By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
IT’S entitled, “The Way.” It’s the first book written by Opus Dei founder, St. Josemaria Escriva, dubbed as the precursor of the lay spirituality in the Church. It’s now in its 80th year since its first edition that came out in 1939. To date, its print-run has reached close to 5 million copies. It has been translated from its original Spanish to some 40 languages, including Tagalog.
It contains 999 crisp and powerful spiritual considerations that the author culled from his years of preaching about the universal call to sanctity, a revolutionary if the also controversial issue at that time. From the moment he founded Opus Dei in 1928, he had been talking about how everyone, especially the lay ordinary persons, are called to sanctity and apostolate in the middle of the world.
For him, the things of the world are no hindrance to developing and keeping a close relationship with God and with others. In fact, they are the means, the occasion, the instrument and the reason to develop a love for God and for others.
In one homily, he said: “You must understand now, more clearly, that God is calling you to serve him in and from the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life…Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”
Definitely, this book has touched and fired up the lives of many people to such an extent that these people discovered a divine vocation to spread this part of the gospel all over the world.
I must say that I am one of them. Way back in the 70s, when I was still in my collegiate years in Manila, someone handed me this book. I was not actually eager to read any book other than what my teachers asked me to study. Much less was I particularly keen on reading spiritual books.
But I found it hard to refuse my friend who lent it to me. Besides, the book looked small, relatively thin. And when I opened it, I realized that it contained points that were short. So I gave it a try.
But the try turned out to be a serious, absorbing read. I must say that even from its first point, I was already ‘hit.’ And the succeeding ones reinforced it. I felt interpellated and investigated, and soon a larger picture that I have been ignoring till then loomed.
It made me discover the importance of developing a spiritual life.
At that time, I was not serious about religion though I went through the motions of attending Sunday Mass and whatever religious activities the school organized for the students. Soon, I was asking questions about how my studies and other human responsibilities were related to faith, religion, piety, etc.
I started talking to a priest and unloaded some of my questions, doubts, fears, plus, of course, my weaknesses, failures, temptations, and sins. I must say I always felt lighter after each chat. I knew something was taking place and shaping up in my heart but did not know exactly what it was and where it was leading me to.
Soon, I saw how the dots and broken lines in my life were connected. And when I was told about a possible vocation, for one reason or another, I just answered, Yes, I think I do have it. I was willing to make a drastic change of plans in my life to accommodate what I was convinced was what I was meant for.
The little book was a favorite companion of mine, not only in times of prayers but also in some random moments when I found myself idle and feeling empty. It always gave me some light, some impulse, both in good times and in bad, in my high moments as well as in my low. Up to now, it still is my favorite companion.