06/30/2014, 00.00
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India celebrates Saint Josemaría Escrivá, noting the importance of lay spirituality

by Nirmala Carvalho
In various Indian dioceses, special Masses were celebrated for the liturgical memorial of the founder of Opus Dei. In Mumbai, Auxiliary Bishop Mgr Agnelo Gracias said that "in the Church there are no first- or second-class citizens. With regards to holiness, we are all equal."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "In the universal call to holiness, let us not forget the importance of secular spirituality, as proclaimed and pursued by Saint Josemaría Escrivá," said Mgr Agnelo Gracias, auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, in his homily on the feast day the founder of Opus Dei, during a special Mass on 26 June at the Church of St Andrew in Bandra. Other memorial Masses were held in other dioceses of India, particularly in Kerala, New Delhi and Orissa.

During his homily, Mgr Gracias mentioned an episode of the time when he was a seminarian. "During the holidays, one of my companions decided to leave the seminary because he realised he did not have a vocation to the priesthood. When we returned from the retreat, the rector read a letter left from the young man. One sentence in particular impressed me forever: 'I am no longer a candidate for the priesthood, but I will always be a candidate for holiness'."

"The Second Vatican Council underscored the universal call to holiness," the prelate said. "A whole chapter of Lumen Gentium focused on this. In the Church, there are no first-or second-class citizens. With regards to holiness, we are all equal".

"This was Saint Josemaría Escrivá's contribution," the prelate said. "He turned his mission in life to making people aware of their call to holiness. With this idea in mind, he founded Opus Dei, God's work, to encourage Catholics to put into practice God's teachings, and solve economic, social and political problems in a Christian way, in light of the Gospel."

However, "the way to attain holiness may be different," he said. "For the laity, it will be different from that of a priest or a nun, but they will live in what we might call 'secular spirituality'," which has three main traits according to Mgr Gracias.

"First, there is secular holiness. This means understanding the sacred value of what is generally considered profane because it is through our daily work that we build the Kingdom of God."

Then there is "the sanctity of marriage. On the wedding day, the couple will make a reciprocal gift of grace, and for their whole life, will be a source of grace for one another. If a husband is a good member of the community, but denies his family, he will have failed in his vocation. The same goes for the wife."

Finally, "we have a service-oriented spirituality, which shows itself in the act of caring and loving each other. Prayer and the Eucharist bring us to a single thing: to test our spirituality in the action of our daily lives."

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