In the 1970s, doubt and uncertainty were spreading among the faithful. St. Josemaria Escriva responded with intense prayer and preaching. He travelled to different Marian shrines to pray for the Church, the Pope and for the works of Opus Dei. He also undertook catechetical trips to various countries in Europe and Latin America. He strengthened the faith of large numbers of people by proclaiming to them the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church.
During the catechetical trips Msgr. Josemaria made his presentations personal by having questions and answers, jokes, stories, and prayers. His first catechetical trip was in 1970. It was in Mexico in conjunction with his pilgrimage to Guadalupe.
In 1972, Msgr. Josemaria spent two months visiting Spain and Portugal. His preaching in those weeks reached more than 150,000 people. During one of the questions and answers session, a person asked, “Father, how do you spend the time of thanksgiving after Communion?”. Msgr. Josemaria jokingly said, “This fellow wants me to confess in public!” He spoke about his effort to prolong the thanksgiving until noon, and then to begin preparing for the next day’s Mass.
From May to August in 1974, Msgr. Josemaria traveled through South America: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. He urged the people to be faithful to the teachings of the Church and to the Pope. He emphasized the need for conversion through the Sacrament of Penance.
In February 1975, Msgr. Josemaria visited Venezuela and Guatemala. He spoke about St. Joseph: “He taught us the value of ordinary work, which humanly speaking is the means we have within our grasp to sanctify ourselves with. We can put love into what we have to do every day, what we do every hour, every minute so that we can offer it to God… Just the same whether it’s building a skyscraper or a wicker basket woven by one of my Indian daughters. The wicker basket is just as valuable to me as the skyscraper, if they are made with love!”
Msgr. Josemaria fell ill during the trip and had to cut the trip short and return home. He offered up this disappointment to God for the Church in Latin America.
On March 28, 1975, Msgr. Josemaria celebrated his priestly Golden Jubilee. March 28 was Good Friday that year. Msgr. Josemaria spent the day in recollection and prayer.
During the last months of his life, Msgr. Josemaria would say, “I’m no longer needed. I’ll be able to help you better from Heaven.” His yearning to see the face of Our Lord became stronger.
On June 26, Msgr. Josemaria held a get-together with his spiritual daughters. He urged them to find a motive to talk to God, Our Lady, St. Joseph, and Guardian Angel in everything they do, so as to help Holy Church which was in great need, and was having a difficult time in the world.
Msgr. Josemaria suddenly felt weak and had to take a rest. Afterwards, he returned home with Father Alvaro and Father Javier Echevarria. They entered the central offices of Opus Dei few minutes before noon. After a brief visit to the Blessed Sacrament, he entered the room where he worked. Having just crossed its threshold, he glanced lovingly at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and said to Father Javier: “Javi!…I don’t feel well.” He collapsed on the floor.
Father Alvaro gave Msgr. Josemaria absolution and anointing. Father Joseph Soria, who was also a doctor, struggle to bring him back to life with cardiac massages, oxygen and injections. When they realized that Msgr. Josemaria had died, they knelt next to his body and prayed.
In the years that followed the death of Msgr. Josemaria, thousands of people wrote letters asking the Pope to open the process of canonization. Josemaría Escrivá was canonized by St. John Paul II on October 6, 2002.