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Towards the canonization of Josemaria Escriva

Since 1992, so many thousands of people have said the prayer on the prayer card of Blessed Josemaria that ends with the double request: “Deign to grant the canonization of Blessed Josemaria and, through his intercession, grant me the favor of....” How many people have seen the second part of this petition granted! Blessed Josemaria has obtained from God the help they needed to overcome a family problem, an illness, a conflict at work, spiritual and material needs of all sorts, whether large or small.

The first part of the petition is still pending. But God will soon answer the cry of so many souls who have been beseeching him for Blessed Josemaria’s canonization. The decree on a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Josemaria, which the Pope approved on December 20th, has opened the door to his canonization.

Every miracle, like every saint, is an eloquent sign of God’s active presence in the world. John Paul II has canonized more saints than any other Pope. He clearly wants to present today’s Christians with as many different models of sanctity as possible. But he is also addressing a challenge to a society that in practice has turned away from God, showing it that God has not ceased to act in the world for the benefit of mankind.

God shows himself to his creatures in the “miracle” of nature: in the rhythm of the sun and the seasons, in the beauty of the fields and the forests. But divine action also has extraordinary manifestations that totally transcend the order of nature and the grasp of human reason. These extraordinary interventions of God, miracles properly speaking, only make sense within the logic of faith. Christ only worked miracles where he found faith, and he did so both to help people believe and to increase their faith. [1]

“Yes, this is still the age of miracles. We, too, would work them
if we had enough faith!” [2] wrote Blessed Josemaria. Faith can move mountains. It can cure the sick, obtain bread for the hungry, calm storms... But, above all, faith makes saints. “Behold,” Jesus once said to his disciples, “I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” [3]

That the name of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer will be written in the book of the saints is for everyone a cause of joy. And the fact that this news coincides with the centennial of his birth will help to spread the message of his life and teachings more widely. Thus many more people will be impelled to follow Christ by sanctifying their professional work and daily life.

God asks of all of us what he asked of Blessed Josemaria: holiness. The words our Lord addressed to his apostles are meant for every man and woman: “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” But all of us, immersed in our daily struggles and concerns, still have a long road to travel. And while traveling through this world the sad possibility always exists of erasing our own name from the list in which we were inscribed by the grace of baptism.

That God has called all men and women to holiness is one of Blessed Josemaria’s central themes. His canonization should spur us to delve more deeply into this truth, to take it up ourselves, and to communicate it with the force and conviction that is born of faith. The celebration of the centennial and canonization of the founder of Opus Dei must go beyond mere externals. What God and the Church, and also Blessed Josemaria from heaven, expect of us on this unique occasion in the history of Opus Dei is the fruit of sanctity and apostolate.

Persevering faithfully to the end of the path of our Christian vocation is itself a great miracle, no less so than the disappearance of an incurable illness. And like every miracle, it is granted by God to those who ask for it with faith. Through Blessed Josemaria’s intercession, this is a good moment to ask God for the miracle of our own sanctity and for abundant apostolic fruit.

[1] Cf. Mt 13:58.

[2]The Way, 583.

[3] Lk 10:19-20.

Romana, No. 33, July-December 2001, pag. 136-137.