[ Fr.Sunil De Silva - 26.06.2013 ]
His Lordship Bishop Emmanuel Fernando, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Colombo, presided at the Festive Mass of St. Josemaria Escriva, the Founder of the Opus Dei. The Festive Mass was celebrated on 26th June 2013 at St. Mary's Church, Bambalapitiya, Colombo 04. From the Opus Dei in Sri Lanka Rev. Fr. Daniel Icatlo, from the Philippines, and Fr. Joseph Duran from Spain, concelebrated at the Mass with Bishop Emmanuel.

St. Josemaría Escrivá preached tirelessly that holiness is for everyone and is attainable through the exercise of one’s ordinary everyday duties. St.Josemaria Escriva was born in Spain on January 9, 1902 and died in Rome on June 26, 1975. On October 2, 1928, God gave him to see Opus Dei.

Among the poor, the sick, and the children, he sought the strength needed to set in motion the immense project that God had placed on his shoulders that day. It was a school of suffering where his soul would be tempered to its mission.

The Mass was attended by the parishioners joined by a number of devotees of St Josemaría from Ja-ela, Wattala and nearby areas.

His Lordship Bishop Emmanuel about the life of St. Josemaria, his message and relevance of St. Josemaría in the present times. He evoked the title “the saint of the ordinary,” which was coined by Blessed John Paul II himself.

It was eleven years ago, on October 6, 2002, before a very large crowd of people from every race and corner of the world, when John Paul II proclaimed Josemaría Escrivá a saint. On the following day, in the audience held in St. Peter’s Square for those attending the canonization, he described St. Josemaría as “the saint of the ordinary.” With this expression he summed up the core of the message preached by this faithful priest. Our daily activities—one’s family life, professional work, social relationships—are a path leading to heaven, if one walks with one’s eyes fixed on God and with a desire to help one’s neighbor.

His Lordship, Bishop Emmanuel recalled that Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer was born, the second child in the family, in Barbastro, Spain, on January 9, 1902, to an ordinary couple: Jose Escrivá and Dolores Albás. Their financial situation was comfortable, but they were by no means rich. In fact, at one point, Jose’s business collapsed, as a result of his partner’s chicanery, and the family had to move away from Barbastro. He bore his misfortune well, and the family learned from his cheerful sacrifice.

There was nothing extraordinary in the life of the Escrivas. They formed an ordinary Christian family, going to Mass together on Sundays, saying the Rosary, and going to Saturday devotions. The young Josemaria learned his prayers from his mother, who prepared him for his first communion. He was later to say that his parents "did their best to give me a Christian
formation...it was in the home that I acquired it rather than at school." It is not surprising then that among the centerpieces of Opus Dei, which he was to found in 1928, is Christian formation in the home.

As a young priest, divine inspiration led him to start the "Work of God" that firmly establishes the fact that living the Christian faith and one’s daily life in the world is one that should be unified. Ordinary man has to make a living, and can in general be "good" if he does not kill or steal, and anyway he goes to Mass on Sunday, maybe says some devotional prayers, but that’s about it, we often think. Escrivá, however, taught that man’s relationship with God and his relationship with the world were not two different things.

St. Josemaria’s life mission was to help people of all social backgrounds to turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society. God wanted it to proclaim the message that work, family life, and other ordinary activities are occasions for spiritual union with Jesus Christ. One’s daily duties and work are an occasion for Christians to develop their personal spiritual life and carry out personal apostolate (Koinonia, June 2013, Vol. 34, n. 5, p. 23).”

The “saint of the ordinary” echoed St. Paul’s teaching that we are all called to be holy. No wonder, the early Christians had a clear idea of what it means to be baptized: it is aimed at sanctity. They did not dichotomize between daily life and the practice of faith.

Bishop Emmanuel his expressed his gratitude for the coming of Opus Dei to Sri Lanka. It has been more than year and a half ago now since the apostolic activities of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei began in Sri Lanka. A couple of years ago, the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith requested the Bishop Prelate of the Work, as the Prelature of Opus Dei is also called, to establish stable apostolic activities in the Archdiocese. However, it was only last November 12, 2011 that it formally commenced its apostolates.

With the arrival of some lay professionals and two priests, the first centre of Christian formation for men and another one for women were established. Fr. Daniel Icatlo, from the Philippines, and Fr. Joseph Duran, from Spain have been designated as chaplains of the respective Centres.

Rev. Fr. Daniel Icatlo, proclaiming the Gospel
[ Photos by Fr. Sunil De Silva ]