Key to the meaning of “sanctity” in the world: the connection and intimacy with the angels who are understood to be created spiritual intelligences and powers in the world put at the service of men in the exercise of their ordinary lives. In truth “the angel of the Lord” was considered by the early Christian writers as “the preincarnate Christ, present in the Old Testament as the one in whom God’s name and glory rest. For Justin Martyr, among other early Christian writers, the angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ, present in the Old Testament as the one in whom God’s name and glory rest” ( “Angels and Ministers of Grace” by Susan R. Garrett and reviewed by Carol Zaleski [First Things, May 2009]. Zaleski writes: “What matters is that there is an angelic medium by which God overrules his own transcendence and mercifully condescends to make himself known.” To get a feel for the point, considr that Escriva testified to making contact with the angel of any and everyone he came in contact with. He would first greet the angel of the person involved. Now also consider Ratzinger’s interpretation of the name “Opus Dei” which he (Ratzinger) considers “deeply bound up with the interior life of the founder” (Ratzinger, L’Osservatore Romano [special supplement] October 6, 2002). “The founder of Opus Dei said: I am not the one who invented anything: [Escriva is not the protagonist of what is going on, but the one who listens and obeys [There is Another who acts, and I am only ready to serve as an instrument. So the name, and all the reality which we call Opus Dei, is deeply bound up with the interior life of the founder. He, while remaining very discreet on this point, makes us understand that he was in permanent dialogue, in real contact, with Him who created us and works through us and with us. The Book of Exodus (33, 11) says of Moses that God spoke with him ‘fce to face,’ as friend speaks with a friend. ‘I think that, even if the veil of discretion hides many details from us, still from some small refrences we can very well apply to Josemaria Escriva this ‘speaking as a friend speaks with a friend,’ which opens the doors of the world so that God can become present, to work and transform everything. In this light one can understand even better what holiness means, as well as the universal calling to holiness.” With this we can conclude that this must mean that sanctity does not necessarily involve heroic virtue as we have traditionally understood “heroic” (I am thinking of the martyrdom of St. Maximilian Kolbe who replaced another in the bunker of starvation in Auschwitz. Rather in the ascetical life of Escriva, “heroic virtue” will consist in finishing work once begun (“how carefully we would finish things… This is the secret of the holiness which I have now been preaching for so mnay years:” See “Friends of God” #58.
And Ratzinger goes so far as to say that the traditionally “heroic” way of holiness “is a mistaken notion of holiness, a wrong perception which has been corrected – and this seems to be the central point – precisely by Josemaia Escriva.” The point is that the struggle to finish ordinary work in ordinary life demands an intimate dialogue with the angel, the pre-incarnate Christ who is present here and now in the situation.
Conclude: Escriva did not “found” anything but was the lone receptor of the founding action of God. He described himslef as “an inept and deaf instsrument” who “saw the Work for the first time. On October 2, 1928, “God infused in his soul a powerful light, a profound interior motion, a clear awareness of the divine will, and he saw the nature and missin of Opus Dei in the Church and in the world. He saw, we could say, the essential nucleus of Opus Dei, in the way God had defined and planned it. That day, our Lord founded his Work.” Opus Dei as an act of mercy of God in human history, was already a reality in time, through our Founder’s presence alone” (Letter, Javier Echevarria, November28, 1995 #6.).