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Portugal: October 4 to 9, 2023

The Prelate of Opus Dei arrived in Lisbon late in the afternoon of October 4. Three families welcomed him at the airport.

In Fatima, on October 5, a feast in the country, the first catechetical get-together took place, attended by more than two thousand men and women of every age and condition. “Father, what can we do when we live in a place where there are not frequent Masses?” one person asked. And another asked, “How do you develop friendships in the business world when you telecommute and meetings are always by Zoom?” And another person asked: “How can we help families in crisis to commit themselves to carry on with their family endeavor?” The Prelate responded by giving advice and reflections. The conclusion in all cases was summed up in a central idea: “We have to pray!”

In the afternoon, the Prelate prayed at the Capelinha, one of the places where the Blessed Mother appeared, and met with a group of couples who give courses on the family. When someone thanked him for his visit, Msgr. Ocáriz joyfully replied: “I am not visiting, I am at home!”

On Friday, October 6, the Prelate received a group of young people who regularly participate in Opus Dei’s activities. One of them asked him for advice on how to distinguish the voice of God from one’s own voice. Msgr. Ocáriz explained that prayer is a dialogue with God and not an introspection, and that it requires abandonment to God’s love. He also encouraged everyone to have confidence in the sacrament of Confession.

Mgr. Ocáriz was also able to greet some of the directors and collaborators of the AESE Business School. In the morning, the Prelate also visited the Mira Rio and Planalto schools, which receive pastoral assistance from Opus Dei, and met personally with parents, teachers, employees and students. At Planalto, he blessed an image of Our Lady and received a rugby team jersey with his name on it.

On Saturday, October 7, the second big meeting with families was held. It took place in the Aula Magna of the University of Lisbon, with the participation of about 1,500 people. Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz spoke briefly about how love transforms what is ordinary into something extraordinary. And on that day dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary he recalled the effectiveness of this Marian devotion. Citing the teachings of St. Josemaría, he stressed that everything can be a form of prayer, including work and rest, when they are offered to God. Then some of those present took the floor; as usual they had stories to tell and sought advice from the Prelate. One woman told him how she had found God in the midst of great difficulties, having been widowed at an early age, and thanked her friends from Opus Dei and some priests for the help they had given her in those circumstances. Another woman, accompanied by two guitarists, sang a traditional Portuguese song. Msgr. Ocáriz concluded the get-together by asking everyone to pray a lot for the Pope and gave his blessing to those present.

On Saturday the Prelate met with a group of girls who receive formation in various centers of Opus Dei. The meeting was very lively, with active participation and many musical moments.

Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz’s visit to Portugal continued on Sunday, October 8, with various meetings and classes, and celebration of Sunday Mass with a meditation.

“It gives me great joy to see so many priests, of different ages, some younger, others older and already very experienced,” he said at the beginning of a get-together with priests from all over the country. “Deep down, as St. Josemaría used to say, we all have the age of Christ, because our identity, especially at the moment of Mass and consecration, is to be Christ himself.” One of the questions centered on the conflict between the primacy of prayer, theoretically so clear, and the whirlwind of life that draws us away from this priority. The Prelate’s recommendation was to put order in our day and in our tasks: “There are a thousand ways to organize our lives, but the most important thing in our lives is always our relationship with Christ. It is absolutely the most important thing. Why? Because our ability to help others also depends on our relationship with Christ.” Some of those present told encouraging stories, such as that of a parish priest from the outskirts of Lisbon who decided to start perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and was surprised when about five hundred people volunteered to cover all the shifts. The Prelate spoke about love for the Pope, manifested, in the case of priests, in giving an example of union with him and with the bishops, because this is something fundamental in the Church. We are united by a supernatural reality: the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, and the bishops are the successors of the Apostles.

Early Monday afternoon, Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz left for the Lisbon airport, bound for Rome.

Romana, n. 77, July-December 2023, p. 181-183.

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