This COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of hundreds of millions the world over. The enforced home isolation i.e. the lockdown has immobilized the world trade. As an antidote to the escalating emotional distress, St. Josemaria Escriva propounds an aphorism, as highlighted below, worthwhile to reflect upon during this extended period of isolation. In essence, he is reminding us not to be intimidated by fear and pessimism but rather to trust in God’s providence – “God’s grace will not fail you.” Just as the storm passes away and brings out the sun, so too, the darkness induced by the COVID-19 pandemic will surely turn into bright rays of hope and encouragement for us, wayfarers.
Point no. 12
Grow stronger in the face of obstacles. God’s grace will not fail you: “inter medium montium pertransibunt aquae!” – “through the very midst of the mountains the waters shall pass.” You will pass through the mountains!
What does it matter that you have to curtail your activity for the moment, if later, like a spring which has been compressed, you’ll advance much farther than you ever dreamed?St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Lessons from the Life of Josemaria
Based on an article published by Opus Dei, it is heartening to note that St. Josemaria practiced what he preached. In other words, he really “walked the talk.” This is clearly demonstrated by some excerpts from the said article, as follows:
"In the first year of the Spanish Civil War, Saint Josemaria continued to carry out a wide-ranging but clandestine pastoral work, to the extent that circumstances allowed, risking his life when necessary for the good of souls. Thousands of priests and religious had already lost their lives for the faith. After a real odyssey, he found refuge in the Honduran Consulate in Madrid, which along with other friendly sites granted asylum to many thousands of people during those months. The living conditions were very trying. Men, women and children were obliged to live together in the confinement of a few square meters. There were no beds; they slept on mattresses spread out at night on the floor. Since only one bathroom was available, it was necessary to wait in line to use it. Only two meals a day were provided, at midday and in the evening; and due to the food shortage, these barely reached subsistence level. Saint Josemaria lost sixty-five pounds during those months. Afterwards, when his mother saw him she failed to recognize him at first; only later did she realize he was her son, by his voice. From the first moment of their confinement, the climate the founder created contrasted sharply with the general tone of pessimism. To stay busy during the day, he set up a schedule that included Holy Mass, norms of piety, study, language learning and family life.A point in The Way alludes to these circumstances: “The plants were hidden under the snow. And the farmer, the owner of the land, remarked with satisfaction: ‘Now they’re growing on the inside.’ I thought of you, of your forced inactivity.... Tell me, are you also growing on the inside?”
Clearly, St. Josemaria lived up to his conviction that no amount of obstacles or challenges should paralyze anyone. Despite the pessimism around him, St, Josemaria indeed busied himself with norms of piety that filled up his waking hours during the months of isolation. By means of prayer and sacrifice, he allowed the spirit of Jesus Christ to inhabit in his human heart. In effect, his conviction to draw himself closer to God each day enabled him to “grow in the inside“.
In sum, despite man’s frailties, it is nevertheless possible to acquire such strength in spirit. To win, one needs to humble oneself before the Lord, admitting to one’s faults and shortcomings. After which, one seeks forgiveness for all the wrongs done in the past. Finally, as the Lord is kind and merciful, one bows down with sorrow and remorse and receives the forgiveness of God. Alas, with gratefulness in the heart, one stands up feeling renewed in strength of spirit, ready to face once again the challenges ahead with renewed hope and fortitude.