Since his canonization in 2002, every June 26, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei. Precisely on that same day, in 2022, the Amoris Lætitia International Year of the Family called by Pope Francis came to a close.
With regard to this fact, which we can understand as coincidental or providential, I would like to recall some of St. Josemaría’s advice on marriage and family life.
The example of the Holy Family
The path of holiness specific to marriage has different parts, and the Christian’s response develops along these parts. St. Josemaría Escrivá explains how to achieve identification with Christ, because the absolute answer, how to travel the path and reach the goal, is Christ.
The most important and frequent reference in St Josemaría’s writings is that of imitating Christ in ordinary life; and he proposes the example of the Holy Family, in order to find God uninterruptedly. It is in this way that he explains the need to live contemplation in the midst of the world, so as to sanctify the vocation and the mission of marriage as a consequence.
In his writings St Josemaría distinguished the sanctification of temporal activities; the sanctification of ordinary work; and sanctification through family life, procreation and the bringing up of children. Thus the vocation of the laity is carried out in accordance with the Christian spirit of the professional, social or marital tasks that make up their lives.
Sanctifying and sanctifying
St. Josemaría explains the bringing up of children, the sanctification of the home, attention to the family, dedication to one’s profession, and so on from the starting-point of the grace of the sacrament of marriage.
These are areas in which supernatural help is required—help which comes from both prayer and the sacraments. Both in the home and in the various places in which it develops, the Christian family can discover the specific vocation foreseen by God for each member.
Care for the good of one’s spouse and children is a necessary element for the sanctification of each of the spouses in marriage. But the main challenge proposed by St. Josemaría to parents is to form authentic Christians, people who strive to attain and transmit holiness.
And so the path of every ordinary Christian is the sanctification of their professional work and of their family and social relationships, with the means of sanctification and apostolate provided by the Church: that is, making use of the sacraments, prayer and Christian formation. Married and family life are paths to happiness and holiness, through sacrificial and generous dedication to the will of God and to others.
The teachings of Revelation on the vocation to marriage are seen by St. Josemaría in a new light. In my opinion it is this light, derived from the charism that God granted him, that is his greatest originality. It is now up to each baptized person to recognize the dignity of the vocation to marriage and to cooperate, each from his or her own place, in the world.
St. Josemaría’s teaching, and its correspondence to God’s grace, has been recognized by the Church, and strengthened with his canonization in Rome on October 6, 2002. After analyzing his preaching, we can conclude that the divine call to strive to be saints through marriage and family life is a central teaching of St. Josemaría Escrivá’s message.