The concept of the “universal call to holiness” was popularized by the writings of the Second Vatican Council, but it has been a part of Catholic thought since the beginning. “Be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect” was not advice to only a few; it was a command to us all. Christ set the ideal for us, and the Church has given us the means to achieve holiness in our particular states of life.
Yet before the Second Vatican Council reintroduced this concept to the world, St. Josemaria Escriva had made it the center of his teaching. Decades before the Council, and for decades after, St. Josemaria taught that everyone is called to and can achieve holiness. He taught that it was, in fact, the Christian’s primary vocation, and the end to which one’s particular vocation pointed. It is from that simple premise that flows the spirituality of Opus Dei–seeking holiness in everyday life, recognizing that you are a son or daughter of the Father, and finding joy in the traditions and prayers of the Church.
While there are many great works applying and explaining the spirituality of St. Josemaria Escriva from members of Opus Dei, Eric Sammons offers a fresh outsider’s perspective looking in to see what makes St. Josemaria’s spirituality so unique. And we quickly find out how unique and powerful a message it is. It is powerful because it applies to everyone. And it is powerful because it is so simple. Unlike some spiritualities in the Christian tradition, that of St. Josemaria is accessible to everyone.
Eric Sammons takes the reader through different facets of life to see how everyone has access to this spirituality, and how everyone can benefit from it, even if one is not a member of Opus Dei. Man was created to work, and in our work we can glorify God. St. Josemaria offers us a framework in which modern men and women can live St. Paul’s command to “pray always.” By turning our work and livelihood into a prayer, we can begin to transform the world by first transforming ourselves.
Sammons does a good job of taking the reader through the several elements of the Opus Dei plan of life, which are practical ways of living out the spirituality of St. Josemaria. Many of them we should be doing anyway. Sammons’ book places them in the larger context of St. Josemaria’s teaching and gives the reader a renewed appreciation for the devotions and prayer that have been the backbone of saints’ devotional lives for centuries.
I highly recommend Eric Sammons’ book to everyone who is looking to recover something of a daily prayer life and structure. The basic premise of the book–that we can all achieve holiness through our chosen vocations and occupations–is useful to anyone. Sammons’ work is a useful addition to the growing corpus of works about St. Josemaria’s spirituality.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Holiness for Everyone: Practical Spirituality . This is also a great online Catholic store for all your religious shopping needs, such as gifts for Confirmation and gifts for a baby baptism.