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Familia y culturas de vida
Family and Cultures of Life
THE GRANDEUR
OF ORDINARY LIFE
LA GRANDEZA
DE LA VIDA CORRIENTE
Congreso Internacional
La grandeza de la vida corriente
International Congress
The Grandeur of Ordinary Life
Familia y culturas de vida
Family and Cultures of Life
Eds. Marta Brancatisano Manzi
Rosario Peris
Copyright - Edizioni Universit della Santa Croce, 2003
Piazza di SantApollinare 49 - 00186 Roma
tel. 06681641 - fax 0668164400
e-mail: info@edusc.it
Imprimatur
Vicariato di Roma 10 Ottobre 2003
Luigi Moretti
Vescovo tit. di Mopta
Segretario Generale
ISBN 88-8333-066-8
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Versione elettronica di propriet di Libuk s.r.l.
vietata qualsiasi copia, riproduzione, trasmissione con ogni mezzo.
Workshops
I. Amor y matrimonio
Love and Marriage
(coord. Maria Teresa La Porte)
II. Construir culturas de vida
Building up Cultures of Life
(coord. Christopher Wolfe & Daniel Diez)
Presentacin
Ana Marta Gonzlez
Profesora de tica y Antropologa, Universidad de Navarra. Miembro del Comit cientfico del
Congreso.
Entre los das 8 y 11 de Enero de 2002, con ocasin del centenario del naci-
miento de Josemara Escriv de Balaguer
1
, tuvo lugar en Roma un Congreso
internacional que, bajo el ttulo de La grandeza de la vida corriente, se dedic
a profundizar en el contenido teolgico y explorar las posibilidades vitales abier-
tas por su mensaje.
Ciertamente, si algo se puso de manifiesto a lo largo de esos das es que,
por su forma y por su contenido, la predicacin de Josemara Escriv su
manera peculiar de invitar al seguimiento de Cristo difcilmente permite un
acercamiento objetivo y neutral, en el que el lector no se vea existencial-
mente implicado, interpelado vitalmente. Y es que, con ser imprescindible para
cualquier estudio teolgico-cientfico, el acercamiento analtico a sus palabras
no deja de resultar extrao al contexto y a la intencin con las que stas fueron
escritas.
En efecto: como sacerdote que no quera hablar ms que de Dios, sus pala-
bras tenan, ante todo, la finalidad estrictamente apostlica de acercar las almas a
Cristo. Es esta finalidad la que explica el tono caracterstico de su vida y de su
obra y, particularmente, de sus escritos, en los que el mensaje cristiano se hace
una vez ms interpelacin directa, capaz de despertar en el alma insospechados
horizontes de celo, tal y como lo atestigua el eco que sus palabras han encontra-
do en la vida de tantos millares de hombres y mujeres en todo el mundo.
5
1
El 6 de octubre de 2002, Juan Pablo II canoniz a Josemara Escriv de Balaguer. Hemos
mantenido las referencias al Beato Josemara en lugar de Santo, porque as aparecen en
los textos originales, ya que se refieren a un Congreso celebrado antes del mencionado acon-
tecimiento.
Las vidas de esos hombres y mujeres reproducen lo que el propio Josema-
ra Escriv dej consignado en un conocido punto de Camino: Eres, entre los
tuyos alma de apstol la piedra cada en el lago. Produce, con tu ejemplo y
tu palabra un primer crculo... y ste, otro... y otro, y otro... Cada vez ms ancho
Comprendes ahora la grandeza de tu misin?
2
.
Pareca lgico, por tanto, que en un congreso dedicado a estudiar el men-
saje de Josemara Escriv se recogieran algunos de esos crculos expansivos que l
ha propiciado con su vida y con su obra. Pues no cabe duda de que, al calor de
sus palabras, muchas decisiones de mejora personal han superado el plano de los
buenos deseos y se han concretado en iniciativas de indudable trascendencia
familiar y social, en los ms variados campos de la actividad humana.
Eso es lo que, en el marco del Congreso, se ha procurado reflejar en los
workshops. A diferencia de las sesiones plenarias, dedicadas ms bien a profundi-
zar temticamente en algn aspecto del mensaje de Josemara Escriv, o de las
comunicaciones que trataban de mostrar sus implicaciones en algn campo
concreto de la actividad humana, el objetivo de los workshops era desplegar
ante los asistentes la fecundidad prctica y vital de ese mensaje, capaz de activar
las energas del espritu humano, ms all de diferencias culturales o sociales. Se
trataba, en una palabra, de mostrar de qu mltiples maneras el mensaje de Jose-
mara Escriv ha llegado a calar en la vida y la actividad profesional de tantas per-
sonas, constituyendo un poderoso estmulo en la bsqueda de ese algo divino
que se encierra en las situaciones ms ordinarias y comunes, en las que se ha de
materializar nuestra existencia cristiana
3
.
Con esta idea en la mente, se seleccionaron varias reas temticas podr-
an haber sido ms, podran haber sido otras, y se invit a diversas personas
relacionadas con esas reas a que expusieran la influencia y la proyeccin que, a
su juicio, el mensaje de Escriv tiene en sus vidas. La exposicin no deba consis-
tir sencillamente en un mero testimonio edificante, pero tampoco deba ser una
reflexin ms o menos erudita, despegada de la vida. Se trataba, ms bien, de
reflexionar sobre la propia experiencia, intentando hacer explcita, en la medida
de lo posible, la influencia que el mensaje de Josemara Escriv haba tenido en
las aspiraciones, el enfoque y la prctica de la propia profesin.
Las experiencias de integracin social, participacin poltica, creatividad
artstica, etc., que se presentaron con toda viveza durante el transcurso del con-
greso, fueron recogidas por escrito y se ofrecen ahora a la imprenta, pensando en
numerosas personas que no pudieron asistir al Congreso y han manifestado inte-
rs por lo que se dijo en los workshops.
6 - ANA MARTA GONZLEZ
2
Camino, 831.
3
Cfr. Conversaciones, 114, 116, 121.
No hace falta decir que, en este caso, el medio limita el mensaje. Aunque
se ha procurado adaptar el texto oral a una versin escrita, la fuerza del testimo-
nio personal ha quedado, por lo general, notablemente disminuida. Por otro
lado, el propio carcter personal de las intervenciones, aade muchas contingen-
cias que en unas ocasiones hacen transparente el mensaje y en otras pueden limi-
tar su alcance, precisamente porque un mismo espritu adopta formas y modos
diversos segn la procedencia y la personalidad de quien lo vive y lo reproduce.
Pero aceptar la contingencia humana es condicin de verdadero pluralis-
mo. Esto es algo que se aprende al contacto con los escritos de Escriv. Y es algo
de lo que el propio Congreso nos ha dejado un recuerdo imborrable. El espect-
culo, verdaderamente catlico, de gentes procedentes de frica, Asia, Europa,
America u Oceana, que, por encima o por debajo de sus diferencias eviden-
tes de raza, cultura, profesin, incluso confesin religiosa pueden sintonizar
en aspiraciones fundamentales, de santidad, de paz y de justicia, no es, en efecto,
uno de los recuerdos menos alentadores que nos ha dejado el Congreso. Encierra
algo de simblico. Precisamente en un momento histrico como el nuestro, en el
que aspiraciones como esas, por otra parte tan arraigadas en el corazn huma-
no, apenas se abren paso en la opinin pblica, parece especialmente oportu-
no el dejar constancia de esta experiencia.
PRESENTACIN - 7
Foreword
Ana Marta Gonzlez
Professor of Ethics and Anthropology, University of Navarre. Member of the Scientific Commit-
tee of the Congress.
From January 8
th
to 11
th
, 2002, an international congress was held in Rome
in honour of the centennial of the birth of Josemara Escriv de Balaguer
1
. The
Congress, entitled The Grandeur of Ordinary Life, examined the theological
content and possibilities of his message.
Certainly, if anything became apparent during those days, it was that the
teachings of Josemara Escriv his particular way of inviting one to follow Christ
either because of their structure or because of their content, did not easily per-
mit an objective or neutral approach, where the reader would not feel existen-
tially involved in a real, live dialogue. This is because, while being necessary for any
scientific-theological study, an analytical approach to his writings cannot help but
seem out of step with the context and intention with which they were written.
In effect, since he was a priest who wanted to speak about nothing but
God, his words have, above all, the strictly apostolic objective of bringing souls
closer to Christ. This aim explains the characteristic tone of his life and works,
especially of his writings, in which the Christian message becomes a real dialogue,
capable of arousing unsuspected horizons of zeal. This is testified to by the echo
that his words have had in the lives of so many thousands of men and women
throughout the world.
9
1
On October 6, 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Josemara Escriv de Balaguer. In these
volumes, we have kept all of the references to Blessed Josemara rather than changing them
to Saint as this is how his name appears in the original texts, the presentations having been
made at the Congress which took place before the canonization.
The lives of these men and women reproduce what Blessed Josemara him-
self left written in a well-known point in The Way: Among those around you
apostolic soul you are the stone fallen into the lake. With your and your word
and your example you produce a first circle... and it another... and another, and
another... Wider each time
2
.
And so seems reasonable, in a congress dedicated to the study of the mes-
sage of Josemara Escriv, to consider some of the widening circles caused by his
life and works . Doubtless that, with the warmth of his words, many personal
decisions to improve have gone beyond the level of mere desires to become real-
ity, in initiatives in the most varied fields of human activity, which have had an
unquestionable impact on the family and society at large.
This is what the Workshops have tried to reflect. Unlike the plenary ses-
sions which were dedicated to examining some particular aspects of the message
of Josemara Escriv in greater depth, and the paper presentations which consid-
ered the implications of his message in specific areas of human activity, the aim of
the Workshops was to show the participants the practical and vital fruitfulness of
his message a message which is capable of enlivening the energies of the
human spirit, regardless of social or cultural differences. In short, they tried to
manifest the differing ways in which the message of Josemara Escriv has entered
into the life and professional activity of so many people, thereby constituting a
powerful stimulus for the search for that divine something hidden in the most
common and ordinary circumstances, in which our Christian life has to be mate-
rialized
3
.
With this idea in mind, various topics were selected there could have
been more, and there could have been other ones and different people who
were familiar with these topics were invited to discuss the impact which they
believe the message of Escriv has had on their lives. These presentations were
meant neither to be merely edifying testimonies, nor to be more or less erudite
reflections, disconnected from life. Rather, it was a question of reflecting on ones
own experience and explaining the influence of the message of Josemara Escriv
on the aspirations, focus and practice of ones professional life.
The experiences of social integration, political participation, artistic cre-
ativity, etc., that were discussed with genuine candour during the Congress, have
been compiled and are now available in print, bearing in mind the great number
of people who were not able to attend the Congress and who expressed interest
in the Workshops. It goes without saying that, in this case, the medium is limiting
10 - ANA MARTA GONZLEZ
2
The Way, 831.
3
Cfr. Conversations, 114, 116, 121.
the message. Although the original oral presentations have been adapted to writ-
ten text format, in general the force of these personal testimonies has been
notably diminished. On the other hand, the personal nature of these presenta-
tions, which implied many contingent factors, on some occasions makes the mes-
sage more transparent, and on others limits its scope, precisely because the same
spirit adopts different expressions, according to the background and personality
of the one who lives it.
Accepting these human contingencies however, is a condition of true plu-
ralism. This is something that can be learned from reading Escrivs writings. And
it is something which remains as an unforgettable memory from the Congress.
The truly catholic display of people from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas,
and Oceania, who despite their obvious differences of race, culture, profes-
sion, and even religion could understand and share one anothers aspirations
for sanctity, peace and justice, is one of the most inspiring memories left in the
wake of the Congress. And it also has symbolic value. Precisely in a moment of
history such as the present one, where aspirations such as these so deeply
entrenched in the human heart are barely present in public opinion, it seems
particularly appropriate that this experience be left on record.
FOREWORD - 11
I. Amor y matrimonio
Love and Marriage
Introduccin
Antonio Monserrat
Magistrado del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Baleares, ha sido Profesor de Derecho Natural,
Filosofa del Derecho y Derecho Internacional Privado. Actualmente es Secretario General de la
International Federation for Family Development.
Dios nos crea por Amor y nos llama al Amor; por eso, el amor es la voca-
cin fundamental e innata de todo ser humano
1
.
Tened prisa en amar
2
repeta el Beato Josemara. Y en otro lugar, aada:
Hablando del matrimonio, de la vida matrimonial, es necesario comenzar con
una referencia clara al amor de los cnyuges
3
.
Para tratar de entender a Dios, que es Amor
4
, y al matrimonio, hay que
entender de amor. Para el Beato Josemara, todo el secreto est en amar. Un amor
que no se contenta con un cumplimiento rutinario, ni se compagina con el has-
to o con la apata. Amar significa recomenzar cada da a servir, con obras de cari-
o
5
.
El amor conyugal, causa de la donacin completa e incondicional de mari-
do y mujer, es, por su misma naturaleza, fecundo, porque el bien es expansivo. Y
en esta vida amorosa en que se inserta el matrimonio est el secreto de la felicidad
de los casados.
El objetivo principal del Panel Amor y matrimonio fue tratar del amor
conyugal, en su dimensin esponsal y en su proyeccin en los hijos y en las dems
familias, segn el mensaje del Beato Josemara Escriv de Balaguer. Como es un
mensaje vivible, se trat de presentar y compartir algunas de las experiencias de
15
1
JUAN PABLO II, Ex. Ap. Familiaris consortio, 11.
2
Amigos de Dios, 140.
3
Es Cristo que pasa, 23.
4
I Jn., 4,8.
5
Amigos de Dios, 31.
panelistas y asistentes. Como era de esperar, esas experiencias ajenas son recono-
cibles como propias en tantos y tantos casos. Y quien las lea ahora, si por sus cir-
cunstancias personales no est llamado a vivir la vocacin matrimonial, no me
cabe duda de que podr comprobar que las ha visto en tantos matrimonios: en el
de sus padres, hermanos, amigos
Iniciaron las intervenciones de Espaa, Marina y Karel Phlips-Robben,
belgas, que estn casados desde hace casi treinta aos. Los dos hablan de su
encuentro con Escriv y lo que signific para la historia de su matrimonio.
El primero que lo conoce es Karel, durante un viaje estudiantil a Roma.
Fue en 1968, el ao de la protesta y del inicio de una poca que va a marcar a los
jvenes de esa generacin con el signo de la rebelda. Con una voz completa-
mente fuera del coro, Escriv habla en cambio del amor; un amor concreto,
real. El matrimonio es el camino para alcanzar a Dios, y la escuela de amor en la
que los hijos se abren al conocimiento de Dios. Son innumerables los aspectos
que Karel ha aprendido del mensaje del Beato Josemara y que ha puesto en
prctica en su vida familiar: dar siempre confianza a los hijos, para que se sien-
tan comprendidos y corregidos cuando es necesario, pero no juzgados;
crear un clima sereno de comprensin mutua, quiz lavando juntos los platos o
caminando por el monte. Cosas aparentemente pequeas, que en la experiencia
de Karel tienen la capacidad de construir un tejido familiar lleno de esperanza y
de alegra.
Marina recuerda que conoci a Escriv a travs de un libro, Camino, que
le regal Karel cuando todava estaban en la Universidad. A travs de su lectura,
descubri el sentido del amor humano y del matrimonio como compromiso total
de la persona. Unas ideas que iban contra corriente en aquellos aos en que los
jvenes estaban fascinados por una libertad que no conoce lmites ni sabe nada de
responsabilidad. En un perodo en el que convivencias y las relaciones sin vncu-
los se presentaban como una conquista, Marina fue conquistada por aquella
visin exigente del amor que deja vislumbrar horizontes de felicidad duradera.
Todava 28 aos despus, estoy convencida de que mi marido es la persona que
Dios ha querido confiarme de manera especial.
Intervino tambin, Jos Antonio Lpez-Ortega, mexicano, que transmiti
una experiencia singular: su contacto con el Beato Josemara durante la estancia
en Mxico, en la primavera del ao 1970. Jos Antonio es mdico y le cupo en
suerte ocuparse de la atencin de Josemara Escriv durante aquellas semanas; su
salud precaria, junto con los inconvenientes debidos al cambio de clima y altitud,
requeran cuidados frecuentes. Pero el trato con el Beato Josemara fue ms all
de lo puramente mdico. Como era lo acostumbrado en l, vea en el profesional
a la persona y su familia. Precisamente en aquellos momentos, el joven doctor y
su mujer estaban pasando por unos momentos de preocupacin y ansia. Espera-
16 - ANTONIO MONSERRAT
ban su sexto hijo y tenan el problema del Rs; al quinto haban tenido que recam-
biarle toda la sangre dos veces, nada ms nacer.
Las palabras del Beato Josemara los llenaron de paz y confianza. Se apo-
yaban en la oracin, que es el arma ms eficaz con la que cuenta un cristiano. El
nio naci perfectamente. Aos ms tarde, continu narrando Jos Antonio,
cuando el Beato Josemara estaba ya en el cielo, esperaban el noveno hijo. Nos
encaramos con l: ahora que ests en el cielo no puedes olvidarte de nosotros.
De nuevo recuperaron la serenidad. Caban tres posibilidades dice Jos Anto-
nio: que nuestro hijo muriera, lo cual nos dolera en el alma, pero nos consola-
ra saber que se encontrara en el cielo, porque lo habamos bautizado; otra, que
quedara con alguna lesin cerebral importante, y en ese caso estbamos dispues-
tos a atenderlo con toda el alma; y una tercera, que saliera adelante sin ningn
problema. De las tres posibilidades ocurri la tercera, ya que se recuper de
inmediato. Actualmente este hijo estudia en la Universidad que ha promovido el
Congreso sobre la santidad en la vida ordinaria.
El workshop cont asimismo con las intervenciones de Parehuia Tutua-
Nathan, maor de Nueva Zelanda; Markus Schwarz, austraco; Bradford Wilcox,
Bill y Leigh Bowman, norteamericanos; Eliane Ekra y Herv Yangni, de Costa de
Marfil. En este volumen recogemos buena parte de sus palabras.
Junto a esas intervenciones, publicamos tambin una reflexin de Marta
Brancatisano Manzi autora de varios libros acerca del amor conyugal que,
adems de haber conocido personalmente al Beato Josemara, ha sabido profun-
dizar y difundir el mensaje de Josemara Escriv sobre el amor humano y el matri-
monio.
INTRODUCCIN - 17
Introduction
Antonio Monserrat
High Court Judge in the Balearic Islands. He has been Professor of Natural Law, Philosophy of
Law and International Private Law, and is currently the General Secretary of the International
Federation for Family Development.
God created us out of Love and calls us to Love, therefore, love is the
fundamental and innate vocation of every human being
1
.
Be in a hurry to love
2
, Blessed Josemara says. On another occasion, he
adds, when we talk about marriage and married life, we must begin by speaking
clearly about the mutual love of husband and wife
3
.
It is necessary to learn about love in order to understand marriage and
God, who is Love Itself
4
. For Blessed Josemara, the secret lay in loving with a
love that is not content with a routine fulfillment of duty. Love is incompatible
with boredom or apathy. To love means to renew our dedication every day, with
loving deeds of service
5
.
Conjugal love, the cause of the complete and unconditional self-giving
between husband and wife, is fruitful by nature precisely because goodness
itself is diffusive. The couples happiness lies in this life of love which is proper
to marriage.
The main objective of the panel Love and Marriage is that of discussing
conjugal love in its spousal dimension and in its repercussions on children and
other families according to the message of Blessed Josemara Escriv de Bala-
guer. As it is a message to be lived, the workshop consisted mainly in presenta-
19
1
JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Ex. Familiaris Consortio, 11.
2
Friends of God, 140.
3
Christ is passing by, 23.
4
1 Jn 4:8.
5
Friends of God, 31.
tions and testimonies by panelists and participants from the audience. As was to
be expected, the experiences of others could frequently be recognized as our own
personal experiences. I am certain that whoever reads these testimonies now,
whether married or single, can attest at least to having personally witnessed them
in other marriages, such as those of parents, siblings or friends
The workshop began with a joint presentation by Marina and Karel
Phlips-Robben, a Belgian couple who have been married for almost 30 years. The
two spoke of their encounter with Escriv and what this event meant to the story
of their marriage.
Karel was the first to meet Escriv, when he visited Rome as a student. This
was during 1968, a year of protests that marked the beginning of an era which
deeply affected the youth with a spirit of rebellion. In striking contrast to the bat-
tle cries of those times, Escriv spoke of love, of love which is real and personal.
Marriage is a path to God, a school of love, in which children awaken to the
knowledge of God. Karel was able to learn and to put into practice in his family
life many things that he heard from Blessed Josemara. These included trusting
children so that they would feel understood rather than judged, correcting them
when necessary, and creating a peaceful atmosphere of mutual help and under-
standing by washing the dishes together or going on walks together in the moun-
tains. In Karels experience, these apparently little things have helped to weave
the fabric of their family life, in an atmosphere of hope and joy.
Marina recalls having met Escriv through his book The Way which she
received as a gift from Karel during their university years. On reading it, she dis-
covered the meaning of human love and marriage as a total commitment of the
person. These were ideas that were entirely opposed to the environment in
those days, when the youth were captivated by a false sense of freedom without
limits or responsibility. At a time when commitment-free relationships were
idealized, Marina felt won over by the vision of a demanding love that opens the
horizon of lasting happiness. Now, 28 years later, I am still convinced that my
husband is the person to whom God has wanted to entrust me in a special way.
Jos Antonio Lpez-Ortega, a medical doctor from Mexico, also spoke on
the panel. He relates a singular experience: that of meeting Blessed Josemara
during his visit to Mexico in the spring of 1970, when he had the good fortune of
attending Josemara Escriv for several weeks. Escrivs precarious health, along
with complications due to change in climate and altitude, led to frequent encoun-
ters between doctor and patient. His contact with Escriv, however, went beyond
the strictly medical ambit. As was customary with Escriv, he immediately saw
behind this young doctor, a person and his family. At those moments, Jos Anto-
nio and his wife were going through trying times as they were expecting their
20 - ANTONIO MONSERRAT
sixth child, and they had the RS condition. As a matter of fact, their fifth child
had had to undergo blood transfusions twice on being born.
Conversations with Blessed Josemara helped fill them both with peace
and confidence. They turned at once to prayer, the most effective weapon that a
Christian can employ. And the child was born in perfect health. Years later, Jos
Antonio continues, when Blessed Josemara had already passed away, the couple
werw expecting their seventh child. Let us run to him. Surely, now that he is in
Heaven, he will not forget us. With this thought in mind, serenity prevailed.
There were three possibilities, Jos Antonio says, the baby could have died
after being baptized an event which would have caused us deep sorrow, but
from which we would at least have had the consolation of having a child in Heav-
en. A second possibility was that the child could have been born with a serious
cerebral disorder, and in that case, we were willing to take care of him with all of
our affection. Finally, the child could have been born without any problem what-
soever. Of these three possibilities, the third one prevailed, as the child immedi-
ately recovered. This child is presently at the university which promoted this
Congress about sanctity and ordinary life.
The workshop continued with presentations by Parehuia Tutua-Nathan, a
Maori from New Zealand; Markus Schwarz, an Austrian; Bradford Wilcox and
Bill and Leigh Bowman from the United States; and, finally, Eliane Ekra and
Herv Yangni of the Ivory Coast. A considerable portion of their contributions
are compiled in this volume.
Apart from these considerations, we also include some reflections by
Marta Brancatisano Manzi who has authored several books on conjugal love.
Apart from having personally known Blessed Josemara, she has been able to
grasp and spread Escrivs message on human love and marriage.
INTRODUCTION - 21
Claves antropolgicas de unos
consejos. El Beato Josemara
y el amor matrimonial
Marta Brancatisano Manzi
Escritora italiana y miembro del Comit Cientfico del Congreso. Es Directora del Curso de Cul-
tura Cristiana de la Familia y la Educacin de la Universidad de la Santa Cruz.
Cada santo tiene una manera particular de ser santo. La caracterstica que
define la personalidad del Beato Josemara es su peculiar relacin con la llamada
divina y su conciencia de ser instrumento elegido por Dios para cumplir un desig-
nio suyo entre los hombres. Hasta tal punto que todas sus dotes y cualidades per-
sonales se orientan y crecen en relacin con su respuesta a la vocacin divina.
Cuando todava era un muchacho un muchacho normal, en el que no aparec-
an seales de nada extraordinario, criado en una familia en la que se palpaba el
amor, percibe que Dios tiene un proyecto para cada una de sus criaturas; y com-
prende que su camino consiste en buscar el que Dios ha preparado para l. Desde
ese momento, cualquier decisin, pequea o grande, se integra en esta bsqueda:
viene a ser una respuesta a lo que Dios quiere para l. As decide hacerse sacer-
dote; se orienta a una carrera sacerdotal ms pastoral que acadmica; gasta sus
energas en la ayuda a los necesitados, sin preocuparse de sus propias carencias
econmicas. Y as, llega al 2 de octubre de 1928, da en que ve por fin lo que Dios
quiere de l. A partir de entonces no cambia su postura espiritual: lo que cambia
es que ahora el objetivo es claro, clarsimo, aunque totalmente nuevo, original.
Todas sus dotes personales se van modelando en la respuesta a su vocacin
a hacer el Opus Dei; se desarrollan en cuanto sirven a este fin y en el momento en
que ese fin lo requiere. Su pasin por la arquitectura se pone en juego cuando ha
de pensar en la construccin de las sedes materiales de los centros del Opus Dei.
Su sensibilidad y su preparacin jurdica sern preciosas para el cumplimiento de
su tarea fundacional: para discernir en la luz recibida de Dios los elementos de la
llamada a la santidad, que comporta el derecho y el deber de hacer apostolado y
23
de acceder abundantemente a los medios de salvacin; sern de gran valor tam-
bin para ejercitar una prudentia iuris al servicio del carisma recibido de Dios
1
;
igualmente esta cualidad ser configurada y ejercida en el gobierno del Opus Dei
y en la elaboracin de su derecho peculiar, viva trasposicin en normas de un
camino eclesial.
Desde el primer momento Josemara Escriv pone por escrito pensamien-
tos y reflexiones que llegarn a formar un imponente cuerpo editorial (sin duda
es uno de los autores espirituales del siglo XX ms ledos por personas de las ms
diversas condiciones y procedencias); pero no se preocupa de otra cosa que de
expresar fielmente sus experiencias interiores, con el nico objetivo de abrir
camino a los que vendrn despus.
Difunde su saber teolgico tan adecuado a las exigencias de su poca
que confluye en el magisterio del Concilio del siglo, el Vaticano II ms en con-
versaciones y encuentros informales con la gente que en volmenes eruditos.
Como un juglar de Dios, no le preocupa realizar cualquier tipo de locura con tal
de transmitir el mensaje que se identifica con su vida misma..
Su misin en la Iglesia se cumple con el anuncio de un querer divino: la
santidad para todos nel bel mezzo della strada, como le gustaba decir en italia-
no castizo y con la fundacin de una empresa sobrenatural finalizada a la difu-
sin de ese mensaje. Para lograrlo, pone en juego todos los recursos expresivos
y comunicativos. Lo que le importa es hacer comprensible y operativo ese men-
saje a quien quiera acogerlo. Toda su doctrina, entendida como explicitacin del
mensaje vocacional y su directa consecuencia, est marcada por la necesidad
de anunciar; no es consecuencia de una exigencia de sistematicidad sino de
comunicacin. En esto su ministerio se asemeja mucho, en su planteamiento y en
su estrategia, al del apstol Pablo. Usa todos los medios: cartas, visitas, viajes, e
incluso el cine, gracias al cual conservamos su imagen viva. A quienes vienen
despus les corresponde entrar a fondo en su mensaje, profundizando en sus ra-
ces escritursticas, en su trascendencia eclesial y en los planteamientos intelec-
tuales que subyacen en todas sus enseanzas. Para el tema que vamos a tratar
ahora, nos interesa sobre todo captar su visin del hombre y de la mujer, es decir,
su antropologa.
El Congreso sobre La grandeza de la vida corriente, que ha tenido lugar en
Roma con ocasin del centenario de su nacimiento, ha sido en este sentido una
prueba y una confirmacin. En efecto, hemos podido recoger y trasmitir una gran
cantidad de experiencias presentadas por gente de toda condicin social y cultu-
24 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
1
A. DE FUENMAYOR - V. GMEZ-IGLESIAS - J.L.ILLANES, El itinerario jurdico del Opus Dei.
Historia y defensa de un carisma, Pamplona 1989.
ral que no se reducen a una doctrina concluida y ya cerrada. La santidad para la
gente que vive en el mundo, trabajando y amando, no tiene una forma fija y
mucho menos una frmula. Se apoya sobre la aportacin viva de la responsabili-
dad personal de quien se propone alcanzarla ya se trate de un ministro, de un
profesor, como de un artista o de un obrero, apoyada por una parte en una sli-
da y exigente formacin doctrinal, capaz de alimentar la inteligencia; y por otra
en un trato continuo con Cristo en la oracin y en los sacramentos, capaz de col-
mar la sed del corazn.
As, sobre el tema del matrimonio, lo que nos ha dejado Josemara Escriv
son un conjunto de afirmaciones y consejos; expresados en alguna ocasin por
escrito, pero la mayor parte de las veces transmitidos oralmente en conversacio-
nes con novios, esposos y padres. Frases e ideas sencillas pero de una profundi-
dad y novedad que impulsan y estimulan a una reflexin en la que se tiene la
impresin de que no se llega a agotar nunca su contenido. Se trata de ideas repe-
tidas en su predicacin con un matiz u otro decenas de veces. Aqu las sin-
tentizamos con palabras que entendemos que reflejan fielmente su pensamiento.
1. EL CAMINO PARA IR AL CIELO, PARA TI,
TIENE EL NOMBRE DE TU MARIDO
Palabras de tono aparentemente romntico, que abren sin embargo la
puerta a una consideracin del matrimonio como camino de santidad. Con esta
afirmacin, el Beato Josemara supera la visin del matrimonio como un expe-
diente para el cristiano que no se siente capaz de hacer otra cosa mejor; superan-
do tambin la idea de que los deberes conyugales son marginales respecto a los
deberes para con Dios. Inicia con estas palabras la superposicin total y sistem-
tica de la relacin con Dios y con el cnyuge, en el sentido de que no se puede
sostener la hiptesis de una vida espiritual plena de quien est casado, a latere de
la vida conyugal; se afirma, en cambio, que Dios no es, en cierto sentido, diverso
del cnyuge, es decir, alguien que espera fuera de la casa y del lecho matrimonial.
Afirmaciones fuertes, que hoy sentimos en perfecta coherencia con la nueva teo-
loga del matrimonio elaborada por Juan Pablo II, como fruto de su estudio per-
sonal y de la profundizacin en la doctrina del Concilio Vaticano II. Veamos,
entre los muchos textos que podran citarse, uno tomado de la Exhortacin
Apostlica Familiaris Consortio: Dios ha creado al hombre a su imagen y seme-
janza: llamndolo a la existencia por amor, lo ha llamado al mismo tiempo al amor.
Dios es amor y vive en s mismo un misterio de comunin personal de amor. Cre-
ndola a su imagen y conservndola continuamente en el ser, Dios inscribe en la
humanidad del hombre y de la mujer la vocacin y consiguientemente la capaci-
CLAVES ANTROPOLGICAS DE UNOS CONSEJOS - 25
dad y la responsabilidad del amor y de la comunin. El amor es por tanto la voca-
cin fundamental e innata de todo ser humano
2
.
De este planteamiento se deriva una nueva luz sobre el matrimonio, sobre
el amor humano y sobre la transmisin de la vida. Una luz que no pone en evi-
dencia nuevas normas, sino un espritu nuevo en el que vivir y comprender el
valor creacional de la vida matrimonial, en cuanto que no se la ve simplemente
como una cosa buena y til para la sociedad humana, sino como elemento fun-
dante del designio de Dios sobre el ser humano y sobre toda la creacin. La narra-
cin del Gnesis nos dice con toda claridad que el hombre ha sido creado varn
y mujer para que pudiera llegar a vivir, en su condicin de creatura, aquel amor
que es imagen y semejanza de la Trinidad
3
. Una luz que despierta la responsabili-
dad personal de los esposos al hacerles comprender su posicin estratgica en el
mundo y en la Iglesia, y que ilumina modos concretos de realizarla en las situa-
ciones contingentes y particulares de cada uno. Los esposos se ven as no como
destinados a ser parte de una muchedumbre annima, sino actores, con un papel
fundamental e insustituible en el plan de la Providencia; comprenden que son
una primera clula de amor y de vida, que manifiesta el rostro del Creador.
La vida matrimonial, con su cotidianidad, con sus alegras y sus dramas, no
corre ya el riesgo de caer en la banalidad rutinaria o de sucumbir ante la adversi-
dad. Es un recorrido creativo, inseparable desde el punto de vista existencial, de
la propia realizacin. Es el camino a travs del cual cada uno es llamado a ser l
mismo y a dar la vida a otros; porque el amor es plenitud de ser y comunica la vida
en sentido ontolgico incluso ms que biolgico.
Ser pareja es el status creacional del hombre, creado sexuado por estar des-
tinado al amor como trmino de la semejanza con Dios. El matrimonio no es una
eventualidad, sino la va ordinaria para realizar la propia humanidad. Una tal
visin del matrimonio, como una relacin humana primaria y fundamental, cami-
no para alcanzar la unin con Dios, arroja una luz nueva tambin sobre la virgi-
nidad, sealada por Cristo como una condicin privilegiada. Lejos de cualquier
tentacin espiritualista (siempre al acecho a lo largo de la historia de la Iglesia), el
matrimonio que Escriv desvela a los hombres y las mujeres de su tiempo, es una
unin tan santa y tan hermosa que slo se puede renunciar a l por un bien toda-
va ms alto. Ese bien superior es la unin directa con Dios que no experimenta
la mediacin de un amor humano. Matrimonio y virginidad se iluminan as rec-
procamente: el amor humano lejos de estar contrapuesto al sagrado amor de
Dios, es el acceso, el camino que normalmente conduce a l.
26 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
2
JUAN PABLO II, Ex. Ap. Familiaris Consortio, 11.
3
Cfr. Gn 1, 26-27.
2. VOSOTRAS LAS MUJERES SOIS PSICLOGAS.
LA CULPA ES VUESTRA CUANDO LAS COSAS NO VAN BIEN
Detrs de esta afirmacin, aparentemente dura e intencionalmente para-
djica, se cela la proclamacin de una posicin especial de la mujer en la pareja;
un papel o quiz un privilegio que le da una prioridad en la dinmica de la rela-
cin. Una afirmacin que ser explicitada de forma antropolgicamente cientfi-
ca por Juan Pablo II en la Carta Apostlica Mulieris Dignitatem, de 1988.
Al atribuir a la mujer una capacidad psicolgica especial, el Beato Josema-
ra reconoce en ella el don femenino de la comprehensin en el sentido latino
de contener, de tener como propio del ser humano, en un modo que es conna-
tural a su sexo. No se trata de un conocimiento adquirido con el estudio, un fruto
intelectual el Beato Josemara se refera a todas las mujeres, sea cual fuera su
cultura, incluso analfabetas sino de una caracterstica ontolgica recibida del
Creador y ligada a su modo sexuado de ser: mujer es aquella que tiene dentro de
s al otro (hombre e hijo) y que lo siente/conoce con todo su ser. Es quien tiene
intimidad con el otro porque est hecha para tenerlo en su seno. Es quien tra-
baja para la vida de modo directo y natural.
De esta estructura ontolgica suya deriva la sabidura del otro que tiene la
mujer, que la hace duea de una relacin la del amor conyugal y la del amor
materno que es, desde muchos puntos de vista, difcil y misteriosa. Donde el
hombre (racional, conocedor del mundo/cosmos exterior, conquistador y gue-
rrero), se pierde en los meandros del ser humano, ella se mueve con desenvoltu-
ra, con destreza, como iluminada por una experiencia interior y gentica, que
slo decae frente a una renuncia deliberada a la propia diferencia sexual (ten-
dencia manifestada en el llamado feminismo homologante). La mujer tiene en
sus manos la gua de la relacin con el hombre, relacin de la que proceden
todas las dems relaciones humanas; relacin paritaria y complementaria. Su
posicin de primado no tiene que ver con el mrito, sino que atae, en cierto
modo, a la distincin sexual, que le otorga un dominio/conocimiento del otro,
que el varn, por su estructura antropolgica, no tiene. Ella es quien conoce al
otro, lo acoge en s, y tiene por eso la capacidad de conducir la relacin y de
recomponerla cuando sea necesario. En este planteamiento, ni siquiera se roza la
falsa problemtica de la superioridad entre los dos sexos; por el contrario, se
pone de manifiesto que la propiedad complementaria es la que gua la relacin de
la pareja. La mujer como por lo dems el hombre no se basta a s misma y
tiene necesidad del hombre para ser como mujer; pero su posicin le confiere el
poder y la responsabilidad de conducir la relacin y de mantenerla viva; lo
cual le da una marcada propensin como es de experiencia comn a ser
agente de comprensin, de perdn, de paz. Si la mujer no rechaza esta respon-
CLAVES ANTROPOLGICAS DE UNOS CONSEJOS - 27
sabilidad estructural, conseguir que el varn despliegue todas sus capacidades
masculinas, desarrollando el papel de complementariedad que est en la base de
su relacin, y de su supervivencia como seres humanos. La sabidura popular,
entre serio y broma, ha dicho siempre que el mundo est gobernado por las
mujeres, pero el carcter de este poder (que se parece mucho al servicio o a
aquella noblesse que obliga, y obliga mucho) no se parece a aquel poder vistoso
y arrogante que hoy se tiende a proponer en nuestro panorama cultural. La
mujer de la poca actual, preocupada slo de la conquista del mundo exterior
imita las caractersticas masculinas (no slo estructurales sino tambin histri-
cas: el suyo es un feminismo especular del machismo, entendido como poder
que aplasta) y evade aquel poder, tpicamente femenino, que es capaz de dar la
vida pero que ni persigue ni asegura fama y xito.
Estamos hablando de la estructura antropolgica, y por tanto, de algo que
hay que hacer madurar, que no se puede dar por descontado. De hecho, la
mujer de hoy ha suprimido, con una negacin psicolgica ms que exterior, sus
inclinaciones femeninas espontneas, para ponerse frente al hombre de un modo
tpicamente masculino: con agresividad, con ganas de prevalecer sobre l en
campos que representan el mbito natural de la actividad del varn, con una acti-
tud cerrada. Su no a la maternidad, se resuelve, en la dinmica relacional de la
pareja, en un no al hombre. El empowerment de la mujer impuesto ms que
madurado ha minado las bases de la relacin de la pareja, con resultados evi-
dentes y clamorosos.
En esta situacin, las palabras de Escriv suenan como un autntico desa-
fo para las mujeres, de modo que, a travs de ese cumplido (sois psiclogas), se
sientan deseosas de buscar y ya es hora el sentido de la feminidad, conscien-
tes de que toda investigacin en este sector tiene un valor universal.
3. QUIERES A TU MARIDO? LO QUIERES TAMBIN CON SUS DEFECTOS?
Una provocacin afectuosa e irnica, se podra decir. Es, en cambio, una
declaracin de notable hondura antropolgica, que ilumina la importancia de la
relacin entre hombre y mujer en la economa de la salvacin. Con estas palabras,
el Beato Josemara declara la totalidad del compromiso personal en la relacin de
amor, y pone de relieve la dimensin existencial profunda que une a los seres
humanos entre s: la ayuda recproca. En una poca como la nuestra, que hace del
sentimiento el nico ingrediente del amor, el poner juntos placer y fastidio resul-
ta hertico. Cmo se puede pensar en unir la idea de amor, que es slo fuente de
placer, con algo spero y desagradable como es la dificultad y el dolor? El amor
es tal mientras es bello; cuando se hace incmodo y problemtico, se da por
28 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
muerto y se pasa a otra cosa. Tpico residuo de la mentalidad consumstica, que
ms o menos conscientemente, encontramos en todos los mbitos de nuestra cul-
tura y ha penetrado en la relacin de amor a travs de un sencillo silogismo: si es
verdad que una cosa es buena mientras me da placer y despus se tira a la basu-
ra, tambin es verdad que cuando el amor se hace difcil, quiere decir que ya no
es amor; y entonces se cambia. Pero el ser humano por lo menos en el plano de
la creacin y de la redencin es la nica cosa que no se puede tirar, sopena del
desastre ecolgico de todo el universo. El ser humano sea quien sea tiene el
derecho de ser amado porque el Creador lo ama como a un hijo nico y lo ha con-
fiado a sus semejantes con la misma intencin
4
. La persona que se elige para toda
la vida el cnyuge tiene el derecho de ser amado, sea como sea, o mejor, cam-
bie lo que cambie. Toda la creacin depende de este modo estructural. El hombre
y la mujer a travs de su amor se dan la vida, se ayudan a vivir. Un matrimo-
nio que convive bien, es decir, amndose, es una fuente de energa nuclear, que
se irradia fuera de las paredes familiares; es un punto fuerte de la sociedad, que
no consume recursos, sino que los produce (creatividad profesional, capacidad
de voluntariado/care, buen estado de salud por ausencia de enfermedades psico-
somticas debidas a traumas afectivos, capacidad de apertura a los otros, alegra
y diversin). Todo parte de la conciencia de esta dimensin de ayuda que permi-
te aceptar el alejamiento no la negacin del placer (entendido en su forma
ms intensa, que compromete el alma y el cuerpo) en el curso de la vida matri-
monial. El otro sigue siendo aquel que un da eleg, que he amado y escogido,
tambin cuando se vuelve con culpa o sin ella desagradable.
Es extraordinario que, en pocas y sencillas palabras, el Beato Josemara
haya expresado la correcta perspectiva que permite captar el fundamento sobre
el que se apoya la relacin entre marido y mujer, que explica su coherencia y hace
posible pero no por eso fcil su realizacin. La capacidad de vivir verdade-
ramente y para siempre el amor no depender de una situacin de hecho, sino de
la conciencia de que la relacin entre marido y mujer tiene sus espinas, y de la
voluntad decidida de aceptarlas. En esta perspectiva, la operacin de tirar a la
basura resulta incluso ridcula, adems de presagiar consecuencias trgicas.
La identidad misma del amor que se ha elegido por ti y contigo cual-
quier cosa testimonia que es absurdo a costa de dao de la propia identi-
dad lamentarse a la hora de la prueba, sea sta el agotamiento cotidiano o la
tragedia no prevista. Es como si estas palabras del Beato Josemara hicieran que
resultara natural decir cuando aparece una dificultad ahora es cuando te quiero
CLAVES ANTROPOLGICAS DE UNOS CONSEJOS - 29
4
El hombre es la nica criatura que Dios ha querido por s misma, CONCILIO VATICANO II,
Past. Const. Gaudium et spes, 24.
de verdad, ahora que eres feo, antiptico, ahora que me haces dao, que me dejas
sola [...]. Es como si ayudaran de alguna manera a descifrar la identidad misma
del amor.
Experiencia humana total y vital, el amor conyugal compromete a toda la
persona con todo lo que tiene. El amor es sentimiento, pero tambin es razn; es
instinto, pero tambin es fortaleza; es una alegra tan grande que da sentido tam-
bin al dolor.
30 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
The Anthropological Foundations
of Some Words of Advice:
Blessed Josemara and Conjugal Love
Marta Brancatisano Manzi
An Italian writer and member of the Academic Committee of the Congress. She is currently
Director of the program on the Christian Culture of Family and Education at the Pontifical Uni-
versity of the Holy Cross.
Each saint has his or her own way of being a saint. The characteristic which
defines the personality of Blessed Josemara is his unique relation with his divine
calling and his awareness of being an instrument chosen by God to accomplish
His design among human beings. This was so much the case that all of his talents
and personal qualities were directed towards and grew in proportion to his
response to his vocation. Brought up in a family where love was palpable, Jose-
mara was still a young man an ordinary teenager with nothing extraordinary
about him when he understood that God had a plan for each of His creatures
and that his path consisted in finding out what God had in mind for him. From
that moment on, every decision he made, whether great or small, became part of
that quest. This was how he decided to become a priest. He followed a course in
the seminary that was more directed towards pastoral work than to academics,
and he expended all of his energy on helping the needy, despite his own econom-
ic straits. At last October 2, 1928 arrived, the day when he finally saw what God
wanted from him. It was not so much that his spiritual state changed then, as that
the objective suddenly became clear to him, in spite of its complete newness and
originality.
All of his talents were employed in his response to his vocation to do Opus
Dei. Thus, for example, his passion for architecture found expression when cen-
ters of Opus Dei needed to be built. Likewise, his sensitivity and legal education
proved very useful to him when it came to carrying out his foundational mission,
in order to discern in the light which he had received from God, those elements
31
of the call to sanctity which carry with them the right and duty to do apostolate
and to have frequent recourse to the means of salvation. They also served in his
exercise of prudentia iuris in the service of the charism which he had received
from God
1
. This was the same prudence that was molded and exercised in the
government of Opus Dei and in the transposition of its ecclesial path into norms
in the drafting of its particular law.
Josemara Escriv recorded his thoughts and reflections from very early on,
and these later came to form the basis for powerful volumes of reading material
(he is undoubtedly one of the most widely read spiritual writers of the 20
th
centu-
ry, with readers from the most diverse circumstances and backgrounds). In all of
this, his only concern was the faithful expression of his interior experiences, with
the objective of introducing this new path to those who would come after him.
He also shared his theological knowledge (so suited to the needs of our
times and which tied in so well with the Magisterium of the Council of the era,
the Second Vatican Council), mostly through friendly conversations and informal
gatherings, rather than through erudite books. As a juggler of God, he did not
hesitate to set about any task no matter how mad it seemed so long as it
would help communicate the message with which his whole life was identified.
His mission in the Church was fulfilled with the announcement of the Will
of God: holiness for all nel bel mezzo della strada, as he liked to say using a famil-
iar Italian expression
2
, and the consequent foundation of a supernatural enterprise
whose aim was to spread this message. He used all of his communication skills
towards this end. What mattered most to him was to make this message compre-
hensible and functional for its recipients. All of his teachings understood as an
elaboration of the vocational message and its immediate implications are
marked with a sense of urgency to share them with others. In its focus and strate-
gy, his ministry can be likened to that of the apostle Paul. Blessed Josemara did
not spare any of the means that he had at hand: letters, visits, trips, even films,
thanks to which we have live footage of him. Those of us who have come after him
face the challenge of delving into his message, and discovering the scriptural roots,
ecclesial transcendence and intellectual insights latent therein. Our present topic
requires from us to focus on his vision of man and woman, that is, his anthropolo-
gy.
The Congress entitled The Grandeur of Ordinary Life held in Rome on the
occasion of the centennial of his birth, has served as both proof and confirmation
32 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
1
A. DE FUENMAYOR - V. GMEZ-IGLESIAS - J.L.ILLANES, The Canonical Path of Opus Dei. The
History and Defense of a Charism, Princeton 1994.
2
This phrase aptly conveys the idea of seeking holiness in the midst of all ordinary human pla-
ces, affairs and events, including in the street.
of this. In effect, we have been able to gather and pass on a considerable amount
of experience shared by people of diverse social and cultural conditions that can
certainly not be reduced to a closed doctrinal system. The holiness of people who
live in the middle of the world, loving and working, does not have a set form, and
much less does it follow any fixed formula. It rests principally on the personal
responsibility of the individual who is trying to achieve holiness in his or her own
life, whether he or she is a government minister, a professor, an artist, a laborer or
whatever else. It depends, on the one hand, on having serious doctrinal formation
that can nourish the intellect and, on the other hand, on maintaining a constant
relationship with Christ through prayer and the sacraments, thus satisfying the
noble longings of the human heart.
As is the case with other topics, what Josemara Escriv has left us about
marriage are a collection of considerations and words of advice. Some of these
were in writing, but the vast majority were passed on to us orally, in conversations
and meetings with couples and parents. They are simple phrases and ideas with
remarkable depth and novelty, that motivate and stimulate reflection while leav-
ing the impression that their contents are inexhaustible. The following are some
ideas that recur in his teachings, synthesized with words which we believe faith-
fully reflect his thought.
1. YOUR PATH TO HEAVEN HAS A NAME: THAT OF YOUR HUSBAND
These apparently romantic words bring us to the consideration of marriage
as a path to sanctity. They illustrate how Blessed Josemara saw matrimony as
much more than something expedient for those Christians who do not feel capa-
ble of anything better in life. They also reflect how he rejected the idea that con-
jugal duties are marginal to the obligations which we owe to God. These words
also highlight the total and systematic inter-relation of ones relationship with
God with ones relationship with ones spouse: for a married person, there can be
no spiritual life lived to the full outside of marriage. He affirms that, in a way,
God is not distinct from ones spouse. In other words, God is not someone who
waits for us beyond our homes and our marriage beds. This is a powerful affirma-
tion which is nonetheless perfectly consistent with the new theology of marriage
elaborated by John Paul II, as fruit of his personal, in-depth study of the doctrine
of Vatican Council II. Among the numerous texts that can be cited, we turn to a
passage from the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio: God created man
in his own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love, he called him
at the same time for love. God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of person-
al loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOME WORDS OF ADVICE - 33
keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the voca-
tion, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is
therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being
3
.
From this point of view, we obtain new light about marriage, human love
and the transmission of life. These insights do not create new obligations, but
rather offer a new spirit in which married life seen not only as a good or useful
thing for human society is taken as a fundamental aspect of Gods design for
humanity and for all of creation (the book of Genesis clearly tells us that God cre-
ated man and woman so that they could come to live, from their creaturely condi-
tion, that love which is an image and likeness of the Trinity)
4
. This insight also
awakens the personal responsibility of both spouses as it enables them to perceive
their strategic position in the world and in the Church, and it points to specific
ways to carry out their role in the personal and varying circumstances of each per-
son. Spouses can then begin to see themselves not just as part of a nameless crowd,
but rather as actors who have leading roles in the plan of Providence: they are the
building blocks of love and life, that show forth the face of the Creator.
Viewed from this perspective, married life, with all of its ordinariness, and
its daily joys and dramas, avoids the danger of becoming merely a sort of lifeless
routine or of collapsing in the face of adversity. It is seen rather as a creative jour-
ney towards ones own fulfillment. This is the path along which each person is
called to be him or herself while giving life to others, since love is fullness of being
and communicates life, both in the ontological and in the biological sense.
Partnership is the creational status of the human being, as each human
being has been endowed by God with a specific gender through which he or she
is destined to love, thus reflecting the persons likeness to God. Matrimony is not
just another fact of life. It is, rather, the ordinary way for each person to realize his
or her humanity. This vision of marriage as the primary and fundamental rela-
tionship, and the path to reach union with God also sheds light upon virgini-
ty, which Christ revealed to be a privileged condition. Far from being some sort
of temptation (a misconception that has lingered on throughout the Churchs his-
tory), the concept of marriage which Escriv reveals to the men and women of
our times is a union that is so holy and beautiful that only a greater Good can jus-
tify its renunciation. This higher Good is direct union with God, without the
mediation of human love. Marriage and virginity thus illuminate one another:
human love is not opposed to the sacred love of God, but is rather a way to
access it, the path that ordinarily leads to Him.
34 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
3
JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Ex. Familiaris Consortio, 11.
4
Gen 1:26-27.
2. YOU WOMEN ARE PSYCHOLOGISTS; YOU ARE THE ONES
TO BLAME WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
Behind these apparently harsh and intentionally paradoxical words is an
affirmation of the womans special role in a couples relationship, a role or even
a privilege by which she has the upper hand in its development. This is a truth
that is explicitly considered in its anthropological dimension by John Paul II in
his Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem.
By attributing to the woman a special psychological capacity, Blessed Jose-
mara is acknowledging the special feminine gift of comprehension in its origi-
nal Latin sense, that is, of containing or of having as ones own of the human
being, in a manner which is connatural to her gender. We are dealing here with a
type of knowledge that is not the result of intellectual study as Blessed Jose-
mara was referring to all women, regardless of culture or level of education
but rather of an ontological property given to her by the Creator and linked to
her sexuality: the woman is she who contains the other (man or child) in her and
who feels and knows the other with all of her being. It is she who has a special
intimacy with the other because she is made to be able to carry the other within
her. It is also the woman who works for life in a direct and natural way.
The womans wisdom about the other derives precisely from her specific
ontological structure which, at the same time, makes her the master of the often
difficult and mysterious relationships of the family, be they spousal or maternal.
Whereas man the rational knower of the exterior world, the natural conqueror
and warrior is more easily lost amidst the particularities of each human being,
the woman makes her way with grace and skill, as if endowed with an interior,
genetic capacity for this. This feminine gift can unfortunately become clouded by
the voluntary renunciation of her unique sexuality, a tendency manifest in some
forms of feminism. The woman holds in her hands the guide to her relationship
with man, a paired and complementary relationship from which all other rela-
tionships are born. Her privileged position has nothing to do with merit but
rather stems from the sexual difference that gives her a certain dominion over the
other, a quality which the man does not have by his anthropological structure. It
is she who knows and receives the other, thereby giving her the capacity to lead
the relationship and mend it when necessary.
This approach is not related to the so-called problem of superiority
between the sexes. On the contrary, it manifests that it is the complementary prop-
erty that is to guide the relationships of couples. As is equally the case with man,
woman alone will not suffice: women need men in order to be authentically
women. Nevertheless, her position gives her the power and the responsibility
to guide and maintain the relationship. Common experience shows us her
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOME WORDS OF ADVICE - 35
marked tendency to be an agent of understanding, forgiveness and peace. If the
woman does not reject this structural responsibility, she will enable man to devel-
op his masculine capacities and contribute to the flourishing of the complemen-
tarity that is at the base of their relationship, and ultimately, of the survival of the
entire human race. Popular wisdom only partly in jest has always affirmed
that the world is ruled by women. However, the character of feminine power
which can be likened to service in the spirit of noblesse oblige is quite unlike
the clamorous and arrogant power which modern culture tends to exalt. Todays
woman, who is often only concerned about conquering the outside world, tends
to appropriate masculine characteristics (not only in their structural but also in
their historical aspect, resulting in a feminism that emulates the stereotypically
masculine model of power as brute force) while undermining that typically femi-
nine power which is capable of giving life without seeking fame or glory.
This is a question of the womans anthropological structure. As such, it is
a natural endowment that needs to be developed and perfected in each woman.
Unfortunately, many women today have suppressed in a more psychological
than external manner their spontaneous feminine inclinations in order to chal-
lenge men according to masculine standards: with closed-minded aggression and
the desire to prevail in fields that are traditionally the sphere of manly activities.
Her no to maternity in the relational dynamics of the couple is effectively a no
to man. This form of empowerment of women which has been imposed upon
us rather than having developed naturally has shaken the very foundations of
the couples relationship, with evident and disastrous results.
In these circumstances, Escrivs words provide a real challenge to women.
As the psychologists that Escriv takes them for, they feel desirous of seeking
and it is time that they do so the real meaning of femininity, bearing in mind
that any progress in this field of research is of universal value.
3. DO YOU LOVE YOUR HUSBANDWITH HIS DEFECTS?
We might say that this is an affectionate and ironic provocation. More than
anything, it is a declaration of the deep anthropological foundation that sheds light
on the importance of the relationship between man and woman in the history of
salvation. With these words, Blessed Josemara draws attention to the totality of
the personal commitment involved in a loving relationship while highlighting the
profound existential dimension that unites human beings to one another: recipro-
cal assistance. In times like ours when emotions are often seen as the only element
in love, connecting pleasure with something bothersome sounds almost heretical.
How can love, which is nothing other than a source of pleasure, go hand in hand
36 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
with something as bitter and unpleasant as suffering and difficulties? Love, they
say, is love only as long as it is beautiful; the moment it becomes uncomfortable
and problematic, it becomes something else. This is a typical expression of the
consumerist mentality that we find in more or less all of the aspects of our culture,
affecting even loving relationships through this simple syllogism: if a thing is worth
keeping only insofar as it is useful or pleasurable, then a love that becomes diffi-
cult can likewise be thrown away and exchanged for another.
The human being, however at least from the viewpoint of creation and
Redemption is the only thing that cannot be disposed of without giving rise to
what could be called an ecological disaster for the entire universe. A human per-
son, no matter who he or she may be, has the right to be loved, because each per-
son is loved by the Creator as an only child, and each person has been entrusted
by God to those of his kind so that they too may love him
5
. Likewise, the person
chosen for life the spouse has the right to be loved, whoever he or she may
be, or better still, whatever changes he or she may undergo. All of creation
depends on this structural relationship. Man and woman through their love
communicate life while helping each other to live. A married couple that lives
well, that is, that lives loving each other, is a generator of nuclear energy that
radiates beyond the confines of the family home; it is a powerhouse for society,
that produces rather than consumes energy (professional creativity, capacity to
care, well-being from absence of psychosomatic illnesses due to affective trau-
mas, capacity for openness to others and for joy and leisure). Everything begins
from the awareness of this dimension of mutual assistance that allows for a certain
detachment from and not necessarily negation of pleasure (here understood
in its most extreme form as something that can threaten both body and soul) in
the course of married life. The other person continues being the one whom I
chose, loved and married even though blameless or not he or she at times
becomes disagreeable to me.
It is amazing how Blessed Josemara was able to capture in a few, simple
words the perspective that aptly expresses the foundation on which the relation-
ship between husband and wife rests, a perspective that explains its coherence
and makes its fulfillment possible, although it may not always be easy. The capac-
ity to love in an authentic and enduring manner does not depend on some chance
event but rather on the knowledge that the relationship between man and woman
will necessarily have its thorns, and on the firm will to accept them. In this light,
the act of throwing away a relationship appears to be ridiculous, in addition to
being the precursor of tragic consequences.
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOME WORDS OF ADVICE - 37
5
As was affirmed by VATICAN COUNCIL II, Past. Const. Gaudium et Spes, 24, man is the only
creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake.
The very identity of a love which has been freely chosen attests to the
absurdity of complaining at the hour of difficulty, whether due to plain exhaus-
tion from daily work or to some unforeseen tragedy. Blessed Josemaras phrase
makes it seem as if it were natural in the face of difficulties to say it is now that I
truly love you, now that you are ugly, unkind, now that you have hurt me, now
when you leave me alone. It is as if his simple words help us to unravel the very
identity of love.
As a complete and vital human experience, conjugal love involves the
entire person with all that he or she is and has. To be sure, love is emotion, but it
is also reason; it is instinct, but it is also fortitude; it is a joy so great that it gives
meaning to suffering.
38 - MARTA BRANCATISANO MANZI
Meeting the Challenge:
How the Life and Teachings
of Blessed Josemara Escriv
Have Helped my Marriage
W. Bradford Wilcox
Research Fellow at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at Yale University. He is
currently writing a book on men, religion, and family life. He has been married for six years and
has two children under the age of two.
I must begin with a confession. I have a doctorate in the sociology of the
family and frequently offer my professional opinion on the family in the United
States to friends, family, and audiences such as this. Of course, as many of you
may know, doctors are legendary for giving advice to their patients that they dont
follow themselves. And I must admit that Ive been known to give advice that I
dont follow. So it is with some trepidation that I now speak about how the life
and message of Blessed Josemara Escriv have influenced my family life.
I begin by noting the perilous state of marriage and family life in the Unit-
ed States, since this is the environment in which I live and work, and this is the
environment that necessarily colors my approach to family life. A few statistics tell
the story: almost 50% of marriages will end in divorce; 32% of children are born
outside of wedlock; and more than 50% of all marriages are preceded by cohabi-
tation. Clearly, the U.S. is far from living the vision of married life centered
around spousal unity and children offered to the world by the Catholic Church.
So what is going on in the U.S.? At the most obvious level, we have severed
the moral ties between sex, procreation, and lifelong marriage that once bound
our families together. But I think there are deeper cultural and spiritual sources
of the problems that families in the U.S. confront. Two issues, in particular, come
to mind:
a sentimental view of marriage; and
an androgynous approach to the sexes.
39
In recent years, a number of keen observers of the American scene have
pointed out that Americans have an overly sentimental view of marriage. This
sentimental view sees marriage as an opportunity for persons to focus on fun and
intimacy to share, explore, and nurture their deepest psychological and sexu-
al desires. Hence, little room is left in marriage for children, virtue, and for the
small and large struggles that mark the average marriage. In this view, marriage is
punctuated by many peak moments and very few valleys of hardship. In a
word, the search for transcendence a search that preoccupies all of us is
shifted from God to the marital relationship. And because no marriage can bear
the burden of such high hopes, many men and women in the U.S. abandon their
spouses when they discover that their spouses cannot meet their overly sentimen-
tal desires for meaning and intimacy in marriage.
As a married man and as an American, I admit that I have been and con-
tinue to be tempted by this sentimental vision of marriage. Left to my own
devices, Id prefer to spend time with my wife enjoying a fine meal out, speaking
about weighty issues, and travelling to exotic locales. But the example and teach-
ing of Blessed Josemara Escriv have helped me to struggle against this senti-
mental vision by embracing the more pedestrian dimensions of married life in a
supernatural spirit of service.
The founder of Opus Dei stressed over and over again that we find true
meaning in life by seeking God in the very ordinariness of everyday life. In The
Way, he writes, Do everything for love. In that way there will be no little things:
everything will be big. Perseverance in the little things for love is heroism
1
.
Of course, family life presents many opportunities to offer ordinary details
of service in this spirit of love for God and spouse. One example makes the point.
After we adopted our first son, my wife, Danielle, usually groomed our son
before we went out in the morning. But there were numerous occasions when she
wasnt available to get him ready and I had to dress and wash him. Initially, I did
not take great care with his appearance: I often neglected to comb his hair and
tuck in his shirt, for instance. I didnt see the point to dedicating so much care to
grooming him: it took an extra five minutes when we were rushed in the morning
and I was sure that no one noticed his hair at the morning Mass.
But Danielle did not take kindly to my failure to groom our son. She chid-
ed me on three or four occasions for not paying sufficient attention to Alexan-
ders appearance. At first, I didnt take her correction too seriously. But after
praying about it I realized that this was very important to her, that it reflected on
our familys reputation, and that this was a good opportunity to live out the
40 - W. BRADFORD WILCOX
1
The Way, 813.
supernatural spirit of service taught by Blessed Josemara Escriv in a small detail
of family life. For all these reasons, I have since made it a habit to comb Alexan-
ders hair and dress him appropriately whenever its my turn to groom him in the
morning. Needless to say, whenever I attend to family details in this supernatural
spirit, I bring a measure of genuine happiness to my wife that no number of
romantic dinners could equal. And I also gain a renewed appreciation of the con-
cern that God has for the ordinary details of our lives.
Another challenge facing marriage in America is the androgynous spirit
that, all too often, guides the relations between the sexes in the U.S. Men and
women dont know how to act towards one another in and outside of marriage.
We fear falling into a kind of retrograde sexism or simply have no practical
knowledge of authentic masculinity or femininity. So nothing choreographs the
age-old dance between men and women, and confusion ensues.
One indication of this androgynous confusion is that many men and
women think that they can have close personal or professional friendships with
members of the opposite sex even after they marry. After all, the thinking goes,
men and women are equal, they are adults, and, accordingly, they are quite capa-
ble of handling themselves responsibly. In the U.S., it is quite common, for
instance, for married professionals to go out for dinner and drinks with members
of the opposite sex when on business. In these settings, conversations can and
often do get quite personal. What these professionals dont realize is that such
friendships can do serious harm to their marriages. Im not speaking here only of
adultery but also of the more subtle ways that men and women can fall into the
habit of focusing their hearts and minds on persons who are not their spouses.
Sociological research, for instance, tells us that one significant risk factor
for divorce is working with a large number of members of the opposite sex in
ones work place. Of course, such workplaces do not present a problem if one
maintains a proper distance with colleagues of the opposite sex and always strives
to keep ones love for ones spouse very much alive.
If a marriage is to preserve its initial charm and beauty, both husband and
wife should try to renew their love day after day [...] A married womans atten-
tion should be centred on her husband and children as a married mans should be
centred on his wife and children. Much time and effort is required to succeed in
this, and anything which militates against it is bad and shouldnt be tolerated.
There is no excuse for not fulfilling this lovable duty. Work outside the home is
not an excuse. Not even ones life of piety can be an excuse because if it is incom-
patible with ones daily obligations it is not good nor pleasing to God
2
.
MEETING THE CHALLENGE - 41
2
Conversations, 107.
But too often Americans dont take care to respect the deep, powerful, and
natural attractions between men and women and disaster ensues.
I must admit that I had fallen under the spell of this androgynous spirit
when I first married Danielle. I had a number of close, personal female friend-
ships, and I had no intention of breaking those ties. But, soon after we married, I
learned more and more about Blessed Josemara Escrivs ethic of discretion
when dealing with members of the opposite sex.
Thus, early in my marriage, Blessed Escrivs message and example
inspired me to break off close female friendships for the sake of my vocation to
marriage. I did so knowing that I would be guarding my heart against any threats
to purity. More importantly, I did so knowing that I was now free to give myself
my thoughts, my hopes, and my deeds more completely to my wife. And
this, of course, is one of the most central purposes of the vocation to marriage.
Of course, there are other challenges facing marriage in America. Our
excessive preoccupation with work, our consumerism, our ceaseless desire to be
entertained all these factors and more impinge on my marriage and the mar-
riages of my fellow citizens in the U.S. But the life and teaching of Blessed Jose-
mara Escriv have helped me meet these challenges by approaching marriage in
a new spirit a spirit that is not captive to the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.
Among other things, Blessed Escriv has shown me how to overcome the androg-
ynous and sentimental spirits of this age. His words and deeds have helped give
men like me a vision of what marriage can and should look like in a world that has
lost a supernatural vision of what the vocation of marriage is.
42 - W. BRADFORD WILCOX
How the Teachings
of Blessed Josemara Have Influenced
my Life as a Husband and Father
Markus Schwartz
He studied Biology and Immunology in Vienna. MBA degree from the University of Navarre,
IESE, Barcelona. He is currently a Hospital Director in Salzburg, Austria and has been President
of the family orientation organisation Gesellschaft fuer Familienorientierung in Vienna for over
5 years. Married since 1992 and father of five children.
I have spent almost forty years preaching the vocational meaning of mar-
riage. More than once I have had occasion to see faces light up as men and
women who had thought that in their lives a dedication to God was incompatible
with a noble and pure human love, heard me say that marriage is a divine path on
earth!
Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctity them-
selves and to sanctify others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first
apostolate is in the home. They should understand that founding a family, edu-
cating their children, and exercising a Christian influence in society, are super-
natural tasks. The effectiveness and the success of their life their happiness
depends to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission.
But they mustnt forget that the secret of married happiness lies in every-
day things, not in daydreams. It lies in finding the hidden joy of coming home in
the evening, in affectionate relations with their children, in the everyday work in
which the whole family cooperates; in good humour in the face of difficulties that
should be met with a sporting spirit; in making the best use of all the advantages
that civilisation offers to help us rear children, to make the house pleasant and life
more simple.
I constantly tell those who have been called by God to form a home to
love one another always, to love each other with the love of their youth. Any one
who thinks that love ends when the worries and difficulties that life brings with it
43
begin, has a poor idea of marriage, which is a sacrament and an ideal and a voca-
tion. It is precisely then that love grows strong. Torrents of worries and difficul-
ties are incapable of drowning true love because people who sacrifice themselves
generously together are brought closer by their sacrifice. As Scripture says, aquae
multae, a host of difficulties, physical and moral, non potuerunt extinguere cari-
tatem, cannot extinguish love (Cant 8:7)
1
.
These words of Blessed Josemara can serve as a framework for the reflec-
tions I intend to make. I got to know the teachings of Blessed Josemara long
before I was thinking of marriage and founding a family myself. However, already
at this time I was fascinated and inspired by his teaching on the nobility and the
extraordinary value of the sacrament of marriage and on the values and virtues of
the family in todays society.
On many occasions including through reading books and letters, and
seeing documentary films I had the chance to hear Blessed Josemara speak of
the uniqueness of the vocation of becoming husband and wife and even beyond
that, of becoming father or mother. For the first time I heard somebody talk
about a vocation, in my case to become a husband and a father. And this vocation
was not something in addition to or beside my Christian vocation, but was part of
it and actually only a specific way the way God has foreseen for me of mate-
rializing my Christian vocation.
The priest who celebrated the ceremony of our wedding summed up in
simple words what would become the motto of our lives in the homily: Markus,
your way towards sanctity is from now on named Alexandra, and Alexandra,
your way towards sanctity has from now on the name Markus. With this mes-
sage still resounding in our ears we have tried to find Christ in our daily life by
always looking at each other and the needs of the other and interests within the
family and our marriage. This is, of course, not always easy, and many times it
seems impossible after a hard day at work to come home, build up new energy for
my wife and the children and still listen to a whole load of family problems and
to dos.
What Blessed Josemara has taught us to do on these occasions are two
things and we have had numerous chances on which to benefit from his recom-
mendations. To begin with, I try to prepare myself in prayer before walking
through the door to come home. By asking Jesus, Mary or St. Joseph to take care
of my wife and each one of my children and to help me think about their special
needs, like the promised time to build a new toy or the appointment one of them
44 - MARKUS SCHWARTZ
1
Conversations, 91.
may have had with the doctor, etc., it is very easy to put things back into per-
spective and to forget about my own subjective needs and preferences.
It was very difficult for me to leave my mental business agenda at work
and to stop bringing my office-mood home to my family. I usually expected a
nice calm home, where I could finally relax and settle into my role as a father.
Regularly this idea was quickly distorted and I slipped into my role as an animal
trainer in the circus ring who had to take control of a wild horde of beasts. I
would find some children crying on the floor, others flooding the bathroom, and
the little one (Maria, six months old), studying books by tearing them apart, and
my wife unable to respond to my greetings with all the enthusiasm I would wish
for. Now I still find the same things, only I can react much more quickly to main-
tain my role as a responsive husband and father, who at least tries to understand
the background of my childrens behaviour and above all the reactions of my
wife; and continuous prayer while talking to my wife and my children has many
times helped to calm these situations and to contribute to restoring a more pos-
itive family environment. I still fall into my animal trainer role, but much sooner
and more often we can remove the cages before putting the children to bed.
In addition to this, Blessed Josemara has also taught us to offer all the lit-
tle contradictions in our daily life for our loved ones. So even the more difficult
moments we spend with our family and each other can have this sweet taste of
sacrifice that suddenly turns our get-togethers into the most precious moments of
life, when we are able to solve the tiny problems of our children, like the broken
doll or the tears after a fight among brothers, or help each other to regain our
strength for another day.
In this way Blessed Josemara has taught my wife and I to view our mar-
riage and family not only as a social building block or, even as solely a contractu-
al vow for life, but as a clear call by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself to live our life
in a certain way for the sanctification of ourselves and of our family and friends.
In this regard, I think it is important to show with our daily behaviour, how
we set our priorities in life. Blessed Josemara has shown us the need to always
take care of our Christian perspective in every situation of our life. A vivid exam-
ple we face every year is that of choosing the right place for our vacation. Since
the relaxed, and at times immoral environment of some places, especially some
beaches or overcrowded tourist areas can be hard to combine with a Christian
interior life, we try to pick locations that make living the Christian virtues easier.
By also talking to our children about our reasons for choosing a holiday spot
without a beach or public bathing facilities, we hope to live this vivid example of
what it means to put Christ at the summit of every activity as Blessed Josemara
often encouraged.
INFLUENCE ON MY LIFE AS A HUSBAND AND FATHER - 45
Dwelling together in this same spirit of Christianity of course helps to set
our priorities straight also in this respect.
Now I would like to look at some of the teachings of Blessed Josemara
regarding the Christian virtues within family life. Blessed Josemara preached
continuously on the importance of the human virtues the a basis of the supernat-
ural virtues
2
. This is one of the main themes that we also want to follow within
our own family and especially in the education of our own children.
As part of the upbringing of children in a Christian family, Blessed Jose-
mara always recommended that parents become real friends of their children,
and more precisely, that fathers become real friends of their sons and mothers
real friends of their daughters. This has, of course, major implications for our
own behaviour as parents. Probably the most obvious way of showing friendship
with one another lies in the way one deals with mistakes and failures in ones own
behaviour. Blessed Josemara always taught us to apologize for the mistakes we
make in family life. He has reminded us that husband and wife always need to be
the first in forgiving.
Each of us has his own character, his personal tastes, his moods at
times his bad moods and his defects. But we all have likeable aspects in our
personality as well, and for this reason, and many others, everyone can be loved.
It is possible to live happily together when everyone tries to correct his own
defects and makes an effort to overlook the faults of others. That is to say, when
there is love which cancels out and overcomes everything that might seem to be a
motive for coldness and disagreement. On the one hand, if husband and wife
dramatise their little differences and reproach each other for their defects and
mistakes, they put an end to peace and run the risk of killing their love. [...] Any-
one who says that he cannot put up with this or that, or finds it impossible to hold
his peace, is exaggerating in order to justify himself. We should ask God for the
grace to overcome our whims and practice self control. When we lose our temper
we lose control of the situation. Words can become harsh and bitter and we end
up by offending, wounding and hurting, even though we didnt mean to.
We should all learn to keep quiet, to wait and say things in a positive,
optimistic way. When her husband loses his temper the moment has arrived for
the wife to be especially patient until he calms down, and vice versa. If there is
true love and a real desire to deepen it, it will very rarely happen that the two give
in to bad temper at the same time.
Another very important thing is to get used to the fact that we are never
a hundred percent right. In fact one can say that in matters like these, which are
46 - MARKUS SCHWARTZ
2
Cfr. Furrow, 652; Friends of God, 73-93.
usually so debatable, the surer we are of being completely right, the more doubt-
ful it is that we really are. Following this line of reasoning makes it easier to cor-
rect oneself later on and if necessary to beg pardon, which is the best way of end-
ing a quarrel. In this way peace and love are regained. I am not encouraging you
to quarrel but it is understandable that we should fall out at times with those we
love most, because they are the people we are always with. We are not going to
fall out with someone in Timbuktoo! Thus small rows between husband and
wife, if they are not frequent, (and they should see to it that they are not) are not
a sign that love is missing and in fact they can help to increase it [...].
At times we take ourselves too seriously. All of us get angry now and
again. Sometimes because it is necessary; at other times because we lack a spirit
of mortification. The important thing is to show, with a smile that restores family
warmth, that these outbursts of anger do not destroy affection.
In a word, the life of husband and wife should consist in loving one
another and loving their children, because by doing this they love God
3
.
Following this idea, he has not only taught us to love our spouses with, or
in spite of their failings, but to love these failings themselves, since they are the
paving stones on our road to heaven, which is filled with the daily challenge
for the spouse to work on his or her failures and to put up with my mistakes and
failures, and for me vice versa.
In the education of our children apology is one of the miraculous means to
deepen our friendship with our children (although it is not easy sometimes to admit
your own bad manners at the family dinner table that have just been called to pub-
lic attention by your own six year old daughter). At the time when we were focus-
ing on table manners with our children, using a manner points list, our six year old
daughter Laura was particularly keen to detect any misbehavings in her parents.
And she has kept that habit ever since, which has forced us to pay special attention
to our own posture and manners at meal times. In this context we also try to teach
our children to take their daily mistakes to our heavenly Father during the night-
time prayer. Every one of our children has his or her reserved time to ask for for-
giveness during our evening prayer before going to bed, and we see how well they
receive it if we as parents also include our failures of the day in these prayers.
Foremost for the development of friendship between ourselves and our chil-
dren, we need to reserve time for them and to listen to our children. Blessed Jose-
mara has taught us to always have an open ear for our children. If we do not devel-
op the sensibility to listen to our children, even in the middle of the night or during
our precious time of reading the newspaper, we do not had our priorities in the
INFLUENCE ON MY LIFE AS A HUSBAND AND FATHER - 47
3
Conversations, 108.
right order. I remember numerous occasions when my wife or I finally found the
time to sit down and read the well deserved newspaper or book we have been
waiting for, when within seconds we became buried under a load of children clam-
bering on our laps and shoulders. It oftentimes requires an aspiration to realize
how unimportant the newspaper is compared to five minutes playtime with the
kids.
The spirit of Blessed Josemara has also prompted us to take time for our
marriage and to reserve precious moments for ourselves as a couple to deepen
our bonds and relationship in marriage. In addition to all other considerations,
we also view our deep unity as the foundation for being able to speak as one voice
in front of the children, which is so important for their spiritual development and
their psychological strength.
Blessed Josemara always taught us to keep things in the right order
4
; God
first and then the others, in our case as mother and father, our spouse first, and
then our children. And we can only explain this order to our children if we also
stick to it in our daily life. And since Blessed Josemara knew what he was talking
about, he also told us to explain to the little ones, if we are too busy with some-
thing important, that we will listen to them in ten minutes or later. Put into daily
practice, it means that usually after two to three corrections for their interrup-
tions I realize that it would be worth the short time it takes to explain to my chil-
dren why I am busy for now and for how much longer I will not be available for
them because there are other obligations to which I have to attend in addition to
being their father. And surprisingly they understand very well, and even better if
I ask our Mother Mary or their guardian angel for help in this matter.
Another main virtue Blessed Josemara encouraged us to develop together
with our children is sincerity, since it is the foundation of every real friendship.
For him sincerity had to be to extreme
5
. He has urged us to be radically sincere
both in our interior life and also with our children. Why should we not talk to our
children about the economic situation in which we live? Why should we not let
them participate in our sorrows and our joys at work, if we want them to share
their experiences from kindergarten or high school with us? We have many times
been surprised by the maturity of our children in their ability to preserve certain
stories within our family. For example we have always tried to inform our extend-
ed family first about the arrival of a new baby. And the older children understand
very well why and how they should not talk about the new baby despite their
48 - MARKUS SCHWARTZ
4
Cfr. ibidem, 91.
5
Cfr. Furrow, 148, 323-339; The Forge, 127.
own excitement to the friends and neighbours until all grandparents and aunts
and nephews know about it.
Especially in the area of the facts of life Blessed Josemara presented a
very strong argument for sincerity from the first moments onwards. He used to
say jokingly that he personally had killed all storks in order to relieve the children
of the world from the myths about where babies come from. If we want the chil-
dren to confront their own sexuality with a healthy pride and to realize the holi-
ness of life and of their own bodies, we need to tell them the truth from the very
beginning, always, of course, according to their understanding and their age.
Admittedly, it has not always been easy to try to adjust sexual education to our
childrens age, especially in todays society where public sexual education starts in
kindergarten. But what we have found is, that by answering the simple questions
with sensitivity, there and then, every child understands the wonders of life
according to his or her own intellectual and mental ability.
Blessed Josemara wanted the homes of Christian couples to be bright and
cheerful
6
. For our family this means two main things: first of all, forgiveness. He
always encouraged us parents to never argue in front of our children. I would
advise parents never to quarrel in front of their children. They can remind each
other of this with a certain word, a look or a gesture. If they cant avoid the argu-
ment altogether, they can at least put it off til later when they are more calm. The
family atmosphere should be one of peace between husband and wife because it
is a necessary condition for a deep and effective education
7
.
If we need to disagree, we should do it alone, face to face, and if there are
ever strong arguments we need to immediately forgive because it is always the
fault of the two of us and the one who thinks that he or she is right should rec-
oncile first. The wonderful result of this way of dealing with your marital dis-
agreements is that, after apologizing truly for your behavior you can really forget
about the incident, and you can be sure of your spouses apology too. In addition,
Blessed Josemara has always recommended taking these struggles and argu-
ments to the holy sacrament of confession, which is truly the final means to wipe
out any deep-lying anger that might remain within your heart.
Blessed Josemara has always shown us how to use good humor to improve
the atmosphere in our homes. Good humor can easily blow away many problems
of daily life that we would otherwise see as obstacles for reconciliation or loving
in our family. It is both from a human and from a supernatural perspective
so much easier to joke around with the children when they need to clean up their
INFLUENCE ON MY LIFE AS A HUSBAND AND FATHER - 49
6
Cfr. Christ is passing by, 22, 27.
7
Conversations, 108.
room or get ready to go to bed, than to play the army general and obtain the
desired result of five children in bed by shouting and military discipline.
Blessed Josemara has repeatedly shown that among the most precious
moments of Christian life are those when you are able to encounter Christ with-
in the people surrounding you by sacrificing your selfishness and laziness for love
and devotion towards others. And the biggest sacrifice in these situations is many
times as Blessed Josemara has often reminded us simply a smile for your
children who are eager to tell you about their newest addition to an innumerable
collection of artworks or the latest jokes circulating in kindergarten. Seeing
Christ in my wife and children enables me to overcome temptations to laziness
and selfishness many times and also helps our family to unite and prosper in this
presence of Christ.
Part of devotion to the family and to the culture of life relates, of course, to
the question of the number of children a contemporary Christian family should
have. We have gone through this questioning ourselves. Blessed Josemara,
reflecting the teaching of the Church on procreation, has given us clear guidance
in a simple and beautiful manner: I ask married couples not to block the well-
springs of life and I invite them to have enough supernatural outlook and courage
to bring up a large family if it is Gods will
8
and, citing a well known proverb
from his homeland Aragon: Every child brings a loaf of bread under his arm!.
This teaching reflects for us clearly his approach towards all things on earth: full
confidence in Gods Providence and at the same time use of all possible licit
human means.
Like another saint of our days, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who said that
the family that prays together, stays together, Blessed Josemara strongly rec-
ommended praying together as a family: both aloud as a couple and with the chil-
dren, but that the children also see us in personal prayer, so that they see and
experience the presence of Christ in our lives
9
. At the same time, he has, howev-
er, always insisted that we need to respect to the fullest degree the freedom of our
children in their own spiritual life. He has reminded parents repeatedly not to
push their children towards a certain spiritual way and encouraged them to instill
in their children, from the very beginning, an understanding of true freedom,
which will enable them later on to freely and willingly decide their spiritual way
and build their relationship with Christ.
Overall, the teachings of Blessed Josemara have given very many good
arguments and tips for our married life and for the education of our children.
50 - MARKUS SCHWARTZ
8
Ibidem, 94.
9
Cfr. ibidem, 103.
However, besides all the wonderful results of the psychological and educational
sciences, one thing stands clearly as the key message from Blessed Josemara: with
all our own failures and mistakes and we quite surely know that we will never
be perfect spouses or parents without the divine help of Our Lord Jesus Christ
and our continuous communication with Him, we would fail in our most basic
task: to lead our spouse and children on the path to sanctity toward their eternal
glory. Blessed Josemara has shown us how to fulfill this ideal by sanctifying the
daily efforts within our marriage and family life. And God will use our tiny efforts
to fulfill the Redemption of his own Son Jesus Christ in the souls of so many men
and women in todays world.
Blessed Josemara has promised that we will find joy and peace in our
Christian vocation as a family, if we sincerely follow Christs path in the way it was
foreseen by Him, and encounter Christ personally in our families and children. I
think we can confirm this promise.
INFLUENCE ON MY LIFE AS A HUSBAND AND FATHER - 51
The Evolution of Family Life
in Ivory Coast in Light of the
Teachings of Blessed Josemara Escriv
Eliane Ekra
Professor of Family Studies, Catholic University of West Africa.
In all parts of our modern world, society is in crisis: economic crisis, politi-
cal crisis, social and familial crisis. In my country, we often say that when the West
sneezes, Africa catches a cold. This is because our continent is affected the most
by all of these types of crises, above all in that which is most essential, the family.
Very early on, God allowed Blessed Josemara to see the importance of
marriage, conceived as a way of sanctity. From that point on, his teachings
accorded a primary place to the family and its inestimable benefits in the true
realization of each person, and to the personal responsibility of each member of
the family to reach this goal.
Truth, by nature, compels recognition. As a consequence, private and
group initiatives to promote the family have arisen on all five continents, includ-
ing in Ivory Coast, a country which has a Catholic minority. Many such initiatives
aim to share with all people the conjugal and familial ideals that the founder of
Opus Dei proposed.
1. THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
In our tradition, marriage is even more the affair of the extended family
than that of the actual individuals called to form a family. This conception of the
family derives from the fact that in Africa the individual is identified and often
valued by the groups to which he or she belongs: by his or her lineage, age group,
the size of his or her family, etc. Such considerations are very relevant in ordinary
African society. As a consequence of this outlook, most people see marriage as
53
being oriented towards having children, with a view to revitalizing society, rein-
forcing the number of families united in the community, and in rural areas,
increasing the labour force. Africans even have recourse to polygamy in order to
further this end.
The government of Ivory Coast passed a number of laws in the early years
of political independence with the aim of providing the country with a stable and
viable family unit for all the inhabitants of our country
1
. For example in 1964,
monogamous unions and the nuclear family were legislated in order to protect
Ivorian women and to inaugurate the advent of a modern form of society. For var-
ious reasons, these important modifications of the basic unit of society have not
taken root everywhere, and this has engendered several major problems:
a) At the Level of the Family Unit
Even if the crisis of the family is not always noticeable in rural communi-
ties, it is certainly evident in the city. One indicator of this is the fact that engage-
ment periods scarcely exist anymore. It used to be that the parents would decide
who would be ones marriage partner. The children of today exercise more free-
dom in this area all the time. As a result, some couples now skip over necessary
steps in order to live together, and to have so-called protected sexual relations.
It is well known that marriage is not always a storybook romance. The
wide variety of religions and ethnic groups in Ivory Coast contributes to different
conceptions of marriage and the family and creates various challenges for the
family. Wives and children often lack the fulfillment that they should find in the
family for various reasons, including the lack of communication between spous-
es, and between parents and children. Another serious problem for the unity of
the family is the fact that all too often the father is absent from the family because
he is being shared between various homes, despite the law regarding monogamy.
A third problematic situation occurs when the husband dies, leaving his widow
as the head of the family but without the benefit of the family property, since it is
regarded as belonging to the mans family.
The Western model of the nuclear family does not really exist in Ivory Coast,
and this is not a bad thing in itself. However the urban setting, which provides very
little space compared to the open spaces that Africans are used to, often contributes
to excessive proximity between families and a corresponding lack of privacy.
54 - ELIANE EKRA
1
Ivory Coast contains close to sixty different ethnic groups.
The increasing poverty of disadvantaged families in urban settings leads
young children to live away from home, as they have to venture out in search of
their daily bread. Despite reminders from the government that young children
are not to be placed in such circumstances, this situation does not bother parents
because they do not have the means to ensure their children a better existence
at home. These uneducated and often wounded children can be dangerous to
themselves and to society. Still other children are bereft of the benefits of family
life because they go away to school.
Another problematic situation is that of the increasing number of children
born to single mothers. These children are often left completely in the care of
their grandparents. In general, broken families are more and more numerous in
Ivory Coast.
Unfortunately, the psychological situation of these children seems to
escape the adults who are responsible for them, since these circumstances and
ways of life are still quite new in Africa.
b) At the Level of the School
Despite the influence of Western models, Ivory Coast, like other Third
World countries (with the exception of Gabon), remains a child-oriented society
with a birth rate of 6.5 children per woman. This is one of the highest averages in
the world (47%). While Ivorians rightly remain open to life, they all too often
abandon their responsibilities in the education of their children. The fact that
schools exist to aid and complement the educational efforts of parents seems to
be largely overlooked. Furthermore, the disproportion between the increase in
the population of school aged children and the existing educational structures
does not favour adequate student placement in schools. While it is possible to
send children to school, girls are often left to fend for themselves as boys are
given priority with regards to educational opportunities.
Other problems include the fact that the goals of the schools are often
scarcely perceptible in either the teachers or the school admininistrators who are
in charge of implementing them. Finally, the physical environments of the schools
are also not very conducive to true education in ethical and civic values, as they
tend to be located near markets, restaurants, dance clubs, and the like.
THE EVOLUTION OF FAMILY LIFE IN IVORY COAST - 55
c) At the Level of Society
Democracy which has been badly assimilated and misapplied by a sizeable
rural population has led to the development of a rather violent and intolerant
society. This type of society is very much at odds with our traditional societies,
wherein conflicts are regulated according to a hierarchy of values such as respect
for elders, and the wisdom of each generation.
Our society has furthermore become a consumer of whatever comes from
the countries of the North: both products and attitudes. As a result, many fami-
lies no longer speak their local languages, young people get married later and
later in life, and many youth adopt lifestyles which do not correspond to African
customs or traditions.
2. PERSONAL ADHERENCE TO THE TEACHINGS OF BLESSED JOSEMARA
In examining the life of Blessed Josemara through the heritage (the wit-
ness of his personal life, his works, etc.) which he left to the universal Church and
to men of good will, and in attentively analyzing the testimonies of those who
knew him, it is easy to see that the family setting in which he grew up greatly con-
tributed to the forging of his convictions on the importance of the family in the
development and fulfilment of the individual. These teachings have subsequent-
ly been confirmed by the Magisterium of the Church. Indeed, it was in the heart
of the family that Blessed Josemara first experienced and witnessed love, the
necessity of having parents as models, work begun and finished well, contradic-
tions accepted with joy, and suffering and the Cross.
In effect, the family (father, mother, brother, sisters) was the basis of the
education (human, intellectual, spiritual) of the truly charismatic leader whom we
know as Blessed Josemara. He was a man who for his part, knew how to guide
countless men and women from every continent towards very elevated ideals, and
to enlighten them about conjugal love. As he said: It is important for married
people to acquire a sense of the dignity of their vocation. They must know that
they have been called by God not only to human love but also to a divine love,
through their human love. It is important for them to realize that they have been
chosen from all eternity to cooperate with the creative power of God by having
and then bringing up children. Our Lord asks them to make of their home and
their family life a testimony to all of the Christian virtues [...].
I shall never tire of repeating that marriage is a great and marvellous
divine path. Like everything divine in us, it calls for response to grace, generosi-
56 - ELIANE EKRA
ty, dedication and service. Selfishness, in whatever shape or form, is opposed to
the love of God which ought to govern our lives
2
.
He taught that all Christians, in their capacity as citizens and using all the
means legitimately available to them, should make their voices heard and make
their rights be justly respected on such important issues. This is no different than
what St. Paul told the Philippians, when he advised Christians to shine in the
midst of this perverse and depraved generation as stars in the world
3
.
In my case, I felt that the invitation of Blessed Josemara was clear and that
I had to respond to it as a person, with all of my faculties: with my intelligence,
using it to discover the truth; with my will, adhering totally and actively to the
good; with my memory, remembering the characteristics of great men and women
who have been leaven for entire generations; and with my imagination, seeing
how I could adopt a lifestyle which would also be inviting to others.
3. THE APOSTOLATE OF THE FAMILY IN IVORY COAST
The founder of Opus Dei continuously taught since 1934 that marriage
must be considered to be an authentic way of sanctity, a true vocation
4
. This
teaching has enabled many to understand that family life is a means for their own
sanctification, for the sanctification of the members of the family, and for the
sanctification of family friends. This new illumination also challenges certain
established ways of practising the faith, which can be more individual than col-
lective. For example, it can be difficult to see marriage in this light when sur-
rounded by so many mixed marriages (Catholic/Muslim, Catholic/animist,
Catholic/non-Catholic Christians, etc.). From the perspective of Blessed Jose-
maras teachings, one can see that it is in fact the entire family that must unite its
efforts to help each member live a common adventure through the thousand and
one things of ordinary life at home: taking part in family tasks, creating a bright
and cheerful home, supporting one another through joys and sorrows, and help-
ing one another with fraternal correction.
THE EVOLUTION OF FAMILY LIFE IN IVORY COAST - 57
2
Conversations, 93
3
Cfr. Phil 2:15-16.
4
Cfr. The Way, 27.
a) Family Development Activities
In order to spread the message of Blessed Josemara which is intended
for all various methods have been used for over a decade by an organization to
which I belong called A.F.E., Association Famille Education, and by its individual
members. A.F.E. is the fruit of the commitment of a group of parents in contact
with Opus Dei. The apostolate of friendship and confidence forms the basis of all
of our work. This is because we believe that this is one of the best ways to really
help those around us in a climate of freedom.
Our activities include talks, adapted to the audience present, in different
neighbourhoods of Abidjan and in the interior of the country. Topics include
engagement, the importance of marriage, conjugal love and procreation, educa-
tion of children, the role of the woman in the home, the responsibility of children
in education, family communication, and following a family budget.
We also offer short courses on family issues for engaged and married cou-
ples. While the majority of the participants are Catholic, there are also Muslims
and Christians of other denominations who want to learn how they can con-
tribute to the happiness of their families by studying real cases under the direc-
tion of an experienced moderator. The objectives include helping parents to set
educational objectives for their children, and to use the appropriate means for
each stage of development by analyzing the characteristics and needs of each age
group. We also encourage their collaboration with other societal institutions,
above all with the school.
This apostolate of the family is also open to youth, who are the future of
the nation. Two centres in Abidjan and two others in Yamoussoukro present
appropriate settings for the development of youth through various activities.
Academic activities include courses which complement their classes at school,
visits to different workplaces, and meetings with local personalities in order to
broaden the horizons of these future decision-makers. These centres also offer
human and cultural formation through talks and conferences, and spiritual for-
mation, which is entrusted to the Prelature of Opus Dei.
On December 1
st
2000, we inaugurated the first Annual Family Day with
80 families, who met to consider the topic of The Place of the Family in
Todays Society. In 2001, 150 families attended activities which had for their
theme, Conjugal Love, Source of Family Development for adults, and The
Responsibility of Youth in Family Development for youth. Children also
attended educational activities according to three different age groups. These
activities teach about the true nature of marriage and the family, based on the
teachings of the Catholic Church on these issues. The workshop discussions,
carried out in a spirit of friendship and fraternity, contribute to the rehabilita-
58 - ELIANE EKRA
tion of the family, which is fundamental for any long-lasting social develop-
ment.
b) Apostolate through the Media
The presence of the A.F.E. in the media is more and more important, since
we need to use the same means used by the children of darkness in order to
drown evil in an abundance of good
5
. For this reason, we started a magazine
called Notre famille (Our Family) in order to carry out an apostolate of the fami-
ly in accordance with the teachings of Blessed Josemara. We publish articles in
the leading newspapers of the country in order to express our views on the cen-
tral topics of current affairs such as marriage, abortion, cloning, and AIDS. Our
members also appear on national radio and television programmes, and we pro-
duce and moderate weekly (La mere educatrice) and monthly (A lcole de la
famille and Paroles des femmes) radio programmes on Radio-Espoir.
4. THE RESULTS
While it is certainly premature to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the
effects of our activities in the field of the apostolate of the family, we can never-
theless share some results which give a very positive indication. We believe that
we are helping to bring about the advent of a new model of parents, who feel
entrusted with a mission regarding their children and their society due to:
The increase in the number of registrations for our family activities, after
an initially weak start;
The inundation of the telephone lines of Radio-Espoir due to the numer-
ous calls being received, and the increasing number of taped broadcasts
being ordered;
The effort that families are now making to spend leisure time together;
The faithful participation of couples in the courses and their efforts to
make their influence felt in their milieux, conscious of living in accordance
with true values, thereby going against the tide in a permissive society;
The fact that communication between husbands and wives, and between
parents and children, is beginning to take root. This is an evolving process,
THE EVOLUTION OF FAMILY LIFE IN IVORY COAST - 59
5
Furrow, 864.
which could seem like a revolution, when one considers families where the
only type of communication which occurred before were arguments; and
The evidence that our youth centres are literally taken by storm during the
holidays, and that the organizers of the activities can even be selective in
their choice of participants.
5. CONCLUSION
To conclude, we can say that if the situation of the family is at times pre-
sented in a pessimistic way, it is to show that there is still a lot to do in the Ivory
Coast. Ours is a long-term project that requires the perseverance that Blessed
Josemara advised in all human action. A tree planted with loving care will pro-
duce good fruit. Man, this dynamic being, is born, grows and dies like a per-
son
6
in the heart of the centre of intimacy and openness which is the family. The
family is the basic unit where social, cultural and spiritual values are passed on. It
is the place where the personality is forged, of the one who is a child today, and
who will be a leader tomorrow.
To love the family and to struggle to promote it is indispensible. As the
Pope has pointed out, loving the family means recognizing the dangers and the
evils which threaten it in order to overcome them, and working to ensure an envi-
ronment which is favourable for its development
7
. Consequently, all of us are
called to defend the family against the dangers it currently faces, and we should
always be aware of this mission, since both the development and sanctity of the
family depends on each one of us.
60 - ELIANE EKRA
6
P.J. VILADRICH, Agona del Matrimonio Legal, Pamplona 1989, p. 196 (my traslation).
7
Cfr. JOHN PAUL II, Letter to Families.
The Meaning of Love:
Some Personal Reflections
Parehuia Tutua-Nathan
A Maori housewife with five children, she is the author of Woman as the Ridgepole of the
Family.
I do not speak as an authority on love and marriage. However, I have come
to feel that sense of authority, or perhaps conviction, that one feels when dealing
with a topic so very close to the heart. If I had to tell you something about love
and the richness of married life fifteen years ago, I would have told you some-
thing quite different from what I am about to share with you today.
1. IN THE BEGINNING
My husband and I met at high school when we were both very young.
Apart from his looks, he also had other good qualities and credentials. He was
very athletic, winning the school cross-country two years in a row, he played
rugby and basketball in the schools top teams, and he was the schools head pre-
fect. It seemed like the perfect match as I was deputy head prefect. We were very
much in love and we attracted a great deal of interest from our peers, not to men-
tion the teachers! In fact, we were a bit like the Charles and Diana of our day
being hunted by the paparazzi!
2. MARRIAGE
We were together three years when we began to talk about marriage for the
first time. We got so much enjoyment out of being together and we had come to
know each other pretty well by now, we were ready for marriage the golden
61
stamp of approval. If we could be happy together for this long, imagine how it
would be for the rest of our lives! However, we opted for a big fancy wedding and
since we were just embarking on our first degrees with very little money, we decid-
ed to wait until we were earning enough to finance our own wedding. That would
mean waiting another three or four years. Our friends assured us that we were
making the right choice that there was no need to rush into marriage, that we
would have even longer to get to know each other before we took the plunge.
3. GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
As time passed, we grew confident that we knew each others strengths and
weaknesses. Naturally, we had occasional disputes and arguments. I thought that
he was very untidy and he would accuse me of being too fussy and bossy. I
thought he had the most bizarre cooking methods and taste for food, and I was
always quite forward in telling him. Sometimes, if I felt that I was not gaining any
mileage in the argument (that is, if I was losing), I would deliver the silent treat-
ment, bang a few cupboards and pots, or nag incessantly. Once I even tried pre-
tending to run away. I waited on the outside stairwell where it was very cold and
dark for him to come and apologise to me. Nothing happened. I gave up, swal-
lowed my pride and walked inside confidently to find him in exactly the same
position that he was in when I left him 20 minutes earlier! And all he could say
with a very cheeky grin was, Did you put the garbage out while you were out?!
As we grew to know each other more, we would sometimes argue over the
most trivial of things, and we never really resolved issues. I was still very good at
winning the argument by applying the silent treatment. Sometimes it went on
for several days. Just keep quiet for a few days and the problem would melt away!
In fact we grew rather accustomed to this style of settling disputes. We let them
dissolve away. We either couldnt be bothered arguing, or were afraid to go deep-
er for fear of hurting each others feelings.
4. CHILDREN
The topic of children became taboo. That was right about the time when
Tikitu announced that he wanted enough children to form a rugby team! I would
always rebuke stubbornly with the response, No, two children at the most!
Besides, we had become very accustomed to this lifestyle where we were begin-
ning to earn money, enjoy life, and basically have a whale of a good time! We
wanted to enjoy this for as long as possible. And we were far too young to settle
62 - PAREHUIA TUTUA-NATHAN
down, or be tied down with children. The need to capitalise on my independ-
ence was paramount. The images that I had of motherhood were: crying babies
with oatmeal in their hair, spilt milk and butter smeared into the carpet, and
mothers that looked like the walking wounded, trying to control a temper
tantrum in the aisle of the supermarket. I couldnt possibly see myself trading my
comfortable existence and weekend sleep-ins after a long week at the office, for a
pile of dirty diapers, sleepless nights, sticky fingerprints all over the glass table,
and endless scatterings of toys throughout the house. I was probably the more
resistant one because I had come to believe that it is always the woman who has
to give up her independence and freedom for the sake of the children not the
man.
We always knew that someday we would want children and we agreed that
marriage had to come first because it seemed like the proper thing to do, and
that there were social taboos associated with bearing and raising children out of
wedlock. We werent aware of any deeper reasons for it. We just knew we werent
ready and were content to just deal with it later. I guess we figured that it
belonged in the too hard basket. Actually, this was very typical of the way we
approached a lot of the greater questions in life, and this became the grounds
upon which we justified our views and choices. We didnt expend great energy
worrying about, or even discussing, important moral issues like abortion,
euthanasia, suffering, death, or the meaning of life. As far as we were concerned
those were topics for the religious. Nor did we discuss politics or the future of
our country. We kept our political and moral views to ourselves, sometimes I
think out of fear of interfering in or influencing each others personal points of
view. We didnt see the relevance of these issues to our relationship or our future.
We would occasionally talk about our work in the office, or solve problems
together that arose at work. A typical evening for us consisted in coming home
from the office, and preparing dinner in a hurry so that we could settle down to
watch our favourite television programmes. Sometimes a hard day at the office
would merit us dinner at our favourite restaurant or a glass of wine at a local bar.
5. FINALLY: MARRIAGE AND THE WEDDING PREPARATIONS
When we finally settled on marriage we had been together for eight years.
I spent those two years excitedly planning our wedding day my dress, the
bridesmaids dresses, the food, the flowers all the practicalities. We had decid-
ed on a church wedding. Again it seemed like the right thing to do and I was
vaguely aware that it had something to do with God being there! Even though
my parents had baptised me in the Catholic Church, I was not raised practicing
THE MEANING OF LOVE: SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS - 63
my faith. But I was certain that a church wedding would bring that romantic
fairytale dimension that everyone dreams about.
We thought of marriage as a mere social institution. And because we had
little sound direction, we were very easily lead by the opinions and advice of our
friends and the views that pervaded societys thinking.
As for the topic of children, quite clearly they had no feature in our imme-
diate plans for marriage. The enjoyment of our independence and of our love
together was paramount over having children. Not only was I concerned about
the effort I would have to invest in raising a child (let alone a rugby team!), but I
was also worried about the possibility that I would lose those physical attributes
that had attracted Tikitu to me in the first place. Tikitu and I realised that we real-
ly did want children but w just couldnt figure where wed find space for a child
on our inexhaustible wish list which included a car, a house, a career, and those
occasional nights out together.
6. THE TURNING POINT
It was precisely at this point that I was introduced to the teachings of
Blessed Josemara. Only then did I quickly realise that it was my heart that had no
space for a child. I was really challenged at that point to see the limitations of my
own selfishness, not only in my attitude toward having children, but in my con-
cept of what real love is. Underlying my struggle to come to terms with having a
child was a kind of love that was calculating and cold, one that resists having
demands put on it. Up until now, we had perhaps understood love as a mere sat-
isfaction of emotional, physical and material desire, but at little or no cost what-
soever.
Blessed Josemara said that it was good to struggle and to be demanding on
ourselves. Those who love God and get to know Him intimately will learn to
struggle with good cheer and will facilitate the way of sanctity for others. Love
God and you will struggle cheerfully. That seemed like a very simple message and
he made it look simple because he loved God with all his heart and he showed this
love by going about his daily work with so much naturalness and cheerfulness. I
came to admire his example as a servant of God who lived a selfless life of love
carried out through work, prayer and sacrifice. Contrary to my belief that happi-
ness and struggle were opposed to each other, Blessed Josemara showed me how
it was possible to marry pain and suffering with happiness and fulfillment. His
modern day example of Christ teaching me how to love the way God loves
unselfishly, forgivingly, and infinitely, was probably the most powerful catalyst
which lead to a reassessment of my worldview. I continued to read his works,
64 - PAREHUIA TUTUA-NATHAN
becoming increasingly convinced that in order to be truly happy, I had to aban-
don myself in the hands of God, and live my faith to the full. I began attending
Mass on a regular basis and I fell head over heels in love again with God!
7. WONDERFUL NEWS
Ill never forget the day I found out that Tikitu and I were expecting our
first child. Tikitu was working in Wellington at that time. I was so overwhelmed
with joy. I raced home to call him. I had been reading something very beautiful
that Blessed Josemara wrote and I remembered it so vividly in these moments
that God sends children to couples because he trusts them. I truly believed that
God was telling us something.
8. PAIN, SORROW AND JOY: A LESSON LEARNT
Then, some weeks later, Tikitu and I suffered tremendously when I mis-
carried. At a point where I was just starting to trust in God, I felt betrayed. But I
did not lose sight of God I kept praying and reading Blessed Josemaras writ-
ings. I shared what I was learning with Tikitu. I was still confused and searching,
but never became bitter. Humanly speaking, it was a very difficult time but the
grace of God helped me to trust in His mercy. Above all, I think the experience
taught Tikitu and I a very valuable lesson that human life is very precious
so we should never close the doors to life. Accept children openly. From that
point on we never said no to bringing a new life into the world, and we are so
grateful to God for the gift of our first son that followed a year later. The birth of
our first child was undoubtedly the most incredible experience that Tikitu and I
will ever encounter together in this life. And I think that that was the moment
when Tikitu and I truly realised the extent of Gods love for us. We have never
looked back and have welcomed all our children lovingly and with an open heart!
9. HARD WORK, STRUGGLE AND SACRIFICE
We soon discovered that raising a child was very hard work! Im sure every
parent can testify to that. But Blessed Josemara taught us to struggle in the little
things of ordinary life, particularly the human virtues, because eventually that
struggle will lead us to become better people. Even though being a parent, per-
haps even moreso a mother, is not always a bed of roses, it is a privilege earned
THE MEANING OF LOVE: SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS - 65
through hard work and perseverance, through continual daily recommitment to
the importance of that work. The experience of parenthood forced us to confront
the very worst in ourselves. I have had to learn to be patient and calm, not only
with the children, but also with Tikitu. And I have learned n to be prudent and to
hold my sharp tongue when I am tired or when he snapped at me because he was
tired. I have had to struggle against my moodiness, pride and stubbornness which
was the cause of many of our arguments, and to struggle against my whims and
superficial fancies. The sacrifices that we have made together for the sake of our
children have helped to make us more united in our love.
Once he arrived home very late without phoning me. Dinner had been
ready for 3/4 hr and it was getting cold. We make it a policy in our house to
always eat dinner together, so the children were hungry waiting for him. The bath
was running, and I was annoyed and certainly in no mood to go rushing to the
door to greet him. In fact I remember rehearsing the speech I was going to deliv-
er when he arrived, and I was going to be certain that he took over the bathing of
the children since he was so late. But instead when he arrived I gave one glance at
the small gold crucifix hanging on the wall, asked God to help me to be calm, and
scurried to the door with the children to greet him with a kiss.
10. GROWING IN VIRTUE
There have been many moments when I have wanted to quit being a
mother, but I realize that my moments of inadequacy have also been my biggest
opportunities to grow in virtue. Sometimes when things were difficult I would
ask God for help. As Blessed Josemara taught, it is precisely by the conversion of
our struggle into prayer, that we overcome the daily battles of life with optimism,
hope and continual love this is the foundation of human strength and happi-
ness. My love for Tikitu has grown so much and I have come to eventually realize
and to understand why it was important for our marriage to be blessed by God in
the beginning because He gives us all the graces necessary to make it work
through both good and bad times. Because I am better able to deal with my
defects, Tikitu and I have fewer outbursts and we respond much more affection-
ately to each other. Contrary to our beliefs that children would stand in the way
of our relationship, it is precisely the fact of having the children that forces us to
resolve very quickly any differences that we have. We believe the children have
strengthened our marriage. Sometimes they have even helped us to see the fun-
nier side of things.
66 - PAREHUIA TUTUA-NATHAN
11. HUMOUR
Blessed Josemara loved humour and in fact it is very useful in our house-
hold for diffusing anger or hot tempers. Often Tikitu would leave his pyjamas in
the middle of the bedroom floor. I have found that nagging (the thing that my hus-
band reckons women are good at) turns him off, and mini lectures send me fol-
lowing him out the door. However the children have come up with rather novel lit-
tle ways of pointing out our vices. Nothing is funnier, not to mention humbling,
than to see the children perform a role-play of their papa taking off his pyjamas in
the morning. We all have a good laugh and it makes for great family entertainment.
12. LOVE AND DEDICATION AND THE DESIRE
TO HELP EACH OTHER IMPROVE
Blessed Josemara encouraged married couples to keep themselves wholly
for each other, to keep loving each other, and above all to be dedicated to their
spouse as the person they love and admire more than anyone else. I soon learnt that
by loving Tikitu and expressing my love with generous little deeds, like taking the
time to sit and listen whole-heartedly to him in the evenings, putting a little extra
effort into his meals when he is tired, fussing over him on his birthday, taking a cold
drink to him when he arrives home on a hot afternoon, or planning a romantic din-
ner once in a while, he would be in a much more cheerful disposition to be cor-
rected. Likewise he learnt to do the same for me. We came to realize then, that the
small corrections were motivated by a desire to help each other improve. Blessed
Josemara encouraged women to spoil their husbands with affection and to teach
the children to lavish love on their fathers. They will eventually steal his heart and
he will be forced to cooperate in their upbringing. This is the key to a married cou-
ples human happiness as the children will come to admire and respect the unity
between their parents, and they will be taught so much about love through
parental example. When Tikitu pulls up in the driveway after work, we all rush to
the door to greet him. My four year old daughter likes to be the first to take his
briefcase as she is always keen to see if he is hiding any sweets in there. Hes nor-
mally very tired, and the children are literally jumping and shouting excitedly at
him as he struggles up the stairwell with one on his back, one hanging off his neck
and two others crying at the door because they missed out on a ride! But he cant
help but smile when we all give him that affectionate kiss at the top of the stairs!
THE MEANING OF LOVE: SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS - 67
13. ADMIRATION
Tikitu and I try to impress upon the children our admirability for each
other. I always get a laugh or two out of it when Tikitu is forced almost at gun-
point to convince the children how much he loves and admires mummy at seven
oclock in the morning when Ive been up all night with a sick child! Often when
we are tired, it is easy to become short with the children and with each other.
These moments have provided us with opportunities to explain to the children
how hard the other parent works to make them happy and how much we love
and admire each other for that. We try not to put each other down in front of the
children and if they do happen to witness the occasional dispute, then we are
more than ready to apologise to each other in front of them. I am absolutely con-
vinced that Tikitu is inspired by our love for him when I see the look on his face
once he realises that the breakfast he was served in bed, with its butter smeared
pancakes of varying sizes, and that flower with the half dead petals was prepared
solely by his 4-year old daughter.
14. A CHEERFUL HOME
I make an effort to make our home comfortable and aesthetically appeal-
ing, and the atmosphere cheerful with regular family get-togethers and fun events
in the evening after dinner. I try to teach the children of its importance not only
for the sake of ourselves, but because God is also a guest in our house, and a very
important one too. I like to remind the children also that papa needs a comfort-
able, happy home to come home to after working so hard all day. And he needs
to see that his family is happy and full of joy. The extra detail extends beyond the
home environment to keeping myself looking good for Tikitu as well.
Making a home cheerful requires effort and self-control. I have to make
demands on myself to be orderly so as to avoid causing chaos in the family. I have
had to try to exercise a bit of self-control when talking with friends on the phone,
otherwise the children get up to all sorts of crazy antics like the day the children
tried to make cereal for their dinner. Consequently Tikitu arrived at the gate to
the smell of burnt meat, a house full of ill-tempered individuals and toys that
looked like theyd been tossed by a tornado! There have been many moments like
these and I have learnt some lessons from them. But as Blessed Josemara taught,
we have to assess and reassess ourselves everyday. We can always learn from our
mistakes and begin again, every day with God each day trying to be a bit bet-
ter than the previous. We need to ask ourselves constantly, where did I go wrong?
How can I improve? What do I need to change?
68 - PAREHUIA TUTUA-NATHAN
15. CONCLUDING REMARKS
It goes without saying that the richness I have discovered in our married
life is something I learnt about through the teachings of Blessed Josemara. The
selfish, idealistic view of love I saw through those rose-coloured lenses has
matured and found a fullness of expression through our renewed commitment to
each other. We cannot imagine how our married life would be without children.
The fact of having children has lead us to have to dedicate ourselves generously
to something we consider to be worthwhile. I might still have been calculating my
way into the new millenium if I had not discovered Blessed Josemaras message!
I know for sure that apart from enriching our marriage, our children have also
given to our parents (their grandparents) a future that they can always look for-
ward to. Their youthfulness and thirst for life are full of zeal as a result of having
grandchildren. Our children are our most valued assets, the most treasured of all
our projects.
Having learnt from the mistakes of our past, our task is now to teach them
how to love with a generous heart. We know from our own experience, that we
have to be that example for them. We want their lives to be driven by their faith
and their love of God. We have every confidence that they will grow up to be fine
men and women who are prepared to give themselves at the service of God. But
this confidence is inspired not by wishful thinking alone, but by hard work, strug-
gle and sacrifice on our part as their parents. There are moments when I have felt
the urge to give up that is human nature. That is why I am so grateful to God
for the gift of Blessed Josemara, who will always remind us never to give up.
Keep struggling, keep working hard. The fruit will be your sanctity. That was his
message to everyone.
THE MEANING OF LOVE: SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS - 69
II. Construir culturas de vida
Building up Cultures of Life
Introduccin
Paul Swope
Fundador del Pro-Life Youth International, Harvard-Radcliff Students For Life, ha sido Direc-
tor ejecutivo de Massachusetts Citizens For Life. Actualmente es Director de The Caring Foun-
dation.
El ttulo de este workshop procede del magisterio de Juan Pablo II, que ha
sido siempre un defensor valiente y compromotido de la dignidad de toda perso-
na. Al referirse a un tema que tiene gran resonancia en el pensamiento tico
moderno, el Papa nos recuerda su fundamento ltimo: todo ser humano ha sido
creado a imagen y semejanza de Dios y, por tanto, cada persona lleva en s misma
la imagen divina. Cada ser humano debe ser respetado y tratado de acuerdo con
su verdadera dignidad, y nunca como medio o instrumento para un fin, aunque
ese fin sea en s mismo noble o til.
Estas verdades fundamentales son particularmente relevantes en estos
momentos, cuando el hombre y la vida humana son objeto de fros clculos diri-
gidos a medir la llamada eficiencia. La verdadera dignidad de la persona se ve
an ms oscurecida en el caso de los no nacidos, los enfermos terminales o las
personas discapacitadas, cuya apariencia exterior no parecera revelar, en princi-
pio, su origen divino y su destino eterno. La prdida de la dimensin trascenden-
tal del ser humano ha tenido como resultado la conviccin, por parte de algunos,
de que est justificado tratar a otros como simples objetos, siempre y cuando tales
personas estn de acuerdo o no les sea posible disentir. Actualmente, el respeto
por la dignidad humana se reduce con frecuencia al respeto por el derecho a la
libre eleccin que ejerce la persona, y no se considera a las personas sobre las que
recae esa eleccin y que son afectadas por ella.
Si bien el respeto por el derecho a elegir puede llevar implcito el respeto
por la dignidad de la persona, no siempre es as. Esto se debe al hecho de que la
libertad no es la nica caracterstica de la naturaleza humana y a que no se ejerce
en abstracto. Por el contrario, el valor y la autenticidad de la libertad son insepa-
73
rables de su relacin con la verdad objetiva y de los efectos que se desprenden de
su ejercicio, tanto a nivel individual como social.
Ciertamente, la eleccin que lleva a cabo una persona no es simplemente
expresin de su libertad personal. Una eleccin siempre causa un efecto no
necesariamente positivo en la identidad de la propia persona y en el mundo. Lo
anterior es especialmente cierto en aquellos casos que tienen relacin con el cuer-
po humano. Esto es as porque las personas no slo poseen un cuerpo: ste forma
parte intrnseca de su ser corpreo-espiritual. Ms an, nos reconocemos mutua-
mente a travs de nuestros cuerpos, antes todava de que nos lleguemos a reco-
nocer por medio de nuestros pensamientos o elecciones. En realidad, no es posi-
ble mostrar respeto a un ser humano sin respetar su dimensin corporal, pues
constituye un vestigio o representacin de la imagen de Dios que se encuentra en
toda persona.
El respeto efectivo a toda persona depende en gran medida del reconoci-
miento de estas verdades en los mbitos social y cultural y, entre otras cosas, de
la posibilidad de canalizar nuestros esfuerzos cientficos y tecnolgicos, socia-
les y polticos de tal manera que el progreso sirva verdaderamente a la huma-
nidad, en vez de ponerla en peligro. A lo largo del siglo pasado, hemos presen-
ciado innumerables tragedias que han sido el resultado de una concepcin
unidimensional de la dignidad humana y de la libertad. Hoy, cuando necesitamos
reflexionar y actuar, para contrarrestar los efectos negativos de una concepcin
errada de la libertad, es un buen momento para considerar lo que puede aportar
la vida y las enseanzas del Beato Josemara Escriv al gran reto de construir cul-
turas para la vida.
Tal vez la aportacin ms significativa del Beato Josemara en favor de la
vida es la inspiracin que ofrece. El mensaje de la santificacin en la vida ordina-
ria es perfectamente compatible con las principales lneas de pensamiento y con
los valores de nuestro tiempo, particularmente, su gran aprecio por la libertad
junto con el entusiasmo y amor por el mundo; y todo esto sin perder nunca de
vista la raz evanglica. Es ms, el Fundador del Opus Dei tiene siempre en cuen-
ta las dimensiones humanas desde una perspectiva teolgica; es decir, concibe la
vida de todo ser humano desde el contexto de su relacin personal con Dios.
Por tanto, al facilitar la comprensin de que la vida ordinaria tiene un sus-
tento divino y que todos los aspectos de la cultura humana deben y pueden ser
concebidos desde el punto de vista del amor de Dios por su Creacin, el mensa-
je del Beato Josemara nos permite reconstruir desde dentro es decir, con liber-
tad personal los lazos entre Dios y el mundo. Por otro lado, al destacar la rea-
lidad sobrenatural de la filiacin divina del cristiano, el Fundador del Opus Dei
anima a los fieles laicos a mantener completa, por decirlo de alguna manera, la
Creacin, a travs del trabajo ordinario y de su participacin en todas las activi-
74 - PAUL SWOPE
dades humanas honestas. As, todo hombre contribuir a restablecer y aumentar
la belleza original de la Creacin.
En otras palabras, el Beato Josemara presenta el mensaje del Evangelio de
una manera que nos permite entender al ser humano como dueo y seor de la
Creacin, especialmente cuando es consciente de su condicin de hijo de Dios.
Tal perspectiva lleva a la conclusin de que el hombre tiene la responsabilidad de
preocuparse por la vida, y en particular, por la vida humana y de fomentarla, para
que los avances tecnolgicos y cientficos no sean obstculo a su dignidad.
La construccin de las culturas de la vida tiene su ncleo, por lo tanto, en
la conciencia de estas realidades. El Beato Josemara se refera con frecuencia a la
tarea de los cristianos en el mundo como a una guerra de paz y amor
1
. En efec-
to, si Dios es Amor y somos hijos suyos, hemos de vivir la vida cotidiana inten-
tando profundizar en esta relacin filial, para que su amor nos fortalezca y as
podamos compartirlo con quienes nos rodean. Pero el alcance del origen divino
del hombre va ms all: todos los acontecimientos de cada da estn llamados a
tener un sentido divino. Las enseanzas del Beato Josemara ayudan a profundi-
zar en este sentido de filiacin divina y en la conciencia de que la experiencia lle-
var naturalmente a impulsar iniciativas que fomenten la vida, en ejercicio de la
libertad individual y en medio de las circunstancias cotidianas. Los testimonios
que se presentaron en este workshop constituyen un ejemplo unitario y, a la vez,
variado de la siguiente dinmica: la vida interior es fuente de una intensa activi-
dad en el mundo.
Participan en el workshop denominado Construir culturas de vida ocho
panelistas de siete nacionalidades. Estos hombres y mujeres manifiestan lo que es
una vida inspirada y transformada por el mensaje del Beato Josemara Escriv.
Ciertamente, uno de los beneficios de un Congreso de este estilo es compartir el
poder que fluye de una vida de oracin, con la esperanza de que otros sigan el
mismo camino. Como el Beato Josemara sola decir: obras son amores y no
buenas razones
2
. A continacin, presento a los ocho participantes, que con sus
vidas nos demuestran a qu se puede llegar cuando una persona se compromete
a una vida de oracin y servicio en la vida corriente.
El Profesor Samuel B. Adeloju, de Australia, trabaja para ayudar a sus
alumnos de Qumica y Estudios del Medio Ambiente a descubrir que si hemos
de resolver los problemas globales del medio ambiente, necesitamos ampliar
nuestro inters para incluir en nuestro estudio las necesidades espirituales, socia-
les y morales de la persona. El Profesor Adeloju nos ilustr con un ejemplo con-
INTRODUCCIN - 75
1
Cfr. Es Cristo que pasa, 76.
2
Cfr. Amigos de Dios, 72.
creto cmo ayud a cierta comunidad local a defenderse contra los efectos de una
planta procesadora de desechos. Le ayud en este empeo la consideracin de
estas palabras del Beato Josemara: No se ama la justicia, si no se ama verla cum-
plida con relacin a los dems. Como tampoco es lcito encerrarse en una religio-
sidad cmoda, olvidando las necesidades de los otros
3
.
La siguiente intervencin fue la de Jose van Dijck, mdico especialista en
cuidados paliativos, que trabaja en Holanda, donde la eutanasia se est difun-
diendo. La Doctora van Dijck mantiene su optimismo gracias a la inspiracin que
le ofrece el Beato Josemara: No se trata de campaas negativas, ni de ser anti-
nada. Al contrario: vivir de afirmacin, llenos de optimismo, con juventud, ale-
gra y paz; ver con comprensin a todos: a los que siguen a Cristo y a los que le
abandonan o no le conocen. Pero comprensin no significa abstencionismo, ni
indiferencia, sino actividad
4
.
La Doctora Josephine Kunnacherri, que ha trabajado en India y frica,
hizo referencia a la profunda fe de sus padres, que la prepararon para apreciar las
enseanzas del Beato Josemara Escriv. Al igual que otros panelistas, se top con
la influencia del Opus Dei accidentalmente. En su caso, fue a estudiar a la Uni-
versidad de Navarra, no porque se tratase de una labor apostlica del Opus Dei,
sino por su buena fama y por la respuesta rpida a la solicitud de inscripcin que
present su padre! En la Universidad, tuvo la oportunidad de trabajar con el
catedrtico Juan Jimnez Vargas, uno de los primeros fieles del Opus Dei. Su
ejemplo de buen quehacer profesional y de espritu de servicio, caus en ella una
gran impresin. En una ocasin, le llamaron a media noche para atender a una
mujer soltera que estaba embarazada. El Doctor Jimnez Vargas acudi rpida-
mente y, con palabras de la Doctora Kunnacherri, con el cario de un padre y de
una madre. Aquella mujer, que haba pensado abortar, decidi respetar la vida
de su hijo. La Doctora Kunnacherri ha seguido este ejemplo y se ha entregado
por completo a la atencin de sus pacientes, mantenindose firme en la defensa
de la vida en la India, an en contra de presiones polticas.
Contamos tambin con la contribucin de la Doctora Voltas Bar, mdico
y madre de siete hijos, una de las fundadoras de la primera asociacin pro-vida en
Espaa. Como resulta frecuente en los que siguen las enseanzas del Beato Jose-
mara, no slo comenz el proyecto sino que fue su principal promotora, traba-
jando con los numerosos grupos que se crearon a partir de entonces. Actualmen-
te dirige la federacin de asociaciones pro-vida en Espaa. La Doctora Voltas nos
hizo ver de una manera muy bella que la decisin de asumir una nueva responsa-
76 - PAUL SWOPE
3
Es Cristo que pasa, 52.
4
Surco, 864.
bilidad no suele suceder repentina ni dramticamente; tampoco como fruto de
una influencia externa. No tom la decisin de dedicarme a contruir una cultu-
ra de vida de la noche a la maana. Trat, en cambio, de aplicar las enseanzas del
Beato Josemara: vivir el espritu de servicio, el deseo de hacer las cosas bien, de
ser til y de desechar la pereza; de dejarse complicar la vida poco a poco. As,
muchas organizaciones e individuos en toda Espaa agradecen hoy el mensaje del
Beato Josemara que inspir a la Doctora Voltas a complicarse la vida!
Mary Hamm, es madre de doce hijos y madre tambin, como ella
misma lo expresa, de dos organizaciones sin nimo de lucro. Intervino despus
de la Doctora Voltas. Con gran viveza y sentido del humor, Mary explic cmo
fue capaz de atender las exigencias de su vida familiar y hacerlas compatibles
con iniciativas completamente novedosas. Mary descubri que en la Santa Misa
poda obtener fuerzas para cada da, como enseaba el Beato Josemara: Lucha
para conseguir que el Santo Sacrificio del Altar sea el centro y la raz de tu vida
interior, de modo que toda la jornada se convierta en un acto de culto. Pro-
longacin de la Misa que has odo y preparacin para la siguiente
5
. Cmo es
posible que la madre de una familia tan numerosa considere siquiera la posibili-
dad de involucrarse significativamente en actividades fuera del hogar? Mary res-
ponde: es precisamente porque tengo doce hijos y siete de ellos son chicas, que
tengo que encontrar el tiempo necesario para luchar por los derechos de las
esposas y madres de familia. Mary es miembro fundador del Instituto Nacional
de la Mujer y asisti a la conferencia de El Cairo de las Naciones Unidas. Poste-
riormente, trabaj como lobbyist en las Naciones Unidas; es fundadora y forma
parte del equipo de un centro local para la atencin mujeres con crisis de emba-
razo.
Martha Lorena de Casco, periodista hondurea, fue otra de las panelistas.
Su historia da nimos a cualquiera que sienta que est trabajando en medio de
dificultades que le superan. El Seor parece haberla preparado de una manera
especial con las dificultades que experiment en torno al nacimiento de sus hijos.
Fue en estos momentos cuando se dio cuenta que el Dolor es la piedra de toque
del Amor
6
. Martha es la fundadora del primer comit pro-vida en Honduras y
contribuy eficazmente a detener varios intentos para legalizar el aborto en su
pas. Viendo la urgente necesidad de dar una respuesta positiva y bien funda-
mentada a la problemtica suscitada por el movimiento de control de la pobla-
cin, Martha inici una campaa educativa en esta rea. La experiencia le llev
luego a captar la necesidad de trabajar directamente con mujeres jvenes y se
dedic a promover y sostener los centros para la atencin de mujeres con crisis de
INTRODUCCIN - 77
5
Forja, 69.
6
Camino, 439.
embarazo. Despus particip en la coordinacin de ayudas para los daminifica-
dos del huracn Mitch, que devast a su pas, e intervino en la Conferencia Mun-
dial de Poblacin en Beijing. A lo largo de toda su carrera ha tenido que hacer
frente a una fuerte oposicin por parte de algunos grupos polticos y sociales,
pero Martha se ha sentido siempre fortalecida por las enseanzas del Beato Jose-
mara: Qu importa que tengas en contra al mundo entero con todos sus pode-
res? T... adelante!
7
. Concluye: He aprendido del Beato Josemara que, aun-
que sea mnimo el bien que podamos hacer en el mundo, tenemos la obligacin
de hacerlo. Un verdadero cristiano no hace clculos egostas en materia tan
importante.
Intervinieron en el workshop dos personas que hicieron sus presentaciones
desde el pblico. Uno fue el Doctor Carlos Fernndez del Castillo, de Mxico.
Mostr que la antigua y venerable tradicin mdica, basada en el deseo de curar
y de servir al prjimo, puede ser elevada a un nivel ms alto de amor santificador.
El Doctor Fernndez del Castillo expres, de modo elocuente, cmo siendo cat-
lico practicante, lleg a darse cuenta de lo poco que conoca su fe. Los escritos del
Beato Josemara ensean un modo de actuacin que hasta entonces yo era inca-
paz de apreciar. El vio, de manera acertada, que no hay lmites a las propias
relaciones con Dios, y que esta relacin aporta a todas las reas de la vida una
mayor alegra y efectividad.
El Profesor espaol Manuel Ferrer Regales ofreci su experiencia de tra-
bajo en demografa, una ciencia que tantas veces es presentada con un enfoque
pesimista, con poca esperanza hacia el futuro. Aplicando las enseanzas del
Beato Josemara, el Profesor Ferrer ha trabajado para ofrecer una visin ms
completa de la historia y de la persona humana. Aceptando que las sociedades
deben ejercitarse en un dominio responsable de los recursos de la tierra, ve que
hay que dar prioridad a la dignidad y libertad de cada persona. Debido a la
importancia de este mensaje en el mundo de hoy, el Profesor Ferrer, con la noble
ambicin y el optimismo que le ha infundido el Beato Josemara, ha ido ms all
de los crculos acadmicos y ha trabajado activamente para lanzarse a los
medios de comunicacin disponibles en la sociedad moderna.
El impacto en la sociedad de personas como estos ocho participantes al
workshop Construir culturas de vida es notable y su efecto es imposible de calcu-
lar. Estos testimonios son lo suficientemente profundos como para ser tema de
oracin contemplativa y, al mismo tiempo, han descendido a pormenores tan rea-
les que iluminan la vida prctica. Constituyen un valioso testimonio de la profun-
didad y el valor de la vida y enseanzas del Beato Josemara.
7
Ibidem, 482.
78 - PAUL SWOPE
Introduction
Paul Swope
As founding member of Pro-Life Youth International and Harvard-Radcliff Students For Life, he
has also served as Executive Director of Massachusetts Citizens For Life. He is currently Direc-
tor of The Caring Foundation.
The title for this workshop was taken from the writings of Pope John Paul
II, who is a tireless and uncompromising defender of the dignity of every human
person. Addressing the idea of human dignity, which resonates in modern ethical
thought, John Paul II has reminded us of its ultimate foundation: the fact that
every human being has been created in the image and likeness of God, and that
each person bears in him or herself the Divine Image. Each human person must
then be respected and treated in accordance with his or her true dignity, and never
as a means to an end, no matter how noble or useful the end may seem to be.
It is particularly relevant to bring these fundamental truths to mind in our
times, when human beings and human life are so often the subject of cold calcu-
lations based on considerations of efficiency. The true dignity of the human per-
son is even more easily obscured in the case of the unborn, the severely ill and the
disabled, whose exterior appearance may not immediately indicate their divine
origin and destiny. The loss of the transcendental dimension of the human being
results in individuals believing that they or others can be justified in treating
other persons as if they were objects, as long as the person in question consents
to being treated as such or is not in the position to protest. Contemporary respect
for human dignity is all too often reduced to showing respect for the choices
made by the person, rather than for the person himself or herself.
Even though this respect for human choice may be an implicit recognition
of respect for human dignity, it is of itself insufficient to assure it. This is due to
the fact that human nature does not consist of freedom alone, and because free-
dom is not exercised in the abstract. Rather, the value and authenticity of free-
dom are inseparable from its relationship to objective truth, and to the effects
79
that its exercise bring about in the world, both at the individual and at the social
level.
Indeed, human choices are not only expressions of personal freedom.
These choices always have an impact and not necessarily a positive one on
the persons identity, and on the world. This is especially true for choices that
involve the human body. For human beings do not simply have bodies; rather
their bodies constitute a fundamental and intrinsic part of their very personal cor-
poreal-spiritual beings. Furthermore, we recognize one another in our bodies,
even before we can recognize one another in our thoughts or choices. In reality,
it is not possible to show respect for human beings without showing respect for
their corporal dimension, as it is the vestige or representation of that very image
of God which can be found in every living human being.
Much depends on the recognition of these truths at both the social and the
cultural level, among other things the possibility of channeling our efforts sci-
entific and technological, as well as social and political in such a way that
progress truly serves humanity, instead of putting it at risk. Throughout the past
century, we have witnessed countless tragedies resulting from a one-dimensional
conception of human dignity and freedom. Today as we stand so much in need of
further reflection and action in order to counteract the negative effects of this mis-
conception of freedom, we can consider what contributions the life and teachings
of Blessed Josemara can bring to the great challenge of building up cultures of life.
Perhaps what Blessed Josemara contributes above all else to work in favor
of life, is inspiration. For his message of sanctification of ordinary life is perfectly
consonant with the main trends and values of our times particularly with our
great appreciation of freedom and our enthusiasm and love for the world with-
out losing sight of their roots in the Gospel. On the contrary, the founder of Opus
Dei always considers the human dimension from the theological perspective, that
is, he always views the life of a human being in the context of his or her relation-
ship with God.
Thus, by helping us to understand that ordinary human life is a divine
undertaking, that every aspect of human culture can and should be filled with
Gods love for his Creation, Blessed Josemaras message enables us to re-estab-
lish from within that is, with our personal freedom the bonds between God
and the world. On the other hand, by emphasizing the supernatural reality of the
Christians divine filiation, the founder of Opus Dei encourages ordinary lay men
and women to maintain, and so to speak, complete Gods creation through their
ordinary work and involvement in all human activities, and thereby work to
restore and even increase its original beauty.
In short, Blessed Josemaras modern presentation of the Gospel message
enables us to understand that human beings especially when they are aware of
80 - PAUL SWOPE
their condition as children of God are now the masters of Creation. And con-
sequently that they have the responsibility to care for and foment life, and human
life in particular, so that the technological and scientific progress we desire may
never jeopardize human dignity.
Involvement in building up cultures of life is thus grounded on this aware-
ness. Blessed Josemara often referred to the task entrusted to Christians in the
world as a war of peace and love
1
. Indeed, since God is Love, and we are His
children, we must live our everyday lives seeking to develop this relationship with
Him, so that His love can enliven us and thereby be shared with those around us.
For it is not only that human beings have a divine origin. Rather, it is that every
aspect of our day is meant to have divine meaning. Blessed Josemaras message
helps each person to develop this sense of divine filiation, being aware that the
experience will then naturally lead to a flowering of life-affirming initiatives,
undertaken by the individual in complete freedom, within his or her own daily
circumstances. The testimonies included in this workshop provide a striking
example of this dynamic: of interior life laying the groundwork for intense exte-
rior activity in the world.
The panel on Building up Cultures of Life consisted of eight individuals
from seven different countries. These men and women represent a wonderful
tapestry of lives that have been inspired and transformed by the message and life
of Blessed Josemara. Indeed, one of the benefits of such a Congress is that oth-
ers can see the powerful actions that flow from a life of prayer, and hopefully be
inspired to follow the same path. As Blessed Josemara said: Love is deeds, not
sweet words
2
. Here are eight individuals who demonstrate with the fabric of
their own lives what can be accomplished when a soul is committed to a life of
prayer and service.
Professor Samuel B. Adeloju of Australia works to help his Environmental
Science and Chemistry students to see that if we are to solve global environmen-
tal problems, we need to expand our concern to include genuine consideration for
the spiritual, social, and moral needs of the human person. Professor Adeloju
gives a specific example of how he helped a local community defend itself against
a hazardous waste-processing plant. He put aside personal considerations, being
inspired by the words of Blessed Josemara: We do not love justice if we do not
wish to see it fulfilled in the lives of others. In the same way, it is wrong to shut one-
self up in comfortable religiosity, forgetting the needs of others
3
.
INTRODUCTION - 81
1
Cfr. Christ is Passing By, 76.
2
Friends of God, 72.
3
Christ is Passing By, 52.
Afterwards, we have Jose van Dijck, a doctor of palliative care in Holland,
where euthanasia has taken quite a firm hold. Despite the overwhelming accept-
ance of euthanasia, Dr. van Dijck is able to maintain her optimism, thanks to the
inspiration of Blessed Josemara, who writes: It is not a question of negative cam-
paigns, or of being anti-anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of
optimism, with youthfulness, joy, and peace. We should be understanding with
everybody, with the followers of Christ and with those who abandon Him, or do
not know Him at all. But understanding does not mean holding back, or remain-
ing indifferent, but being active
4
. It was the example of others who lived accord-
ing to the teachings of Blessed Josemara that brought about a deep conversion in
Dr. van Dijcks life. She now spends her adult life being that witness to others.
Dr. Josephine Kunnacherri, who has worked as a doctor in India and
Africa, also spoke in the workshop. As with many of the panelists, she refers to
the deep faith of her parents and how they provided her with a Christian educa-
tion that helped her to appreciate the teachings of Blessed Josemara. Like the
other panelists, she also seemed to stumble upon the influence of the founder of
Opus Dei as if by accident. In her case, she attended the University of Navarre,
not because it was an apostolic work of Opus Dei, but rather because of its solid
professional reputation and its quick reply to her fathers inquiry! At the univer-
sity she happened to work closely with Juan Jimenez Vargas, one of the first faith-
ful of Opus Dei. One example of his spirit of service made a deep impression on
her. He was called at midnight to help a young woman who was pregnant and
unmarried. He went without a word of complaint, and proceeded to help the
woman with as Dr. Kunnacherri explains the love of both a father and a
mother. This woman, who was planning to abort her child, ultimately chose life
for her child. Dr. Kunnacherri has proceeded to give of herself without reserve to
her own patients, and she has remained a staunch witness for life in India, despite
political pressure.
We also present a contribution from Dr. Dolores Voltas Baro, a doctor and
mother of seven, who felt called to help form the first pro-life association in
Spain, despite her busy professional and domestic life. As is typical of those
inspired by the message of Blessed Josemara, she not only started the new proj-
ect, but remained its guiding force for decades, working with numerous groups
that have begun since then. She now heads a pro-life federation in Spain. Dr.
Voltas shares how the decision to assume a new responsibility is not something
sudden or dramatic, and neither does it come from some outside influence. Its
not that I decided overnight to dedicate myself to building a culture of life.
82 - PAUL SWOPE
4
Furrow, 864.
Rather, the spirit of service, the desire to do things well, to be useful and to leave
laziness behind, as Blessed Josemara taught, allow one to complicate ones life bit
by bit. So many organizations and individuals throughout Spain are now grate-
ful to the message of Blessed Josemara that inspired Dr. Voltas to complicate
her life!
Dr. Voltas is followed by Mary Hamm, a mother of 12 children and as
she puts it two non-profit organizations. With vividness and humor, Mary
explains how she was able to make the demands of her family life compatible
with new initiatives. Mary found that the Mass became her anchor for each day,
in accordance with the advice of Blessed Josemara: Keep struggling, so that the
Holy Sacrifice of the Altar really becomes the center and the root of your interi-
or life, and so your whole day will turn into an act of worship an extension of
the Mass you have attended and a preparation for the next
5
. How could a moth-
er of so many children even consider significant involvement in activities outside
the home? Mary answers, It is precisely because I have so many children and
seven of them are girls that I have to find time to fight for the rights of wives and
mothers. Mary was a founding member of the National Institute of Woman-
hood, and attended the United Nations conference in Cairo. She then worked as
a lobbyist at the United Nations, and later became a founding member and staff
member of a local crisis pregnancy center.
Martha Lorena de Casco, a journalist from Honduras, was also a panelist.
Her story offers hope to anyone who feels that he or she is working against over-
whelming odds! Our Lord seems to have prepared her in a special way with per-
sonal hardships in childbirth, where she personally experienced that Sorrow is
the touchstone of love
6
. Martha was a founder of the first pro-life committee in
Honduras, and she helped to successfully repulse three attempts to legalize abor-
tion in her country. Seeing the urgent need for a positive and informed response
to the population control movement, Martha began an educational campaign in
this area. This experience led her to see the need to work directly with young
women, and she thus became an active supporter of crisis pregnancy centers.
Later, she was involved in coordinating relief efforts after Hurricane Mitch dev-
astated her country, and also attended the Beijing Population Conference. She
faced fierce persecution at almost every step from political and social groups, but
Martha drew strength from aphorisms of Blessed Josemara such as: What does
it matter if you have the whole world against you, with all its power? You [...]
keep going!
7
. She concludes: I learned from Blessed Josemara that even if all
INTRODUCTION - 83
5
The Forge, 69.
6
The Way, 439.
7
Ibidem, 482.
you can do is a tiny bit of good in history, you must do it. A true Christian does-
nt make petty calculations about such important matters.
Two participants were not panelists, but rather read their papers from the
audience. One was Dr. Carlos Fernandez del Castillo from Mexico, who spoke of
how the ancient and honorable tradition of medicine, based on the desire to heal
and to serve ones fellow man, can be raised to an even deeper level of sanctifying
love. Dr. Castillo eloquently shares how as a practicing Catholic, he came to
realize how little he really knew about his faith. The writings of Blessed Josemara
revealed a way of acting that until then, he had been incapable of appreciating.
He also discovered that there is no limit to ones relationship with God, and
this relationship has since provided greater joy and effectiveness to all of the areas
of his life.
Professor Manuel Ferrer Regales from Spain shared a paper discussing his
work with demographics, a science that can be filled with gloom about the dan-
gers of over-population and that at times seems to offer little hope for the future.
Applying the insights of Blessed Josemara, Professor Ferrer has worked to offer
a more holistic view of history and the human person. While accepting that soci-
eties must exercise a responsible dominion over the earths resources, he sees
that priority must be given to the dignity and freedom of every human person.
Due to the urgent importance of this message for todays world, Professor Ferrer
has, relying on the ambition and optimism encouraged by Blessed Josemara,
reached out beyond academic circles to communicate his message through the
modern media.
The impact of individuals such as these on their society is impossible to
calculate. Their testimonies are profound enough to be the subject of contempla-
tive prayer, while also detailed enough to be used as a guide for practical action.
With the natural shortcomings of every human life, they are nevertheless a wor-
thy testament to the profound life and teachings of Blessed Josemara.
84 - PAUL SWOPE
Dream and Your Dreams
Will Fall Short of Reality
Mary Hamm
She is the Executive Director of Tepeyac Pregnancy Resource Center in Silver Spring, Maryland
where she has worked since 1994. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Heartbeat Inter-
national, a Christian affiliate organization of over 700 pregnancy centers worldwide. She is a
founding board member of the National Institute of Womanhood, has served as Vice-President
in 1993-1994 and currently serves on their Advisory Board.
When people ask me how many children I have, I often say that I have
twelve plus two non-profits. They always laugh, but the ones who laugh loudest
are the ones who are involved in the work of non-profits, or NGOs (non-govern-
mental organizations) as they are known at the United Nations. This is because
working for one of these is like having another child.
Looking back on the last twenty five years the time in which I gave birth
to the twelve kids and two non-profits it is clear that the influence of Blessed
Josemara has been a constant source of inspiration and guidance.
First, the twelve children. I met my husband Peter and fell in love at the
young age of fifteen. At that time I had just come into contact with Opus Dei and
I was becoming aware of the writings of Blessed Josemara mostly through
books The Way and then Furrow and The Forge.
All the points that I read therein recalled what my parents had taught me
about that which Blessed Josemara called unity of life
1
. That is, that we cannot
live a schizophrenic existence where we do whatever we want Monday through
Saturday and then piously go to Church on Sunday only to forget it all until next
Sunday. His writings reinforced the notion that our sacramental and prayer life has
to inform our everyday life. The teaching that most stands out in my mind was that
the Mass is the center and root of our interior life: Keep struggling, so that the
85
1
Cfr. Friends of God, 165.
Holy Sacrifice of the Altar really becomes the center and the root of your interior
life, and so your whole day will turn into an act of worship an extension of the
Mass you have attended and a preparation for the next. Your whole day will then
be an act of worship that overflows in aspirations, visits to the Blessed Sacrament
and the offering up of your professional work and your family life
2
.
My parents were daily communicants and they also had a large family and
several non-profits. I had seen them fast from midnight on and I had seen the
devotion with which they gathered us to say the family Rosary. They lost every-
thing they had materially when they left Cuba but they gave us the most impor-
tant thing their faith in God, the Church, Our Lady and the Pope. It is there-
fore clear how the writings of Blessed Josemara fit right in with the formation I
was given at home: Offer your prayer, your atonement, and your action for this
end: ut sint unum! that all of us Christians may share one will, one heart, one
spirit. This is so that omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam that we may all go
to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary
3
.
I also learned from Blessed Josemara to offer up all my daily work at the
Offertory of the Mass and to unite it to the five wounds of Christ. As the mother of
a large family especially when I had eleven children under the age of fifteen I
found myself spending most of my time providing for their physical needs. Some-
times it seemed that as I finished cleaning up after one meal, it was time for the next
one. At night I would throw some laundry in to wash, run the vacuum, and the next
day the cycle of providing food, shelter, and clothing would start all over again.
The laundry has always been my biggest challenge. But one day I was sitting in
Mass, offering my laundry to Our Lord during the Offertory when I looked up at
the big crucifix and saw a laundry basket in each of the five wounds. I think it was
a very graphic reminder of what Blessed Josemara taught about the unity of life.
In short, I spent the first eighteen years of my married life building a cul-
ture of life at home, trying to create a bright and cheerful home as Blessed Jose-
mara had taught: If you live marriage as God wishes you to, in a holy way, your
house will be a bright and cheerful home, full of peace and joy
4
.
It was then that I began to expand my sphere of influence and become
more involved in a visible way with building the culture of life. Since I had seven
daughters, the issues surrounding the education of women were central to our
lives. As a graduate of Harvard University people would often comment: You
went to Harvard and you have eleven kids! To which I would quickly reply:
86 - MARY HAMM
2
The Forge, 69.
3
Ibidem, 647.
4
Christ is Passing By, 78.
They taught me that if you are going to do something, do it big. But the under-
lying assumptions of such comments were always the same that a woman with
an education is wasting her time if she has a family.
Once again, Blessed Josemaras words came to mind. These world crises
are crises of saints
5
and launch out into the deep
6
. I realized that I had to get
involved in the apostolate of public opinion because it was clear that if we
could influence the decision-makers at the top, then we could affect the culture
at large.
It was around this time in 1992 that Cecilia Royals invited me to be on the
founding Board of Directors of the National Institute of Womanhood. At NIW
(my first non-profit) we were attempting to articulate the meaning of authentic
womanhood. We wanted to defend the roles of woman as companion to man
and mother to her children. It was becoming more and more apparent that the
fight for womans advancement was being fought at the expense of womans basic
roles as wife and mother.
When people would ask how I could find time for NIW with eleven chil-
dren, I would respond: It is precisely because I have eleven children and seven
of them are girls, that I have to find time to fight for the rights of wives and moth-
ers. I knew my girls would go on to higher places of learning such as Harvard
and the words of Blessed Josemara kept ringing in my ears: Paradox: sanctity is
more attainable than learning, but it is easier to be learned than to be a saint
7
.
Another article by Blessed Josemara that influenced me a lot was an inter-
view he did with Tad Szulc, a journalist of the New York Times, which was pub-
lished in Conversations with Monsignor Escriv. There he expressed his belief
that while women could and should work at all professions, they had special tal-
ents for the service professions, such as nursing and teaching. At first this struck
me as sexist. I was after all a child of the sixties raised to believe that men and
women are not only equal but basically the same. But knowing that Blessed Jose-
mara was not only a saint but a scholar as well, I saw that I had to study the issue
further and try to understand what he meant. I realized that his response, even
though it might at first glance appear somewhat discriminatory towards women,
was really signaling not so much the range of professions open to women, as the
real contribution that women could make to human life with what is specifically
feminine: her way of living and working, teaching, helping, and protecting.
DREAM AND YOUR DREAMS WILL FALL SHORT OF REALITY - 87
5
The Way, 301.
6
Friends of God, 21.
7
The Way, 282.
Enter the Cairo conference of the United Nations. It was during the
preparations for this conference that NIW first became involved in the interna-
tional arena. As vice-president of NIW, we fought long and hard to ensure that
the nations of the world respected the womans place in the family. In 1995 at the
Beijing Womens Conference, the rhetoric on womens rights became even more
heated. At that time, there was an international campaign to redefine the role of
woman more as a tool and instrument of production than as the primary caregiv-
er of her children, and companion to her spouse.
Blessed Josemaras admonition that your boat, your talents, your hopes,
your achievement, is worth nothing whatsoever unless you leave it in Christs
hands, allowing him the freedom to come aboard
8
, reminded me constantly that
we had to weave our time of prayer into our daily work to make it effective. Find-
ing time for daily Mass and other practices of piety, while roaming the halls of the
United Nations was a constant struggle but one that was rewarded with serenity
and peace amongst great adversity and confusion. Quick ejaculatory prayers were
sent flying every time a delegate with an opposing viewpoint took the micro-
phone. For me it was the clearest example of spiritual warfare that I have ever
experienced. These world crises are crises of saints.
In 1995 I had to resign from NIW to find paid work to help pay for the col-
lege tuition of my older children. Centro Tepeyac was already a part of my life as
I was already serving on the founding Board of Directors. This crisis pregnancy
center which focuses on helping Latino immigrant women was a natural fit after
working as a volunteer for NIW. There I saw all of the issues about reproductive
rights that we had argued about at the international level, being played out daily
at the pregnancy center.
Blessed Josemaras appeal to fight the rising tide of sensuality was always
on my mind. The women that come to our center are usually victims of sensuali-
ty run amok. They are usually not married to the man whose child they are carry-
ing, and often they come to us looking for what they think is a quick and easy
solution abortion. Blessed Josemaras teaching that every soul is a wonderful
treasure; every man is unique and irreplaceable. Every single person is worth all
the blood of Christ
9
reassured me that there are no souls for the trash can.
This is especially applicable to the unborn children of these poor women.
I was struck by the answer Blessed Josemara once gave to a question
posed to him by a South American woman. Father, she asked, what do you
say to a poor woman who goes to one of those foreign funded clinics because she
88 - MARY HAMM
8
Friends of God, 21.
9
Christ is Passing By, 80.
is pregnant and they tell her to have an abortion? I can still see the look of hor-
ror on his face at hearing the word abortion. But what was even more astonishing
was his response. He gave her an argument which clearly manifests how irrational
a solution abortion is: Tell her what that son of mine who is a doctor told a
poor woman who already had many children who came into his clinic wanting to
abort he told her, Bring me your oldest one and I will kill that one since he
eats a lot more than this new little one will eat. Blessed Josemara had a way
with words and this was one more example of how he used graphic images to
teach. This example stuck with me and it has helped me to encourage the women
who come to Tepeyac not to kill their smallest and most innocent child.
In looking back over the past six years at Centro Tepeyac, I can see only
motives to give thanks for what God in His Goodness has been able to accom-
plish. I can honestly say that our phenomenal growth is most certainly due to the
graces that have come from our effort to live at all times in the presence of God,
since God does not let Himself be outdone in generosity
10
. We are very lucky
that St. Michaels Church is right next door, as this facilitates turning our desires
to live in His presence into reality into moments of prayer as we have
learned from Blessed Josemara. Every morning on my way to work I make a visit
to the Blessed Sacrament from my car if the door is locked. And I think of the
story that Blessed Josemara told of the milkman that he would see coming into
the Church on his daily rounds delivering milk. That man told Blessed Josemara
very simply that everyday he would enter the church only to say: Here I am
Lord, John the Milkman we too go to Him and to Our Lady and pray to have
the strength to go about our daily work with simplicity and cheerfulness.
I am lucky in that my brother, who first introduced me to Blessed Jose-
mara, has made audiotapes of The Way, Furrow, and The Forge. For years now, I
have been able to listen to them in the car as I drive to work. This repetition has
allowed me to experience the points at different times in my life when my own
needs and spiritual perceptions were different. For instance I remember when I
first heard about the letter-apostolate
11
. I became aware that in writing thank
you notes and direct mail appeals, I needed to look beyond my immediate work
to the spiritual needs of those I write to. Also Blessed Josemaras words about the
apostolate of public opinion have taught me the importance of preparing myself
professionally so that I can influence those who write about the pro-life issues
that I work with everyday. Letters to the editor and articles about pro-life issues
have been a way to live out his advice to strive to positively influence my envi-
ronment.
DREAM AND YOUR DREAMS WILL FALL SHORT OF REALITY - 89
10
The Forge, 623.
11
The Way, 976-977.
Blessed Josemaras desire to reach all men, and to live out the communion
of saints was brought home to me when I heard the anecdote about how when he
saw the astronauts landing on the moon on television, he immediately started
praying for them by name. At Tepeyac, we have the image of Our Lady of
Guadalupe hanging in our kitchen area and we put post-it notes on it with prayer
intentions for the women who are in serious trouble.
I am lucky to be working in a Center devoted to Our Lady because we can
freely bring her into all our counseling. It is amazing how much Blessed Jose-
maras practice of putting oneself into the Gospels and meditating on the scenes
of Our Lady and Christs life can be helpful. The fact that Mary was pregnant
before she lived with Joseph, is something that our women can relate to. On her
trip to Bethlehem on a donkey, in difficult circumstances without a roof over her
head, and on her journey into Egypt, we can imagine her thinking that she did not
know anyone in those places. These are all images that are relevant for our immi-
grant clients and allow us to help explain how she understands their situations.
We keep plenty of prayer cards to Our Lady of Guadalupe at hand for all our
clients.
In closing I would like to reiterate the often-repeated teaching of Blessed
Josemara that we should always aim high in everything we do. If we dream, never
underestimating the good that we can do when we unite ourselves to Christ and
His Mother, reality will surpass our dreams.
90 - MARY HAMM
Developing a More Compassionate
Environmental Attitude
Samuel B. Adeloju
Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science, School of Science, Food and Horticulture,
University of Western Sydney, NSW, Australia.
1. INTRODUCTION
My first introduction to the teachings of Blessed Josemara Escriv was
about 20 years ago when I had just started my Ph.D research work. I was most
fascinated by his views on work and the connection he made about this with
Opus Dei as the work of God. Although the idea of doing my work for God was
not foreign to me, I found the depth of his consideration of this subject to be spir-
itually novel, and yet, simple and truthful. From this experience, I became very
keen to know more about his teachings and found myself reading several books
about him or those that he had written. Soon the knowledge that all work can be
offered up to God for good intentions gave work and indeed hard work, which I
was already used to, a whole new meaning. My efforts and struggle in living this
teaching raised the standard of my work to a higher plane and I knew back then
that I must find ways of passing on the teachings of Blessed Josemara in my pro-
fessional work.
The main opportunity I have had in spreading and incorporating the
teachings of Blessed Josemara in my professional work has been through my lec-
tures and practical work with my students on environmental issues. A very rele-
vant and useful teaching of Blessed Josemara for me in this task is his view that
this world of ours will be saved, let me remind you, not by those who try to
deaden awareness of the life of the spirit, reducing everything to a matter of eco-
nomics or material well-being, but by those who have faith in God and in the
eternal destiny of man, and who know how to receive the truth of Christ as a light
91
providing direction for action and conduct [...]
1
. In living the spirit of this
teaching in my profession I have, through my examples and lectures, encouraged
my students not to focus on the pessimistic and materialistic concerns that are
often central to some of the current debates on environmental issues. This teach-
ing has also made it obvious to me that if we are to solve global environmental
problems we need to expand our concern to include genuine consideration for
the spiritual, social and moral needs of the human person. I often use these
human dimensions to emphasise to my students of the need for us to be more
compassionate and be more considerate of others who are less fortunate when
dealing with environmental issues. I also often challenge them to respond con-
sciously and not passively to the debates on environmental issues of social signif-
icance. In doing this I am always mindful that a desire to work for the common
good must be matched through my profession by forming competent men and
women who can pass on to others the maturity which they have achieved.
In the rest of this presentation, I will share with you how the teachings of
Blessed Josemara have helped me in encouraging my environmental science and
chemistry students to develop a more compassionate environmental attitude. I
will also demonstrate how these teachings have encouraged me to take a stance
for social responsibility, particularly in those dimensions that are specifically
human, in dealing with our current environmental issues.
2. RESPONDING TO CHANGE
The acceptance of change or the need to change some of our past habits
and take responsibility for our actions can be a daunting task, especially when we
are very much set in our ways of doing things. Blessed Josemara gave me a vivid
and useful example in this area, of how we should not be afraid of change even in
or up to our old age, by demonstrating, at over seventy years old and having said
Mass for forty-seven years under the old rubrics, that he was still as determined
as ever to say Mass as perfectly as possible under the new rubrics
2
. I have found
this example of Blessed Josemara useful in emphasising the need and willingness
to respond to change with a positive attitude in my lectures. This has been par-
ticularly useful in diffusing the often pessimistic messages associated with some
of the global environmental issues in the media. This example of Blessed Jose-
92 - SAMUEL B. ADELOJU
1
J. ESCRIV, Talk of 9 May 1974, El compromiso de la verdad, in Josemara Escriv de Bala-
guer y la Universidad, Pamplona 1993, p. 109.
2
J.M. GARCA LAHIGUERA, in Testimonies to a Man of God: Blessed Josemara Escriv, New
York 1992, vol. 1, pp. 25-28.
mara has spurred me on over the years to focus on teaching others about the true
issues involved with our global environmental problems, with the expectation
that people will respond more easily to change if they have a better understand-
ing of the issues involved. My efforts in this area over the years have included aca-
demic lectures, public environmental forums, radio and television interviews,
newspaper articles and seminar/conference presentations.
Blessed Josemaras teaching on human weakness also reminds me con-
stantly about my responsibility in this area because as he said: [...] We do not
love justice if we do not wish to see it fulfilled in the lives of others. In the same
way it is wrong to shut oneself up in comfortable religiosity, forgetting the needs
of others
3
. I have been drawn by these words on many occasions to act for the
needs of others, rather than focusing only on my personal professional accom-
plishments. One example of this was when I was drawn, on my reflection on these
words, to speak out in 1991 for a concerned community about environmental
pollution in a suburb called Londonderry in Western Sydney where our universi-
ty is located. At that time there was growing concern that a government-owned
waste treatment and processing plant located in the area was introducing nasty
pollutants to the environment, but the issue, and the concern of the local com-
munity, was not being taken seriously. With the desire to see justice done in the
life of the people of Londonderry I decided to carry out a voluntary independent
investigation in this area. This action subsequently resulted in several interviews
in the newspapers, radio and television, bringing the issue and concern of the
people to the fore. Before long there was a government inquiry and other investi-
gations in this area, in both of which I participated. On the balance of available
evidence, the state government decided to close down the waste treatment plant
in Londonderry. The courage for me to stick my neck out in such a controversial
issue is rooted in this and other teachings of Blessed Josemara and I always use
this example to encourage my students to develop a spirit of generosity, particu-
larly in caring about the needs of others. I strongly believe that this is the expec-
tation of Blessed Josemara of my academic profession when he said that uni-
versity people should be responsible citizens with a healthy concern for the
problems of other people and a generous spirit which bring them to face these
problems and to resolve them in the best possible way. It is the task of the uni-
versities to foster these activities in their students
4
.
DEVELOPING A MORE COMPASSIONATE ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDE - 93
3
Christ is Passing By, 52.
4
Conversations, 74.
3. RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Central to the need for us to be generous and more caring about others is
what I often describe to my student: as the Greed Factor the desire to want
more than we require. The more we want the quicker we deplete our resources
and the more waste we generate. I have found the teaching of Blessed Josemara
Escriv on poverty: [...] dont create needs for yourself
5
to be very useful in
teaching about the dangers of materialism. I often demonstrate the need to strug-
gle against this temptation by avoiding, and encouraging my students and staff to
avoid, the often mad rush about purchasing the latest gadgets. Even in my pro-
fessional work I often emphasize the need to buy only what is absolutely neces-
sary for whatever we do.
The need to control our greed is even more pressing at a global level. Let
us consider two of the well-known global environmental issues, such as global
warming and the hole in the ozone layer. The main contributors to the cause of
these problems are the high-income nations. Among them they contribute 22% of
the global population, but they use 80% of the global resources and generate
80% of all wastes and pollutants. There is, without doubt, a serious imbalance
here with respect to resource utilisation and waste generation which I often high-
light to my students, and in particular a need for those of us in high income
nations where all the resources are available, to be more compassionate and gen-
erous to others in low income nations and to work against wastage of resources.
This also helps me to emphasize that the need to overcome greed and selfishness,
driven by the on-going push for materialism and self-centredness in high-income
nations, should be uppermost in our thoughts. The cause and danger of selfish-
ness is well explained by Blessed Josemara who stated that it is pride that con-
stantly makes people think: mine, mine, mine. It is a vice that makes men sterile
and fruitless. It destroys their keenness to work for God and leads them to waste
their time. As for you, dont lose your effectiveness; instead, trample on your self-
ishness. You think your life is for yourself? Your life is for God, for the good of all
men, through your love of our Lord
6
. I find this teaching useful in highlighting
that the root-cause of the problem with greed and selfishness is pride which can
be wasteful, but can be overcome if we trample on it. I also demonstrate this to my
students by being more considerate and patient in my dealings with them and giv-
ing more of myself to my staff and students.
94 - SAMUEL B. ADELOJU
5
The Way, 630.
6
Friends of God, 47.
4. NEED FOR A CHANGE OF ATTITUDE
One area where the teaching of Blessed Josemara has most influenced my
view on global environmental issues is in responding to the on-going myths about
population growth and environment. If we consider that most of our global
resources are used up in the less populated high-income nations where most of
the global wastes and pollutants are generated it becomes clearer that some of the
views expressed in this area do not stand up to scrutiny. The real twist in this
debate lies in the fact that most low-income nations do not produce enough food
for their populations and they cannot afford to import food to meet the shortfall.
To clarify the nature of this problem I often highlight to my students that the
world food production has generally increased faster than population growth
since 1950. In fact the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has
recently estimated that the world could feed 30-35 billion people if we fully
employed present technologies. This is 5-6 times more than our current global
population. I find this useful in stressing to my students that what is needed is a
better strategy for a fair and even distribution of our global food resources, as
well as a great expression of compassion to those in low-income nations. The
teaching of Blessed Josemara on generosity has been useful here in providing a
simple basis for explaining why we need a fair and even distribution of global
resources, such as food, and how it can be accomplished. Undoubtedly, a reap-
praisal of global food production will be required to make this work. One of the
points I highlight to my students is that it is of no immediate benefit to the low-
income nations if all we want to do is to argue against deforestation in countries
and regions, such as Brazil and Africa, while the majority of people in these parts
of the world can still not be fed. I often find this example useful in emphasising
to my students that we cannot just shrug our shoulders and go about our own
business without a fair concern that God gave us the earth to use, not only for our
own good, but for that of our neighbours as well.
In conclusion, the teachings of Blessed Josemara have provided me, over
the years, with the necessary tools for developing a more compassionate environ-
mental attitude in my students. More specifically, his teachings on work, generosity,
human weakness and poverty have helped me to highlight the wastefulness and dan-
gers of selfishness, materialismand pessimismto my students. This has consequent-
ly enabled me to train them to become mature and competent men and women
who are willing to share and use their knowledge for the good of society.
DEVELOPING A MORE COMPASSIONATE ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDE - 95
La batalla por la vida en Honduras
Martha Lorena de Casco
Fundadora y presidenta del Comit Pro-Vida de Honduras. Miembro de la Alianza Latinoameri-
cana para la Familia y del Pontificio Consejo para la Familia. Ha representado a Honduras en las
reuniones de la Conferencia de Poblacin y Desarrollo (El Cairo), as como de la IV Conferencia
de la Mujer (Beijing). Miembro de la Delegacin de la Santa Sede en las Conferencias de las Nacio-
nes Unidas Habitat en Estambul y en la reunin Cairo+5 en New York y Beijing+5 en New York.
Todo tiene un principio. La primera vez que vi al Beato Josemara Escriv
de Balaguer, fue en una secuencia de fotos en la cual una anciana indgena arro-
dillada, le besaba la mano y l, a su vez, se hincaba para besarle la mano a ella. Los
dos de rodillas, frente a frente, con una mirada intensa; un encuentro emotivo
que plasm vivamente aquello que l siempre predic: No hay ms que una raza,
la raza de los hijos de Dios!
1
.
Esta imagen fue para m determinante. All haba alguien, una persona
muy especial; alguien que saba amar, que vea en cada persona algo ms; un hom-
bre de gran humanidad. Alguien que, si bien es cierto que ya no viva en aquel
momento, yo dese intensamente llegar a conocer. Puedo decir que, desde ese
momento, todo lo referente a l me atrajo profundamente. Y, poco a poco, con el
paso del tiempo, por medio de sus hijos y de sus escritos, lo he ido descubriendo.
Con motivo de la invitacin a participar en este workshop, he tenido la
oportunidad de reflexionar sobre cmo el Beato Josemara ha infludo en vida.
Quisiera referirme, en concreto, a mi trabajo en favor de la vida, trabajo que rea-
lizo en Honduras desde hace ms de dieciocho aos.
Hay un punto en Camino, su libro ms famoso, que dice: No olvides que
el Dolor es la piedra de toque del Amor
2
. Creo que, de alguna manera, as me
fue preparando Dios para esta aventura de la defensa de la vida.
97
1
Surco, 303.
2
Cfr. Camino, 439.
Inici mi vida matrimonial con el augurio dolorossimo de que probable-
mente no tendra hijos. Gracias a Dios, al cabo de unos pocos aos, naci nuestra
primera hija. Cuando ella era apenas una beb, creci en m la devocin al Beato
y le ped entonces que intercediera para que tuviramos ms hijos. Fue sta una
empresa nada fcil. Tuve que perder cuatro bebs y pasar por mucho dolor fsico
y moral. Meses enteros de cama y de miedos. Eso s, mucho tiempo para pensar;
aos en los cuales sus escritos y su ejemplo me sirvieron para no desfallecer y, ms
an, para crecer para adentro. Qu fuerza tena para m, aquel punto 12 de
Camino: Crcete ante los obstculos. La gracia del Seor no te ha de faltar.
Pasars a travs de los montes! Qu importa que de momento hayas de recor-
tar tu actividad, si luego, como muelle que fue comprimido, llegars sin compa-
racin, ms lejos que nunca soaste?.
Finalmente, llegaron dos hijos ms. Y as, mientras sufra por dar la vida,
ms el dolor de haber perdido mis criaturas y el gozo de haber logrado una linda
familia, despert en m una fuerte pasin por defender la vida y la familia.
Al mismo tiempo, y con mucho realismo, descubra la tremenda cultura de
muerte y, a su vez, la osada que significaba pretender cambiarla. Frente a las ins-
tituciones que promovan esta cultura contraria a la vida y a la dignidad de la per-
sona humana y la familia, que contaban y cuentan con enormes medios econmi-
cos y suficiente capacidad de condicionar las decisiones de nuestros gobiernos,
evidentemente estbamos en una situacin de absoluta desproporcin, al estilo
de David y Goliat. Prcticamente, una locura.
De esta manera, apoyados en la fuerza del Beato Josemara quien nos
ensea que la gran arma es la oracin, en su ejemplo, su empeo y su audacia, en
su alegra y confianza en Dios, aunado a ese complejo de superioridad que deca
l
3
deben tener todos los hijos de Dios, nos lanzamos a la palestra pblica.
Con mpetu, nos empujaba aquel grito del Beato, porque as me lo parece
el primer punto de Camino: Que tu vida no sea una vida estril. S til.
Deja poso. Ilumina con la luminaria de tu fe y de tu amor.
Borra con tu vida la seal viscosa y sucia que dejaron los sembradores
impuros del odio. Y enciende todos los caminos de la tierra con el fuego de
Cristo que llevas en el corazn.
Y as, con poco, yo dira que con casi nada, asumimos junto con mi espo-
so y unos queridos amigos, el compromiso de defender el derecho a la vida en mi
pas, fundando una organizacin civil: el Comit Pro-Vida de Honduras.
En el ao 1983, se pretenda legalizar el aborto en nuestro pas. A pesar de
que todo esfuerzo pareca ya intil, pues el Congreso Nacional haba aprobado
98 - MARTHA LORENA DE CASCO
3
Cfr. Forja, 537.
los artculos que despenalizaban el aborto, hicimos una fuerte presin en los
medios de comunicacin y un contacto sistemtico con los diputados. Esto les
hizo tomar conciencia del grave error que significaba abrir las puertas al aborto.
Para sorpresa nuestra, el proyecto fue nuevamente sometido a votacin y el abor-
to sigui penalizado, como siempre lo haba estado.
Este resultado, obtenido con tan pocos medios, nos anim a mantener una
voz permanente en nuestra sociedad. Evidentemente, no tenamos muchos recur-
sos ni tampoco mucho conocimiento sobre el tema, lo que nos oblig a estudiar,
asistir a reuniones y congresos internacionales, para profundizar en nuestro tra-
bajo. El contacto con diferentes personalidades y expertos, adems del acceso a
material informativo, abri un horizonte muy claro sobre la magnitud de la cul-
tura de la muerte y las fuerzas econmicas y polticas que la respaldan y promue-
ven. Recordar la vida del Beato Josemara en aquellos aos que vivi durante la
guerra civil espaola y cmo continu su camino a pesar de las terribles dificulta-
des, nos daba el nimo que necesitbamos.
Hubo dos intentos posteriores al de 1983 de despenalizacin del aborto,
que nos obligaron a realizar fuertes manifestaciones pblicas con la participacin
de los distintos sectores de nuestra sociedad. Gracias a Dios, ambos intentos fra-
casaron. Actualmente, en Honduras el aborto no se permite bajo ninguna cir-
cunstancia y se penaliza como el asesinato del nio en el vientre de su madre.
La lucha por la vida nos oblig a desenmascarar todas las actividades de
control de natalidad promovidas por agencias y organizaciones internacionales.
Es importante destacar que, en este sentido, se han atropellado brutalmente
nuestros pueblos. Una de las luchas ms difciles que hemos sostenido fue la
demanda que presentamos contra el Estado por un programa experimental de
control de natalidad en el que se utiliz una determinada pastilla. Tales pastillas
se daban especficamente a las madres lactantes para evitar embarazos, a pesar de
ser la principal contraindicacin de la casa productora, por desconocerse los
efectos de la droga en los pequeos lactantes cuando llegaran a la pubertad. Fue
una largusima pelea legal. El fallo fue favorable al Comit Pro-Vida, a pesar de
que el Estado estaba respaldado por algunas agencias internacionales. Este pro-
grama experimental fue posteriormente cancelado.
No es fcil describir las actividades de las organizaciones de control de
natalidad, entre las que hay varias agencias internacionales y organizaciones no
gubernamentales respaldadas y financiadas por pases econmicamente ms
desarrollados, quienes han violado abiertamente el derecho a la informacin y a
la salud y, obviamente, a la vida. Las campaas sistemticas de esterilizaciones e
inserciones de dispositivos intrauterinos (DIUS), entre otros, omiten y ocultan
informacin sobre estos mtodos, habindose ofrecido incluso incentivos econ-
micos a mujeres para que se esterilizaran.
LA BATALLA POR LA VIDA EN HONDURAS - 99
Con frecuencia, hemos denunciado el desbalance que existe en todo el sis-
tema de salud pblica en nuestro pas. El nfasis desproporcionado en relacin
con los programas de salud reproductiva y de salud bsica es evidente. No sor-
prende ir a las clnicas rurales y encontrar provisiones sin lmite de toda la gama
de contraconceptivos y una tremenda escasez de medicamentos bsicos como los
antibiticos, antidiarreicos, etc. Es importante mencionar que los mdicos que
trabajan para el Estado en clnicas rurales deben dar un informe mensual de las
usuarias de dispositivos intrauterinos, pastillas y esterilizaciones.
En un pas con necesidades primarias de salud, es inconcebible que exista
a nivel nacional, una red de 1600 distribuidoras comunitarias de contraceptivos
financiadas desde el exterior. La manejan mujeres lderes de su comunidad, prc-
ticamente analfabetas, entrenadas por una agencia internacional para promover y
distribuir el uso de unos seis productos de anticoncepcin. En estos programas,
se ignoran las contraindicaciones y efectos secundarios de estas drogas. Lo que
interesa es aumentar el volumen de consumo. En fin, son incontables los hilos de
esta inmensa madeja que propician en nuestras tierras las transnacionales del
aborto y del control de natalidad.
No menos intensa y difcil ha sido la lucha contra las campaas en favor del
sexo seguro y los programas de educacin sexual tambin promovidos y
financiados por los pases del primer mundo quienes condicionan su ayuda a
que se implante una nueva forma de vida muy diferente a nuestra idiosincrasia.
Hemos visto expuestos, a travs de diferentes medios de comunicacin social, los
manuales y videos de educacin sexual que incentivan abiertamente las relacio-
nes sexuales fuera del matrimonio, el homosexualismo, la prostitucin, los dere-
chos de los adolescentes a una vida sexual activa, etc. La mayora de estos cursos
se inician en los primeros aos de escuela, a espaldas de los propios padres de
familia.
No encuentro palabras para describirles la destruccin que se ha hecho en
nuestros pueblos por medio de estos programas que, segn sus promotores, preten-
den disminuir la pobreza y emancipar a la mujer. Su influencia ha agravado la pobre-
za econmica y moral de parte de la poblacin, y ha ocasionado un crecimiento cada
vez ms alarmante de inseguridad ciudadana. Desgraciadamente, ha aumentado el
nmero de nios abandonados y la irresponsabilidad materna y paterna.
Afortundamente, no todo ha sido denuncia. El Beato Josemara nos ense-
a que hay que ahogar el mal en abundancia de bien
4
. Asimismo, hemos desa-
rrollado una serie de actividades, especialmente para jvenes: cursos de defenso-
res de la vida, jornadas por la vida, actividades en la va pblica, programas de
100 - MARTHA LORENA DE CASCO
4
Surco, 864; Forja, 848; Es Cristo que pasa, 72.
radio, etc. Los servicios de nuestra biblioteca y videoteca se ofrecen a todos los
colegios, universidades y grupos juveniles.
Se ha llevado el mensaje pro-vida a las zonas rurales, por medio de charlas,
seminarios, exposiciones en ferias y distribucin de literatura. Con frecuencia, se
nos invita a dar charlas en crceles, batallones militares, en la Escuela de Defensa
Nacional; en orfelinatos, a los cuerpos de bomberos y a diferentes grupos religio-
sos; a congresistas y a gremios mdicos. Adems, hemos organizado congresos a
nivel centroamericano, con la participacin de expertos internacionales.
Sin embargo, considero que lo ms importante es el hecho que en el trans-
curso de todo este tiempo, se han salvado muchos bebs y muchas mams. Esta
tarea es verdaderamente apasionante: ayudar a la mujer embarazada en crisis;
darle apoyo, cario y tambin ayuda material, en algunos casos, me ha enseado
la capacidad extraordinaria del ser humano de abrirse al amor y a la vida si
encuentra alguien que le escuche, le consuele y le acompae. Es innegable que la
opcin por la vida es una victoria definitiva de la persona y, consecuentemente, de
toda la sociedad.
Realmente, es vastsimo el campo que hemos abarcado en nuestro empeo
por implementar una cultura por la vida. Despus del huracn Mitch, que azot
nuestro pas a finales del ao 1998, nos involucramos con un grupo de mujeres de
una poblacin rural, para contribuir con un proyecto de desarrollo de viviendas
y alcantarillado, adems de ayudarles con su formacin integral.
Otro reto, que en un inicio nos pareca el ms difcil, ha sido la obtencin
de fondos. Sin embargo, nunca nos han faltado. Hemos constatado muchsimas
veces aquello que deca el Beato Josemara: Cuando te entregues a Dios, no
habr dificultad que pueda remover tu optimismo
5
. Aprend del Beato Jose-
mara a calcular los medios que tenemos sumando de manera muy distinta, con-
tando con la ayuda de Dios. Lgicamente, siempre hay que poner tambin
todos los medios humanos a nuestro alcance. As, la frmula ha sido siempre:
Dios + 2+2
6
...
Actualmente, es difcil establecer cuntos cientos de miles de hondureos
han recibido de manera directa el mensaje pro-vida. No obstante, podemos afir-
mar que, a travs de la radio, de la televisin y los diarios, se ha transmitido con
bastante frecuencia en todo el pas.
En lo referente a la colaboracin que hemos recibido de la prensa, ha con-
tribuido el hecho de que yo soy periodista. La amistad sincera, en este caso con
los colegas de profesin, es un camino que lleva al respeto y a la verdad. No deja
LA BATALLA POR LA VIDA EN HONDURAS - 101
5
Camino, 476.
6
Cfr. ibidem, 471.
nunca de maravillarme el sentido profundo que el Beato Josemara le da a la
autntica amistad: cario sincero, meterse en el corazn, no quedarse en la peri-
feria por respetos humanos o por no complicarse la vida. Es verdaderamente otra
dimensin de lo que generalmente conocemos por amistad.
He visto a algunos periodistas rechazar contratos y ofertas de trabajo, e
incluso reconocimientos de parte de organizaciones de control natal. Conozco
dueos de medios que, a pesar de fuertes presiones, nos han dado siempre la
oportunidad de participar en sus programas. Tambin he sido testigo de la alegra
de una inmensa cantidad de personas que, al escuchar nuestra participacin en
foros y debates pblicos, reafirman el valor de la vida humana y la vigencia de lo
que constituyen las races de nuestra cultura.
Soad y os quedaris cortos, sola decir el Beato Josemara a los prime-
ros jvenes que se acercaban a su labor apostlica. l, desde entonces, ya soaba
con la expansin en los cinco continentes
7
. Hoy, aquellos sueos son una asom-
brosa realidad. En mi caso, he sido una gran soadora y tambin me he quedado
corta. Si alguna vez me imagin hacer cosas tan interesantes, jams me vi sentada
en el pleno de la Organizacin de las Naciones Unidas, representando a mi pas.
Fue verdaderamente impresionante el hecho de que miembros del Comit Pro-
Vida fusemos nombrados por el Presidente de la Repblica como representan-
tes oficiales de Honduras para las reuniones de las Conferencias de El Cairo y
Beijing. Fue ste un reconocimiento a que los planteamientos que hemos sosteni-
do reflejan los sentimientos de nuestra sociedad.
Muchos de ustedes conocen lo controvertidas y difciles que fueron estas
conferencias. Realmente se intent erradicar el derecho a la vida de los no naci-
dos e instituir un supuesto derecho universal al aborto. Igualmente, se atent
contra los derechos de los padres, la dignidad diferencia de los sexos, la digni-
dad del ser humano, la soberana de los pueblos. Fue algo sumamente compli-
cado y no pocas veces inverosmil; reuniones largusimas de da y de noche;
semanas enteras de negociaciones agotadoras; presiones y manipulacin de tra-
ducciones y documentos.
Recuerdo especialmente cuando, en un momento, en el pleno, cuestion el
significado de la palabra gnero, ya que en los corredores de la ONU circulaban
extraas versiones, tales como que el nuevo concepto pretende erradicar las dife-
rencias entre los sexos y crear una nueva cultura donde el sexo se escoge. Esto me
preocup ya que, al igual que la mayora de los pases antes de Beijing, nosotros
interpretbamos gnero como una forma de eliminar la violencia contra la mujer
y lograr igualdad de oportunidades.
102 - MARTHA LORENA DE CASCO
7
Cfr. P. CASCIARO, Soad y os quedaris cortos, Madrid 1994.
Al solicitar a la ONU una respuesta definitiva sobre la definicin del tr-
mino gnero, la Asamblea se me vino encima. Fue como si hubiese tocado un pol-
vorn: abucheos, burlas, ironas, persecucin e intimidacin. Sin embargo, la
reaccin tan radical de la Presidencia del pleno, hizo que las delegaciones rabes
y algunas africanas cuestionaran tambin el mencionado trmino. El asunto se
complic y las reuniones se extendieron para buscar una definicin consensuada.
En esos momentos difciles, me acord siempre del Beato Josemara quien
con tanta seguridad deca: Qu importa que tengas en contra al mundo entero
con todos sus poderes? T... adelante!
Repite las palabras del salmo: [...] a quin temer? [...] Aunque me
vea cercado de enemigos, no flaquear mi corazn
8
.
Todava hoy, no s cmo, ni con qu fuerza, pude mantener sin desfallecer,
la posicin de Honduras, fundamentada en nuestra Constitucin, en los valores
morales y en nuestra idiosincrasia.
Vale la pena! S; bien vale la pena, como dice el Beato Josemara, tomarse
en serio a Dios y a las almas. La vida tiene otra dimensin, se convierte en una
aventura, la aventura de los hijos de Dios. Del Beato Josemara he aprendido que
no se puede vivir a espaldas del momento histrico, que lo poco que uno puede
hacer, aunque se piense que es una aportacin minscula, debe hacerse. Un
autntico cristiano no claudica frente a asuntos tan importantes.
Deseo dejar constancia, en la celebracin del centenario de su nacimiento,
que de la misma manera que el Beato Josemara busc asilo en la Legacin de
Honduras durante la guerra civil espaola para proteger su vida, l desde el Cielo
protege ahora, de una manera singular, el derecho a la vida en Honduras.
LA BATALLA POR LA VIDA EN HONDURAS - 103
8
Camino, 482.
Mi trabajo en Geodemografa desde
la perspectiva de la cultura de la vida
Manuel Ferrer Regales
Profesor Emeritus de la Universidad de Navarra. Ha impartido docencia en las Universidades de
Zaragoza y Oviedo con anterioridad. A lo largo de su vida acadmica ha investigado sobre el
medio rural e industrial, el sistema de ciudades y actualmente trabaja sobre los Centros Histricos
de las ciudades de Espaa. Una lnea continua en su inters como docente e investigador ha sido
la geodemogrfica.
Mi trabajo universitario ha versado sobre la Geodemografa. Se trata de
una ciencia en la que la figura de la persona humana es central, o si se quiere, en
la que el hombre es el protagonista del entorno en el que vive y con el que se rela-
ciona. Pues bien, la afirmacin anterior ha sido, a partir de la segunda mitad del
siglo XX, objeto de debate y discusin. Podemos hablar de dos concepciones.
Las notas que las diferencian permiten apreciar el grado y la calidad que cada ver-
sin otorga al ser humano.
1. CONCEPCIONES SOBRE EL HOMBRE Y SU ENTORNO
Segn la primera, que podramos definir como cerrada a la vida, la pobla-
cin, el desarrollo y el ambiente tienen que mantenerse en equilibrio. De tal
modo que si se rompe este ltimo, hay que recomponerlo. Y puesto que se con-
sidera al ambiente como una variable fija (los recursos, el ecosistema), y al desa-
rrollo (progreso material y social), como el producto de la relacin entre la pobla-
cin y el ambiente, se concluye que la clave del equilibrio, y si se quiere del
progreso, est en graduar el volumen de la poblacin. Esta conclusin es la que
dio lugar al concepto de superpoblacin, que se atribuy en especial a los pases
pobres o subdesarrollados. El equilibrio exigira, en consecuencia, no tanto
aumentar los recursos, que se consideraban cada vez ms escasos, cuanto dismi-
nuir el crecimiento de la poblacin. Aplicada en la segunda mitad del siglo XX a
105
los pases pobres, en ellos deberan establecerse unas medidas reductoras de la
poblacin. Esta es, en esencia, la filosofa de las llamadas polticas demogrficas.
Adems, y conforme pasan los aos y el individualismo hedonista y consumista se
extiende en los pases ricos, las polticas demogrficas incluyen la difusin de
aquellos estilos de vida ajenos a una concepcin de la misma acorde con la digni-
dad de la persona.
Segn el enfoque abierto a la vida, hemos de partir de la idea de que la vida
humana, aunque enmarcada en una realidad histrica, no est determinada por
ella sino que est instada a perfeccionarla. El hombre es un ser perfectible y per-
feccionador: de s mismo, de los dems y de la naturaleza creada por Dios.
En el plano de los medios, es bueno contar con los resultados de la ciencia,
pero no hay que olvidar que la ciencia tiene un lmite; aqul en el que queda com-
prometida la naturaleza del hombre, como criatura libre y responsable, y desti-
nada a amar a Dios y a servir a los dems por amor, a servirse de la naturaleza y a
mejorarla. La condicin natural de la relacin entre los seres humanos es la fra-
ternidad humana y sobrenatural, y, con respecto a la naturaleza, el dominio res-
petuoso.
En consecuencia, la cultura incluidos los avances cientficos y de organi-
zacin social, debe respetar la prioridad de la dignidad humana, y excluir los
mtodos y resultados, por muy cientficos que parezcan, que se opongan o per-
turben el recto orden de las cosas y de la propia naturaleza.
2. CRITERIOS BSICOS ANTE EL PROBLEMA DE LA POBLACIN
Desde el principio comprend que la ciencia correctamente asumida era
compatible con la dignidad del hombre y que mi investigacin geodemogrfica
tena una dimensin directamente doctrinal y apostlica. Me sent urgido a
defender la verdad, tanto en lenguaje cientfico, en foros universitarios, como en
lenguaje sencillo, en medios de comunicacin destinados a un pblico ms
amplio. As, la investigacin adquira una dimensin social estrechamente unida
al perfeccionamiento personal, en la triple dimensin de hijo de Dios, ciudadano,
y miembro de una familia, tal como he aprendido de las enseanzas del Beato
Josemara.
Me sent removido e instado ya que, entre los contenidos de la materia que
tena que explicar a mis alumnos figuraba la poblacin. A partir de los aos sesen-
ta, comenc a indagar no slo en las fuentes geogrficas sino que procur ampliar
mis conocimientos al campo de la sociologa y la demografa. En el ambiente de
aquellos aos, ser alma de criterio, agotar la verdad, y comprometerse den-
106 - MANUEL FERRER REGALES
tro de la sociedad para servirla, como se dice en Camino
1
, era un revulsivo, que
aparte de su valor general, para esta generacin y las que nos sucedan, tena espe-
cialmente un gran inters cuando se estaban poniendo los cimientos de una trans-
formacin cultural tan desafiante y apasionante para el acadmico como la des-
crita al principio. Ciencia y fe no podan ser incompatibles, como tantas veces
dijo el Beato Josemara.
El amor a la verdad y a la ciencia, a la Iglesia y al Papa se hermanaban y
eran muy necesarios en aquellos tiempos de turbulencia. Pasados los aos, he
tenido ocasin de comprobar la validez de los criterios de los que me siento deu-
dor. Ms que nunca hay que seguir lo que est diciendo el Papa Juan Pablo II. Al
mantenerse en la verdad, se gana siempre, el error en cambio se contradice. Un
colega mo, creo que el socilogo ms conocido en mi pas, me deca no hace
mucho con motivo de una tesis doctoral: Manuel, t sigues donde estabas, yo
cada vez me acerco ms a ti. El cristiano tiene que ser fiel, firme en su confianza
en la Iglesia y atento a su formacin. El carcter proftico de la Humanae vitae,
transcurridos ms de treinta aos desde su publicacin, es obvio. Desde entonces
el problema de la desnatalidad ha conducido a la Europa occidental a una situa-
cin muy comprometida de envejecimiento, de tal forma que desde hace aos nos
hallamos instalados en lo que ha venido en llamarse el invierno demogrfico. Por
otra parte, el mayor reto de nuestros das es cmo unir los bienes materiales a los
espirituales, esto es, vivir lo que el Beato Josemara denominaba materialismo
cristiano. La gente, sin distincin de edad, sexo y clase social o pertenencia a
uno u otro mundo tiene derecho a participar en los bienes de uno y otro signo.
No debe haber fronteras ni exclusiones, tampoco entre mis colegas, a pesar de
que yo mismo haya sido objeto en ocasiones del ostracismo intelectual cuando no
de la crtica injusta.
3. LA DIVULGACIN
Motivado por el Beato Josemara, no me limit a escribir artculos de revis-
ta y libros que, al fin y a la postre, quedan en el estrecho crculo de los especialis-
tas. Lo mismo cabe decir de la participacin en Congresos y Foros internaciona-
les o del dictado de Conferencias ante pblicos ms o menos reducidos. Me lanc
a la arena de los medios, a sabiendas de que haba que divulgar y contrarrestar la
atmsfera devaluadora de la maternidad y la procreacin, y aportando argumen-
tos que contraponan a las visiones catastrofistas otras ms ajustadas a la realidad
GEODEMOGRAFA Y CULTURA DE LA VIDA - 107
1
Cfr. Camino, Introduccin y n. 33.
y diseadoras de escenarios de futuro. Luces y sombras, ciertamente, aparecen en
ambos tipos de anlisis y diagnsticos, traducidos desde el trabajo investigador al
pblico.
Por lo que se refiere a la natalidad y valores, en sntesis, fui transmitiendo
lo que con el tiempo iba confirmndose, como sealo a continuacin.
Ha fracasado el acervo terico para explicar la evolucin de la natalidad en
el mundo occidental. En definitiva, se rompe la pretendida correlacin entre el
nmero de hijos y el desarrollo econmico, ya que se produce el denominado des-
plome infantil, que es propio de Europa occidental a partir de fines de los aos
sesenta. Se hace imposible as la holgada sustitucin de generaciones de los aos
cincuenta y sesenta. Por lo que se puede comprobar que la falta de reemplazo
generacional comienza con anterioridad a la crisis econmica de los aos setenta,
y prosigue despus a pesar del ciclo ltimo de alza econmica.
El declive de la natalidad agudiza o provoca el envejecimiento progresivo
de la poblacin y la necesidad de acudir a la inmigracin, fenmeno ms antiguo
en los pases centro-europeos pero que luego se traspasa tambin a los medite-
rrneos.
He podido comprobar que el fortsimo declive de la natalidad en un corto
perodo de tiempo ni fue previsto por los cientificos sociales, ni aseguraba la
modernizacin entendida como la consecucin de los hijos deseados, mediante
las legislaciones sobre la contracepcin y el aborto.
Por aadidura, al analizar las causas del declive, el positivismo se limita a
enumerar los obstculos econmicos, sociales, profesionales, etc. como causas
ciertas pero insuficientes para explicar su alcance dramtico. Nadie citaba el pro-
blema de los valores, o si se prefiere de las virtudes, para explicar la cuestin de
fondo que trasluca la desnatalidad.
Al tratar de la relacin entre poblacin y otras variables en la segunda
mitad del siglo XX no se han cumplido las previsiones catastrofistas. Basta recor-
dar que: 1) el desarrollo se ha mostrado como una variable independiente del cre-
cimiento de la poblacin; 2) la produccin alimenticia ha sobrepasado con
mucho el crecimiento demogrfico; 3) el supuesto agotamiento de los recursos es
sustituido por el dilema ambiental; 4) se incorporan al desarrollo los llamados
pases emergentes; 5) la globalizacin es un proceso tericamente favorable a la
extensin del desarrollo, aunque requiere cambios importantes en los pases
ricos; entre otros, la apertura al comercio de los pases pobres. Hay que tener en
cuenta que en estos ltimos es necesario arbitrar medidas de mejora de la organi-
zacin, sin olvidar las guerras y las hambrunas por causas climticas.
Habra que sealar que tambin abundan las sombras en esta etapa de
medio siglo: 1) la pobreza y el subdesarrollo profundo siguen afectando a una
cincuentena de pases; 2) el porcentaje de hambrientos ha disminuido, aunque el
108 - MANUEL FERRER REGALES
hambre contina siendo un drama ostensible, mientras sobra o se limita la pro-
duccin alimentaria en los pases ricos; 3) aunque la mayora de los pases menos
avanzados han aumentado su PIB, en los ricos el aumento ha sido mayor; las dis-
paridades entre la riqueza y la pobreza, el superconsumo y la miseria, se agrandan
entre los avanzados y los menos favorecidos, as como tambin las diferencias
notables entre las personas y grupos integrados y los excluidos en el caso de
Europa occidental.
4. EL FUTURO
En concreto, me interesa destacar tres factores de una gran trascendencia
actual, que tienen alguna relacin con el sistema cerrado del que hemos estado
hablando. Me referir en primer lugar al envejecimiento de la poblacin, al fen-
meno de la inmigracin, y al ambiente. Despus, hablar de las amenazas de una
mayor oclusin de la cultura de la muerte, en contraste con los valores abiertos a
la vida y a la justicia y la solidaridad.
Se han agravado los problemas relacionados con el envejecimiento:
aumento de costes sociales, hipoteca de la reposicin de las generaciones, necesi-
dad de mano de obra y apelacin a la inmigracin. La ltima proyeccin, hecha
en el 2000 de cara al ao 2050, muestra cmo la poblacin del Viejo Continen-
te requerira una cantidad asombrosa de inmigrantes para compensar el vaco
generado por la falta de cunas autctonas, es decir, por la involucin demogrfi-
ca. No vamos a entrar aqu en los tres escenarios y los objetivos a cada uno corres-
pondientes. En cualquiera de los tres, el yermo de envejecimiento provocado por
la subfecundidad exige una inmigracin explosiva.
A mi entender, tal tipo de proyecciones, a muy largo plazo, se parecen a las
que condujeron a hablar de la explosin demogrfica, aunque en sentido contra-
rio. Cabe preguntarse, en consecuencia, si la publicacin de cifras que han sido
tildadas de absurdas en medios demogrficos serios, tiene como objetivo prepa-
rar a la opinin pblica sobre polticas de futuro relacionadas con los ancianos.
Lo que no invalida, ciertamente, la necesidad de la inmigracin auspiciada por el
envejecimiento.
De cara al futuro, la inmigracin, que requiere grandes volmenes de per-
sonas, es vista como un fenmeno con dos caras, como problema y como solu-
cin, pero lo que es innegable es que ha obligado a los pases ricos a reconsiderar
muchos de los postulados sobre los que se haba construido la cultura contem-
pornea. Ante una masa de indigentes que se mueve a nivel de supervivencia, y no
tiene ms remedio que abandonar familia y tierra para ir en busca de un trabajo
que, muchas veces, se presenta arduo o imposible y con la consiguiente posibili-
GEODEMOGRAFA Y CULTURA DE LA VIDA - 109
dad de sufrir la explotacin o el maltrato, hay que ser muy duro o indiferente para
pasar a su lado sin verse afectados por el problema.
Por otro lado, la cuestin del ambiente resulta problemtica desde el
punto de vista de nuestras actividades. Alredor del 70 % de la contaminacin se
debe a la produccin energtica, a los transportes y a la falta de suficiente infor-
macin. El estricto cumplimiento de las normativas internacionales y su trasvase
a los marcos nacionales por Gobiernos, medios regionales y locales y empresas
agresivas es la solucin para acortar y disminuir los efectos de la situacin actual
y futura.
El biologismo es la amenaza a la que antes me refera. La extrapolacin de
la Ecologa biolgica a la Ecologa humana conduce a la Ecologa profunda, al
ecocentrismo biologista o al antropocentismo biologista-eugensico. Cabe sim-
plificar esta terminologa, que podra tacharse de crptica. La mencionada ten-
dencia sostiene que la especie humana debe someterse a las leyes fisiolgicas de
las dems especies. Como no ha ocurrido as, el crecimiento de la poblacin
posee un carcter patolgico. De esta manera el individuo es sustituido por la
especie, susceptible de mejora y seleccin, con lo que la vida de la persona con-
creta sin calidad gentica e intelectual carece de sentido. Lo mismo puede afir-
marse de las gentes o pueblos que se apartan ms de los condicionamientos bio-
lgicos por causa de la fecundidad.
Afortunadamente, las anteriores afirmaciones son minoritarias. Frente el
antihumanismo demogrfico y bio-ecolgico, basta sealar tres presupuestos. En
primer lugar, el hombre es el nico ser en la naturaleza que est dotado de inteli-
gencia y posee dimensiones morales, por lo que es el nico ser capaz de distinguir
entre el bien y el mal. Despus, nuestra relacin con la naturaleza es de respeto a
lo creado y se desenvuelve en el mbito de la ciencia y la tecnologa, con el obje-
tivo de satisfacer nuestras necesidades de bienestar material en el marco del desa-
rrollo cultural que nos es propio. Finalmente, el antropocentrismo bblico es soli-
dario, puesto que la Tierra y sus bienes pertenecen a todos los hombres, lo que
significa que cada hombre tiene obligaciones sociales respecto a los dems en el
uso global que hace del planeta.
Este escenario esperanzado parte de la confianza de que los valores de la
familia se hallan todava muy arraigados. Es necesario que sean activadas las ayudas
institucionales, econmicas y sociales que permitan contribuir a la recuperacin de
la fecundidad. La recuperacin y promocin de la fe en las nuevas generaciones,
cuya expresin ms significativa fue la celebracin del Jubileo de la Juventud en la
Roma del 2000 con dos millones de jvenes asistentes, es condicin necesaria. La
ayuda a la familia y a la natalidad es, adems, un complemento para procurar una
reposicin que permita la convivencia y no la desaparicin de la cultura euro-
pea de races cristianas, en solidaridad con las culturas de la inmigracin.
110 - MANUEL FERRER REGALES
Contra pesimismo, optimismo. Pero no optimismo utpico, sino realista.
Como escribi el Beato Josemara: Fe, alega, optimismo. Pero no la sandez
de cerrar los ojos a la realidad
2
. El realismo es la virtud que nos hace admitir la
existencia de errores y deficiencias, que tendremos mientras vivamos, a ttulo per-
sonal y colectivo. Pero nos anima tambin a prepararnos slidamente, cada cual
en nuestro campo, para encararlo de la mano de la verdad y el amor. Quiz sea
sta la mayor leccin que, a lo largo de mi carrera profesional en el mbito de la
Geodemografa, he podido aprender del Beato Josemara: Tu vida, tu trabajo,
no debe ser labor negativa, no debe ser antinada. Es, debe ser!, afirmacin,
optimismo, juventud, alegra y paz
3
.
GEODEMOGRAFA Y CULTURA DE LA VIDA - 111
2
Camino, 40.
3
Forja, 103.
La medicina al servicio de la vida
Carlos Fernndez del Castillo S.
Jefe del Departamento de Ginecologa, Instituto Nacional de la Nutricin Salvador Zubirn,
Secretara de Salud. Profesor de la Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional Autnoma de
Mxico. Presidente de la Federacin Mexicana de Ginecologa y Obstetricia 1995-1997. Presi-
dente de la Asociacin Mexicana de Ginecologa y Obstetricia 1978-1980. Presidente de la Aca-
demia Mexicana de Ciruga 1985-1987.
La medicina es una ciencia y un arte que tiene sus orgenes en la ms remo-
ta antigedad. La inclinacin vocacional hacia esta profesin surge desde que el
hombre primitivo empez a enfermarse. La compasin y el amor hacia sus seme-
jantes hicieron que algunos se ofrecieran a tratar de curar o aliviar o al menos a
tan siquiera consolar a los que sufren. Con la historia ha ido avanzando la medi-
cina y sus profesantes. Las corrientes de pensamiento han estado siempre pre-
sentes influyendo en la conducta de las personas y obviamente de los mdicos.
Ciencia, medicina, fe, justicia y religin van de la mano. Expondr brevemente mi
experiencia y mis puntos de vista sobre este asunto.
Dios quiso que naciera en un hogar catlico y mi educacin pre-universita-
ria se desenvolvi en ese ambiente. Llev a cabo la carrera para obtener el ttulo de
Mdico-Cirujano en la Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico, en un ambien-
te de secularismo total. All me toc conocer excelentes maestros la mayora y
otros no tanto. Pero la lnea de no hablar de Dios ni de religiones la seguan todos
y a todos los niveles. Conservar la fe y cumplir con los mandamientos de la ley de
Dios, no fue fcil, tanto ms cuando uno vea que sus compaeros de bachillerato y
los de aos precedentes perdan la prctica de la religin catlica y an la fe.
Practiqu tres aos Oncologa y posteriormente me especialic en Gineco-
loga y Obstetricia. Conoc, siendo estudiante de medicina, a Lucila, tambin
catlica; y el ejemplo de mis paps y dems parientes y mi noviazgo me mantu-
vieron dentro de la religin catlica. Pronto me sent atrado por la medicina aca-
dmica y la docencia y a los cinco aos de ser mdico, ya haba ingresado a la Aso-
113
ciacin Mexicana de Ginecologa y Obstetricia. A los seis aos, por concurso
obtuve mi puesto de maestro en la Universidad.
Un ao y medio despus de haberme recibido de mdico contraje matri-
monio con Lucila y, gracias a Dios, tenemos cinco hijos, aunque adems perdimos
tres embarazos. Yo creo que me senta un buen catlico: no faltaba los domingos
a Misa, me confesaba con frecuencia, y mi esposa y yo enseamos a nuestros hijos
las primeras oraciones y los preparamos para hacer la Primera Comunin.
Yo iba avanzando como mdico en la atencin de mis pacientes y en la
enseanza de la Ginecologa y la Obstetricia a mis alumnos; empec a publicar
trabajos y participar en congresos. Cuando empez la pldora anticonceptiva,
comenc a tener dificultades con mis colegas y con mis pacientes, por no prescri-
birla. Pas una temporada de dudas personales que no me abandonaron total-
mente cuando en 1968 se promulg la Encclica Humanae vitae. En la defensa de
ese documento tuve que enfrascarme en frecuentes y desagradables discusiones
con colegas y con pacientes. A veces sala airoso, pero en otras me faltaban argu-
mentos convincentes, sobre todo cuando mis oponentes no tenan fe ni conocan
la Encclica. Aunque yo me confesaba y reciba la Sagrada Eucarista, me senta
dentro de un crculo que me atrapaba. Senta la indiferencia de bastantes de mis
colegas, y an el rechazo de muchos, por no prescribir ni aceptar evaluaciones de
los anticonceptivos que iban surgiendo.
Tena ya 15 aos de mdico en 1970, cuando estuvo en Mxico el Beato
Josemara Escriv. Personalmente fue una experiencia humana inolvidable. Me
propuse saber ms de l y pronto me di cuenta que sus pensamientos, sus escri-
tos y sus homilas me estaban mostrando un campo de accin que hasta entonces
no haba sido capaz de apreciar en justa medida. Como he dicho, yo me crea un
buen catlico porque no faltaba a Misa los domingos, me confesaba con relativa
frecuencia, rezaba rutinariamente mis oraciones, me negaba a prescribir anticon-
ceptivos y me senta una buena persona. Fue a partir de mi encuentro con el ahora
Beato Josemara y el Opus Dei que encontr la grandeza de la vida ordinaria.
Me fui dando cuenta de que en mi vida conyugal, en mi vocacin como
esposo y padre de familia, como mdico, como maestro, como miembro de agru-
paciones cientficas, esto es, en mi vida de todos los das y a todas horas, yo tena
la oportunidad de santificarme y de santificar mi trabajo y santificarme con mi
trabajo. No tuve ninguna duda de que se me abra una oportunidad de vivir en la
presencia de Dios. Estaba sin preparacin para lograrlo y vi que nada lograra si
limitaba mi trato con el Seor solamente a los domingos. Era necesario acudir a
diario a la Santa Misa. All tendra la oportunidad ahora empezaba a compren-
derlo de poder recibir cotidianamente el Cuerpo, la Sangre, el Alma y la Divi-
nidad de Cristo Nuestro Seor. Pero cmo comprender a fondo todo esto?
Rpidamente me di cuenta de que desconoca mucho, muchsimo de mi religin.
114 - CARLOS FERNNDEZ DEL CASTILLO S.
Era necesario que yo me formara. Senta que Dios me llamaba para dar testimo-
nio de El en todas mis actividades. El Beato Josemara, me haba cado del cielo.
Me acerqu al Opus Dei y platiqu mis inquietudes. Quera formarme para ser un
buen esposo catlico y un buen mdico catlico.
Empec mi formacin y mi vida interior me empez a transformar. Nunca
haba yo llevado una direccin espiritual; antes yo pensaba que eso era para gen-
tes que se iban a un convento y no para un cristiano corriente. Todo empez a
cambiar porque mejoraba mi vida de manera integral. En el aspecto profesional
empec a tener cada vez ms pacientes; intervine en la poltica mdica porque lle-
gu a ocupar cargos en mesas directivas de las agrupaciones mdicas a las que
perteneca; mis alumnos comenzaron a rendir ms. Yo no haca, o no crea hacer
nada extraordinario para progresar profesionalmente, excepto que me propuse
tener siempre presencia de Dios y creer firmemente que soy un hijo de Dios y que
debo comportarme como tal. Pronto la gente not algo diferente en m: ms ale-
gra, ms sencillez, ms sinceridad, ms eficiencia.
El punto de controversia con mis colegas era, es y lamentablemente pien-
so que seguir siendo, lo referente a la anticoncepcin, la esterilizacin y el abor-
to, ya se trate de mujeres solteras o de matrimonios los que lo pidan. La forma-
cin que trat de adquirir para ser un buen catlico y mis estudios mdicos con
criterio filosfico me han permitido explicar en diversos foros la necesidad de
respetar la delicada fisiologa neuroendcrina y orgnica de la mujer. He procu-
rado aclarar tambin los siguientes puntos: la expresin ms elocuente de la salud
femenina es la fertilidad; la fertilidad no es una enfermedad que deba tratarse con
un medicamento como lo es la pldora anticonceptiva y los medicamentos hormo-
nales inyectables o subdrmicos; no es vlido exponer la salud de las mujeres con
la ingestin de anticonceptivos que tarde o temprano ocasionaran efectos
indeseables para la salud.
Con respecto al dispositivo intrauterino, hay que saber que acta infla-
mando el interior del tero lo que impide el embarazo y posiblemente ocasiona
abortos frecuentes por impedir la implantacin del embrin; pero los mdicos no
estamos para inflamar ninguna parte del cuerpo de nadie; los tejidos inflamados
fcilmente se infectan y la infeccin endometrial favorece las salpingitis y el
embarazo tubario. Por otra parte, la ciruga es para curar rganos enfermos, no
para inutilizar rganos sanos y las ligaduras tubarias y las vasectomas son inter-
venciones quirrgicas que se hacen sobre rganos sanos. La ciruga no est para
matar a nadie y los abortos son intervenciones quirrgicas que matan a un ser
humano en etapa de embrin o de feto, y los mdicos hemos estudiado para sal-
var vidas y no matar personas aunque sean todava embriones.
He tenido que explicar tambin que la manera natural de engendrar nue-
vas vidas es hacerlo dentro del matrimonio y mediante el acto sexual de una pare-
LA MEDICINA AL SERVICIO DE LA VIDA - 115
ja que se ha comprometido a unirse de manera exclusiva y definitiva para educar
a sus hijos. La fertilizacin asistida extracorprea ha terminado con la vida de dos
o tres veces el nmero de bebs que felizmente han podido llegar a este mundo.
En la fertilizacin asistida se cometen injusticias con los gametos y muchas per-
sonas nunca sabrn quin es su verdadero padre o su verdadera madre, si la que
rent o prest su tero, o la que don o vendi sus gametos. Y tambin, que los
ancianos y los enfermos terminales deben morir con dignidad espontneamente.
He defendido la vida, el matrimonio y la familia tratando de construir cul-
turas de vida.
Profundizando en la vida interior, he aprendido a pedir al Espritu Santo
que ilumine mi inteligencia, fortalezca mi voluntad y purifique mi corazn.
Muchas veces, estando ante una multitud, he invocado interiormente la ayuda de
la Santsima Virgen Mara, de mi Angel Custodio y de los Angeles Custodios del
auditorio, pidiendo al Seor que me d el don de lenguas, y me he quedado
sorprendido, casi pasmado de lo que he podido decir sin temor.
Muchas gentes se han enterado que desde hace treinta aos procuro pro-
fundizar en el mensaje del Beato Josemara y eso no ha sido impedimento alguno
para ocupar la presidencia de las agrupaciones cientficas de Ginecologa y Obs-
tetricia y de Ciruga ms importantes de mi pas. He sentido la gozosa obligacin
de dar testimonio de mi manera de pensar y he tenido la oportunidad de expre-
sarlo en foros mdicos y jurdicos, convencido que la norma moral est en fun-
cin del destino eterno del hombre.
116 - CARLOS FERNNDEZ DEL CASTILLO S.
Working for Life in India
Josephine Kunnacherri
Doctor in Medicine and a Surgeon, specialising in Gynecology (University of Navarre). She has
exercised her profession in Nigeria, where she started the Niger Foundation Hospital of Enugu.
Currently she is Director of Family Health Care, New Delhi.
Blessed Josemara often said that the faithful of Opus Dei owe ninety per-
cent of their vocation to their parents
1
. The deep life of faith and piety of my father
and the generosity of my mother were certainly fertile ground in which the seed of
my vocation could take root. They were true promoters of the culture of life. The
value that my mother placed on life was exemplified by the case of my youngest
brother. That was her tenth pregnancy and she was already 45 at the time.
In terms of my career, my parents and my older brother really wanted me
to study Medicine at a good foreign university. While I applied to several univer-
sities, it was the quick response of the University of Navarre in Spain that con-
vinced my father of their professional seriousness. The influence of Blessed Jose-
maras spirit of doing work well was fruitful even in this little detail. Around that
time, my brother had also met two students at Harvard who were faithful of
Opus Dei and they had made a very good impression on him. They also recom-
mended that I attend this university.
I studied at the University of Navarre and did my internship at the univer-
sity clinic. When I was living in one of the university residences, I started to read
The Way and other writings of Blessed Josemara. I remember the impact that the
chapter dedicated to study had on me. It was there that I encountered something
which was completely new for me: the fact that I could sanctify my professional
work!
At that time, my country, India, was experiencing a boom in family plan-
ning, with the government organizing large-scale campaigns to promote it. How-
117
1
Cfr. Conversations, 104.
ever, appreciation for children was very deeply rooted in the country. In addition,
Catholics had received the grave and clear message given by Pope Paul VI in the
Encyclical Humanae Vitae. My parents never doubted that they were called to
obey the Pope on this matter; they consciously chose to live in accordance with
life values once again. I, on the other hand, was not quite sure what to think of the
matter. It was true that we needed to resolve many urgent problems in the coun-
try with such a large population faced with hunger and other forms of human
misery.
It was then, while reading the points of The Way and other writings of
Blessed Josemara about marriage, that I started to get a glimpse of other alterna-
tives, and little by little I began to realize the great value of every human life.
Thanks to the clarity of the doctrine of Blessed Josemara and his positive influ-
ence on the University and Clinic of Navarre, I learned about Medicine as an
authentic instrument with which I could work for a culture of life, rather than as a
mere laboratory science. I began to see that my country and so many others that
are heading in the same direction could find better solutions to their problems.
While I have thousands of beautiful memories about my years at universi-
ty, there is one which I hold especially dear. It was a manifestation of the family
spirit which Blessed Josemara, as Grand Chancellor, had sown in this university.
When I received my grades for my thesis, Eduardo Ortiz de Landzuri, another
promoter of the culture of life, immediately sent a telegram to my parents to let
them know the grade that their daughter already a doctor had received.
My desires and my drive to defend life grew progressively, due in part to
the energetic and optimistic spirit which I found in all that I heard and read of
Blessed Josemara. Soon I even had the opportunity to meet him personally.
While I had looked forward to that meeting, I never expected it to have the
impact on my life that it did. When he saw me, he spoke about one day returning
to India and helping to start the apostolic work of Opus Dei there. This meeting
with him encouraged me many times afterwards to prepare myself better to
defend life at all stages so that I could better serve my country and the whole
human family, which is so seriously threatened by the looming culture of death.
Many years passed, however, before this desire shared by Blessed Josemara and
myself became a reality. In the meantime, I practised medicine in Spain and in
Nigeria where I acquired experience both of life, and unfortunately also of death.
A few years before, thanks to the good advice of a close friend, I had decid-
ed to specialize in Gynaecology and Obstetrics. In Spain, I was fortunate to work
with professionals of the calibre of Eduardo Ortiz de Landzuri and Juan
Jimnez Vargas, who taught me with mastery and with a true Christian outlook
on life, to value every human life regardless of whose it is or in what condition it
is in. They worked inspired by the spirit of Blessed Josemara. From Dr. Jimnez
118 - JOSEPHINE KUNNACHERRI
Vargas I learned about healthy and upright natural family planning, which could
make the desire of the parents to live in accordance with the designs of God com-
patible with the need to take various other circumstances into account and enable
them to live in every moment in accordance with the natural law and with the law
of God. I also learned how to find convincing arguments to persuade women to
carry their pregnancies to term despite external pressure. I remember one case of
a drug-addicted girl who was admitted to the Emergency Room of the clinic. She
was pregnant and wanted to have an abortion. The example of the patience,
affection and understanding of a mother and a father which Dr. Ortiz de
Landzuri showed to that girl, coming to see her at the clinic at midnight, marked
my professional life and strengthened me in my desires to defend the unborn. It
goes without saying that he convinced her to keep her baby.
In Nigeria, I met truly beautiful and heroic women who were dealing with
difficult pregnancies and precarious economic situations, but who brought their
children into the world despite the dangers of terminal diseases. One sickness in
particular, called thalasemia is quite frequent there. I remember one woman from
the north of the country who had had various Caesarean sections, and who had
scarce economic resources, but who was willing to undergo any type of treatment
so that she could carry her child to term. Many couples with incompatibility of
blood group attended consultations with a genuine hunger to have children.
Other women, apparently less generous at the beginning of their visits, wanting
to end their pregnancies, left convinced of the treasure that they carried within: a
new life with all of its possibilities, with all of the blessings that this baby would
bring to the family. It was a cause of joy to see these families embrace the truth,
since the idea of a child as a blessing lies so deep within the African soul. It is the
propaganda of anti-life campaigns that so often seeks to rob Africans of their nat-
ural and traditional values.
Another time a former patient came to the hospital, moved by what had
just happened to her. She had been going with her husband directly to a hospital
in Enugu in order to abort her child. However, as the car passed by our hospital
(the Niger Foundation Hospital), and she saw the sign, she realized that she
could not commit this crime and she changed direction, returning to the NFH.
After a number of years, we were finally able to fulfil the desire of Blessed
Josemara to start to work in India. I arrived in Delhi thinking that things would
be easy. I had not realized the changes that my country had experienced since I
had left to attend university in Spain 30 years earlier. Nevertheless, with the sup-
port and the encouragement that I have always received from Blessed Josemara
and from so many people committed to the same struggle for life, I started a med-
ical dispensary in Delhi.
WORKING FOR LIFE IN INDIA - 119
I have witnessed many marvellous things since 1997. I have seen many
people change their attitude about life and we have saved the lives of many chil-
dren who have had to struggle to survive in the wombs of their mothers. And the
best part was seeing the joy of these parents when they held their children in their
arms. These parents, influenced as they are by cruel propaganda which makes
them believe that each couple should only have two children at most, see abor-
tion as the natural solution when any additional children are conceived. I have to
admit that I commended myself to Blessed Josemara before every consultation,
and if it was a difficult case, I redoubled my petitions. I also tried to keep the
guardian angel of each of my patients very busy, as he advised.
We also give classes about different topics from the Women Health Cen-
ter. We held sessions for several months with postgraduate students of the most
prestigious hospital in India (AIIMS) about the different methods of natural fam-
ily planning. At the end of these sessions, which were mostly scientific in content,
one postgraduate student approached me, amazed at the new horizons that had
been opened to her. In all her years of studying Medicine, no one had ever
explained these things to her. There were only two options presented: either con-
traception or abortion. These are signs of a return to a culture of life.
One Hindu doctor and mother who works with me is also changing her
personal and professional outlook on life. She realizes that what they taught at
medical school was imbued with the culture of death, and that now with us, a cul-
ture of life is beginning to take root. Now it is she who studies the ways of help-
ing patients to find the solutions within the framework of life, in accordance with
matrimonial dignity. We also attend many patients at a dispensary that we have
set up in one of the poorest areas.
What I have just said is a pale reflection of the reality of what I experience
every day. I would like to express my profound gratitude to Blessed Josemara
and to all of my teachers at the University of Navarre. I am especially grateful for
that seed that was sown in me in my first meeting with Blessed Josemara and the
inspiration of his message, full of life and optimism, that has been guiding my life.
120 - JOSEPHINE KUNNACHERRI
Construyendo una cultura de la vida
en la opinin pblica
Dolores Voltas Bar
Mdico endocrinlogo, Vocal de la Sociedad Catalana de Biotica de la Academia de Ciencias
Mdicas de Catalua y Baleares, Secretario General de la Federacin Espaola de Asociaciones
Pro Vida y Presidenta de la Asociacin Pro Vida de Barcelona.
En 1954 empec la carrera de Medicina en la Universidad de Barcelona.
Mi hermano mayor me anim para que el ao siguiente me trasladara a estudiar
a Navarra, donde comenzaba una universidad nueva; y me entusiasm. En reali-
dad, no era todava universidad. Mi hermano, mdico recin licenciado, me pre-
sent al Prof. Jimnez Vargas, que despus de entrevistarme, me ofreci un tra-
bajo en Pamplona en el Departamento de Fisiologa Humana del Consejo
Superior de Investigaciones Cientficas (CSIC). Esto me permitira costearme la
estancia all. Adems, solicit matrcula gratuita, que me concedieron por buen
expediente acadmico. Dos aos despus volv a Barcelona para terminar la
carrera. Pero recuerdo como si fuera ayer varios sucesos de aquellos dos aos en
Pamplona, que orientaron y marcaron mi vida para siempre.
Mi trabajo en el CSIC no tena mucho que ver con la importancia de su
nombre: empec abriendo cajones de madera repletos de material de laboratorio
y colocndolos en repisas de ladrillo que antes tuve que limpiar. Colabor muy
activamente en la preparacin del cadver para las primeras prcticas de Anato-
ma de mi propio curso la primera promocin de mdicos de Navarra, y
ayud tambin en la preparacin de las primeras prcticas de Fisiologa con ani-
males. As aprend con rapidez y de modo prctico que todo lo grande empieza
siendo pequeo. Y descubr algo nuevo: que el trabajo que siempre haba consi-
derado importante, poda ofrecerse a Dios.
En mis ratos libres, mecanografiaba el manuscrito de un libro sobre la Vir-
gen, que escriba un sacerdote del Opus Dei, y fui, por tanto, la primera en leer-
lo. El libro mostraba con claridad que la vocacin de cristiano es una llamada de
121
Dios. Est empapado de las enseanzas del Beato Josemara y me mostr el modo
concreto de ser una buena cristiana. El autor me pregunt mi opinin sobre el
libro y despus me dijo: Yo, de ti, me echara a nadar como los patos. Supe un
tiempo despus que sta era una manera coloquial que el Beato Josemara usaba
para animar a confiar en Dios, a no tener miedo ante las dificultades.
Ya me haba familiarizado con el espritu del Beato Josemara cuando me
hice novia del que despus sera mi marido. Nos haba presentado mi hermano
mdico, que era compaero suyo de carrera. Nos casamos en 1962, un ao des-
pus de licenciarme. Particip mi boda al Beato Josemara. Al regresar del viaje
de novios, encontr una carta de su parte desde Roma, en la que enviaba su ben-
dicin para mi nuevo hogar. Comprend que el matrimonio era importante, muy
importante. Lo saba, pero que el Beato Josemara contestara, y a vuelta de
correo, me impresion mucho. Pocos meses despus, tuve la suerte de conocerle
en Barcelona y de que diera una bendicin especial a las que esperbamos un
hijo. Yo estaba embarazada del primero; luego vinieron otros seis.
Siempre tengo presentes unas palabras suyas referidas al amor de nuestros
padres: Yo bendigo ese amor con las dos manos, y cuando me han preguntado
que por qu digo con las dos manos, mi respuesta ha sido inmediata: porque no
tengo cuatro!
1
. En esas mismas fechas, durante una catequesis por Espaa en
1972, tuve ocasin de pedirle consejo para mantener un equilibrio entre el traba-
jo del hogar la profesin del hogar y otra profesin. Y me contest: Si lo
preguntas, es porque te preocupa y lo ests haciendo bien. Sus palabras me ani-
maron a seguir haciendo lo que haca; y quiz no fue tanto por las palabras con-
cretas, sino por la confianza que me hizo sentir.
Muy pronto mi esposo y yo empezamos a dar sesiones de preparacin al
matrimonio a parejas de novios en varias parroquias de la Archidicesis de Bar-
celona. Lo hicimos durante ms de diez aos. Tambin procuramos colaborar al
mximo en los colegios de nuestras hijas y nuestros hijos: formando parte de la
junta directiva, dando sesiones a padres, profesores y alumnos. Yo haba dejado
pronto el ejercicio de la Medicina para dedicarme a mi familia, pues mdicos hay
muchos, madre de mis hijos slo yo. Busqu la manera de transmitir a los hijos de
otros lo mismo que intentaba transmitir a los mos. En el colegio de mis hijas
empec a dar unas clases a las adolescentes, que ellas llamaban clases de amor; y
antes me reuna con sus madres. El Beato Josemara deca a veces que l haba
matado muchas cigeas, refirindose a la necesidad de formar con claridad,
con limpieza a los adolescentes en este campo, y a esa formacin he procurado
contribuir.
122 - DOLORES VOLTAS BAR
1
Amigos de Dios, 184.
Creo que las enseanzas del Beato Josemara me han ayudado a lo largo de
mi vida a ir tomando decisiones y a asumir tareas favorables a la vida. No es que
de la noche a la maana me haya dedicado a construir una cultura de la vida. Sino
que el espritu de servicio, el afn de hacer las cosas bien, esos nimos para ser ti-
les y dejar poso, que el Beato Josemara difundi
2
, hacen que una empiece a com-
plicarse la vida poco a poco. Una cosa te lleva a otra y cada vez te sientes ms pre-
parada para ayudar a los dems.
Mientras iban naciendo mis hijos, estudi para titularme en una especiali-
dad mdica que me permitiera trabajar manteniendo la dedicacin a mi familia, y
lo logr. Empec a ejercer de nuevo la Medicina hace 25 aos. Y hace 25 aos
tambin, promov junto con mi esposo y con otras personas la primera Asocia-
cin Pro Vida en Espaa. Tena un buen aprendizaje. Haba comenzado a cons-
truir una cultura de la vida desde sus races, como dice el Santo Padre Juan
Pablo II
3
: el matrimonio, las relaciones conyugales, educar a los hijos propios y
ajenos para el amor. Me faltaba la ayuda directa a las madres con dificultades por
motivo de su maternidad; y no slo dificultades materiales, que siempre tienen
solucin. Me refiero sobre todo a las mujeres que piensan que un hijo estorba sus
planes. Pero esto exige una accin en paralelo en los lugares de elaboracin del
pensamiento, de la investigacin, del mundo acadmico. Esto le toca a otros. A
m me toca estar en el Colegio Profesional, fomentar ms asociaciones cvicas que
promuevan una cultura de vida. Desde hace 20 aos pertenezco tambin a la
Comisin Deontolgica del Colegio de Mdicos de Barcelona.
Con perspectiva se comprueba la importancia de estar en los lugares en
que nos corresponde: primero, en mi casa, con mi marido y mis hijos; luego en los
colegios; despus, en la profesin, ejercindola en el colegio profesional, en los
puestos donde se toman decisiones; y en la sociedad en que me ha tocado vivir,
asocindome con otras personas, ciudadanos que como yo quieren alcanzar obje-
tivos concretos. En mi caso, esos objetivos son: ayudar a madres y familias en difi-
cultades, y promover una cultura de respeto a la vida.
El haber estado en el lugar conveniente, en el momento adecuado da sus
frutos. En estos aos he podido ayudar a miles de madres que han podido tener
y amar a sus hijos y a muchas mujeres que han perdido el miedo a la maternidad.
Actualmente existen en Espaa ms de 30 asociaciones en defensa de la vida
humana, unidas en una Federacin de la que soy Secretaria General.
He tenido ocasin de hablar y promover el respeto a la vida en radios, tele-
visiones, foros universitarios, escuelas, centros culturales, reuniones polticas. Y
de debatir y relacionarme con personas que promueven una cultura de muerte,
COSTRUYENDO UNA CULTURA DE LA VIDA EN LA OPININ PBLICA - 123
2
Cfr. Camino, 1.
3
Cfr. JUAN PABLO II, Enc. Evangelium Vitae, 97.
con quienes he procurado siempre hablar con claridad, pero sin herir. Nunca con
odio o falta de respeto, esforzndome por hacer amable la verdad. Tambin he
publicado artculos y entrevistas en prensa escrita.
En las reuniones de trabajo de la Comisin de Deontologa y tica Profe-
sional, he tenido muchas ocasiones de dar mi opinin. He tenido que documen-
tarme bien, estudiar. Decir la verdad sobre determinados temas muy cuestiona-
dos hoy en da es a veces costoso: hay que ser firme, incluso audaz. No se trata de
decir la verdad porque es tuya, sino porque t te has adherido a ella y otras per-
sonas la hacen suya tambin cuando t has empezado a hacerlo. La gente necesi-
ta que alguien rompa el hielo hablando con claridad sobre estas cuestiones.
Hay cosecha, hay que seguir poniendo la semilla, hay que trabajar un poco
la tierra, pero desde el Cielo llueve: contamos con la ayuda de Dios. No pienso
continuamente que mi premio ser la felicidad eterna, aunque lo haya considera-
do en muchas ocasiones. El Beato Josemara deca que Dios nos quiere felices
aqu en la tierra
4
. Slo lo seremos viviendo una vida cristiana coherente en los
ambientes en los que nos toca vivir y trabajar.
124 - DOLORES VOLTAS BAR
4
Cfr. Camino, 217; Amigos de Dios, 141.
Drowning Evil in an Abundance
of Good: Working Towards
the Culture of Life in Holland
Jose van Dijck
She is a physiotherapist who specializes in child physiotherapy and cerebral palsy (treatment of
cerebral lesions). She is President of Cure & Care, a Holland-based commission which organizes
activities aimed at promoting the culture of life. She also gives palliative care classes about the tre-
atment of terminally ill patients, and co-ordinates Solidair met kinderen, solidair met ouderen,
a project designed to help disabled children and elderly people in Holland, Poland and Lithuania.
From the time when I was very young, I had great desires to help those
who were in need. I liked to listen to the problems of my friends, to give money
to those in need, and above all I wanted to work as a doctor who cared for poor
children in a developing country. At the same time, I was very reticent to the idea
of living in accordance with my Catholic faith. I wanted to be free from what I
saw as impositions on the part of the Church. The people I most despised were
those whom I took to be hypocrites, sitting in the first pew at church in order to
be seen by others. While I realize now that my difficulties were rooted in misun-
derstandings, they were sufficient for me at the time to stop practising my faith.
By what seemed like an accident at the time, I ended up living in a univer-
sity residence that was directed by some faithful of Opus Dei. My confrontation
with the oratory and with people who had a serious life of prayer prompted me
to try to justify my own behaviour, in order to quiet my conscience. My resistance
was great, but short-lived, because in that residence I found people who were
open, simple, and sincere in serving God. They were Christians who tried to live
in accordance with their faith in their ordinary lives. It was through these faithful
of Opus Dei that I first came into contact with Blessed Josemara Escriv.
My contact with the teachings and message of Blessed Josemara, incarnat-
ed in the lives of ordinary coherent Christians, led to a radical change in my own
life. Up until that point, my ideals of serving the poor and needy had been noble,
125
but limited in scope. Inspired by the teachings of the founder of Opus Dei, I real-
ized that I could serve humanity with even higher ideals and with even greater
effectiveness, if everything I did was motivated by the love of God. The passion-
ate love that Blessed Josemara had for the whole world became a new source of
inspiration for my social work and the treatment of my patients. Children. The
Sick, he wrote in The Way. As you write these words, dont you feel tempted to
use capitals? The reason is that in children and in the sick a soul in love sees
Him
1
.
In studying the life of Josemara Escriv, I came to see that his entire exis-
tence was an expression of his love. I learned how he sacrificed himself for the
sick and the dying in the hospitals of Madrid, risking his own health and even his
own life in order to help others. I was especially impressed by the example of
Blessed Josemara as recounted by Herrero Fontana in Jos Mara Somoano in the
Beginnings of Opus Dei. This first-hand witness says: I carry this image imprint-
ed on my soul: the Father, kneeling beside a sick person laid out on a mat on the
floor, encouraging them with words of hope and comfort [...] I cannot erase this
image from my memory: the Father, kneeling beside the headrest of a dying per-
son, consoling him and speaking to him about God [...] An image which reflects
and which summarizes those years of his life
2
.
Later on, the founder of Opus Dei was the driving force behind innumer-
able social projects for the sick and the marginalized. His desire for a better life
for all people was translated into inspiring words and deeds. Blessed Josemaras
interior attitude as expressed in the phrase that his role was to hide and disap-
pear was a discovery for me of how to love and serve the truth. The prejudices
that I had from the time of my youth against some Catholics were overcome by
his discreet example.
In my country, trying to create a culture of life means being very counter-
cultural. As everyone knows, Holland has been a pioneer in terms of legalizing
euthanasia. Euthanasia has become more widespread and more accepted since its
decriminalization in 1993 up until the recent reform of the law in 2001.
In such a culture, one could very easily become discouraged. In my con-
versations with my patients, it is quite rare that I find support for my pro-life argu-
ments. I have come to see first hand that the perspective of people without faith
in an afterlife is very different from my own. I have also seen the insidiousness of
evil and its cleverness in spreading itself. As can be imagined, seeing so many peo-
ple so blind and so lost is a great cause of suffering for me and for all those who
126 - JOSE VAN DIJCK
1
The Way, 419.
2
J.M. CEJAS, Jos Mara Somoano en los comienzos del Opus Dei, Madrid 1995, p. 96. (My
translation).
value every human life. Oftentimes, I also feel much less capable than my fellow
doctors or the professors whom I invite to give lectures in our symposia.
One has to be courageous to speak the truth about life in such a climate. One
also has to be able to make sound philosophical arguments. But above all, one
needs to be very optimistic. It would be very easy just to remain silent and not
make a problem out of these great miseries. But I am incapable of doing that. In
such difficult moments, I think of how Blessed Josemara lived through a very dif-
ferent type of persecution during the Spanish Civil War and of his enduring opti-
mism. The task for a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good, he wrote
years later. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being anti anything.
On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy
and peace. We should be understanding with everybody, with the followers of
Christ and with those who abandon him, or do not know him at all. But under-
standing does not mean holding back, or remaining indifferent, but being active
3
.
By virtue of international pressure, the government of Holland started to
foster palliative care as an alternative to euthanasia. One of these measures imple-
mented was to organize courses for those who cared for the terminally ill. Unfor-
tunately, in these courses, euthanasia is presented as a perfectly acceptable option
to palliative care, as it is viewed as such in almost all of our hospitals. I have seen
in this field of teaching and practising palliative care, a wonderful opportunity to
truly care for the sick and dying and to help others to do the same.
The positive attitude and coherent Christian life of Blessed Josemara con-
tinually encourage me to organize pro-life activities in my country even though at
times I feel quite isolated in my efforts. I am thankful that I have met good peo-
ple who are now helping me, and they in turn are now finding opportunities to
understand these topics more in depth and to share the truth with others. For
example, Rinie was seriously considering dropping out of medical school because
of all the complex moral issues doctors have to face. However, she persevered
and now she is both a good doctor and a good mother. By helping us in our Cure
& Care program, she is helping to spread the truth about life issues and is now
more confident about expressing her opinion on ethical issues. Similarly, another
doctor named Frans is improving his abilities to express himself about euthana-
sia as he gives classes and writes articles about the topic. He is encouraged by see-
ing that he can do something to help the participants in our activities.
While it is a privilege for doctors to spend time at the side of their patients,
it is not possible for them to be there all the time due to their other duties. This is
why it is equally important to educate other hospital staff about how to care for
DROWNING EVIL IN AN ABUNDANCE OF GOOD - 127
3
Furrow, 864.
the patient. When I give classes on palliative care to nurses, paramedics and hos-
pital volunteers, I can already see by the first or second day how much they gen-
uinely care for the patients and how much they want to help them, even though
they do not always know how to channel these desires. These classes help them to
learn how to exercise their freedom in a more responsible and fully human way,
that is, in harmony with the truth. For some, these classes reinforce their existing
principles, and provide an opportunity to give more serious consideration to
these topics, and develop arguments to defend and promote life. For others such
as Caroline, it is a real discovery having someone explain with such clarity and
conviction that every human has inherent dignity and natural rights that need to
be respected. These classes have helped her to take her faith more seriously.
Franz, Rinie and Judith take turns leading one of the sessions in the course. This
active participation helps to confirm them in their ideas, which they in turn pass
on to their colleagues.
Josemara Escriv has helped to make the profound meaning of suffering
more comprehensible for the ordinary person and has consequently shed light on
the value of the professions that serve the sick and the dying. He once wrote: To
bring happiness to its loved one, a noble heart will not hesitate before sacrifice.
To bring comfort to a suffering face, a great soul will overcome all repugnance
and give itself unstintingly
4
. Many of my students have learned that they can
help people precisely by being close to them in their pain. Trying to console their
patients and alleviate their pain is a way for them of gaining a deeper under-
standing of the meaning of suffering, and of life.
One of my students was a Swedish singer who took the course because she
wanted to reflect on suffering, after having lost her only daughter to cancer. After
the course, she offered to work as a volunteer in the hospital. Another student
helped a terminally ill patient who wanted to end her life to reconsider her deci-
sion by speaking to her about God. Yet another student, from her first aid vol-
unteer post, was able to help many young people and families who were among
the victims of a recent New Years Eve fire. Some have also come into contact
with the person and message of Blessed Josemara, and now have recourse to his
intercession to help them when they are in need.
The life and example of Josemara Escriv continue to be an incentive for
me to begin and maintain enthusiasm in social projects, especially activities
involving palliative care and treatment of my patients. His words help me to
struggle towards creating a culture of life in Holland, where many have lost con-
sciousness of the fact that we do not own ourselves.
128 - JOSE VAN DIJCK
4
The Way of the Cross, 5:3.
Indice / Index
WORKSHOPS
PRESENTACIN
Ana Marta Gonzlez
FOREWORD
Ana Marta Gonzlez
I. AMOR Y MATRIMONIO /
LOVE AND MARRIAGE
INTRODUCCIN
Antonio Monserrat
INTRODUCTION
Antonio Monserrat
CLAVES ANTROPOLGICAS DE UNOS CONSEJOS.
EL BEATO JOSEMARA Y EL AMOR MATRIMONIAL
Marta Brancatisano Manzi
THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SOME WORDS OF ADVICE:
BLESSED JOSEMARA AND CONJUGAL LOVE
Marta Brancatisano Manzi
MEETING THE CHALLENGE: HOW THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS
OF BLESSED JOSEMARA ESCRIV HAVE HELPED MY MARRIAGE
W. Bradford Wilcox
HOW THE TEACHING OF BLESSED JOSEMARA HAVE INFLUENCED
MY LIFE AS A HUSBAND AND FATHER
Markus Schwartz
129
THE EVOLUTION OF FAMILY LIFE IN IVORY COAST IN LIGHT
OF THE TEACHINGS OF BLESSED JOSEMARA ESCRIV
Eliane Ekra
THE MEANING OF LOVE: SOME PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
Parehuia Tutua-Nathan
II. CONSTRUIR CULTURAS DE VIDA /
BUILDING UP CULTURES OF LIFE
INTRODUCCIN
Paul Swope
INTRODUCTION
Paul Swope
DREAM AND YOUR DREAMS WILL FALL SHORT OF REALITY
Mary Hamm
DEVELOPING A MORE COMPASSIONATE ENVIRONMENTAL ATTITUDE
Samuel B. Adeloju
LA BATALLA POR LA VIDA EN HONDURAS
Martha Lorena de Casco
MI TRABAJO EN GEODEMOGRAFA DESDE LA PERSPECTIVA
DE LA CULTURA DE LA VIDA
Manuel Ferrer Regales
LA MEDICINA AL SERVICIO DE LA VIDA
Carlos Fernndez del Castillo S.
WORKING FOR LIFE IN INDIA
Josephine Kunnacherri
CONSTRUYENDO UNA CULTURA DE LA VIDA EN LA OPININ PBLICA
Dolores Voltas Bar
DROWNING EVIL IN AN ABUNDANCE OF GOOD:
WORKING TOWARDS THE CULTURE OF LIFE IN HOLLAND
Jose van Dijck
130 - FAMILIA Y CULTURAS DE VIDA / FAMILY & CULTURES OF LIFE

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