St. Jose Maria Escriva
Due to the Fourth of July Holiday next week I am writing two “Corner” articles this week, the first being due
today Tuesday, June 26th, the second being due Friday the 29th for next week. While June 26 is my birthday, it is also
the feast day of St. Jose Maria Escriva, a priest and the founder of ‘Opus Dei’ (translated, ‘The Work of God’), who
died on this date in 1975 and was canonized on October 6, 2002. The Vatican, in the write-up for his beatification,
related that Fr. Escriva had reminded us that the universality of the call to full union with Christ implies also that any
human activity (our daily work) can become a place for meeting God. Father Escriva was a real master of Christian
living and reached the heights of contemplation with continuous prayer, constant mortification, a daily effort to work
carried out with exemplary docility to the motions of the Holy Spirit, with the aim of “serving the Church as the Church
wishes to be served.”
Shortly after becoming a priest, I had encountered some information about Opus Dei, and then, seven years ago
I happened upon a movie being shown in regular theaters entitled “There Be Dragons” (20th Century Fox). It provides
“flashback accounts” of the early days of Opus Dei during the French Revolution (violence and combat sequences rate it
PG 13), when priests were being sought out and murdered. Quite an inspirational movie that I highly recommend.
Fr. Escriva spread the call to embrace holiness in our daily lives and he was called the “Saint of the Ordinary” by
John Paul II. “We have to be contemplative souls in the middle of the world, who strive to turn our work into prayer,” he
often said. “Married people, single people, workers, intellectuals, farmers… right where they are, can and should be
good children of God. Your ordinary contact with God takes place where your fellow men, your yearnings, your work
and your affections are. There you have your daily encounter with Christ.” Certainly, a Saint for our modern confusing
and spiritually difficult times.
Jose Maria’s writings provide wonderful bite-sized reflections for all of us that will help us travel that narrow road
that embraces holiness in our daily lives. Titles you can find at most any Catholic Book website, are “Friends of God”
and “Christ is Passing By”, which are a collection of his homilies. And for daily reflection, I highly recommend his three
best know works, entitled. “The Way”, “Furrow”, and “The Forge”. All three are now combined in a single book, still a
convenient hand-sized. This evening during my holy hour I was reading through his section on “Mortification” (with
mortification basically meaning an embrace of humility). Here are but a few samples that should prove helpful to all of
us… they certainly do for me:
• Unless you mortify yourself you’ll never be a prayerful soul.
• Don’t say, “that person bothers me.” Think rather: “That person sanctifies me.”
• The appropriate word left unsaid; the joke you didn’t tell; the cheerful smile for those who bother you; that silence when
you’re unjustly accused; your kind conversation with people you find boring and tactless; the daily effort to overlook one
irritating detail or another in those who live with you…this, with perseverance, is indeed solid interior mortification.
• Don’t miss a chance to “give in”. It’s hard… But how pleasing in the eyes of God!
• Choose mortification’s that don’t mortify others.
• Where there is no mortification, there is no virtue.
• The world admires only the spectacular sacrifice, because it does not realize the value of the sacrifice that is hidden and
• The eyes! Through them much wickedness enters into the soul. How many experiences, like David’s! If you guard your
eyes, you will be assured of guarding your heart.
• The body must be given a little less than it needs. Otherwise it will turn traitor.
• Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without hesitation. Think a
supernatural thought and… up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not
weaken your body, granting not a single moment to laziness. If with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that
moment, you’ll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the
• I’m going to tell you which are man’s treasures on earth so you won’t slight them: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, pain,
dishonor, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, slander, prison…
• Everything that doesn’t lead you to God is an obstacle. Tear it out and cast it far from you.
• If they have witnessed your weaknesses and faults, does it matter if they witnessed your penance?
There you have but a small sample of some 1055 reflections contained in this trilogy, all
categorized into some 60 subject titles. They are directed at moving our hearts to embrace holiness.
Please let me know if you are interested in obtaining a copy and we can order it for you.
Have a blessed and safe Declaration of Independence Day!