To honor St. Josemaria Escriva, whose feast we celebrated this week, here are seven quotable quotes from the founder of Opus Dei. St. Josemaria Escriva died fairly recently, in 1975, so it may not be surprising that his spirituality and writings are especially relevant for life in the modern world.
He has heaps of advice to help us live the call to holiness. Sometimes poetic, sometimes wry, and sometimes blunt St. Josemaria Escriva’s wisdom may be just what we need.
1. Check your attitude
We sometimes want to measure how “Catholic” we are based on how many novenas we say and how often we go to Confession. St. Josemaria Escriva reminds us that those things matter far less than what we believe and what we love. If I go to daily Mass but am constantly rude to others, it’s clear who I really am.
2. Bite your tongue
As a *ahem* more passionate person, this advice is a bit hard for me to swallow. But, also because of that I recognize its wisdom. Sometimes, the next day we realize that huge offense wasn’t really so big or that emotion would have driven us to say things that don’t need to be said. Waiting until the next day isn’t always possible or prudent but this is a good reminder that not everything should be dealt with in the heat of the moment.
3. Be holy, not a stick in the mud
Are there Commandments to obey and rules to follow? Yes. I doubt St. Josemaria Escriva is saying otherwise. However, if we let our pursuit of holiness rob us of hope and mercy, we’ve missed the mark. The most holy people always have joy.
4. Read what’s good for your soul
Here, St. Josemaria Escriva is speaking of spiritual reading, though the last half of this quote is often taken out of context. It is not just any reading that will make us saints. Picking up a Jane Austen novel or even Tolkien’s work (though some might debate me on the latter) does not have the same merit as reading Introduction to the Devout Life or Story of a Soul. Certain books have more obvious benefit for our soul than others.
5. Remember your lack of perfection
It’s not common that a canonized saint and Hannah Montana have the same thing to say. But truly, nobody’s perfect. Dealing with other people can be difficult. St. Josemaria was not afraid to say so and be direct about it. But we also shouldn’t expect perfection of others when we commit plenty of sins and mistakes ourselves. Speaking of which . . .
6. Failure is not an option, nor is it possible
As Christians, we are called to hope always. For some of us this is easier said than done. It’s easy to get discouraged or want to give up when we feel like we’ve failed. St. Josemaria does not give us that option, however. He’s bold enough to say we cannot fail. When we mess up we have simply found one way to <em>not</em> do something.
7. It’s the little things
While this may not be the first saint who has reminded us of this fact, I know I often forget this in the day-to-day. Doing the laundry, not getting distracted at work, doing some task for our spouse or child are all ways we can strive towards holiness. The mundane and the everyday are where we live virtue or fail to.