Report on canonization of St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer

 Before a multitude of more than 350,000 people that packed St Peter's Square and Via della Conciliazione, John Paul II canonized Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, during a solemn ceremony yesterday morning. Forty-two cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests concelebrated with the Holy Father, including Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Other concelebrants included Cardinals Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid (the diocese where the new saint lived until he moved to Rome and where he founded Opus Dei in 1928), Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, Camillo Ruini, vicar for Rome, Joachim Meissner and Roger Etchegaray. Bishop Javier Echevarria, prelate of Opus Dei, was also present. More than 400 ecclesiastical authorities were seated to the left of the altar, including cardinals, archbishops and bishops, representatives of different Church movements and superiors of religious orders. Also present were delegations from various countries and personalities from the world of art, politics and culture. During the ceremony, a relic of the new saint was on exhibit in St Peter's Square. John Paul II began his homily in Italian and Spanish, recalling that St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer "allowed himself to be docilely guided by the Holy Spirit, convinced that the will of God could be accomplished only in this way. "That basic Christian truth," he continued, "was a recurring theme in his preaching. He never ceased to invite his spiritual children to invoke the Holy Spirit so that ... their relationship with God and their family, social and professional life were not separated but constituted one existence, 'holy and full of God'." The Pope reiterated that the teachings of the new saint were "timely and urgent" today and he explained that "the believer ... is called to forge a uninterrupted and vital relationship with the Lord" because "he is called to be a saint and to collaborate in the salvation of humanity." Afterward, the Holy Father quoted the reading from Genesis, saying "it reminds us that the Creator entrusted the earth to man so that he would 'cultivate' it and 'take care' of it. Believers, living in different realities of the world, contribute to carrying out the universal divine plan. Work and any other activity completed with the help of grace may become the means of daily sanctification." The Pope recalled that, "As Josemaria Escriva used to affirm, the daily life of a Christian who has faith, when he works or rests, when he prays or when he sleeps, in every moment, is a life in which God is always present. This supernatural vision of life opens up a horizon extraordinarily rich in the prospect of salvation because in the context of the apparent monotony of normal earthly occurrences, God is near us and we can cooperate with his plan of salvation. Therefore, what Vatican Council II affirms can be more easily understood, that is, that 'the Christian message does not distance men from building the world, ... on the contrary, it obliges them to carry this out as a duty'." The Pope emphasized that St Josemaria Escriva "continues to remind us not to allow ourselves to be scared when faced by a materialistic culture that threatens to dissolve the most genuine identity of Christ's disciples" and in which the founder of Opus Dei "liked to reiterate with vigour that the Christian faith is opposed to conformism and interior inertia." "Following in his footsteps," he said, "spread the awareness that all are called to sanctity in society, without the distinction of race, class, culture or age." And he added that the new saint "felt a passionate call within himself to evangelize all environments" and he transmitted it to "his entire spiritual family, so that they would offer to the Church a valid contribution of communion and apostolic service." Following Mass, John Paul II prayed the Angelus with the pilgrims and faithful present for the canonization, and recalled that his love for the Virgin was "a prominent part of the legacy" left behind by St Josemaria Escriva to his spiritual sons and daughters. The Pope went on to greet those present in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Polish and Portuguese. In conclusion, the Holy Father crossed St Peter's Square and went down the Via della Conciliazione in an open car in order to greet the many pilgrims who came from more than 80 countries to attend the ceremony. source: Vatican Information Service

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