Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vatican Family Synod Survey Results - Full Text - Video

Pope Francis convoked October 2014 Synod on Family

(Vatican Radio)Results of a 2013 survey among Catholics on challenges to the Family were released by the Vatican Thursday in the form of a working document ahead of the upcoming extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.  The Instrumentum Laboris “Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” will be at the heart of the bishops’ reflections over two sessions: the first, in October this year, will engage mostly leaders of national bishops’ conferences.  A second meeting of world bishops will follow in 2015. In a Vatican Press briefing, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, whose office produced the document, reviewed some of the feedback received for the 39 questions examined in the survey.
He said the questionnaire revealed Catholics show scarce familiarity with Church teachings and magisterium regarding marriage and family – suggesting greater emphasis be placed on the preparation of pastoral care workers in different cultural and social contexts.
Other pastoral challenges include crises of faith, inadequate marriage preparation, internal family pressures like addiction to drugs, alcohol and even social networks and external economic, social and cultural factors such as jobs, unemployment, war, poverty, violence, migration and polygamy, which can negatively affect the family.
Unmarried couples, separated and divorced Catholics and their children; unwed mothers and unbelievers or agnostics wishing to be married in the Catholic Church, present further challenges that require openhearted and merciful pastoral care so that people are welcomed and no one is excluded.
Cardinal Baldisseri observed that a need was expressed to simplify and abbreviate marriage annulment procedures. And, compatible with its teaching, the Church is called to examine “solutions” that will help unmarried couples and remarried divorced people who can feel emarginated from the Church, “to lead a serene and reconciled life.”
Regarding so-called same sex unions in the different legislative contexts, Cardinal Baldisseri said the care of the local Church was highlighted, including where children are involved.
An openness to life and the kind of responsible father and mother-hood presented in the encyclical Humanae vitae were examined in the survey.  The Instrumentum Laboris found “many responses recommend that for many Catholics the concept of ‘responsible parenthood’ encompasses the shared responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method of birth control, according to a set of criteria ranging from effectiveness to physical tolerance and passing to a real ability to be practiced.”
It also emerged that parents have trouble transmitting the faith to their children, particularly when faced with difficult family situations, and require greater pastoral support.
The results of this October’s extraordinary Synod will be used to prepare the Instrumentum Laboris for the successive Ordinary Synod in October 2015 whose theme Cardinal Baldisseri announced, will be “Jesus Christ reveals the Mystery and Vocation of the Family.”
Shared from Radio Vaticana , Youtube and Vatican. va

RIP Fr. Peter Woodward - Beloved Priest of Deaf Community in Australia

City's Deaf Community Farewells Beloved Priest

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese Release:
26 Jun 2014

Fr Peter Woodward
The life of former Director of the Ephpheta Centre and for many years the much loved chaplain to Sydney's deaf community, Fr Peter Woodward was celebrated today at a funeral service at Rydalmere.
Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Ephpheta Centre, Steve Lawlor together with the Centre's staff and many of the city's deaf community attended the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Peter at the Holy Name of Mary Church.
Suffering ill health for the past several years, Fr Peter died on Friday, 20 June at Westmead Rehabilitation Hospital.
He was 58 years old.
The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta and was also signed in Auslan by an interpreter to include and involve the profoundly deaf and hard of hearing who attended.
Family, friends, parishioners and colleagues remembered Fr Peter's countless acts of kindness and his quiet humility.
One of the eulogies was delivered by Steve Lawlor who paid tribute to his longtime friend in Auslan, the sign language used by Australia's deaf community.

Holy Name of Mary Church, Rydalmere where the funeral for Father Peter Woodward was held
"I have known Pete, as I always called him, since his ordination in 1997 and through his work over many years at the Ephpheta Centre," Steve told Catholic Communications through an interpreter.. "It was Pete who invited me to work at the Ephpheta Centre back in 2000 and together we experienced many ups and downs during the ensuing years."
"Pete was an important part of the Deaf Ministry in Sydney for many years. He was loved and respected by the Community and the staff at the Ephpheta Centre, and was a great support to me when I was appointed to the role of Director, for which I will always be grateful," he said.

Nicole Clark of Sydney's Ephpheta Centre
Fr Peter was Director of the Ephpheta Centre from 1999 until 2005 when Steve was appointed the world's first non-hearing director of a Catholic deaf facility by the then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell
"I believe Cardinal Pell thought having a deaf person as director of Ephpheta would be a good opportunity for leadership role modelling for Sydney's deaf community," Steve recalls and remembers the advice and unfailing support in his new role he received from his friend and former Director of the Centre, Fr Peter.
Although no longer the Director, Fr Peter continued his close association with Ephpheta Centre and Sydney's deaf community and his role as Chaplain to the city's non-hearing or hard of hearing Catholics.
Proficient in Auslan, Fr Peter conducted Masses for the deaf using sign language and was also able to use Auslan to communicate with the profoundly deaf or hard of hearing, whether they were elderly, youngsters or teenagers, reaching out to them in friendship as well as offering them pastoral care and counsel.
"Pete was always determined to work tirelessly to ensure the complex underlying messages of the Gospel values were easily understood and clarified for our Deaf Community members," Steve said describing this as an invaluable talent which is now sorely missed by all those at Ephpheta as well as the deaf community at large.

Steve Lawlor, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Ephpheta Centre delivered one of the eulogies in Auslan
Although only in his 50s, Fr Peter had struggled with increasingly severe health issues and in December last year he reluctantly retired from his role as chaplain at the Ephpheta Centre. His final Mass was the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass on 24 December last year which was held in the garden at the Ephpheta Centre and its relatively new premises at Punchbowl.
During the final weeks of his life, many of the deaf community visited him at Westmead Rehabilitation Hospital and prayed for his recovery.
"We all loved him and he will be greatly missed," says Nicole Clark, Assistant to the Director and Interpreter at the Ephpheta Centre. "He was genuinely very kind and full of humility. There was also always a peace and serenity about him and even though we knew he was very ill we were all extremely shocked and saddened by the news of his passing."
Fr Peter was born in Toronto near Newcastle on 16 November 1955 and entered the Benedictine Monastery at New Norcia WA as a novice. He later joined St Paul's National Seminary, Kensington and in 1994 continued his studies at the House of Priestly Formation in the Diocese of Parramatta.

Bishop Anthony Fisher celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Peter Woodward at the Church of the Holy Name of Mary
Ordained a Deacon on 13 September 1996, he served at St Anthony's Parish, Toongabbie and the following year was ordained to the priest hood on 18 April 1997.
Appointed assistant priest to St Anthony's Parish, Toongabbie he later served as assistant priest at St Matthew's Parish, Windsor and in 1999 became chaplain of the Sydney Archdiocese and Parramatta Diocese deaf community.
His ministry of Sydney's deaf community continued until his retirement in December last year.
Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney

Pope Francis Homily "The message of Jesus reached to the heart.”

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Casa Santa Marta

(Vatican Radio) People follow Jesus because they recognize that He is the Good Shepherd. That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. He warned against those who reduce the faith to moralism, pursue a political liberation, or seek deals with power.
In his homily, the Holy Father referred to a kind of “casistica” – literally, “casuistry” – which we have translated as “moralistic quibbling,” the closest English equivalent to the Pope’s meaning. Why do so many people follow Jesus? That was the question Pope Francis asked in his homily, which centred on the people and the teaching of the Lord. The crowds, he said, followed Jesus because “they were astonished by His teaching,” His words “brought wonder to their hearts, the wonder of finding something good, great.” Other people “were speaking, but they did not reach the people.” The Pope mentioned four groups of people that were speaking at the time of Jesus. The first of these was the Pharisees. The Pharisees, he said, were making religion and the worship of God a chain of commandments, turning the Ten Commandments into “more than three hundred,” loading “this weight” on the backs of the people. It was, the Pope said, “a reduction of the faith in the Living God” to a kind of “casuistry” or quibbling. And there were also “contradictions of the cruelest kind of moralistic quibbling”:
“For example, ‘You have to obey the fourth commandment!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ ‘You have to feed your elderly father, your elderly mother!’ ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ ‘But you know, I can’t because I gave my money to the temple!’; ‘You don’t do that? And your parents starve to death!’ So: contradictions of the cruelest kind of moralistic quibbling. The people respect them [the Pharisees], because the people are respectful. They respected them, but they didn’t listen to them! They went about their business [se ne andava]…”
Another group was the Sadducees. Pope Francis said the Sadducees “did not have the faith, they had lost the faith! They made it their religious work to make deals with the powers: political powers, economic powers. They were men of power.”
A third group was the “revolutionaries,” or the zealots, who “wanted to cause a revolution to free the people of Israel from the Roman occupation.” The people, though, had good sense, and knew to distinguish when the fruit was ripe and when it was not! And they didn’t follow them.”
Pope Francis then spoke about the fourth group, who were called the Essenes and were “good people.” They were monks who consecrated their lives to God – but, he warned, “they were far from the people, and the people couldn’t follow them.”
These, the Pope said, “were the voices that reached the people, and none of these voices had the power to warm the hearts of the people – But Jesus did! The crowds were amazed: They heard Jesus and their hearts were warmed. The message of Jesus reached to the heart.” Jesus, Pope Francis said, “approached to the people,” He “healed the heart of the people,” He “understood their difficulties.” Jesus, he continued, “was not ashamed to speak with sinners, He went out to find them,” Jesus “felt joy, He was happy to be with His people.” And this is why Jesus is “the Good Shepherd,” the sheep hear His voice and follow Him:
“And this is why the people followed Jesus, because He was the Good Shepherd. He wasn’t a moralistic, quibbling Pharisee, or a Sadducee who made political deals with the powerful, or a guerrilla who sought the political liberation of his people, or a contemplative in a monastery. He was a pastor! A pastor who spoke the language of His people, Who understood, Who spoke the truth, the things of God: He never trafficked in the things of God! But He spoke in such a way that the people loved the things of God. That’s why they followed Him.”
Jesus, the Pope said, “was never far from the people, was never far from His Father.” Jesus “was so joined to the Father, He was one with the Father!” and so was “so very close to the people.” He “had this authority, and this is why the people followed Him.” Contemplating Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Pope said, it would be good for us to think about who we like to follow:
“Whom do I like to follow? Those who talk to me about abstract things or quibbling morals? Those who talk about the people of God but have no faith and negotiate with political, economic powers? Those who always want to do strange things, destructive things, so-called wars of liberation, but which in the end are not the paths of the Lord? Or a faraway contemplative? Whom do I like to follow?”
“May this question,” Pope Francis concluded, “bring us to prayer, and to ask God the Father, who brings us close to Jesus, to follow Jesus, to be amazed at the things Jesus tells us.” Share from Radio Vaticana

Pope Francis "True peace, the peace which the world cannot give, is a gift to us from Jesus Christ." Full Text to ROACO

Pope Francis blesses a crucifix as he meets ROACO members

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday received the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches – ROACO. Below, please find the official English version of the Holy Father’s prepared remarks.
Dear Friends,
A month ago, I had the grace of making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Today this meeting with the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and with the representatives of R.O.A.C.O. allows me to reaffirm my closeness to all the Churches of the East.  My pilgrimage was a great source of consolation, but also of encouragement and a renewed sense of responsibility for the advancement of full unity among Christians and of dialogue between religions.
I thank the Cardinal Prefect, who has recalled the various events of the pilgrimage.  With great affection I also greet each of you and the communities to which you belong.  Together let us give thanks to God and pray that the Apostolic Journey will, like a good seed, bring forth abundant fruit.  It is the Lord who will make that fruit blossom and grow, if we but entrust ourselves to him in prayer and press forward, despite every difficulty, along the paths pointed out to us by the Gospel.
The olive tree which I planted in the Vatican Gardens together with the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Presidents of Israel and Palestine, is a symbol of that peace which is secure and enduring only because it is cultivated by many hands.  Those who would cultivate the plant of peace must never forget that God alone gives the growth.  True peace, the peace which the world cannot give, is a gift to us from Jesus Christ.  For all the grievous attacks it endures today, peace can always flourish again.  I am grateful that you continue to “make peace grow” through charity, which is the ultimate aim of all your organizations.  With unity and charity Christ’s disciples strive to be peacemakers everywhere, in all peoples and communities, and to overcome persistent forms of discrimination, starting with those based on religion.
First among those called to be peacemakers are our brothers and sisters of the Oriental Churches, together with their pastors.  Hoping at times against all hope, remaining in the place of their birth where the Gospel of the incarnate Son of God was first proclaimed, may they experience the blessedness reserved to those who are peacemakers: “they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).  And may they always feel the support of the universal Church and never falter in their conviction that the fire of Pentecost, the power of Love, can halt the fire of arms, hatred and vengeance.  Their tears and their anguish are ours, as well as their hope!  We can express this through our solidarity, if it is one which is concrete and effective, capable of ensuring that the international community upholds the rights of individuals and peoples.
In a special way, I join you in telling our brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq, their bishops and priests, that the Catholic Church is close to them.  The Church is likewise close to our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and the Middle East, but also to the beloved people of Ukraine in the critical situation in which they find themselves, and to the people of Romania.  This closeness and concern is expressed in the works which your agencies carry out.  I urge you to continue your generous efforts to help them.  Your works of relief and assistance in nations most affected by these crises respond to basic needs, particularly of those who are powerless and most vulnerable, as well as the many young people tempted to leave their homeland.  And since communities of Eastern Christians are present worldwide, you are working everywhere to bring relief to the displaced and to refugees, restoring their dignity and their security in full respect for their identity and religious freedom.
Dear friends, I encourage you to pursue the goals set in your last Plenary Session, especially those regarding the training of young people and teachers.  At the same time, as the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family fast approaches, I urge you to give priority to this area, letting yourselves be guided by the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente (Nos. 58-61).  For the Holy Family of Nazareth, “which knew anxiety... as well as the pain of persecution, emigration and hard daily labour” teaches us “to trust the Father, to imitate Christ and to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit” (ibid., 59).  May the Mother of God accompany all families with her prayers, so that through them the Church, filled with the joy and strength of the Gospel, may always be a fruitful mother, anxious to strengthen the unity of the whole family of God.
Once again I thank you for your work.  To all of you I cordially impart my blessing.

Pope Francis "Does this universe made up of hundreds of millions of galaxies have any meaning?" Full Text to Observatory

Pope Francis meets with participants of the Vatican Observatory's summer school

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis today met the professors and students of the Summer Course organized by the Vatican Observatory on the theme “Galaxies: Near and Far, Young and Old”.
The students come from many different countries and faith backgrounds, and Pope Francis said they offered an “impressive example of dialogue and fruitful cooperation”, adding that it is “only right that men and women everywhere should have access to research and scientific training.”  Pope Francis said that one of the reasons for the  Church’s commitment to dialogue with the sciences is her conviction that faith is capable of “both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason”. He said the search for an answer to the universal questions on our origins can lead us to an encounter with the Creator, who is the loving Father.
The full text of Pope Francis’ remarks are below
Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis
To Participants in the Summer Course of the Vatican Observatory, 26 June 2014
 Good Morning,
                I am pleased to welcome you, the professors and students of the Summer Course organized by the Vatican Observatory on the theme “Galaxies: Near and Far, Young and Old”.  I also offer a cordial greeting to the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers and to the staff of the Observatory.  It is gratifying to see the large number of qualified professors and students, drawn from twenty-three different countries, who have taken part in this international programme.  In a particular way I thank the instructors who have devoted so much time and energy to introducing these young astronomers to the demanding yet fascinating work of studying the universe, the precious gift of the Creator.  I also thank the benefactors whose generosity has provided for various study grants.
                For nearly a month now, you have been engaged not only in the study of galaxies, under the direction of professors who are experts in this field, but also in sharing your own cultural and religious traditions.  In this way, you have offered an impressive example of dialogue and fruitful cooperation.  During these weeks of study you have also made lasting friendships and laid the groundwork for future forms of collaboration.  Seeing all of you here today is like looking at a marvelous mosaic made up of people from throughout the world.  It is only right that men and women everywhere should have access to research and scientific training.  The hope that one day all peoples will be able to enjoy the benefits of science is one which spurs all of us on, scientists in particular. 
                The Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics is thus a place where young people the world over can engage in dialogue and collaboration, helping one another in the search for truth, which in this case is concretized in the study of galaxies.  This simple and practical initiative shows how the sciences can be a fitting and effective means for promoting peace and justice.
Here too we see a further reason for the Church’s commitment to dialogue with the sciences on the basis of the light provided by faith: it is her conviction that faith is capable of both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 238).  In this dialogue, the Church rejoices in the marvelous progress of science, seeing it as a sign of the enormous God-given potential of the human mind (cf. ibid, 243), even as a mother rejoices and is rightly proud as her children grow “in wisdom, and age and grace” (Lk 2:52).
Finally, I would also encourage you to share with people in your own countries the knowledge about the universe which you have acquired.  Only a fraction of the global population has access to such knowledge, which opens the heart and the mind to the great questions which human beings have always asked:  Where do we come from?  Where are we going?  Does this universe made up of hundreds of millions of galaxies have any meaning? ... The search for an answer to these questions can lead us to an encounter with the Creator, the loving Father, for “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
May the almighty and merciful God, who “tells the number of the stars and calls each one by name” (Ps 147:4), fill all of you with his peace and grant you his blessing. Shared from Radio Vaticana

Today's Mass Readings Online : Thursday June 26, 2014

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 374

Reading 12 KGS 24:8-17

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign,
and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.
His mother’s name was Nehushta,
daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
He did evil in the sight of the LORD,
just as his forebears had done.

At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
himself arrived at the city
while his servants were besieging it.
Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother,
his ministers, officers, and functionaries,
surrendered to the king of Babylon, who,
in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive.
And he carried off all the treasures
of the temple of the LORD and those of the palace,
and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel,
had provided in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had foretold.
He deported all Jerusalem:
all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number,
and all the craftsmen and smiths.
None were left among the people of the land except the poor.
He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon,
and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon
the king’s mother and wives,
his functionaries, and the chief men of the land.
The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon
all seven thousand men of the army,
and a thousand craftsmen and smiths,
all of them trained soldiers.
In place of Jehoiachin,
the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king,
and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Responsorial Psalm PS 79:1B-2, 3-5, 8, 9

R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Gospel MT 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

Saint June 26 : St. Josemaria Escriva : Founder Opus Dei : Patron of Diabetics and Ordinary Life

St. Josemaria Escriva
Feast: June 26

Feast Day:June 26
9 January 1902, Barbastro, Aragon, Spain
Died:26 June 1975, Rome, Italy
Canonized:6 October 2002, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II
Major Shrine:Our Lady of Peace, Prelatic Church of Opus Dei, in Rome

A bright and cheerful home

Josemaría Escrivá was born in Barbastro, Spain, on 9 January 1902, the second of six children born to José Escrivá and María Dolores Albás. His parents were devout Catholics and he was baptised on 13 January that year and received from them – first through the example of their life – a firm grounding in the faith and the Christian virtues: love for frequent Confession and Holy Communion, a trusting recourse to prayer, devotion to Our Lady, helping those in greatest need.

Blessed Josemaría grew up as a cheerful, lively and straightforward child, fun-loving, good at study, intelligent and with an observing eye. He had a great affection for his mother and a trusting friendship with his father, who encouraged him to feel free to open his heart and tell him his worries, and was always ready to answer his questions with affection and prudence. It was not long before Our Lord began to temper his soul in the forge of sorrow. Between 1910 and 1913 his three younger sisters died and in 1914 his family suffered financial ruin. In 1915 the Escrivás moved to Logroño, a nearby town, where their father found a job with which to keep his family.

In the winter of 1917-18 something happened which was to have a decisive influence on Josemaría Escrivá’s future. The snow fell very heavily that Christmas in Logroño, and one day he saw some frozen footprints in the snow. They had been left by a discalced Carmelite. Josemaría found himself wondering: If others sacrifice so much for God and their neighbour, couldn’t I do something too? This was how God started to speak to his heart: I began to have an inkling of what Love is, to realise that my heart was yearning for something great, for love. He did not yet know what precisely God wanted of him, but he decided to become a priest, thinking that it would make him more available to fulfil God’s will.

Priestly ordination

Having completed his secondary education, he started his priestly studies at the Seminary of Logroño, passing on, in 1920, to the Seminary of Saragossa, at whose Pontifical University he completed his formation prior to ordination. At his father’s suggestion and with the permission of his ecclesiastical superiors, he also studied Law at the University of Saragossa. His generous and cheerful character and his straightforwardness and calm approach to things won him many friends. His life of piety, respect for discipline and endeavour in study were an example to his fellow seminarians and in 1922, when he was but twenty years of age, he was appointed an inspector or prefect in the Seminary by the Archbishop of Saragossa.

During that time he spent many hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament. His spiritual life became deeply rooted in the Eucharist. Each day he would also visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar, asking Mary to request God to show him what He wanted him to do. As he recalled on 2 October 1968: Since I felt those inklings of God's love, I sought to carry out, within the limits of my smallness, what he expected from this poor instrument. (…) And, with those yearnings, I prayed and prayed and prayed, in constant prayer. I kept on repeating: Domine, ut sit!, Domine, ut videam!, like the poor fellow in the Gospel, who shouted out because God can do everything. Lord, that I may see! Lord, that it may come to be! And I also repeated (…) filled with confidence in my heavenly Mother: Domina, ut sit!, Domina, ut videam! The Blessed Virgin has always helped me to discover her Son's desires.

On 27 November 1924 his father, José Escrivá, died suddenly and unexpectedly. On 28 March 1925, Josemaría was ordained a priest by Bishop Díaz Gómara in the church of the Seminary of St Charles in Saragossa. Two days later he celebrated his first Solemn Mass in the Holy Chapel of the Basilica of Our Lady of Pilar and on 31 March he moved to Perdiguera, a small country village, where he had been appointed assistant regent to the parish.

In April 1927, with the consent of his Archbishop, he took up residence in Madrid to study for his doctorate in Civil Law, a degree which at that time was only granted by the Central University in the Spanish capital. In Madrid, his apostolic zeal soon brought him into contact with a wide variety of people: students, artists, workers, academics, priests. He spent many hours caring for children, and for sick and poverty-stricken people in the outer suburbs of the city.

At the same time he taught law to earn a living for himself and his mother and sister and young brother. For a good many years the family were in serious financial difficulties, which they bore with dignity and courage. Our Lord blessed Fr Josemaría with abundant graces, both ordinary and extraordinary. They found a fertile reception in his generous soul and produced much fruit in the service of the Church and souls.
The foundation of Opus Dei

Opus Dei was born on 2 October 1928. Blessed Josemaría was spending some days on retreat and, while doing his meditation on some notes regarding the inner motions he had received from God in the previous years, he suddenly saw – to see was the term he always used to describe the foundational experience – the mission the Lord wanted to entrust to him: to open up in the Church a new vocational path, aimed at spreading the quest for holiness and the practice of apostolate through the sanctification of ordinary work in the middle of the world, without changing one’s place. A few months later, on 14 February 1930, God made him understand that Opus Dei was to spread among women also.

From that moment onward, Blessed Josemaría devoted all his energies to the fulfilment of his foundational mission, fostering among men and women from all areas of society a personal commitment to follow Christ, to love their neighbour and seek holiness in daily life. He did not see himself as an innovator or reformer, for he was convinced that Jesus Christ is eternally new and that the Holy Spirit is constantly rejuvenating the Church, for whose service God has brought Opus Dei into existence. Fully aware that the task entrusted to him was supernatural by nature, he proceeded to dig deep foundations for his work, based on prayer and penance, on a joyous awareness of his being a son of God and on tireless work. People of all sorts began to follow him and, in particular, university students and teachers, among whom he awakened a genuine determination to serve everyone, firing in them a desire to place Christ at the heart of all human activities by means of work that is sanctified, and sanctifies both the doer and those for whom it is done. This was the goal he set for the initiatives of the faithful of Opus Dei: to lift up to God, with the help of grace, each and every created reality, so that Christ may reign in everyone and in everything; to get to know Christ Jesus; to get Him known by others; to take Him everywhere. One can understood why he was able to declare that The divine paths of the earth have been opened up.

Apostolic expansion

In 1933, he started a university Centre, the DYA Academy, because he grasped that the world of human knowledge and culture is a key to the evangelisation of society as a whole. In 1934 he published Spiritual Considerations, the first version of The Way. Since then there have been 372 printings of the book in 44 languages and its circulation has passed the four and a half million mark.

While Opus Dei was thus taking its first steps, the Spanish Civil War broke out. It was 1936. There were serious outbreaks of religious violence in Madrid. To these Fr Josemaría responded heroically with prayer, penance and apostolic endeavour. It was a time of suffering for the whole Church, but also a time of spiritual and apostolic growth, and for strengthening hope. By 1939, with the war over, the Founder of Opus Dei was able to give new vigour to his apostolic work all over the Spanish peninsula. In particular he mobilised many young university students to take Christ to every area of society and discover the  greatness of the Christian calling. At the same time, with his reputation for holiness growing, many Bishops invited him to preach to their clergy and to lay people involved in Catholic organisations. Similar petitions came to him from the superiors of religious orders; he always said yes.

In 1941, while he was preaching a retreat to priests in Lerida, in the North of Spain, his mother who had been a great help to him in the apostolates of Opus Dei, died. God also let him become the butt of harsh misunderstandings. The Bishop of Madrid, Bishop Eijo y Garay gave him his fullest backing and granted the first canonical approval to Opus Dei. Blessed Josemaría accepted these difficulties with a prayerful and cheerful attitude, aware that all those desiring to live piously in Christ Jesus will meet persecution (2 Tim 3:12) and he recommended his spiritual children, in the face of these attacks, to forgive ungrudgingly: don’t answer back, but pray, work and smile.

In 1943, through a new foundational grace he received while celebrating Holy Mass, there came to birth – within Opus Dei – the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, in which priests proceeding from the faithful of Opus Dei could be incardinated. The fact of all the faithful of Opus Dei, both laity and priests, belonging fully to Opus Dei, with both laity and priests cooperating organically in its apostolates, is a feature of the foundational charism, which the Church confirmed in 1982, when giving Opus Dei its definitive status in Church Law as a Personal Prelature. On 25 June 1944 three engineers were ordained to the priesthood. One of them was Alvaro del Portillo, who would eventually succeed the Founder as the head of Opus Dei. In the years that followed, close on a thousand laymen of Opus Dei reached the priesthood at the encouragement of Blessed Josemaría.

The Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which is intrinsically united to the Prelature of Opus Dei, also carries out, in close harmony with the Pastors of the local Churches, activities of spiritual formation for diocesan priests and candidates to the priesthood. Diocesan priests too may belong to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, while maintaining unchanged their status as clergy of their respective dioceses.
A Roman and universal spirit

As soon as the end of the world war was in sight, Blessed Josemaría began to prepare apostolic work in other countries, because, as he pointed out, Jesus wants his Work from the outset to have a universal, Catholic heart. In 1946 he moved to Rome, in order to obtain papal recognition for Opus Dei. On 24 February 1947, Pius XII granted Opus Dei the decretum laudis, or decree of praise; and three years later, on 16 June 1950, the Church’s definitive approval. Since then it has been possible to admit as Cooperators of Opus Dei men and women who are not Catholic and not even Christian, but who wish to help its apostolic works, with their work, alms and prayer.

The headquarters of Opus Dei were fixed in Rome, to emphasise even more clearly the aspiration which is the guiding force of all its work, to serve the Church as the Church wishes to be served, in close union with the see of Peter and the hierarchy of the Church. On several occasions, Pius XII and John XXIII sent Blessed Josemaría expressions of their affection and esteem; Paul VI wrote to him in 1964 describing Opus Dei as "a living expression of the perennial youthfulness of the Church".

This stage too of the life of the Founder of Opus Dei was characterised by all kinds of trials. Not only was his health affected by many sufferings (for more than ten years he had a serious form of diabetes, from which he was miraculously cured in 1954), but also there were financial hardships and the difficulties arising from the expansion of the apostolic works worldwide. Nevertheless, he kept smiling throughout, because True virtue is not sad or disagreeable, but pleasantly cheerful. His permanent good humour was a constant witness to his unconditional love for God’s will.

The world is little, when Love is great: his desire to flood the earth with the light of Christ led him to follow up the calls that many Bishops made to him from all over the world, asking Opus Dei to help them in the work of evangelisation with its apostolates. Many varied projects were undertaken: colleges to impart professional training, schools for agricultural workers, universities, primary and secondary schools, hospitals and medical centres, etc. These activities, which he often compared to a shoreless sea, originate at the initiative of ordinary Christians who seek to meet specific local needs with a lay mentality and a professional approach. They are open to people of all races, religions and social backgrounds, because their unmistakably Christian outlook is always matched by a deep respect for the freedom of consciences.
When John XXIII announced his decision to call an Ecumenical Council, Blessed Josemaría began to pray and get others to pray for the happy outcome of this great initiative of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, as he wrote in a letter in 1962. As a result of the deliberations of the Council, the Church’s solemn Magisterium was to confirm fundamental aspects of the spirit of Opus Dei, such as the universal call to holiness; professional work as a means to holiness and apostolate; the value and lawful limits of Christian freedom in temporal affairs; and the Holy Mass as the centre and root of the interior life. Blessed Josemaría met numerous Council Fathers and experts, who saw him as a forerunner of many of the master lines of the Second Vatican Council. Profoundly identified with the Council’s teaching, he diligently fostered its implementation through the formative activities of Opus Dei all over the world.

Holiness in the midst of the world

Heaven and earth seem to merge, far away, on the horizon. But don’t forget that where they really meet is in your heart as a son of God. Blessed Josemaría preached constantly that interior life is more important than organising activities. In The Way he wrote that These world crises are crises of saints. He insisted that holiness always requires prayer, work and apostolate to be intertwined in what he called a unity of life, and practised this himself with cheerful perseverance.

He was utterly convinced that in order to attain sanctity through daily work, one needs to struggle to be a soul of prayer, of deep inner life. When a person lives this way, everything becomes prayer, everything can and ought to lead us to God, feeding our constant contact with Him, from morning till night. Every kind of work can become prayer, and every kind of work, become prayer, turns into apostolate.

The root of the astonishing fruitfulness of his ministry lies precisely in his ardent interior life which made Blessed Josemaría a contemplative in the midst of the world. His interior life fed on prayer and the sacraments, and expressed itself in a passionate love for the Eucharist, in the depth with which he lived the Mass as the centre and root of his own life, in his tender devotion to the Virgin Mary, to St Joseph and the Guardian Angels, and in his faithfulness to the Church and the Pope.

The definitive encounter with the Most Holy Trinity

During the last years of his life, the Founder of Opus Dei undertook a number of catechetical journeys to countries in Europe and Latin America. Wherever he went, there were meetings, which were always simple and familiar in tone, even though often those listening to him were to be counted in thousands. He would speak about God, the sacraments, Christian devotions, the sanctification of work, and his love for the Church and the Pope. On 28 March 1975 he celebrated his priestly Golden Jubilee. His prayer that day was like a summing up of his whole life: Fifty years have gone by, and I am still like a faltering child. I am just beginning, beginning again, as I do each day in my interior life. And it will be so to the end of my days: always beginning anew.

On 26 June 1975, at midday, Blessed Josemaría died in his workroom, of a cardiac arrest, before a picture of Our Lady which received his last glance. At the time, Opus Dei was present in all five continents, with over 60,000 members from 80 nationalities. His books of spirituality (The Way, Holy Rosary, Conversations with Mgr Escrivá, Christ is Passing By, Friends of God, Love for the Church, The Way of the Cross, Furrow, The Forge) have reached millions of copies.

After his death, many people asked the Holy Father for his canonisation. On 17 May 1992, in Rome, His Holiness Pope John Paul II raised Josemaría Escrivá to the altars, in a beatification ceremony before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. On 21 September 2001, the Ordinary Congregation of Cardinal and Bishop members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, unanimously confirmed the miraculous character of a cure attributed to Blessed Josemaría. The decree regarding this miracle was read before the Holy Father on 20 December. On 26 February 2002, John Paul II presided over an Ordinary Public Consistory of Cardinals and, having heard the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops present, he established that the ceremony for the Canonisation of Blessed Josemaría Escrivá should take place on 6 October 2002.