On June 26th, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva, the Founder of Opus Dei, the prelature helping Catholics to live their Faith in the middle of the world.
Recently on Morning Air, John Morales had guest Father Hilary Mahaney on the show to talk about the time he met St. Josemaria in 1964, and the founding and mission of Opus Dei. As a priest of Opus Dei, Father Hilary is very familiar with its simple, yet difficult goal: helping Catholics come to know Christ in our everyday lives, whatever stage of life we may be in. God’s call to holiness is not just aimed at those ordained to Holy Orders. He calls each and every one of us to be a saint, and Opus Dei is focused on the idea of helping lay people learn how to embrace their personal call to holiness every day.
One of John’s favorite sayings from St. Josemaria is, “A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” It was an especially meaningful adage for those lay people who might have been under the impression that sainthood was reserved for priests or nuns. Father Hilary spoke on the saying, stating how much emphasis and importance St. Josemaria placed on the Sacrament of Penance. He never wanted members of the Faith to become discouraged in their struggles, and he reminded us that sinners are on earth and saints are in heaven. Our struggles only cease when we enter eternal salvation.
The crux of Opus Dei’s mission in helping us embrace personal holiness is carried out through the sanctification of work. “If we are to sanctify our work, we need to do it well, and take care of the little details in our work. Finish it well, prepare it well. If we got a meeting, we try to prepare, be on time, etc.” That isn’t just for business professionals. That goes for students, homemakers, specialized vocations. Father made a point to emphasize the universal call to holiness through the sanctification of our everyday lifeand all the struggles and blessings that come with it.
And perhaps there is no better role model for living out work and struggles for the love of God than St. Josemaria himself. He used to say that he was merely an envelope and Christ’s life in him was the message of importance. You should take the message but throw out the envelope. Those blessed enough to be around him during his life said he lived a life of admirable humility, focus, and cheerfulness. “He said, ‘I’m a sinner who loves Jesus Christ.’ So it showed his great humility. I remember reading once, he had just gone into the dentist’s office, like everybody else. He was just sitting there and waiting and there was a priest there with him who did not know him. The priest came into the dental office as well and they were just talking like two priests would talk, whatever. And all of a sudden he said, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Oh I’m Josemaria Escriva.’ And the priest was very surprised because he didn’t make a big deal of being the founder of Opus Dei.”
That’s just the way he was, Father Hilary said. He loved to bring joy to others, joke around, make people laugh, never intent on calling attention to himself. In short, it was clear to others that he practiced what he preached, not because he performed empty acts of service for the public to see, but because he lived a self-sacrificial life dedicated to the salvation of others so joyfully in the name of Christ.
Listen to the full talk below:
Tune in to Morning Air on weekdays 5am CT.