St. Josemaria Escriva

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Josemaría Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.
St. Josemaría was born in Spain in 1902. Of 5 children in their family, 3 died quite young, but Josemaria and his sister Carmen survived.
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One day as a teenager, he saw in the snow the footprints of a barefoot monk; he thought about those cold feet walking on the snow; the idea of a sacrificial life dedicated to God made him think the Lord was asking something of him also. He felt called to be a priest, and something else too that God was asking.
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As a priest he worked in a small, rural parish for a while, attending to the poor and the sick. It was during a retreat, that he saw what it was God was asking of him: to found Opus Dei, a way of holiness for every Christian, by offering one’s daily work. In olden days, people would often say that holiness was just for priests or sisters. Some girl was trying to live a good Christian life: ‘Oh, you should be a nun.’ Some boy was trying to love Christ with his whole heart: ‘You should be a priest.’ no. St. Josemaria began a movement which would help people see that holiness is for everyone.
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But then the horrible Civil War broke out in Spain and persecution of the Church was fierce. Many priests were being killed and churches destroyed. Fr. Josemaría had to offer Mass and hear confessions secretly, moving from house to house. Nevertheless, he continued giving retreats and spiritual direction, guiding the growing members of Opus Dei. His spiritual sons and daughters began to spread across the world, bringing the message that everyone is called to holiness in their ordinary work.
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Opus Dei is comprised of ordinary people who try to sanctify their daily work. Some make a commitment to remain unmarried. Others are married men and women raising their families, trying to be good sons and daughters of God. The goal is to sanctify the ordinary, daily things of life, offering everything to God.
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St. Josemaria once said of a young woman who was peeling potatoes for dinner: ‘Before, she only peeled potatoes, but now she is sanctifying herself as she peels potatoes. (The Furrow, #498)
– offering ordinary work to God –
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St. Josemaria has written many things; his most famous book is simply called ‘The Way.’ He wrote it while he was still a young priest, yet it has sold more than five million copies in 50 languages. The first thing he says in that book is this: ‘Don’t let your life be sterile….blaze a trail!…light up all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you carry in your heart.

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