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Symposium in Boston

Despite predictions of a snow storm, 400 people attended a symposium on the teachings of Saint Josemaría at Bentley College, near Boston, on November 16. The two principal talks were by Dr. Laura Garcia of Boston College and Dr. Michael Pakaluk of Clark University. Between the sessions, round tables were offered on work, education, the family and culture.

The event began with welcoming remarks sent by the Prelate of Opus Dei. “Your symposium,” he said in his greeting, “only weeks after the canonization of Saint Josemaría, reaffirms the universality of his message of finding God in ordinary life.” The Prelate also recalled the invitation of Pope John Paul II to “learn the lesson of the new saint: Jesus should be the inspiration and goal of every aspect in your daily life.” This invitation was voiced by the Pope when closing the canonization ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.

Dr. Garcia spoke about the culture of family life. “We devote the greater part of our lives to relationships with family members and friends. These relationships help us to grow in holiness and to take on the likeness of Christ,” she said. Central to family life is the relationship between husband and wife: “For married persons, dedication to God is realized in and through one’s commitment to one’s spouse.”

This was followed by the four round tables on specific aspects of Saint Josemaría’s teachings. The panel moderators were Frank Mcnamara, a lawyer; Karen Bohlin, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character, at Boston University; Paul Swope, Director of The Caring Foundation; and Rosemary Cook, a teacher and mother of nine.

Afterwards, Father Richard Rieman spoke of his four years spent in Rome living alongside Saint Josemaría back in the fifties. He recalled especially his good humor and cheerfulness: “He was always smiling, and would sing when traveling by car. His joy-filled spirit was a constant reminder of the importance of cheerfulness for Christians.”

Finally Professor Pakaluk spoke about the tie between personalism and friendship. He noted that Saint Josemaría and Pope John Paul II shared the conviction that all Christians should cultivate a close personal relationship with Christ. In this context, he cited a phrase of Saint Josemaría: “Get to know the Sacred Humanity of Jesus. And He will place in your soul an insatiable hunger, an ‘uncontrollable’ yearning to contemplate his Face.”

He also stressed that the relationship between Christ and Christians should be modeled after the relationships between the three Persons in the Blessed Trinity: “There are three important points in our reciprocal relationship with Christ. First, it implies shared knowledge. Second, it requires a real union with him. And third, insofar as we are really cooperating with him, we become co-redeemers.” It is precisely this intimacy with Christ that was the root of Saint Josemaría’s spiritual life.

Romana, No. 35, July-December 2002, p. 344-345.