A Sowing of Peace

For the centennial of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo (March 11, 1914 — March 11, 2014) and his approaching beatification (in Madrid, September 27), many people throughout the world have spoken about the life of this exemplary pastor, described by those who knew him as a man of peace who spread peace.

The peace of Bishop del Portillo, the peace that Christians have and spread, is the result of a battle, as St. Josemaría often said, “of the intimate ascetical struggle which each Christian must keep up against everything in his life which does not belong to God. He is called to overcome pride, sensuality, selfishness, superficiality and meanness of heart. It is useless to call for exterior calm if there is no calm in men’s consciences, in the center of their souls.”[1] To sow peace, Christians need to strive to transform sin and selfishness into realities of love and of service, and thus help all men and women rediscover the deep meaning of the treasure of freedom.

For peace to endure, it also needs the support of a justice enlivened by the love that flows from Christ’s heart. Those who know themselves to be children of God discover “brothers and sisters” in other men and women. As Pope Frances recently said: “True brotherhood among people presupposes and demands a transcendent Fatherhood.”[2]

“The future Blessed Alvaro del Portillo had deep in his heart a longing for peace in the world,” stressed Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, the vicar general of Opus Dei, during the conference entitled Vir fidelis multum laudabitur, held in Rome on the occasion of the centennial of Alvaro del Portillo, which we are reporting on in this issue. Msgr. Ocáriz recalled what St. Josemaría’s successor said to the faithful of Opus Dei: “If you do apostolate, there will be more and more souls who follow Christ, the Prince of Peace. And Christ’s kingdom will spread in the world and the world will have pax Christi in regno Christi: peace for the poor, and for the rich. And if we are better Christians, aware of our obligation to do apostolate, social justice will come about, and non-Christians, drawn by our example, will realize that besides justice, charity is also needed, which reaches much further; it is the oil that anoints and gives warmth to everything, because if one is charitable in a dry and cold way, it is not the charity of Christ.”[3]

But more than by his preaching, Bishop del Portillo showed by his deeds that it is possible to sow a peace grounded on charity and justice. Thanks to his stimulus and encouragement, dozens of social initiatives have sprung up throughout the world. We could mention here, as an example, Monkole Hospital in Kinshasa, Congo; the Siramá Center for the Professional Training of Women, in San Salvador, El Salvador; and the Banilad Center for Professional Development, in Cebu City, the Philippines.

As his beatification approaches, we ask God to continue granting the Church pastors to the measure of his own heart. Then Christians will have the joy of spreading the peace of Christ in the most varied circumstances of daily life: veritatem facientes in caritate (Eph 4:15), proclaiming the truth in charity.

[1] St. Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, “The Interior Struggle,” no. 73.

[2] Pope Francis, Message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2014, no. 1.

[3] Fernando Ocáriz, L’eredità spirituale di Mons. Alvaro del Portillo, address given on March 14, 2014 in the conference Vir fidelis multum laudabitur, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome.

Romana, n. 58, January-June 2014, p. 8-9.

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