should I not write this ?
I have never
written a diary, let alone a blog.
I wish not to do it now.
My family, which is a large one spread in Europe and America,
knows well about my life, and also my friends.
Even more, teachers, students and staff know better because we share many
hours along each year. They could tell even those things that I have never
realized or forgotten.
So, why should I spend time writing ?
I do not expect that my life or opinions could be of interest outside that
small circle of acquaintances, and they do not need further reading. They are
everyday witness of my actions, and they get the best I can answer to what
they may ask. Well, sometimes my own ignorance may hinder providing an answer,
but with some personal work I have tried to provide what I have been asked. I
hope they may forgive my errors, and even better, that they make me know
So, why am I writing ?
I try to share a part of my personal life and perhaps this account may become
useful to somebody.
Well, life cannot be broken down into parts. Faith, family, friends, society,
work, they are tightly intertwined. I share work with friends and family.
When I participate in any kind of social or society activities, there is also
my faith present, friends and family too.
I have selected one topic that is not usually apparent, although it is well
known among my relatives, friends, and most of my workmates, event those
students that work closer to my research. It is also a part of my life that
derives from the foundations of my life, our Lord. His Son provided the faith
I received at baptism and the Holy Spirit has kept nurturing. This is the
topic: the vocation I received within Opus Dei and Jesus' Church
As here I deal with my life, I will not explain what Opus Dei is, but tell
personal experiences in an informal way.
I hope this shared privacy will be respected.
I also want to thank all those friends and acquaintances who have helped me
with their example or advice.
I was born on September 8th 1958 and after this introduction I will go on
writing, for how long, ... I don't know.
As I have said, I will limit these paragraphs to my personal life, so he or
she who looks for information there are other places to find it:
There was no way for a
"If you ever speak to me about Opus Dei again you will delete your
name from my friend's list" That happened in the sixties, and they
are words on my mother's mouth to one of her friends, as she told me a few
However, things may
change (early seventies)
Through my parents I met Javier who worked as office assistant. We got
friends, and often went mountaineering in the surroundings of Bilbao. That hobby came
from my parents and the Christian
I remember that a few weeks after meeting Javier for my first time, mother
questioned me about what I had learnt at Olalde. My answer even today remains
clear in my mind: "the importance of little things". Perhaps that idea was repeated in
many environments: save your pennies, work properly, clean thoroughly,
... but until then, those things had nothing to do with spiritual
life, at least in my personal reckoning.
At Olalde I also met Pedro, who taught photography to a group of
teenagers -he knew the job by heart, because he worked as a photographer-. I
have never asked Pedro if he loved so much his job as to go on, after working
hours, teaching mischievous youngsters.
Patxi, was another of my grown-up
friends at Olalde: he was no longer a teenager but a student at the
university. He cared for our secondary school studies.
Clerk or Clergy
Later on, Pedro surprised me, when he told us he was having an exam and we
had to change our usual schedule. He was a "worker", not a student.
So, I asked about the topic. To my astonishment he was taken a topic in
Philosophy. I though he wanted to improve his professional status. Years went
through and I learned about the importance of the Theological studies for Opus
Dei common Christians and so I recalled Pedro's exam. Today he keeps on
working as a photographer. It is clear that, I had not guessed correctly
the reasons that impelled him to study.
Javier was our though guide: he did not need a path, just gaze around, take a
bearing, and forget the obstacles: ravines, thorns, etc.
In the eighties I got news he was leaving the office he worked in, that is,
his job, his source of income: he was to complete his Theological studies and
become a Catholic priest. Although it is not usual for a clerk, he also got a
Ph. D. in Theology.
Well, neither it is usual in Opus Dei, because most of its people are common
mothers and fathers -with the children they have generated or adopted- with
their couple. I say "with" because vocation to Opus Dei is a
personal thing, it is for yourself, not necessarily for your couple or kids
I like to remark, that I knew my mother and father had found their vocation
within Opus Dei, after I had seen mine, so they did not influence my personal
I was used to Catholic environments. Following family tradition I studied
with the Christian Brothers; due to home proximity, I confessed regularly
with Father Ajubita S.J. -a wonderful person-; on
summers altar boy at my grandmother's parish church at her tiny village; my
English -as you should expect- learnt in Ireland when I was 10 years old, ...
Really everything was smooth.
To tell the truth, for a long time I did not realize the vocational nature of
commitment within Opus Dei.
In that époque vocation and common layperson were two concepts that
had not much in common.
Mainly in our larger than three-months-summer-holidays we enjoyed our
teen-parties, dances, bicycle excursions, ... and
most of us went together to Holy Mass -even on a week-day if anybody made the
So it is easy to understand that I could not guess that Javier, Pedro, Patxi
and other young people shared a special call from our Lord, a real vocation
carried out in their different ways of life. The only thing they shared in common : ordinary people. The "spiritual"
activities: Eucharist, meditation, prayers, were
common ground all around. Much less did I expect that a married person could
find a personal call, a vocation.
I did not realize that, even after enjoying a one-hour tertulia (get-together) with Opus Dei founder, now
Saint Josemaría. I say enjoy because I, and those
that I knew, enjoyed that time: it was not a speech or a sermon, just a
conversation. About three hundred youngsters from Bilbao and its suburbs met there: high
school, university and workers (on those days, if you did not go to
university, it was usual to take a job or apprenticeship being less than 16
years old). I can recall the conversation of Escrivá
with two of them: one student of medicine and one plumber. However, that day
I had no ears, or perhaps I was dumb: I got nothing at all about Opus Dei
but, on the other hand, Saint Josemaría saying
nothing special solved my personal crisis, I do not know how, but I knew that
his person had been used by the Holy Spirit to cement my life as a Christian.
Vocation was not for
It was clear I was going to have many children: at least that was the
prophecy that came out from our teen-games. There was only one cloud in that
future: my number matched the number of sons and daughters that should bear
the ..., -let us say- the less pretty girl in our gang. I hope she has
forgotten the cue, or at least that she would drive this tactless phrase
towards another one. Not a difficult task: in our gang girls outnumbered us
Really the prediction caused no concern: being a large number of brothers,
sisters and cousins, and I being the older but one, I had already enough
experience caring babies and their inputs and outputs.
On the other hand, in my teens I heard the actual protagonists speaking about
all forms of vocation, priest, monks, brothers and sisters, fathers and
mothers (I mean religious), missionaries, ... Even
more, I had witnessed boys and girls taking those bearings, but I followed my
personal way never receiving a personal call. That was so, honestly.
On those years, I went to two spiritual retreats, each one for three days.
First experience at the Passionists, the second one
was preached by a priest from Opus Dei. Both priests regularly came to the
Christian Brothers school to hear confessions, although as I have said, at
the time my confessor was a nice Jesuit, so I never used there those
I would say, retreats are not for enjoyment, but both experiences made good
for my life. Now, every year, I take one: much less time than that I spend hiking, but both activities come fine.
I did not expect it.
One day speaking with Patxi, I did realize the compromise that meant vocation
to Opus Dei, it was not like all the activities I
had taken at my own accord until that day: if that path were for me, it could
be to risk everything on one throw. Anyway, it was not much different than
other life-compromises, like giving your life faithfully to your
In my case and, at that moment, it might include a full commitment to the
Work: even the possibility of creating my own family could be inside the
bundle to hand over. That evening, before going to my hateful lessons -English
was not hateful, but the English lessons yes- I stopped at a parish church:
and nothing was solved. Next day passed in a gloom, quite unusual for my
everyday mode: until those hours I had never felt being the
"subject", but the onlooker of the "vocation problem". It
was quite a different position: first time I had realized about it. Even
more, what I was facing was quite a different sort of vocation
That night, for the second time in my life, the brief moment before
falling asleep was enough to see clearly everything, to make a serious
decision, and to thank God for both things.
Note that, moment may lengthen with age. For a teenager it meant less
than a couple of minutes.
Patxi got astonished, not by my decision, but because they did not expect
that I would give so a clear account of it.
I got it.
It was a start to learn, to prove and to live. Happily, when I was in my last
year at the Engineering
School, I took my whole
commitment, just a few months ahead of my first colleague's wedding ceremony.
Only a few waited until maturity to be fetched.
Now, as life goes on, soon they will enter the age of walking the church
corridor a daughter in the arm, and I will happily merry with them those
dry lay ? mortification ?
Well, most days I work, get tired, gone to bed.
Some times I drink at lunch the Spanish Rioja,
just the traditional small glass of wine.
So, although sometimes I drink,
I never got drunk,
and when I fell down
it was due to other obstacles,
and I had a problem:
I sprained my ankle four times. And the culprit was ...
soccer for the first three "events" and,
the last culprit -hopefully- was a stupid bad step that led me to the surgeon
for a fix.
I was coming down Monte Perdido, at Ordesa, close to Goriz refuge.
After the "accident" I had to complete a near four hours hike, that
is, if you are in good shape. That hike completed the initial damage. I could
have requested a chopper, but I had four kids that should be returned safe to
There has been much written about mortification practiced by Opus Dei people.
Each one lives the Christian mortification according to her or his personal
situation. I have tried different ways of mortification, but all fall behind,
much behind, compared with the penance I have volunteered to in sports.
I do not regret the blood I have spilled practicing sports, the cold or
scorch endured, the hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleeplessness,
... for the rewards I have received from nature. I have collected much
less pain and scratches due to sensible mortification, although the sport
induced ones can be used also as Christian mortification, chiefly when you
suffer a little bit more and your buddies a little bit less.
Even more, if you read a little bit about Christian mortification you will
know that most of it has nothing to do with physical or moral pain, but with
service to your neighbors (at home, work or
society). It is a pity common things do not make capital letters in the media
nor attracts morbid TV watchers.
But our good God joyfully watches all kinds of mortification if you are
What do I on a working
This question could be answered by students or colleagues.
But most of them do not know, that nearly everyday the first meeting in my
agenda is what Christians call prayer: half an our
before joining with Jesus in the celebration and renovation of his sacrifice:
the Holy Mass.
I find Him many more times along the day. Similarly, most of us do not forget
our loved ones while we perform a serious professional work. The many tasks
we have to deal with along our daily work do not obliterate their existence
and their love for us.
statistics and Politics
First place I would say I respect deeply most politicians and media people.
They have selected a difficult and dangerous job, that is, if you have morals
and want to keep them. Anyway, I will not be their judge.
Although this is not one of my favorites, there are
At university, in my first year I met Felipe at the front door of the Law
Faculty. There he addressed a few hundred students. Later on he became Mr.
González, the first socialist taking the job of Prime Minister in Spain, after
One day the police "amnestied" my fellow-student and me. Well, to
tell the truth, our detention experience was very sort, but on those days
police bullets were not always soft, neither their comments. As they
delivered our names in their "private" radio, we got some sort of
publicity among our university pals. However, I do not agree that the
important thing is people -or media- speaking about you, either right or
wrong. I would ask only them to report the whole truth and only the truth, or
do I ask too much ?
Another day Ikurrina was "set
free" (the Basque flag had been outlawed) while we were celebrating
Saint Sebastian eve in the core of Saint Sebastian city (0.00am).
A few months later, I near failed the exam of Differential Equations after
attending a Nationalist rally in the first Spanish elections after the Old
General's pass over. I got a lesson: you need some good sleep before an exam.
Anyway I was young and did not learn that lesson.
I got a mechanical engineer degree. One or two years later I came across
Gregorio. We were near the railway station of Saint Sebastian. He was a nice
person and a hard worker, and had just got a chair in the city town hall as councilor,
he was in the conservative party. I gave him an advice: to protect his
... back. A few years later, ... how I grieved ...,
and even today grieve his assassination by an ETA fanatic. The rage I have
felt after so many assassinations, and how I learned to forgive from many
people that had suffered.
Some years ago a nationalist gave me a scolding, because I was celebrating -a
nice diner- with a socialist who happened to win the town-hall major poll.
Sometimes I feel powerless and see the abortion lobbyists with their millions
of dollars in hand pressing third world poverty-stricken.
One day I found that along the years I had already voted the whole party
spectrum, say I fulfilled my poll-collection, and why not
? I decided to taste once active abstention.
account of my own actions and opinions.
In the eighties, in Spain
we had to vote NATO yes or no. Some parish-priests questioned one of their
pals who was in Opus Dei: "which advice have you received from Opus
Dei for this so important poll ?" He insisted telling that such advices are
never delivered, that each person has her or his own responsibility in these
maters. As they insisted based on their friendship, he decided to invent an
answer they would not forget: "Yes, Opus Dei never advises in these
maters, but you are right, this is an extraordinary event of great momentum,
and so we have received an special address".
The priests were all ears to his next sentence: "The message says
that, in this important poll, we must vote that what we bloodily well like".
I do not know whether they accepted the fact at last.
My parents and the
rest of the family.
Perhaps one day I will take the work of translating the nice story
written by my father, one of my sisters and my mother.
In a nutshell, Mom and dad got married in 1957 with a three month warning to
their respective parents and their marriage was quite simple: only family, no
bride dress in a Castilian depth winter (that was quite original for those
times). Before meeting with Opus Dei in 1971, they had five sons and two
daughters. Each one in an independent way and decision found the same
When we were young, my parents had to put up with acid critics from some neighbors: "your sons and daughters pay no attention
to you; they do not care for their family; etc.".
Dad is suffering Parkinson since 1993, mom is an example of dedication, and
those ill speakers envy mother and father for the tenderness and assistance
they now receive from those sons and daughters.
Miriam, the youngest, as she lives in Guatemala, she can only use
telephone and internet, but she enlivens my mother, who follows closely all
her services to young girls in that far away place. In some way mother's life
goes on in her blond and resolute daughter.
Why only mothers
usually understand this ?
or, Why had I to work part time ?
When I got employed, for about ten years I worked part time. In a few years,
most of my friends got married and in one way or the other had to manage with
their children, so they understand the need for part time work. Meanwhile, I
assisted a group of members from Opus Dei and I also cared for teenagers that
were not "mine": which ever interest they had on every-day problems,
chiefly their studies, but also many other topics, from spare time to more
spiritual matters. I had also a family, and a large family to care
Yes, I know, they had their parents and teachers ... Anyway, I am sure the
time I spent with them was well spent: I witnessed flouring vocations
(vocations to Opus Dei and to other ways in the Church), and twenty years
later I have real friends and even skiing lessons.
On those old days we had no money for ski-resorts and sometimes we enjoyed
the snow using old skies and climbing short hillsides near to Saint
Sebastian. When I turned forty (years old), two of them taught me real
skiing. However, my best teacher was Ana, Gonzalo's wife, he
"pushed" but Ana had the patience. Their first son tested the snow being
less than two years old. He and those to come will soon leave me behind in
the slopes !
On the other hand, there is an old Spanish proverb "the man to whom god
gives no children, the devil gives nieces and nephews". In this case it
is quite different: God himself gives beloved friends and "nieces and
nephews". Perhaps I should say "grand sons and grand
"But, ... you are different"
Who in Opus Dei has not heard this phrase from some acquaintances ?
Some persons that have superficial experience in this topic tell opinions
that render an Opus Dei that has nothing in common with that I have
experienced. If they know their interlocutor they usually finish with this
contradictory phrase: Yes, but you are different !
An that's true, each one has a different personality
-and different defects-.
I must tell you, I did not expect myself to write so long. So, if you have
got here, you deserve an answer to any friendly question you may have. I'll do my best to answer. mail