A good and faithful servant

March 11, 2014 was the Centenary of the birth of the Servant of God, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo. He died with fame of sanctity in Rome, on March 23, 1994, twenty years ago.  This year will be also the year of his Beatification in Madrid, on September 27.

When Blessed John Paul II canonized St Josemaría Escrivá, he called him saint of the ordinary life. What could we say of Alvaro del Portillo, who worked side by side with this holy priest for forty years? Bishop Alvaro followed heroically the same spirit of fidelity in ordinary, little things, until his death.

The ones who have the great fortune of having met him, wetreasure those encounters as guiding  lights in our lives. Alvaro practiced, out of love for God, all the Christian virtues. With his example and words, he invited many women and men to find and love God in those small details that make life pleasant for others: care for the sick, a constant work with a permanent smile, attention to the concrete needs of others…
 Astudent, who was doing a small repair in the house, could never forget a comment made by Alvaro del Portillo who was passing by: “My son, do everything with a lot of love”. This, which sounds simple, was the secret of the incoming new blessed: to offer to God a well done job, filled with love.

Many in the Philippines know him and were able to greet him when he came to Manila & Cebu on January 1987, seven years before his death.  He was then the Prelate, and first successor of Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Founder of the Prelature of the Holy Cross & Opus Dei. In a meeting he had with priests in Cebu, he showed his great love for priests by talking about carefor priestly formation. He mentioned   details of fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, prudence in choosing readingsand frequent reception and availability for Confession. A fruit of that visit and of his concern for the poor is the technical school C.I.T.E in Cebu City, promoted by him.

During the Second Vatican Council, he was asked to participate in the elaboration of the Decree Presbiterorum Ordinis.Concrete means for priestly spirituality are outlined in this text. They are reflected in the “Directory for the Life of Priests”, recently updated, to help priests to be holy.

Alvaro’s love for the Eucharist was very noticeable. He would not spare adjectives when talking about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and of our duty to adore Him in the Holy Mass. He learned from St Josemaria a formula for the Spiritual Communion: “I wish, Lord, to receive You, with the purity, humility & devotion with which your most Holy Mother received you, with the spirit & fervor of the saints”.

His love for our Lady was a real tender affection of a child. He learned from his mother, Clementina, of Mexican origin, some Marian devotions. To Mary he would pray every night three Hail Marys’asking for the virtue of holy Purity. A practical detail he would take care during the day was to “guard his eyes” in a natural way, controlling his curiosity, to keep his heart and mind for God alone, and directing often loving  glances to images of Our Lady.

We may make use of the prayer for his devotion, so that we “may also respond faithfully to the demands of the Christian vocation”. - Fr. Alex Colmeiro

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