The Church intones a song of jubilation and praise to Christ for the beatification of Josefa Naval Girbés, a secular virgin who dedicated her life to the apostolate in her native town of Algemesí, in the Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain. A simple woman, docile to the breath of the Spirit, she reached the pinnacle of Christian perfection in her long life dedicated to the service of her neighbor in the nineteenth century, a period that was far from easy, during which she lived and developed her intense apostolic activity.
She was eighteen years old when, with the approval of her spiritual director, she made a vow of chastity. She was thirty years old when she opened a school/seminary in her family’s home, where many young people received both human and spiritual formation. This apostolate would continue in the so-called “garden conversations,” through which the best-prepared disciples received a deeper spiritual formation.
Conscious of the fact that, as the Second Vatican Council would later affirm, “the vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2), Josefa made herself all things to all people, like the apostle Saint Paul, that she might save all people (cf. 1 Cor 9:22). This explains the indelible mark she left on the exercise of her charity. She assisted the dying with care, helping them to die in God’s grace. Her heroic attention to those affected by the cholera epidemic in 1885 is one of the most expressive examples of the charity of this beloved soul.
A singular characteristic of Josefa is her status as a secular [she was a Discalced Carmelite tertiary, today called the Secular Order of the Discalced Carmelite friars]. Josefa, who filled cloistered convents with disciples, remained unmarried in the world, living the principles of the Gospel and being an example of Christian virtue for all those children of the Church who “by baptism made one body with Christ … carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (Lumen Gentium, 31).
Saint John Paul II
Homily, no. 7
Solemn Beatification of Six Servants of God
St. Peter’s Square, Sunday 25 September 1988
Translation from the Italian text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.
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