I could not stay passive

James Burfitt, Professor. Sydney, Australia

December 9, 2002

I was born in a Catholic family and even though I got to know about Opus Dei when I was young, I was never interested in it. I had already started to work when, thanks to my brother, I went to a spiritual retreat. I started to go to classes of Christian formation and I rediscovered the possibility of having a life of relationship with God. I realized that God had given me a lot and that I had to correspond to that. Saint Josemaria was my teacher. While I was reading his books I had the impression that they were written for me and I started to discover that I could not stay passive. I started to wish that I could love God passionately and I discovered my vocation to Opus Dei. Presently I am a husband and a father first and foremost, and an educator after that.

Talking to God in the streets of Madrid

Cristina Rubio, lawyer and homemaker, Madrid, Spain

December 7, 2002

Every morning I have to think how I’m going to organize myself and when I’m going to pray, because it is from my relationship and my conversation with God that I can find the strength and joy to focus on what lies ahead of me. I have seen the reality of Saint Josemaria’s words: “Here is an effective custom for achieving presence of God: your first appointment every day should be with Jesus Christ.” Sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to do mental prayer. When that happens I use the time I spend in the car. I listen to an audio-cassette of points for meditation from The Forge, and that helps me to concentrate, so that I can talk to God while I am driving through the streets of Madrid.

Saturday morning catechism

Marcelo Sheppard, college student

December 4, 2002

College students with a good grasp of the Christian faith go to districts in the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, to teach catechism to children and young people. As time goes by, as well as recalling episodes from their classes, they realise that they themselves are the ones who have benefited the most.

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A lifelong Yes

Fr Jesus Urteaga, priest and writer, Spain

December 4, 2002

Extract from an interview with Zenit in 2003

Zenit: Would you say that people today find it hard to commit themselves, hard to say yes?
Urteaga: Definitely. I find people very soft. But at the same time there are plenty of people doing plenty of positive things. The sort of “Yes” we’re talking about is made up of daily sacrifice and self-surrender, and sometimes that demands great generosity. But it’s worth while. In the evening, when you examine your conscience on what you’ve done that day, you can have a great sense of achievement. All those “Yeses” add up to a lot.

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Was I born for something in particular?

Edward, river-boat pilot, Kazakhstan

December 3, 2002

My earliest childhood memories are of living in a small yurt (Kazakh tent) on the steppe, in a family of shepherds. On hot days in June I used to like to lie on the cool banks of the River Volga and think about life, asking myself questions, while I looked over the top of the yurt at the birds flying high up in the sky.

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S is for Suffering

Dr. Tshilolo, pediatrician and hematologist, director of Monkole Hospital, D. R. Congo.

December 2, 2002

In Congo, there is a hereditary blood disease that affects close to 2% of newborn babies, which is called Drepanocytic Anemia or Sickle Cell Anemia (SSA). This disease is characterized principally by bouts of pain, severe anemia and serious infections, and has a very high mortality rate, especially among newborns.

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One day I too received the gift of a vocation

Irene de Santos, craftswoman and mother of nine, San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Guatemala

December 2, 2002

I came across Opus Dei through a letter that arrived at our local school about the Zunil School of Home and Hotel Management. My daughter Mirna was interested. We went to visit the school, we liked it and she decided to study there. Then the Christian renewal of the whole family started. I never thought I could be a member of Opus Dei. I watched our Lord calling each one of my daughters and for me it was like a dream. I saw that they were happy, helpful, hard-working… Until one day, I too received the gift of a vocation from God. Because the members of Opus Dei are people called by God. I have given myself to God, and it’s hard to live this self-giving every day; but I have learnt from Saint Josemaria that it’s here in the middle of the world, in the things of every day, where we are earning our sanctification, because to earn heaven is not easy, it’s difficult, but God helps us.

God is not to be sought in the clouds

Aleksandr Zorin, poet and member of the Russian Union of Writers

December 2, 2002

Escriva refutes the persistent cliché according to which family life and work are mutually exclusive spheres from which we supposedly drop out, exhausted, like a spent shell. Relentlessly optimistic, this author of best-selling books full of useful lessons, reminded us in the 20th century that public and private life can be transformed into service and defend the highest values on the road to eternal life. It is no accident that the Work of God has thousands of members around the world.

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In The Way I found the answer to many things I hadn’t understood before

Carlos Bordolli of Uruguay recounts his journey from atheism to faith, begun when a coincidence brought St. Josemaria’s book The Way into his hands.

December 1, 2002

What can I say about Msgr. Escriva and Opus Dei? I can’t begin to put it into words without first giving a bit of my history. I was born in the year of Maracana, on the day of Maracana. (Ed. Note: Uruguay beat Brazil in the 1950 World Cup finals at Maracana, a 200,000 seat stadium built in Brazil for the tournament.) They baptized me in front of the Uruguayan Soccer Association, in the Parish of Cordón, at the moment of the final party. It was all orchestrated by my Italian grandmother, Dofia Annunziata Molinari of Fattoruso. But in my parent’s house, they had closed the door on God.

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I had never been to anything like it in my life

Julius Ogallo, Mechanical Engineer, Nairobi, Kenya

December 1, 2002

A friend invited me to go to a morning of recollection. I had never been to anything like that in my whole life… I started to read the Gospel and to pray with The Way. It was a totally different world. One of the ideas that had impressed me is the advice that lay people should read the Gospel. Now I see that the reason that Saint Josemaria gave it has a lot of sense: it is about having a clear image of our Lord, and imagining what He would do in the different circumstances of our life. In the apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte it says, “the paths to holiness are personal and call for a genuine training in holiness adapted to people’s needs”. That is exactly what I have found in the formational activities offered by Opus Dei.

At age 35 the wheelchair came into my life

Susana Chavez, Buenos Aires, Argentina

December 1, 2002

I rediscovered the value of living in the grace of God from the teachings of the Founder of Opus Dei.
Years ago I saw a filmed encounter with the Founder of Opus Dei in the Teatro Coliseo in Buenos Aires, and I still remember the impact made on me by a question from a woman in a wheelchair. I felt totally identified with her because, like me, in that situation she wanted to know what people with disabilities could do for Opus Dei, apart from praying and offering up our limitations to God.

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I realized that I could be a good Christian, a football fan and a party member

Jorge Barrera, lawyer and member of parliament, Uruguay

November 1, 2002

I have to acknowledge the fact that I come from a very idealistic family. I was born and brought up in politics, and arguing about ideas and ideals has always been part of my life. I’ve always considered myself an idealist, and so I defend the conviction instilled in me by my parents, that life has a meaning if you are committed to an ideal.

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