By Louise P. Abesa
The charism of Opus Dei, the Roman Catholic Personal Prelature founded by St. Josemaria Escriva, easily makes one think of the University and the young and the restless who want to conquer the world but do not exactly know how and are just (wittingly or unwittingly) too glad to be helped by adults whose wisdom they trust.
Some university students and young professionals at times get knocked off their feet by St. Josemaria Escriva’s challenge to live the human and supernatural virtues seriously and eventually resolve to cheerfully take up the cross and follow Christ. A few claim to have instictively wanted to throw the book THE WAY (St. Josemaria’s first published book on spiritual considerations) when they get to read some challenges like:
- Be useful. Blaze a trail. (Challenge to one’s character)
- Humble yourself: don’t you know that you are a trash can? (Challenge to one’s humility)
- Don’t make negative criticisms. If you can’t praise, say nothing. (Challenge to one’s charity)
- If obedience does not give you peace, it’s because you’re proud. (Challenge to one’s obedience)
An accomplished professional who grew up with St. Josemaria Escriva’s challenges and conquered the worlds of both Political Economy and Music is Ms. Abigail de Leon.
Abby was 17 when she joined the 1995 World Youth Day as a default member of the delegation of St. Scholastica’s College Manila. She was lucky to have had a close encounter with St. John Paul II in Luneta Park, Manila.
Immediately after the World Youth Day, her Mom brought Abby to a Study Center of Opus Dei (which is very Roman Catholic: loyal to the hierarchy and at the same time willing to go to the peripheries). On her senior high school year, Abby was torn between doing music or economics in college. She was then head of the Benedictine Circle’s Kapatid, which was St. Scholastica’s liturgical choir but her parents wanted her to take up economics and she obeyed. She enrolled in M.A. Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The course evolved into M.A. Politics for some technical reason by CHED. This same program is now known in UA&P as Political Economy.
For twenty years, Abigail taught Political Economy at UA&P and since 2004, has been the University’s Sancta Maria Stella Orientis choir master. She has resigned as professor from UA&P this year but has continued to sustain the choir.
Abigail is now taking up graduate studies in Music at the University of Santo Tomas. Her project is to create a Schola Cantorum as her community arts lab. Since her studies focuses on conducting sacred music, she hopes to provide continuous music literacy educatin to Church singers and choirs. Last year, she formed a community choir among children from the informal settlers of Barangay San Antonio, Pasig City just across UA&P but she found her self ill-equipped and decided to take up formal studies in Music to be more effective in handling community choirs.
From age 17 until now, the guiding light of Abby’s life is St. Josemaria Escriva’s challenge: To do Opus Dei by being yourself Opus Dei. Opus Dei is Latin for the Work of God. As choir master, she challenges her members to observe punctuality and discipline in rehearsals for “being Opus Dei” means lending their voices to God so God can do His Work through them. The newest members of the choir: Mheann Calamba, Abby Doydora, Mae Doleiral, Cherie Andrea, Jam Diaz, and Judy Tanael are just too happy being instruments of God’s Work as they combine work and fun.
Today is St. Josemaria Escriva’s feast day. He transitted to heaven on June 26, 1975 at the age of 73. The Personal Prelature of Opus Dei is now in 5 continents challenging people of all ages from all walks of life to do God’s Work cheerfully. For more information on the Prelature, please visit: www.opusdei.org