ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF OPUS DEI (1928)
It was on Oct. 2, 1928, Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, while St. Josemaria, a 26 year-old priest doing his spiritual retreat at the Central House of the Vincentians with five other priests, was deep in prayer, when he received a divine inspiration from God, asking him to found Opus Dei, in order to transmit to the entire world the universal call to holiness: God wants us to be holy, to be saints in carrying out the ordinary activities of our daily life.
Three years later, he recalls what happened on that day of Oct. 2, feast of the Holy Guardian Angels:
“I received an illumination about the entire Work, while I was reading those papers. Deeply moved, I knelt down – I was alone in my room, at a time between one talk and the next – and gave thanks to our Lord, and I remember with a heart full of emotion the ringing of the bells of the Church of Our Lady of the Angels.”
Into the room, at this moment of prayer, flooded the jubilant sound of the pealing of the bells of Our Lady of the Angels, a church in the nearby neighborhood of Cuatro Caminos. That sound would stay with him forever. “Still resounding in my ears,” he said in 1964, “are the bells of the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, announcing the feast of its patroness.”
On various occasions, the term he employed during that indescribable supernatural moment when he was under the influence of ineffable grace was “saw”. He understood within his soul the immense panorama of the redemption of humanity whose vocation is precisely the calling to sanctify themselves, their work and others through their work in the midst of their earthly tasks. In this light and moved by divine grace, he “saw” what was soon to be Opus Dei which is destined to promote the divine plan of the universal call to holiness and understood that the illumination he just received is as well an invitation to accept from God his divine mission to found Opus Dei.
“THERE IS ALWAYS A HIDDEN TREASURE IN SMALL THINGS DONE WITH LOVE AND PERFECTION – IN DIFFICULTIES AND JOYS, IN A JOB WELL DONE, IN SERVICE TO SOCIETY OR ONE’S NEIGHBOR. PROFESSIONAL WORK AND SOCIAL RELATIONS ARE THE MILIEU AND THE MATTER THAT CHRISTIANS MUST SANCTIFY; THEY MUST BECOME SAINTS IN AND THROUGH THE FULFILLING OF THEIR FAMILY AND CIVIC OBLIGATIONS. THE UNIVERSAL CALL TO SANCTITY IMPLIES, IN OTHER WORDS, THE SANCTIFYING VALUE OF WORK OFFERED TO GOD AND THE CHRISTIAN VALUE OF SECULAR ACTIVITIES – THE REALITY THAT ONE CAN BE DETACHED FROM THIS WORLD WITHOUT BEING ABSENT FROM IT, THAT MUNDANE THINGS CAN BE USED AS A MEANS FOR BECOMING SANCTIFIED, FOR BECOMING DIVINIZED.
Thus the sciences and the arts, finance and politics, crafts and industry, housework, and all other honorable fields of endeavor no longer are indifferent or “profane.” ANY ACTIVITY CARRIED OUT IN UNION WITH CHRIST – WITH AN UPRIGHT SPIRIT OF SACRIFICE, LOVE OF NEIGHBOR, AND PERSEVERANCE, AND WITH THE INTENTION OF GIVING GLORY TO GOD – IS THEREBY ENNOBLED AND ENDOWED WITH SPIRITUAL VALUE (Adapted extracts from A. Vazquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei: The Life of Josemaria Escriva; Volume I, “The Early Years”, Princeton NJ: Scepter Publishers, 2001).”
Since then, St. Josemaria heroically dedicated himself to fulfill God’s will out of love, in spite of the absence of material and human resources, oftentimes encountering a mutltitude of difficulties: poverty, calumnies, misunderstanding on behalf of some ecclesiastical persons, together with his struggle against himself, his poor health and numerous pastoral activities which the Ecclesiastical hierarchy entrusted him, especially the preaching of retreats to the priests of the different dioceses of Spain According to his words:
How was it founded? Without any human means. I was a twenty-six year old priest with nothing but God’s grace and good humour. The Work was born very small. It was only a young priest’s desire to do what God asked of him (Conversations, n. 32).
“We started the Work, when our Lord wanted, with a complete lack of material means. I had only twenty-six years of age, the grace of God, and good humor. But that was enough.”
Dear friends, all of us are called by God to holiness. During the early years of Opus Dei, some branded St. Josemaria as a “fool” and “heretic”…but he accepted these contradictions in silence and charity. What God showed him had the support from his Ordinary Bishop (Msgr. Leopoldo Eijo y Garay), various Spanish Bishops and from the various Roman Pontiffs (Pius XII, John XXIII) during the gestation of what is now the Prelature of Opus Dei. Its mission to spread the universal call to holiness has then formed part of the Church’s teaching in the Vatican Council II’s “Lumen gentium, n. 39-42”, and has been constantly repeated by Blessed Paul VI, St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis on several occasions .
Let us thank God today for giving us Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church and whose aim is nothing but to serve God and His Church in the manner She wants to be served, for God’s glory and the good of all souls.
Let us thank St. Josemaria as well for his heroic and generous correspondence in fulfilling God’s will, and ask God, through the intercession of Our Mother Mary, Queen of Opus Dei, the Holy Guardian Angels and St. Josemaria, so that we may generously respond and strive daily to God’s call to holiness in our ordinary life.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS Facebook page, website and Youtube channel. Hope you like our page or subscribe to our website and yYoutube channel and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
If you wish to have more information about Opus Dei, consult its official website: www.opusdei.org and choose your place of origin so it could direct you to your own country and language.
VIDEO CREDIT AND SOURCE: Prelatura della Santa Croce e Opus Dei, “What is Opus Dei?” in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf3nQ_etTKU