The servant of God Guadalupe Ortiz de Landázuri will be beatified on May 18th in Madrid. This news fills us with joy and hope because it confirms for us once more that God calls everyone to a fulfilled life close to Him, to holiness, which is within our reach amid the ups and downs of ordinary life.
The future blessed loved the life that God had chosen for her; she made it her own and found happiness there. As a young woman, she confronted her father’s execution with serenity and strength. Despite the difficulties, she chose to continue pursuing studies in chemistry, a profession seldom taken up by women at that time. Later on, she would dedicate herself to teaching, putting to use all her capacities. When she met Saint Josemaría Escrivá and discovered that God was calling her to live her Christian life according to the spirit of Opus Dei, she did not hesitate to respond generously to the invitation to seek holiness in ordinary life. Guadalupe was open to whatever God was asking of her at each moment. She set aside her professional career for some time and took it up again later; she moved to Mexico to help start Opus Dei’s apostolic work there, and upon returning to Spain worked as a teacher again, starting and completing a doctoral thesis in her later years.
Guadalupe’s example can give us light as well as encouragement to undertake our ordinary life as a path to holiness – our daily efforts, dreams, challenges and plans, where we also encounter unexpected difficulties and problems. Guadalupe stands out for her attitude of loving whatever God wanted of her, accepting his will, trusting and hoping in Him, and living completely in the present, exactly as it is, leaving the future in God’s hands.
Guadalupe was a joyful, courageous, decisive, enterprising and affectionate person. Her certainty of God’s closeness and love led her to a simplicity and peace that allowed her not to be afraid of her mistakes and defects, but to keep going forward no matter what, seeking to love God and others in everything. Often we might be tempted to avoid aspiring to great things, to renounce our dreams, simply because we experience our own errors and limitations all too clearly. Guadalupe teaches us that, despite all the difficulties, we can dream and go far if we trust in God and in his love for us.
Guadalupe made compatible an intense professional life as a chemist with her relationship with God and service to others. Her many letters illustrate how she strove to give God priority in her life and, when things didn’t work out the way she wanted, how she would begin again with renewed determination. She dedicated time to a personal encounter with God in prayer each day, where she drew strength to find Him again later amid daily events and circumstances. We too can find God amid our daily tasks, knowing that He waits for us patiently at every moment, especially in the Eucharist. The fact that the date of Guadalupe’s beatification, May 18th, is also the anniversary of her First Holy Communion seems to me a divine coincidence that highlights the close union between the Eucharist and personal holiness.
The future blessed is also a model of how to discover God in our work that is done as well as possible. Guadalupe found God in her professional activity, and in it and through it made Him known to others. Her love for God and her professional enthusiasm led her to be generously involved in the social issues of her time. She was never indifferent to the suffering of others and helped begin projects for the advancement of the poor both in her own country and in Mexico, making use of all her knowledge and talents. Guadalupe was passionate about chemistry, but for her, work was not just a question of professional achievement but above all an opportunity to seek God and to serve others.
Many people who knew her remember her joy and contagious laughter, how she made life pleasant for those around her. Although her cheerful and open character was partly a matter of temperament, it was also the result of her struggle and hidden sacrifice. She suffered for many years from a heart disease that often left her tired and exhausted, but she accepted it cheerfully and always strove to smile, without giving importance to her suffering. Thinking of Guadalupe, I am reminded of something Saint Josemaría often said: “To give oneself sincerely to serving others is so effective that God rewards it with a humility filled with cheerfulness.”
During this month of May especially dedicated to Mary, we can ask our Lady that Guadalupe’s example may inspire us to always accept God’s invitations for our life, so that like her we too will be happy – “blessed” – as the Church will declare in a few days’ time.