Ratzinger on Escriva: “Only He Who Experiences the Absurd is Able to Conquer the Impossible” [“On Love” – Selected Writings – Ignatius 2019]

Ratzinger entitled a paper with the above with regard to St. Josemaria Escriva. Ratzinger commented: “He dared to be something like a Don Quixote of God. Does it not seem rather quixotic to teach, in today’s world, humility, obedience, chastity, detachment from possessions, altruism? God’s will was for him true reasonableness, and so gradually the reasonableness of what was apparently irrational was able to come to light” (93).

I recall listenting to St. Josemaria in the 60’s, speaking about “His last madnesses: the absurd (massive undertaking) (for us) of building the definitive Roman College having just staggerd through finishing the buildings of Villa Tevere. And then, on top of that, finishing Torreciudad built on a mountain top ofwhat was cut down to accommodate 100,000 pilgrims with an interior of a massive raredos of 120 tons of alabaster and the superb chisled grafics of the mysteries of the rosary – perhaps the greatest sculpted work in Europe for the last several hundred years (the work of 20 artists working in unprecedented unity) — and finally, his last madness was to die on time!! He clearly confronted the absurd demands of the apostolate there being offered to him and which burst all reasonable parameters. And this all was totally reasonable because it was not his to achieve. Ratzinger profoundly perceived in 1992 at the time of the beatification, and in 2006, the canonization, that Escriva was merely hearing the Word of God and doing it. None of the above was his work – Opus Nostrum – but Opus Dei. His was not heroic virtue, but intimacy with Jesus and the Virgin in living out the small duties of everyday in obedience, but asking big – for all of it.

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