Publication of the critical-historical edition of 'Camino' ('The Way')

Seventy years after Blessed Josemaría wrote the first points of the book that in 1939 he would publish under the name Camino, theologian Pedro Rodriguez has brought out a critical-historical edition of that work, the founder of Opus Dei’s most widely read book (four and a half million copies in print). This book is the first volume in the Obras Completas [Complete Works] of Blessed Josemaría, under the sponsorship of the Josemaría Escrivá Historical Institute.

The presentation of the «critical-historical» edition of Camino took place in Madrid on March 13. The 1250-page volume offers a detailed historical and theological discussion of the 999 thoughts that make up Camino. It also includes a brief biography of the author, a history of the writing and editing of the book, and a concise literary and structural analysis of its contents.

Pedro Rodriguez, Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Navarre, said that The Way «contains the gist of what Josemaría Escrivá wanted to offer to the Church and the world.» First published in 1939, it has seen 368 printings in 44 different languages. Soon to be published are translations into Byelorussian, Guarani, Thai, Norwegian and Tamil (India). «In the book’s 46 chapters,» said Professor Rodriguez in the presentation lecture, «Josemaría Escrivá leads the reader up an ascending slope. The first sections reaffirm the need to follow Christ with determination (prayer, interior life). Then the reader is shown how to proceed towards sanctity (faith, virtues, the Church). Finally, he is drawn into full intimacy with God (spiritual childhood, apostolic mission). The program of life proposed here is expressed concisely by the Blessed: ‘May you seek Christ, may you find Christ, may you love Christ.’» «Each of the 999 points in The Way has its own life, with very diverse contexts and circumstances. The points reflect the author’s intense spiritual, pastoral and literary life. When Josemaría Escrivá wrote The Way, Opus Dei was only recently founded. Therefore, for him these were years of very intense spiritual life, which we can see more clearly through his writings.»

Rather than maxims, the points «are actually ‘fragments’ of life,» says the editor of this edition. «He wrote this book by gathering together almost one thousand reflections taken from his personal prayer, his preaching, his dealing with souls, his correspondence, etc.» The founder of Opus Dei explained in the 1960’s the purpose of The Way: «With this publication, I tried to present a long inclined plane, which souls could climb little by little, helping them to understand the divine call and become contemplative souls in the middle of society. It is meant to be a book that leads one to get to know and to love God and to serve everyone.»

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said in his presentation that he had read The Way as a young seminarian, and he was impressed by «the vigor of its direct and forceful considerations. Josemaría Escrivá became a channel of God’s grace and led us into paths of prayer. The Way is one of the most important texts of the Church’s rich cultural panorama.» Antonio Fontan, philologist and former president of the Spanish senate, stated that The Way «is written in a contemporary language that invites the reader to establish a dialogue.» In its composition, he said, one can see the literary influence of such people as St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, Cervantes, Calderón and Lope de Vega.

The Josemaría Escrivá Historical Institute, created to study the life and works of the future saint, is bringing out his complete works, in five series: published works, non-published works, letters, manuscripts, and oral preaching.

Romana, n. 34, January-June 2002, p. 115-0.

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