Why saints still matter today

This week I will be traveling to Spain, sometimes referred to as “the Land of Saints” in order to attend the beatification ceremony of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, who was successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as the head of Opus Dei from 1975-1994. Alvaro del Portillo was a man of great virtue as will be officially recognized by the Catholic Church in the ceremony for his beatification, yet he never ceased to be fully human as well. He liked jokes and Western movies, and he easily made friends. A new book Saxum: the life of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo by John Coverdale offers a complete and lively account of the soon-to-be Blessed (and now one miracle away from canonization). I had the privilege to meet and know Bishop Alvaro on a couple of occasions in the 1980s, and I confirm that his joy was a constant expression of a life given to God. I plan to relate some observations of my pilgrimage to Madrid this week, and hope to share some elements of my conviction that saints still matter today. In an age of violence and injustice, we might be tempted to think all is lost, and a virtuous life unrealistic, to say the least. The life, death and beatification process of a person like Alvaro del Portillo will, I hope allow many people (Christian or not) to see that God is determined to raise up saints among us in every era, and that we too are called to heroic holiness. He is pictured below with a latin motto he often repeated. Consummati in unum! (That all may be one!)


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