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Doing Well our Daily Ordinary Duties

Posted on : 16-06-2013 | By : TAG | In : Interesting Articles

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“O God, through the Blessed Virgin Mary, you granted countless graces to your priest St Josemaria, choosing him as a most faithful instrument to found Opus Dei, a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfilment of the ordinary duties of a Christian. Grant that I may also learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into opportunities to love you and to serve the Church, the Pope and all souls, with joy and simplicity, lighting up the paths of the earth with faith and love. Through the intercession of St. Josemaria grant me the favour I request (here make your request). Amen.

 “Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be to the Father.”

 

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Above is the prayer card of St. Josemaria Escriva, whose Feast Day is on June 26. Spreading devotion to St. Escriva, the saint of ordinary life, was very inspiring and heart-warming as we recently traversed the length and breadth of Northern Luzon to install his image. Born and raised in the small town of Tagudin, I was thrilled to visit places in my province that I have never been to before, starting in nearby La Union towns that included Luna where the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan is happily situated.

On two occasions, Fr. Willy Ong, Fred and Perla Figueras, Tony and I made two trips to the north to introduce the modern-day saint to the parishioners. Amid the soothing ride along the breath-taking rustic sceneries with the backdrop of the serene South China Sea and the soaring Cordilleras as well as the uninhabited expanse of vacant lands en route to Pagudpud, we installed images of St. Escriva in 26 Ilocos towns. The churches, with the distinctive adjacent belfries, were colossal, massive and antique but their unique elegance in bygone years can still be traced. These prized gems are definitely in need of major repairs to restore them to their former magnificence. Hopefully, some generous rich Ilocos scion will come to the rescue of such treasures!

“Is St. Josemaria a Catholic?” some locals would ask, and this query opened an opportune way for us to introduce this Catholic saint of ordinary life. St. Escriva taught that “Opus Dei aims to encourage people of every sector of society to desire holiness in the midst of the world. In other words, Opus Dei proposes to help ordinary citizens to lead a fully Christian life without modifying their normal way of life, their daily work, their aspirations and ambitions.

“As I wrote years ago, you could say that Opus Dei is as old and as new as the Gospel. It intends to remind Christians of the wonderful words of Genesis: God created man to work. We try to imitate the example of Christ, who spent almost all his life on earth working as a carpenter in a small town. Work is one of the highest human values and the way in which men contribute to the progress of society. But even more, it is a way to holiness” (Conversations, 24).

Certain parishes in the north are so far-flung that they can be reached before the rainy season sets in and the riverbed used as road are still passable. Other parishes are thoughtfully situated way up the winding, majestic Cordillera mountains. And some parishioners were touched by the life and teachings of the saint and received favors through his intercession. Many were moved by the recollections, retreats, seminars, basic Christian doctrine and human formation classes, talks and other spiritual activities of Opus Dei, Work of God, or the Work. Still others came to know about the Work because they knew members who live their faith and inspired others to do the same. Fr. Florentino Escalona of the Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Burgos has generously volunteered to translate St. Escriva’s teachings into Ilocano so that others will get to know the saint. Fr. Olivete C. Rojas of Radio Station DZNS 963 AM kHz, where an image of St. Escriva was likewise installed, has kindly offered to air a regular program on the life and works of St. Escriva. Several asked to pray for the intercession of the saint for a relative to get well soon from a sickness. Others requested for prayer cards, articles and the image set of St. Escriva consisting of his picture, a short biography and prayer.

In Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Mrs. Felicitas Ballesteros, an 82-year-old retired public school teacher and mother, continues to be very devoted to St. Escriva, and in being so, she encourages her kailians (provincemates) to come closer to God. She is untiring and determined in encouraging parishes, schools, colleges, hospitals, homes and yes, offices, to display the image of St. Escriva in their places so that “people will be reminded to always work well for God and the good of others”. Mrs. Ballesteros best exemplifies what St. Escriva taught: “Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary professional work and you would have sanctified it” (The Way, 359).

To women in social life and in the life of the Church, St. Escriva gave this message: “Women are called to bring to the family, to society and to the Church, characteristics which are their own and which they alone can give: their gentle warmth and untiring generosity, their love for detail, their quick-wittedness and intuition, their simple and deep piety, their constancy… A woman’s femininity is genuine only if she is aware of the beauty of this contribution for which there is no substitute and if she incorporates it into her own life” (Conversations, 87).

Indeed, St. Escriva is a contemporary saint to reckon with. The practical, thrifty and hard-working Ilocanos can easily identify with this saint of ordinary life as they go about doing their everyday tasks extraordinarily well. Beginning at daybreak, by farming the land, tending livestock, fishing, earning a living or simply smilingly bear the scorching summer heat under the shady cluster of mango, kaimito (star apple) and salamagui (tamarind) trees, these everyday human realities can be converted into prayer through the loving care that is put into each honest activity, as this modern-day saint has unceasingly taught. “Conversion is a matter of a moment. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime,” wrote St. Escriva in his book, The Way, 285.

In this Year of Faith, Perla and Fred have also started to introduce St. Escriva in Nueva Ecija by helping install his images and make people become aware that fulfilling the best way we can our everyday duties is a means for us to attain sanctification and bring us closer to God.

-Mrs. Ching D. Aunario
31 May 2013
chingauna@yahoo.com

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