In a world where everyone seems to be hankering for the Big Moments that are social media-worthy, it may seem as if life is incomplete without grand gestures and a slew of “likes” from one’s “followers.”
Seeking attention and validation from the crowd has become so all-important, that it’s easy to lose sight of finding one’s real purpose. But what if you didn’t have those crowning glory highs? Would your life be meaningless or pointless? For St. Josemaria Escrivá, the answer would be a resounding no! (Read: 4 Powerful Prayers for Work and the Workplace)
“God is calling you to serve Him in and from the ordinary,” he said. “There is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”
Through his life and teachings, this modern-day saint showed us that our lives are filled with “ordinary” moments that—when embraced fully and lived purposefully—can be elevated to the extraordinary.
Life of a Modern-Day Saint
Born in Barbastro, Spain on January 9, 1902, Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer was the second of six children. He grew up in a devoutly Catholic household and studied in Catholic schools where he forged his love for God and the faith.
Through his upbringing, Josemaria learned what it was like to really live the virtue of charity, and that as Christians, we are called to use our talents and skills to serve society and make this world a better place. (Read: Pope Francis prays for media workers who ‘work tirelessly’ amid pandemic)
When his father’s business failed in 1915, Josemaria and his family relocated to Logroño. There, he found work and first began to sense his vocation after seeing footprints in the snow that were left by a barefoot priest. Josemaria questioned himself and “began to have an inkling of what Love is.” However, he still did not know precisely what it was that God wanted from him, and in an effort to find out, he decided to become a priest.
Josemaria also studied law thanks to the urging of his father, and was ordained on March 28, 1925. Two years later, he moved to Madrid to work on his doctorate in civil law. (Read: This doctor just achieved her dream of becoming a lawyer!) His work in Madrid brought him close to students, artists, workers, academics, and poverty-stricken people living in the outskirts of the city.
Then, on October 2, 1928, God revealed his mission to him, and Josemaria founded Opus Dei, Latin for “Work of God.”
Work of God
Built on the belief that “work, family life, and the ordinary events of each day are opportunities for drawing close to Christ, and making Him known to others,” Opus Dei seeks to help people from all walks of life follow Christ, seek holiness in their daily life, and work competently and ethically with the aim of loving God and serving others.
But Josemaria stressed that the work one must offer to God must be “without blemish, and it must be done as carefully as possible, even in the smallest details, for God will not accept shoddy workmanship.” (Read: How to Feel More Positive at Work)
Using Jesus as his example, Josemaria emphasized just how significant even our quiet moments of dedication can be. As he once said in a homily, “Our Lord’s early life speaks eloquently for itself, and contains a wonderful lesson for us Christians. They were years of intense work and prayer, years during which Jesus led an ordinary life, a life like ours, we might say, which was both divine and human at the same time. in His simple workshop, unnoticed. He did everything to perfection just as He was later to do before the multitudes.”
Soon, Josemaria opened Opus Dei to women, as he understood their vital role in the living spirit of The Work, as Opus Dei is affectionately called. (Read: Pope Francis Appoints Women for Top Posts in the Vatican)
The Divine in the Ordinary
All of Josemaria’s teachings inspire Christians to find the divine in the ordinary. He firmly believed that God’s presence is not something that we compartmentalize and experience only in Church or while reciting a prayer. Instead, he believed that God can be encountered in our everyday lives, and that one’s regular work can already be a form of prayer.
Josemaria called everyone to aspire to become saints. He showed us that serving God and living a life of holiness is not only for priests and nuns, but for all of us—no matter what our purpose, status, and profession might be. (Read: 5 Filipino Teachers Who Are Also World-Class Inventors)
“It is not necessary to abandon one’s place in the world in order to search for God,” he wrote, “because all the paths of the earth can be the occasion for an encounter with Christ.”
Josemaria ultimately helped the faithful realize that serving God is simply about living out one’s best life possible, whether it be as a faithful and loving spouse, an architect who works with the utmost care and creativity, a successful businessman who treats his employees with dignity and respect, or a cook who works cheerfully and passionately, knowing that every single delicious meal he or she whips up is already a special offering to God. (Read: Meet the ‘Raketero’ Who Found His Life Purpose With Esakay)
On June 26, 1975, Josemaria collapsed on the floor and died of cardiac arrest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 17, 1992, and was proclaimed a saint 10 years later. The Church celebrates his feast day on June 26.