Master of living and working piety PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 11:30

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

Last June 26 was the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei. It also was the 40th anniversary of his death in Rome, his transit to heaven in 1975. His cause for canonization was opened soon after his death, and he was finally beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2002.

No, I did not meet him personally, even if I was already in touch with Opus Dei before he died. But I became intimately familiar with his writings and ideas, all of which “hit” me in an irresistible way.

That he was a very holy man is quite an understatement. He just oozed with goodness and charity in spite of the difficulties and misunderstanding he encountered in his most faithful pursuit of his vocation.

During his time, his vocation, which was to found Opus Dei and to preach about the universal calling to sanctity in the middle of the world, was quite such a novelty that it sparked a good amount of controversy.

But he persevered in his effort without letting go of charity. In the end, what he taught became one of the core elements of the spirit of Vatican II that highlighted the role of the laity in the life of the Church and of the world, and the immense sanctifying and redeeming potentials of our temporal affairs and worldly concerns.

I thought of giving some kind of tribute to this man who left a great impact on my life. I attribute to him my own “conversion” and the discovery of my vocation. And I would say, also the man behind a living and working piety that I now kind of enjoy.

As a kid and, I suppose, like any other kid, I have always wanted to be good, to behave well, to know as much as I can, but all these often were frustrated for a number of reasons.

One reason could be that my idea of what is good and ideal for me was not in touch with the reality of things. I also did not know myself very well as I mainly considered what I wanted, but not my capabilities and my weaknesses. And my knowledge of things was often generic and simplistic, unable to tackle the complexity of life.

When I “met” St. Josemaria through his writings and the Opus Dei members who were my college classmates then, I soon realized what was lacking and deficient in me. And more than that, I felt reassured that I can do something about it, with God’s grace and, of course, my own effort.

St. Josemaria was good in drawing practical and immediately relevant and applicable considerations from the doctrine of the faith that I, more or less, know but in an abstract way.

He taught about the sanctifying value of work and the ordinary circumstances of life. He taught that we can and should find Christ in everything and in everyone, that God actually intervenes in our life always and that we need to learn how to be docile to his promptings.

He practically touched on every aspect of life, including fraternity and charity, spirit of sacrifice, education and continuing formation, matters of liturgy, civic duties, etc. But more than this, he spelled out a certain spirituality that would enable an ordinary person in the middle of the world to truly sanctify himself and participate in the common task of sanctifying the world itself and everyone else.

It’s a spirituality that makes piety not only a matter of good desires and intentions, of nice and pietistically pompous words, but of concrete deeds done without fanfare and with continuity and consistency.

It’s a spirituality that takes everyone as he is, with all this assets and liabilities, but also encourages him and offers him the appropriate means to be what he ought to be, i.e., as a child of God.

This is what “hooked” me and led me to say “yes” to a lifetime and all-embracing vocation of total dedication to God’s continuing redemptive work on earth. I am not afraid anymore of my defects, weaknesses and possible mistakes and sins I can commit. I feel assured there’s a way to even make use of them to foster the search for holiness.

This is what I learned from St. Josemaria Escriva, and this is what I would like to share with everyone else. Holiness and piety need not be strange characters in our life. They are the main ones and are highly practicable and reachable.

It would be good if we get to know St. Josemaria better.