Who Was Josemarķa Escrivį? (7:43)
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Saint Josemaría's 70th Birthday
(from Andres Vazquez de Prada, The Founder of Opus Dei , vol. 3, pp. 452-453)
On the first day of 1972, early in the morning, the Father, in a get-together with his sons at the Roman College, read to them the note that he had read the evening before to those on the General Council: “This is our destiny on earth: to struggle, for love, until the last moment. Deo gratias! ” And he alerted them to the need to begin again the interior battle, reminding them of the words from Holy Scripture, “Is not man’s life on earth just warfare?” (Job 1:7).
“You, my sons, will always struggle, and I too will try to always struggle, to the last moment of my life. If we don’t struggle, it means we’re not doing well. On earth we can never have the comfortable tranquility of those who give themselves over to pleasure because they think the future is secure. The future for all of us is uncertain, in the sense that we could become traitors to our Lord, our vocation, and the faith … Peace is the consequence of war, of struggle, of the intimate ascetical struggle which each Christian must keep up against everything is his life which does not belong to God. We have to struggle to overcome pride, sensuality, selfishness, superficiality, and meanness of heart.”
At the beginning of 1972, with reference to the fact that on January 9 he would turn seventy, the Father jokingly insisted that he was about to become a seven-year-old [since the zero doesn’t count]. It was a reminder of the perennial spiritual youth of Christians, and of the path of spiritual childhood that he had embarked on years before. And then, with a clear conscience that come from closeness to God, he would say, “Josemaria: so many years, so many brays.”
For his birthday, the members of the General Council gave him a small white-marble bas-relief showing the Good Shepherd with the lost or injured sheep on his shoulders, the sheepdog, a pouch hanging from the shoulder, and the shepherd’s crook. And at his feet was an inscription in Latin, added by Don Alvaro, saying, “January 9, 1972: to our Father, on the seventieth anniversary of his birth. With all our affection.”