Guadalupe Ortiz:

Ordinary Holiness for the Modern World

By Cristina Abad Cadenas

From the Prolouge of "Guadalupe Ortiz: The Freedom of Loving"

Guadalupe (pronounced “Wadalupay ”) Ortiz was no stranger to me. I had read a biography of her, and I had heard people who knew her talking about her. I had been struck by her intelligence and human qualities, but I must confess that I was left with the impression that she was an exceptional, but somewhat inaccessible character.

In the spring of 2017 I heard that the Catholic Church had published a decree on her heroic virtues. I was interested in the fact that she would be the first Opus Dei woman to be beatified—the novelty aspect caught my attention as a journalist. I knew that Pope Francis and his immediate predecessors were keen to present examples of Christian living that are close at hand, accessible to all the faithful. That did not hit with my first impression of Guadalupe Ortiz, so I thought maybe I should revisit it and find out for myself what Guadalupe was like.

When I started reading the primary sources available in the archives, the first thing that attracted me was how normal and ordinary she was. Other people who get to know her more deeply may single out her humility, her strength of character, or her joy. But what I found really striking was her ordinariness—giving the lie to the journalists’ truism that “dog bites man—no news; man bites dog—news.”

I had expected her letters and diaries to feature elaborately polite expressions, and elegant but dated turns of phrase. What I found was natural, straightforward communication. I felt that she could have been writing today, using email or WhatsApp. Her letters were clear and direct, with plenty of questions and affectionate little family details, as well as a good sense of humor; they were bursting with life.

Putting together the pieces from her letters to her mother and siblings, to St. Josemaría Escrivá, Encarnita Ortega, and the women who went to begin Opus Dei’s apostolate in America, Mexico and other places; reading her diary entries and other notes; talking to some of the people who knew her, and going over the events of her life, I gradually built up a richer and more attractive picture of her character and personality.

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I had expected her letters and diaries to feature elaborately polite expressions, and elegant but dated turns of phrase. What I found was natural, straightforward communication. I felt that she could have been writing today, using email or WhatsApp. Her letters were clear and direct, with plenty of questions and affectionate little family details, as well as a good sense of humor; they were bursting with life.

Putting together the pieces from her letters to her mother and siblings, to St. Josemaría Escrivá, Encarnita Ortega, and the women who went to begin Opus Dei’s apostolate in America, Mexico and other places; reading her diary entries and other notes; talking to some of the people who knew her, and going over the events of her life, I gradually built up a richer and more attractive picture of her character and personality.

Guadalupe: The Freedom of Loving - Scepter Publishers
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The conviction grew in me little by little that it was not just her letters that fit the present time, but her whole life. Guadalupe belongs to yesterday, but she also belongs to today and even tomorrow. As a 21st-century woman, I found it natural to pray to her for help with contemporary problems involving work, family, the glass ceiling, social awareness, and the notion of service.

At the heart of her character there shone out two elements that seem irreconcilable to our current-day mindset: a sense of duty, commitment, what in conscience has to be done for God and other people; and the freedom to live life to the full, passionately, in a pioneering spirit. I set out to analyze the compound as formulated by Guadalupe.

This short book is just my personal perspective on Guadalupe Ortiz. Its starting point is the compound she made of duty and freedom, which irradiates and energizes her life and the lives of those who approach her; and that is why I have titled it “The Freedom of Loving.”


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