As An Everlasting Memorial

Author: Pope John Paul II


John Paul II

Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, Priest, Founder of Opus Dei

As and everlasting memorial. The Church, which is sent to establish the kingdom of Christ among all peoples (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 5), is "the universal sacrament of salvation, at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God's love for men" (Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 45).

The message of Venerable Josemaria Escriva expresses, is an admirable and most fitting way, the universal nature of the mystery of salvation: "He calls each and every one to holiness; he asks each and every one to love him: young and old, single and married, healthy and sick, learned and unlearned, no matter where they work, or where they are" (Friends of God, 294). In proclaiming the radical nature of the baptismal vocation, he opened up new ways for a deeper Christianization of society, the founder of Opus Dei pointed out that the universal nature of the call to full union with Christ means that one can find God in any human activity.

Work, therefore, takes on a central role in Christian sanctification and apostolate. The special connection between the dynamism of human actions and supernatural grace shows clearly how the supernatural life of union with Christ occupies a central place, while it also leads the faithful to make a determined effort to transform the world. In this context, Venerable Josemaria Escriva has highlighted all the redemptive power of the faith, and its capacity to transform both individuals and the social structures in which men and women work out their ideals and their ambitions.

The Founder of Opus Dei saw clearly the unlimited apostolic possibilities of the ordinary life of the faithful, when guided by the desire to sanctify their ordinary work and all human activities and situations. Hence his insistence on the need to blend together, in a harmonious unity of life, one's prayer, work and apostolate: "There is just one flesh, made of flesh and spirit. And it is this life which has to become, in both soul and body, holy and filled with God ... Our age need to give back to matter and to the most trivial occurrences and situations their noble and original meaning. It needs to restore them to the service of the Kingdom of God" (Conversations, 114).

Venerable Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro (Spain) on January 9, 1902. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 28, 1925, and on October 2, 1928, he founded Opus Dei in Madrid. On February 14, 1930, he saw that he should extend his apostolate to include women also. In faithful fulfillment of the task entrusted to him, he brought priests and lay people, men and women, to discover that it is in their daily occupations that they can live out their co-responsibility in the Church's mission, with a full dedication to God in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life. "The divine paths of the world have opened up," he exclaimed (Christ is Passing By, 21). He did not restrict himself simply to describing the pastoral opportunities that were opened up by this evangelizing effort, but rather went on to establish it as a stable and organic part of the Church.

Following an intense life dedicated entirely to the heroic fulfillment of that ecclesial service, which was marked by the profound experience of the mystery of the Cross, in very close union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Venerable Servant of God gave up his soul to God on June 26, 1975, in Rome. He was an authentic master of Christian life and had reached the heights of contemplation through continuous prayer, constant mortification, and the daily effort to do his work with exemplary docility to the Holy Spirit, with the aim of "serving the Church as the Church wants to be served."

The considerable reputation for holiness that he enjoyed during his lifetime grew extraordinarily after his death. In 1981, the Vicar General of the diocese of Rome, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, started the Cause of Canonization of the Servant of God. When the two investigative Processes in regard to his life and virtues, one in Rome and the other in Madrid, had completed their work, the consideration of the heroicity of his virtues was begun. The decree in regard to the heroic quality of his virtues was issued on April 9, 1990.

Among the many miracles attributed to the Servant of God, the one chosen for his Cause was the miraculous cure of a nun, which took place in 1976, and the appropriate Investigative Process began in 1982. The stipulated enquiries and examinations were carried out, and the decree super miro was promulgated on July 6, 1991. And so we establish that the rite of Beatification should take place on May 17, 1992.

Today, therefore, in Rome, in Saint Peter's Square, during a solemn liturgical celebration, we pronounced the following words:

"We, according to the wishes of our brothers Camillo Ruini, Our Vicar for the City of Rome, and Pietro Giacomo Nonis, Bishop of Vicenza, as well as those of many others in the Episcopate, and of numerous faithful, having heard the opinion of the congregation for the Causes of Saints, by Our Apostolic Authority declare that the Venerable Servants of God Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, priest, Founder of Opus Dei, and Josephine Bakhita, virgin, Daughter of Charity, Canossian, can from now on be called Blessed, and their feasts can be celebrated, in the places and in the manner established by law, each year, on the day of their birth to heaven: June 26 for Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, and February 8 for Josephine Bakhita.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

All that we have established by means of this letter, we wish to remain in place now and in the future, notwithstanding anything to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, and sealed with the Fisherman's ring, May 17, 1992, the fourteenth of Our Pontificate.

Angelo Card. Sodano, Secretary of State

Archives of the Secretary of State, no. 304,722

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