At the blessing of a sculpture of St. Josemaria in the Basilica of Our Lady of Randsom, Barcelona (Sept. 17, 2004)
At the blessing of a sculpture of
St. Josemaría in the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Barcelona
My dear Archbishop of Barcelona and brother in the episcopate, Most Reverend Lluis Martinez Sistach;
Esteemed Rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom, Father Salvador Cristau;
Dear brothers in the priesthood;
Esteemed president and members of the Noble Fraternity of Our Lady of Ransom;
Dear sisters and brothers:
I thank God for the opportunity to be here today in this holy house of our Lady, following in the footsteps of our beloved Founder and Father, St. Josemaría Escrivá, and of his first successor, our beloved Don Álvaro del Portillo.
On June 21, 1946, in this basilica of our Lady, St. Josemaría, who was seriously ill and burdened by the obstacles that seemed to be closing the door to the fulfillment of what God was asking of him, came to take refuge with filial trust at the feet of his Mother. That same morning, about to undertake his first trip to Rome, St. Josemaría had gathered his sons in Barcelona next to the tabernacle. And facing a seemingly closed horizon, he directed himself filially to our Lord with the words of St. Peter that we have just heard: “We have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” (Mt 19:27) “Is it possible that the Holy See is saying we have come a century too soon?” At the same time, he entrusted himself repeatedly to our Lady, under the title of our Lady of Ransom. Shortly afterwards, he came to this basilica to entrust all his cares to her.
This is a good lesson for us: to learn to entrust all our endeavors and concerns completely to our Lady, above all when they refer to the service of God, to fidelity to each one’s specific Christian vocation. Here St. Josemaría abandoned himself totally to Mary. We want to do likewise: we want to abandon into your hands, O Mother, all our intentions, which surely cannot compare with the burden of those that then weighed on St. Josemaría’s soul. A Catholic is a child of Mary, and a child who knows himself to be small and in need of his Mother’s nearness.
When we entrust ourselves to Mary and, with her help, decide to follow God’s will no matter what the cost, our Lady will not disappoint us. You know that a few months later, in September, 1946, St. Josemaría was already returning to Spain with documents testifying that the horizons that before had seemed completely closed had now opened up. In the history of Opus Dei, in the history of the Church, we have so many examples of Mary’s unfailing protection. Mary always hears us. Therefore, it is only right that here, in her house, we should thank her today with all our heart for her quick response to St. Josemaría’s petition.
But there is another lesson to learn. On that same day, June 21, when he had finished entrusting his intentions to Mary, he asked that, in thanksgiving, an image of our Lady of Ransom be placed in the oratory of the first center of Opus Dei in Barcelona. That was the caliber of St. Josemaría’s heart! On the following October 21 he made another trip to Barcelona solely to thank our Mother in this Basilica of Our Lady of Ransom.
I am a witness to how his gratitude to our Lady of Ransom continued to be expressed throughout his whole life: in Barcelona, whenever he visited this city of which to his great joy he was named an adopted son; and in Rome, and all over the world. My Mother, we are very grateful to you and want to make our whole life a constant act of thanksgiving for all the gifts from God that you have obtained for us, that even now you are obtaining to us, and that in future you will obtain for us.
Mother: with St. Josemaría we look towards the future of the Church and of our own lives, and we renew our resolution to place ourselves entirely in your hands, together with the decision to fully second your will. We have full trust, complete security, unshaken hope in your protection and assistance in bringing the message of Jesus into the lives of those around us, and we renew our firm resolution to be deeply grateful, ever more grateful, children.
I feel sure that the accidental glory of St. Josemaría has increased in heaven today, and that he is very happy to be spiritually more present in the house of his beloved Lady of Ransom. Not because his image appears in this relief, since we know very well that he always wanted to hide and disappear, but because it is a new testimony to his ardent love for our Lady, and it will be another encouragement for many souls to follow this sure path of sanctity, of fidelity to God and to his Church: namely, love for and devotion to the Mother of God and our Mother.
This sculpture also contains the expiatory church of the Holy Family and other motifs connected with the city of Barcelona, entrusted to the protection of its Patroness. We are certain that the figure of St. Josemaría praying before Mary Most Holy includes all of the spiritual and material needs of the city and of the Archdiocese, as well as the intentions of its shepherd and archbishop.
The entire Prelature of Opus Dei shares in these sentiments of our holy Founder, since its whole purpose is to serve the Church present in all the local Churches.
I unite myself to the intentions and petitions of all those present and of Archbishop Lluis Martinez Sistach, who is just beginning in his life as Shepherd a new and exciting stage of service to the Church in this Archdiocese of Barcelona. I also want to ask our Lady of Ransom, with the same sentiments that were St. Josemaría’s when he came here for the first time, that she continue protecting her children and listen to our petitions with the same mercy that she showed on that occasion so long ago now, and always.