Today is the birthday of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. He is considered a saint for all of us who work.
And, what comes to my memory and reflection on the very important role that St. Josemaria Escriva played in my life and that of my parents and family.
St. Josemaria met my parents sometime 1967 or 1968 in their head offices in Rome. My parents were one of the first members of Opus Dei in the Philippines.
It was in this short private audience that St. Josemaria Escriva encouraged my parents to be generous in their being instruments of God in upbringing of children. “These children are called to be sons of God as Christians, with a mission to spread the Good News,” was one of the ideas that St. Josemaria Escriva shared with my parents. He assured them that God will take care of the family with his Divine Providence.
My father then was working on the purchase of what is now the Makiling Conference Center, where I am presently writing this short anecdote. I recall my father telling me that Fr.Joe Cremades and Fr. Javier de Pedro were dreaming because they wanted to buy the almost 20 hectare hill located at Bo. Tulo, Calamba, without any money!
The property was owned then by a famous actor, Juancho Gutierrez, married to Gloria Romero. But due to a special grace of God, prayers of St. Josemaria Escriva, and the members of Opus Dei, they managed to purchase the property. It was providential because there were several very generous people who helped in the purchase.
One of them was Don Ernesto Khan, who was then president of San Miguel. He helped in the initial down payment and with that, my father, with his brilliant Real Estate mind, managed to subdivide the flat part of the property into a residential subdivision. The Laguna Hills subdivision was pre-sold for about 200 pesos by my father while the raw land was at 20 pesos, if I am not mistaken.
By 1972, after almost seven years, the Makiling Conference Center opened and it was that year that I joined Opus Dei, attended my first retreat and seminar.
A very important detail of St. Josemaria Escriva’s intersection of Faith was when my mother told the founder of Opus Dei that we had a problem with the site were the Conference Center would be . My mother lamented on the fact that there was no water. The quick response of St. Josemaria Escriva was, “Va Ver!”, which means” there will be” and true enough, that same moment, they found water. A spring of water that would flow to supply not only the conference center, but also Barrio Tulo of Calamba.
We learn from this episode of my parents personal encounter with St. Josemaria Escriva was his very human, affectionate, and warm personality. Yet, he was deeply spiritual and one can see and feel his being in the presence of God.
To combine the day to day realities into opportunities to love God, serve others and practice the virtues was one of St. Josemaria Escriva’s teachings.
We read in his book, “Friends of God”, with the topic on working for God. Professional work is a means for us to transform the daily realities into a supernatural adventure. My objective is to help Real Estate professionals on how they can improve their work, family life, and relations with others in the practice of virtues. And also to help them to be united, to be integrated into one association, to work on solidarity with harmony, and to respect each other. This is what RESA Law is all about- professional practice of Real Estate service
I’m sharing the contents of St. Josemaria Escriva’s book about working for God:
Many people begin, but few finish. And we, who are trying to behave as God’s children, have to be among those few. Remember that only work that is well done and lovingly completed deserves the praise of the Lord which is to be found in Holy Scripture: ‘better is the end of a task than its beginning’.
Many Christians are no longer convinced that the fullness of Life that God rightly expects from his children means that they have to have a careful concern for the quality of their everyday work, because it is this work, even in its most minor aspects, which they have to sanctify.
It is no good offering to God something that is less perfect than our poor human limitations permit. The work that we offer must be without blemish and it must be done as carefully as possible, even in its smallest details, for God will not accept shoddy workmanship. ‘Thou shalt not offer anything that is faulty,’ Holy Scripture warns us, ‘because it would not be worthy of him.’ For that reason, the work of each one of us, the activities that take up our time and energy, must be an offering worthy of our Creator. It must be operatio Dei, a work of God that is done for God: in short, a task that is complete and faultless.
From the beginning of creation man has had to work. This is not something that I have invented. It is enough to turn to the opening pages of the Bible. There you can read that, before sin entered the world, and in its wake death, punishment and misery, God made Adam from the clay of the earth, and created for him and his descendants this beautiful world we live in, ut operaretur et custodiret illum, so that we might cultivate it and look after it.
We must be convinced therefore that work is a magnificent reality, and that it has been imposed on us as an inexorable law which, one way or another, binds everyone, even though some may try to seek exemption from it. Make no mistake about it. Man’s duty to work is not a consequence of original sin, nor is it just a discovery of modern times. It is an indispensable means which God has entrusted to us here on this earth. It is meant to fill out our days and make us sharers in God’s creative power. It enables us to earn our living and, at the same time, to reap ‘the fruits of eternal life’, for ‘man is born to work as the birds are born to fly’.
To this you might reply that many centuries have gone by and very few people think along these lines; that most people, when they work, do so for very different reasons: some for money, some to support their families, others to get on in society, to develop their capabilities, or perhaps to give free play to their disordered desires, or to contribute to social progress. In other words, most people regard their work as something that has to be done and cannot be avoided.
This is a stunted, selfish and earthbound outlook, which neither you nor I can accept. For we have to remember and remind people around us that we are children of God, who have received the same invitation from our Father as the two brothers in the parable: ‘Son, go and work in my vineyard.’ I give you my word that if we make a daily effort to see our personal duties in this light, that is, as a divine summons, we will learn to carry them through to completion with the greatest human and supernatural perfection of which we are capable. Occasionally we may rebel, like the elder of the two sons, who replied to his father, ‘I will not,’ but we will learn how to turn back repentant and will redouble our efforts to do our duty.
Professional work, whatever it is, becomes a lamp to enlighten your colleagues and friends. That is why I usually tell those who become members of Opus Dei, and the same applies to all of you now listening to me: ‘What use is it telling me that so and so is a good son of mine — a good Christian — but a bad shoemaker?’ If he doesn’t try to learn his trade well, or doesn’t give his full attention to it, he won’t be able to sanctify it or offer it to Our Lord. The sanctification of ordinary work is, as it were, the hinge of true spirituality for people who, like us, have decided to come close to God while being at the same time fully involved in temporal affairs.
You must fight against the tendency to be too lenient with yourselves. Everyone has this difficulty. Be demanding with yourselves! Sometimes we worry too much about our health, or about getting enough rest. Certainly it is necessary to rest, because we have to tackle our work each day with renewed vigour. But, as I wrote many years ago, ‘to rest is not to do nothing. It is to turn our attention to other activities that require less effort.’
Let us ask Our Lord Jesus for light, and beg him to help us discover, at every moment, the divine meaning which transforms our professional work into the hinge on which our calling to sanctity rests and turns. In the Gospel you will find that Jesus was known as faber, filius Mariae, the workman, the son of Mary. Well, we too, with a holy pride, have to prove with deeds that we are workers, men and women who really work!
Since we should behave at all times as God’s envoys, we must be very much aware that we are not serving him loyally if we leave a job unfinished; if we don’t put as much effort and self-sacrifice as others do into the fulfillment of professional commitments; if we can be called careless, unreliable, frivolous, disorganised, lazy or useless… Because people who neglect obligations that seem less important will hardly succeed in other obligations that pertain to the spiritual life and are undoubtedly harder to fulfill. ‘He who is faithful in very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in very little is dishonest also in much.’
To this I now add that your work too must become a personal prayer, that it must become a real conversation with Our Father in heaven. If you seek sanctity in and through your work, you will necessarily have to strive to turn it into personal prayer. You cannot allow your cares and concerns to become impersonal and routine, because if you were to do so, the divine incentive that inspires your daily tasks will straightaway wither and die.
With sources from the book: Friends of God, Homilies of Josemaria Escriva