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Opus Dei members gather for St. Josemaría Escrivá anniversary

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It has been 44 years since the death of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, but his message of the universal call to holiness is no less promoted than when he was alive.

Members of Opus Dei, a Catholic institution that teaches everyone is called to holiness, celebrated their founder with Mass on his June 26 feast day at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was the celebrant and Father Paul D. Scalia, pastor of St. James Church in Falls Church and episcopal vicar for clergy and director of the diaconate formation program, was the homilist. A reception followed in Burke Hall.

During Father Scalia’s homily, he shared about the saint’s emphasis on work and prayer. “St. Josemaría was a tireless teacher of the work of sanctification and the sanctification of work,” he said. “In this, he was simply a coworker with the Lord in helping to redeem in us what had been lost by sin.

“Somewhere St. Josemaria says, ‘There are few things more at odds with Christianity than superficiality,’ said Father Scalia. “It is an amazing statement and terribly accurate. Our fallen nature inclines us to superficiality, to skating on the surface of things. So, there is work required for authentic prayer, to speak candidly and simply to the Lord.”

Attendees came from across the Diocese of Arlington for the feast day. Melissa Chaves, a parishioner of Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge, found out about Opus Dei when she and her family lived in Madrid. “This brings me back to that time,” she said. “St. Josemaría has blessed our family in a lot of ways, so I’m happy Bishop Burbidge (celebrated Mass).”

Anthony Pomilla, a parishioner of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield, said St. Josemaría and Opus Dei have had an impact on their lives. “They are helping (me and my wife) form a more intentional relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said.

Josemaría Escrivá was born to José and Dolores Escrivá in Barbastro, Spain, Jan. 9, 1902. He had an older sister, Carmen, three younger sisters who died very young, and a younger brother, Santiago.

He was ordained March 28, 1925, and began his ministry in a rural parish in Perdiguera, and afterward in Zaragoza.

In 1927, with the permission of his bishop, Father Josemaría moved to Madrid to work on his doctorate in law. It was there, Oct. 2, 1928, that he founded Opus Dei.

He died in Rome June 26, 1975. Pope John Paul II beatified him May 17, 1992, and canonized him Oct. 6, 2002.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019