Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I was away from the island for three weeks, partly on an Opus Dei annual sabbatical workshop dealing with Christology (the essence and being of Christ – one substance but two natures) and partly on holiday. Together with my wife and two daughters, I spent several days enjoying the delights of Lake Como in Italy which is easily accessible from Milan by train (30 minutes). There is however a big change in scenery from that in Milan, when walking out of the main station in Como San Giovanni! It's really breathtaking to see the majestic lake itself surrounded by rising high mountains whose peaks were often ringed with puffy clouds. The stately villas with their beautiful flower and tree gardens are something to behold in themselves, several of them being just summer residences for those who want to get away from Milan’s summer heat.
Two years ago I wrote an article from Rome after having several discussions with a Spanish colleague of mine during a similar Opus Dei workshop retreat then dealing with marriage. He was a supernumerary like me, married with children and a navy captain at the Nato command in Naples. In between lectures in theology and prayers, we often talked in our free time about security in the Mediterranean. He asked me pointed questions about Malta’s future security which I then realised underlined the deficiencies we potentially faced then and which are increasingly crystallizing now. I subsequently wrote a piece published by this newspaper and asked whether Malta should start seeking membership of Nato since we are already a member of PfP. Not surprisingly, even though my article then was in the form of a question, I was taken to task and openly ridiculed by the leftist press and politicians who were then in Opposition. Today, with Labour in government, we suddenly have the Minister of Foreign Affairs asking the same questions I asked two years ago. Nobody on the left is laughing now it seems! Dr Vella went on to express his wish that security arrangements similar to those in other European neutral countries should be sought.
Read the rest here.
Monday, August 4, 2014
The last thing coffee drinkers need is another mug, but I’ve stumbled across one I just have to have in my collection. It says this: “I’m more Dorothy Day than Opus Dei.”
You have to admit it’s clever – and who doesn’t enjoy a good pun with his morning jolt? Plus, there’s the bonus of subtle irony, for the mug’s joke depends on an assumption that’s really a bunch of hooey. Since everybody presupposes Dorothy Day and Opus Dei to have very little in common, it’s comical to juxtapose the two, right? Sure, and it’s funny enough…for a mug. But, seriously, all mugs aside, there’s plenty of common ground between Day and Opus Dei – really. In fact, it’s common ground that ought to be aggressively mined in this era of New Evangelization.
I’ll grant you, at first glance there appears to be a huge ideological chasm between the two – Servant of God Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement she engendered on one hand; Opus Dei and its founder, St.Josemaría Escrivá (whose feast we celebrate today), on the other. Both fervent Catholics, Fr. Escrivá and Dorothy were also contemporaries, as were the beginnings of their respective apostolates, but other than that it might seem like they were worlds apart.
First, Day, the Bohemian radical. She was a gifted journalist, a socialist sympathizer, and an unwed mother. Her Catholic conversion in 1927 was associated with her determination to have her daughter baptized, but after being received, Dorothy became an ardent disciple anxious to put her energy and talents at the service of the Church. After meeting Peter Maurin, she was motivated to translate the Popes’ social encyclicals into concrete plans of action, and the Catholic Worker – both the newspaper and the movement – was born. Starting in New York City in 1933, the Worker’s approach of literally implementing the Church’s social teaching and emulating the radical charity of the saints rapidly spread to every corner of the nation and beyond.
Escrivá, on the other hand, came of age in a very traditional Catholic family in conservative pre-war Spain. He was ordained in 1925 at the age of 23, and a few years later he received an inspiration to found a new movement devoted to lay formation and apostolate – Opus Dei, the Work of God. Opus Dei would be rooted in the idea that all Catholics were called to holy living, not just priests and religious. Despite misunderstandings and suspicion, and amid religious persecution and international conflicts, Escrivá and his followers doggedly spread their message of sanctification for all, and Opus Dei spread around the world.
The disparate origins of the movements started by Escrivá and Day are superficially reflected in how they are embodied on the local level. Here in the U.S., Opus Dei tends to appeal to professionals and students on the way up the social ladder. Catholic Worker communities tend to appeal to folks at the other end of the mobility scale: Those who struggle just to make ends meet, and students (and others) who are actively seeking a downward social trajectory.
Yet, as I said, these differences are merely superficial, for at their core, Opus Dei and the Catholic Worker movement are committed to the same threefold mission.
First, and perhaps most obviously, both groups are essentially lay-oriented. Catholic Worker houses have never been officially associated with dioceses or religious orders, and so they are almost always lay initiatives. And while it’s true that Opus Dei, as a personal prelature, has its own priests, they are ordained specifically “under title of service to the prelature” (Can. 295 §1) – and the prelature’s very identity is the promotion of sanctity among the laity.
Related to their lay character is the second part of both groups’ common mission as articulated by their founders: A fundamental commitment to the idea that everyone is not only called to be a saint, but that “everyone can become a saint” (Opus Dei). This is not a novel idea of course – in fact, it’s a central tenet of Pope Francis’ teaching. “Being saints is not a privilege of the few,” he said last year on All Saints’ Day, “but everyone’s vocation.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Rocco Palma: people affiliated with the Work are some of the healthiest people I've ever met in my own work
Bill Tammeus in the Kansas City Star reports that Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has confirmed his affiliation with the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, the supernumerary group of Opus Dei....
Now, why is this a news story? Somebody tell me.
I knew Bob Finn before he became a bishop and count him as a dear friend, and I've long known of his affiliation with the Work. (It was never any kind of state secret.) And, to be honest, I've come to respect the Work more because, if anything, its spirituality gives him the enrichment which enables him to be the remarkably kind, self-giving and holy priest and stellar shepherd of souls that he is. Same goes for Jose Gomez in San Antonio, an incredible person and a fearless pastor.
By its fruits you shall judge it, no? First off, in my experience, people affiliated with the Work are some of the healthiest people I've ever met in my own work. The Work could teach the Trads so very much about what Christianity is, let alone what faith is, what love is, what charity is. That alone would make it invaluable.
But here are two bishops of the same school of spirituality -- Finn and Gomez -- who "get it," who live it and who do wonderful work. In a time when those attributes are sadly not the province of every bishop, it seems there's some good fruit in them thar hills.
If the Work's spirituality is as effective on the broad scale as it is in the ministries and prayer lives of these two men, then every bishop should be Opus Dei. I'm dead serious and would be very happy with the result, because we'd have a better, purer, healthier church for it.
Bring it on.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Today, today is your birthday.
Oliver Rojales, oh by the way,
You must be feeling a-okay.
Cheerful, peaceful, happy and gay
With Hernan, Johnny, Bob and Ray
Fr Marcy and Fr Luis, don't forget to say
Poems and rhymes and music play,
Singing songs, even "My Way."
We can't find the words to say
Try as hard as we may
To greet you on this august day.
But with joyful hearts we now all say
Happy, happy, happy birthday!
- The mother of Naz sent longganisa for the residents. After some time has elapsed, Paul said one day, “Di pa lumalabas yung longganisa baka masira na lahat by the time they are brought out.” Obay remarked: “Oo nga, they might be long gone. Isa na lang ang matira.”
- In Cebu (where they famously pronounce bait or bet as bit, and vice versa), four guys ganged up on the security guard of a school, Springdale, using barbecue sticks. But they realized that the guard was not the person they were after. It was a case of wrong identity. Obay said: those guys made a “mistick.”
- During the EDSA people power revolution, Fr. Bingo went to the crowd to look for somebody called Resty, a spokesman of the army. Fr. Bingo saw a guy there and asked him if he knew where Resty was. He later found out that the person he asked was not an ordinary person. It was Colonel Gregorio Honasan himself, the lead revolutionary! Obay suggested, “So then, you asked him, O nasan?” (where is he?)
- When I was about to get my new car, Jojo asked me: When will you get your Hyundai (pronounced as yun-dei). I mentioned a date. Obay said: Yun day din na yon, ah! (that same day!)
Saturday, June 7, 2014
The first successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as leader of Opus Dei, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, will be beatified Sept. 27 in Madrid at a ceremony that is expected to bring together nearly 100,000 faithful.
The prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, will preside at the beatification. Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid will concelebrate, along with the current prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria,
The spokesperson of the organization committee for the beatification, Teresa Sabada, and the vice postulator of the cause, Father Jose Carlos Martin de la Hoz, outlined numerous details about the event.
Sabada said 100,000 people from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the beatification. In addition, 3000 families have opened their homes to welcome those traveling to Madrid from abroad, and 2000 young people have already signed up to work as volunteers for the event.
Read the rest in: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/catholicnews/2014/06/opus-dei-prelate-beatification-expected-to-draw-100000-attendees/
Friday, May 2, 2014
May 1, 2014
Barely two months after it was dedicated and declared a diocesan shrine by Bishop Florentino F. Cinense of the Diocese of Tarlac, the Shrine of St. Josemaria Escriva in Gerona, Tarlac, has already become a pilgrimage place for thousands of devotees from all over the Philippines. Strategically located on the national road to Baguio and just a few kilometers from the Pura exit of the TPEX toll road, the still unfinished Church is already a focal point for numerous liturgical services for both the citizens of Tarlac and Filipino and foreign pilgrims from all over. It is a testimony to the widespread devotion to the “Saint of Ordinary Life,” as St. John Paul the Great called him the day after the late Pope canonized the founder of Opus Dei.
St. Josemaria started to preach in 1928 that every baptized Christian is called to be a saint. This universal calling to sanctity, which sounded strange in 1928, was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council several decades later. St. Josemaria was also the first to speak very clearly about the work of everyday life being the main instrument for one’s sanctification, the sanctification of the work itself, and the sanctification of others through one’s work. In fact, the person that was the most faithful to the spirit of St. Josemaria and who became his first successor to head this Personal Prelature, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, is about to beatified next September 27, 2014, in the City of Madrid.
The homily delivered by Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the CBCP, during the dedication rite explained some of the features of the shrine:
“…In the facade of this altar, there is an empty space…For that vacant space, we are awaiting the beatification of Msgr. Alvaro del Portillo, the first successor of St. Josemaria, founder of Opus Dei. Some of us have had the great privilege of having seen Bishop Alvaro in life. He died March 23, 1994. I will not forget that day. Allow me to be personal for a while. When Msgr. Alvaro died, I was still in my seminary formation. However, I had to leave the seminary in April, 1994, some weeks after Don Alvaro died, because of a grave family problem. I thought at the time that I would not be able to go back to seminary life. But I prayed to him…True enough, I was able to return by October of 1994, and I attribute this blessing to the intercession of Bishop Alvaro. Having said this, we wish to take this opportunity to ask Bishop Cinense’s permission to go to Madrid for Bishop Alvaro’s beatification. So, see you in Madrid in September.”
Fr. Castro also emphasized that the St. Josemaria parish does not belong to Opus Dei: “This is our church, everyone’s parish! That’s why the main painting in the altar’s facade…shows, in the upper portion, this shrine being held by an angel, representing each one of us, each one of us who helped build this church. On the other side of the facade, we notice another angel holding a piece of parchment paper, where the names of the barangays covered by the parish church is written…because this is the church of everyone…” True enough, in a pilgrimage I made to the church last April 6, as I signed the book of pilgrims just at the entrance of the Chapel of Adoration, I read names of individuals from all over the Philippines, as far as Iloilo, Davao, Cebu, etc. Already, in less than two months after its formal dedication, the Shrine of St. Josemaria Escriva has already attracted devotees from all over the Philippine Archipelago.
In no time at all, we should expect pilgrims coming from various parts of Asia. As Fr. Castro explained: “Let us not forget that this is the very first church established in honor of St. Josemaria in the whole of Asia. Thus, it is an honor…that this singular privilege is being enjoyed by the Diocese of Tarlac, because one way or the other many of us in the diocese owe St. Josemaria a lot of favors. In one way or the other, St. Josemaria and many of his children have touched our lives; hence many of us remember him with great fondness. Thus, this afternoon is a celebration for all and of all.”
At the Holy Mass I attended in the shrine last April 6, I was impressed to see married couples with their children filling the church. When the parish priest Fr. Renato Dimaculangan asked me to say a few words after the Mass, I told the Mass goers that St. Josemaria is a very effective intercessor for a happy family or as he would put it, “bright and cheerful homes.”
I am encouraging people from the diocese and from all over the Philippines to go to the shrine to pray especially for the favors related to unity between husband and wife and harmony in every family. During his life, St. Josemaria never tired of speaking about marriage as a path to sanctify. Next to the Holy Family, whose image is the centerpiece of the shrine, St. Josemaria will be known as the patron of a happy family, of a bright and cheerful home. For comments, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
However, the real worldwide headquarters is in Rome. Here is an article from the website dedicated to St. Josemaria.
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 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: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/%C3%81lvaro-del-Portillo,-the-rock-of-Opus-Dei-and-the-mission-in-Asia-30157.html
Monday, January 27, 2014
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
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
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."
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)
Monday, December 2, 2013
From Opus Dei, a diplomat in communist and moslem countries, while fighting cancer: the travels of Ana
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
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
"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: http://asianjournalusa.com/opus-dei-vocation-center-helps-lessen-poverty-in-rp-p5900-67.htm
Thursday, November 7, 2013
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.