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Josemaría Escrivá/Teachings and Legacy

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Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer
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Beatification and canonization
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Teachings and legacy

While some theologians downplayed the importance of the message and teachings of Escrivá, Roman Catholic cardinals of all theological persuasions spoke highly of his influence in the Catholic Church of the present and the future.

In the decree introducing the cause of beatification and canonization of Escrivá, Cardinal Ugo Poletti wrote in 1981: "For having proclaimed the universal call to holiness since he founded Opus Dei in 1928, Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, has been unanimously recognized as the precursor of precisely what constitutes the fundamental nucleus of the Church's magisterium, a message of such fruitfulness in the life of the Church." Sebastiano Baggio, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, wrote a month after the death of Escrivá: "It is evident even today that the life, works, and message of the founder of Opus Dei constitutes a turning point, or more exactly a new original chapter in the history of Christian spirituality." A Vatican peritus or consultor for the process of beatification said that "he is like a figure from the deepest spiritual sources." Franz König, Archbishop of Vienna, who, according to Messori "is considered one of the leaders of the so-called "progressive current," wrote in 1975:

The magnetic force of Opus Dei probably comes from its profoundly lay spirituality. At the very beginning, in 1928, Msgr. Escrivá anticipated the return to the Patrimony of the Church brought by the Second Vatican Council...He was able to anticipate the great themes of the Church's pastoral action in the dawn of the third millennium of her history.

Opus Dei's prelatic church, Our Lady of Peace, located in its central headquarters in Rome: Below the altar lie the mortal remains of St. Josemaría.

The "absolutely central" point in Escrivá's teaching, says American theologian William May, is that "Sanctification is possible only because of the grace of God, freely given to his children through his only-begotten Son, and it consists essentially in an intimate, loving union with Jesus, our Redeemer and Savior." ("Holiness and ordinary life in the teaching of St. Josemaría Escrivá").[1]

Escrivá's books, including Furrow, The Way, Christ is Passing By, and The Forge, continue to be read widely both by members of Opus Dei and by other Catholics attracted to his spirituality, which emphasises the laity's calling to daily sanctification (a message also to be found in the documents of Vatican II). Pope John Paul II made the following observation in his homily at the beatification of Escrivá:

With supernatural intuition, Blessed Josemaría untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate. Christ calls everyone to become holy in the realities of everyday life. Hence work too is a means of personal holiness and apostolate, when it is done in union with Jesus Christ.

As regards Escrivá's place in history, Pierre Chaunu, Protestant historian, professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, President of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in 1993, said that "The work of Escrivá de Balaguer will undoubtedly mark the 21st century. This is a prudent and reasonable wager. Do not pass close to this contemporary without paying him close attention." (Vue Culturelle, 5-6 February 1983)

John Paul II's decree Christifideles omnes also states:

By inviting Christians to seek union with God through their daily work — which confers dignity on human beings and is their lot as long as they exist on earth — his message is destined to endure as an inexhaustible source of spiritual light regardless of changing epochs and situations.

  1. Belda, Manuel 1997

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