BACOLOD City, June 22, 2014 — St. Josemaria Escriva and his vision of ordinary people being holy in daily life is something not just possible, but relevant even today, especially during this ‘Year of the Laity.’
“St. Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei, which means “Work of God,” saw that it was possible for us to become saints, not in spite of our daily work, but precisely through it, whatever it happened to be, from engineers to construction workers, from doctors to teachers, from students to cooks to house helpers, etc,” said Fr. Joenick Territorio, director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Laity of the Archdiocese of Jaro.
Holiness for all
Speaking from years of pastoral experience, Territorio admitted that telling an ordinary layman that he is called to be a saint and to encourage him to respond to that call requires the breaking down of old mentalities.
“The traditional notion is that holiness was primarily the call of a select few, such as priests or nuns. As for lay people, holiness was commonly associated with participating in Church rituals such as novenas, processions, etc, or by their ‘working in the Church’, as in the case of lay ministers,” he added.
In this context, the Iloilo laity director cited the St. Josemaria Escriva’s revolutionary contribution in helping ordinary people realize that they really can be saints.
“The traditional setup was prevalent within the Church when in 1928 St. Josemaria experienced a vision for a mobilization of Christians disposed to sacrifice themselves with joy for others, sanctifying every upright work,” Territorio explained.
The Iloilo laity director clarified that St. Josemaria’s teaching was not a call to activism but for lay people to be contemplatives in the middle of the world.
Special feast day
Territorio also cited the words of St. John Paul II when he canonized Escriva: “To fulfil such a rigorous mission one needs constant interior growth nourished by prayer…which he considered to be an extraordinary “weapon” to redeem the world. He always recommended: “in the first place prayer; then expiation; in the third place, but very much in third place, action.” It is not a paradox but a perennial truth: the fruitfulness of the apostolate lies above all in prayer and in intense and constant sacramental life. This, in essence, is the secret of the holiness and the true success of the saints.”
According to him, the feast day of the Opus Dei founder this year takes on “special significance” because of the celebration of the ‘Year of the Laity’ this year which reminds Filipino Catholics “You have been called to be saints; you are sent forth as heroes!”
St. John Paul II declared Msgr. Escriva a saint on October 6, 2002. On that occasion, the Pope said, “St. Josemaría was chosen by the Lord to announce the universal call to holiness and to point out that daily life, or ordinary activities, is a path to holiness.”
Solemn Masses on the occasion of St. Josemaría’s liturgical memorial holy masses are scheduled to be held in various cities and towns in the Philippines on June 26, 2014. A list of Masses to be celebrated in the coming weeks to commemorate the feast of St. Josemaría Escrivá may be found in http://www.opusdei.ph/en-ph/
For information on St. Josemaria or requests for prayer cards, novenas (for the Family, for the Sick, for Work), contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.opusdei.ph/en-ph/. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas)