Thursday, October 06, 2005

Third Anniversary of the Canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, October 6, 2005

“The 20th century ended, for the Catholic Church, on October 6, 2002. It ended precisely 40 years after the opening of the Second Vatican
Council in 1962.
“It ended on a warm, blue autumn day in Rome with John Paul II’s canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer the founder of Opus Dei, as a saint.

“In so doing, the Pope presented sanctity as the vocation of every baptized person, and so reiterated the central message of the Second Vatican Council….

“The 20th century was the century that brought the medieval world to a definitive end.

“That old world was `Christendom’… dominated politically by at least nominally Christian kings and Kaisers and aristocratic elites, dominated militarily and economically by Western Europeans, who colonized the world….

“Having experienced the 20th century, the solution seemed evident: the Church needed to `go to ground’ – to de-clericalize, … and to have its members intermingle in all aspects of ordinary human life, indistinguishable in any outward way from other members of society except in the excellence of their work, engaged in as a vocation … a vocation to sanctity in the midst of the world.

“And so, at the Second Vatican Council, the Church made the extraordinary leap, the epochal transformation, from a Church organized along lines that had worked well enough in the medieval age (that was) clerical, to a Church organized to survive and flourish and live out the faith in a `new ge,’ an age of a looming `new world order’…

“The Holy Father pronounced the formula of canonization for the Spanish priest at 10:23 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square. And so, in a certain sense, we may say that we know the exact minute that the old century and the old world ended: at 10:23 a.m. in Rome on a sunny October morning in the year 2002.”

The Formula of Canonization: John Paul II pronounced: “With the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and ours (authority), after have deliberated long and repeatedly invoking divine help and having listened to the advice of many of our brothers in the episcopate, we declare and define Blessed Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer a Saint; we inscribe him in the Catalogue of the saints and establish that he be devoutly honored as such in the entire Church. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Significance of this Canonization: These words show that the canonization is an act whose nature is distinct from the beatification, an act which theologians call a “dogmatic fact” and not simply a confirmation of what came before. In the beatification, the Roman Pontiff exercises the supreme legislative power which corresponds to him in the Church authorizing that one of the faithful be called blessed and receive public cult in particular places according to the modes established by law. In the canonization, on the other hand, the Pope declares and defines as a truth of catholic doctrine that one of the faithful is a saint, and extends his cult to the whole Church. This truth, taught by the supreme Magisterium of the Church in the solemn canonization, requires the definitive assent of the faithful, “founded on the faith in the assistance of the Holy Spirit to the Magisterium of the Church, and on the catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium" (SCDF Nota Doctrinalis on the formula of the Profession of faith, 29-VI-1998, #6 Cfr. John Paul II, Ad Tuendam fidem, 18-V-1998, #3,4).

Before the canonization, anyone who knew the holy life of Josemaria Escriva could have the certainty that he was a saint, and with greater reason after the 17 of May in 1992 when the Church authorized public cult to him. Now, the certainty is of another order as from a superior light. It is the certainty of the faith in what the Magisterium of the Church has definitively taught in the canonization.

We might also say that, since the person of St. Josemaria Escriva was indistinguishable from the his mission,[2] and that he achieved holiness by living out the very spirit he had been given to him, by canonizing the person as saint, the act also canonizes the spirit as truly a way of holiness.

The essential message of St. Josemaria is found in the following statement: “There is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”[3] Alvaro del Portillo commented: “This doctrine is so transcendental that the Church has wanted to proclaim it solemnly in the last Council and to make it into `the most characteristic feature and the ultimate purpose of all the conciliar teaching.’”[4] The last part of this sentence was a quotation from Pope Paul VI.[5]

We could say, then, that with promulgation of the Second Vatican Council as an infallible exercise of Magisterium, together with the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva that this doctrine and spirit of achieving holiness in ordinary life by the giving of the self pertains to Revelation.

In this sense, we can say that Revelation increases. Revelation has been totally given to us once and for all in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Person of Christ is the total and complete revelation of the Father as His Word. But, as then-Josef Ratzinger commented, “Where there is no one to perceive `revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it. These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura (`by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.”[6]

And so, revelation will increase as the subjective experience and consciousness of Christ increases. It is in this sense that perhaps we could suggest that this spirit of Josemaria Escriva pertains to revelation due to his experience and consciousness of the Person of Christ, and should be shouted from the housetops without fear or diminution for everyone to put into practice.

[1] Robert Moynihan, Inside the Vatican November 2002, 16-19.
[2] “All those who knew Josemaria Escriva perceived that his person was inseparable from the mission for which God had chosen him. Having been able to form a particularly close and profound relationship with him for 40 years reinforces in my memory this characteristic dimension of his human and spiritual physiognomy. I have seen him, so to speak, in his `first act’ as founder, that is to say in the daily and continuous building of Opus Dei, and as a consequence of the Church, as he affirmed not in vain that the Work exists solely to serve the Church.
“The identification of this very self with his foundational activity implied that Mons. Escriva perfected himself as a subject;” L’Osservatore Romano, May 28, 1992, 6/7.
[3] Conversations with Monsignor Josemaria Escriva, Scepter #114.
[4] Letter March 1992, #3.
[5] Motu proprio `Sanctitas clarior,’ 19 March 1930, 2.
[6] Josef Ratzinger, Milestones Ignatius (1997) 108-109.

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