Sanctifying daily life
One of Malta’s intellectual giants, Oliver Friggieri, forcefully argued the case for putting Our Lord back at the centre of Maltese culture and, more specifically, of literature (The Sunday Times, May 20). In his view, we cannot appreciate our nation’s identity without rediscovering the religious roots of our forefathers.
Science is doing wonders to help us understand how we actually exist, but it is faith that proposes answers as to why.
One could object and say that putting faith at the heart of all human endeavours may run counter to our human dignity and freedom. Since we live in a world whose problems need to be addressed, what help could faith give us if, as some say, it is essentially oriented towards the afterlife?
One could counter-argue that while solutions based solely on the here-and-now could offer help to some people for some time, they do not ultimately guarantee the authentic happiness of those in need of lasting solutions. Faith, lived according to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, has done just this to our nation, and continues to do so today.
Ordinary people generally divide their time between their family, in educational institutions or their workplace and, generally, in social relations. Accordingly, the ordinary way by which their lives are sanctified is through their active and altruistic participation in community life, their study or work, and their family life, configured according to how God has always wanted it.
As Fr Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, a small part of the Roman Catholic Church, said in a homily in 1967, “there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of us to discover it”.
Following a mystical experience he had in 1928, Fr Escrivá, then a 26-year-old priest studying in Madrid, propounded this universal call to holiness. He spent the rest of his life mostly in Rome, putting this message across. Through his life, teachings and Opus Dei, he helped thousands appreciate the treasure we all have within our reach.
The core message of Opus Dei is that holiness is not the preserve of the chosen few. The dignity of adopted sons and daughters of God, conferred on us through Baptism, entails the right and duty to reach the heights of holiness, whoever we are and whatever our role in society.
It is possible to change every moment of our lives into occasions for growing closer to God, serving others and improving society. All aspects of our daily lives can be transformed into prayer, and this cannot be kept for ourselves: it just overflows to others through a simple, friendly and natural apostolate that instils confidence.
It leads to the discovery that with the person of Jesus Christ at the centre of our lives, we can keep away from the temptation – to quote again from the abovementioned homily – “of living a kind of double life... with on the one hand an interior life, a life of relation with God, and on the other, a separate and distinct professional, social and family life, full of small earthly realities”.
This integrated approach to life does not mean that we do not fail. We do, but the secret is to recognise our failures and begin again, and again. So interested is God in all the small details of our ordinary lives that He makes available to us His grace, if only we ask Him for it.
This is the holiness which St Josemaría Escrivá showed all of us could, and should, reach. It is, indeed, the message of the Gospel, ever so old and so new, that the Second Vatican Council reiterated.
To mark the liturgical feast of St Josemaría Escrivá, Gozo Bishop Mario Grech will lead a concelebrated Mass on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the parish church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Lija. Everyone is invited to attend. Priests will be available for confession from 10.30 a.m.