It was with great anticipation that some 30 people from Singapore travelled to Spain for the beatification of Guadalupe Ortiz, first lay woman member of the Opus Dei to be raised to the altars, on May 18, 2019 in Madrid, Spain.
The atmosphere was magical with a spirit of joy filling their hearts as about 12,000 people welcomed the official announcement at the Palacio Vistalegre Arena located about 30 minutes from the city centre of Madrid.
The beautiful choir led all gathered in choral music during the Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
An evening get-together later that day with the Prelate of Opus Dei, simply called “the Father” in Opus Dei, was held in the same venue of the beatification in Palacio Vistalegre Arena. The get-together was fully attended. Among other things, a cheerful video of children sharing their thoughts on Guadalupe Ortiz was screened which brought wide smiles and laughter as friends and contemporaries recalled some of Guadalupe’s mannerisms and traits in ordinary everyday life.
The Father, with his simple characteristic smile and serene way of talking, took questions from the audience. We could listen to a translation via a radio channel or on the app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.guadalupe19.app). The whole event was familial, relaxed and jovial.
The next day, the group attended the Thanksgiving Mass in the same venue and it was just as festive with the participants coming dressed in their cultural dress. Apart from making many new friends and meeting with some old ones, the group was continuously on the move.
Through the beatification of Guadalupe, they received information about the good work she had done around the world and how much they impacted on the lives of various people. Guadalupe lived a normal life of an ordinary person in the world, working with rectitude of intention and joyful service to others while at the same time cultivating her God-given talents to the fullest. This was despite her poor health and physical condition, which began to manifest a few years after she joined Opus Dei.
Guadalupe was born on the feast day of our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec 12, 1916, during the year when the First World War witnessed its most decisive battles. Coincidentally, she died on the feast of Mt Carmel on July 16, 1975, three weeks after the death of Saint Josemaria. From the time she joined Opus Dei in March 1944 until her death, she wrote several letters to St Josemaria where she expressed with all simplicity and naturalness her great desires to serve, to be faithful to her calling in Opus Dei and to be holy. The last letter she wrote to St Josemaria was on June 22, 1975, where she expressed her serenity and complete abandonment to divine providence:
“Dear Father, I’m writing from hospital. I’ve been here for twenty-two days, and at the end of this month the cardiologists will decide whether to change my ‘heart valves’. I’m quite calm and I’m not worried about what may happen….
“I’m keeping in mind everything I know needs praying for, and what I imagine does. Help me to behave well in whatever God may want for me now.”
Most of the group said they left Madrid feeling very blessed to witness this great event, while others stayed on for some days to explore other historical places of significance to the life of St Josemaria.
“It was a very engaging and joyful moment for me, having witnessed 11,000 people from 60 countries who came for the beatification. The sense of solidarity in joy and suffering shared among everyone in the crowd stood out during the beatification Mass and gathering with the Prelate, Overall, the event was very well organised and beneficial for my spiritual life,” said one participant.