September 28: A Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving
At 12 noon, as the Mass was beginning, Pope Francis (from Rome) during the Angelus remembered the beatification that had taken place the previous day in Madrid and prayed that “the exemplary Christian and priestly witness of Bishop Álvaro del Portillo may bring about in many people the desire of uniting themselves ever more closely to Christ and to the Gospel.”
Prayer for all the world’s families in union with Pope Francis
As the event was attended mainly by family groups from all over the world, the Prelate of Opus Dei dedicated a good part of his homily to them. Thus he united himself to the wishes of Pope Francis, who dedicated this Sunday to prayer for the celebration of the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family: “On this day that the Holy Father Pope Francis has dedicated to praying for the family, we unite ourselves to the petitions of the entire Church through this communion of love, this school of the Gospel that is the family.”
Bishop Echevarría addressed families saying: “Our Lord loves you. Our Lord is present in your marriage, the image of the love Christ has for the Church. I know that many of you dedicate yourselves generously to supporting other married couples along their path of faithfulness. I know that many of you help other homes to go forward in a social context that is sometimes difficult and even hostile. Take courage! Your work as Gospel witnesses is necessary for the whole world.”
He also thanked them for their efforts: “Now we also give thanks to all the mothers and fathers gathered together here, and to all those who care for children, the elderly, and the sick.”
Fruitfulness of the life of Álvaro del Portillo
At the start of his homily, the Prelate made specific reference to the beatification ceremony that took place the day before: “The crowd during these days, the thousands of people from all over the world and so many others who are already waiting for us in Heaven, give special testimony to the fruitfulness of Don Álvaro’s life.” And he continued, “we cannot really call this a crowd, but rather a family gathering, united by love for God and love for one another. This same love is also made strong today in the Eucharist, during this Mass of thanksgiving for the beatification of our beloved Don Álvaro, bishop prelate of Opus Dei.”
Álvaro del Portillo revealed God’s mercy through his solidarity with the poor and abandoned
During the thanksgiving Mass, Bishop Echevarría said that “looking at the holy life of Don Álvaro we discover God’s hand, the grace of the Holy Spirit and the gift of a love which transforms us.” The Prelate urged everyone to strive so that “others may discover God’s goodness in our own way of life, as was the case in the daily activities of Don Álvaro, who already in this beloved Madrid also revealed God’s mercy through his solidarity with the poor and abandoned.”
In accord with this spirit of Blessed Álvaro del Portillo and in coordination with the NGO Harambee, the collections from the Masses held on September 27 and 28 will be used to support four social projects the new blessed helped to start when he was alive: The construction of a mother-and-child wing in the Niger Foundation and Diagnostic Centre in Enugu, Nigeria, a project that will benefit 12,000 people annually. A program to eradicate infant malnutrition in Bingerville (Cote d’Ivoire) and that will directly benefit 5,000 people. Four outpatient clinics on the outskirts of the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a project that will offer health care to 10,000 children a year. And the funding of Scholarships for the training of African priests in Rome.
At the end of the ceremony, the 3,500 young volunteers helped to collect the materials used for the ceremony and to clean up the area.
About 15,000 people who came to Rome to celebrate the beatification of Álvaro del Portillo attended the audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday, October 1. They wanted to show in this way their union with the Holy Father as well as their appreciation for the beatification.
Romana, No. 59, July-December 2014, p. 218-220.