St. Josemaria Escriva: Embracing the Ordinary

st josemaria escriva ordinary work

I think we all have a friend who seemingly has been our friend forever, and we can’t even really pinpoint when that friendship began, or how. We just know that person has been there. Sometimes that friendship does blossom in a noticeable way later in life, and it’s when we look back that we can see how that person was present all along.

You may also have heard people in the Catholic world talk about a saint “stalking” them, or talk about choosing a saint for the year. I don’t have a “stalking” experience. And this year, when I tried to choose a saint, no one connected with me (sorry, Saints!). No one, that is, except for Saint Josemaria Escriva. It was only because my sister-in-law gifted me his collection of short pieces of advice, The Way. Now I realize that St. Josemaria is one of my heavenly “forever friends”, and our friendship is beginning to blossom.

Meeting St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria likely has been looking out for me my whole life, even though I haven’t paid him any attention until a few years ago.

I started a blog series called Embrace the Ordinary with the purpose of looking back on my week to see where God had been present in the simplest, most ordinary situations. Where and when did I encounter grace? Those moments build a life of relationship with Christ. Those grace-filled moments of my ordinary life hopefully will lead to greater holiness in my spiritual journey. I invited others to share their experiences, too.

One blogger, another mom of many who certainly understands the struggle to pursue holiness within the noisy and chaotic walls of a bustling home, added a quote from St. Josemaria to her “Embrace the Ordinary” posts. The words she chose made me realize that this life of seeking holiness in the mundane is possible, even desirable and necessary.

. . . there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it . . . there is no other way, my daughters and sons: either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find Him” -from St. Josemaria Escriva’s 1967 homily “Passionately Loving the World”

Ordinary, Extraordinary Holiness

Suddenly my life changed in a quiet way. This saint understood me. He not only understood my heart’s desire to seek God in the messy and (dare I say) dull moments of my life, he encouraged me to do so!

This call to holiness is attainable! I so appreciate St. Josemaria’s encouragement to discover Christ in my ordinary life.

I’m a wife and stay at home mom. The ordinariness of my life tends to lead me wondering what I’m missing, questioning whether I’m on the right track in serving and loving our Lord.

Perhaps you feel that, too? Are you a college student still trying to settle into a major? Or a professional on a successful career path? Maybe you’re a single woman trying to hear God’s call to a specific vocation? Or a recently-retired woman who longs for something more to do with her life? Let St. Josemaria walk with you daily to find those hidden gems of the divine.

Josemaria Escriva Gives Us a Great Example

While I’ve been reading his book The Way this year, I recently also started learning a bit more about St. Josemaria’s life. As a young teen, he already lived the life of seeking God in the ordinary, even before he put the spiritual practice into words.

I love the story of a winter day, when 16-yr old Josemaria saw footprints in the snow left by a bare-footed Carmelite friar. When he thought of the dedication shown in those footprints, he wondered about his own call to give his life to God.

I’m struck by how this small and almost insignificant sign made a lasting impact on Josemaria. Footprints left nearly anywhere last but a short while. But in this short-lived whisper of holiness, Josemaria heard a call in his soul to give himself to God. Even though he didn’t know exactly God’s plan, he gave himself to the Lord after this encounter.

I believe that Josemaria lived each day in the way he taught others: by carrying out the duties of each moment. Being faithful to those everyday tasks likely helped him determine what his specific call would be: to found Opus Dei and lead Christians of all walks to offer their daily duties to God.

For Josemaria, this makes the world holy. Seeking God ought to move us to sanctify our daily work.

St. Josemaria Escriva, My Forever Friend

Each time I sit to read a few more spiritual “tips” from The Way, I feel as if I’ve had a quick chat with a friend who knows how to inspire me once again. I feel like he “gets” me. He knows my heart longs to serve the Lord and yet…there’s so much laundry.

I’d love to sit down and talk with this man as a spiritual mentor over a cup of coffee one morning. Or with a glass of wine on our back deck while my kids run around and my husband and I listen to his spiritual wisdom.

Sanctity in the Small

After all, those are the moments in which we soak up grace to keep doing the nitty-gritty everyday tasks. It’s these moments, these duties (the pile of dishes, the laundry, the studying, the emptying the trash bin, the appointments, the meetings) which make up our days. And when done with a spirit of seeking God and giving Him glory, they will make us saints.

Sanctity is not for a privileged few. The Lord calls all of us. He expects love from all of us—from everyone, wherever they are; from everyone, whatever their state in life, their profession or job. For the daily life we live, apparently so ordinary, can be a path to sanctity: it is not necessary to abandon one’s place in the world in order to search for God…because all the paths of the earth can be the occasion for an encounter with Christ. -Letter 24-III-1930, no. 2

Now I’m pumped to go start those loads of laundry and tackle the mountain of clutter and to-dos filling my calendar. How about you?

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Gina Fensterer is a Colorado native at heart, but the West Coast beach life suits her just fine. She currently lives in small coastal area of California with her husband and six children. Gina finds daily life to be more than enough to practice virtue. She loves the Jesus prayer, coffee at any time of day, homemade salsa, photography, and sleepy toddler snuggles. You can find out more about her here.

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