A book by Bishop Javier Echevarría
Memoria del Beato Josemaría Escrivá, by Bishop Javier Echevarría, Ediciones Rialp, Madrid, 357 pages.
Opus Dei’s current prelate, Bishop Javier Echevarría, worked alongside the Founder from 1950 right up to the day of his death on June 26, 1975. Bishop Javier Echevarría relied on the collaboration of Salvador Bernal to express his personal memories in interview format. Among other books, Bernal is also the author of Msgr. Josemaria Escriva: A Profile of the Founder of Opus Dei, and of Alvaro del Portillo: Bishop-Prelate of Opus Dei.
The new book consists of four chapters. The first, “A priest who loved the world,” is centered on the struggle of Blessed Josemaria to correspond to God’s grace. Bishop Echevarría describes how Blessed Josemaria endeavored, for the love of God, to identify himself with Christ and to be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in what was difficult and what was easy, in what was important and in what did not seem to be, while always asking God for pardon for what he considered omissions or negligences. He describes how he confronted work and fatigue, sorrow and joy, times of darkness and moments of dazzling light. Blessed Josemaria referred to his physical sufferings and illnesses as “caresses from God,” a phrase he also employed to describe the intense opposition he went through, especially after the foundation of Opus Dei.
The second chapter, “An attractive personality,” contains a series of recollections about Blessed Josemaria’s strong character, his great heart, his zeal to sow peace and joy, his way of harmonizing understanding with the ability to call forth greater efforts, his love for justice and his continual defense of the dignity and freedom of the individual.
Basing itself on a verse of St. John of the Cross that was very familiar to the Founder of Opus Dei, the third chapter, “I caught my prey,” deals specifically with his life of prayer. This was centered on fostering a spirit of contemplation in the midst of the world and everyday activities. His sense of divine filiation, his dealing with each of the three divine Persons through union with the holy humanity of Christ, his devotion to our Lady and to St. Joseph, made up Blessed Josemaria’s spiritual life, centered and rooted in the sacrifice of the Mass. Bishop Echevarría provides many details about his preparation each day for celebrating Mass, his act of thanksgiving afterwards, and his efforts to turn his whole day into a “Mass.”
The final chapter, “Like the Gospel, new,” presents some reminiscences that teach us how to live important Christian virtues. It treats of the “unity of life” preached and practised by Blessed Josemaria, of his mission from God to open a path of sanctification in the midst of the world to the faithful of all walks of life, through the diligent fulfillment of one’s professional work and ordinary duties, done out of love for God. It also shows how lay people can practice diligence, humility, poverty, prudence—teachings which today form part of the common patrimony of the Church.
Bishop Javier Echevarría’s book is of great value for grasping more fully Josemaria Escriva’s example of holiness, an example the Church has held up to the faithful since his elevation to the altars on May 17, 1992.
Romana, No. 30, January-June 2000, p. 0.