Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902. He had five siblings: Carmen (1899-1957) and Santiago (1919-1994), plus three other younger sisters who died when they were small children. His parents, Jose and Dolores, gave their children a profound Christian education. In 1915 Josemaria's father's business failed, so the family relocated to Logrono, where he found other work. It was in Logrono that Josemaria perceived his vocation for the first time. After seeing the bare footprints left in the snow by a monk, he felt that God wanted something of him, even though he did not know exactly what it was. He thought that he would more easily discover it if he became a priest, so he began to prepare for the priesthood, first in Logrono and later in Saragossa.
His father died in 1924 and he was left as head of the family. Ordained in 1925, he began his ministry in a rural parish, and afterward in Saragossa. In 1927, with the permission of his bishop, Father Josemaria moved to Madrid to obtain his doctorate in law. While on retreat in Madrid, Father Josemaria Escriva saw that God wanted him to found Opus Dei. The name "Opus Dei" came later and was not actually used until the 1930's. He explained to everyone that "the Work" was not his own initiative, but "from God." He began the development of the movement through his pastoral activity among the poor and the sick in hospitals, while also working with all types of people. In addition, he studied at the University of Madrid and gave classes to support his family.
On February 14, 1930, while celebrating Mass, he understood the message of Opus Dei to be addressed to women as well. Until then he had thought it was only for men. The following year the first center of Opus Dei was opened in Madrid, the DYA Academy, where classes in law and architecture were given. In 1934 this center moved to another location and became a residence for college students. From there the founder and the first members offered Christian formation and spread the message of Opus Dei among young people. An important aspect of this work was teaching the Catholic Faith to children and attending to the poor and the sick in the outlying neighborhoods of Madrid. Father Josemaria, who always made his activity known to the bishop of Madrid in receiving his approval and blessings, published Consideraciones espirituales which would be republished as his famous book The Way which, to date has been published in 41 languages with 4 million copies printed. Many more books of Blessed Josemaria Escriva would be published including Furrow, The Forge, Holy Rosary, The Way of the Cross, Conversations with Monsignor Escriva de Balaguer, In Love with the Church, Christ is Passing By and Friends of God to name a few.
When the Civil War broke out in Madrid in 1936 religious persecution forced him to take refuge in several places. He exercised his priestly ministry clandestinely until he finally was able to leave the Spanish capital. After a harrowing escape across the Pyrenees, he took up residence in Burgos where he resumed apostolic work there, but the interruption of the Spanish Civil War temporarily delayed the expansion of Opus Dei into France and other parts of Spain. At the end of the war in 1939 he returned to Madrid where he finally obtained his doctorate in law and expanded Opus Dei to other Spanish cities. The beginning of World War II in Europe, however, hampered expansion to other countries until after the war. In the years that followed he would give many retreats to laity, priests, and religious throughout the continent and beyond.
During the war, on March 19, 1941 the bishop of Madrid Bishop Leopoldo Eijo y Garay granted the first diocesan approval of Opus Dei as a Pius Union. Two years later on February 14, 1943 - the thirteenth anniversary of when he realized the true nature of Opus Dei, the Foundation of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross was established, enabling priests to be ordained for Opus Dei. A year later on June 25, Bishop Garay ordained the first members of Opus Dei, Fathers Alvaro del Portillo, Jose Maria Hernandez de Garnica, and Jose Luis Muzquiz.
In 1946, with the war over and realizing the international scope of Opus Dei, Blessed Josemaria took up residence in Rome. There he obtained a doctorate in Theology from the Lateran University and was named consultor to two Vatican Congregations, as well as honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, and prelate of honor by Pope Pius XII. On February 24, 1947 the Holy See promulgated the decree of praise of Opus Dei, the first pontifical approval. This erected Opus Dei as a secular institute, a juridical form established in Church law. This formula, Father Escriva felt, even while inappropriate, was the one that presented the least number of drawbacks for Opus Dei at that time.
A year later on June 29, 1948 the Roman College of the Holy Cross was established, where members of Opus Dei underwent a more intense period of religious and spiritual education and formation and were able to study ecclesiastical sciences in the various Roman Pontifical Antheneums. Since that time many priests of Opus Dei have been students of this Roman College. On June 16, 1950 the Pope granted definitive approval to Opus Dei, enabling married people to join Opus Dei and diocesan priests to be admitted to the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross.
In 1952 he returned to Spain to begin the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain and on December 12, 1953 the Roman College of St. Mary opened as an international center in Rome for the religious and spiritual formation of women in Opus Dei throughout the world. Since that time some 800 women have studied here, receiving a doctrinal and theological education at a university level.
From Rome he frequently went to different countries in Europe, and to Peru in 1957 where the Holy See entrusted the Prelature of Yauyos, in the mountainous regions of Peru, bringing Opus Dei to the western hemisphere. After more expansion internationally, Pope Paul VI inaugurated the ELIS Center on November 21, 1965. It was a vocational training center for young people located in an industrial section of Rome and it, together with a parish, was entrusted to Opus Dei by the Holy See. In 1969 a special General Congress of Opus Dei met in Rome to study the change of legal status in the Church to personal prelature, a juridical configuration introduced by the Second Vatican Council. This seemed more appropriate according to the pastoral characteristics of Opus Dei as Father Escriva had envisioned.
In 1970, he undertook a novena of prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, meeting with huge throngs of crowds. He realized this would also become a means of teaching catechesis to the people and spur the growth of Opus Dei. These "catechetical journeys" were a great success throughout Spain and Portugal during a grueling, but rewarding two month stretch in 1972. Similarly, in 1974 and 1975 the founder made two long trips to Central and South America on a catechetical journey, where he held gatherings with large groups of people.
At the age of 73, after returning from catechetical journeys to Venezuela and Guatemala, with 60,000 persons belonging to Opus Dei at the time, God called him home after a life of dedication to the Divine Will and His Holy Church. Blessed Josemaria Escriva died in Rome on June 26, 1975. Two weeks later, on July 7th, a shrine honoring his work - the Shrine of Torreciudad in Huesca, Spain was inaugurated. Thousands of people, including a third of the bishops from around the world, requested that the Holy See open his cause of beatification and canonization. His cause was opened in 1981 and was conducted fully in accord with Church law. After his death thousands of letters were sent to Rome asking the Pope to open his cause of beatification and canonization. Among them were letters from 69 Cardinals and nearly 1,300 Bishops -- more than a third of the world episcopate.
Many miracles have been attributed to Blessed Josemaria's intercession, including some inexplicable medical cures. In 1976 Carmelite Sister Concepcion Boullon Rubio was at the point of death when she was suddenly and completely cured of a rare disease called lipomatosis after members of her family prayed to God for a cure through the intercession of Blessed Josemaria. The miracle was unanimously approved for Monsignor Escriva's beatification by the Board of Physicians for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, a meeting of the Theological Consultors, the Congregation of Bishops, and, finally, by Pope John Paul II.
While the process was on-going the Holy Father erected Opus Dei as a personal Prelature on November 28, 1982 and appointed Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo as Prelate. He was one of the three inaugural priests ordained for Opus Dei and worked all his priestly life closely with Blessed Josemaria. In 1983 Monsignor Alvaro fulfilled Blessed Escriva's wish to take the catechetical journey to North America, followed by catechetical journeys to the Far East and the Pacific in 1987 and to Africa in 1987. In 1991 the Pope ordained Monsignor del Portillo a bishop who beamed proudly at the beatification ceremonies of his mentor. The bishop died on March 23, 1994 just hours after returning from a trip to the Holy Land. A month later John Paul II named Monsignor Javier Echevarria the new Prelate of Opus Dei and elevated him to Bishop on November 21, being personally ordained by the Vicar of Christ early in 1995.
After an exhaustive examination of Monsignor Escriva's life and work -- a process lasting nearly 10 years -- the Pope beatified him on May 17, 1992, in St. Peter's Square. The beatification of Monsignor Escriva, along with that of Josephine Bakhita, took place before one of the biggest crowds in St. Peter's this century, some 300,000 people, including 46 cardinals and almost 300 bishops. In his homily, Pope John Paul II told the faithful, "With supernatural intuition, Blessed Josemaria untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate. Christ calls everyone to become holy in the realities of everyday life. Hence work too is a means of personal holiness and apostolate, when it is done in union with Jesus Christ."
Blessed Josemaria has left a legacy that one Vatican official once told him was "a century too soon." In actuality, Opus Dei was ahead of its time three decades before Vatican II would decree many of the tenets held by the movement founded by Blessed Escriva. When it was founded, many aspects of Opus Dei's spirit, though based on the Gospel, were considered revolutionary for the time, to the point where some called them heretical: aspects such as the radical vision of the role of the laity in the Church and in the world; the role of women; the view of marriage as a way to become a saint; the idea of the world as a place where one can pursue holiness; and that the demands and joys of ordinary, everyday life could be a path or means to holiness. Many of these ideas later became part of the Church's official teaching, especially during the Second Vatican Council. Yes, Blessed Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer was truly a prophet ahead of his time. Only now is the Church and world catching up to this dedicated visionary of the Church for the new millennium.
All men and all angels, good and bad, will be present to hear the judgment of each one. "For there is nothing hidden that will not be made manifest, nor anything concealed that will not be known" (Luke 8:17).
Then will the unjust say these words, as they consider the just: "These are they whom we had some time in derision, and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honor. Behold, how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints...What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away" (Wisdom 5:3-9).
Our Lord will place the good on His right hand, and the wicked on His left. To the just Christ will say: "Come, blessed of My Father, take possession of the kiingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34). To the wicked He will say: "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41).
A great fear and instant realization of their sentence will fall upon the wicked. And they will say to the mountains and the rocks: "Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of Him Who sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Apocalypse/Revelation 6:16). Immediately the good will go body and soul to Heaven, and the wicked will fall body and soul into hell. "And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life" (Matthew 25:46).
The General Judgment is necessary in order to vindicate God's providence in the government of the world, and to disclose both the good and the evil that men have done, in order to reveal God's justice, wisdom, and mercy. Man is a social, as well as an individual being; hence the necessity for a general, as well as a particular judgment.
On that day will men see how often God has granted them graces, and they have rejected them, how often God has turned even their evil acts to their advantage, that they might repent! Then will men see how much that took up time and thought on earth was folly in the eyes of God, and how what the world called nonsense and mocked was really heavenly wisdom. As St. Paul says: "We, for our part, preach a crucified Christ- to the Jews indeed a stumbling-block and to the Gentiles foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:23).
It is necessary to give the just the public honor due them, and the wicked the public shame they deserve, and to make the body share in the reward or punishment of the soul with which it shared good or evil on earth.
At the Last Judgment all our thoughts, wods and deeeds, public and secret, will be made known to all creation. This fact should urge us to avoid everything of which we should then be ashamed made public. When we are tempted let us remember that the "hidden things of darkness" will be revealed on the last day.
Death of Saint Columban, Irish Abbot and missionary. For more on this saint, see DAILY LITURGY.
Pope Alexander III returns to Rome at the invitation of the citizens on this date from exile after Frederick of Barbarossa had established the antipope Paschal III. Though he was welcome, he could not offset the ruthless power of Barbarossa.
Cardinal Francisco Albani is chosen the 243rd successor of Peter and selects the name Pope Clement XI. When he received the news of his election he waited a week before accepting the papal crown to assure himself it was legitimate. He was a man of great culture and a lover of the arts, enriching the Vatican Library. His pontificate would last 21 years and he would conclude the 16th Jubilee the year he was elected.
Death of Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, Mexican priest and martyr. For more on him, see DAILY LITURGY who had fled the country in 1914 to escape religious persecution but returned in 1926 to meet the needs of his people. Often traveling in disguise, he was arrested on phony charges and martyred for his faith. As he stood bravely before the firing squad, he refused the blindfold, forgave his executors and uttered his last words "Viva Cristo Rey" which meant "Long live Christ the King."