Thursday, June 26, 2008

St. Josemaría Escrivá and the Early Church

Mike Aquilina has some good observations, echoed from a post from last year, about the influence of the Fathers of the Early Church on St. Josemaría Escrivá and the spirituality of Opus Dei.
His is a decidedly modern spirit, but he conceived it as a retrieval of the way of the “early Christians” (his preferred term). Opus Dei was, he said, “as old as the Gospel and, like the Gospel, ever new.” He often cited the authority of the Church Fathers. A quick scan of his books online at EscrivaWorks yields many passages from Clement of Alexandria, Ignatius of Antioch, Tertullian, Ambrose, Justin Martyr, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Jerome, lots and lots from John Chrysostom and Gregory the Great, and dozens from Augustine.

These early Christians were not mere ornaments on his pet project. His vocation was itself a return to the sources — the pre-Nicene sources of the life and labor of ordinary, faithful Christians. The journalist John L. Allen, in his book on Opus Dei, described just how radical St. Josemaria’s vision was: “The idea of priests and laity, men and women, all part of one organic whole, sharing the same vocation and carrying out the same apostolic tasks, has not been part of the Catholic tradition, at least since the early centuries.”

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