Pope Marks Escrivá's Canonization with 200,000 Pilgrims

Calls Opus Dei Founder the "Saint of the Ordinary"

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Pilgrims returned to St. Peter's Square to celebrate the canonization of Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer with John Paul II and to attend a Mass of thanksgiving.



Today's meeting, which attracted 200,000 people, gave the Pope the chance to highlight the legacy left by the newly canonized saint to the Opus Dei Prelature and the universal Church.

The celebration culminated when the Pope officially welcomed Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist, who is visiting Rome in gratitude to the Holy Father for his visit to Romania in May 1999.

Following the celebration of Mass, which was presided over by Bishop Javier Echevarría, prelate of Opus Dei, the Pope arrived in the square in a convertible, amid the ovations of the faithful.

As he spoke about the new saint's legacy, John Paul II looked out at the sea of people before him and called the multitude "a sign of the apostolic zeal that burned in the soul of St. Josemaría."

"Outstanding in the founder of Opus Dei was his love for the will of God," the Holy Father said. "There is a sure criterion of holiness: faithfulness in fulfilling the divine will to its ultimate consequences. The Lord has a plan for each one of us; he entrusts each one with a mission on earth. The saint cannot even think of himself outside of God's plan: He lives only to fulfill it."

"St. Josemaría was chosen by the Lord to proclaim the universal call to holiness and to indicate that everyday life, ordinary activities, are the way of sanctification," the Pope said. "It might be said that he was the saint of the ordinary."

John Paul II continued: "In fact, he was convinced that for anyone who lives from the perspective of faith everything offers an opportunity for encounter with God, everything becomes a stimulus for prayer. From this point of view, daily life reveals an unsuspected grandeur. Holiness appears truly within the reach of all."

"St. Josemaría was profoundly convinced that the Christian life entails a mission and an apostolate: We are in the world to save it with Christ," the Holy Father continued in English.

"He loved the world passionately, with a redemptive love. Precisely for this reason his teachings have helped so many ordinary members of the faithful to discover the redemptive power of faith, its capacity to transform the earth," he said.

"This is a message that has abundant and fruitful implications for the evangelizing mission of the Church. It fosters the Christianization of the world 'from within,' showing that there can be no conflict between the divine law and the demands of genuine human progress," the Pope added.

"This saintly priest taught that Christ must be the apex of all human activity," he continued. "His message impels the Christian to act in places where the future of society is being shaped.

"From the laity's active presence in all the professions and at the most advanced frontiers of development there can only come a positive contribution to the strengthening of that harmony between faith and culture, which is one of the greatest needs of our time."