June 26th - Josemaria Escriva
Like some, I have mixed feelings about this saint. My experiences with the Opus Dei order were not always positive, and much controversy swirled around him all of which colored my thoughts and feelings.
When the process for sainthood began in earnest, many revelations from reliable witnesses on both sides of the battle came to light. Was Josemaria a saint or a sinner? Was he humble or egotistical? Selfless or self-serving? Deeply spiritual or simplistic? He seemed to be both.
In the end miracles were attributed to his intercession and John Paul II, a big admirer and himself a victim of political oppression as well as a saint of controversy, approved his cause.
So, I have to ask myself, am I judging or am I letting God judge?
We are all a mix of good and bad, saint and sinner. Not that I am actively living so as to remove all doubt, but I hope to never have my cause put forth out of sheer embarrassment for my failings! I defer then to God and His mercy, and hope that Josemaria, cleansed of his failings, prays in earnest for us fellow sinners.
Today also celebrates the martyrdom of several Greek Catholics killed by Russian Communists as they retreated from the Germans in 1941. It is a balance that hurts my soul but enlivens it as well.
Consider for a moment the event I have just described. We are celebrating the holy Eucharist, the sacramental sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord, that mystery of faith which binds together all the mysteries of Christianity. We are celebrating, therefore, the most sacred and transcendent act which we, men and women, with God's grace can carry out in this life: receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord is, in a certain sense, like loosening our ties with earth and time, so as to be already with God in heaven, where Christ himself will wipe the tears from our eyes and where there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor cries of distress, because the old world will have passed away.
This profound and consoling truth, which theologians usually call the eschatological meaning of the Eucharist, could, however, be misunderstood. Indeed, this has happened whenever people have tried to present the Christian way of life as something exclusively spiritual — or better, spiritualistic something reserved for pure, extraordinary people who remain aloof from the contemptible things of this world, or at most tolerate them as something that the spirit just has to live alongside, while we are on this earth.
When people take this approach, churches become the setting par excellence of the Christian way of life. And being a Christian means going to church, taking part in sacred ceremonies, getting into an ecclesiastical mentality, in a special kind of world, considered the ante-chamber to heaven, while the ordinary world follows its own separate course. In this case, Christian teaching and the life of grace would pass by, brushing very lightly against the turbulent advance of human history but never coming into proper contact with it.
On this October morning, as we prepare to enter upon the memorial of our Lord's Pasch, we flatly reject this deformed vision of Christianity. Reflect for a moment on the setting of our Eucharist, of our Act of Thanksgiving. We find ourselves in a unique temple; we might say that the nave is the University campus; the altarpiece, the University library; over there, the machinery for constructing new buildings; above us, the sky of Navarre...
Surely this confirms in your minds, in a tangible and unforgettable way, the fact that everyday life is the true setting for your lives as Christians. Your daily encounter with Christ takes place where your fellow men, your yearnings, your work and your affections are. It is in the midst of the most material things of the earth that we must sanctify ourselves, serving God and all mankind.
-- In Love with the Church, Chapter 4, 51-52
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