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[Christian Unity Octave: What Can I Do?]]> The Church asks all Christians to pray more intensely during the Christian Unity Octave, which lasts from January 18 to January 25, feast of the conversion of St Paul.

With one Spirit

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, 632

Offer your prayer, your atonement, and your action for this end: ut sint unum! — that they may be one: that all of us Christians may share one will, one heart, one spirit. This is so that omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam — that we may all go to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary.
The Forge, 647

Please say a prayer each day for the following intention: that all of us Catholics may be faithful and determined to struggle to be saints.
It is so obviously reasonable. What else are we to desire for those we love, for those who are bound to us by the strong ties of the faith?
The Forge, 925

It is Jesus who speaks: “Amen I say to you: ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.”
Pray. In what human venture could you have greater guarantees of success?
The Way, 96

Enlarging our hearts

I venerate with all my strength the Rome of Peter and Paul, bathed in the blood of martyrs, the centre from which so many have set out to propagate throughout the world the saving word of Christ. To be Roman does not entail any kind of provincialism, but rather authentic ecumenism. It presupposes the desire to enlarge the heart, to open it to all men with the redemptive zeal of Christ, who seeks all and welcomes all, for he has loved all first.
In Love with the Church, 11

This pouring out of the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ and makes us acknowledge that we are children of God. The Paraclete, who is Love, teaches us to saturate our life with the virtue of charity. Thus consummati in unum: “made one with Christ”, we can be among men what the Eucharist is for us, in the words of St Augustine: “a sign of unity, a bond of love”.
Christ is Passing By, 87

Living in unity
What beautiful tones Our Lord uses to express this doctrine! He multiplies words and images so that we may understand it, so that this passion for unity may remain engraved on our souls. I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Jn XV, 1-5).
In Love with the Church, 3

It is an essential part of the Christian spirit not only to live in union with the ordinary hierarchy — the Pope and the bishops — but also to feel at one with the rest of one's brothers in the Faith. For a long time I have thought that one of the worst ills affecting the Church today is the ignorance many Catholics have concerning what Catholics in other countries or sectors of society are doing and thinking. We must rekindle the sense of brotherliness which was so deeply felt by the early Christians. It will help us to feel united, while loving at the same time the variety of our individual vocations. And it will lead us to avoid many of the unjust and offensive judgements made by particular little groups in the name of Catholicism, against their brothers in the Faith, who in fact are acting nobly and with a spirit of sacrifice in the particular circumstances of their own countries.
Conversations, 61

You were amazed to hear me approve of the lack of ‘uniformity’ in that apostolate in which you work. And I told you: Unity and variety. You have to be different from one another, as the saints in heaven are different, each having his own personal and special characteristics. But also as like one another as the saints, who would not be saints if each of them had not identified himself with Christ.
The Way, 947

For all those moments in history which the devil makes his business to repeat, I thought the comment on loyalty you had written to me was very appropriate: “I carry with me every day in my heart, in my mind and on my lips, an aspiration: Rome.”
Furrow, 344

Let me begin by reminding you of something Saint Cyprian tells us: The universal Church is a people which derives its unity from the unity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In Love with the Church, 17

Helping each other
Think about your Mother the Holy Church and consider how, if one member suffers, the whole body suffers.
Your body needs each one of its members, but each member needs the whole body. What would happen if my hands were to stop doing their duty... or if my heart were to stop beating!
The Forge, 471

You will find it easier to do your duty if you think of how your brothers are helping you, and of the help you fail to give them if you are not faithful.
The Way, 549

The reference-point: Peter
And there is no other Catholic Church but the one which, built on the one Peter, rises up on the unity of the faith and on charity in one unique body, unified and compact. We help to make that apostolic continuity more evident in the eyes of all by demonstrating with exquisite fidelity our union with the Pope, which is union with Peter. Love for the Roman Pontiff must be in us a delightful passion, for in him we see Christ. If we talk with the Lord in prayer, we will go forward with a clear gaze that will permit us to perceive the action of the Holy Spirit, even in the face of events we do not understand or which produce sighs or sorrow.
In Love with the Church, 13]]>
<![CDATA[More resources for prayer]]> The St. Josemaria Institute Podcast is a new resource offering meditations, inspirational reflections, and readings to help you grow closer to God through the liturgical seasons, feast days, devotions, lives of the saints, and the events of everyday life, following St. Josemaria's teachings.]]> <![CDATA[Heaven]]> Heaven: ‘the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things that God has prepared for those who love him.’ Don’t these revelations of the Apostle spur you on to fight?
The Way, 751

Do everything unselfishly, for pure Love, as if there were neither reward nor punishment. But in your heart foster the glorious hope of heaven.
The Way, 668

If Love, even human love, gives so much consolation here, what will Love not be in heaven?
The Way, 428

If at any time you feel uneasy at the thought of our sister death because you see yourself to be such a poor creature, take heart. Heaven awaits us. And consider: what will it be like when all the infinite beauty and greatness, and happiness and Love of God will be poured into the poor clay vessel that the human being is, to satisfy it eternally with the freshness of an ever new joy?
Furrow, 891

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, 995

A piece of advice I have insisted on repeatedly: be cheerful, always cheerful. —Sadness is for those who do not consider themselves to be children of God.
Furrow, 54

I am every day more convinced that happiness in Heaven is for those who know how to be happy on earth.
The Forge, 1005

*Catechism of the Catholic Church

1023 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 (cf. I Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4):
“By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints . . . and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died, . . . or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death, . . .) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature” (Benedict XII: DS 1000; cf. Lumen Gentium 49).

1024 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.]]>
<![CDATA[Francis and Benedict: Continuity or Rupture?]]> By Mariano Fazio, new Vicar General of Opus Dei, author of "El Papa Francisco. Claves de su pensamiento"

Many months have passed since the election of Francis as the successor of Benedict XVI. The change in style is very evident, very similar to the change in the papal image brought about by the person of Saint John XXIII, so different from Pius XII, or by Paul VI's personality -more reserved and intellectual- so unlike the charismatic Good Pope. The same situation happened when Saint John Paul II succeeded the recently beatified Blessed Paul VI - with the thirty-three day interval of the ever-smiling Pope Luciani mitigating the transition-, as well as with Benedict XVI succeeding the holy Polish Pope.

Changes in style of the popes is a consequence of the human elements of the Church. The examples of the last decades mentioned above have been part of one of the most positive historical streaks for the Roman pontificate. This diversity brings with it wealth because a person's style is very much related to their idiosyncrasy and to the cultural traditions that have formed their personality. Recently, the Church has been enriched by the Slavic tradition of Karol Wojtyla, the Central-European tradition of Joseph Ratzinger, and now by the Latin-American tradition of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

From the point of view of the individual charisma, the well-known American journalist John Allen has risked a musical comparison: John Paul II is "rock and roll", Benedict XVI is "classical", and Francis is "folk". Also, avoiding any excluding sensibilities, we know that John Paul II named Jorge Bergoglio bishop and cardinal, that Benedict celebrated his papacy, and that Francis adorned a wall in his modest room in Argentina with a poster of the German pope.

Francis' caring and admiration for his predecessor is truly worth highlighting. I can share a personal memory of this. In August 2008, I accompanied then Cardinal Bergoglio on a short ride through Buenos Aires. During the ride, he confided to me that what he admired most of Benedict XVI was his humility and his teachings. I remembered these words after Ratzinger resigned and realized how profound they were: Benedict will be remembered precisely because of his humility and magisterium.
A change of style and a personal relationship full of caring and admiration towards Benedict XVI are clear in Francis' words and gestures. However, what can we say about the current pontifical magisterium with respect to the previous one? Do the culture of waste and the dictatorship of relativism have anything in common?

The Dictatorship of Relativism
On Monday, April 18, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over the Mass that inaugurated the conclave that would elect the successor to Pope John Paul II. In his homily, the Dean of the College of Cardinals pointed out which would be the cultural circumstances the new Pope would have to face...without knowing that he was actually addressing himself. In a crucial paragraph he said: "How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St. Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

The dictatorship of relativism, or, in its positive form, the need and urgency to recuperate trust in the possibility to reach truth through faith and reason in a plural society, has been the central focus of the previous pontificate. The famous speeches at Ratisbona, Westminster Hall, and Bundestag are magnificent evidence of this interest and concern, consecrating the idea of a healthy laity, overcoming laicism and fundamentalisms.

Relativism is the crisis of truth because it considers that the human being is not capable of reaching the truth, a universal ethics, basic ideas that can be shared by all, independently of historical or cultural aspects. This is not a topic exclusively pertaining to logic or philosophy. It is a general attitude towards the great challenge of the truth. It is the oblivion of the words of Jesus: "truth will set you free" and truth is perceived as a top that limits our possibilities and our personal development, or, as a collective, our cultural growth. In this light, truth is a restriction to our creative potential. However, to be able to build something that lasts, truth is necessary as a firm standing on which social and individual creativity can develop. The stronger the base is, the higher the construction, the more possibilities, the more freedom of projects, ideas, proposals. Truth, in this light, is the base of our progress and innovation.

At times, there is a risk of looking at "humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people" -using Pope Francis' words in the conclusion of the synod of bishops on the family. However, in the unpronounced speech at La Sapienza in Rome, Benedict reflects with Saint Augustine on the fact that theoretical truth alone -with its abstractions, judgments, and classifications- leads to sadness, and that the complete truth consists of the knowledge of what is good and, therefore, "truth makes us good", and so it introduces us to charity and the acceptance of others.

The Culture of Waste
Francis, on the other hand, has developed from different perspectives what he calls the "culture of waste": a society that abandons the old, the sick, and the youth, because it is focused on the self, exalting the god-money, the god-pleasure, and the god-power. In Evangelii Gaudium he says it in a straightforward manner: in contrast to the joy of encountering Jesus, "the great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience".
Therefore, we are again facing the censure of a dictatorship, though in this case not an ideal one but a material one: "The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose". This dictatorship reduces man "to one of his needs alone: consumption", something that could be assimilated to Benedict XVI's immanent "own ego and desires."

Francis condemns the scourge suffered by human dignity, not abstractly, but in the suffering flesh of the poor and marginalized. Of the leftovers of a European world that rejects African immigrants in Lampedusa; of those marginalized in great emerging cities that amass in miserable villas, favelas, or shacks; of the victims of the new forms of slavery, such as human trafficking, child-soldiers, or the sad story of those trapped by the grip of drugs. This prophetic cry resounds in the ears of the world and there are rumors of a Nobel Prize while many magazines and newspapers extol him on their front pages. However, the idolatry of material things remains undamaged because its deep roots keep it strong.

In an exclusive interview with Henrique Cymerman, Francis elaborated with frankness on the social consequences of these idolatrous attitudes: "We have fallen into the sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money. The economy moves with the anxiety of having more and paradoxically fosters a culture of waste. Discarding the young when limiting the birth rate. We also discard the elderly because they are no longer needed, they do not produce, they are a passive class … And by discarding the young and the elderly, we discard a people’s future because young people pull forward with strength and because the elderly give us wisdom, they have the remembrance of this people, and must pass it on to the young (...) We are discarding an entire generation to maintain an economic system that no longer holds, a system which, in order to survive, must fight wars, as great empires have always done (...) This sole thought deprives us of the richness of diversity of thought and therefore of a dialogue between people."

People are food for the system. The image reminds us of the movie "Matrix", where humans are used as batteries for a great electric machine that has achieved self-consciousness. Many of them live in a false world that is revealed to be a comfortable prison. Max Weber, at the beginning of the twentieth century, characterized a market void of values as an iron cage.

Two Sides of the Same Reality
These two dictatorships condemned by the pontiffs are, at the same time, different aspects of the same reality. In an important speech pronounced in the first days of his pontificate to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, Francis established a link between his concern for the poor and Benedict XVI's teachings on truth. In the first place he stated: "As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just".

After once again describing the problem of the culture of waste, in the next paragraph he builds the connection with the previous pontiff: "But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the "tyranny of relativism", which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth."

There is no peace, no possible human progress, if people do not care for the good of others. John Paull II synthesized it in a historical phrase "peace is the work of solidarity", which was a continuation of his predecessors, Pius XII and Paul VI, who had respectively declared "peace is the work of justice" and "development is the new name for peace". The linked reasoning of the pontifical magisterium is based on a central principle of human dignity: a world where fraternity triumphs can only be built upon the giving of oneself to others.

Therefore, the current society needs to rediscover -in order to overcome the crisis of poverty and values that we have been living for years- its deepest truth: the absolute respect for the human rights of each person, who is one-of-a-kind and unique. Without this foundation, some will be used as instruments for selfish reasons by others, and human beings will be used instead of respected, treated as things that can be discarded when they are not useful anymore.

In my opinion, Pope Francis is continuously referring to relativism through an uplifting proposal that is expressed in the condemning of the direct consequence of relativism: the control of power, the culture of waste and indifference, the bureaucracy of faith. Against this, he promotes a culture of encounter and of commitment.

In Evangelii Gaudium he describes "a steady increase in relativism that has led to a general sense of disorientation". Further on he explains: "This practical relativism consists in acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist." In other words, it is to live the "eat, drink, and be merry" lifestyle, as a dark result of an illusory autonomy that denies any responsibility with respect to others. In contrast, an ethics arises with Martin Buber, reminding us that we are "guardians of our brethren", that there are brotherly bonds that unite us, that we are not isolated individuals who can think only of our "own ego and desires." We are called to the charity that builds a common good, to the caritas in veritate -Benedict XVI's social encyclical- the charity in truth.

In summary, it could be said that Benedict points out that without a truthful foundation, the world lacks appellation resorts and is controlled by those in power: the poor and the weak have no access to dignity, there are no values to support their claims.

Francis, in his own way, condemns with particular force that the real name of relativism is the culture of waste and the triumph of power and money over dignity, over what is truly human, over the truth. They are steps in the same process, two aspects of the same reality, that call us to be more loving and giving, to forgive, to generosity.

An Anecdote
I'd like to end this article with an anecdote. About a month ago I had the great joy of visiting the Pope in Santa Marta. He received me as a father would receive a son. Encouraged by this atmosphere of familiarity, I ventured to ask him to confirm an idea that I, along with other intellectuals from Argentina, have been elaborating and is summarized as the culture of waste is a consequence of the dictatorship of relativism. Francis, with a smile and with some emphasis, responded (obviously, these are not his literal words): That is so. If there is no truth all that is left is personal interests, which brings about the nefarious consequence of discarding the weak. And he again referred to the unemployment of so many young people in Europe which causes him so much concern.

Some say that the Pope emeritus Benedict has said that he spoke to the head and that Francis speaks to the heart. Let us unite both in continuity, because a person without a head is terrible, and one without a heart is worse.

Published by the Spanish magazine Palabra.]]>
<![CDATA[Mount Tabor: Basilica of the Transfiguration]]> In the Footprints of our Faith

From the earliest times the fertile Esdraelon plain in Galilee has been criss-crossed by paths and caravan trails. Travellers coming down from Mesopotamia and Syria, after following the shoreline of Lake Gennesareth, struck westwards across the plain towards the Mediterranean and so on to Egypt. Those coming from the south, from Mount Hebron, following the route from Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Samaria, travelled northwards, passing close to Nazareth. The solitary peak of Mount Tabor towers over the plain.

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If Mount Tabor were part of a range of hills it would attract no particular attention, standing as it does just 558 metres above sea-level. But it is a single isolated peak, whose conical shape suggests that it could be volcanic, though in fact it is not. It stands over 300 metres higher than the surrounding land and this makes it singularly imposing. It is also noticeable for the vegetation growing up its sides: holm-oaks, wild plants, and in spring, lilies of different kinds. From its top, a broad level space where cypress-trees grow in abundance, a beautiful panorama opens to view. Because of this, Mount Tabor became a place of worship for the Canaanites, who worshipped their idols on the hill-tops. It also made a good site for military fortifications, as a watch-tower over the area. Traces of human presence on Tabor go back seventy thousand years.

Tabor in literature
According to the Old Testament it was at Mount Tabor that Deborah gathered ten thousand Israelites in secret, commanded by Barak, who put Sisera’s army to flight (cf. Judges 4:4-24). The Midianites and Amalekites killed Gideon’s brothers there (cf. Judges 8:18-19). After the Promised Land had been won, Mount Tabor marked the boundary between the tribes of Zebulon, Issachar and Nephthali (cf. Joshua 19:10-34), who held it to be a sacred place and offered sacrifices on its summit (cf. Deut 33:19). The prophet Hosea denounced this worship because it was not just schismatic but actually idolatrous (cf. Hos 5:1). Finally, the fame of Tabor is shown by the fact that it is used as an image in Old Testament literature. The psalmist speaks of Tabor and Hermon together as symbolizing all the hills of the earth (cf. Ps. 89[88]:12). Jeremiah compares Tabor to the way Nebuchadnezzar loomed over his enemies (cf. Jer 46:18-26).

Although Mount Tabor is not named in the New Testament, it was identified very early on as the place of our Lord’s Transfiguration. Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" – not knowing what he said (Lk 9: 28-33); Mt 17: 1-4; Mk 9: 2-5).

Archaeological excavations at Tabor have shown that there was a fourth- or fifth-century church there (which some ancient sources say was built by St Helena) which had been constructed on the remains of a Canaanite place of worship. Later on, the testimonies of some sixth- and seventh-century pilgrims speak of three basilicas – in memory of the three booths that St Peter had proposed to make – and large numbers of monks living there. In confirmation of these reports, a mosaic floor has been found dating from that time, and in 553 the Council of Constantinople established a bishopric of Tabor. During the Muslim domination this monastic or hermit community dwindled away, and in 808 AD the churches were looked after by eighteen religious whose bishop was Theophanes.

From 1101 onwards, until the end of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, a Benedictine religious community lived on Mount Tabor. They restored the church and built a large monastery, protected by a fortified wall. However, this was not sufficient to defend them against the Saracens, who overran the abbey and turned it into a fortress in 1211-1212. Although Christians were allowed to return a little later and take possession of the site, their basilica was again destroyed in 1263 by the soldiers of Sultan Baibars.

Deserted until the 17th century
Mount Tabor was deserted until the arrival of the Franciscans in 1631. They took charge of the property from then on, though not without difficulties; they studied and strengthened what was left of the buildings, but it took another three centuries before a new basilica could be built. It was completed in 1924.

Today pilgrims can climb Mount Tabor following a winding road which was made at the beginning of the twentieth century to enable building materials to be carried up to the new basilica. As they reach the top they come to the Gate of the Wind, or Bab el-Hawa in Arabic, a remnant of the thirteenth-century Arab fortress, whose walls surrounded the whole flat space of the summit. On the north side stands the Greek Orthodox area and on the south is the Catholic part, looked after by the Custody of the Holy Land.

From the Gate of the Wind, a long avenue lined with cypress-trees leads to the Basilica of the Transfiguration and the Franciscan monastery. In front of the church the ruins of the twelfth-century Benedictine monastery may be seen, as well as traces of the Saracen fortress. Indeed, the fortress was built on the foundations of the Crusaders-era basilica, as is the present church, which was built on the plan of the preceding one.

The façade, with its great arch between two towers and its triangular gables, welcomes visitors with an invitation to lift up their souls. This sensation intensifies as they go through the bronze gates: the central nave, separated from the side aisles by great semi-circular arches, becomes a stairway carved out of the rock which goes down to the crypt, and high above it stands the sanctuary, with an apse behind it with a mosaic of the Transfiguration against a gold background. The mystery of the scene is heightened by the special quality of the light, which enters through windows in the façade, the walls of the central nave, and the apse of the crypt.

The plan of the basilica followed the lines of the previous churches on that spot. By the door, the two towers were built over some chapels with mediaeval apses, now dedicated to the memory of Moses and Elijah; and in the crypt, although the original vault from the Crusades era was later covered with a mosaic, the altar is the original one and parts of the original masonry are still visible in the walls. In addition, a small grotto was recently discovered to the north of the church, under the spot which had been identified as the refectory of the mediaeval monastery. On its walls were some Greek inscriptions, and symbols including crosses, possibly traces of the Byzantine monks who once lived on Mount Tabor.

Jesus strengthens the Apostles’ faith
At the Transfiguration, Jesus showed his glory as God, and thus confirmed St Peter’s recent confession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16: 16; cf. Mk 8: 29 and Lk 9: 20). In this way he also strengthened the Apostles’ faith in advance, to face his coming Passion and Death (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 555 and 568), which he had already begun to announce to them (cf. Mt 16: 21; Mk 8:31; and Lk 9: 22). The presence of Moses and Elijah is highly significant: both of them “had seen God's glory on the Mountain; the Law and the Prophets had announced the Messiah’s sufferings” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 555). The Evangelists also tell that as Peter was still speaking, proposing to make three booths, “a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said,

‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’”
(Mt 17: 5; cf. Mk 9: 7; and Lk 9: 34-35).

Commenting on this passage, some Fathers of the Church underline the difference between the representatives of the Old Testament – Moses and Elijah – and Christ: “They are my servants, this is my Son (…) I love them, but this is my Beloved: therefore, listen to him (…) Moses and Elijah spoke of the Christ, but they are servants like you; this is the Lord, listen to him” (St Jerome, Commentary on St Mark’s Gospel, 6).

For Pope Benedict XVI, “This one command brings the theophany to its conclusion and sums up its deepest meaning. The disciples must accompany Jesus back down the mountain and learn ever anew to “listen to him” (Jesus of Nazareth. From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, London: Bloomsbury, 2007, p. 316).

Led by the hand of St Josemaria, we can see that this command, addressed to the disciples, also applies to every faithful Christian. “Meditate one by one on the scenes depicting Our Lord's life and teachings. Consider especially the counsels and warnings with which he prepared the handful of men who were to become his Apostles, his messengers from one end of the earth to the other” (Friends of God, no. 172). If we want to hear what Christ said, to find out what he taught, what he said and did, we have the Gospels (cf. Vatican II, Dei Verbum, nos 18-19). They give us what the Apostles preached after Christ’s Ascension, telling us the truth about Jesus and making him present to us. “Do you want to learn from Christ and follow the example of his life? – Open the Holy Gospels and listen to God in dialogue with men… with you” (The Forge, no. 322).

This dialogue requires, in the first place, listening attentively and meditatively: “It's not enough to have a general idea of the spirit of Jesus' life; we have to learn the details of his life and, through them, his attitudes. And, especially, we must contemplate his life, to derive from it strength, light, serenity, and peace. When you love someone, you want to know all about their life and character, so as to become like them. That is why we have to meditate on the life of Jesus, from his birth in a stable right up to his death and resurrection. In the early years of my life as a priest, I used to give people presents of copies of the Gospel and books about the life of Jesus. For we need to know it well, to have it in our heart and mind, so that at any time, without any book, we can close our eyes and contemplate his life, watching it like a movie. In this way the words and actions of our Lord will come to mind in all the different circumstances of our lives” (Christ is Passing By, no. 107).

Dialogue means responding
But dialogue also means that, after listening, we need to respond, because “it is not a matter of just thinking about Jesus, of recalling some scenes of his life. We must be completely involved and play a part in his life. We should follow him as closely as Mary his Mother did, as closely as the first twelve, the holy women, the crowds that pressed about him. If we do this without holding back, Christ's words will enter deep into our soul and will really change us” (Christ is Passing By, no. 107).

And together with following Christ and becoming one with him, we will feel the need to unite our will to his desire to save all souls, and we will be set on fire with zeal for apostolate: “I advised you to read the New Testament for some minutes every day, and to enter into each scene and take part in it, as one more of the characters. This is so that you incarnate the Gospel, so that it is ‘fulfilled’ in your life... and ‘make others fulfil it’” (Furrow, no. 672).

As we read the Gospel and try to meditate on it in our prayer, it will help us to ask the Holy Spirit for light, for him to come and help our desires. We can say, in St Josemaría’s words: “Lord, we are ready to heed whatever you want to tell us. Speak to us: we are attentive to your voice. May your words enkindle our will so that we launch out fervently to obey you” (Holy Rosary, Fourth Luminous Mystery).

See further:

Video about Mount Tabor by the Custody of the Holy Land
Custody of the Holy Land website]]>
<![CDATA[Coming back to the Faith and to happiness]]> Video. (Digito Identidad). A personal look at how we can find our faith through the example of our friends, taken from a DVD about marriage and family entitled “Take a chance on happiness”.

This video has been released containing very practical teachings of St Josemaría Escrivá on marriage and parenting which can help many couples living in the 21st Century,]]>
<![CDATA[14 Questions about the Family]]> What is a family? How can one become a good father or a good mother? What role does the family have in the children’s education and development? How can parents combine authority and freedom? How should families exercise trust and confidence in daily life?

“What is the family?” asked Pope Francis, and then answered, “Over and above its most pressing problems and its peremptory necessities, the family is a ‘centre of love’, where the law of respect and communion reigns and is able to resist the pressure of manipulation and domination from the world’s ‘power centres’. In the heart of the family, the person naturally and harmoniously blends into a human group, overcoming the false opposition between the individual and society.

In the bosom of the family, no one is set apart: both the elderly and the child will be welcome here. The culture of encounter and of dialogue, openness to solidarity and transcendence, originates in the family.

For this reason, the family constitutes a great and ‘rich social resource’. In this sense I would like to highlight two primary factors: stability and fruitfulness.”
Pope Francis, Message to the First Latin American Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Family, Panama City, August 4–9, 2014

The following are 14 answers offered by St Josemaria to questions about love in the family, family conflicts, parent-child relationships, raising children, and faith in the family.

1- How can we fill our family life with love?

2- How can one become a good father or a good mother?

3- Their surroundings influence children’s behaviour and attitudes. What role does the family play in the children’s education and development?

4- Many parents feel they don’t have time to spend with their children, or on family life. Women who work outside have all the care of the home as well; full-time homemakers can feel their horizons are too narrow. Where is the work-homelife balance to be found?

5- It’s not easy to raise children well. What is the key to it?

6- How can parents combine authority with giving children freedom?

7- What do trust and understanding between parents and children imply for daily life together?

8- Sometimes parents want to decide on their children’s career, who they marry, and even want to stop them from following God’s call to a life of dedication to the service of souls. Would it not be better to give children their freedom and let them grow up?

9- Everyone basically wants to have a stable family, peaceful family life. But in marriage and families there are inevitably daily frictions and sometimes major conflicts, differences of opinion and opposing ideas. How can these be overcome?

10- What should parents do when their children tell them they wish to dedicate their lives completely to God?

11- We have talked about parents so far. What about the children’s role in a family?

12- How is faith shown in the family?

13- How important is prayer for families?

14- Should families pray together?

1. How can we fill our family life with love?
When I think of Christian homes, I like to imagine them as being full of the light and joy that were in the home of the Holy Family. (…) Every Christian home should be a place of peace and serenity. In spite of the small frustrations of daily life, an atmosphere of profound and sincere affection should reign there together with a deep-rooted calm, which is the result of authentic faith that is put into practice.

Husband and wife are called to sanctify their married life and to sanctify themselves in it. It would be a serious mistake if they were to exclude family life from their spiritual development. The marriage union, the care and education of children, the effort to provide for the needs of the family as well as for its security and development, the relationships with other persons who make up the community, all these are among the ordinary human situations that Christian couples are called upon to sanctify. (…)

The aim is this: to sanctify family life, while creating at the same time a true family atmosphere. Many Christian virtues are necessary in order to sanctify each day of one's life. First, the theological virtues, and then all the others: prudence, loyalty, sincerity, humility, industriousness, cheerfulness....

Would you like to know a secret to happiness? Give yourself to others and serve them, without expecting to be thanked.

2. How can one become a good father or a good mother?
Parents teach their children mainly through their own conduct. What a son or daughter looks for in a father or mother is not only a certain amount of knowledge or some more or less effective advice, but primarily something more important: a proof of the value and meaning of life, shown through the life of a specific person, and confirmed in the different situations and circumstances that occur over a period of time.

If I were to give advice to parents, I would tell them, above all, let your children see that you are trying to live in accordance with your faith. Don't let yourselves be deceived: they see everything, from their earliest years, and they judge everything. Let them see that God is not only on your lips, but also in your deeds; that you are trying to be loyal and sincere, and that you love each other and you really love them too.

For me there is no clearer example of this practical union of justice and charity than the behaviour of mothers. They love all their children with the same degree of affection, and it is precisely this same love that impels them to treat each one differently, with an unequal justice, since each child is different from the others.

This is how you will best contribute to making your children become true Christians, men and women of integrity, capable of facing all life's situations with an open spirit, of serving their fellow men and helping to solve the problems of mankind, of carrying the testimony of Christ to the society of which they will be a part.

3. Their surroundings influence children’s behaviour and attitudes. What role does the family play in the children’s education and development?
The parents are the first people responsible for the education of their children, in human as well as in spiritual matters. They should be conscious of the extent of their responsibility. To fulfil it, they need prudence, understanding, a capacity to love and a concern for giving good example.

Imposing things by force, in an authoritarian manner, is not the right way to teach. The ideal attitude of parents lies more in becoming their children's friends – friends who will be willing to share their anxieties, who will listen to their problems, who will help them in an effective and agreeable way.

Being a father or a mother is not simply a matter of bringing children into the world. The capacity for generation, which is a share in the creative power of God, is meant to have a continuation. Parents are called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the development of their children into men and women who will be authentic Christians.

4. Many parents feel they don’t have time to spend with their children, or on family life. Women who work outside have all the care of the home as well; full-time homemakers can feel their horizons are too narrow. Where is the work-homelife balance to be found?
The problem you pose is not confined to women. At some time or other, many men experience the same sort of thing with slightly different characteristics. (…)

Smaller remedies, which seem trivial, must also be used. When there are lots of things to do you have to establish priorities, to get organised.

Parents should find time to spend with their children, to talk with them. They are the most important thing – more important than business or work or rest.

In their conversations, parents should make an effort to listen, to pay attention, to understand, to recognize the fact that their children are sometimes partly right – or even completely right – in some of their rebellious attitudes. At the same time, they should help their children to direct their efforts and to carry out their projects properly, teaching them to consider things and to reason them out. It is not a matter of imposing a line of conduct, but rather of showing the human and supernatural motives for it. In a word, parents have to respect their children's freedom, because there is no real education without personal responsibility, and there is no responsibility without freedom.

5. It’s not easy to raise children well. What is the key to it?
It is a question of trust. Parents should bring up their children in an atmosphere of friendship.

Listen to your children. Give them your time, even the time that you have reserved for yourselves. Show them your confidence; believe whatever they tell you, even if sometimes they try to deceive you. Don't be afraid when they rebel, because, at their age, you yourselves were more or less rebellious. Go to meet them half-way and pray for them. If you act in this Christian manner, they will come to you with simplicity, instead of trying to satisfy their legitimate curiosity by taking it to some rough or vulgar friend.

Your confidence, your friendly dealings with your children, will receive an answer in their sincerity in dealing with you. Then, even if there are quarrels and lack of understanding, they will never amount to much; and this is what peace in the family and a truly Christian life mean.

6. How can parents combine authority with giving children freedom?
I always advise parents to try to be friends with their children. The parental authority which the rearing of children requires can be perfectly harmonised with friendship, which means putting themselves, in some way, on the same level as their children.

Children – even those who seem intractable and unresponsive – always want this closeness, this fraternity, with their parents. It is a question of trust. Parents should bring up their children in an atmosphere of friendship, never giving the impression that they do not trust them. They should give them freedom and teach them how to use it with personal responsibility.

It is better for parents to let themselves 'be fooled' once in a while, because the trust that they have shown will make the children themselves feel ashamed of having abused it – they will correct themselves. On the other hand, if they have no freedom, if they see that no one trusts them, they will always be inclined to deceive their parents.

Since in matters which are open to opinion no one can claim to be in possession of absolute truth, friendly and loving relations offer a real opportunity for learning from others what they can teach us. All the members of the family can learn something from the others if they want to.

It is not Christian, nor even human, for a family to be divided over such matters. When the value of freedom is fully understood and the divine gift of freedom is passionately loved, the pluralism that freedom brings with it is also loved.

7. What do trust and understanding between parents and children imply for daily life together?
This friendship, this knowing how to put oneself on the children's level, makes it easier for them to talk about their small problems; it also makes it possible for the parents to be the ones who teach them gradually about the origin of life, in accordance with their mentality and capacity to understand, gently anticipating their natural curiosity.

I consider this very important. There is no reason why children should associate sex with something sinful, or find out about something that is in itself noble and holy in a vulgar conversation with a friend. It can also be an important step in strengthening the friendship between parents and children, preventing a separation in the early moments of their moral life.

Parents should also endeavour to stay young at heart so as to find it easier to react sympathetically towards the noble aspirations and even towards the extravagant fantasies of their youngsters. Life changes, and there are many new things which we may not like. Perhaps, objectively speaking, they are no better than others that have gone before, but they are not bad. They are simply other ways of living and nothing more.
On more than one occasion conflicts may arise because importance is attached to petty differences which could be overcome with a little common sense and good humour.

8. Sometimes parents want to decide on their children’s career, who they marry, and even want to stop them from following God’s call to a life of dedication to the service of souls. Would it not be better to give children their freedom and let them grow up?
EIn the final analysis, it is clear that the decisions that determine the course of an entire life have to be taken by each individual personally, with freedom, without coercion or pressure of any kind.

This is not to say that the intervention of others is not usually necessary. Precisely because they are decisive steps that affect an entire life and because a person's happiness depends to a great extent on the decisions made, it is clear that they should be taken calmly, without precipitation. They should be particularly responsible and prudent decisions. And part of prudence consists precisely in seeking advice. It would be presumption – for which we usually pay dearly – to think that we can decide alone, without the grace of God and without the love and guidance of other people, and especially of our parents.

Parents can, and should, be a great help to their children. They can open new horizons for them, share their experiences and make them reflect, so they do not allow themselves to be carried away by passing emotional experiences. They can offer them a realistic scale of value. Sometimes they can help with personal advice; on other occasions they should encourage their children to seek other suitable people such as a loyal and sincere friend, a learned and holy priest or an expert in career guidance.

Advice does not take away freedom. It gives elements on which to judge and thus enlarges the possibilities of choice and ensures that decisions are not taken on the basis of irrational factors. After hearing the opinions of others and taking everything into consideration, there comes a moment in which a choice has to be made and then no one has the right to force a young person's freedom.
Parents have to be on guard against the temptation of wanting to project themselves unduly on their children or of moulding them according to their own preferences. They should respect their individual God-given inclinations and aptitudes. If their love is true, this is easy enough. Even in the extreme case, when a young person makes a decision that the parents have good reason to consider mistaken and when they think it will lead to future unhappiness, the answer lies not in force, but in understanding. Very often it consists in knowing how to stand by their child so as to help him overcome the difficulties and, if necessary, draw all the benefit possible from an unfortunate situation.

9. Everyone basically wants to have a stable family, peaceful family life. But in marriage and families there are inevitably daily frictions and sometimes major conflicts, differences of opinion and opposing ideas. How can these be overcome?
I have only one prescription: strive to live together in harmony and to understand and pardon each other.

Let's be frank – the normal thing is for the family to be united. There may be friction and differences, but that's quite normal In a certain sense it even adds flavour to our daily life. These problems are insignificant, time always takes care of them. What remains firm is love, a true and sincere love which comes from being generous and which brings with it a concern for one another, and which enables the members of the family to sense each other's difficulties and offer tactful solutions. Because this is the normal thing, the vast majority of people understand me perfectly when they hear me say (I have been repeating it since the 1920s) that the fourth commandment of the Decalogue is a 'most sweet precept'.

The problem is an old one although perhaps it arises now more frequently or more acutely because of the rapid evolution that characterises modern society. It is perfectly understandable and natural that young and older people should see things differently. This has always been the case. The surprising thing would be if a teenager were to think just as an adult does. We all felt a tendency to rebel against our elders when we began to form our own judgement autonomously. But we have come to understand, with the passing of the years, that our parents were right in many things in which they were guided by their experience and their love. That is why it is up to the parents to make the first move. They have already passed through this stage. It is up to them to be very understanding, to have flexibility and good humour, avoiding any possible conflicts simply by being affectionate and farsighted.

10. What should parents do when their children tell them they wish to dedicate their lives completely to God?
After giving their advice and suggestions, parents who sincerely love and seek the good of their children should step tactfully into the background so that nothing can stand in the way of the great gift of freedom that makes man capable of loving and serving God. They should remember that God himself has wanted to be loved and served with freedom and He always respects our personal decisions. Scripture tells us: 'When God created man, He made him subject to his own free choice' (Sir 15:14).

I think Catholic parents who do not understand this type of vocation have failed in their mission of forming a Christian family. They probably are not aware of the dignity that Christianity gives to their vocation to marriage. But my experience in Opus Dei is very positive. I often tell the members of the Work that they owe ninety per cent of their vocation to their parents because they have known how to educate their children and have taught them to be generous. I can assure you that in the vast majority of cases, practically in all, the parents respect and love their children's decision. They immediately see the Work as an extension of their own family. It is one of my greatest joys and yet another proof that in order to be very divine you have to be very human as well.

11. We have talked about parents so far. What about the children’s role in a family?
The children also have to play their part. Young people are always capable of getting enthusiastic about great undertakings, high ideals, and anything that is genuine. They must be helped to understand the simple, natural and often unappreciated beauty of their parents' lives. Children should come to realise, little by little, the sacrifice their parents have made for them, the often heroic self-denial that has gone into raising the family. They should also learn not to over-dramatise, not to think themselves misunderstood nor to forget that they will always be in debt to their parents. And as they will never be able to repay what they owe, their response should be to treat their parents with veneration and grateful filial love.

12. How is faith shown in the family?
The virtues of faith and hope [are exercised by] facing serenely all the great and small problems which confront any family, and persevering in the love and enthusiasm with which they fulfil their duties.

In this way they practice the virtue of charity in all things. They learn to smile and forget about themselves in order to pay attention to others. Husband and wife will listen to each other and to their children, showing them that they are really loved and understood. They will forget about the unimportant little frictions that selfishness could magnify out of proportion. They will do lovingly all the small acts of service that make up their daily life together.

13. How important is prayer for families?
I think it is precisely the best way to give children a truly Christian upbringing. Scripture tells us about those early Christian families which drew new strength and new life from the light of the Gospel. St Paul calls them 'the Church in the household' (1 Cor 16:19).

Experience shows in all Christian environments what good effects come from this natural and supernatural introduction to the life of piety given in the warmth of the home. Children learn to place God first and foremost in their affections. They learn to see God as their Father and Mary as their Mother and they learn to pray following their parents' example. In this way one can easily see what a wonderful apostolate parents have and how it is their duty to live a fully Christian life of prayer, so they can communicate their love of God to their children, which is something more than just teaching them.

14. Should families pray together?
Customs vary from place to place, but I think that one should always encourage some acts of piety which the family can do together in a simple and natural fashion.
How can they go about this? They have excellent means in the few, short, daily religious practices that have always been lived in Christian families and which I think are marvellous: grace at meals, morning and night prayers, the Holy Rosary (…).

This is the way to ensure that God is not regarded as a stranger whom we go to see in the church once a week on Sunday. He will be seen and treated as He really is, not only in church but also at home, because our Lord has told us, 'Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them' (Matt 18:20).

I still pray aloud the bedside prayers I learnt as a child from my mother's lips, and I say so with the pride and gratitude of a son. They bring me closer to God and make me feel the love with which I learned to take my first steps as a Christian. And as I offer to God the day that is beginning, or thank Him for the day that is drawing to a close, I ask him to increase, in heaven, the happiness of those whom I especially love and to unite us there forever.

The above quotations were selected mainly from the book Conversations with Msgr. Escriva de Balaguer, a collection of interviews with St Josemaria published between 1966 and 1968 in Le Figaro, The New York Times, Time, L'Osservatore della Domenica, Telva, Gaceta Universitaria and Palabra; and from “Marriage, a Christian Vocation” from the book Christ is Passing By.

For further reading on the subject, see:
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos 2232-2233.
- 10 questions about marriage.
- Letter to families from Pope John Paul II.
- Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio
<![CDATA[Saxum, a peace project ]]>

Inspired by Saint Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, Saxum will help pilgrims to the Holy Land to enter into the life of Christ so that "we can close our eyes and contemplate his life, watching it like a movie".

The Saxum project is a worldwide fundraising effort to build a Conference Center in which spiritual retreats, workshops and conferences will be organized, as well as a Multimedia Resource Center where pilgrims will have access to information for their sojourn in the Holy Land.

The center will offer interactive and multimedia resources that will highlight the Christian heritage and the Jewish roots of the faith. Its aim is to provide people of different religions with a good foundation for visiting and understanding the holy sites.

Construction began in November, 2013, as soon as the minimum necessary financial resources had been secured. It could be completed as early as December 2015.

Blessed Alvaro
St Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, longed to visit the Holy Land during his lifetime, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. According to his first successor, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, “he had a great desire to go [there]; he prayed as though taking part in the Gospel scenes, he took note of the details, but since he had not been there, he recreated the landscape as best he could from what he had studied and from what he read.”

His desire to visit the Holy Land also extended to all his spiritual children in Opus Dei and their families and friends, who he wished could have the opportunity in their lifetimes “to pray on, kneel on and kiss the soil which Jesus trod upon.”

In 1994, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo made a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He undertook the pilgrimage in thanksgiving for his 80th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. However, the pilgrimage resulted in a bittersweet memory. Bishop del Portillo celebrated his last Holy Mass in the Church of the Cenacle in Jerusalem and died the following day in Rome.

That same year, in memory of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo, the Prelature of Opus Dei, together with cooperators and friends, initiated the project to establish the Saxum Conference Center and Saxum Multimedia Resource Center in the Holy Land. The name Saxum, which means ‘rock’ in Latin, pays homage to the nickname given to Blessed Alvaro del Portillo by St Josemaria for his great fidelity to and fortitude in his work, his vocation, and service to the Church.

In 1995, the Association for Cultural Interchange Inc. undertook the search for a site to develop the Saxum project.

Currently, Palestinians, Jews, Christians and others are all working together on the building of Saxum.]]>
<![CDATA[No job prospects]]> I was unemployed for a very long time and with no job prospects. At a given moment I found the prayer to St Josemaria and decided to entrust my petitions to him. I prayed through his intercession every day. After two months, Jesus granted me the grace to get a job in my field of work.
<![CDATA[Distinction]]> Thanks to St. Josemaria’s intercession I managed to complete my Masters degree and was awarded a Distinction. I hope for his miraculous intercession for the other favors I am begging of him.
<![CDATA[2013.1.25]]> The feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul is celebrated by the Church today. Saint Josemaría wrote about Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, [...]]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis gives tips to families, married couples and even children]]> Video. (Rome Reports). The Pope gave quite a few headliners when he addressed families in the Philippines. He started off with giving the crowd a few tips on happiness. Among them-don't stop dreaming! They were off the cuff remarks he said in Spanish. ]]> <![CDATA[Our Lady of Peace, the prelatic church of Opus Dei]]> Video. On January 24 is celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Peace.]]> <![CDATA[AUDIO]]> "The richness of ordinary life", a homily published in the book Friends of God.]]> <![CDATA[AUDIO]]> “The Christian's Hope”, a homily published in the book Friends of God.]]>