Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The farm school without a farm

By Linda Bolido in the Inquirer

Don’t expect to find a farm or students planting rice at Dagatan Family Farm School in Barangay Dagatan, Lipa City. 
Despite the name, no actual agricultural work happens on campus. The school is more about preparing students in the communities it serves for the family livelihood or enterprise which, in many rural areas, is still farming.
But to learn about agriculture and other enterprises, students go home or on field visits to other people’s farms or businesses. In Dagatan, the Philippines’ pioneering farm school, “farm” now encompasses agriculture-related and other small- and medium-scale enterprises.
The 80 students of Dagatan, which opened in 1988 with 36 enrollees, come from families involved in farming, poultry and livestock raising, sari-sari stores, buying and selling, and other modest enterprises.
They are studying not only to earn a high school diploma but also to help manage or increase the productivity of the family business and, perhaps, eventually take over from their parents.
As school director Randy B. Pesa says, “They study even as they work,” a reality in many farming communities where schools often “lose” students during critical seasons when additional hands are needed on the farms.
Pesa says many students find, even before they graduate, solutions to their businesses’ problems and are able to help their livelihood grow. As a result, many drop the idea of going to college or postpone it to nurture their businesses.
It is the outcome that the Department of Education is hoping for with the Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) basic education scheme, which aims to offer graduates more options by providing them skills that will make them employable, especially in their own communities, after high school.
Dagatan teaches students the basic academic competencies DepEd requires. It also follows DepEd’s 10-month academic calendar.
Where the school significantly differs from the mandated routine is by alternating formal classroom and home instruction. Every other week, students stay at home to help in household chores and the family enterprise.
While academics are not completely out of mind during this time as students have class work to do, the homestay is meant to be a mutually enriching experience for both youngsters and adults.
In a journal called a communication book, students record their experiences, what they learned helping with household chores or the family business. It shows the kids’ progress and what they learned during field visits, discussions with professionals and resource persons, which they are expected to share with their parents.
Pesa says that every year, the school board chooses a paksa, the unifying theme for the year’s instruction that will guide field visits and professional discussions. For agricultural matters, for instance, discussions with experts from the University of the Philippines Los Baños and successful farmers are organized.
Exposure to different means of livelihood and enterprises, Pesa says, helps children decide what they want to be.
The students’ individual profiles and consultations with parents help determine the year’s paksa.
The theme anchors class discussions and is integrated into all the work. “We try to connect the paksa to every lesson,” Pesa says, although he admits this is not always easy to do in mathematics.
Guided by their tutors, the students prepare their questions before outings. “Kids have to learn to think and to write….
If they learn how to ask questions they will develop self-confidence… . They learn to write, develop creativity and communication skills,” Pesa says.

“If there are questions that were not answered during the field trip, there will be [professional discussions],” Pesa adds.
Parents’ commitment
Field visits and discussions can involve more than just enterprise. Pesa says they visited, for instance, the community’s “model family” to help students clarify or receive guidance on  some domestic issues.
During the homestay, tutors visit the students to make sure learning continues. Pesa says the first requirement of parents with children in Dagatan is their commitment.
Parents have to be actively involved in their kids’ education. At home, they have to make sure school work is done and children complete every chore.
Parents have to be present during the tutor’s family visits. They are expected to give an honest assessment if they want to help their kids develop properly.
The homestay and extensive interaction with the community and experts are all part of an important aspect of learning at Dagatan, what Pesa calls formation. Dagatan education has a very strong spiritual and moral underpinning, owing to the fact that its founders had links to the Catholic religious group Opus Dei founded by St. Josemaria Escriva.
Pesa says parents also learn and “achieve formation” because they read and discuss what the kids write in their communication books. Many parents say they learned, through their kids, new ways of doing things and solutions to problems.
Parents also have to write or have their children write their personal reflections.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Opus Dei Headquarters

There is a good deal of interest on the Opus Dei headquarters. Mainly because of the Da Vinci Code, and so the focus is the US Headquarters in New York. 

However, the real worldwide headquarters is in Rome. Here is an article from the website dedicated to St. Josemaria.

The prelatic church of Opus Dei

The mortal remains of Saint Josemaría Escrivá are contained in a casket located beneath the altar of the Church of Our Lady of Peace. Millions of people throughout the world turn to Saint Josemaría’s intercession to gain graces of every kind from God. Many come to the Church of the Prelature to continue their petition or give thanks for graces received through his intercession.

On December 31, 1959, Saint Josemaría celebrated the first Mass in the church of Our Lady of Peace. After Opus Dei was established as a personal prelature, this became the Church of the Prelature. Saint Josemaría’s devotion to our Lady is the reason for the title of this church and the main picture. The crypt of the church holds the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and confessionals. Saint Josemaría preached with untiring zeal on our need for the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, given by God to his children as a source of peace and never-ending joy.

The crypt is also the burial-place of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo (1914-1994), Saint Josemaría’s first successor at the head of Opus Dei.

“Holy Mary is the Queen of peace, and thus the Church invokes her. So when your soul or your family are troubled, or things go wrong at work, in society or between nations, cry out to her without ceasing. Call to her by this title: 'Regina pacis, ora pro nobis — Queen of peace, pray for us.' Have you at least tried it when you have lost your calm? You will be surprised at its immediate effect.” Saint Josemaría Escriva

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The HHS mandate contradicts the Christian view of work

By Jay W. Richards in The Daily Caller. Excerpts only.

The mandate assumes that there is a solid line between sacred, explicitly religious work in a religious setting, and “secular” work that takes place everywhere else. This might look like a nice way to resolve the dilemma: just build a wall between the sacred and the secular, and exempt the former, but not the latter. Historic Christian theology, however — whether Protestant or Catholic — has a different view.

Work, whether explicitly religious or not, is an expression of our nature as creatures made in the image of God. Work is part of God’s original blessing and command to our first parents. Adam and Eve were put in a garden, commanded to “tend and keep it,” and told to have dominion (that is, be good stewards) over the earth. This original command to work took place before the fall into sin.
This biblical view of the dignity of work, including manual labor, is unique among the major threads of western culture. The ancient Greek and Roman cultures saw labor, particularly manual labor, as fit for slaves but not for citizens.

Although this theology of work has always been in danger of being eclipsed, it is firmly anchored in Church history. The motto of the ancient Benedictine order is “Ora et labora”: pray and work. The Protestant Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin emphasized the “priesthood of all believers” and denied a stark dividing line between private worship and public work.

The Catholic organization Opus Dei (“the work of God”), founded in the twentieth century, describes its purpose as helping “people seek holiness in their work and ordinary activities.” And today, there are dozens of Christian non-profits, including my own — the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) — that emphasize the sacredness of work. According to the broad Christian tradition, then, church ministry can be a calling, but so too can banking or medicine or musical performance or coffee roasting or car manufacturing. If God has called you to a specific task and you pursue it with gusto, then your work is your spiritual calling.

Álvaro del Portillo, the "rock" of Opus Dei and the mission in Asia

by Nirmala Carvalho in

The director of the Opus Dei Centre in Mumbai talks about the successor to Saint Josemaría Escrivá, founder of the personal prelature, who will be beatified in September. Del Portillo was a person naturally "faithful, first to Our Lord and then to the spirit of Opus Dei." During the Second Vatican Council, he played a fundamental role, which he continued with young people from all over the world.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Asia was always very close to the heart of Mgr Alvaro". This was clear when the first members of the Opus Dei arrived in New Delhi in 1993. On that occasion, he asked the world "to pray for the beginning of the Prelature in this great subcontinent," said Mr Kevin de Souza, director of the Opus Dei Centre in Mumbai. Speaking to AsiaNews, he talked about Mgr Alvaro del Portillo, who will be beatified on 27 September in Madrid. Here is the interview.

How relevant is the life and mission of the Blessed Alvaro today?

Álvaro has always been regarded as an icon of fidelity. Saint Josemaría, the founder of Opus Dei, nicknamed him saxum, which means 'rock' in Latin.

At only 26 years of age, he was named secretary general of Opus Dei. He had to oversee the expansion of the apostolic activities of Opus Dei in Madrid and other Spanish cities whilst completing his engineering studies and earning a living. He did all these with a great sense of calm.
"He has left a very deep imprint," said Javier Echevarría, the current Bishop Prelate of the Opus Dei, after Álvaro's death.

"One of his essential features was a strong sense of filiation, accompanied naturally by an effort to be faithful, first to Our Lord and then to the spirit of Opus Dei, left to us by our founder. Bishop Álvaro incarnated to perfection all aspects of the spirituality of Opus Dei, making them flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone."

During his years in Rome, various popes, from Pius XII to John Paul II called upon him to carry out numerous tasks as a member or consultor of 13 entities within the Holy See.

He played an active role in the Second Vatican Council. John XXIII appointed him a consultor to the Sacred Congregation of the Council (1959-1966).

Before Vatican II, he was president of the Commission for the Laity. In the course of the Council (1962-65), he was secretary of the Commission on the Discipline of the Clergy and of the Christian People.

After the Council, Paul VI appointed him consultor to the post-conciliar Commission for Bishops and the regulation of dioceses (1966).

For many years, he was also a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Read the rest in:,-the-rock-of-Opus-Dei-and-the-mission-in-Asia-30157.html

Monday, January 27, 2014

Catholic institution will use state-of-the art technology to educate pilgrims to Israel

By Elhanan Miller. Excerpts of an article  in Times of Israel 

Opus Dei, a Catholic institution, will provide spiritual guidance to Christian pilgrims in a new visitors’ complex being constructed outside Jerusalem.

Saxum, a project comprising a conference center and multimedia resource center, is located between Kibbutz Maaleh HaHamisha and the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, 15 kilometers (10 miles) west of Jerusalem. Construction on the site began in 2013, and is scheduled for completion in 2015. 

According to the Saxum website, the conference center will include 50 guestrooms, two chapels, and classrooms. The multimedia center will serve to train tour guides and use state-of-the art technology to introduce visitors to Jerusalem’s Christian sites.

One of Saxum’s goals is to promote Christian pilgrimage to Israel. The Saxum Foundation, an Italian nonprofit, estimates that some 30,000 visitors will pass through the center every year.

Visit the saxum website at:

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, Opus Dei's second leader, to be beatified on September 27 in Madrid

 By National Catholic Register

VATICAN CITY — Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the second leader of Opus Dei, will be beatified in his birthplace of Madrid on Sept. 27, the Vatican has announced.

The current prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría, said the Vatican’s Jan. 21 announcement of the beatification ceremony was a “moment of profound joy.” He said Bishop del Portillo “loved and served the Church so much.”

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, known as “Don Alvaro,” was born in Madrid on March 11, 1914, the third of eight children. As a student, he was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He taught catechism to children in poor neighborhoods and distributed donations and food to families in need, Opus Dei states on its website.

He studied to be an engineer and received doctorates in philosophy, liberal arts and canon law.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cooperators of Opus Dei (Vatican Website of the Pontifical Council of the Laity)

This is taken from the official Vatican website of the Pontifical Council for the Laity


Cooperators of Opus Dei


The Cooperators of Opus Dei are men and women who belong to an association inseparably linked to the Opus Dei Prelature, although they are not incorporated in the Prelature. The Cooperators, together with the faithful of the Prelature, cooperate through prayer, work and financial assistance, undertaking educational, welfare and cultural/social promotional work, thereby contributing to the common good of society.

Cooperators of Opus Dei also include non-Catholics, non Christians and nonbelievers, who share the human and social development objectives of apostolic initiatives, that are open to all and are promoted by the faithful (laity and clergy) of the Prelature jointly with many other citizens.

Cooperators benefit from the prayers of Opus Dei and, if they wish, they can also receive the formation provided by the Prelature to deepen the message of Jesus and their own spiritual lives, and to bear personal witness, without creating groups, consistently with their Christian vocation. This formation requires Catholic Cooperators to engage in prayer, partake of the sacraments, pray to our Lady, demonstrating by their deeds their love for the Church, the Successor of Peter and the bishops.

One essential part of the spirit of Opus Dei which is present in formation, is the sanctification of professional life and family and social duties, in other words, identifying with Christ in ordinary daily life. Cooperators also cooperate personally with other apostolic initiatives in their own dioceses.


The Cooperators of Opus Dei are present, like the Opus Dei itself, in 63 countries as follows: Africa (7), Asia (8), Europe (22), Middle East (2), North America (11), Oceania (2) and South America (11).



Cooperatori dell’Opus Dei
c/o Curia Prelatizia dell’Opus Dei
Viale Bruno Buozzi, 73 - 00197 Rome - Italy
Tel. [+39] 06808961 - Fax 068070562

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ten Reasons the Catholic Church is the One True Church of Jesus: a handy one pager for the New Evangelization

This handy one pager is a tool for the New Evangelization summoned by Pope Francis. It contains the key reasons of the great recent converts to the Catholic Church,  Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft, Steve Ray, Jim Akin, Tim Staples, Marcus Grodi, etc on how they found the real Jesus in his one true Church.

Instead of getting involved in heated oral debates with Evangelicals and other Christian groups, St. Josemaria recommended a calm study of issues. This leaflet enables one to pass on the reasons for what we believe in one simple sheet.

St. Josemaria told us: "In the Church we discover Christ, who is the Love of our loves. And we should desire for all men our vocation, this intimate joy which intoxicates the soul, the limpid sweetness of the merciful heart of Jesus."

Download the one-page leaflet here (Dropbox) or here (Scribd).
Ten Reasons the Catholic Church is the One True Church of Jesus

and not the Evangelical, Protestant, Born Again and other Christian groups

A one-page leaflet to support Pope Francis’ call for a New Evangelization that “all may come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)  and to support Jesus’ prayer that “all may be one” (Jn 17:21)

Download the one-page leaflet here (Dropbox) or here (Scribd).

1. The Bible is a Catholic book.  It was Pope Damasus’ Council of Rome in 382 AD which drew up the official list of the books of the Bible. If not for this Council, we wouldn’t know if what we are reading is the true Word of God or a false text. All Christians today trust the authority of the Catholic Church when they read the Bible.

2. The Bible refutes the “Bible alone” principle. Bible says that the “Word of the Lord” is “spoken(Jer 25:3), not just written. St. Paul urged us to “hold to traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thes 2:15).  The Bible also tells of a Council’s authority, where Peter settled a doctrinal dispute and declared what “we believe” (Acts 15).

The Bible teaches that not the Bible or the Protestant interpreters of the 16th century and of the present, but “the Church is the pillar and the bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). It also warns against “twisted” interpretations of Scriptures (2 Pt 3:16).  While the Church has one teaching, there are now 43,000 evangelical groups with 2.3 added daily. Their views on the Trinity, on gays, etc. contradict each other. Since truth (e.g. Jesus is God) cannot be falsehood at the same time, real falsehoods are sadly being taught among these groups.  

3. Jesus built his Church on a man he named Rock. Jesus said “On this rock, I will build my Church and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Mt 16:18-19). Jesus changed the name of Simon to Petros, Greek for Rock. He gave Petros or Peter, “the keys of the kingdom”, which the Jews knew to be the power of a prime minister of the King and chief teacher (Is 22:21).  Jesus told him alone to “feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17).  The Bible shows him leading the Church.

The early Christians referred to Peter’s Roman Church as “presiding” (Ignatius, 1st -2nd c.), “of superior origin” and standard of “true Faith” (Irenaeus, 2nd c.), “Chair of Peter”, “the principal” (Cyprian, 2nd-3rd c.), and “the primacy” (Augustine, 4th-5th c.). While the Catholic Church can give evidence of its unbroken link to Jesus and Peter, other Christian groups began their existence with their founders like Luther (1517), J. Smith (1830), and F. Manalo (1914).

4. Jesus and the Church are one.  It is not true the Catholic Church left the true Faith, since Jesus promised that “I am with you always to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20), evil “shall not prevail” against his Church (Mt 16:18), and his Spirit “will guide you into all the truth (Jn 16:13). He made the Church his body (Eph 5:30) and said: “He who hears you hears me(Lk 10:16). He told Saul who persecuted the Church “why do you persecute me(Acts 9:4).

5. The Bible says we are saved “not by faith alone”.  The Bible used Luther’s phrase “by faith alone” only once: “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone(Jas 2:24).  The Bible also says that “what counts is faith working through love” (Gal 5:6).  While Catholics and Protestants agree that Jesus alone saves us, Luther in the 16th century inserted without basis the word “alone” in his German translation of Rom 3:28 (“a man is justified by faith”) in order to support his personal interpretation that a Christian is incapable of cooperating with God in his salvation.
6. The Bible and the early Christians believe in purgatory. As shown in their tombstones, the early Christians followed the Bible: “Pray for the dead that they may be loosed from sins(2 Mc 12:46), for “nothing unclean can enter heaven” (Rev 21:27).   It does not make sense to pray for the dead if they only go, as evangelicals say, either to heaven (with faith in Christ) or to hell (without faith).  The Bible also spoke about forgiveness in the age to come (Mt 12:32) and those judged by God are “saved but as through fire(1 Cor 3:13-15).

7. The Bible and the early Christians believe in the Catholic sacraments. St. Peter infallibly taught in the Bible that “Baptism now saves you(1 Pt 3:21) and thus is not a mere inciter of faith. Jesus gave the Apostles the power to “forgive sins(Jn 20:23) in Confession. St. James spoke about “anointing with oil” for the sick (Jas 5:14-15).  Jesus repeatedly said that “he who eats my flesh has eternal life”. This is no mere symbol or figure of speech, because he did not give in when “many of his disciples” left him due to this “hard saying” (Jn 6:48-68), and St. Paul taught that he who eats the bread unworthily is “guilty of profaning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor 11:28). Ignatius of Antioch said “the Eucharist is the flesh of the Redeemer,” Irenaeus “we receive the bread as our Redeemer, Jesus”, and Cyprian “Christ is our bread”.

8. The Catholic Church is salt and light. Modern secular historians of science, economics, university education, human rights, international law, hospitals and Western art are showing that Catholic priests, scientists and thinkers were behind the foundation and great achievements in these areas (Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization).  Christ continues to work his miracles through his Church: Eucharistic bread turning into blood, appearances of Mary in many places, saints with stigmata and whose bodies are incorruptible, cures and images of Christ and Mary that are scientifically unexplained.

9.  The Catholic Church is catholic. Jesus “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4), thus his real Church is universal, evangelizing in all parts of the world with more than 1,200,000,000 members today. Compare this with the 2nd biggest Christian group, the Easter Orthodox Churches with 230M (1/5 of its size) mainly found in Eastern Europe; the Anglicans 85M (1/16); Southern Baptists 16.3M (1/73), Mormons 14.7M (1/81) and Iglesia ni Cristo 6M (1/200).

10. Jesus and the Bible glorify his mother. Catholics do not worship Mary, but follow Jesus’ ways. He obeyed the fourth commandment: Honor your father and mother. Honor in Hebrew is kaboda, which means to glorify. The Bible calls Mary “Mother of my Lord” (Lord = God) and says all generations will call her blessed (Lk 1:43.48). It shows that she is the New Ark of the Covenant, the woman clothed with the sun, crowned in heaven with twelve stars (Rev 11:19-12:1).  To honor his mother, Jesus’ last message to us on the cross is: Behold, your mother (Jn 19:27).

Download the one-page leaflet here (Dropbox) or here (Scribd).

Raul Nidoy. Doctor of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Monday, December 2, 2013

From Opus Dei, a diplomat in communist and moslem countries, while fighting cancer: the travels of Ana

By Gilberto Perez in Religion en Libertad. Translated with the help of Google translate.
Does life end the day you are diagnosed with cancer? How do you combine illness, work and a strong spirituality?

In December 1992 Ana Gonzalo Castellanos (Velliza, Valladolid, 1955), who was in Brussels, was advised to return to Spain to say goodbye to her mother for she will not be able to do it afterwards.

There began her "stoppage time". But how many things she was able to do before she died which happened 19 years later!

Sent by the European Commission, this woman formed in the spirituality of Opus Dei and a numerary in that institution, traveled to many different countries in "misiones de cooperacion" and took down her personal impressions on some notes which were in the form of letters she wrote to her family and friends.

Ana Gonzalo met Asian opulence and poverty in Brunei, Islamic and mediterranean countries in their entry to the 21st century, the communist stronghold in Vietnam, the intense Catholic faith of Filipinos ...

Her sister Blanca, fascinated by these travel stories, put them together them in the book Una prolongada carta de familia. Mi hermana Ana... un testimonio de coraje en las instituciones europeas (Ediciones de Buena Tinta) and explores the life of a person with an amazing and optimistic attitude, someone who struggled with illness while still enjoying her profession and hobbies.

Read the rest in the original Spanish here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pope Francis refers to St. Josemaria as "precursor of Vatican II"

November 17, 2013. Below is an English translation of a message of the Secretary of State, Monsignor Pietro Parolina addressed to Msgr. Javier Echevarria, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, where he refers to St. Josemaria as a precursor of the Second Vatican Council.

On the occasion of the International Congress dedicated to "St. Josemaria Escriva and theological thought," organized at the end of the Year of Faith by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, an academic institution inspired by him, the Supreme Pontiff Pope Francis directs his affectionate greetings to everyone, with the hope that the beautiful example of priestly life of the Founder, precursor of Vatican II in proposing the universal call to holiness, inspire in all the faithful of the great family of Opus Dei a renewed awareness that the believer, by virtue of baptism which incorporates him to Christ, is called to be holy and to collaborate with his daily work to the salvation of mankind.

His Holiness, while recalling the perennial novelty preached through word and life by St. Josemaria Escriva --that the fruitfulness of the apostolate lies in prayer and in an intense and constant sacramental life--asks a prayer for himself and his ministry, and invoking the light of the Holy Spirit for a fruitful reflection, imparts the requested Apostolic Blessing to His Excellency, the Rector and the faculty, which extends to those present and to the people of the Pontifical University.

Archbishop Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State of his Holiness

Monday, November 11, 2013

Opus Dei training center helps lessen poverty in the Philippines

By Sandy Araneta in Asian Journal

An Opus Dei vocation center helps alleviate the widespread poverty in the Philippines through vocational education and training programs adapting the German Dual Training System to local conditions.

"The vision and mission of Dualtech Training Center is to contribute to the common good by developing young people through the dual training system to become quality-trained, skilled, productive, enlightened and morally upright persons fulfilling the needs of industry and the community we serve," Conrado Ma. Ricafort, an official of Information Office in Manila, told the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines News.

The number of graduates and beneficiaries as of 2007 are 5,455.

Last year 77 mechanics, technicians and machinists received their diploma from Dualtech Training Center and now gainfully working in different sectors.

The 12 of the 77 new graduates were trained and sponsored by Lufthansa Technical Training Philippines (Lufthansa Technik). "The only place where you can find the word 'success' ahead of 'work' is in the dictionary. As an electro-mechanics graduates, like myself, I challenge you to work hard to attain success," said Holger Beck, president of Lufthansa Technical Training Philippines, Inc., guest speaker at the commencement exercises for this year.

Dualtech started in 1982 as a social development project in vocational education and training for male high school graduates. It has two campuses -- one in Binondo and another in Canlubang, Laguna.

The school accepts 100 boys from poor families every month.

Dualtech prepares its students to be employed even before the end of the training program.

One of the graduates, Jon Jon Baldovino, said, "Before graduation, I had been working in a Dualtech partner company, Fujitsu Ten Corp. of the Philippines. Last June 18, the HRD manager of Fujitsu Ten asked me to sign the employment contract and extended his congratulatory hand to me saying "welcome to the Fujitsu Ten Corporation of the Philippines Family."

More than 300 high schools in Metro Manila and Laguna refer trainees to Dualtech. Those accepted undergo a 24-month course in Electromechanics.

Read the rest here:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Secrets of Opus Dei


By Leon J. Podles

March 1995 | Crisis

In Spain Opus Dei was once taken to court by its detractors, who accused it of being a Freemasonic conspiracy. The judge asked if its members were chaste. The accusers admitted that they were. The judge dismissed the suit, saying that he had never met a chaste Freemason. However, Opus Dei plays the role in the liberal demonology that Freemasonry plays in the European conservative demonology. It is a vast, secret organization, seeking world domination.

It extends tentacles of power everywhere, and has sinister designs on the church and secular governments. It is said to worship the hat of its founder (or is that what Tradition, Family, and Property does? It's hard to keep these things straight). What is it in Opus Dei that provokes semi-rational liberals to frothing rage?

Opus Dei was started in Spain by Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albas in the 1920s. Msgr. Escrivá was given the insight that it was not necessary to leave ordinary life and become a priest or religious to seek sanctity. People living and working in the world could live a life of holiness, including the full practice of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Opus Dei (or the Work, as it is sometimes called in English) took root in Spain initially and later spread throughout the world. Today it has about 70,000 members. Msgr. Escrivá died in 1975, was declared venerable in 1991, and was beatified in 1992. [Editor's Note: Presently (2013) the Opus Dei prelature has around 90,000 faithful. St. Josemaria was canonized in 2002.]

Opus Dei is both innovative and conservative. It encourages the traditional Catholic practices of Counter-Reformation piety: daily Mass, the Rosary, novenas, mental prayer, and spiritual direction. It appeals to all classes of society. Unlike most religious orders, it does not concentrate on institutions. It runs the University of Navarre in Spain, and a few schools and centers throughout the world. The innovation is that it seeks to counteract the feeling among Catholics that it is necessary to become a priest or religious in order to pursue holiness. This is a novelty in the Counter-Reformation Church which, in reaction to Protestantism, had stressed the importance of the priestly and religious vocations. However, it is not totally new in the context of Christian history. St. Paul stresses the importance of fulfilling their daily duties in marriage and work to the Christians of the new churches, who were tempted to neglect such duties in their enthusiasm for the charisms and their eager anticipation of the imminent end of the world. Later, when the ascetic movement, the forerunner of monastic and religious life, entered the Church, work was also sometimes neglected. Asceticism is not a Christian phenomenon, but a part of every religion. The desert fathers stressed that self-denial, such as fasting, should not interfere with the daily work of the monk. Benedictine monasticism tried to balance both demands of religious life in its motto ora et labora (prayer and work).

However, by the late medieval ages Catholics had it firmly in their minds that a serious Christian should become a priest or religious. The Reformation reacted to this, and stressed the importance of family life and the fulfillment of one's duties as a way to please God. One of the Reformation's best contributions to lay life was the Anglican William Law's A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728). Law said "all parts of our life are to be made holy and acceptable to God," and "this holiness of common life, this religious use of everything that we have, is a devotion that is the duty of all orders of Christian people." In the Catholic Church St. Francis de Sales' advice to the laity in The Introduction to the Devout Life took a similar line. In the 19th century Thérèse of Lisieux was given the Little Way, in which the performance of unspectacular duties and the acceptance of small mortifications was seen as a better way to please God than spectacular self-denial which contains dangers of self-dramatization and spiritual pride. Msgr. Escrivá is in this school of spirituality. Opus Dei operates as a network of spiritual direction which tries to help lay people living in families and working in secular occupations pursue sanctity. Fidelity to daily prayer is stressed. Monthly meetings and annual workshops provide instruction in doctrine and advice on leading Christian lives. Self-denial and mortification are seen as most effective when they are done in the context of daily life: washing the dishes instead of leaving them in the sink overnight, keeping your desk clean, doing your work today instead of postponing it until tomorrow (a radical innovation in Hispanic cultures where man ana is the answer to most requests for action). In addition to advocating this unexceptionable way of life, Opus Dei is doctrinally conservative and stresses loyalty to the Pope.

But these customs do not totally explain the attractiveness of Opus Dei. It would take a saint or at least an historian of spirituality to do justice to the place of Opus Dei in the Church. Since none have yet done so I offer a few precarious and tentative observations.

Opus Dei seems to me to be a revival, a continuation, or perhaps a modernization of the great Catholic spirituality of the Baroque. The Baroque emphasized the goodness of creation and of creativity, and led to a magnificent efflorescence of Catholic culture and art. Similarly Opus Dei emphasizes the goodness of creation, of creative work, and of procreation. During a retreat an Opus Dei priest asked what would Jesus’s reaction be to the achievements of the modern world. The priest thought that Jesus would say they were basically very good, that there were problems that needed correction, but that man’s creativity had accomplished something good. Christians should not withdraw from this world, the priest continued, invoking a familiar theme of Msgr. Escrivá, but use their work to sanctify the world. The Pope, who is obviously sympathetic to Opus Dei, also emphasizes the goodness of creation and human work as sharing in God's creativity. Msgr. Escrivá’s first aphorism is: "Don't let your life be sterile." The only time I have ever heard (as opposed to having read) that contraception is sinful, and demands repentance, was in an Opus Dei talk. The Baroque, in stressing the goodness of creation, thereby tapped the erotic energy of the human personality in the service of Christianity. Bernini’s St. Theresa in Ecstasy is the best known product of this milieu; but the Baroque and Rococo churches of Germany are filled with cupids darting arrows of love at the hearts of man and God. I detect a similar note in the spirituality of Opus Dei.

Please read the rest here. It is well worth the read.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

From Bombi to Ambi

by Paul A. Dumol. A eulogy delivered during the funeral Mass for Consul General Raul Santiago at the Cathedral of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, October 26, 2013. 
Ray Santiago stayed for a time in the Opus Dei center where I have resided the last eighteen years—once before his posting in Vienna in the late nineties and a second time before his posting in Paris almost ten years ago. After that we would coincide in activities of Opus Dei when he would return to the country. In our house he was neither Bombi nor Ray, but Amba, short for Ambassador; in time the moniker suffered a further transformation into Ambi. I don’t have any special qualifications to give this eulogy, and what I have to say is hopefully representative of what other members of Opus Dei would say who had lived with Ray in the same house.

I was present in the Mass celebrated for Ray at the DFA last Thursday and heard two ambassadors, two associates, and Ray’s brother speak their eulogies afterwards. I cannot hope to rival theirs in either depth or incisiveness. Fortunately for all of us, those eulogies have been recorded. How I wish I might hear something like them when my turn comes. At the beginning of his eulogy, his brother exclaimed, “Ray was a beautiful person!” It was clear this was an observation that had crystallized in his mind partly after hearing the four eulogies before his. He himself said more to bolster that claim.

Ray loved his work. That much is clear to everyone: it was his predominant virtue, so to speak, and also in the view of others, his tragic flaw—the good soldier’s sword by which he kills and is killed. I would say on the basis of the DFA eulogies and as someone completely ignorant of his inner life that he exemplified the ideal of sanctification of work luminously. This is the enduring memory I will have of him, not because I ever witnessed him at work, but because I, like many other members of Opus Dei, have heard him speak about his work in informal get-togethers. I remember his get-togethers about his work in APEC, Vienna, and Frankfurt long after he gave them. The last time I heard him speak on his work, he talked about his first weeks in his new assignment--Cairo. Ray would focus on a challenge he had to face and proceed with a narrative as exciting as Tom Clancy, even if it was about the work of the Filipino rapporteurs in an APEC meeting. His story about the rescues the Embassy staff made of Filipinas and their mestizo children in Kosovo or Serbia during one crisis was, however, genuine Clancy. In the get-together you could see Ray being gradually possessed even physically by the event he was recalling. He would start speaking faster; his vocal pitch would rise, and then he would burst into a cackle that was his characteristic laugh. All throughout the narrative, as he reviewed the thinking process that informed the way he handled that situation, you saw what a fine analytical and practical mind he had and above all how he loved what he was doing. At a certain time he had a boss whom he found difficult, so difficult that his stomach lining was discovered to be perforated with ulcers. Well, I met that boss last Thursday, and one of her anecdotes to me was how, after Ray had been transferred to a different office, he dropped by her office and told her that he missed the pressure.

Was he merely being charming? This was entirely possible, because Ray was a master of charm: the twinkling eyes, the radiant smile, the eager voice, that chortle—all these made him look and sound years younger than he really was. But it is entirely possible he did miss the pressure: he seemed to thrive on pressure. Some of the eulogies last Thursday, in fact, hinted that it was really the pressure of the situation in Cairo that did him in.

Ray had a sense of humor. His stories always had an eye for the humorous detail that would have his audience sometimes howling with laughter. At home in the center he would unload or vent, not with everyone, but just with a chosen one or two, about a problem he was facing in the office. To witness Ray Santiago in a rage was to be treated to a performance, but it was mostly Shakespearean bluster. All you had to do to defuse him was to crack a joke, and he would break into laughter and start adding funnier details. Ray was cheerful—by nature, it seems. At one point he was known as Mr. Hello Hello in our center, because he would enter the dining-room for breakfast greeting everyone with a loud “Hello. Hello.”

Ray loved his family. But this was a discreet love. He didn’t usually talk about his mother or siblings, and he certainly never told us what he was doing for them. He was concerned about his mom; he was concerned about Martin; I remember him mentioning Cricket; while he was posted in Vienna, he had stories about his sister and her children. He took his role as kuya, and implicitly as padre de familia in the absence of his dad, seriously. For a time he was obsessed with tracing his family tree, and that meant trips to the Mormons in White Plains, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, and even Bacolod, where he would sometimes wander through cemeteries deciphering old tombstones. That was Ray. The operative word here is “obsessed” because Ray was gifted with the quality of creative obsession.

That was on display before his posting in Paris. He commissioned the manufacture of furniture with which he wanted to stock his Paris apartment, explaining how this was much cheaper than buying pieces in France itself. He threw himself into the study of Philippine colonial furniture, the better to guide the carvers of the pièce de résistance of all his efforts, a four-poster, a faux Tampinco. I took him to see the eighteenth-century pieces of a close friend, and I recall him examining with his Harry Potter glasses the different woods that made up a wardrobe, admiring the workmanship. Ray had an eye for good workmanship, and as he was with furniture, so was he with clothes. He examined the sewing, the cut, the fit of a pair of pants or barong with a critical eye. He himself was usually impeccably dressed—hindi nakukusot, as someone would say, and this even when he would ride a jeep, because Ray went to work at the DFA for a time riding a jeepney he took on Pasay Road. Later he settled for a cab. I vaguely recall a lecture he made to me about the need for the right coat hangers and also bags in which to hang suits. And yet he was no clothes collector. He wore a bottle-green ramie barong for the longest time, partly because he would leave it behind upon being posted and bring it out of the closet only when he would come home every six years. Matipid siya.

Ray was no foodie, but he knew when something was good or awful. He didn’t like the food in Vienna, he confided. During the celebration of his 40th, we bought him a small chocolate cake from Bizu for him to eat while everyone else ate of the official cake. I will not forget how he consumed the chocolate cake quickly, even feverishly, and systematically, as everyone pretended not to notice. The cake obviously lived up to its name, which was Nirvana. He loved musicals, which I discovered by accident, coming upon him listening to Phantom in the living-room. This was, he said, the way he learned to relax in Vienna. He was also a fan of Les Mis. He liked Blanco’s paintings and read Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist. Ray deliberately cultivated his taste, which he knew he had to have to a fine degree as a diplomat. By the time of his passing, he was a pleasurable companion at conversation, able to hold his own on a variety of topics, but especially on the Filipinos in the countries to which he had been assigned, because Ray was an observant person.

Ray loved his country. I recall his enthusiasm when the bilingual edition of Gaspar de San Agustin’s Conquistas came out. He bought copies to give away on behalf of the Philippine Embassy. He loved history and appreciated scholarly research. When I needed a copy of Blumentritt’s obituary on Rizal which had been published in an Austrian journal at the end of the nineteenth century, I had no doubts whom to turn to, and he did not let me down. Ray knew exactly where to look for it and, of course, found it, photocopied it, and sent it to me. His long-term plan included teaching at the University of Asia and the Pacific after leaving the DFA. In fact, he was for a brief time a teacher at the History Department of UA&P.

Earlier I mentioned Ray’s sense of humor. I have not forgotten one occasion on which he was asked to host a birthday celebration. I had never seen him emcee before and realized he was good. He even attempted jokes, not all of which were successful. One successful jab at humor was the question, “What would you see if you looked up a gorilla’s nostrils?” Answer: A fingerprint. The crowd howled in disbelief, but that was Ray. Even when he was coarse, he was elegant.

Ray, last Thursday kulang na lamang na gawin ka nang santo sa DFA. Ngayong hapon, gusto ko namang ipakita na karaniwang tao ka. Saint Josemaría distinguished between worldliness and being of the world. Worldliness (ang pagiging makamundo) is to be avoided, while being of the world (ang pagiging sa mundo) is part of the very nature of the lay person, indeed, of the human being and should be lived. I don’t think there was ever any doubt that Ray was a lay person or that he was a man of this world, and now especially after his death and the eulogies we have heard from friends, colleagues, and relatives, it is vibrantly clear that Ray was a man of God. Ray was the furthest from being pietistic; he never made a show of his piety, and I will not contradict his normal mode of behaviour by detailing what he would do as a numerary member of Opus Dei. You can read about that on the Internet. I recall seeing him in the chapel of the center on more than one occasion, seated and deep in sleep. But that was when he was undergoing treatment for his ulcers. And I would recall St Josemaría’s remark about someone else that the person wishing to pray who falls asleep sleeps in the arms of God. Well, that’s where he is now.

Last Thursday, a colleague of Ray’s said that we should pray to him rather than for him: I have already started doing that. I reminded him of our deal that I pray for his mother and he pray for mine. If we do pray to him, let that prayer be to teach us the art of being thoroughly of the world, while being thoroughly of God. Ray, teach us to love God by loving our work as you did, loving our country and our people with deeds and not just words, while all the time loving a well-made aparador, a good chocolate cake, and a good smoke.

Blogger's Note: Ray Santiago will receive the Gawad Mabini Award from the President of the Philippines. It is "conferred on Filipinos who have rendered distinguished foreign service, or helped promote the interests and prestige of the Philippines abroad. It was established in honor of Apolinario Mabini, the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the First Republic of the Philippines." Ray died in Cairo, Egypt at the height of the political turmoil in that country, heroically serving his countrymen in that country. He was 49 years old.

Ambassador Zaide wrote another eulogy for Ray Santiago in his column in Manila Bulletin entitled Because the Good Die Young.

Another article on an Opus Dei member who was a diplomat, Ana Gonzalo, is found here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A nightmare for Dan Brown: Perth families mark Opus Dei milestone

By the Record

There were two reasons for Mass being celebrated at Holy Spirit church in City Beach on Friday June 21: one, to celebrate the feast day of the founder of Opus Dei, St Josemaria Escriva; the second, to celebrate the arrival of Opus Dei in Australia 50 years ago. Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown would be horrified.

Together with friends and families, members and cooperators of Opus Dei came together with a choir formed specially for the occasion. Fr Anthony Bernal, a Melbourne-based parish priest of Opus Dei’s Prelature of the Holy Cross was the main celebrant, assisted by Perth Dominican, Fr Anthony van Dyke OP.

Fr Anthony visits Perth monthly to hold evenings of recollection for men and women.

After Mass, supper was served in the parish hall while large numbers of children scooted between the tables as families and older generations caught up with one another; a great evening was had by all.

Read the rest here:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Opus Dei: Mental prayer

This is Chapter 10 of Dominie Stemp's narrative on her journey in Opus Dei written in her blog. You can find Chapter 1 here.

The mental prayer 'norm' is 2nd on the list (I am doing the norms in the order with which they are read out in the weekly circle).

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 534 says

"Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God....."

Of all the norms - this I find the hardest of all because it demands a great deal of mental gymnastics - and requires one to think. But it is absolutely necessary to pray daily - and as Pope Francis said recently - if you don't pray - you pray to the devil! How many times has this Holy Father mentioned the devil? - I have lost count! He did what appeared to be an impromptu exorcism on Pentecost Sunday - on a man with 4 evil spirits. Well he is the Pope after all! Our Lord gave his apostles power to do exorcisms and every diocese in the world has to have an exorcist.

But what did he mean though - that if we don't pray we pray to the devil? Because he likened the devil to worldly possessions and immoral behaviour. I think what he meant is that - if we don't pray to God, we love the world and everything it has to offer - which can lead us astray and into Satan's arms - sins of the flesh and all that!

The celibate members in Opus Dei (numeraries) and clergy are required to spend 1 hour in mental prayer daily - divided into 2 periods (ideally morning and afternoon).

The married members are supposed to do a minimum of half an hour daily - divided into 2 sessions. Flexibility is allowed though and sometimes I have to do half an hour in one go. If I know what's happening in my day - I can work out when to fit the mental prayer in. During school term-time it isn't a problem, because I can do some mental prayer before the mass begins. During school holidays I may only manage to do the prayer in the evening when my boy has gone to bed. Sometimes I do 10 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. The goal for supernumeraries is to work up to the full hour, time and circumstances permitting.

What does one pray about? Well anything and everything! - God is there to listen to all your worries and concerns. You can pray about the Church, the sick, the poor, exams to sit, wayward children, lapsed Catholics, scandals to stop - God wants to know everything about you. You can also thank God for any good things that have happened and you can pray on behalf of others. Think of it as having a friendly conversation with our Creator. If you are angry at something or someone - tell Him! Sometimes you want to know if something you are doing is pleasing to God and you may want some concrete 'proof'. It may take a few days to get some 'sign' so you need to discern these things. That 'sign' can come through a person or an event perhaps. Discernment really is the key here.

In Opus Dei we are encouraged to take the day's Gospel to our prayer. A daily missal will help or any number of apps like "Evangelizo" have the daily mass readings. In the Gospel Our Lord speaks to us, although I must confess most of the time I don't know what Our Lord is saying to me when I read the Gospel. I think this is where Lectio Divina comes in - not that I have really tried that approach.

The other 'aids' to mental prayer are a series of 7 small books with a meditation for every day of the year. These are called "In Conversation with God" by Francis Fernandez. They are not supposed to be read like a novel - one is supposed to read them slowly and ponder the points. Other aids are 3 little books by St Josemaria - "The Way", "The Furrow" and "The Forge". These have 1000s of bullet points which act as 'triggers' to the brain - to get it praying!

So, there is no excuse NOT to pray. People say they have no time - but you can bet your bottom dollar they have time to watch some series on TV or watch sport. Everyone has time to pray.

What about praying while doing a physical activity? Well this is fine for say - walking the dog. But doing the ironing? You may end up burning the clothes! Ironing requires a certain amount of concentration so not a good idea to pray at the same time. Walking the dog - in a quiet field does not require too much concentration (unless there are sheep nearby and you have a terrier!).

What have you got to lose?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

If God will give me another life to live on earth, I will be a numerary 30 times over

By mariano3 in Can I trust Opus Dei?

I am an African, a former numerary in Opus Dei.

I had crisis of vocation, common when you graduate from university really thinking out what to do in life, a period when one needs a lot of prayer and direction. My prayer life at that point was tepid. I was away from the centre on compulsory national service, hence not so much accessible for spiritual direction. Besides, looking back I realised I have not been very sincere to my directors over the years for them to truly understand my situation then to adequately help me. Somehow I lost this great vocation. I asked that I wanted to leave and there was no compulsion to stay. The door was wide open for me to leave. The truth is that its easier to leave Opus Dei than to join.

The greatest regret I have today is not being a numerary. Now I am married happily with two kids, I have just finished praying the three decades of rosary and seeking intercession of Blessed John Paul II, that God may grant my kids vocation to Opus Dei (my daily prayers).

If God will give me another life to live on earth, I will be a mumerary 30 times over. I am what I am today from the tremendous formation I have received from Opus Dei free of charge.

Read more in:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Like any family, like the Church, it has sinners and jerks

By mmw in National Catholic Register

I love “the Work” and yes, that what it is often called on the “inside”. It is all about getting closer to God, hands down. Do people have bad experiences? Yes, sure, I did even back in college when I was stalked by a numerary. But you know what? I called my mom, who was in Opus Dei, and said this was out of control, and she called someone and next thing I know someone I knew as a child came to visit me at college and wanted to know what was happening. Long story short, the poor woman who was indeed stalking was moved out of college apostolate and the new woman who started visiting my University became the backbone of a thriving group that brought many people closer to God.

Opus Dei is like any family, it is like the Church, it has sinners and jerks and really holy people and a bunch of people who are trying really hard to do the right thing. They follow what the Church teaches, which is why I think some people who tend to affiliate with the “I’m more catholic than the pope” idea don’t like OD. I remember once being on retreat and the priest made an announcement before mass that the kneelers (customarily used for receiving) were not to be used because the Bishop has just declared that the norm for receiving communion was to be standing, so that’s what we were going to do. End of story, bishop is in charge.

Opus Dei also takes a lot of things seriously- liturgy, Humanae Vitae, the church’s teaching on homosexuality, that tends to alienate more left leaning Catholics. All in all, I love my vocation in Opus Dei and it helps me turn my normal life into a prayer and occasion of loving and serving God. That, and I am a lazy you know what who needs to be kicked in the pants regularly. No, nobody kicks me, but the constant stream of formation is very helpful to me to remember where I am and where I need to be.

One last misconception I wanted to talk about. Opus Dei talks about apostolate of friendship so that you are inviting people you know to activities that you benefit from on a one on one basis, that’s why they don’t do bulletin announcements generally and blanket invites to things other than big talks or masses.

Oh and about the “OD” group that was not an OD group- please don’t assume that people were trying to take over your life and recruit you for Opus Dei. We are encourage to spread doctrine. I know that once I started a Catechism reading group at my child’s school with another Super Numerary but “Opus Dei” per se was not involved in any way except in me asking my spiritual director, “hey do you think I have time for that?” It was my baby, not Opus Dei’s. I was inspired by what I had learned in Opus Dei formation to learn more doctrine. That was it!! That’s my two cents!

Read more:

Works for me

By CV in National Catholic Register

I’m a cooperator and I try to attend a monthly circle (which is an hour-long discussion led by a female numerary) with other cooperators and a monthly evening of recollection (a couple of meditations led by a priest, ending with Benediction. There’s also an opportunity to go to Confession if you want to). I try to go to a weekend (silent) retreat once a year, which is basically a longer version of the evening of recollection (with more meditations, quiet time for prayer and reading, and daily Mass). I should point out that I’m under no obligation to attend these activities and quite often I am so bogged down with child and work activities that I can’t get my act together to go.

But…I always benefit from the experience, and I grow in my spiritual life, when I DO make the effort to go. It’s basic Catholic stuff…prayer, spiritual talks, opportunities for Confession, encouragement to say the Rosary, etc. I have a chaotic, normal life with my kids and husband and we are fortunate that we belong a great parish led by a wonderful, orthodox pastor. But the guy is simply too busy to give his parishioners the kind of reflective spiritual direction that is available through my local OD study center (I guess I am lucky that we have one in my city. Not every city does).

Opus Dei provides regular opportunities for me to cultivate habits (prayer, more-than-once-a-week Mass, spiritual reading) that help me grow in my faith and hopefully be a better wife, mother, daughter, worker, etc. I’m inclined to be lazy and disorganized when it comes to building these crucial activities into my life on my own and that’s the God’s honest truth. So I’m happy those opportunities are made available to me on a regular basis. I NEED ongoing formation, period. And I think it’s important to note that I have never experienced any pressure to attend. When I show up they are happy to see me and I’m never criticized for how long it’s been since I last attended. And the only time they ask me for money is once a year, a couple of sentences in the context of an annual one page newsletter around December. I’ve worked in marketing and fundraising for years and frankly I think they might be a little TOO reserved when it comes to asking for donations.

In short, the whole experience is fairly low key and more “intellectual” (if I can use that word) that the hugging/group share kind of thing that might appeal to others. My husband and I are both professionals but the Opus Dei people I have encountered really run the gamut in terms of occupations and social class. I know attorneys and college professors as well as store clerks and at-home moms. At the last (social) gathering I went to I remember talking with: a male fast food restaurant manager, a male judge, a female psychiatrist, a female who makes jewelry in her home, and a female speech therapist. Runs the gamut. I certainly wouldn’t describe any of us as “rich.” Truly, anyone and everyone is welcome. I have had friends and family turn down my invitations to check it out because they have preconceptions, have only read about it in The DaVinci Code, fear they’ll be pressured, etc. That’s too bad, in my view.

Regarding the Dragons movie promotion, I was invited to a free prescreening and there was a good deal of positive anticipation among the Opus Dei people I interact with regularly. But it was more a situation in which you were encouraged to share your recommendation with your family and friends to see the movie (if you liked it enough to do so). Again, no pressure…pretty low key. I was offered flyers to pass out at my parish if I wanted to do that. Considering that the other “Catholic” movie opening the week after Dragons is “Priest” (about the priest vampire!) it’s kind of a no-brainer to help promote the better movie if you ask me.

Early in my experience with this organization, when I was still trying to figure out what it was and whether or not I wanted to be part of it, I had the opportunity to talk with an Opus Dei priest (that’s another thing…the OD priests are just extraordinary human beings in the mold of St. Josemaria. No kidding..they are a tremendous gift to the Church). Anyway, this particular priest told me that “joining” Opus Dei itself is not the point of what they do and why they are here. The point is to grow in your Catholic faith to ultimately grow closer to God. Opus Dei is just one path toward that goal. It’s not the only one.

Works for me.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Opus Dei's history in Canada

By Stephen Butcher at Christian Post

Jacques Bonneville was the first Canadian to join Opus Dei. The Ottawa-born engineer and father of nine discovered the teachings of Saint Josemaria in 1955 while pursuing a doctorate in Boston, two years before the Work came to Canada at the invitation of Cardinal Paul-Emile Léger. Dr. Bonneville passed away on July 13 2011 at the age of 90; he was accompanied by Cecile, his wife of 65 years.

It was on June 7, 1957 that the first members of Opus Dei moved to Canada at the request of Saint Josemaria to start the apostolic work. A few weeks later, Opus Dei’s first centre opened its doors on rue Plantagenet near the Université de Montréal. Fr. John Martin and Fr. Joseph Escribano (currently the chaplain of Parkhill Residence, a university residence in Ottawa) were among the first to arrive, followed shortly afterwards by Alfonso Bielza, an aeronautical engineer from Spain.

A couple of years later, Joseph Atkinson, a young Albertan and who had recently obtained his Ph. D. in Chemistry from MIT and Ernest Caparros, a young law school graduate joined them. Mr. Caparros later became a professor in the law faculty at Université Laval and the University of Ottawa.

Read the rest at:

What Opus Dei Isn't

By Kendra Tierney at Catholic All Year

A friend asked me to weigh in on this really, REALLY long negative take on Opus Dei, written by an unhappy former member, and the resulting back and forth on her facebook timeline. But, it got way too long for facebook, so I'm putting it here.

So . . . what Opus Dei isn't:

MOSTLY it isn't albino assassin monks.

I have been involved with Opus Dei for over seven years. I am a cooperator and my husband is a supernumerary and I'm allowed to tell you that because it's NOT a secret.

The people I have met through Opus Dei have been WITHOUT EXCEPTION absolutely lovely. I am friends with people who are cooperators like me, married members like my husband, celibate members (called numeraries) and priests -- from all over the country and all over the world. And they have all been kind and helpful and, most tellingly, well-formed Catholics.

Because that's the point of Opus Dei: Catholic formation. It's really just that: helping people to know and live their faith in whatever life circumstances they find themselves.

I have personally found the formation, spiritual direction, and friendships I have found through Opus Dei to be absolutely invaluable to me as a wife, mother, writer, and Catholic.

According to the internet, there are people who are very unhappy with their experiences with Opus Dei. But, of course, the same could be said about the Catholic Church at large.

Opus Dei is a tool. That's it. You can put a ladder down on the ground and jump up and down on it and say, "This ladder doesn't work. It's stupid." Or you could prop it against the wall like you should, but then start kicking out rungs here and there until you can't go up any farther and say, "Hey, this ladder stinks, and so do all the other people with ladders." But really, in neither of those cases would the ladder be at fault.

Frankly, I'm not going to be all that much help addressing the issues brought up by that article. Because I'm not a numerary, I haven't had many of the life experiences that he has had in that regard, and also because my experience with Opus Dei has been utterly unlike what he describes. Mostly it sounds to me like Opus Dei was never a good fit for this guy (and vice versa) and I wonder why he stuck with it for so many years when he never much seemed to like it. I would generally not recommend that for anyone.

I can, however address the concerns in the Facebook comments, which I hope are not widespread, because they were, to me, very surprising in how far from my reality they were. But just in case they are widespread, here goes . . .

1. It's secretive and exclusive: Opus Dei just isn't organized like, say, the Boy Scouts, where there's a hierarchy and set guidelines, and you can call National HQ and sign up. There is cooperation between members, but each center is run independently, by its own members. St. Josemaria envisioned it as an apostolate of friendship. Meaning that one friend would recommend it to another and word would spread that way. People are generally introduced to what cooperators and members do slowly, for the same reason you'd introduce someone who expressed an interest in math to addition before handing them a calculus book. But I have found the members I know very willing to answer questions. And hey, they let ME in, so how exclusive could it be?

2. It's bossy and time consuming: Opus Dei has only ever made recommendations to my husband or myself. No event is required. No personal practices are mandatory. But that said, it would be pretty silly to say you wanted to be a part of an organization, but not want to take any of its recommendations.

Here are the recommended activities for a cooperator like myself:

1. A daily plan of life (things I try to get to each day, like a Morning Offering, Mass, the Angelus etc.).

2. A monthly mini-retreat lead by a priest called an Evening of Recollection (2-3 hours).

3. A monthly "circle" lead by a supernumerary or numerary member (1 hr).

4. Monthly spiritual direction by a priest or lay member of Opus Dei (People often choose a lay member since then it can be a person who has a more similar life experience to yourself. I have had both, both were great. I see a priest now.).

5. A yearly retreat (1 weekend).

In addition to those things, a supernumerary also usually participates in:

1. A weekly circle (1 hr).

2. A yearly doctrine seminar (1 week).

It can feel like a lot sometimes, but it's all voluntary. And when I realize how much more effective and efficient I am when I am properly focused, it seems silly not to make the time.

Also, what I lose in help around the house and with the kids on the evenings and weekend and week that my husband is gone, I more than make up for in having a husband who is willing to help around the house and with the kids on every other day! I'm still pretty sure I come out on top time-wise over wives whose husbands spend a lot of time golfing, fishing, playing with model trains, or going to Star Trek conventions.

3. The members are "image conscious in the extreme and worldly": I'm not sure what to do with this one. That has not been my experience. I live in LA, so you could pretty easily throw that label around, but the Opus Dei families that I know really run the financial gamut. Some are struggling financially, but have a great perspective on it. And even the ones who are wealthy have a refreshing lack of attachment to their things. It's hard to have that without formation. I do often hear encouragement to dress nicely, which in a world of moms in velour sweat suits is pretty counter-cultural. But I find that looking pulled-together makes me act pulled-together, and maybe even BE pulled-together. But again, an individual is free to disregard that or any other advice.

So that's MY experience of Opus Dei. If you have had a bad experience with Opus Dei, or one of its events or members, please allow me to say that I am honestly very sorry. But know that your experience is not representative of all experiences with Opus Dei.

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