Saint Josemaria

The inspiration behind Wollemi

Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro in Spain in 1902. As a teenager he had the conviction that God was asking something special of him and so he decided to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1926. During a retreat he was attending, on 2 October 1928, he received a vivid and wholly supernatural understanding from God in his soul that he should found Opus Dei. The name means “Work of God”. Opus Dei’s mission is to promote among men and women of all walks of life a profound awareness of the universal call to holiness, that all Christians have been called by God to make the Gospel known and to seek holiness in and through their daily work, family life and social relations. Opus Dei’s members come from all backgrounds and occupations. About 98% are lay men and women, most of whom are married. In 1982 Pope John Paul II established Opus Dei as a prelature of the Catholic Church. Josemaria Escriva was beatified by the Pope in 1992 and canonised in a ceremony in front of some 250,000 persons in St Peter’s Square in 2002.

Some key ideas in the teaching of Saint Josemaria Escriva

Universal calling to holiness.
This message, taught tirelessly by Saint Josemaria from the 1920s was at the core of the Second Vatican Council, and is in fact the name of the central chapter of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church. Pope John Paul I called Saint Josemaria a ‘precursor to Vatican II’.

“Do you really want to be a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment; do what you ought and put your heart into what you are doing.”

Saint Josemaria. The Way 815

“Great holiness consists in carrying out the little duties of each moment.”

Saint Josemaria. The Way 817

“All Christian faithful, of whatever state or rank, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity….The laity, by their vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.”

Vatican II Lumen Gentium

Sanctification of work.
Saint Josemaria taught that we sanctify our work when we do it as well as we can with rectitude of intention, make it compatible with other family and religious duties, and when we use the opportunities presented to us in our work to serve our fellow man.

“Sanctify yourself in your work, sanctify your work, and sanctify others in your work.”

Saint Josemaria

“You must understand … God is calling you to serve him in and from the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life. He awaits us everyday, in the laboratory, in the operating theatre, in the army barracks, in the university, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home, in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it… Either we learn to find Our Lord in ordinary everyday life, or else we shall never find him.”

Extract from Conversations with Monsignor Escriva

By secularity, St Josemaria meant taking full personal responsibility for one’s actions; having the initiative to do good in society; he insisted “Love is deeds not words.”

Detachment in one’s heart.

He taught that we must avoid becoming attached to possessions or to positions. He warned us that that in a consumer orientated society it is very easy for us to create artificial needs for ourselves and that such needs distract us from service to others, love of God and ultimately from happiness.

“Be men and women of the world but don’t be worldly men and women.”

Saint Josemaria The Way

Divine Filiatio.
Through baptism we are taken into God’s family; God is our father and sends only what is best for us.

Unity of life.
We must not live a “double life”; try to do everything with love of God.

“The great holiness which God expects of us is to be found here and now in the little things of each day…. The supernatural value of our life does not depend on accomplishing great undertakings suggested to us by our overactive imagination. Rather it is to be found in the faithful acceptance of God’s will, in welcoming generously the opportunities for small, daily sacrifice.”

Saint Josemaria. Christ is Passing By

Plan of life.
His taught a very practial approach to living one’s faith, insisting on the importance of living a life nourished by sacraments, and of dedicating time daily to prayer and to showing love for the Eucharist and for Our Lady.

“A saint without prayer? I don’t believe in such sanctity.”

Saint Josemaria The Way 107

“This training for holiness calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer.… Prayer develops that conversation with Christ that makes us his intimate friends…. It would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life. Especially in the face of the many trials to which today’s world subjects faith, they would not only be mediocre Christians, but ‘Christians at risk’. They would run the insidious risk of seeing their faith progressively undermined…”

John Paul II Novo Millennio Ineunte

Universal call to apostolate.
As a consequence of our baptism, we are called to evangelise; Saint Josemaria stressed the priority we must give to prayer and sacrifice to help our friends and family.

“Apostolate is love for God that overflows and communicates itself to others…. A necessary outward manifestation of interior life.”

Saint Josemaria Christ is Passing By 122