ROME, JAN. 9, 2002 (Zenit.org).- “Holiness is not for a minority,” Bishop Javier Echevarría, prelate of the Opus Dei, said when he opened a congress on the occasion of the centenary of Josemaría Escrivá´s birth.
Bishop Echevarría outlined the human and intellectual profile of Blessed Escriva and highlighted the essence of the Opus Dei founder´s message, stating that “holiness is not understood as something reserved for a minority,” but rather open “to all the children of God.”
The congress, whose motto is “The Grandeur of Ordinary Life,” is being attended by 1,200 people from 57 countries. It is focusing on topics such as the family, development, education, and social integration in the light of Blessed Escrivá´s message. The meeting is being held in Holy Spirit Hospital.
According to Bishop Echevarría, beginning in 1928 (the year of Opus Dei´s foundation) Escrivá proclaimed the search for the “fullness of Christian life” in the “ordinary circumstances” where divine Providence has placed each one and, specifically, through “professional work, which thus becomes the means and instrument for holiness and the apostolate.”
In his message, Escrivá included the “daring formulation” of “Christian materialism,” in opposition to materialisms that are closed to the spirit. This “Christian materialism” led Blessed Escrivá to “to value earthly realities highly, referring them to their Creator, and attempting to convert them into instruments of the apostolate.”
Giorgio Rumi, professor of modern history at the University of Milan, addressed the plenary session about the historical context of Blessed Escrivá´s life. Rumi said the Opus Dei founder “restored the original dignity of work, integrating it in the general plan for the sanctification of time.”
Thus, work cannot be seen as alienation, or an instrument of class struggle. Rumi said that for Escrivá, work is a blessing and “contributes to imbue temporal realities with Christian meaning.” As a result, it is connected to the creative and redemptive work of God.
The four-day congress ends Friday. It can be followed live on Web page http://www.escriva2002.org.