Transfer of the Body of Blessed Álvaro for Veneration of the Faithful Words of Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei St. Eugene’s Basilica Rome, September 29, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters
As you can well imagine, many memories pass through my mind today and lead me to give thanks to God for the good and faithful servant Blessed Álvaro del Portillo, bishop and prelate of Opus Dei.
I think all of us would have liked to carry the coffin so as to thank him for his life of self-giving and service to the Church, his interest in each one of us, his daily love for the will of God.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. I can assure you that Blessed Álvaro had great devotion to these Archangels, who received specific missions from God. Our most beloved Bishop Álvaro was so devoted to them that in a meeting he proposed that instead of suppressing the liturgical feasts of St. Gabriel and St. Raphael, the celebration of the three archangels should be unified in a single feast, the one we celebrate today.
I imagine that many of you will have attended Mass this morning, so you will remember the words that Nathaniel heard from the lips of Philip, “Come and see.” Blessed Álvaro always sought to see and do the things that God asked of him. He met the Work in the early years, in 1935. He was so impressed by Saint Josemaría’s strong and marvelous faith that, when the possibility of following God along the path of Opus Dei was suggested to him, he did not hesitate and responded with all the strength of his soul, saying “Here I am.” This way of acting, this response, was the one he tried to give every day of his life. He did it in the first place following the example of our Lady, with her wonderful reply “ecce ancilla Domini,” and also following the footsteps of Saint Josemaría. Thus he opened for us the path of faithfulness, an unbreakable faithfulness.
Blessed Álvaro was a man of faith, who trusted God and those called by God to lead this part of the Church which is the prelature of Opus Dei. That is why Saint Josemaría realized, after only a short time, that here was a person he could rely on to further the work he had started alone, but with great faith which he passed on to the people around him. Blessed Álvaro understood this lesson of faith and therefore trusted in God throughout his life. He always wanted to follow him more and more closely.
Blessed Álvaro possessed all the virtues we have heard about in today’s reading, because he truly sought to identify himself constantly with the will of God. He was able to continue saying “Here I am” right to the moment when God called him to his presence, and he went to heaven with a smile on his lips, full of the peace he always communicated to everyone around him.
We ask you, Blessed Álvaro, with all our heart, that we may all be very faithful to the calls of God throughout the day. We remember you with that smile, so usual in you —a smile that came from your union with God, from your faith in the intercession of our Lady, and the certainty that Saint Josemaría Escrivá looked after us from heaven.
When our founder left this earth, Blessed Álvaro decided to adapt himself completely to the way of working of Saint Josemaría. And that was precisely what Paul VI asked him once when Blessed Álvaro talked to him about the apostolate that needed to be carried out throughout the world. With the certainty proper to the supreme pastor in the Church, the future Blessed Paul VI told him: “Whenever you need to resolve a problem or give some indications entrust yourself to Msgr. Escrivá, so as to act according to his mind.” And Blessed Álvaro followed this advice. I can assure you that his prayer was based on his conversation with God but going through the intercession of our Lady and asking for the help of Msgr. Escrivá. He had seen Saint Josemaría praying, growing in his daily conversation with our Lord, and treasuring the value of sacrifice and cheerful mortification, not with resignation but with joy, because Saint Josemaría loved the cross, and Blessed Álvaro too learned to love the cross with all his strength.
He had great human and spiritual qualities and sought to develop them throughout his life. He was faithful and made use of every possible opportunity to say to God, as I mentioned before, “here I am.” We ask you, Blessed Álvaro, father and friend, to help us all to never shirk in our own life, not even in small ways, what God wants from us. Help us, because we need your intercession to serve God better, to go to our Lady more, and to be good instruments, faithful to the Church and to the Pope, thus helping our society today in all its needs.
My brothers and sisters, we have before us the mortal remains of a man, a priest, a bishop, who placed everything he did in God’s hands. That is why he was always serene, happy. He was a great communicator of peace. Let us truly ask him: help us to give witness to the love that God has for us.
On our part, let us seek to work with sacrifice and renunciation, if necessary, because this is the way of growing positively in our human and spiritual life. Let us invoke the intercession of our Lady, to whom Blessed Álvaro so often prayed (so many memories come to my mind of his visits to shrines of the mother of God and our mother). Let us draw close to our Lady, asking her that God may increase the accidental glory of Blessed Álvaro and that he —father, friend, brother—may help us to be always constant and faithful to God’s will. May Jesus Christ be praised!