The parents of St. Josemaria taught him his first prayers. He continue to say those prayers throughout his life. Until his dying day, Josemaria never failed to say this morning offering: “O my Lady, O my Mother, I offer myself entirely to you, and as proof of my loyal affection, I give you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession….” His parents also taught him to have a devotion to his Guardian Angel.
Josemaria received his First Holy Communion on April 23, 1912, when he was ten years old. He was taught by a elderly priest a beautiful spiritual communion prayer: “I wish, Lord, to receive You with purity, humility and devotion with which Your most Holy Mother received You, with the spirit and fervour of the saints.” Josemaria would kept saying this prayer all his life and would encouraged many other people to say it.
Little Josemaria was stubborn. One time, he hid under the bed and stubbornly refused to go out when he was wearing a new suit until his mother gave a few taps on the floor with his father’s walking stick. After he came out, his mother affectionately said, “Josemaria, the only thing to be ashamed of is sin.” Many years later Josemaria realized what the depth of meaning these words contained. Regarding his stubbornness, Josemaria said, “I am very stubborn. I come from Aragon. If this is taken to the supernatural plane, it is of no consequence. On the contrary, it can be good, because in the interior life one has to keep insisting….”
Josemaria remembered his father as a gentle man. Josemaria recalled, “He was always gentle with me, and it did me a world of good. I have the most wonderful memories of my father, who was my friend. And that is why I recommend what I have experienced. You must become friends with your children.”
Starting at the age of eight, Josemaria’s family began to suffer a series of tragedies. Within four years, his three younger sisters died one after another, and his father’s business also began to fail. Rosario died on July 11, 1910 before she was one year old. Dolores died on July 10, 1912 at the age of five, and Maria Asuncion (nicknames Chon) died on October 6, 1913 at the age of eight.
When Josemaria learnt of the death of Maria Asuncion, he began to cry. His mother said, “Now, now, Josemaria, don’t be like that. Don’t cry. Can’t you see that Chon is already in Heaven!” She also told him that he should be happy because he now had three sisters in heaven, close to God and Our Lady.
Since his sisters had died in the order of age, from the youngest upwards, Josemaria began to think that he would die next. His mother comforted by telling him that he was offered to Our Lady when he was eighteen months old. She said, “Don’t worry! You have been offered to Our Lady of Torreciudad. You will be all right.” Later she said, “My son, the Blessed Virgin must have kept you in this world for something very special. Because that time you were ill, you were more dead than alive!”