Tag Archives: Opus Dei

Alvaro Del Portillo declared “Blessed” in Madrid

Bl Alvaro del PortilloShortly after the elected of Francis to the Throne of Peter, he approved of the miracle that would lead to his beatification. His first miracle, if you are interested, concerned a case in 2003 where a Chilean baby boy’s heart started beating despite doctors’ failed 30-minute efforts to resuscitate him. The boy’s parents prayed to Del Portillo for his intercession from God to save their child. From all reports the child lives a normal life, going to school and playing soccer.

In the car last evening I was listening to various news services and NPR had a story –none of the other international services did– of the beatification of Del Portillo. But the real story seemed not the beatification of a man known for holiness but his connection to Opus Dei famously derided in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. I fail to see what one thing really has to do with another.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s original vision for Opus Dei has nothing to do with the political monikers of being liberal or conservative. Many will frame the group in these terms out ignorance. Opus Dei –a Latin concept meaning “The Work of God”– is about encouraging Catholics to know their ordinary, everyday work and life as a path to holiness. In other words, we are all called in whatever our work is, to the universal call to holiness; a strong emphasis of the Second Vatican Council and many saints. Religion is NOT just for 47 minutes on a Sunday morning where you put your money in the parking meter.

So, what ought to be admired about Opus Dei is the group’s emphasis and witness on the dignity of the laity. This same emphasis is also seen in two other ecclesial movements in the Church: Communion and Liberation and Focolare. But, The Work of God since its founding in 1928 has a significant challenge to the ultra-clerical attitudes of our Church while raising up the beauty of being a lay Christian and building up the Mystical Body of the Church.

Blessed Alvaro Del Portillo’s style was humble and faithful to the charism he was given by God to fulfill in history. His reputable for holiness is well-regarded and and substantiated. Del Portillo worked with Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei for more than 40 years, and later his successor as the group’s leader until 1994.

Opus Dei is a lay organization in the Church with more than 90K members; only 2,073 are priests.

Blessed Alvaro, pray for us.

Joseph Muzquiz, Servant of God

Joseph MuzquizYou may not know about The Servant of God, Father Joseph Muzquiz, a candidate for sainthood. His cause opened in 2010 in the Archdiocese of Boston. I recommend following the work of seeing if Muzquiz is saint material.

Since 1949, Father Muzquiz has been in the USA having been born in Spain and well-educated in Europe. The reason for his coming to the States was the establishment of Opus Dei ; he was sent by St. Josemaría Escrivá. You may remember a line I use from time to time: saints beget saints. Muzquiz died in 1983 and yet his influence continues to be felt and followed.

There is a website giving pertinent info for Father Joseph Muzquiz which will help you to know this holy and very man better (the site includes a video presentation).

For private devotion here is a prayer:

God, you helped your servant Joseph work with generosity and simplicity. He spread the message of sanctity in secular life to many people, teaching them to find joy and peace in their daily life. Help me to seek first the kingdom of God, by sanctifying my everyday work and dedicating myself generously to the salvation of souls. Glorify your servant Joseph, and through his intercession, grant me the favor I ask of you.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be to the Father. 

Alvaro del Portillo’s beatification set

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, first successor of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Prelature of Opus Dei, will be beatified on 27 September 27 2014, in Madrid, Spain, where he was born. The beatification will be celebrated by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB.

Alvaro del Portillo was born on March 11, 1914, joined Opus Dei in 1935, served in various capacities, and ordained a bishop by John Paul on January 6, 1991. He died on 23 March 1994.

When the Church gives us a new person to follow at the Altar as way to adhere to Jesus more closely, we ought to do our best to know the person well. The Prelate of Opus Dei proposes that through del Portillo that this is a good time to gain to acquaint ourselves with his life, writings, witness, and by opening our heart “…to imitate his love for God and others, his desire to fulfill always and in everything the divine Will, his apostolic zeal and capacity to serve souls….”

Here is a video about the miracle received through the Bishop del Portillo’s intercession before the Holy Trinity. The story of the newborn Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson is moving.

The latest news on the beatification may be found at: www.alvarodelportillo.org

Pope Francis: Keys to His Thought

Many of thee books I read or glanced at over the recent six months have not been too helpful in understanding the newly elected Pope, Francis. A recent publication, Pope Francis: Key to His Thought, has promise. Penned by Monsignor Mariano Fazio, Vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei in Argentina since 2010, begins the substance of his narrative when he first met Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio in Rome in 2000. Fazio was then working at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; he was rector there from 2002-2008.

The author’s thesis is based on many friendly meetings with Francis and thus sketches in a lively manner some of the key ideas that are fundamental in knowing who the Pope is as a person and as a shepherd. I think this perspective opens wider the door of our opinion of the new pope and hopefully engenders in us a spirit of greater collaboration based on something concrete versus the media hype that is prevalent these days.

Monsignor Fazio’s text covers Francis’ “urgency to defend human life and marriage, and the need to ‘go out to the periphery’ to meet people where they are. The latter concern is reflected in the strong encouragement given by Cardinal Bergoglio to the so-called “shantytown priests” for the envangelization of the poorest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. This effort was grounded on sacramental catechesis and educational projects that foster human dignity, and was never to be confused, Bergoglio always insisted, with an overly political ‘liberation theology.'”

As Fazio says, “I have three letters he sent me in recent years. Whenever I sent him anything, he would respond in writing, in his own hand. The format was always the same: a large card with an image of La Virgen Desatanudos (Our Lady Undoer of Knots), a title originating in Augsburg, Germany (Maria  Knotenlöserin) that he had made known in Buenos Aires . . . In the blank space he writes in small letters, much like Benedict XVI, a few personal and affectionate lines. Here are some: ‘I wish you a holy and happy Christmas. May Jesus bless you and our Lady take care of you. And, please, I ask that you pray and have others pray for me’ . . . These notecards were always accompanied by two holy pictures: one of St. Joseph and the other of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, saints to whom he had great devotion . . . On the back of the picture of St. Joseph is the famous text of St. Teresa of Jesus about the efficacy of devotion to the Holy Patriarch. On various occasions when, having spoken with him, I asked for his blessing, he always invoked these saints and in addition placed me under the protection of St. Josemaria.”

Pope Francis: Keys to His Thought is available from  Scepter Publishers.

Post-Christian America: what does it look like, why?

Bouncing around in Catholic religious orders for some time is the notion that one can be a member of the Jesuits or the Sisters of Mercy and “go beyond Jesus and the Church.” I can remember hearing from a Jesuit whom I respected in the early 1990s that he was a “post-Christian Jesuit.” I wondered how a member of the Society of Jesus, a son of Saint Ignatius, could be post-Christian. The former Dominican Father Matthew Fox tried the same line of thinking. In fact, he’s neither a Catholic nor a Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Preachers as he’s gone to the Episcopal Church and now some kind of new ager. Christ is optional for him. Not long ago a religious sister who teaches at CTU said that the sisters in the USA can go beyond Jesus. So the recent crisis in faith in religious orders reflects a deeper divide in Christian faith in the rest of society.

I try to wrap my mind around what it means to be a post-Christian American. Father C. John McCloskey III, priest of the Opus Dei wrote a piece, “Post-Christian America,” which I am recommending. Father McCloskey is a Church historian and research fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute (Washington, DC). The point of the article is not demonstrate America’s abandonment of Christian faith but to say how it happened.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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