Novena For Serenity (May 3 – May 12)

To do this Novena,

1. Read the Texts for the Meditation of the Day slowly and meditate on them.
Ask God for light and inspiration.
You may want to do this in front of a crucifix.
2. Say the Prayer of the Day.
3. End with reciting the Prayer to Blessed Alvaro and ask God for your specific request(s).

DAY 1

THE PEACE OF GOD’S CHILDREN

Texts for mediation…

Blessed Alvaro “based his dedication to the mission he received
on a deep sense of divine sonship.
This led him to seek to identify himself with Christ
in trusting self-abandonment to the will of the Father” (DV).

“The knowledge that we are God’s beloved children
will be a powerful motivation for us.
And as an inseparable accompaniment of this most precious gift,
comes the gáudium cum pace into the soul,
that peace and joy so proper to the children of God”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 May 1988).

Blessed Alvaro “had the joy of one who lives in the Lord
and with the Lord;
and a serenity that no tiredness could trouble,
no suffering suppress (…).
[He was] a priest who knew how to inspire in souls,
together with the joy of discovering that they were children of God,
a decision to be converted”
(Bishop Javier Echevarría, JM, pp. 693-4).

Prayer

Grant me, Lord,
through the intercession of Blessed Alvaro,
the grace to understand ever more clearly,
that by Baptism all of us
have become beloved children of God (cf Eph 5:1),
that each one of us is loved by our Father God:
a Father who sees us, hears us, calls us by our name,
looks after us and helps us in all our needs (cf Mt 6:25 ff.).
Grant that, in following the teachings of St Josemaría Escrivá,
the founder of Opus Dei,
as Blessed Alvaro did,
I may be convinced that
“God is close beside us all the time. (…)
And he is here like a loving Father
– he loves each one of us more
than all the mothers in the world can love their children
– helping us, inspiring us, blessing… and forgiving” (The Way, 267).
Help me to find my rest in God my Father,
trusting in him totally,
full of faith in his divine Providence,
so that, come what may,
I may at all times find in him the serenity,
peace and joy of those who are children of God.

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro

O God, merciful Father,
you granted your bishop Blessed Alvaro
the grace of being, with our Lady’s help,
an exemplary pastor in the service of the Church
and a most faithful son
and successor of Saint Josemaría,
the Founder of Opus Dei.
Grant that I also may respond faithfully
to the demands of the Christian vocation,
turning all the circumstances and events of my life
into opportunities to love you
and serve the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Deign to grant the canonization of Blessed Alvaro,
and through his intercession
grant me the favour I request…

(Mention your need here…).

Amen.

Say 1 Our Father…

Say 1 Hail Mary… and

Say 1 Glory Be…

DAY 2

PEACE FOR PRAYER

Texts for mediation…

Filled with “love by the Holy Spirit,
constantly immersed in Prayer,
strengthened by the Eucharist
and by a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary”,
Blessed Alvaro could say that “everything is good,
because our God is good.
Therefore we can always be joyful!” (DV and JM, p. 202).
Blessed Alvaro brought to those about him “confidence, security, peace.
This came about not just because of his human qualities,
but rather as result of his deep interior life
and supernatural outlook” (Prof Francisco Ponz, JM, pp. 196-7).

His “human gifts of kindness, friendliness, serenity,
inward and outward peacefulness,
were a tangible proof of the richness
of his spiritual life” (Card. William Baum, CR).

Prayer

Grant me, Lord, through the intercession of Blessed Alvaro,
the grace to be “a soul of Prayer”,
who can trustingly talk with God about all things, at all times.

May I, especially in the more difficult moments of my life,
go to the Tabernacle, where Jesus is really present,
and abandon all my concerns in his most lovable Heart;
and also in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
as Blessed Alvaro used to do,
convinced that she – especially when we say the Holy Rosary devoutly
– will always fill our soul with peace.
Help me, O Lord, to follow St Paul’s advice:
Have no anxiety about anything,
but in everything by Prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 3

HUMILITY, A SOURCE OF PEACE

Texts for mediation…

St Josemaría Escrivá, “although he was a saint,
constantly begged everyone to pray for him.
I need your Prayers even more.
I need them more than our Founder did,
because I am a poor man
and it has fallen to me to follow a saint”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 30 September 1975).
Humility “is expressed in a deep and heartfelt conviction
that we are not better than others and,
at the same time,
in the complete confidence
that we have been picked out by God
both to serve him in the midst of the circumstances of each moment
and to bring many souls to him.
This assurance fills us with optimism”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 August 1989).
“Don’t forget that joy and cheerfulness
are a consequence of inner peace,
which in turn comes from the struggle waged against oneself;
and that, in this personal battle,
true peace is inseparable from compunction,
from humble and sincere sorrow for our faults
and sins which God forgives in the holy Sacrament of Penance”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 16 January 1984).

Prayer

Lord, may I always bear in mind the words of Jesus:
Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls (Mt 11:29).
Grant me the sincerity of recognising
that many of my worries and anxieties
are due to my self-love,
to my excessive concern about what others think of me,
to my sadness at having given a bad impression,
to my thinking that I am not appreciated,
to seeing that I am not the centre of the attention of others…;
in a word, to my pride.
Grant me, my God, the grace to be humble, for,
without humility “there can be no charity
or any other virtue, nor, therefore,
can there be any real Christian life”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 August 1989).
May I learn to think less about myself,
my importance, my success, my own interests,
and may I be more concerned about others,
happy to be able to help them and serve them.

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 4

SERENITY WHEN ILL OR SUFFERING PAIN

Texts for mediation…

Following a difficult and painful operation,
Blessed Alvaro “was all the time calm and smiling.
He was in a lot of discomfort, but did not complain about anything.
He was an example to the doctors and staff attending him”
(Mgr Joaquín Alonso, JM p. 377, note 82).
“It is clear that Don Alvaro’s whole life,
in which there was so much suffering,
pain, toil, illness, humiliation, and so on,
could only be lived with that peace, serenity,
good humour and joy, thanks to God’s grace,
which led him to unite his life
to the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ”
(Mgr Iñaki Celaya, CR).
His heart rhythms were irregular
and in May 1979 he suffered his first crisis of atrial fibrillation.
“In spite of everything,
Don Alvaro continued devoting himself fully to his tasks,
even when in great pain or suffering other discomforts”
(Bishop Javier Echevarría, JM, p. 606).

Prayer

Grant me, my God, the grace to imitate Blessed Alvaro,
in the serene and confident way with which he accepted illness,
ailments, tiredness, pain and death itself.
Lord, if you allow me to undergo
the sorrow of the death of someone I hold dear,
or the suffering of a family crisis,
or the anxiety of unemployment…,
stretch out your loving hand
and bestow on me that confidence of a child which,
as St Josemaría said,
stems from faith in Providence
and from a calm and joyful abandonment in your most Holy Will.
Grant that, following Blessed Alvaro’s example,
I may learn to embrace the Cross,
lovingly united to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ,
and endeavour to follow the advice of St Peter:
Cast all your anxieties on him,
for he cares about you (1 Pet 5:7).
Help me to understand the truth of these words of Blessed Alvaro:
“If all of us ponder, love, embrace the Will of God,
we will savour the incomparable feeling of being with the Trinity,
even in the most difficult moments”
(Blessed Alvaro, Homily, 14 February 1992).

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 5

SERENITY WHEN FACED WITH TRIALS

Texts for mediation…

Blessed Alvaro “displayed heroism when he was imprisoned
during the period of religious persecution in Spain (1936–1939),
and in the attacks he suffered
on account of his faithfulness to the Church.” (DV).
“Only with the logic of the Holy Cross,
where sorrow becomes a medicine
and death turns into new Life,
can we glimpse the explanation and the deep meaning
of what remains inexplicable to human eyes”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 29 September 1978).
Referring to some people who were spreading false stories,
seeking to do harm to the Work of God,
Blessed Alvaro wrote:
“Pray for them, renew your acts of atonement to the Lord
for the offences which they commit,
and let us not lose our peace even for a moment.
Let us act like this every day,
aiming to drown evil in an abundance of good,
spreading the truth untiringly” (Blessed Alvaro, SB).

Prayer

I ask you, Lord,
for that strength and peace which Blessed Alvaro
– with the help of your grace
– always showed in the face of persecution,
campaigns of slander and malicious intent
that arose because of his faithfulness to the Church
and to Opus Dei,
that portion of the People of God entrusted to his care.
If I find it difficult to bear injustice,
misunderstanding or disconcerting trials patiently,
help me to follow Blessed Alvaro’s advice to people
going through such difficult moments:
“God permits contradictions both for our own purification
and also so that we may taste
the sweet weight of the Holy Cross.
Sow the peace and the love of Christ
untiringly in so many hearts
which are waiting for a voice to move them”
(JM, p. 575, note 60).
Help me understand why “the saints appear so full of peace,
even in the midst of pain, dishonour, poverty or persecution?
The answer,” Blessed Alvaro said,
“is clear: because they try to identify themselves
with the Will of our heavenly Father, imitating Christ”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 May 1987).

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 6

PEACE BORN FROM FAITHFULNESS

Texts for mediation…

A faithful man will abound with blessings (Prov 28:20).
These words of Sacred Scripture
highlight the most characteristic virtue of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo:
Fidelity. He lived an unquestioned fidelity to God,
carrying out His Will promptly and generously;
fidelity to the Church and the Pope,
fidelity to his priesthood,
and fidelity to his vocation as a Christian
in every moment and circumstance of his life” (DV).
“He was always a most faithful son to the Successor of Peter,
adhering without quibble to him and to his teaching” (DV).

“I am convinced that Don Alvaro has served the Church constantly,
precisely because he followed the Founder of Opus Dei
as a most faithful son.
I think that this expression,
which is found in the Prayer for private devotion,
constitutes the most apt and precise portrait of his character”
(Bishop Javier Echevarría, JM, p. 694).

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to imitate Blessed Alvaro who,
from the moment he understood what the Will of God was,
what God was asking of him, answered “yes”,
and was faithful to death.
Help me to imitate him in the virtue of faithfulness,
which he so loved and practised,
joyfully and generously,
inspired by the faithfulness of St Josemaría.
Blessed Alvaro explained this virtue of the Founder in this way:
“His faithfulness was not a burden
but a happiness renewed each day,
a longing to respond to Love with love”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 March 1987).

Make my life, Lord, a generous and serene “Yes”
– heroic, if necessary – to everything you ask of me:
a “yes” to you, a “yes” to my Christian vocation,
a “yes” to my family duties,
to the commitments I have undertaken
– especially those I have formally undertaken for your sake
– to my spiritual resolutions, to my given word…

I ask you, finally, for the grace to meet death calmly,
with the hope of hearing at that hour the words of Jesus:
Well done, good and faithful servant,
enter into the joy of your master (Mt 25:21).

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 7

PEACE, PATIENCE AND MEEKNESS

Texts for mediation…

“No one recalls any discourteous gesture on his part,
any sign of impatience in the face of adversity,
or any word of reproach or protest on account of difficulties” (DV).

“Don Alvaro is a precious help for me:
he has helped me solve all my difficulties and,
if ever I cannot explain what’s been happening to me,
he guesses it and understands me”
(Vladimir Vince, 1946, JM, p. 281).

“He really was a father,
as they call him in Opus Dei.
One felt like wanting to go to confession to him,
rather than asking him questions”
(Vittorio Messori, writer, JM, p. 685).

“Be patient [with others], just as our Lord is patient with each of us.
Help those people you are dealing with to make a fresh start,
again and again.
Always receive them affectionately:
let them be able to come to you
in order to recover their enthusiasm after a defeat,
because they feel understood, encouraged, loved!”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 2 October 1986).

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, the friendliness,
understanding and patience that Blessed Alvaro always had
and which was so much appreciated by all who knew him,
filling their hearts with peace.
Grant me the grace to keep calm
and help me to overcome anger if somebody has upset me,
contradicts me or does me harm;
and the grace to be patient
when things I have put a lot of effort into
are slow in producing results
or do not work out as I wanted.

I very much want, with your help,
to avoid being rough or rude or reacting impatiently or protesting.
Help me not to speak hard words about others
and not to complain bitterly about anything.
Teach me to practise, as Blessed Alvaro did,
the art of “knowing how to wait”,
that he learnt so well from St Josemaría.
Before speaking, correcting or pointing things out to others,
may I let a reasonable amount of time to pass
and only take action after having prayed about the matter
and reflected on it calmly.

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 8

THE PEACE OF A FORGIVING HEART

Texts for mediation…

Blessed Alvaro “learned from the Lord to forgive,
to pray for one’s persecutors,
to open his arms in a priestly manner
so as to welcome everyone with a smile
and with Christian understanding” (DV).
“In these almost forty years
I have seen Mgr del Portillo face trials
that would have made anyone else collapse:
our Lord often allowed Opus Dei to be the target of calumnies,
unjust suspicions and, at times,
vile and base manoeuvres.
He had learnt from St Josemaría to forgive,
to cover over injustice with charity.
He would embrace the Cross, forgive,
say nothing and keep on serving and working”
(Card Giovanni Cheli, JM, p. 687).

Blessed Alvaro “asked the people of the World
[during a bitter campaign of slander in some countries in Europe] to forgive and understand;
and he sought to console them,
good humouredly, with a saying:
“Wasps don’t usually go for the worst fruits.”
He showed this same attitude in connection
with the difficulties I was going through”
(Bishop Joannes Gijsen, JM, p. 578).

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to imitate you
in the grandeur of forgiveness:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Lk 23:34).
May I be understanding, forgiving,
may I overlook words or attitudes in others that are uncivil,
unjust or offensive.
May I, in those difficult moments,
follow the advice of St Josemaría
that Blessed Alvaro practised wonderfully well:
“Pray, say nothing, work, forgive, smile.”
My God, free me from bitterness and rancour:
from being moved by resentment in my thoughts, speech or actions.
And, if ever I find myself harbouring in my heart resentful feelings,
help me to make a good Confession
so as to obtain through that Sacrament of Mercy
the peace and forgiveness of God.
Help me to savour the happiness
which Blessed Alvaro described in the following words:
“Few joys can compare with that which comes after a good Confession,
a feeling like that of the prodigal son:
the embrace of our Father God forgiving us!”
(Blessed Alvaro, Homily, 12 April 1984).

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)

DAY 9

TRANSMITTING PEACE TO OTHERS

Texts for mediation…

“One of the fundamental characteristics [of Don Alvaro del Portillo] was to be a man of peace and a bearer of peace.
It was a real example to see how,
faced with any setback or affliction,
any news of a more or less painful kind,
the sort of thing that normally would make one give in to anger,
he always reacted in a supernatural way,
placing all that had happened in God’s hands”
(Mgr Tomás Gutiérrez, CR).
“One of the most striking things about Mgr del Portillo’s manner
of being was his serenity, his inner peace.
He had peace and he gave peace”
(Fr Joseph Soria, CR).

“If you are understanding, optimistic and constant;
and if you carry on sowing peace and joy around you,
you may be sure that you will end up conquering
the difficulties that confront you
and you will place Christ high up
at the summit of all human activities”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 2 October 1986).

Prayer

My God, following the example of Blessed Alvaro,
make me want for everyone “that peace which comes from God,
and which Christ brought us, a peace which the world cannot give.
A peace which comes from being united to God
in all our thoughts, words and deeds”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 October 1989).
May I never forget that,
as Blessed Alvaro used to say,
“Peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our souls.
We will have peace and we will be able to spread it around us
if we address ourselves to the Paraclete,
and if we are ready to fulfil everything he asks of us”
(Blessed Alvaro, PL, 1 October 1989).

Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace,
make me a carrier of Christ’s peace to everyone I meet (cf Mt 5:9).
May I live in union with God in such a way
that what is said of Blessed Alvaro can be said of myself:
“Alvaro had an unfailing smile,
frank and full of affection,
which truly communicated joy and peace”
(Fr José María Casciaro, JM, p. 197).

Prayer to Blessed Alvaro (Above in Day 1)