Sanctification in Daily Work
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U.S. Vicar of Opus Dei Guest Writes for Washington Post

Monsignor Thomas G. Bohlin, U.S. vicar of Opus Dei, is a guest panelist writer for the Washington Post blog called “On Faith.” Unfortunately you can’t subscribe to just his contributions. However, you can bookmark the link and check it regularly.

Some of his recent contributions include:

Catholic Church says, ‘Welcome home’
Jesus said, “Leave everything and follow me”
You Cannot Force People to Believe
Pope Benedict and the Pursuit of Truth

Film Being Made About St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria EscrivaA movie is being made about the life of St. Josemaria Escriva. I’m guessing that this will be a very different look at Opus Dei and its founder than that sensationalist but from what I understand poorly made movie that got so much attention. Here’s some information about the movie from the Catholic News Agency.

The film “There Be Dragons” is a film set during the brutal Spanish Civil War in the second half of the 1930s, Catholic San Francisco reports. It is expected to be released in summer or fall 2010 and has a budget of about $30 million.

Joffe also wrote the screenplay for the film. He told an August 23 press conference that he has creative freedom over the project and had earlier rejected an offer to film an Opus Dei-provided script.

Discussing St. Josemaria, he noted that the priest “made no attempt to influence the people he worked with in terms of their politics.”

“At that time, that’s pretty heroic. That’s a time when almost all human beings were faced with making extraordinary choices.”

EWTN Series Focuses on Founder of Opus Dei

EWTN SeriesThere is a new series starting on EWTN beginning Sunday, August 30 that will focus on Opus Dei and its founder, Saint Josemaría Escrivá. The program consists of 13 parts. Pictured are co-hosts, John Coverdale, Seton Hall law professor and Damon Owens, founder of Joy-Filled Marriage. Chelsea tells me Damon is a Theology of the Body speaker. BTW, she does a weekly post on her personal blog about Theology of the Body and has a blog devoted to it as well.

Each segment will consist of a half-hour interview. One segment will be broadcast each week and will be shown in the United States and Canada three times during that week: Sunday at 5 p.m., Tuesday at 3:30 a.m., and Friday at 10:30 p.m.

EWTN’s description of the series reads as follows: “Saint Josemaría Escrivá ardently desired to open people to God’s presence in every aspect of their lives, not just Sunday Mass. In this exciting new series Damon Owen and John Coverdale explore the life, mission, and apostolate (Opus Dei) of this great modern saint.”

Damon Owens, from New Jersey, is the host-interviewer for the series. He has appeared in various other EWTN programs. His co-host is John Coverdale, author of Uncommon Faith, a book about the early history of Opus Dei, series. Coverdale worked in Rome from 1961 to 1968 with Saint Josemaría.

Among the other guests in the series are Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, who discusses the role of Opus Dei in the Church; Olga Marlin, who helped start Opus Dei in Kenya; and Terry Hurson, a New York City police officer, who explains how Opus Dei’s spirit has helped him in his work.

Thirty New Priests For Opus Dei

Opus DeiHere’s some great news. On May 23rd in Rome, Bishop Javier Echevarría ordained thirty new priests for the Prelature of Opus Dei.

On the Opus Dei website you can find a lot of pictures from the ordination as well as video and video testimonials from some of the new priests.

You can also read Bishop Javier’s homily. I like this line from it:

With the words of our Father, I remind you that “the priestly vocation brings with it the need for sanctity. This sanctity is not just any sanctity, a common sanctity, nor is it even an excellent sanctity. It is a matter of heroic sanctity.”

Looking For Work Novena

Asking a saint for help with a particular problem is a long standing custom and for people who are looking for work I just found one on the Opus Dei website. You can find the full novena with this link (pdf).

During these times of economic crisis, many people have lost their jobs and face serious difficulties supporting their families. With his teaching about the sanctification of ordinary work, St. Josemaría is a natural intercessor for all those seeking work or anxious about losing their job.

Above is a link to a Novena for Work that thousands of people have used to ask St. Josemaría’s intercession for finding or keeping jobs. Use it yourself and send it along to any friends or relatives looking for work.

Each day of the 9-day prayer starts with a quotation from St. Josemaria and then an intention for work or to do a good job.

Opus Dei on Google Maps

I just came across this link that shows Opus Dei locations around the world via Google Maps. There are several pages of links that provide address and contact information.

St. Josemaria Conference

St. Josemaria EscrivaI completely missed seeing the announcement of a day long conference on the life of St. Josemaria Escriva which will be taking place in McLean, VA on April 4th.

Appropriately named the “St. Josemaria Conference,” it is being held to celebrate 60 years of Opus Dei in the United States and 80 years in the Church.

The theme is also appropriate, “Passionately Loving The World.”

You can find registration information, program and list of speakers on the website.

The Facts About Opus Dei

Villa Sachetti, Rome, Italy. January 6, 1972.Since there continues to be confusion about just what Opus Dei is, a resource you can go to to find out the facts is the Opus Dei website. They’ve got a very up to date and easy to understand section on the facts about the Prelature. Here’s an example:

Mission & Characteristics: Saint Josemaría Escrivá founded Opus Dei in 1928 to help people live by the Gospel in their daily activities and make Christ present in every endeavor. Opus Dei focuses on work and daily life as an occasion for spiritual growth and an opportunity to contribute to a better world. Opus Dei also emphasizes divine filiation, unity of life, prayer and sacrifice, charity, apostolate and fidelity to the Pope.

Activities: The chief activity of Opus Dei members is personal effort to grow in holiness, carry out apostolate and improve society. In support of these efforts, Opus Dei provides spiritual direction, prayer and study meetings, retreats, classes and workshops. These activities take place in an Opus Dei center, or in a church, office or private home. Members also sometimes join with non-members to organize educational, charitable, and cultural projects, which may include spiritual formation carried out by Opus Dei.

St. Joseph the Worker

St. JosephToday is the feast of St. Joseph the worker who is an excellent model for Opus Dei. He was regarded in the Bible as a good and just man and was referred to by his profession (“is this not the carpenter’s son?” Mt. 13:55). The emphasis on Joseph’s work in the Bible and throughout tradition speaks to the importance of our own work in the world.

Be sure to read today’s reading from the Divine Office which comes from Gaudium et Spes n. 33-34 on Man’s Activity Throughout the World.

    From St. Josemaria

-Work is man’s original vocation. It is a blessing from God, and those who consider it a punishment are sadl mistaken. The Lord, who is the best of fathers, placed the first man in Paradise ut operaretur, so that he would work (Furrow 482).

-I ask God that you may take as your model Jesus as an adolescent and as a young man, both when he disputed with the doctors in the temple and when he worked in Joseph’s workshop (Furrow 484).

-Before God, no occupation is in itself great or small. Everything gains the value of the Love with which it is done (Furrow 487).

-Heroism at work is to be found in finishing each task (Furrow 488).

-Let us work. Let us work a lot and work well, without forgetting that prayer is our best weapon. That is why I will never tire of repeating that we have to be contemplative souls in the midst of the world, who try to convert their work into prayer (Furrow 497).

-Sanctifying one’s work is no fantastic dream, but the mission of every Christian – yours and mine. You cannot sanctify work which humanly speaking is slapdash, for we must not offer God badly-done jobs (Furrow 517, 493).

-From St. Paul’s teaching we know that we have to renew the world in the spirit of Jesus Christ, that we have to place Our Lord at the summit and at the heart of all things. Do you think you are carrying this out in your work, in your professional task (Forge 678)?

-Professional work – and the work of a housewife is one of the greatest of professions – is a witness to the worth of the human creature. It provides a chance to develop one’s own personality; it creates a bond of union with others; it constitutes a fund of resources; it is a way of helping in the improvement of the society we live in, and of promoting the progress of the whole human race…For a Christian, these grand views become even deeper and wider. For work, which Christ took up as something both redeemed and redeeming, becomes a means, a way of holiness, a specific task which sanctifies and can be sanctified (Forge 702).

-You should maintain throughout the day a constant conversation with Our Lord, a conversation fed even by the things that happen in your professional work. Go in spirit to the tabernacle…and offer to God the work that is in your hands (Forge 745).

Book suggestion: The Sanctification of Work

Fr. Korte Celebrates Silver Jubilee

nullOne of the most prayerful and dedicated priests in our diocese celebrated 25 years of priestly service this Sunday. He is associated with the work of Opus Dei and at his Jubilee Mass he openly acknowledged the important role Opus Dei plays in his religious formation. Among those in attendance at Fr. Korte’s Jubilee celebration were Bishop Robert Finn (Kansas City/St. Joseph, MO) who is a member of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, the organization for diocesan priest “associates”of Opus Dei, and Fr. Jay Alvarez, a priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei.

In an interview with our local Catholic newspaper (no link available), Fr. Korte had many wonderful reflections on this important occasion:

On his calling:

“Some say that 90% of one’s vocation comes from one’s parents. Were it not for the strong Catholic formation I received at home, I would not be a priest today…

“I was immediately taken in by the story of that parish priest (from the book Everybody Calls Me Father) and all the work that he did with young people and I said, ‘that’s what I want to do.’ From that moment forward, I never had a doubt about my vocation – even though I had doubts about myself, whether I could do it.”

On his ordination and the priesthood:

“I was like a young man getting married. I was excited about my future in pastoral ministry – enthusiastic, hoping for the best and prepared to accept and deal with any problems as they came along…

“I am married to the Church…I have always seen celibacy as a great gift – not only practically but spiritually. To be solely dedicated to God is a real gift…[For priests, that] “hundred times more” (Mt. 19:29) refers not to a life of luxury but the spousal union of the priests with the Church and sacramental identification with Jesus the High Priest.”

On working with young people:

“A large benefit of having a parish school is that I can spend time in it. Working with young people and taking their souls seriously has always been a big part of my priestly ministry. I have found that when we give them a challenge, they are up to it.”

On prayer and the priesthood:

“I always say the human heart needs the Sacred Heart. We have the blessing of the Sacred Heart of Jesus living and beating, so to speak, in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a great gift. I especially feel that in the morning and in the afternoon when I spend time in adoration…

I’m all for the intellectual life and solid doctrine, but we also need prayer and solid piety with that. When you get out and into the parishes, you find that a lot of your strength is spent dealing with intense pastoral and spiritual issues. And you need to have a way to recover your strength. As a priest, you can get caught up in a kind of activism. So you don’t want to neglect your prayer life. You need a way to re-energize between pastoral activities….

I’ve often said I would have been in the headlines were it not for a life of serious formation and prayer. I do get my serenity from Christ, and it is a gift. But I would easily lose it without prayer.”

Finally, Fr. Korte asks for the prayers of all faithful Catholics:

“So, I would like them all to pray that I remain faithful and that I continue to grow in my love of God and the Church, of which they’re all a major part.”

Indeed we should always pray for all of our priests – and the Pope!

Read this article from the Catholic Key: Bishop Finn: Opus Dei has strengthened my spiritual life
According to the National Catholic Reporter Bishop Finn is one of four “Opus Dei Bishops” in the U.S. The others include Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn and Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J.

Annual Spiritual Retreat

Retreat AltarI’m on the final day of my annual retreat which is put on by the Wespine Study Center in St. Louis, MO. It’s actually held at the Cedar Creek Conference Center in New Haven, MO. I like to think of it as my time to re-charge my spiritual batteries for another year. The retreat usually comes at a time when I feel like I really need it. Maybe after a number of years your soul gets into a rhythm.

We have a wonderful chapel in which the priest presents a series of meditations and where we hold daily Mass.

Wespine offers weekend retreats for working men seeking to further develop their relationship with God. The schedule includes daily Mass and Gospel reflections by a priest of Opus Dei, with Confession and spiritual direction available throughout the weekend.

The retreats are held during the spring at Cedar Creek Conference Center, 14 miles west of Washington, Missouri. The retreats run from 10:30 a.m. on Friday to 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.

There are also retreats held here for women that are put on by the Lindell Center, which is located in St. Louis as well.

Practice Holy Intransigence

Opus DeiThis past week my Opus Dei Cooperator’s Circle met at my house. With all my travel I rarely get a chance to attend so I try to host at least once a year and then maybe I’ll actually make it.

The talk was on what St. Josemaria Escriva calls “Holy Intransigence.” I had to look up what the word meant even though I had an idea. He describes it this way (From The Way 397):

Be uncompromising in doctrine and conduct. But be yielding in manner. A mace of tempered steel, wrapped in a quilted covering.

Be uncompromising, but don’t be obstinate.

This is what I love about this saint. His spirituality is so simple and he puts it into simple words for us to understand and apply in our life. I think this is a great lesson to meditate on.

It’s Still Christmas

Christmas MangerIt’s still Christmas even though it seems like most people have forgotten about it and are moving on to how to celebrate New Year’s and the Super Bowl. The definition of Christmas Season seems to vary as you’ll find in this article on Wikipedia. You can find more Catholic information at American Catholic. Better yet, here’s a great article about the Christmas season from the Opus Dei website.

I added the wise men to our front yard manger yesterday. I know it’s not Epiphany yet but at least some of my neighbors understand.

I hope everyone who visits has had a nice Christmas. Our family has even if we’re starting to become more spread out as our daughters get older and have other interests and friends since they’ve been in college.

Here’s wishing you a very safe and happy New Year.

Opus Dei Benefits the Disabled Too

Opus Dei is often seen as a way of sanctifying one’s work – which it is. But it’s not just about professional work. It’s about raising up every aspect of daily life to the level of prayer and union with God. As children of God, we must act like His children, even in the most ordinary aspects of our daily life:

Heaven and earth seem to merge, my daughters and sons, on the horizon. But where they really meet is in your heart, when you strive for holiness in your everyday lives.

Josemaria Escriva, from Passionately Loving the World, Oct. 8, 1967

On his blog, Human Life Matters, Mark Pickup has a beautiful post about how those of us with disabilities, though we may not “work”, can still contribute to society and benefit from Opus Dei:

I have been unable to work in years because of multiple sclerosis. Still, I believe that even my circumstances of everyday life — relegated to a wheelchair — can be fertile ground for growing closer to God…

We, the incurably ill and disabled, are not life unworthy of life. We have contributions to bring to the table of the Human Community, even if it is only by our presence.

We can challenge society to include those who may difficult to include, or those who bring discomfort to sophisticated or polite company. We call those around us to a higher standard of love and friendship. We can knock at the door of mainstream society and demand admission and reasonable accommodation so that we can find our rightful places in the world. If the disabled and incurably ill despair of life, we need people to lift us up as indispensable members of society and worthy of life. We do not need the abandonment of a utilitarian society eagerly agreeing to assist with our suicides, or euthanasia of those who can’t communicate to defend themselves.

Contrary to what bioethics may promote, our rightful places in the world are not graves or crematoriums.

A man like me is increasingly viewed as a liability to society. I need an organization like Opus Dei to encourage and mentor me to use my circumstances of everyday life for “growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. My father has been a cooperator of Opus Dei for a number of years and my mother and I enjoy the women’s retreats every year. I adore the message and spirituality of Opus Dei – holiness in ordinary life. It has been a great blessing and help for me in living out the daily struggles of my own disability, not to mention every other part of my everyday life:

It doesn’t matter what age you are; it doesn’t matter what your position is or what your circumstances are or who you are: you have to convince yourself, commit yourself, and desire holiness. You well know that holiness does not consist in extraordinary graces received in prayer, or unbearable mortification and penance; nor is it the inheritance only of those who live in lonely oasis, far from the world. Holiness consists in faithful and loving fulfillment of one’s desires, in joyful and humble acceptance of God’s will, in union with him in your everyday work, in knowing how to fuse religion and life into a fruitful and harmonious unity, and in all sorts of other ordinary little things you know so well.
~ Fr. Salvatore Canals from Jesus as Friend

Find out more about Opus Dei

Following the Early Christians

Bishop EchevarriaThe Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría, has written a letter to the faithful which you can find online. In it he urges the faithful to consider the ordinary but exemplary life of the first Christians.

To explain Opus Dei’s mission, St. Josemaría often turned to those first sisters and brothers of ours in the faith. If you want a point of comparison, he would say, the easiest way to understand Opus Dei is to consider the life of the early Christians. They lived their Christian vocation seriously, seeking earnestly the holiness to which they had been called by their Baptism. Externally they did nothing to distinguish themselves from their fellow citizens. Similarly, he added, the faithful of Opus Dei are ordinary people. They work like everyone else and live in the midst of the world just as they did before they joined. There is nothing false or artificial about their behavior. They live like any other Christian citizen who wants to respond fully to the demands of his faith, because that is what they are.