August 7, 1931 -Escrvia Given to Understand the Vocation To Be “Christ Himself.”

The authors of “Vida Cotidiana y Santidad En La ensenanza de San Josemaria, Ernst Burkhart and Javier Lopez, offer a distinction between the initial call to holiness in the world that occurred  on October 2, 1928 and the sense of divine filiation that became consciousness on October 16, 1931. They write that Escriva did not offer an explanation of this delay in explicit consciousness of divine filiation and they suggest that divine filiation was implicit in the original charism from the beginning.

               However, I think more should be made of this because the deeper dynamic of divine filiation- or at least the dynamic most available to us (the gift of self)  – is the asceticism of becoming “another Christ” by going out of ourselves as He, the Son of the living God, is pure relation to the Father.Our Father experienced this in the first years from 1928 to 1931 and it was precisely this that was given to him in the Mass of August 7, 1931 when he heard“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself “(Jn. 12, 32). And, tellingly, he commented years later that he understood the Lord Himself to be making the exegesis:“not in the sense in which the Scripture says them. I say them to you in the sense that you are to raise me up in all human activities so that all over the world there should be Christians with a personal and most free dedication, that they be other Christs.”[1]In other words, the reality of the sacrament of Baptism, as a “death-event” was deeply at work within him (like drowning  by way of triple immersion). He wrote: “Despite feeling empty of virtue and knowledge (humility is truth…), I wanted to write books of fire that would run through the world like a living flame, filling men with their light and warmth, converting poor hearts into red-hot coals, to offer them to Jesus as rubies of his royal crown.”[2]This is the zeal of self-gift that is involved in becoming “another Christ.” Two months on October 16th he will hear: “You are my Son, you are Christ.” or perhaps according to my interpretation, “you are Christ, therefore, you are my Son.”

I am suggesting a procedural priority (as well as the chronological) of being Christ over divine filiation as the dynamic explanation of the various highlights in the teaching of St. Josemaria, and this because the Magisterium of Vatican II and the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI have authoritatively presented Jesus Christ as the meaning and interpretation of the human person. In this Magisterium, Jesus Christ is the prototype[3] of the relationship of the human person with God, and the meaning of man.

How else could this be? The Council of Constantinople III raised the “parallelism” of the two ontologically distinct natures (created and uncreated) in Jesus Christ into a dynamic Christology of the divine “I” Who masters His human will and transforms the sin with which it was laden by the Father into the obedience of the Cross: the radical gift of Self.[4] As the medium of the Trinitarian Gift of Self of the Son to the Father, the human will is raised and perfected as divinely free without ceasing to be a human will. Concerning the meaning of human freedom, then, John Paul II wrote that “The Crucified Christ reveals the authentic meaning of freedom he lives it fully in the total gift of himself and calls his disciples to share in his freedom.”[5]This understanding of human freedom is radically distinct from the received understanding of freedom as choice: an “indetermination” of the will before finite goods in view of an intellectually perceived absolute good. The Christological understanding of freedom is at the root of our Father’s offering of the absolute demand of the vocation to commitment.

Having raised the Christological anthropology as the defining dynamic, let us deploy it and develop it in confronting the highlights of the spirit of the Work:

  • The novelty of our Father is that every Christian is called to be “Ipse Christus” in ordinary life:[6]Hay que unirse a El por la fe, dejando que su vida se manifieste en la propia, de manera que pueda decirse que el cristiano es no ya alter Christus, sinoipse Christus, !el mismo Cristo!”


[1] Cf. John F. Coverdale, “Uncommon Faith,” Scepter(2002) 90.


[3]John Paul II, “Lord and Giver of Life,” #59.

[4] Jn. 6, 38: “I have come down from heaven not to do my own [human] will, but the will of Him who sent me.”

[5] John Paul II, “Veritatis Splendor” #85.

[6]Hay queunirse a El por la fe, dejando que su vida se manifieste en la propia, de manera que pueda decirse que el cristano es no ya alter Christus, sino ipse Christus, !el mismo Cristo!”

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