Yesterday, 26th June, was the feast day of Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer who was born in the small town of Barbastro (Aragon), Spain, on 9th January, 1902. He was ordained a priest in Zaragoza, on 28th March 1925.
On 2nd October, 1928 he was enlightened by God to found Opus Dei (the Work of God), a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. This organisation of laypeople and priests is dedicated to the teaching that everyone is called to holiness, and that ordinary life is a path to sanctity, especially in the carrying out to perfection of one’s daily work for the greater glory of God, to serve others better, and thus to help sanctify the world. This marvellous reality, that any honest and worthwhile work can be turned into a divine occupation, reflects the whole spirit of Opus Dei.
St. Josemaria explained: “God raised up Opus Dei in 1928 to help remind Christians that, as we read in the book of Genesis, God created man in order to work. We have to point to the example of Jesus, who spent thirty years in Nazareth, working at his job. In Jesus’s hands, work, an ordinary job like that done by millions of people throughout the world, becomes a divine task, a redeeming job, a path of salvation.”
St. Josemaria lived through some of Spain’s most turbulent years, but keeping away from politics, he continued with his priestly duties and ministered to all those who sought him out. He travelled widely giving talks and discourses on the importance of the family as being the ‘heart’ of the Church, the domestic church, and where his own great love of God, the Blessed Virgin, and the holy angels shone through all his words. He was a great advocate of daily Mass and the daily recitation of the rosary. St. Josemaria is the author of many spiritual books, whose best-known publication, The Way, has been translated into 43 languages and has sold several million copies.. Meanwhile the spread and popularity of the new organisation grew astonishingly fast. Opus Dei is known for its firm abidance to and love of the Holy Catholic Church and faithfulness to all its teachings, its unstinting loyalty to the Holy Father, and its many charitable institutions throughout the world.
St. Josemaria died peacefully in Rome on 26th June, 1975 at the age of 73. He was canonised in 2002 by Bl. Pope John Paul II, who declared Saint Josemaria should be “counted among the great witnesses of Christianity.”
A few famous quotes of St. Josemaria
“You say that you don’t know how to pray? Put yourself in the presence of God, and once you have said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray!’ rest assured that you have begun to do so.”
“Practice meditation for a fixed period and at a fixed time. Otherwise we would be putting our own convenience first; that would be a lack of mortification. And prayer without mortification is not at all effective.”
“Let us work. Let us work a lot and work well, without forgetting that prayer is our best weapon. That is why I will never tire of repeating that we have to be contemplative souls in the middle of the world, who try to convert their work into prayer.”
“To work in this way is to pray. To study thus is likewise prayer. Research done with this spirit is prayer too. We are always doing the same thing, for everything can be prayer, all activity can and should lead us to God, nourish our intimate dealings with him, from morning to night. Any honourable work can be prayer and all prayerful work is apostolate. In this way the soul develops a unity of life, which is both simple and strong.”
“If I love, there will be no hell for me.”
“Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism, nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right. It is an optimism that sinks its roots into an awareness of our freedom, and the sure knowledge of the power of grace. It is an optimism that leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s call.”
”The scene of the Annunciation is a very lovely one. How often have we meditated on this. Mary is recollected in prayer. She is using all her senses and faculties to speak to God. It is in prayer that she comes to know the Divine Will. And with prayer she makes it the life of her life. Do not forget the example of the Virgin Mary.”
This painting of St Josemaría Escrivá is based on a photo, not real life. Still, the artist has captured the saint’s world weariness. But don’t you think the depiction is marred by the background halo effect, which reminds me of Socialist Realism and Norman Rockwell?Not that I don’t like my own Rockwell reproductions, twee though they may be.
Socialist Realism with halos? I don’t think so somehow.
You should get out more.
What a beast to have a halo; Stalin I mean, not you. Gives halos a bad name. And hardly realistic.
Good example JH. Technique borrowed from the iconographers suggesting a great person is backlit by something greater.
Whenever atheists ask me where God is, I say “He’s right behind you”.
Well JH, if “the face is the mirror of the soul”, don’t you agree that the artist has captured to perfection the beautiful soul of St. Josemaria in that profound, peace-filled expression?
Yes, it’s a painting taken from a photo, but an extremely lifelike one.
Yes, Kathleen, I do agree. I think my initial comment was a positive one, insofar as this saint is concerned. But from a artistic perspective, I think the halo detracts from the message by making it too blatant. Halos used in proper context – angels, Jesus, BVM, saints from days gone by, etc. – can add something of value to works of art, whereas halos used to backlight contemporary figures (loosely defined) are from the School of Kitsch.