Rorate Caeli

St. Josemaria Escriva on the Sacred Liturgy: A Selection

St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, was known for his love for the sacred liturgy. He offered the Mass of the Gregorian Rite in private until his death, and it was this Mass that inspired his statements on the importance of the liturgy and most especially of the rites of Holy Mass.

On the importance of the liturgy:

Your prayer should be liturgical. How I would like to see you using the psalms and prayers from the missal, rather than private prayers of your own choice. (The Way, 86)

Have veneration and respect for the holy Liturgy of the Church and for its ceremonies. Observe them faithfully. Don't you see that, for us poor men, even what is greatest and most noble must enter through the senses? (The Way, 522)
The Church sings, it has been said, because merely to speak would not satisfy its desire for prayer. You, as a Christian — and a chosen Christian, — should learn to sing liturgically. (The Way, 523)
That woman in the house of Simon the leper in Bethany, who anoints the Master's head with precious ointment, reminds us of our duty to be generous in the worship of God.

All beauty, richness and majesty seem little to me.

And against those who attack the richness of sacred vessels, of vestments and altars, stands the praise given by Jesus: 'opus enim bonum operata est in me — she has acted well towards me'. (The Way, 527)
The objects used in divine worship should have artistic merit, but bearing in mind that worship is not for the sake of art: art is for the sake of worship. (The Forge, 836)


On the rites of the Holy Mass

You saw me celebrate the holy Mass on a plain altar— table and stone, without a reredos. Both Crucifix and candlesticks were large and solid, with wax-candles of graded height, sloping up towards the Cross. The frontal, of the liturgical colour of the day. A sweeping chasuble. The chalice, rich, simple in line, with a broad cup. No electric light, nor did we miss it.

And you found it difficult to leave the oratory: you felt at home there. — Do you see how we are led to God, brought closer to him, by the rigour of the liturgy? (The Way, 543)
How great is the value of piety in the Holy Liturgy!

I was not at all surprised when someone said to me a few days ago, talking about a model priest who had died recently: “What a saint he was!

—“Did you know him well?” I asked.

—“No,” she said, “but I once saw him saying Mass.”

By a process of assimilation we should make these words of Jesus our own: Desiderio desideravi hoc Pascha manducare vobiscum: I have longed and longed to eat this Passover with you. There is no better way to show how great is our concern and love for the Holy Sacrifice than by taking great care with the least detail of the ceremonies the wisdom of the Church has laid down.

This is for Love: but we should also feel the need to become like Christ, not only inside ourselves but also in what is external. We should act, on the wide spaciousness of the Christian altar, with the rhythm and harmony which obedient holiness provides, uniting us to the will of the Spouse of Christ, to the Will of Christ himself. (The Forge, 833)


Unique Liturgical Customs

Low Sunday brings to my memory a pious tradition of my own country. On this day, in which the liturgy invites us to hunger for spiritual food — rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite, to desire the spiritual milk, that is free from guile — it was customary to take Holy Communion to the sick (they did not have to be seriously ill) so that they could fulfil their Easter duties.

In some large cities, each parish would organise its own eucharistic procession. From my days as a university student in Saragossa, I remember frequently seeing thousands of people crossing the Coso in three separate contingents made up entirely of men, thousands of men!, carrying huge burning candles. Strong and robust men they were, accompanying Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, with a faith that was greater than those candles that weighed so much.

(From "Getting to know God", no. 142, in the book Friends of God)

His homily on The Eucharist, mystery of faith and love is also worth reading.

All texts are from
Posted in honor of the feast today of St. Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975), one of the 20th century's most misunderstood saints.