Participation in a symposium in Logroño
On Saturday, January 18, Bishop Javier Echevarría took part in an academic ceremony commemorating St. Josemaría Escrivá’s priestly work, held in the Logroño diocesan seminary, where he pursued studies for the priesthood from 1918-1920. It was also in this city that the founder of Opus Dei saw the footprints of a discalced Carmelite in the snow, which gave rise to his priestly vocation.
The ceremony, organized by the diocese of Logroño, was presided over by Bishop Ramón Búa, who emphasized in his address the importance for the Riojan seminary of "the ‘footprints,’ the imprint of holiness, that the saint who has recently been canonized by the Church left impressed on our city." He also stressed "Opus Dei’s closeness to all of us, providing spiritual help to so many priests and lay people in our diocese, who want to respond to the charism of sanctity in their daily life." The second talk was by Msgr. José Luis Illanes, professor of theology at the University of Navarre. He emphasized how important for St. Josemaría were his years of adolescence spent in Logroño. Professor Illanes recalled many small family events in the life of the saint during those years. He ended his talk by noting that "his years in Logroño truly constituted a crossroads—and even the decisive crossroads— in St. Josemaría’s life. God began to mark out a path for him from which he would never veer in the years ahead."
Bishop Javier Echevarría, alluding to St. Josemaría’s preaching on the priesthood, covered the most important elements of a priest’s identity: priestly sanctity as a gift and a task, human virtues, humility, pastoral charity and priestly fraternity. "St. Josemaría," he stressed, "wanted to identify himself with Christ, to be Christ in the exercise of his priestly ministry and in his whole life. This desire gave rise to his life of prayer, his great reverence when celebrating Mass, his need to spend long periods before the tabernacle, and his ardent longing to seek souls and lead them, in Christ, along paths of holiness."
Stressing the importance of pastoral charity for the priest, he pointed to the example given by “St. Josemaria in his travels through the poor neighborhoods of Madrid back in the 1920's and 30's, when he was in constant contact with poverty and sickness, ministering to the dying, comforting the sick, teaching Christian doctrine to children and adults. This is how he spent his life right up to his last days on earth, always concerned about others, those near by and those far away, known and unknown. He gladly prayed and sacrificed himself for all souls, without exception."
Romana, No. 36, January-June 2003, p. 0.