Pope Francis' Letter on Beatification of Alvaro del Portillo

«This is the path of holiness that every Christian must follow: to let himself be loved by the Lord, to open his heart to His love»

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Here is a translation of the full text of a letter sent by Pope Francis to the prelate of Opus Dei, on the occasion of Saturday’s beatification of Alvaro del Portillo (1914-1994).

The text was sent on June 26, feast of Saint Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

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Dear Brother:

The beatification of the Servant of God Alvaro del Portillo, faithful and first collaborator of Saint Josemaria Escriva at the head of Opus Dei, is a moment of special joy for all the faithful of that Prelature, as well as for you, who for so long were a witness of his love of God and of others, of his fidelity to the Church and to his vocation. I also wish to unite myself to your joy and to thank God who embellishes the face of the Church with the holiness of his children.

His beatification will take place in Madrid, the city in which he was born and in which he spent his childhood and youth, with an existence forged in the simplicity of family life, in the friendship and service of others, as when he went to neighbourhoods to help in the human and Christian formation of so many needy persons. And there, above all, the event took place that sealed definitively the direction of his life: his meeting with Saint Josemaria Escriva, from whom he learned to fall in love with Christ more every day. Yes, to be enamoured of Christ. This is the path of holiness that every Christian must follow: to let himself be loved by the Lord, to open his heart to His love and allow Him to be the one who guides our lives.

I like to recall the short prayer that the Servant of God used to repeat frequently, especially in personal celebrations and anniversaries: “thank you, sorry, help me more!” They are words that bring us close to the reality of his interior life and his dealings with the Lord, and which can help us also to give a new impulse to our own Christian life.

In the first place, thank you. It is the immediate and spontaneous reaction that the soul feels before God’s goodness. It cannot be otherwise. He always precedes us. No mater how much effort we make, His love always comes before, touches and caresses us first, He arrives first. Alvaro del Portillo was conscious of the many gifts that God had given him, and he thanked God for that manifestation of his fatherly love. But he did not stay there: the recognition of the Lord’s love awakened in his heart desires to follow Him with greater selflessness and generosity, and to live a life of humble service to others. Especially outstanding was his love of the Church, Bride of Christ, which he served with a heart stripped of worldly interest, far from discord, hospitable with all and always looking for the positive in others, for what unites, what builds. Never a complaint or criticism, as he learned from Saint Josemaria, he always responded with prayer, forgiveness, understanding and sincere charity.

Sorry. He often admitted that he saw himself before God with empty hands, incapable of responding to such generosity. However, the admission of human poverty is not the fruit of despair, but a confident abandonment in God who is Father.  It is to open oneself to His mercy, to His love, which is capable of regenerating our life. A love that does not humiliate, or sink us in the abyss of guilt, but which embraces us, raises us from our prostration and makes us walk with more determination and joy. The Servant of God Alvaro knew the need we have of divine mercy and he dedicated much personal energy to encourage persons who were attempting to approach the Sacrament of Confession, Sacrament of joy. How important it is to feel the tenderness of God’s love and to discover that there is still time to love.

Help me more. Yes, the Lord never abandons us, He is always at our side, He walks with us and every day awaits a new love from us. We will not be lacking in His grace, and with His help we can take his name to the whole world. Beating in the new Blessed’s heart was the desire to take the Good News to all hearts. So he went to many countries fomenting projects of evangelization, without noticing the difficulties, moved by his love of God and of brothers. The first condition to proclaim Christ to them is to love them, because Christ already loves them first. We must come out of our egoisms and comfort and go to meet our brothers. The Lord awaits us there. We cannot keep the faith for ourselves; it is a gift that we have received to give and share with others.

Thank you, sorry, help me!  Expressed in these words is the tension of an existence centered on God; of someone who has been touched by the greatest Love and lives totally of that Love; of someone who, though experiencing his human weaknesses and limitations, trusts in the Lord’s mercy and wants all men, his brothers, to experience it also.

Dear brother, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo sends us a very clear message; he tells us to trust in the Lord, who is our brother, our friend who never disappoints us and who is always at our side. He encourages us not to be afraid to go against the current and to suffer for proclaiming the Gospel. Moreover, he teaches us that in the simplicity and ordinariness of our life we can find a sure path to holiness.

I ask all the faithful of the Prelature, please, priests and laymen, as well as all those that participate in its activities, to pray for me, while imparting to them the Apostolic Blessing.

May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin take care of you,



[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by ZENIT]
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