Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini – Remembering the First American Saint on her Feast Day

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Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini
Remembering the First American Saint on her Feast Day
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, known to the world as ‘Mother Cabrini’ left an indelible imprint on the Church in the United States and around the world. She was the first American saint canonized in Rome in 1946. Born Maria Francesca Cabrini on July 15, 1850 in Sant’Angelo Lodigiano in Lombardy, Italy, Maria took religious vows in 1877. Three years later, she became one of the seven founding members of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She then set up two missions in Rome all the while nursing her true dream, which was to be a missionary in China.

Mother Cabrini gained an audience with Pope Leo XII seeking his approval for this missionary endeavour. However, at this time in history, tens of thousands of Italian immigrants were arriving in the United States and in desperate need of pastoral care. Poor and destitute, cut off from their home and tradition, Italians were encountering difficulties adjusting to the Anglo Saxon, American way of life.

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The Pope told Cabrini “Go West, Not East,” telling her the Church needed her more in the USA than in China. Despite her initial hesitation she accepted the Pope’s view and soon after began her long and legendary service to the Italian immigrant community and poor she encountered in the US. She founded an orphanage in New York, which would become the first of 67 institutions she launched in New York, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Denver and Los Angeles.

Mother Cabrini’s willingness to forsake her own personal ambition to evangelize in China turned into a blessing for millions of underprivileged immigrants who benefited from her ministry. Sometimes when we are determined to have our way, we should stop and listen to the voice of God, and to those we trust, to make sure we truly are following the right course.

When I was growing up in an Italian-American household, we often heard stories of the saints and blesseds from my grandparents and parents. Two Italians, of course, were at the top of the list: Mother Cabrini and Padre Pio. St. Mother Cabrini’s prayer for humility was given to us and I have kept it ever since in my Bible.

“Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you may fortify me witMother Cabrini 1h the grace of your Holy Spirit, and give your peace to my soul, that I may be free from all needless anxiety and worry. Help me to desire always that which is pleasing and acceptable to you, so that your will may be my will.

Grant that I may be free from unholy desires, and that, for your love, I may remain obscure and unknown in this world, to be known only to you.

Do not permit me to attribute to myself the good that you perform in me and through me, but rather, referring all honor to you, may I admit only to my infirmities, so that renouncing sincerely all vainglory which comes from the world, I may aspire to that true and lasting glory that comes from you. Amen.”

 

The Misunderstood Pope airs on S+L

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On the occasion of the beatification of Paul VI, Goya Productions launches a new documentary that rediscovers the figure of the pope unfairly criticized and forgotten. To him do we credit, among other things, the famous encyclical Humanae Vitae. This is a one of the themes being discussed on the Synod of the Family that has been taking place in Rome these past two weeks and that culminates with the beatification of Paul VI on October 19.

The hour-long documentary shows the life of John Baptist Montini, a life marked by the most dramatic upheavals of the twentieth century: from his encounters with fascism as a youth and living through World War II with Pope Pius XII, through the bitter ordeal of his pontificate.

After the death of John XXIII, Paul VI was given the task of bringing the Second Vatican Council to a conclusion and then govern a quite-shaken post-conciliar Church through one of the most terrible crisis in history. A victim of vicious attacks by fundamentalists Lefebrians, by guerrilla priests, by promoters of the sexual revolution, and by an unscrupulous press, Paul VI was able to maintain the direction of the Church through a revolution which shook the moral foundations of civilization.

Paul VI was the first Vicar of Christ to visit Africa, America, Oceania and Asia. He was the first to visit the Holy Land and the first to speak at the United Nations. He was an open-minded, pious Pope – perhaps too modern and prophetic to be understood by the people of his time.

This documentary shows images never before seen in Spain, as his assassination attempt in the Philippines, the attack on the Michelangelo’s Pietà and his denouncement of the action of the devil in the Church.

This version of the RAI film production rediscovers a pope that very few mourned, but whose heroic life now has led him to be raised to the Altar in the wake of two other great saints: his predessesor John XXIII and his successor, John Paul II.

Blessed Paul VI: The misunderstood pope will premiere on Salt + Light TV on Sunday October 19 at 9 pm EST.

The Great Saints (and Angels) of the Week

archangelsToday we celebrate the feast of the Archangels — St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. Take some time today to look up  Scripture references to the different Archangels and meditate on the work of these heavenly messengers. For St. Michael flip to Revelations 12 (there’s also references in Daniel 10 and 12), St. Gabriel of course can be found in Luke’s Nativity story, and St. Raphael is featured in the Old Testament’s Book of Tobit (12).

stjeromeTuesday, we recognize on St. Jerome (c. 347-420), the great doctor of the Church perhaps best known for his for his translation of the Vulgate. A Biblical scholar, Jerome wrote in his Prologue to the “Commentary on Isaiah “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Here’s a reflection given by Pope Benedict during a General Audience on St. Jerome’s love for Sacred Scripture.

stthereseOn Wednesday we have a saint who has a great following, a heroic woman who though living as a cloistered nun has become patroness of missions — St. Thérèse of Lisieux. One of three female doctors of the Church, the Little Flower is an outstanding model of humility and her autobiography “Story of a Soul” is a must-have spiritual classic. Her parents, Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin, joined her officially in the Communion of Saints when they were beatified on October 19, 2008.

GuardianAngelsOn Thursday we return to the Angels and recognize our Guardian Angels. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their [angels’] watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” (CCC 336) It’s funny, we often pray to our favourite saints, but do we remember our Guardian Angel? Today is a good day to begin developing our relationship with our constant companion.

Though we don’t celebrate a saint’s day in the universal calendar on Friday, there is the popular First Friday devotion.

stfrancisThe Church celebrates another one of her favourite sons on Saturday, St. Francis of Assisi, namesake of Pope FrancisFrom reform to establishing religious orders, St. Francis’ contribution to Catholicism is vast and impressive. The Saint is associated very much with peace — from hymns to Days of Prayer in Assisi. While visiting Assisi in the summer of 2007, Pope Benedict reflected on the saint and peace — here’s his address.

Wow! It is truly a week of holy men, women, and angels! Why not make an effort this week to get to know some of this great pillars of our faith better?

 

This post was originally published in 2008.

Padre Pio- A Life of Gratitude

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The following post was originally published on Sept. 2008 by Matthew Harrison.

One of my earliest recollections of encountering the life of a saint was a biography on St. Pio of Pietrelcina, or Padre Pio as he is more commonly known. Though I don’t remember the title, I can vividly recall my mother reading the book to me as a young boy. I was captivated by it — hanging on every word as she described the saint’s miraculous life.

Since that time, I have had devotion to the holy priest. He’s like an old friend — not a saint that I gush over, but a reliable buddy who I know I can turn to. When his feast day roles around, every September 23rd, I’m filled with a certain sense of excitement as I recall the holy friar and how he has hung around my life.

As I was thinking about the good Padre this year it occurred to me how special, and rare that he is. It seems that in every age God chooses certain people to use as a more tangible and evident instrument of his love and mercy. People whose supernatural connection seems a little more clear — who may be granted special gifts or graces. Padre Pio’s experience of bi-location and the stigmata come to mind.

I was amazed as a child (and still am!) by the stories of his bi-location. As a child I was kind of hopeful it was a skill I would develop at school. Sadly, it didn’t quite make it into the curriculum.

His stigmata was fascinating to me as well. As a little boy I regarded it as a special privilege but at the same time found the idea of constant bleeding wounds to be scary. I certainly didn’t comprehend at the time the pain that he must have experienced — not only physically but even emotionally by those who labelled him a fraud.

Recently, Zenit published an article, as did Catholic News Agency, on a new book that explores Padre Pio’s stigmata. It’s amazing to consider the encounter that he had with the crucified Christ and the humility that he treated the special grace with.

What stands out in particular for me is what the crucified Christ said to the Italian Saint: “He was lamenting the ingratitude of men, especially those consecrated to him and favored by him.”

It makes me think…

Many times I have been ungrateful. Many times I have climbed down from the cross and run away.

Chances are I will never be invited to share in Christ’s sufferings in the same manner that Padre Pio was. However, I can still share in Christ’s sufferings in what I offer to God day in and day out.

Most of all, I can live a life of gratitude, for the blessings in my life, and for the unfathomable love and mercy of Him who loved us first.

… just as I was impressed with him as a young child, the lessons of Padre Pio still resonate with me today!

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us!

 

St. Alphonsus Liguori: Doctor Most Zealous

Founding an influential religious order, championing devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Mother, and the Sacred Heart, and mastering Catholic Moral Theology: these are but a few of the achievements that make the life and ministry of St. Alphonsus Liguori a true gift to the Church, both for his time and ours. St. Alphonsus was born on September 27, 1696, and died two hundred and twenty five years ago today, August 1, in 1787. In the intervening years, his life was spent as a prolific spiritual writer, a renowned philosopher and theologian of the Scholastic tradition, a zealous pastor, and a man of deep personal holiness and prayer.

Born to a wealthy Neapolitan family, St. Alphonsus’s brilliant mind earned him degrees in both canon and civil law by the age of sixteen. To the satisfaction of his affluent family, he practiced law as a respected lawyer until the age of twenty seven, when he suffered a disappointing loss in court. His disappointment prompted him to seek the meaning he longed elsewhere, and so he entered the seminary and after three years of formation was ordained a priest at the age of thirty. [Read more…]

Mercy Transformed into Mission

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On the Feast of Mary Magdalene – July 22

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” The famous catchphrase first appeared in the letters of St. Augustine, when he wrote, “With love for humanity and hatred of sins.” It was later included in the autobiography of Mohandas Gandhi as “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” But I can’t think of any figure who better exemplifies the essence of this phrase than Mary Magdalene, whose feast we celebrate today.

What can we learn from the life of Mary Magdalene? The Gospels reveal a woman marked by a past of “demons” who encountered the forgiveness of Jesus and was forever changed. For Mary Magdalene, Jesus changed everything. His healing power in her life meant that she could no longer remain who she was, she was transformed: she became new in the love of Jesus. Set free of the seven demons that had possessed her – whatever their nature – she pursued a path of loving devotion, of closely following Jesus, of being part of the community of disciples, of putting Christ before all things, and of moving forward in the mercy he brought her.

What does this mean for us? I think we all know how easy it can be to become discouraged, disappointed, ashamed, and despairing, mired in the guilt, anger, regret, and frustration produced by our own faults and the faults those around us. We spin a cocoon of negative emotion that paralyzes us in our own selves. But Mary Magdalene shows us that there is something greater than our sinfulness, our shortcomings and the strife they cause; rather, that there is some One greater.

Mary Magdalene could have fixated on her demons – whether they were bad choices she’d made or misfortunes she’d experienced through no fault of her own. Instead, she reached out to Jesus and allowed herself to be made new. She allowed his love to be more powerful than her sins, and her demons gave way to discipleship. For the Christian, this life-changing encounter with the merciful love of God through Jesus Christ is not just a one-time experience but a constant renewal brought about by the transformative power of Christ at work in our lives. This love is offered to us each day of our lives, especially when we fail, fall, and flounder. Do we receive it? Do we accept it? Are we open to it? Do we allow it to renew us and urge us on? Does it leave us forever changed?

Mary Magdalene had not one demon but seven. Her story is relevant for us no matter what our demons may be. She was a sinner but more than that, she was loved. She allowed her life to become a response of love to the one who loved her first. Weeping she would remain with him at the foot of the the Cross, despairing as he hung dying for the world. “While it was still dark” on that Easter morning, burdened with tears and spices for burial she would venture early to his empty tomb, astonished to encounter him anew and sent forth to exclaim: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18) The Mercy she encountered sends her forth on mission, not caught up in her own past but urged on by the love of her Lord: transformed to share his transformative love with all the world.

400th anniversary of the death of St. Camillus de Lellis

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Today is the feast day and the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Camillus de Lellis, patron of nurses and the sick.

Camillus de Lellis was born on May 25, 1550 in Bucchianico, Italy.  He possessed a violent temper and struggled with a horrible addiction to gambling, and by 1574 was reduced to poverty and shame in Naples. He fought for the Venetians against the Turks.  He became a Capuchin novice, but was unable to be professed because of a badly diseased leg he contracted while fighting the Turks. Through a long and hard struggle he eventually conquered his weaknesses .  His dramatic conversion was evident as he began to devote himself to caring for the sick. He became director of St. Giacomo Hospital in Rome.

Camillus chose a red cross as the distinguishing badge for the members of his Order to wear on their black cassocks. He taught his volunteers to look upon the hospital as a house of God, a garden where the voices of the sick were music from heaven. He obtained permission from St. Philip Neri to be ordained. Along with two companions, he founded his own congregation, the Ministers of the Sick , also referred to as the Camillians, who were dedicated to the care of the sick. They ministered to the sick of Holy Ghost Hospital in Rome, founded a new house in Naples in 1588, and cared for those aboard plague-stricken ships in Rome .

In 1591, the Congregation was made into an order to serve the sick by Pope Gregory XIV, and in 1591 and 1605, Camillus sent members to minister to wounded troops in Hungary and Croatia, the first field medical unit.  Suffering and gravely ill for many years, he resigned as superior of the Order in 1607. On July 14, 1614 he died in Rome. He was canonized in 1746, was declared patron of the sick, by Pope Leo XIII, and patron of nurses and nursing groups by Pope Pius XI.

One of his most famous words of wisdom was this: “Brother, if you commit a sin and take pleasure in it, the pleasure passes but the sin remains. But if you do something virtuous even though you are tired, the tiredness passes but the virtue remains.”

St Camillus de Lellis is a true inspiration to all of us who deal with our own moral, spiritual or physical struggles and a wonderful testament to the real miracles of Christian charity.

“Preferring Nothing to the Love of Christ” On the feast of Saint Benedict – July 11

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On 27 April 2005, at his first General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI told the assembled crowds why he had chosen that name for his ministry as Bishop of Rome. Among other reasons, this was an homage to Saint Benedict, whose feast we celebrate today, who has played such a role in the spiritual and cultural formation of Europe, particularly Pope Benedict’s beloved Bavaria.

Yet there was also a profoundly spiritual reason. Pope Benedict quoted Chapter 72 of the Holy Rule, “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” placing his ministry decisively under the watchful care of Saint Benedict: “At the beginning of my service as Successor of Peter, I ask St. Benedict to help us keep Christ firmly at the heart of our lives. May Christ always have pride of place in our thoughts and in all our activities!”

Pope Benedict has honored his patron in more than words. An old friend who saw him a few weeks ago quoted him saying that he was spending his retirement living like a monk – nothing would be more pleasing to Saint Benedict.

Perhaps the best way to honor Saint Benedict is to attend to his teaching and to love the same things that he loves. He wrote a Rule which serves as the foundation of life for many, many religious communities. One reason why this Rule has endured for over 1500 years is that it is so balanced, so humane. Benedict demonstrates a profound understanding of human nature, and his Rule looks on human weakness with a compassionate eye while making it clear that life in the school of the Lord’s service is not always easy. As the Prologue states, “In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and safeguard love.” The Rule is designed to help communities of Christians live a moderate life of prayer and work, so that in all things, God may be glorified.

One bit of wisdom Benedict’s example imparts to the wider Church is the necessity of a rule of life for serious discipleship. There are all manner of profound spiritual traditions in the Church, from Saint Benedict to Pope Francis’ beloved Saint Ignatius, to more contemporary figures such as Charles de Foucauld or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. To be saved from abstraction, though, these profound teachings need to be integrated into a rule of life for the serious Christian: what time in my day am I giving to prayer? Where in my life is concrete service to the poor? Through his Rule, Benedict wants to be sure that the Gospel permeates every aspect of life. This need not be limited to women and men who live in monasteries.

Another great contribution of Saint Benedict to the wider Church was the generous time he allowed each day to holy reading, lectio divina. There are numerous resources to help Christians learn and practice this form of prayer, but an old spiritual director liked to tell me that the heart of lectio divina, the prayerful reading of the Word of God, isn’t really confined to a method. When teaching and practicing this prayer with students, I would say that lectio is really working well when the Word of God is influencing you in ways that you aren’t even really aware. It need not be complicated. Read the scripture readings for the day’s Mass, and spend a few minutes with a single line.

Perhaps one example of this is Pope Francis. Summaries of his daily homilies at the chapel next to the Vatican guesthouse where he is living have become required reading for many. It is said that these homilies emerge from the very early mornings that Pope Francis keeps, rising to pray over that day’s readings for Mass. Sounds awfully Benedictine to me. While Pope Francis is a joyful Jesuit, his recent invitation to spend five minutes each day with Psalm 102 could have come straight from the lips of Saint Benedict himself!

Of course, one cannot look at Saint Benedict without considering his twin sister, Saint Scholastica. In the Office of Readings for her feast day, we read from Book II of the Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great. Benedict and Scholastica meet once each year and spend the day in spiritual conversation. When evening comes, Benedict is ready to return to his monastery.  Scholastica protests, asking Benedict to remain for yet further conversation about the things of God. When Benedict refuses, Scholastica begins to pray, and a great thunderstorm begins that settled the argument: Benedict could go nowhere. Gregory the Great explains Scholastica’s success: “It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.”

This is a fine summary of the goal of Saint Benedict and his Rule, lectio divina, and all Christian living: to love more. Through Saint Benedict’s prayers, may God bring to fulfillment that good work in us.

Nickolas Becker, OSB
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This blog post comes to us from Fr. Nickolas Becker, OSB, a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Father Nickolas professed his final vows as a Benedictine monk in 2010, and currently is pursuing a doctorate in moral theology at the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.

“When the heart is not applied, hands can’t do anything.”

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“When the heart is not applied, hands can’t do anything.” On the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle – July 3

There is a proverb that says: “When the heart is not applied, hands can’t do anything.” It seems as if this were written for Thomas the Apostle. The Resurrection Gospel stories that feature St. Thomas provide us with an archetypal experience of doubt, struggle and faith. John’s first appearance of the Risen Lord to the disciples is both intense and focused, a scene set with realistic detail: it is evening, the first day of the week, and the doors where bolted shut. Anxious disciples are hermetically sealed inside.

A suspicious, violent world is forced tightly outside. Jesus is missing. Suddenly, the Risen One defies locked doors, locked hearts, and locked vision. He simply appears. Gently, ever so gently Jesus reaches out to the broken and wounded Apostle. Thomas hesitatingly put his finger into the wounds of Jesus and love flowed out. Long ago St. Gregory the Great said of Thomas, “If, by touching the wounds on the body of his master, Thomas is able to help us overcome the wounds of disbelief, then the doubting of Thomas will have been more use to us than the faith of all the other apostles.”

Both Jesus and Thomas were wounded by unbelief. Jesus died of the wounds inflicted by the unbelief of his disciples and of the people. Thomas was wounded by his inability to believe, and out of this wound bled his deepest disappointment. But Thomas was healed by Christ’s wounds. He saw, even felt, the deadly injuries; but the one who bore them was living. Through them, life was victorious in Thomas. Thomas had to guardedly feel his way to faith until he recognized the truth in his heart. This was the beginning of his Easter. He could believe again.

Thomas, the doubter, was permitted to do something that we would all like to do. He was allowed to touch and “experience” something that by human means was not possible. For us it is more difficult. We need to begin with faith and then blindly touch our way to the heart of our lives.

Thomas the Apostle is truly one of the greatest and most honest lovers of Jesus, not the eternal skeptic, nor the bullish, stubborn personality that the Christian tradition has often painted. Thomas stood before the cross, not comprehending. All his dreams were hanging on that cross. All of his hopes had been shattered. What do we do when something to which we have totally committed ourselves is destroyed before our very eyes?

What do we do when powerful and faceless institutions suddenly crush someone to whom we have given total loyalty? And what do we do when our immediate reaction in the actual moment of crisis is to run and hide, for fear of the madding crowds? Such were the questions of most of the disciples, including Thomas, who had supported and followed Jesus of Nazareth for the better part of three years.

Do we not often like Thomas, never seem to be there when Jesus arrived? Has the absurdity of the resurrection rumour sent us away? Jesus keeps on appearing to us, again and again – unlocking the barriers between faith and doubt, between life and death, between past and future, between fear and joy. The Good News of the Gospel is eminently clear: when and where we least expect him, and when we most need him, Jesus just appears.

Centuries after Thomas, we remain forever grateful for the honesty and humanity of his struggle. Though we know so little about Thomas, his family background and his destiny, we are given an important hint into his identity in the etymology of his name in Greek: Thomas (Didymous in Greek) means “twin.” Who was Thomas’ other half, his twin? Maybe we can see his twin by looking into the mirror. Thomas’ other half is anyone who has struggled with the pain of unbelief, doubt and despair, and has allowed the presence of the Risen Jesus to make a difference.

The doubting Thomas within each of us must be touched. We are asked to respond to the wounds within others and ourselves. Even in our weakness, we are urged to breathe forth the Spirit so that the wounds may be healed and our fears overcome. With Thomas we will believe, when our seeking hand finally and hesitantly reaches out to the Lord in the community of faith. Blessed are we who have not seen and have believed!

Extraordinarily Ordinary, St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria and I

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I met Opus Dei, often coined “the Work”, in Vancouver through my best friend. She invited me to a centre of the Work to attend one of their Christmas Triduum’s. I was in awe of the beautiful centre and all the happy people I saw there.

Shortly after that I attended a silent retreat for University girls that was run by members of the work, and it was in that retreat that I knew I had happened upon something divine. From there, I began attending weekly activities, because all the people I met were genuine and down-to- earth.

Just under a year of having met Opus Dei, I had the privilege of visiting 6 different centers in 3 different countries: Canada, United States and Peru. I was making trips to visit family and to do a service project, so while I was travelling I made it a point to visit the nearest centre in each city.

Every experience was just as amazing as the last. Each centre was totally unique from the other in terms of appearance, yet all of them, whether its physical makings was a building or a house, radiated a home.

I was always warmly greeted, fresh flowers were often set out, and surfaces were immaculate. But, best of all the oratory in every centre was always quiet and peaceful, no matter how many people were praying there.

I was attracted by this spiritual solidarity. It wasn’t until later that I learned that this unity existed because Opus Dei is a family. If you ask any member why things are the way they are, you’ll often get a response like this, “… because our Father wanted it this way.”

At this point, I knew very little of the Work and even less about it’s founder, St. Josemaria, who members of the Work call their Father. I wanted to know the source of their joy and how they came to be so loyal and so in love with their founder and their Faith.

The more I learned about St. Josemaria, the more I appreciated Opus Dei. Some of his published works like his homilies, “Christ is passing by” and “Friends of God” or like “The Way”, “The Forge” and “The Furrow”, have helped me to aspire to follow Christ well and to love him even more.

Through his teachings I have grown to appreciate the church, and I found more clarity in the things I had been skeptical about, like devotion to our Lady. Now I see that devotion to our Lady is a very necessary part of being a Christian, because Christ wanted us to follow him in all things and he wanted us to have a mother.

Since Christ himself had a great devotion to Mary, it only makes sense as true Christians to imitate him especially in his love for his Mother, our mother. Ever since coming to understand this, I have obtained many graces from her intercession! In the words of St. Josemaria, “All with Peter, to Jesus through Mary!”

One of the greatest things that I have taken away from St. Josemaria is the plan of life. A number of things that I should struggle to fulfill well, throughout my day, which should fit my schedule like a glove, without becoming routine.

All these things are not new, nor invented by St. Josemaria. They are gifts of the Catholic church which the Work uses as a means to help us live closely united with Christ. These turn the entire day and all that consists of it into prayer. A few examples being: a dedicated time of dialogue with Christ, daily mass, the angelus, spiritual reading and the rosary.

Before having met the work and living a plan of life, I found myself going about each day just to survive. Yet this has given me the means not just to survive, but to live. It has been only a year and a half now since having met the Work and there are still so many things to learn about my Faith and St. Josemaria, yet if I had to describe him in one word it would be…

Saint Josemaria Escriva in a Word

Brilliant.

What made him brilliant was nothing more than his boundless love for God. St. Josemaria had an intrinsic capacity to contemplate all areas of his life very well. He would seek the Lord in all matters. And because of this, there were many things that God asked of him. Things that by human means seemed impossible, yet he persevered out of love with a supernatural outlook.

Josemaria’s greatest desire was to send Christ’s message to as many people as possible. He showed people how to sanctify themselves and to do apostolate, which is the foundation of Opus Dei.

His love for God is reflected well in his works, which are just as relevant, effective and true today as they were when he was alive. This is because his brilliance was merely a reflection of God’s brilliance.

He glorified God with his entire life
St. Josemaria Escriva, by way of life and feats has many titles. Yet, I believe the one he liked the least was Founder, and the one he liked the most was Father.

As a founder, he was given the incredible vocation to start Opus Dei in 1928. However, St. Josemaria would remind everyone that the true Founder of Opus Dei is God.

Everything he did was very natural and very ordinary, yet this is precisely what made everything he did extraordinary. He urged people to do even the smallest of things well, which was often his measure for love of God.

As a Father, St. Josemaria helped thousands of people from all walks of life to sanctify their ordinary lives. Rich, poor, young, old – he loved everyone and took great interest in each person he met and prayed earnestly for those he hadn’t met, but had only heard about.

In reading his life stories, you learn that his profound love for God and the church did not occur over night. In fact, he would often call himself merely a sinner who loved Jesus Christ. And the path to sanctity consisted of falling and getting up again each time stronger than the last. A strong ally to this was his message of constantly living in the presence of God.

His Legacy

His legacy continues by the lives over 90,000 members of Opus Dei in over 90 countries around the world. The members consist of single people living in apostolic celibacy, married people and even priests! Each one just regular Christians trying to sanctify their ordinary lives, just as St. Josemaria taught them how, and because God gave them the vocation to do so.

Not included in these 90,000 members, are the cooperators of Opus Dei. Which consist of people from all different backgrounds and even different religions. They have asked to be cooperators for all different causes, but what they all have in common is their admiration for St. Josemaria and his teachings.

Among these members of Opus Dei was Bishop Alvaro Del Portillo, who was the first successor of St. Josemaria from 1975 to 1994. He saw the work through many trials and successes. He saw Opus Dei become a personal prelature of the Catholic Church and was fortunate enough to witness the beatification of St. Josemaria in 1992.

This year, thousands of members of Opus Dei and their friends and family will be celebrating the Beatifcation of Bishop Alvaro on September 27, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.

Today the cause for beatification for over 13 members of Opus Dei both single and married members is open.
A Universal Call to Holiness

It seems people are really catching on to what St. Josemaria has been so eagerly explaining of the very teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church. I’ve noticed memes circulating social media with his quotes like:

“To be happy what you need is not an easy life, but a heart which is IN LOVE.”

“He did not say you would not be troubled, you would not be tempted, you would not be distressed, but he did say you would not be overcome.”

and

“We all must have the faith of children, but the doctrine of theologians.”

I have learned many things from St. Josemaria, which inspire me to be holy, but the greatest of these is to love the one who loved me first and to give him my all, as everything I have comes from him.

“May you seek Christ, may you find Christ and may you love Christ.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

Today is St. Josemaria’s Feast day, June 26th. Here you can find his prayer card, and you can ask him for help to continue in this worthwhile path. And if you haven’t started yet, you can start now. Sanctity is for everyone, we were all made for heaven, and you are no exception.

List of all the masses around Canada

By Guest Writer Trisha Villarante