St. Josemaría Escrivá Is the Saint of the Ordinary
On June 26, we celebrate 20 years of St. Josemaría Escrivá’s sainthood.
When he was 16 years old, he discovered bare footprints in the snow from a Carmelite priest.
This priest’s silent devotion sparked something in Josemaría Escrivá, and after this encounter, Escrivá began to consider a calling to the priesthood.
St. Josemaría Escrivá is often considered the saint of ordinary life. Born in Spain in 1902, Escrivá grew up quite poor. Shortly after his experience in the snow, he went to study at seminary. He was ordained in 1924, and just four years later, Escrivá founded Opus Dei.
A Catholic organization of lay people, Opus Dei unites spiritual life with professional, social, and family life, and exists to sanctify this “ordinary life.” Who better to seek advice from than its founder?
In the past few weeks, we’ve celebrated incredibly important and beautiful Catholic feast days — The Ascension of the Lord, Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi — but now we’re entering into a long stretch of Ordinary Time.
It’s easy to come off spiritual highs and settle into autopilot, especially during this season. We’ve got a while to go until Advent begins again, and many wonder at the real significance of Ordinary Time.
St. Josemaría Escrivá understood the wondrous simplicity and growth experienced in Ordinary Time. This season truly celebrates every “normal” and human aspect of the life of Christ. We celebrate his life, his teachings, his parables and his miracles during this time.
While Christmas and Easter highlight big moments in the Church, such as the Incarnation, Jesus’ death on the cross, and his Resurrection, the weeks of Ordinary Time “take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ.”
On June 26, we celebrate 20 years of St. Josemaría Escrivá’s sainthood. He gave us the perfect guide to transforming Ordinary Time and ordinary lives into magnificent, grace-filled vessels of love: “The Way.”
It’s no wonder the first line of this spiritual book is, “Don’t let your life be sterile.” St. Josemaría Escrivá crafted dozens of chapters of advice with the Lord. Chapter topics range from character, to study, to Our Lady, and even childhood life.
Ordinariness often leads to monotony, and monotony often leads to restlessness. When our heart experiences restlessness, we can cycle into the endless question of whether or not what we’re doing matters.
Maybe you’re a freshman in college taking boring gen ed classes; it’s hard to understand how these semesters will change the outcome of your life. Maybe you’ve had a 9-to-5 job for more than 30 years, and you wonder if anything has had a deep, lasting impact. Or maybe you just retired and still desire something to do.
The good news is: What we do doesn’t define us. It’s simply how we do it.
We have the choice to charge into every ordinary task with the belief that it matters. Rather than wash the dishes — Mother Teresa’s favorite — because we have to, we can make this simple act a prayer: “O Jesus, help me wash these dishes and every part of my soul clean.” We can turn rush hour into times of intercession, cook our dinners with a close saint friend, and pursue the presence of God in seemingly mundane moments.
“There is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it,” St. Josemaría Escrivá said in a homily. “There is no other way, my daughters and sons: either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.”
Though the desire to do something amazing is frequently stirred up in our hearts, it can easily mask the significance of little moments. But I would argue these “little” moments matter more. If we steward our ordinary lives to reflect the grace of God, suddenly we discover God all around us, not just on the mountaintop; we may even see him in footprints in the snow.
The path to sainthood is not for a few select souls. St. Josemaría Escrivá reminds us that no matter our profession or state in life, God calls us to love and pursue him.
“For the daily life we live, apparently so ordinary, can be a path to sanctity: it is not necessary to abandon one’s place in the world in order to search for God … because all the paths of the earth can be the occasion for an encounter with Christ,” he writes (Letter 24-III-1930, no. 2).
If you’re looking for a friend to help reorient your ordinary life to the gaze of God, try talking to St. Josemaría Escrivá. He will help you find the hidden treasures all around.