Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Vatican City, 26 June 2012 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today the Holy Father departed by helicopter from the Vatican to fly to the Italian region of Emilia Romagna which, beginning on 20 May, has been affected by a series of earthquakes that have left many dead and hundreds of injured. The tremors have forced thousands of people to abandon their homes, destroyed historic buildings and seriously damaged the infrastructure and economy of the entire area.
The Pope's helicopter landed at 10.30 a.m. at the sports ground of San Marino di Carpi where he was welcomed by Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi and by Franco Gabrielli, head of the Italian Civil Protection Department. The Pontiff then boarded a minibus to travel to Rovereto di Novi where he made a brief visit to the church of St. Catherine of Alexandria which partially collapsed during the earthquake killing the pastor Fr. Ivan Martini. Subsequently the Holy Father boarded a Jeep from which he greeted the faithful while being driven to the central square of Rovereto di Novi where, in the presence of the archbishops and bishops of the affected areas (Bologna, Carpi, Modena, Mantua, Ferrara and Reggio Emilia) he delivered his address.
Ample extracts from the Holy Father's words are given below:
"Ever since the beginning of the earthquake which affected you I have been close to you with my prayers and concern. But when I saw that the trial had become more arduous, I felt the impelling need to come among you in person, and I thank the Lord for having enabled me to do so. Thus I greet all of you who are gathered here, as with my mind and heart I embrace all the villages and all the people affected by the earthquake, especially the families and communities mourning their dead. May the Lord welcome them into His peace".
"I was aware that, apart from suffering the material consequences, your spirits were also being sorely tried by the continuation of the seismic activity, including even strong tremors, and by the loss of certain symbolic buildings in your towns and villages, in particular many churches. Here in Rovereto di Novi in the collapse of a church - which I have just visited - Fr. Ivan Martini lost his life. Paying homage to his memory, I address a special greeting to you, dear priests, and to all confreres who, as has happened at other difficult moments in the history of these lands, are showing their generous love for the people of God.
"As you all know, we priests (as well as religious and no small number of lay people) daily pray the 'Breviary' which contains the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the Church which marks the hours of the day. We pray the Psalms in an order which is the same for the entire Catholic Church. Why am I telling you this? Because in recent days I came across this expression in Psalm 46: 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble'".
"These words seem to contrast with the fear we inevitably feel following an experience such as the one you have just been through; that is an immediate reaction, which can become more profound if the phenomenon is prolonged. However, the Psalm does not in fact refer to that kind of fear; and the confidence it expresses in not that of supermen untouched by normal feelings. The confidence expressed is that of the faith. Yes we may feel fear and anguish - even Jesus did - but above all is the certainty that God is with us. ... His Love is as solid as a rock. We see this Love in the crucified Christ; at one and the same time a sign of suffering and of love. This is the revelation of God Love, Who remained united to us even unto extreme abasement.
"On this rock, with this firm hope, we can build, we can rebuild. Italy was rebuilt on the postwar ruins, and not just material ruins, thanks also to help received, but above all thanks to the faith of so many people animated by a spirit of genuine solidarity, by the will to give a future to their families, a future of freedom and peace. You are a people whom all Italians respect for your humanity and sociability, for hard work and cordiality. These qualities have been dealt a harsh blow by the current situation, but this must not and cannot affect your identity as a people, your history and your culture. Remain faithful to your vocation as a fraternal and united people, and face everything with patience and determination, rejecting the temptations which are unfortunately always associated with such moments of weakness and need.
"The situation you are going through has highlighted an aspect which I hope will remain at the forefront of your minds: You are not and you will not be alone! Over these days, amidst so much destruction and pain, you have seen and felt how numerous people have expressed closeness, solidarity and affection through so many signs and concrete forms of assistance. My presence among you is intended to be another such sign of love and hope. Looking at you lands I have been profoundly moved by the sight of so many wounds, but I have also seen many hands extended to cure those wounds with you. I have seen that life restarts with force and courage, and that is the most beautiful and lustrous sign of all.
"From here I wish to launch an appeal to the institutions, and to all citizens, despite the difficulties of the current time, to be like the Good Samaritan of the Bible who did not walk by indifferent to the one in need, but lovingly tended him, helped him, remained at his side and took full responsibility for the other's needs. The Church is close and will remain close with her prayers and with the concrete help of her organisations, especially Caritas, which will also undertake to rebuild the social fibre of parish communities".
Having completed his address, the Holy Father greeted the civil and religious authorities present. He then returned to the sports ground of San Marino di Carpi where his helicopter took off at midday, arriving in Rome shortly after 1.30 p.m.

Vatican City, 26 June 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of an English-language note issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Fatih concerning the appointment of Archbishop Augustine Di Noia as vice president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei":
"Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, O.P., to the post of vice president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'. The appointment of a high-ranking prelate to this position is a sign of the Holy Father’s pastoral solicitude for traditionalist Catholics in communion with the Holy See and his strong desire for the reconciliation of those traditionalist communities not in union with the See of Peter. The president of the commission is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William J. Levada.
"The Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' was established in 1988 by Blessed John Paul II to facilitate 'full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Fraternity founded by Archbishop Lefebvre' and to promote the pastoral care of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church. In 2009, the Pontifical Commission was structurally linked to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the doctrinal issues in the ongoing dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.
"As a respected Dominican theologian, Archbishop Di Noia has devoted much attention to these doctrinal issues, as well as to the priority of the hermeneutic of continuity and reform in the right interpretation of Vatican Council II - a critically important area in the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity. Under the guidance of Cardinal Levada, with the assistance of Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission, this dialogue has been ongoing over the past three years.
"Previously, Archbishop Di Noia served as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments where, together with the prefect, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, he oversaw the reorganisation of the dicastery and the preparation of a new 'Regolamento' following the directions of Pope Benedict’s 'motu proprio' of 30 August 2011, 'Quaerit Semper'. Archbishop Di Noia’s experience and continued association with the Congregation for Divine Worship will facilitate the development of certain desired liturgical provisions in the celebration of the 1962 'Missale Romanum'.
"In addition, the broad respect that Archbishop Di Noia enjoys in the Jewish community will help in addressing some issues that have arisen in the area of Catholic-Jewish relations as the journey towards the reconciliation of traditionalist communities has progressed".

Vatican City, 26 June 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Merlo-Moreno, Argentina, presented by Bishop Fernando Maria Bargallo, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law, appointing Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto, emeritus of the diocese of San Isidro, Argentina, as apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Merlo-Moreno.
- Appointed Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, as archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church.
- Appointed Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Italy, as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. He succeeds Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, whose resignation from the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as vice president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".
- Appointed Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England, as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop.
- Appointed Bishop Protase Rugambwa of Kigoma, Tanzania, as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and president of the Pontifical Missionary Works, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. He succeeds Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, whose resignation from the same offices the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Krzysztof Jozef Nykiel, official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The bishop-elect was born in Osjakow, Poland in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1990. He studied in Rome and has also served as an official of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. He succeeds Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., whose resignation from the same office the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.


For weeks he was stalked and threatened by police and criminals. According to the authorities, Deng Jiyuan is a "traitor" because he spoke to foreign media about the violence of the one-child law.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) - The husband of the woman who a few weeks ago in Zengjia (Shaanxi) was forced forced to abort a fetus of seven months, has been missing for two days. For over a week he and his family have endured controls, pressures and violence. It seems to be an act of revenge by the local government because the couple denounced the violence to the international media.

Deng Jiyuan, the 29 year-old father of the aborted child, was followed for days by police and thugs at home, at the hospital, where his wife is hospitalized, and even in the bathroom. The pressure started when Deng tried to go to Beijing to participate in an online transmission on abortion. The man was threatened and beaten several times. The pressure increased when the family gave an interview to the German magazine Stern. Two days later, on Sunday, June 24, at least 40 people arrived at the hospital shouting and carrying banners that threatened the whole family with the words "Beat the traitors strongly and throw them out of Zengjia". One of the relatives, who tried to photograph the group, was beaten.

On June 2 the agency for population control forced Jianmei Feng, aged 22, to undergo an abortion in the seventh month. Feng and Deng have a five year-old daughter and another child is prohibited by law. The employees of family planning threatened her to pay a fine of 40,000 yuan (about 4,000 euros, four years of wages) or to undergo the abortion. But abortion after the sixth month is also prohibited. Their case has aroused criticism and complaints from all over China, especially after on the internet there appeared pictures of the woman, overwhelmed by the abortion, with alongside her on the bed, the bleeding corpse of the aborted baby.

After the furor in the media, the authorities of Ankang (which have authority over the village of Zengjia) confirmed the violence against Feng Jianmei. They have also suspended the three employees who ordered the forced abortion and gave the family permission to have another child. The woman's husband, Deng Jiyuan said, however, bitterly: "The government should not have the power to tell us when and how to have a child."



Archbishop Nichols calls for shared understanding of human dignity | Archbishop Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, human dignity,Thomas More Society,Lincoln’s Inn

Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Archbishop Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, this week called for a more developed and shared understanding of human dignity for the good of all in society as he delivered an address to the Thomas More Society at Lincoln’s Inn on Monday evening.
The address explored the problem in reaching an agreed definition at a time when the precise meaning of human dignity is increasingly being questioned, particularly now in ethics and law. The Archbishop said this was no mere academic debate. “It matters very much because the notion of human dignity plays a key role especially in international conventions, and in our understanding of the moral life. How in our pluralist society we develop and hold onto a shared understanding of such a key concept can have an immense influence on the quality of moral and social development of people.”
The talk explored the problem in reaching a common understanding of human dignity and how the Church’s understanding of what human dignity is might help society to think it through.
Archbishop Nichols said: “I will propose that human dignity means, in Michael Rosen’s striking phrase, the inner kernel of transcendental value or worth that persons have simply because they are human and irrespective of whether they or others consider themselves to be thus valued.”

The Archbishop concluded with an appeal to dialogue. “The protestors in the Arab spring uprisings last year seized on the idea of human dignity precisely because it offered a promise of a new future. Indeed it does. As Christians, we believe that the idea of human dignity- as all truth must- also carries with it the latent power and potential of the Gospel,” he said.
“Through dialogue and engagement with others, as Christians it is our role both to bring the light of that truth to a world in need of healing and hope, and also to seek with and through the insights of others a deeper understanding of where that truth may yet be leading us.”
To contribute to this dialogue, he also hoped that the high-level inter-disciplinary academic conference in Oxford this week, on the theme of “understanding human dignity”, which is jointly sponsored by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, together with Oxford University, the British Academy, Queens University Belfast and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome would advance precisely this shared understanding especially among the judges, legal academics, philosophers and theologians taking part.

Source: CCN


Agenzia Fides REPORT - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, said that "no foreign country can come to the Dominican Republic to impose its rules on immigration" and called on local organizations to exercise greater transparency concerning the situation of Haitians in the nation.
The Cardinal wanted to respond to the complaints on behalf of the Haitian Pastoral, according to which the Dominican government refuses to give the documents to immigrants who have been in the country for more than 12 years and also work permits to those who work in the territory. Haitian migration in the Dominican Republic has become a huge and very complex problem.
"The nation spent years in discussions and talks on the issue of Haitian migration, but now the pressure and the interference of foreign countries and groups concerned about their interests increases," the Archbishop of Santo Domingo told the local press,.
In the note sent to Fides Agency says that the Cardinal pointed out that the situation of illegal Haitians in the country must be resolved urgently: "fair and humanitarian solutions need to be found ... I do not know how, perhaps with an amnesty or delivering the documents to the workers and employees, as suggested by some employers, but this situation has to become regular." According to data collected by Fides Agency, the largest group of "undocumented Haitians " work in agricultural areas and in the building field as laborers, and a large group is also engaged in trade, without a contract. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 25/6/2012)


PRETORIA, June 22, 2012 (CISA)- Refugees in South Africa marked World Refugee Day by protesting the ongoing closures of asylum offices across the country, accusing the government there of ‘disregarding’ its international human rights commitments.
The government started closing the refugee reception centre in metropolitan areas last year, with plans to reopen the offices at border posts. The Department of Home Affairs has insisted that this will not impact the country’s commitments to protecting asylum seekers, but will instead help deal with South Africa’s bloated asylum system.
According to Alex Bell, human rights groups have warned that the closure of the offices is making it even harder for asylum seekers to apply for the protection that South Africa is committed to provide.
The government’s plan started with the closure of the Crown Mines office in Johannesburg in May 2011. This was closely followed by the closure of the Port Elizabeth refugee office in November 2011. Both these closures were challenged in the courts which have held that the decision to close these refugee offices was unlawful and have asked Home Affairs to revisit this decision.
According to Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, head of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights, the closures and the decision to move asylum processing to the border areas “has caused considerable anxiety within the refugee community.”
“South Africa is disregarding its international obligations to protect refugees and these moves are counter-productive,” Ramjathan-Keogh said.
Lawyers for Human Rights said the new policy changes appear to be a “mechanism to avoid dealing with the real problems of a poor refugee status determination process and an inability to process claims within a reasonable time period coupled with the rampant corruption within the asylum system.”
These sentiments have been echoed by the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), which organized this week’s public protest calling for the closures to stop. Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, CoRMSA’s Executive Director, told SW Radio Africa that South African authorities appear to be “making it as hard as possible for people to claim asylum.”
“We are very concerned about the actions of the authorities and what knock on effects these have for asylum seekers. It’s about denying the rights of people to asylum which is dictated by the Asylum Act… closing these offices already prejudices people who are in the country but have not yet applied for asylum,” said Shange-Buthane .
She also said that there are monthly reports of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa. “It sends a message that ‘these people are not needed’ and it is a dangerous message that promotes dangerous attitude and consequences,” Shange-Buthane warned.
According to figures released for World Refugee Day June 20, South Africa remains “the largest recipient of individual asylum applications (107,000), a status it has held for the past four years”. This includes an estimated three million or more Zimbabweans, who continue to face a serious threat if they are returned home.
But this threat has not prevented South Africa from lifting its moratorium on deportations and it’s understood that at least 14,000 Zimbabweans have been deported since last year.


ARCHDIOCESE OF SYDNEY RELEASE: Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Jun 2012

Some would like to see
the law go even further
Refuge centres caring for victims of domestic violence have welcomed the Federal Government's expanded definitions that came into effect this month making it an offence to harm pets, cut people off from their families or withhold financial support.
"These changes are welcomed by refuges as they not only reflect a more contemporary understanding of abusive behaviour, but send a message saying any form of domestic violence should not be tolerated," says Ilknur Chaloupka, Service Manager at one of the city's St Vincent De Paul Society's refuges.
"Many people including the women who come to the refuge think that if there is no physical abuse, there is no domestic violence. These new definitions will help change this perception as they now include emotional abuse and emotional manipulation."
The new laws governing the definition of domestic violence were passed by the Commonwealth in December 2011 and became law this month.
"We have been waiting for these changes for many years. However we still see this as only a step towards acknowledging domestic violence does not only refer to physical abuse but to emotional abuse which can have a powerful and long lasting effect," she says. "Women who come to the refuge describe the emotional abuse they have suffered as one of the worst impacts of domestic violence as it creates harm so deep in their psyche they feel as if they are wounded for life."
Many believe if there is no physical abuse
there is no violence
Until now a man's attempts at control by isolating a woman and her children from extended family, friends and the community generally has not been regarded as domestic violence. Nor has withholding money in a bid to further manipulate and control the woman. But both are now important inclusions of the new definitions relating to domestic violence.
The emotional abuse suffered as part of domestic violence, not only has an adverse effect on the mental and emotional health of a woman, but has a damaging effect on children and on their relationship with their mother.
"The inclusion of pet abuse in these new changes to the law are also especially welcome," Ilknur says.
At the refuge she manages she says there have been quite a few incidents over the years where perpetrators of domestic violence have deliberately harmed a beloved family pet as a way of intentionally causing distress to his partner and children.

New domestic violence definitions
will also help protect children
In some cases, fear an adored family pet could be harmed may even keep a woman from leaving a dangerous situation. Leaving a pet behind and at risk can also be traumatic.
"We've had many families who have been forced to leave their personal belongings behind as well as a beloved pet or pets," Ilknur says, explaining that being parted from a pet may not only contribute to despair, but can also give rise to agonising feelings of guilt.
If a pet is harmed, victims often blame themselves rather than the perpetrator, and feel responsible for the animal's injury or death.
Incidents of domestic violence continue to rise. In NSW last year, police recorded 26,673 domestic violence-related assaults, up from 26,084 the previous year. Equally shocking are recent statistics that found as many as one in five Australian women have been victims of domestic violence.
Attorney General Nicola Roxon says
domestic violence has remained invisible
to the legal system for too long
Attorney General, Nicola Roxon who lobbied for the changes to the law, says family violence had remained "invisible to the legal system" for too long.
As a result, from now on the Family Court will be required to ask parents if there was abuse or the threat of abuse during the relationship. The Court will also be required to ask whether children were exposed to abuse from a parent, with the results of this question taken into consideration in subsequent custody hearings.
But despite endorsing these changes, Ilknur and others working with victims of domestic violence would like to see the law go even further.
"Other issues still need to be addressed such as women and children having to face the perpetrator of violence in mediation under the Family Law system," she says and explained that not only are women and children filled with fear at these face-to-face meetings but frequently feel forced or coerced into agreeing to 50-50 custody arrangements which simply exposes them and their children to further physical and emotional abuse.


Matthew 7: 6, 12 - 14
6 "Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you.
12 So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.


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

EWTN Mini-Site of St. Josemaria Escriva
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.


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