St Josemaría Escriv lessons in love
In his letter on March 2, Noel Fabri alleged that St Josemaría Escrivá once said: “Hitler couldn’t have been such a bad person. He couldn’t have killed six million. It couldn’t have been more than four million.”
The saint never ever said such words in his life but this was a malicious false rumour intended to harm both Opus Dei and its founder.
On the contrary, St Josemaría often said: “Every human being is precious, unique and beloved child of God, created in His own image, and is worth all of Christ’s Most Precious Blood. What respect, veneration and affection we should feel for every single soul when we realise that God loves it as His very own. Not a single soul, not even one, can be a matter of indifference to you.”
In several conversations, St Josemaría forcefully condemned Nazism, denounced its anti-Christian roots with clarity and declared that Nazism and Christianity were incompatible.
“As a result of his rebellion towards God, a man can easily commit the most terrible and unimaginable deeds.” St Josemaría was a great admirer of Blessed Cardinal Clemens Graf Von Galen, the Bishop of Munster, who was such a harsh opponent of Nazism that Hitler declared the bishop as his greatest enemy. The founder of Opus Dei prayed intensively for the needs of the Church and Catholics in Germany under Hitler.
S Josemaría had many Jewish friends, among them the famous Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a former disciple of Freud who had survived Nazi concentration camps and who, with his wife, often met St Josemaría in Rome and wrote how the saint’s joie de vivre greatly impressed him.
St Josemaría had a special love towards Jews and saw in them special brethren of the faith. He referred to them as “our elder brothers in faith”. During an encounter in Venezuela in 1975, someone from the audience rose to ask St Josemaría a question, and commenced, “Father, I am Jewish.” The Founder of Opus Dei replied: “I love the Jews with great affection, because I love Jesus madly, and He is Jewish. I do not say He was, but He is, for Jesus Christ is alive, and He is Jewish like you.
And the second love of my life is also Jewish, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and our Mother too. And St Joseph, her husband most chaste, is Jewish too. The three persons I love most are Jewish! So I look on you with special affection.”
The photo above showing the saint embracing African students manifests clearly the saint’s stand against racism and discrimination.
I invite all readers of The Times to watch the movie There Be Dragons, written and directed by Roland Joffé (well known for The Mission), scheduled to be released in cinemas in May, which features the very difficult and dangerous years of the Spanish Civil War in St Josemaría’s life. For Joffé, an agnostic who admires St Josemaría, this movie is “a story about people trying to find meaning about their lives”, for “his life is a lesson how to love and how to forgive, and shows others how to be a saint in this day and age”.