effect of charity to the passage from blindness to seeing with a new light. “Among those who do not know Christ, there are many honest persons who have respect for others and know how to conduct themselves properly and are sincere, cordial and refined. If neither they nor we prevent Christ from curing our blindness, if we let our Lord apply the clay which, in his hands, becomes a cleansing salve, we shall come to know earthly realities and we shall look upon the divine realities with new vision, with the light of faith. Our outlook will have become Christian.”

In the final section of the homily, St. Josemaría invites the reader to accept offenses with a Christian spirit, with the resolution “not to judge others, not to doubt their good will, to drown evil in an abundance of good ... Let us forgive always, with a smile on our lips. Let us speak clearly, without hard feelings, when in conscience we think we ought to speak. And let us leave everything in the hands of our Father God, with a divine silence ... if we are confronted with personal attacks.”

2. Attitude in the face of calumnies

a) Humility

The first attitude that we notice in St. Josemaría is the humility that characterized his entire response to the calumnies. The attacks on his reputation facilitated a progressive detachment from himself, already begun in the preceding years. God made use of the campaigns of defamation to lead him by the hand to humility, purification and identification with Christ in his suffering. Recalling a specific moment of special pain, at the beginning of the forties, he said: “There came a moment when I had to go one night to the Tabernacle... and say: Lord (and how much this cost me, since I am very proud, and the tears flowed freely) if you don’t need my honor, why should I want it? Since then I don’t give this any importance.”

Grounded on charity and humility, St. Josemaría summed up his response to these attacks in the following program: “forgive, say nothing, pray, work, and smile.”

b) Forgiving and praying

St. Josemaría strove to react to calumnies by always forgiving from the first moment and praying for those who attacked you. Well aware of his human weakness and knowing that he was capable of “every horrible deed and mistake,” he realized that God was always forgiving him, holding out his hand to lift him up. And if God is always ready to forgive us like that, Christians should do the same, and always as well.

“I could see that his reaction to the attacks, some of which were quite brutal, was always supernatural and full of charity. But I would like to make clear that this wasn’t in any sense a passive or stoic reaction. He reacted energetically, with a lot of prayer and mortification ... and with complete trust in God.”

As we have already seen, the decision to forgive brings with it a great freedom. This liberation, from the psychological point of view, is reinforced by the fact of praying for the aggressor: it displaces the center of attention from oneself to the other person. We no longer see ourselves as the “victim,” but put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and perhaps come to understand that we too may have been at fault in the souring of that relationship. Praying for those who attack us also strengthens our decision to forgive and closes the doors on vengeance.

c) A time to be quiet

St. Josemaría made a distinction between the calumnies that were directed against himself, and those aimed at the Church or Opus Dei.
If they were directed at himself, he didn’t try to defend himself. He opted for the attitude of silence, imitating Christ in his Passion: “He, personally, never defended himself, imitating in an eminent way the example of our Divine Master: Iesus autem tacebat.”

St. Josemaría wrote in The Way: “Jesus remains silent. Jesus autem tacebat. Why do you speak, to console yourself, or to excuse yourself? —Say nothing. Seek joy in contempt: you will always receive less than you deserve. —Can you, by any chance, ask: Quid enim mali feci, what evil have I done?”

The silence we are speaking of is an exterior silence. In his heart there would have been an intense dialogue with God, a progressive identification with Christ.

d) A time to speak

Therefore, when the attacks were not directed against himself, but against the Church or against Opus Dei, his sense of justice led him to intervene and speak to those responsible. St. Josemaría had a deep awareness of his responsibility before God that the foundational charism remain clear and not lose its integrity in being handed on.

The calumnies against the Work placed in danger both the spirit and the very existence of the institution, above all in the first moments of its life.

Therefore, as founder, he saw himself with a debt of justice to come to the defense of the Work and of his spiritual children. In these cases, factors distinct from himself came into play: the charism of Opus Dei, the persons who had joined the new foundation and others who participated in its apostolates. “These were moments when unbelievably some persons wanted to destroy the Work or hinder its development. Josemaría employed all the means to make the truth clear and not leave anyone in error, since this was a requirement of charity. Afterwards, towards the persons involved, he always showed understanding. I never heard him speak badly of anyone.”

e) Working and smiling

One of the effects of calumny is its paralyzing power. It acts like a poison in the central nervous system of the soul. The victims, in seeing their reputation damaged, feel as though the earth were opening under their feet and they have no solid ground to stand on. They “do not know where to turn. They are frightened. They do not believe it is possible, they wonder if the whole thing is not a nightmare.”

To respond by working overcomes the danger of paralysis that calumny can give rise to. Working helps to avoid sterile complaints, to not waste time criticizing one’s adversaries or become obsessed with the calumny. As we have already pointed out, his response was never a passive one but a dynamic response, based on “complete confidence in God,” of prayer and work. Working meant being able to defend the truth whenever necessary, and to transmit faith and confidence to his children, urging forward the development of the apostolates.

As Bishop Santos Moro testified: “I admired his patience and his determination to continue pressing forward without wavering, carrying out God’s Will, with absolute trust in Him.”

3. Forgiveness and a culture of peace

Forgiveness has to be practiced in one’s daily life, in marriage, in the family, in school, in one’s friendships, at work, in all situations. Forgiveness should be a daily experience in one’s “lifestyle” as a Christian.

The unity of life that St. Josemaría preached, which is a call to consistency in Christian life, requires living forgiveness always and from the first moment. For if one fails to practice forgiveness in one’s daily life, a small offense can quickly give rise to negative feelings and a lack of communication.

It has sometimes been said that one needs to “learn to forgive.” But perhaps, since charity is the source of forgiveness, it would be better to say that one has to learn to love: to love God and, with his love, to love our neighbor, even if he offends us. A person who doesn’t forgive doesn’t know how to love.

“Our responsibility is great, because to be Christ’s witness implies first of all that we should try to behave according to his doctrine, that we should struggle to make our actions remind others of Jesus and his most lovable personality. We have to act in such a way that others will be able to say, when they meet us: this man is a Christian, because he does not hate, because he is willing to understand, because he is not a fanatic, because he is willing to make sacrifices, because he shows that he is a man of peace, because he knows how to love.”

Download the complete article.
<![CDATA[1974.8.1]]> Saint Josemaría arrived in Ecuador, South America. He was unable to see anybody until August 10 because he was suffering from altitude sickness, or soroche [...]]]> <![CDATA[Who was Josemaria Escrivá]]> A brief bio of Saint Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. ]]> <![CDATA[Pope: Stop the war, enough is enough!]]> Video. (Rome Reports) As the conflict continues in Iraq, Ukraine and the Gaza strip, the Pope made an urgent appeal for peace during the Sunday Angelus, calling for leaders to stop the violence and work towards peace. ]]> <![CDATA[The Eucharist: "I believe that You are here."]]> Barcelona, 1972. St Josemaria reminds us that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Praying before the tabernacle with that attitude means making an act of faith. ]]> <![CDATA[AUDIO]]> A Life of Prayer]]> <![CDATA[AUDIO]]> The Christian's Hope]]> <![CDATA[AUDIO]]> The Strength of Love]]> <![CDATA[AUDIO]]> Living by Faith]]>