June 25, 2017

Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, Priest

Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

Optional Memorial - June 26th

Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902, the second of six children. His parents, José Escrivá and María Albás, gave their children a devout Christian education. In 1915, when Jose Escriva's business failed, the family moved to Logrono. There, as a teenager, Josemaria initially sensed his religious vocation. Moved by the sight of footprints left in the snow by a barefoot friar, he believed that God was calling him. He entered the seminary and studied philosophy and theology, first in Logrono and later in Saragossa.

He was ordained to the priesthood in Zaragoza, Spain on March 28, 1925. Then, on October 2, 1928, during a spiritual retreat, Fr. Josemaria saw what it was that God was asking of him: to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the Christian's ordinary duties. From that day forward, he carried out this task, while ministering especially among the poor and the sick.

When Civil War broke out in Madrid, religious persecution forced Fr. Josemaria to exercise his priestly ministry clandestinely and to move from place to place seeking refuge. Eventually, after a harrowing escape across the Pyrenees, he took up residence in Burgos. When the war concluded in 1939, he returned to Madrid and obtained his doctorate in law. In the years that followed he gave numerous retreats, and continued working assiduously to develop Opus Dei.

Traveling frequently from Rome to various European countries, and to Mexico on one occasion, he extolled the need for heroic virtue in everyday life and worked to spark the growth of Opus Dei in those places. In 1974 and 1975, he made two long trips to a number of countries in Latin America, where he met with large groups of people and spoke to them about their Christian vocation to holiness.

On June 26, 1975, St. Josemaria Escriva died suddenly in Rome, after a final affectionate glance at a picture of our Lady on the wall. Pope Saint John Paul II canonized St Josemaria in Rome on October 6, 2002. His feast day is celebrated on June 26. In his discourse to those who attended the canonization, the Holy Father said that, "St. Josemaria was chosen by the Lord to proclaim the universal call to holiness and to indicate that everyday life, its customary activities, are a path towards holiness. It could be said that he was the saint of the ordinary."

No comments :