On the Feast of Blessed Alvaro Del Portillo, St. Eugene’s Basilica, Rome (May 12, 2017)

1. We have just prayed Psalm 23, by singing, listening and responding: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps

23:1). Are these words, with which the psalmist invites each of us to trust in God, truly deeply rooted in our heart? Are we convinced that we lack nothing, because he is close to us, because he is our shepherd, because he really knows and understands us? Do we at least ask that he make this conviction grow ever stronger in our own life? How much good it does us to meditate often on these verses overflowing with trust: “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul” (Ps 23:2). He, and only he, can provide our heart with the rest it needs.

2. Those of us who knew Blessed Alvaro agree on emphasizing something we immediately perceived: his peace and serenity. This was much more than merely a feature of his personality and temperament. Blessed Alvaro was able to spread peace wherever he was because he took refuge in God’s peace and strength. Don Alvaro was a good shepherd who cared for the flock of Opus Dei because he let himself be guided and protected by Jesus, the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep (see Jn 10:14). Let us ask our Lord, through Blessed Alvaro’s intercession, to help us be men and women of peace. Today, when one so often sees a lack of peace in society, in the workplace, in family life, it is ever more urgent that we Christians be, as St. Josemaría said, “sowers of peace and joy.” Peace in the world depends, perhaps, more on our personal struggle each day to smile, to forgive others, to overlook things, than on the great negotiations carried out among States, however important these might be.

3. Even in difficult moments in the life of the world and the Church, Blessed Alvaro never lost the serenity that, together with his prudence and strength, enabled him to be a good shepherd. And thus he was, for many people, a sure guide and true Father. We can apply to him the words with which Saint Josemaría once opened his heart to a group of faithful of Opus Dei: “Your worries, your sorrows, your concerns are for me a continuous call. I would like, with this my heart of a father and a mother, to take everything on my own shoulders.”[1]

That is how Don Alvaro lived, with the attitude of which the prophet speaks in the words we just heard: “As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so I will seek out my sheep and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of thick clouds and darkness” (Ezek 34:12).

The many manifestations of his pastoral charity are attested to by a wide variety of people. Everyone found a place in his heart. Everyone received his attention, for he refused to give in to the physical limitations caused by tiredness, illness, or age. The decree recognizing Blessed Alvaro’s heroic virtues points to fidelity as the common thread of his virtues: “Undisputed fidelity, above all, to God in the prompt and generous fulfillment of his will; fidelity to the Church and to the Pope; fidelity to the priesthood; fidelity to the Christian vocation at each moment and in each circumstance of his life.”[2]

4. Jesus expects us to follow him faithfully: faithful to the Christian vocation, to our commitment to grow progressively in identification with Jesus Christ, amid the activities of our ordinary life. He wants us to do so with the strength we receive through listening to the Word of God, through prayer and the reception of the sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist. We have to make known to many people the truth that God loves them, that Christ gave his life on the Cross for them —for each one. As Pope Francis said: “The joy of the encounter with him and with his call does not lead to shutting oneself in but to opening oneself; it leads to service in the Church.”[3]

In January 1989, during a pilgrimage to Fatima, Blessed Alvaro addressed a prayer to our Lady out loud: “I know that you always hear us, but still we have come from Rome to tell you what you already know: that we love you, but want to love you more. Help us to serve the Church as she wants to be served: with our whole heart, with complete self-giving, with loyalty and faithfulness.” We ask you, Blessed Alvaro, to obtain for us from our Lord this grace: to serve the Church out of love for God, each one from his or her own place in the world, with the commitments, projects and difficulties this entails.

I wanted to read you these words of Blessed Alvaro today, on the eve of the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. The Holy Father has traveled to that place so loved by all Catholics. We too can go to the Cova da Iria in this Holy Mass. And during the month of May, especially dedicated to Mary, let us also do so with the Rosary, the favorite prayer of our Lady. While we accompany Pope Francis on this trip, we can tell our Mother the same words the Pope addressed to her in the consecration to our Lady of Fatima, in October 2013: “Hold our life in your arms: bless and strengthen every desire for good; revive and nourish faith; sustain and enlighten hope; awaken and animate charity; guide all of us along the path of holiness.”[4]


[1] St. Josemaría, Notes from a family gathering, October 6, 1968, in AGP, PO1, June,

1969, p. 13.

[2] Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Decree on the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God Alvaro del Portillo, May 28, 2012.

[3] Pope Francis, Address, July 6, 2013.

[4] Pope Francis, Prayer in the act of consecration to Our Lady of Fatima, October 13, 2013.

Romana, n. 64, January-June 2017, p. 128-130.

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