From the Auxiliary Vicar
Visit to the Region of East and Southern Africa
From May 24 to June 7, Monsignor Mariano Fazio visited the newly erected circumscription of East and Southern Africa to work with the new regional government teams of both the Commission and the Advisory. The circumscription covers the territories of South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
The Auxiliary Vicar stayed in Nairobi from May 24-31. He visited various apostolic corporate works, spoke with their boards and met with faithful of the Prelature. From there he went to Kampala, where he stayed until Thursday, June 3. On that day and until the 6th of the same month, he was in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa. A common theme in his meetings with faithful of Opus Dei and in his preaching was union with the Pope and his intentions. He also reminded people of some of the central ideas in the Prelate’s recent pastoral letters, related to the centrality of Christ, freedom, friendship and vocation.
A Conversation on Freedom (Cadena Cope, Spain)
On June 15, Monsignor Mariano Fazio was interviewed by José Luis Restán on the program El Espejo on the COPE radio network (Spain), on the occasion of the publication of his book Contracorriente... hacia la libertad [Going against the tide… towards freedom](El Buey Mudo, 2021). “Freedom is the key to human existence,” the Auxiliary Vicar said during the conversation. “Every person has love as their general vocation; we are all made to love. We cannot love without being free. Sometimes freedom has been associated with cultural currents contrary to Catholicism, as though it imposed a blind obedience. More, Newman and Chesterton [authors discussed in the book] teach that freedom is one of the central values of the Catholic faith. The greatest manifestation of freedom in human history is the death of Christ on the cross, who gave himself freely out of love. He also mentioned that John Paul II had a favorite verse in Sacred Scripture: “the truth will set you free.”
Interview in Avvenire (Italy)
On June 29, Francesco Ognibene published an interview with Monsignor Mariano Fazio in the Italian newspaper Avvenire. Topics covered include the COVID-19 pandemic and the publication of the book Contracorriente... hacia la libertad [published in English as Transforming the World from Within]. We reproduce below an excerpt from this interview (the complete text can be found in the digital edition of www.avvenire.it).
The pandemic has dug deep into people’s lives, minds and hearts. What is the service Christians are called to render in this time of transition and newly found hope?
Each Christian, St. Josemaría said, is called to be “another Christ, Christ himself.” We must continually ask ourselves: how would our Lord have reacted in these circumstances that I am going through? I think that our Lord’s reaction to our situation today would be one of compassion (cum patire, suffering with others), of empathy (putting oneself in the circumstances of others and understanding their reactions), of accompanying those who are alone, or who have lost a loved one, or who are in a difficult material situation. At the same time, Christian must be a sower of hope, asking God for the grace to know how to transmit to others the closeness of Jesus. The health crisis will end, many things will change, but we will remain the same: people in need of God’s help, who gives us the strength to be very close to others.
People talk of a “return to normality.” But what is “normality” for a Christian who lives as a lay person in the world?
God has given all of us a vocation to holiness. For most people, he calls them to seek holiness in the midst of the world. “Normality” is the ordinary circumstances in which we go about our daily existence: our family, work environment, the places or activities in which we rest. The normality of a lay person who is aware that God is calling him or her to holiness consists precisely in discovering in these apparently humdrum circumstances the place where we are called to live a coherent Christian life. There we find the space to seek union with God and service to others. If we were to seek sanctification outside of “normality,” we might fall into a spiritualistic escapism, which would prove sterile.
What new frontiers is the Prelature encouraging its lay faithful to reach?
I just returned from a trip to Africa. It gave me great joy to see some schools started by faithful of Opus Dei that began very humbly in the 1960s, and were the first interracial schools there. In those years racial equality was a frontier to be conquered. Times change and challenges are new. The faithful of the Work, with spontaneity and initiative, seek to be where there is a need for coherent Christian witness. Our founder spoke of “drowning evil in an abundance of good.” I am now thinking of so many initiatives to develop palliative care units, at a time when a pro-euthanasia mentality is spreading. This is just one example: it shows that the frontiers change, but the apostolic spirit remains the same.
Romana, n. 72, January-June 2021, p. 77.