Liturgical Feast of St. Josemaria
The large number of people taking part in the Eucharistic ceremonies in honor of St. Josemaría on June 26, his liturgical feast, reflected the widespread and deep devotion to the Founder of Opus Dei throughout the world. These ranged from Hamburg in Germany to Santa Marta in Colombia; from Wellington, New Zealand, to Riga, Latvia; from Almaty, Kazakhstan, to Luanda in Angola, where the Mass of St. Josemaría was celebrated in the Cathedral for the first time. In many cases the celebration was presided over by the local bishop, the apostolic nuncio, or another ecclesiastical authority. Naturally in many churches the Mass of St. Josemaría was celebrated without special solemnity, simply through the devotion of the pastors or faithful.
Here we have gathered only a few examples. In the Archdiocese of Palo, on the island of Leyte, the Philippines, there is a mission dedicated to St. Josemaría, which may soon become a parish. This year the Mass in honor of its patron, on June 26, was attended by about a thousand people.
On the evening of June 26, the Prelate of Opus Dei celebrated the Mass of St. Josemaría in the basilica of St. Eugene in Rome. In the cathedral of Florence, at about the same time, six hundred people gathered to participate in the Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Julian Herranz. In his homily, Cardinal Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, spoke about the day of St. Josemaría’s death, June 26, 1975. In the pockets of his cassock that day they found two significant items: a notebook with some thoughts and aspirations written down that bore witness to his burning love for Jesus, and a small whistle, a reminder of the need to awaken people’s consciences. Starting with these recollections, the Cardinal went on to develop some reflections on a life lived in union with Christ and on the apostolic mission of Christians.
In Tallinn, capital of Estonia, the principal celebrant of the Mass in honor of St. Josemaría was Bishop Philippe Jourdan, apostolic administrator of the diocese. His homily was preached both in Estonian and in Russian. Basing himself on St. Josemaría’s teachings, he encouraged those present to follow closely in Christ’s footsteps in their daily duties, whether the harvesting of potatoes or internet communication, two equally common activities in Estonia.
The archbishop of Yaoundé and president of the Cameroon Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Victor Tonyé Bakot, celebrated the Mass of St. Josemaría in the Cathedral of Yaoundé for over 1200 people. In his homily he praised the life of the Founder of Opus Dei, who, he said, “appeared as a star in the dark skies of a humanity that is ever less concerned with salvation in Jesus Christ.” He cited various interventions of John Paul II in connection with St. Josemaría, and at one point declared: “I think both of them were united in their concern to make our Church a Church of saints, since all the effort that the Founder of Opus Dei put into inviting men and women to holiness, John Paul II put into beatifying and canonizing people.” He concluded with these words: “Echoing Pope John Paul II, of venerable memory, who beatified and canonized St. Josemaría, we want to say in this cathedral and in this Mass: don’t be afraid of being saints for the third millennium.”
About three thousand faithful attended the Mass in the Cathedral of São Paulo, a solemn concelebration in honor of St. Josemaría presided over by Archbishop Raymond Damasceno Assis of Aparecida. In his homily the Archbishop recalled St. Josemaría’s pilgrimage to the Shrine of Aparecida in May 1974. Archbishop Assis announced that in a side chapel of the shrine, close to where St. Josemaría knelt to pray the Rosary, his image would be placed for the veneration of the Brazilians who come to Aparecida in huge numbers (a hundred thousand pilgrims visit the shrine every weekend). At the beginning of the Mass a message was read from the cardinal of São Paulo, who was unable to preside at the ceremony because he was out of the city, but who wanted to unite himself to the celebration and who prayed for abundant apostolic fruit from the work of Opus Dei.
Romana, No. 42, January-June 2006, p. 113-114.