When Faced with Suffering and Finding Sanctity in Ordinary Life: St. Josemaria Escriva

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An excerpt from St. Josemaria Escriva’s work:

“Christian teaching on pain is not a series of facile considerations. It is, in the first place, a call to accept the suffering inseparable from all human life. I cannot hide from you the fact that there has often been pain in my life and more than once I have wanted to cry. I tell you this joyfully, because I have always preached and tried to live the truth that Christ, who is love, is to be found on the cross. At other times, I have felt a great revulsion to injustice and evil, and I have fought against the frustration of not being able to do anything — despite my desire and my effort — to remedy those unjust situations.

“When I speak to you about suffering, I am not just talking theory. Nor do I limit myself to other people’s experience when I tell you that the remedy is to look at Christ, if when faced with suffering, you at some time feel that your soul is wavering. The scene of Calvary proclaims to everyone that afflictions have to be sanctified, that we are to live united to the cross…

“Suffering is part of God’s plans. This is the truth, however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.” In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father’s will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him.

“This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight — a fight of peace — against evil, against injustice, against sin. Thus do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain the glorious spiritual triumph of men.

(The above is from Josemaria Escriva’s book entitled Christ is Passing By, obtained from josemariaescriva.info website)

The life and ministry of St. Josemaria Escriva, priest

Today, June 26 is the Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva.  He is a modern-day saint from Spain, who lived from 1902 to 1975.  As the founder of the Opus Dei organization for lay persons and religious, St. Josemaria taught that everyone is called to holiness which can be obtained through the activities of ordinary life.  He particularly advocated sanctity in work.  The term Opus Dei is Latin meaning, “work of God.”

St. Josemaria was very accustomed to suffering as he endured the untimely death of family members as well as his own father’s unemployment. He is reported to have suffered from some form of epilepsy that threatened his life as a boy and had type I diabetes as an adult. He lived during the Spanish Civil War, a very volatile time of his country’s history.  His organization, Opus Dei, had endured frequent attacks and criticism even during his lifetime.  The excerpt above is included because of his insight into the meaning of suffering in our lives.

From a psychological standpoint, Viktor Frankl, an existential theorist, psychiatrist, founder of logotherapy, and Nazi concentration camp survivor, was particularly impressed with St. Josemaria.  Frankl upon meeting Escriva described him as” living totally in the present moment and having a refreshing serenity which emanated from him that warmed the whole.”  Frankl, a Jew, stated that “This man is a spiritual atomic bomb” (obtained from Wikipedia.com).

St. Josemaria Escriva is a great Saint for most of us who struggle and desire to honor and serve God in our everyday lives, especially in our work. The above video is an excerpt from a talk where he explains prayer when “we don’t feel like it.” 

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