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Celebrating the First Feast Day of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo

On Tuesday 12 May, Cardinal Vincent celebrated a Mass on the first ever Feast Day of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo at Westminster Cathedral. In a few profoundly moving words of welcome, he thanked Opus Dei members for their discreet and under-stated service of the Church not only in this diocese but throughout Britain.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, who concelebrated, preached the homily in which he spoke about Blessed Alvaro as a model of holiness in everday life. He said that 'the most effective leadership in faith always begins by personal example.'

Archbishop Arthur Roche explained that God’s extraordinary power, manifested through the silent processes of nature, most reveals itself in the hidden work of sanctifying human souls. He described sanctity as the 'secret force that transforms the world'.

The Archbishop presented Blessed Alvaro as an example of someone who sought sanctity in an inconspicuous and humble manner in everyday life, and encouraged his listeners, mainly married people, to do the same. He described 'the simplicity of family life' as 'the chosen place where people learn to fall in love with Christ day by day'.

'The one thing I have readily noticed in the members of Opus Dei,', he said, 'and I say this, as an outsider, is the natural way in which you relate everything to God and his providence, not least in difficult and trying times.' He recommended this as 'a well applied spirituality accessible to everyone.'

Blessed Alvaro was for many years the closest collaborator of St Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei. When Escrivá died in 1975, he succeeded him as head of the Prelature until his own death in 1994. He stood out for his humility, fidelity and love for the Church and played a discreet but significant role in the Second Vatican Council. His feast is now celebrated annually on 12 May.

The full text of Archbishop Arthur's homily is found to the right of this panel.