Study & Friendship

Of course, the St. Raphael Work began with students, and they spent a lot of time… studying. Architecture, medicine, and engineering were some of the most popular majors. But now hitting the books wasn’t just one more task in the day, something to enjoy or suffer through, depending on whether or not you liked the class. As they were learning from Fr. Josemaría:

An hour of study, for a modern apostle, is an hour of prayer.
St. Josemaría, The Way, no. 335

Friendship with others, enlivened by their deepening friendship with Christ, also took on new dimensions, as Fr. Josemaría encouraged them to let sincere concern for others push them out of their comfort zone.

  • “You can’t just be passive. You have to become a real friend of your friends — by helping them” (Furrow, no. 731) 
  • “Allow your heart to expand more and more! Out of a hundred souls we are interested in a hundred.” (Furrow, no. 183) 
  • “Don’t let yourselves form 'cliques'. What a shriveled up apostolate that would be” (The Way, no. 963).

Fr. Josemaría enriched the St. Raphael work as the months went by, with meditations or guided prayer before the Tabernacle, retreats and recollections to take a step back and charge your spiritual batteries, professional circles, excursions, get togethers, cultural and academic activities, a student residence… until the Spanish Civil War broke out. But that’s getting ahead of our story.

Josemaría Escrivá Academia-residencia DYA, Madrid (España) Marzo, 1935
Josemaría Escrivá surrounded by students from the DYA Academy-Residence, Spain, 1935.

The key thing is that those first students who took part in the St. Raphael work didn’t feel that they were doing just one more good thing: they felt like main characters, taking the message and mission of Opus Dei ahead by living it out in their own lives. It wasn’t about adding more activities to their already busy schedules; it was about discovering what (or Who!) gives meaning to it all… and blazing a trail.

“The St. Raphael work aims to form the greatest possible number of young people, so that with personal freedom and responsibility, and sharing in the spirit of the Work, they may be—now and throughout their lives—Christian leaven in their families, in their professional work, in all the immense field of human life in the middle of the world” (Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, Message, June 8, 2018).

If you’re reading this, then in a way, that trail that Fr. Josemaría blazed a century ago has reached you too. You may be involved in the St. Raphael work already, or you may just be curious. Feel free to explore the website, check out the resources, and let us know if you have any questions or comments. This is just the beginning of the story, because the rest is still being written.