2.26.2017

St. Josemaria on Trials and Adversity


Everything may collapse and fail. Events may turn out contrary to what was expected and great adversity may come. But nothing is to be gained by being perturbed. Furthermore, remember the confident prayer of the prophet: "The Lord is our judge, the Lord gives us our laws, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us." Say it devoutly every day, so that your behavior may agree with the designs of Providence, which governs us for our own good. (Furrow, 855)

And if we are waylaid, assaulted by the temptation of discouragement, opposition, struggle, tribulation, a new dark night of the soul, the psalmist places on our lips and in our minds these words: 'I am with him in the time of trial.' Jesus, compared to your Cross, of what value is mine? Alongside your wounds, what are my little scratches? Compared with your Love, so immense and pure and infinite, of what value is this tiny little sorrow which you have placed upon my shoulders? And your hearts, and mine, become filled with a holy hunger and we confess to him — with deeds — that 'we die of Love.'

A thirst for God is born in us, a longing to understand his tears, to see his smile, his face... The best way to express this, I would say, is to repeat with Scripture: 'Like the deer that seeks for running waters, so my heart yearns for thee, my God!' The soul goes forward immersed in God, divinized: the Christian becomes a thirsty traveler who opens his mouth to the waters of the fountain.

Along with this self‑surrender, our apostolic zeal is enkindled and grows day by day; it also sets others on fire with its desire, because goodness is diffusive. It is not possible for our poor nature to be so close to God and not be fired with hunger to sow joy and peace throughout the world, to spread everywhere the redeeming waters that flow from Christ's open side, and to begin and end everything we do for Love.

I was speaking before about sorrow and suffering and tears. Without contradicting what I said then, I can affirm that the disciple who lovingly seeks the Master finds that sadness, worries and afflictions now taste very differently: they disappear as soon as we truly accept God's Will, as soon as we carry out his plans gladly, as faithful children of his, even though our nerves may seem to be at breaking point and the pain impossible to bear. (Friends of God, 310-311)

A Tribute to My Wife Caroline Ikazoboh

St. Josemaria on Giving Yourself Completely to Christ


It is Peter who speaks: Lord, do You wash my feet? Jesus answers: You do not understand what I am doing now; you will understand it later. Peter insists: You will never wash my feet. And Jesus explains: If I do not wash your feet, you will have no part with me. Simon Peter surrenders: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Faced by the call to total self-giving, complete and without any hesitation, we often oppose it with false modesty like Peter's ... May we also be men with a heart like the Apostle's! Peter allows no one to love Jesus more than he does. That love leads us to reply thus: Here I am! Wash me, head, hands and feet! Purify me completely, for I want to give myself to You without holding anything back. (Furrow, 266)

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).

And all the crowd gathered about him, and he taught them (Mark 2:13).

Jesus sees the boats on the shore and gets into one of them. How naturally Jesus steps into the boat of each and everyone of us! When you seek to draw close to our Lord, remember that he is always very close to you, that he is in you: regnum Dei intra vos est (Luke 17:21). The kingdom of God is within you. You will find him in your heart.

Christ should reign first and foremost in our soul. But in order for him to reign in me, I need his abundant grace. Only in that way can my every heartbeat and breath, my least intense look, my most ordinary word, my most basic feeling be transformed into a hosanna to Christ my King.

'Duc in altum. Put out into deep water!' Throw aside the pessimism that makes a coward of you. And pay out your nets for a catch!

We have to place our trust in our Lord's words: get into the boat, take the oars, hoist the sails and launch out into this sea of the world which Christ gives us as an inheritance.

Et regni ejus non erit finis. His kingdom will have no end. Doesn't it fill you with joy to work for such a kingdom?

Work and Family

Sanctifying with our Work

2.25.2017

St. Josemaria on Simplicity and Naturalness


Many things, whether they be material, technical, economic, social, political or cultural, when left to themselves, or left in the hands of those who lack the light of the faith, become formidable obstacles to the supernatural life. They form a sort of closed shop which is hostile to the Church.
You, as a Christian and, perhaps, as a research worker, writer, scientist, politician or labourer, have the duty to sanctify those things. Remember that the whole universe - as the Apostle says - is groaning as in the pangs of labor, awaiting the liberation of the children of God. (Furrow, 311)

I have often spoken of it before, but let me insist once again on the naturalness and simplicity of St Joseph's life, which was in no way remote from that of his neighbors, and which raised no artificial obstacles to his dealings with them.

So, though it may be proper to some periods or situations, I do not like to talk of catholic workers, catholic engineers, catholic doctors and so on, as if describing a species within a genus, as if Catholics formed a little group separate from others. That creates the impression that there is a chasm between Christians and the rest of society. While respecting the contrary opinion, I think it more correct to speak of workers who are Catholics, or Catholics who are workers or engineers. For a man of faith who practices a profession, whether intellectual, technical or manual, feels himself and is in fact at one with others; he is the same as others, with the same rights and obligations, the same desire to improve, the same interest in facing and solving common problems.

The Catholic who is prepared to live in this way will, through his daily life, give a proof of his faith, hope and charity: a simple and normal testimony without need of pomp and circumstance. The vitality of his life will show the constant presence of the Church in the world, since all Catholics are themselves the Church, because they are members in their own right of the one People of God. (Christ is passing by, 53)

Message for Lent 2017

2.24.2017

St. Josemaria on the Hope of Christ


"It is a time of hope, and I live off this treasure. It is not just a phrase, Father," you tell me, "it is reality." Well then ..., bring the whole world, all the human values which attract you so very strongly - friendship, the arts, science, philosophy, theology, sport, nature, culture, souls - bring all of this within that hope: the hope of Christ. (Furrow, 293)

Wherever we may be, Our Lord urges us to be vigilant. His plea should lead us to hope more strongly in our desires for holiness and to translate them into deeds. 'Give me your heart, my son' [1], he seems to whisper in our ear. Stop building castles in the air. Make up your mind to open your soul to God, for only in Our Lord will you find a real basis for your hope and for doing good to others. If we don't fight against ourselves; if we don't rebuff once and for all the enemies lodged within our interior fortress — pride, envy, the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes, self‑sufficiency, and the wild craving for licentiousness; if we abandon this inner struggle, our noblest ideals will wither 'like the bloom on the grass; and when the scorching sun comes up the grass withers, and the bloom falls, and all its fair show dies away'. Then, all you need is a tiny crevice and discouragement and gloom will creep in, like encroaching poisonous weeds.

Jesus is not satisfied with a wavering assent. He expects, and has a right to expect, that we advance resolutely, unyielding in the face of difficulties. He demands that we take firm, specific steps; because, as a rule, general resolutions are just fallacious illusions, created to silence the divine call which sounds within our hearts. They produce a futile flame that neither burns nor gives warmth, but dies out as suddenly as it began.

You will convince me that you sincerely want to achieve your goals when I see you go forward unwaveringly. Do good and keep reviewing your basic attitudes to the jobs that occupy you each moment. Practice the virtue of justice, right where you are, in your normal surroundings, even though you may end up exhausted. Foster happiness among those around you by cheerfully serving the people you work with and by striving to carry out your job as perfectly as you can, showing understanding, smiling, having a Christian approach to life. And do everything for God, thinking of his glory, with your sights set high and longing for the definitive homeland, because there is no other goal worthwhile. (Friends of God, 211)

Walking Towards Christ

St. Josemaria on Being a Good Citizen


It is not true that there is opposition between being a good Catholic and serving civil society faithfully. In the same way there is no reason why the Church and the State should clash when they proceed with the lawful exercise of their respective authorities, in fulfillment of the mission God has entrusted to them. Those who affirm the contrary are liars, yes, liars! They are the same people who honour a false liberty, and ask us Catholics "to do them the favour" of going back to the catacombs. (Furrow 301)

You must foster everywhere a genuine 'lay outlook', which will lead to three conclusions: be sufficiently honest, so as to shoulder one's own personal responsibility; be sufficiently Christian, so as to respect those brothers in the Faith who, in matters of free discussion, propose solutions which differ from those which each one of us maintains; and be sufficiently Catholic so as not to use our Mother the Church, involving her in human factions.

It is obvious that, in this field as in all others, you would not be able to carry out this program of sanctifying your everyday life if you did not enjoy all the freedom which proceeds from your dignity as men and women created in the image of God and which the Church freely recognizes. Personal freedom is essential to the Christian life. But do not forget, my children, that I always speak of a responsible freedom.

Interpret, then, my words as what they are: a call to exercise your rights every day, and not merely in time of emergency. A call to fulfill honorably your commitments as citizens, in all fields — in politics and in financial affairs, in university life and in your job — accepting with courage all the consequences of your free decisions and the personal independence which corresponds to each one of you. A Christian 'lay outlook' of this sort will enable you to flee from all intolerance, from all fanaticism. To put it in a positive way, it will help you to live in peace with all your fellow citizens, and to promote this understanding and harmony in all spheres of social life. (Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá, 117)

Lent with Blessed Alvaro

St. Josemaria on Sincerity of Life


Acquire the habit of speaking about everyone and about everything they do in a friendly manner, especially when you are speaking of those who labor in God's service. Whenever that is not possible, keep quiet. Sharp or irritated comment may border on gossip or slander. (Furrow, 902)

Take another look over your life and ask forgiveness for this or that fault which you notice immediately with the eyes of your conscience: for using your tongue badly; for thoughts that revolve continually around yourself; for those critical judgments you made and consented to and which now cause you to worry foolishly, leaving you restless and fretful. Believe me you can be very happy! Our Lord wants us to be glad, to be drunk with joy, stepping out along the same roads of happiness that he himself walked! We only become miserable when we persist in straying off those roads, and take the path of selfishness and sensuality or, much worse, when we take the path of the hypocrites.

The Christian must prove himself to be genuine, truthful and sincere in all that he undertakes. His conduct should reflect a spirit — the spirit of Christ. If anyone in this world has a duty to be consistent with his beliefs it is the Christian, for he has been entrusted with a gift that he must make fruitful, and that gift is the truth which liberates and saves. But Father, you might ask me, how I am to achieve this sincerity of life? Jesus Christ has given his Church all the means necessary. He has shown us how to pray, how to get to know his heavenly Father. He has sent us his spirit, the Great Unknown, who acts within our souls. And he has left us those visible signs of his grace that we call the Sacraments. Use them. Intensify your life of piety. Pray every day. And never refuse to shoulder the sweet burden of Christ's Cross.

It is Jesus who has invited you to follow him like a good disciple so that you can journey through this earthly life, sowing the peace and joy which the world cannot give. Therefore — and let me emphasize this once more — we have to walk without fear of life and without fear of death, without shrinking at any cost from pain and sorrow which, for a Christian, are always a means of purification and a chance for showing that we really love our fellow men, through the thousand and one circumstances of ordinary life. (Friends of God, 141)

Elderly priest beaten at his home in Spain by masked men

Saxum Around the World

Reflections on the Legacy of Opus Dei Prelate Bishop Javier Echevarria’s Recent Passing

2.19.2017

St. Josemaria on Prayer


If you really want to be a penitent soul - both penitent and cheerful - you must above all stick to your daily periods of prayer, which should be fervent, generous and not cut short. And you must make sure that those minutes of prayer are not done only when you feel the need, but at fixed times, whenever it is possible. Don't neglect these details. If you subject yourself to this daily worship of God, I can assure you that you will be always happy. (Furrow, 994)

When I see how some people set about the life of piety, which is the way a Christian should approach his Lord, and I find them presenting such an unattractive picture, all theory and formulas, plagued with soulless chanting, better suited to anonymity than to a personal, one to One, conversation with God Our Father (genuine vocal prayer is never anonymous), then I am reminded of Our Lord's words: 'When you are at prayer, do not use many phrases, like the heathens, who think to make themselves heard by their eloquence. You are not to be like them; your heavenly Father knows well what your needs are before you ask him.' A Father of the Church comments on this passage as follows: 'I understand from this that Christ is telling us to avoid long prayers, not long as regards time but as regards the endless multiplicity of words... For Our Lord himself set us the example of the widow who, by dint of supplication, conquered the resistance of the unjust judge; and the other example of the inconsiderate individual who arrives late at night and who, through insistence more than friendship, gets his friend out of bed (cf Luke 11:5‑8; 18:1‑8). With these two examples, he is telling us to ask constantly, not by composing endless prayers, but rather telling him of our needs with simplicity.'

In any case, if on beginning your meditation you don't succeed in concentrating your attention so as to be able to talk with God; if you feel dry and your mind seems incapable of expressing a single idea, or your affections remain dull, my advice is that you try to do what I have always tried to do on such occasions: put yourselves in the presence of your Father and tell him this much at least: 'Lord, I don't know how to pray. I can't think of anything to tell you.' You can be sure that at that very moment you have already begun to pray. (Friends of God, 145)

Priestly Society of the Holy Cross

2.18.2017

St. Josemaria on Trusting in God


Jesus prays in the garden. Pater mi (Matt 26:39), Abba Pater! (Mark 14:36). God is my Father, even though he may send me suffering. He loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. Jesus suffers, to fulfill the Will of the Father... And I, who also wish to fulfill the most holy Will of God, following in the footsteps of the Master, can I complain if I too meet suffering as my traveling companion? It will be a sure sign of my sonship, because God is treating me as he treated his own Divine Son. Then I, just as He did, will be able to groan and weep alone in my Gethsemani; but, as I lie prostrate on the ground, acknowledging my nothingness, there will rise up to the Lord a cry from the depths of my soul: Pater mi, Abba, Pater,... fiat! (Way of the Cross, First Station, No. 1)

For reasons that I need not go into now (but which Jesus, who is presiding over us here from the Tabernacle, knows full well) my life has led me to realize in a special way that I am a son of God and I have experienced the joy of getting inside the heart of my Father, to rectify, to purify myself, to serve him, to understand others and find excuses for them, on the strength of his love and my own lowliness.

This is why I want to insist now that you and I need to be made anew, we need to wake up from the slumber of feebleness by which we are so easily lulled and to become aware once again, in a deeper and more immediate way, of our condition as children of God.

The example of Jesus, every detail of his life in those Eastern lands, will help us to fill ourselves with this truth. 'If we admit the testimony of men,' we read in today's Epistle, 'the testimony of God is greater.' And what does God's testimony consist of? Again St John tells us: 'See how God has shown his love towards us; that we should be counted as his sons, should be his sons... Beloved, we are sons of God even now.'

Over the years, I have sought to rely unfalteringly for my support on this joyous reality. No matter what the situation, my prayer, while varying in tone, has always been the same. I have said to him: 'Lord, You put me here. You entrusted me with this or that, and I put my trust in you. I know you are my Father, and I have seen that tiny children are always absolutely sure of their parents.' My priestly experience tells me that abandonment such as this in the hands of God stimulates souls to acquire a strong, deep and serene piety, which drives them to work constantly and with an upright intention. (Friends of God, 143)

PODCAST | Connecting With Christ Through Humility

St. Josemaria on Being a Priestly Soul


You say that you are now beginning to understand what a priestly soul means. Don't be annoyed with me if I tell you that the facts show that you only realize it in theory. Every day the same things happens to you: at night time, during the examination, it is all desire and resolutions; during the morning and afternoon at work, it is all objections and excuses. Are you in this way living a "holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ?" (Furrow, 499)

In the Church there is equality, because once baptized we are all equal, all children of the same God, our Father. There is no difference as Christians between the Pope and someone who has just joined the Church. But this radical equality does not mean that we can change the constitution of the Church in those things that were established by Christ. By expressed divine will there are different functions which imply different capacities, an indelible character conferred on the sacred ministers by the Sacrament of Orders. At the summit of this order is Peter's successor and, with him, and under him, all the bishops with the triple mission of sanctifying, governing and teaching.

Forgive me for being so insistent, but I must remind you again that the truths of the faith are not determined by majority vote. They make up the depositum fidei: the body of truths left by Christ to all of the faithful and entrusted to the Magisterium of the Church to be authentically taught and set forth.

It would be an error to think that since men seem to have become more aware of the bonds of mutual solidarity that unite them, we ought to change the constitution of the Church as if it needed updating. The times do not belong to men whether ecclesiastics or not. The times are God's, who is the Lord of history. And the Church can bring salvation to souls only if she remains faithful to Christ in her constitution and teaching, both dogmatic and moral. (In love with the Church, 30-31)

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OPUS DEI GETS NEW PRELATE

St. Josemaria on the Contributions of Women


My daughter, you have set up a home. I like to remind you that you women - as you well know - have a great strength, which you know how to enfold within a special gentleness, so that it is not noticed. With that strength, you can make your husband and children instruments of God, or demons. You will always make them instruments of God: he is counting on your help. (The Forge, 690)

Women are called to bring to the family, to society and to the Church, characteristics which are their own and which they alone can give: their gentle warmth and untiring generosity, their love for detail, their quick‑wittedness and intuition, their simple and deep piety, their constancy... A woman's femininity is genuine only if she is aware of the beauty of this contribution for which there is no substitute and if she incorporates it into her own life.

To fulfil this mission, a woman has to develop her own personality and not let herself be carried away by a naive desire to imitate, which, as a rule, would tend to put her in an inferior position and leave her unique qualities unfulfilled. If she is a mature person, with a character and mind of her own, she will indeed accomplish the mission to which she feels called, whatever it may be. Her life and work will be really constructive, fruitful and full of meaning, whether she spends the day dedicated to her husband and children or whether, having given up the idea of marriage for a noble reason, she has given herself fully to other tasks. Each woman in her own sphere of life, if she is faithful to her divine and human vocation can and, in fact, does achieve the fullness of her feminine personality. Let us remember that Mary, Mother of God and Mother of men, is not only a model but also a proof of the transcendental value of an apparently unimportant life. (Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá, 87)

A woman with adequate training should find the field of public life open to her at all levels. In this sense it is impossible to point out specific tasks that correspond to women alone. As I said earlier, in this field what is specific is not the task or position in itself, but the way in which the work is done. There are values which a woman more readily perceives, and her specific contribution will often, therefore, change the whole approach to a problem, and can lead to the discovery of completely new approaches. (Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá, 90)

Japan's Great Revenge

2.13.2017

St. Josemaria on Work As a Means of Perfection


You say it helps you a lot to wonder how many businessmen have become saints since the time of the early Christians. And you want to show that it is also possible today. The Lord will not abandon you in that effort. (Furrow, 490)

To follow in Christ's footsteps, today's apostle does not need to reform anything, but even less has he to take no part in the contemporary affairs going on around him. He has only to act as the first Christians did, and give life to his environment. (Furrow, 320)

What I have always taught, over the last forty years, is that a Christian should do all honest human work, be it intellectual or manual, with the greatest perfection possible: with human perfection (professional competence) and with Christian perfection (for love of God's Will and as a service to mankind). Human work done in this manner, no matter how humble or insignificant it may seem, helps to shape the world in a Christian way. The world's divine dimension is made more visible and our human labour is thus incorporated into the marvellous work of Creation and Redemption. It is raised to the order of grace. It is sanctified and becomes God's work, operatio Dei, opus Dei.

We have reminded Christians of the wonderful words of Genesis which tell us that God created man so that he might work, and we have concentrated on the example of Christ, who spent most of His life on earth working as a craftsman in a village. We love human work which He chose as His state in life, which He cultivated and sanctified. We see in work, in men's noble creative toil not only one of the highest human values, an indispensable means to social progress and to greater justice in the relations between men, but also a sign of God's Love for His creatures, and of men's love for each other and for God: we see in work a means of perfection, a way to sanctity. (Conversations with Monsignor Escrivá, 10)

15 Leadership Lessons

2.12.2017

St. Josemaria on Preparing for Communion


Have you ever thought how you would prepare yourself to receive Our Lord if you could go to Communion only once in your life? We must be thankful to God that he makes it so easy for us to come to him: but we should show our gratitude by preparing ourselves to receive him very well. (The Forge, 828)

Jesus is the way, the mediator. In him are all things; outside of him is nothing. In Christ, taught by him, we dare to call God our Father — he is the Almighty who created heaven and earth, and he is a loving Father who waits for us to come back to him again and again, as the story of the prodigal son repeats itself in our lives.

Ecce, Agnus Dei... Domine, non sum dignus... We are going to receive our Lord. On this earth, when we receive an important person, we bring out the best — lights, music, formal dress. How should we prepare to receive Christ into our soul? Have we ever thought about how we would behave if we could only receive him once in a lifetime?

When I was a child, frequent communion was still not a widespread practice. I remember how people used to prepare to go to communion. Everything had to be just right, body and soul: the best clothes, hair well‑combed — even physical cleanliness was important — maybe even a few drops of cologne... These were manifestations of love, full of finesse and refinement, on the part of manly souls who knew how to repay Love with love.

With Christ in our soul, we end the holy Mass. The blessing of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit accompanies us all day long, as we go about our simple, normal task of making holy all honest human activity. (Christ is passing by, 91)

Opus Dei leader recounts relationship with Pope Francis

Faith in the Workplace

St. Josemaria Escriva on St. Joseph the Worker

Willows' Young Ladies Stand up for Life in Big and Small Ways

2.10.2017

St. Josemaria on Marian Devotion


Invoke the Blessed Virgin. Keep asking her to show herself a Mother to you - monstra te esse Matrem! As well as drawing down her Son's grace, may she bring the clarity of sound doctrine to your mind, and love and purity to your heart, so that you may know the way to God and take many souls to him. (The Forge, 986)

Develop a lively devotion for Our Mother. She knows how to respond in a most sensitive way to the presents we give her. What is more, if you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, Our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son's path. (Furrow, 691)

Without Our Mother's aid, how can we manage to keep up our daily struggle? Do you seek it constantly? (Furrow, 692)

Love for our Mother will be the breath that kindles into a living flame the embers of virtue hidden in the ashes of your indifference. (The Way, 492)

Love our Lady. And she will obtain for you abundant grace to conquer in your daily struggle. And the enemy will gain nothing by those foul things that continually seem to boil and rise within you, trying to engulf in their fragrant corruption the high ideals, the sublime determination that Christ himself has set in your heart.--Serviam, I will serve! (The Way, 493)

We go to Jesus--and we 'return' to him--through Mary. (The Way, 495)

The Doorway of Humility

St. Josemaria on Lent


Coming closer to God means being ready to be converted anew, to change direction again, to listen attentively to his inspirations - those holy desires he places in our souls - and to put them into practice. (The Forge, 32)

We are at the beginning of Lent: a time of penance, purification and conversion. It is not an easy program, but then Christianity is not an easy way of life. It is not enough just to be in the Church, letting the years roll by. In our life, in the life of Christians, our first conversion — that unique moment which each of us remembers, when we clearly understood everything the Lord was asking of us — is certainly very significant. But the later conversions are even more important, and they are increasingly demanding. To facilitate the work of grace in these conversions, we need to keep our soul young; we have to call upon our Lord, know how to listen to him and, having found out what has gone wrong, know how to ask his pardon.

“If you call upon me, I will listen to you," we read in this Sunday's liturgy. Isn't it wonderful how God cares for us and is always ready to listen to us — waiting for man to speak? He hears us at all times, but particularly now. Our heart is ready and we have made up our minds to purify ourselves. He hears us and will not disregard the petition of a “humble and contrite heart." (Christ is passing by, 57)

St. Josemaria on the Communion of Saints


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

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

May this offering be effective for the salvation of all men — Orate, fratres, the priest invites the people to pray — because this sacrifice is yours and mine, it is the sacrifice of the whole Church. Pray, brethren, although there may not be many present, although materially there may be only one person there, although the celebrant may find himself alone; because every Mass is a universal sacrifice, the redemption of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

Through the communion of the saints, all Christians receive grace from every Mass that is celebrated, regardless of whether there is an attendance of thousands of persons, or whether it is only a boy with his mind on other things who is there to serve. In either case, heaven and earth join with the angels of the Lord to sing: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus... (Christ is passing by, 89)

Good Son, Good Father

2.08.2017

St. Josemaria on Receiving the Eucharist



When you receive him, tell him: Lord, I hope in you: I adore you, I love you, increase my faith. Be the support of my weakness: You, who have remained defenceless in the Eucharist so as to be the remedy for the weakness of your creatures. (The Forge, 832)

I will not surprise anyone if I say that some Christians have a very poor concept of the holy Mass. For them it is a purely external rite, if not a mere social convention. This is because our poor hearts are capable of treating the greatest gift of God to man as routine. In the Mass, in this Mass that we are now celebrating, the most Holy Trinity intervenes, I repeat, in a very special way. To correspond to such great love, we must give ourselves completely, in body and in soul. We hear God, we talk to him, we see him, we taste him. And when words are not enough, we sing, urging our tongue — Pange, lingua! — to proclaim to all mankind the greatness of the Lord.

To “live" the holy Mass means to pray continually, and to be convinced that, for each one of us, this is a personal meeting with God. We adore him, we praise him, we give thanks to him, we atone for our sins, we are purified, we experience a unity with Christ and with all Christians. (Christ is passing by, nn. 87-88)

St. Josemaria on Sanctification


"Conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results which continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again — in new situations — the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare with a deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for his help, so that we'll know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there's no other way." (Christ Is Passing By, 58, 9)

The power of God is made manifest in our weakness and it spurs us on to fight, to battle against our defects, although we know that we will never achieve total victory during our pilgrimage on earth. The Christian life is a continuous beginning again each day. It renews itself over and over.
(Christ Is Passing By, 114, 2)

Forward, no matter what happens! Cling tightly to Our Lord's hand and remember that God does not lose battles. If you should stray from him for any reason, react with the humility that will lead you to begin again and again; to play the role of the prodigal son every day, and even repeatedly during the 24 hours of the same day; to correct your contrite heart in Confession, which is a real miracle of God's Love. In this wonderful Sacrament Our Lord cleanses your soul and fills you with joy and strength to prevent you from giving up the fight, and to help you keep returning to God unwearied, when everything seems black. In addition, the Mother of God, who is also our Mother, watches over you with motherly care, guiding your every step. (Friends of God, 214, 5)

Your interior life has to be just that: to begin ... and to begin again. (The Way, 292)

The Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People

2.06.2017

St. Josemaria on the Sacrifice of the Altar


Isn't it strange how many Christians, who take their time and have leisure enough in their social life (they are in no hurry), in following the sleepy rhythm of their professional affairs, in eating and recreation (no hurry here either), find themselves rushed and want to rush the Priest, in their anxiety to shorten the time devoted to the most holy Sacrifice of the Altar? (The Way, 530)

The three divine Persons are present in the sacrifice of the altar. By the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the Son offers himself in a redemptive sacrifice. We learn how to personalize our relationship with the most Blessed Trinity, one God in three Persons: three divine Persons in the unity of God's substance, in the unity of his love and of his sanctifying action.

Immediately after the Lavabo, the priest prays: “Receive, Holy Trinity, this offering that we make in memory of the passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ." And, at the end of the Mass, there is another prayer of homage to the Trinity of God: “May the tribute of my service be pleasing to you, o Holy Trinity; and grant the sacrifice that I, who am unworthy, have offered to your majesty, may be acceptable to you; and that through your mercy it may bring forgiveness to me and to all those for whom I have offered it."

The Mass is, I insist, an action of God, of the Trinity. It is not a merely human event. The priest who celebrates fulfils the desire of our Lord, lending his body and his voice to the divine action. He acts, not in his own name, but in persona et in nomine Christi: in the Person of Christ and in his name.

Because of the Blessed Trinity's love for man, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist brings all graces to the Church and to mankind. This is the sacrifice announced by the prophet Malachy: “From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and a fragrant sacrifice and a pure offering is made to me in all places" [1]. It is the sacrifice of Christ, offered to the Father with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit — an offering of infinite value, which perpetuates the work of the redemption in us and surpasses the sacrifices of the old law. (Christ is passing by, 86)

[1] Mal 1:11

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2.04.2017

St. Josemaria on Being a Eucharistic Soul


Be a eucharistic soul! If the centre around which your thoughts and hopes turn is the Tabernacle, then, my child, how abundant the fruits of your sanctity and apostolate will be! (The Forge, 835)
I was talking to you about the love of the Blessed Trinity for man. And where can we see this more clearly than in the Mass? The three divine Persons act together in the holy sacrifice of the altar. This is why I like to repeat the final words of the collect, secret and postcommunion: “Through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord," we pray to God the Father, “who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen."

In the Mass, our prayer to God the Father is constant. The priest represents the eternal high priest, Jesus Christ, who is, at the same time, the victim offered in this sacrifice. And the action of the Holy Spirit in the Mass is truly present, although in a mysterious manner. “By the power of the Holy Spirit," writes St John Damascene, “the transformation of the bread into the body of Christ takes place."

The action of the Holy Spirit is clearly expressed when the priest invokes the divine blessing on the offerings: “Come, Sanctifier, almighty and eternal God, and bless this sacrifice prepared in honour of your holy name" — the holocaust that will give to the holy name of God the glory that is due. The sanctification we pray for is attributed to the Paraclete, who is sent to us by the Father and the Son. And we also recognize the active presence of the Holy Spirit in this sacrifice, as we say, shortly before communion: “Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, by your death have brought life to the world..." (Christ is passing by, 85)

St. Josemaria on Prayer


You write: 'To pray is to talk with God. But about what?' About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: 'to get acquainted!' (The Way, 91)

“A prayer to my living God." If God is life for us, we should not be surprised to realize that our very existence as Christians must be interwoven with prayer. But don't imagine that prayer is an action to be carried out and then forgotten. The just man “delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on his law day and night." “Through the night I meditate on you" and “my prayer comes to you like incense in the evening" [1]. Our whole day can be a time for prayer — from night to morning and from morning to night. In fact, as holy Scripture reminds us, even our sleep should be a prayer.

Our life of prayer should also be based on some moments that are dedicated exclusively to our conversation with God, moments of silent dialogue, before the tabernacle if possible, in order to thank our Lord for having waited for us — so often alone — for twenty centuries. This heart‑to‑heart dialogue with God is mental prayer, in which the whole soul takes part; intelligence, imagination, memory and will are all involved. It is a meditation that helps to give supernatural value to our poor human life, with all its normal, everyday occurrences.

Thanks to these moments of meditation and to our vocal prayer and aspirations, we will be able to turn our whole day into a continuous praise of God, in a natural way and without any outward display. Just as people in love are always thinking about each other, we will be aware of God's presence. And all our actions, down to the most insignificant, will be filled with spiritual effectiveness.

This is why, as a Christian sets out on his way of uninterrupted dealing with our Lord, his interior life grows and becomes strong and secure. And he is led to engage in the demanding yet attractive struggle to fulfill completely the will of God. (Christ is passing by, 119)

[1] Cf Ps 140:2

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2.03.2017

St. Josemaria on Offering Our Work to God


It is difficult to make one's mark through quiet work and the proper fulfillment of our duties as citizens, so that later one can demand one's rights and place them in the service of the Church and of society. It is difficult, but it is very effective. (Furrow, 300)

Many people begin, but few finish. And we, who are trying to behave as God's children, have to be among those few. Remember that only work that is well done and lovingly completed deserves the praise of the Lord which is to be found in Holy Scripture: 'better is the end of a task than its beginning'.

Many Christians are no longer convinced that the fullness of Life that God rightly expects from his children means that they have to have a careful concern for the quality of their everyday work, because it is this work, even in its most minor aspects, which they have to sanctify.

It is no good offering to God something that is less perfect than our poor human limitations permit. The work that we offer must be without blemish and it must be done as carefully as possible, even in its smallest details, for God will not accept shoddy workmanship. 'Thou shalt not offer anything that is faulty,' Holy Scripture warns us, 'because it would not be worthy of him' [1]. For that reason, the work of each one of us, the activities that take up our time and energy, must be an offering worthy of our Creator. It must be operatio Dei, a work of God that is done for God: in short, a task that is complete and faultless.

If you consider the many compliments paid to Jesus by those who witnessed his life, you will find one which in a way embraces all of them. I am thinking of the spontaneous exclamation of wonder and enthusiasm which arose from the crowd at the astonishing sight of his miracles: bene omnia fecit, he has done everything exceedingly well: not only the great miracles, but also the little everyday things that didn't dazzle anyone, but which Christ performed with the accomplishment of one who is perfectus Deus, perfectus homo, perfect God and perfect man. (Friends of God, 55-56)

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2.02.2017

St. Josemaria on Purification


Cor Mariae perdolentis, miserere nobis! -- Invoke the Heart of Holy Mary, with the purpose and determination of uniting yourself to her sorrow, in reparation for your sins and the sins of men of all times. And pray to her -- for every soul -- that her sorrow may increase in us our aversion from sin, and that we may be able to love the physical or moral contradictions of each day as a means of expiation. (Furrow, 258)

When the days of the Mother's purification are accomplished, according to the Law of Moses, the Child must be taken to Jerusalem, to be presented to the Lord (Luke 2:22).

And this time it will be you, my friend, who will carry the cage with the doves (Luke 2:24). —Just think: She —the Immaculate!— submits herself to the Law as if she were defiled.

Through this example, foolish child, will you learn to obey the Holy Law of God, regardless of any per­sonal sacrifice?

Purification! You and I surely do need purification! —Atonement, and more than atonement, Love. —Love as a searing iron to cauterize our souls' uncleanness, and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretched tinder of our hearts.

A just and God‑fearing man has come to the temple led by the Holy Ghost —it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Christ. —He takes the Messiah in his arms and says to Him: Now, My Lord, Thou canst take Thy servant out of this world in peace, according to Thy promise... because my eyes have seen the Saviour (Luke 2:25‑30). (Holy Rosary, Fourth Joyful Mystery)

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2.01.2017

St. Josemaria on Embracing the Struggle


Sometimes you feel that you are beginning to lose heart and that everything is getting on top of you. This kills your good desires, and you can hardly manage to overcome this feeling even by making acts of hope. Never mind: this is a good time to ask God for more grace. Then, go on! Renew your joy for the struggle, even though you might lose the odd skirmish. (Furrow, 77)

There are many who repeat that hackneyed expression 'while there's life there's hope', as if hope were an excuse for ambling along through life without too many complications or worries on one's conscience. Or as if it were a pretext for postponing indefinitely the decision to mend one's ways and the struggle to attain worthwhile goals, particularly the highest goal of all which is to be united with God.

If we follow this view, we will end up confusing hope with comfort. Fundamentally, what is wrong with it is that there is no real desire to achieve anything worthwhile, either spiritual or material. Thus some people's greatest ambition boils down to avoiding whatever might upset the apparent calm of their mediocre existence. These timid, inhibited, lazy souls, full of subtle forms of selfishness, are content to let the days, the years, go by sine spe nec metu,* without setting themselves demanding targets, nor experiencing the hopes and fears of battle: the important thing for them is to avoid the risk of disappointment and tears. How far one is from obtaining something, if the very wish to possess it has been lost through fear of the demands involved in achieving it! (Friends of God, 206-207)

* 'Neither hoping nor fearing'

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St. Josemaria on the Spirit of Detachment


Don't forget it: he has most who needs least. Don't create needs for yourself. (The Way, 630)

Many years ago, twenty‑five and more, I used to visit an eating place run by a charitable group for the benefit of beggars who were so poor that their only food each day was the meal they were given there. There was a large canteen looked after by a number of kind women. After the first meal was served, more beggars would come in to finish off the leftovers. Among this second group of beggars one man in particular attracted my attention. He was the proud owner of... a pewter spoon! He would take it carefully out of his pocket, look at it covetously and, after he had downed his meagre ration, he would look at the spoon again with eyes that seemed to exclaim: 'It's mine!' Next he would lick it a couple of times to clean it and then, with deep satisfaction, would hide it away again in the folds of his tattered garment. True enough, the spoon was his! Here was a wretchedly poor beggar who, among his companions in misfortune, thought himself to be rich.

Around that same time I knew a titled lady who belonged to the Spanish aristocracy. In the eyes of God such a thing counts for nothing. We are all equal, all of us are children of Adam and Eve, weak creatures with virtues and defects, and capable all of us, if Our Lord abandons us, of committing the worst crimes imaginable. Ever since Christ redeemed us there are no distinctions of race, language, color, birth, or wealth: we are all children of God. This lady of whom I have just been speaking lived in an ancestral mansion. But she spent next to nothing on herself. On the other hand she paid her servants very well and gave the rest of her money to the needy, while depriving herself of almost everything. This lady had many of the goods which so many people are anxious to obtain but she personally was poor, given to mortification and completely detached from everything. Am I making myself clear? In any event, all we need do is listen to the words of Our Lord: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.'

If you want to achieve this spirit, I would advise you to be sparing with yourself while being very generous towards others. Avoid unnecessary expenditure on luxuries and comforts, whether out of caprice, or vanity, etc. Don't create needs for yourself. In other words, learn from St Paul 'to live in poverty and to live in abundance, to be filled and to be hungry, to live in plenty and to live in want: I can do all things in him who comforts me'. Like the Apostle, we too will come out winners in this spiritual combat if we keep our hearts unattached and free from ties. (Friends of God, 123-124)

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