Wednesday, March 30, 2016

OPUS DEI: God's Work to sanctify the world from within

NATURE AND MESSAGE: What is Opus Dei and what does it say?

Opus Dei is an institution of the Catholic Church that spreads the key Catholic teaching that everyone is called to holiness, and that work and the activities of everyday life are a path to sanctity. founder, St. Josemaria, said: “We have come to say that sanctity is not for a privileged few, that our Lord calls every one of us, that he expects love from everyone no matter where they are, whatever might be their state in life, their profession, or their position.

Ordinary everyday life, with nothing showy about it, can be a means of sanctity. It is not necessary to abandon one’s state in the world to seek God (unless one is called to a religious life), for every path of life can be the occasion of an encounter with Christ.” 

BASIS: Where do you find this Catholic teaching in the Bible?

Jesus told everyone, “Love God with all your heart" (Mt 22:37), "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect," (Mt 5:48) and that “the one thing necessary” is to be with him. ( Lk 10:42) Thus, St. Paul said, “This is the will of God: your sanctification.” (1 Thess 4:3)

“Opus Dei,” said St. Josemaria, “is as old as the Gospel and as the Gospel new. It intends to remind Christians of the wonderful words of Genesis: God created man to work. …We have come to call attention once again to the example of Jesus, who spent thirty years in Nazareth, working as a carpenter. In his hands, a professional occupation, similar to that carried out by millions of people all over the world, was turned into a divine task. It became a part of our Redemption, a way to salvation.”

MISSION: What does Opus Dei want to do for the world? Catholic Catechism taught that all the Catholic laity have the vocation to direct earthly affairs according to God’s will. “Since God wants the majority of Christians to remain in secular activities and to sanctify the world from within, the purpose of Opus Dei,” said the founder, “is to help them discover their divine mission,” carrying it out with full freedom and personal responsibility for their actions.

NAME: What does “Opus Dei” mean?

Opus Dei is Latin for Work of God. St. Josemaria gave it this name because of two important reasons. First, because he was convinced that God himself started Opus Dei, and works in it. This was confirmed by St. John Paul II who stated that Opus Dei was founded “under divine inspiration”. Secondly, because the name expresses its core Catholic teaching: "Sanctify yourself, sanctify your work, and sanctify others through your work”. Opus Dei is "a way of sanctification in daily work and in the fulfillment of the ordinary duties of a Christian."  (Prayer card of St. Josemaria)

ACTIVITY: What does Opus Dei do to achieve its mission?

“The main activity of Opus Dei,” said its founder, “is offering its members, and other people, the spiritual means they need to live as good Christians in the midst of the world. It helps them to learn Christ's doctrine and the Church's teachings.” These spiritual means are: one-on-one mentoring, frequent confession, talks on virtues, retreats, etc.

“However,” St. Josemaria continued, “moved by a desire to contribute to the solution of each society's problems, which are so closely related to the Christian ideal, it also has some other corporate activities. Its corporate works are all directly apostolic activities: training centers for farm workers, medical dispensaries in developing countries or areas, schools for girls from under-privileged families. In other words, educational or welfare activities.”

MEMBERS: How do you describe the faithful of the Prelature? 

“The easiest way to understand Opus Dei,” said St. Josemaria, “is to consider the life of the early Christians. They lived their Christian vocation seriously, seeking earnestly the holiness to which they had been called by their Baptism. Externally they did nothing to distinguish themselves from their fellow citizens. The members of Opus Dei are ordinary people.”

“The majority of the members live in the same place as they would have lived had they not been members of Opus Dei: in their home, with their family, in the place where they work…. Some members, few in comparison with the total number, live together to attend to the spiritual care of the others, or to conduct some apostolic activity. They form an ordinary home, just like any Christian family, and continue at the same time to work at their profession.” The former are called supernumeraries and the latter numeraries. Associates are celibate like the numeraries and they live with their own families. The three form one single vocation to seek holiness within Opus Dei.

Since members dedicate their lives to God without any external marks unlike priests and monks, their behavior was for a time misunderstood as secrecy. The misunderstanding is now largely a thing of the past, as the Catholic Church has declared the teaching on the universal call to holiness (cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter V)

CATHOLIC ORGANIZATION: How does it function in the Church?

Within the legal framework of the Catholic Church, Opus Dei is a personal prelature. The prelature is headed by a bishop appointed by the Pope.

Unlike the bishop of a diocese who governs the church in a geographical territory, the prelate of Opus Dei governs persons who are in Opus Dei wherever they are.  Similar to an ordinariate and diocese which have a bishop, priests and laypeople, the Prelature of Opus Dei is a secular, hierarchical structure within the Catholic Church, different from religious orders and associations.

FOUNDER: What does the Church say about St. Josemaria?

St. Josemaria Escriva, is a Roman Catholic priest, who was called the saint of ordinary life  and an apostle of the laity for modern times by St. John Paul II when he canonized him at the start of the new millennium in 2002. Pope Francis, who has a devotion to St. Josemaria, said that he is "a forerunner of Vatican II in proposing the universal call to holiness.”

FINANCES: How are Opus Dei activities supported?

Each faithful of the prelature provides for his or her personal needs by their work. Besides covering their own expenses, the faithful of the Prelature and its cooperators carry the responsibility for the costs of the different apostolates of the prelature. “The majority of Opus Dei members,” said St. Josemaria “are of modest means and social position: manual workers, farmers, clerks, housewives, office workers, engineers, teachers, etc. A much smaller number are engaged in the world of government and business.”

VISION:  What does St. Josemaria see as the future of Opus Dei?

“For as long as there are men on earth,” he said, “no matter how much the techniques of production may change, they will have some type of work that can be offered to God and sanctified. With God's grace, Opus Dei wants to teach them how to make their work an act of service to all men of every condition, race and religion. Serving men in this way, they will serve God.”

Download the one-page leaflet for mass distribution here

These one-page leaflets have started going viral around the world. One leaflet was posted in the website of the Archdiocese of Westminster in London ("The Mother Church of England"), in the Corpus Christi Parish in Canada,  in Kenya and in Macau. To get the full collection, please see this: One Page Leaflets for New Evangelization Going Viral!

Monday, March 14, 2016

INROADS OF THE CULTURE OF DEATH: Disturbing data about family and life in the Philippines that call to action

Download one-page Executive Summary here in PDF
What is happening to our dear Filipino values of love for family, fidelity in marriage, love for babies, and respect for purity?

The data show that there is an erosion of these values: a disturbing penetration of Western hedonism and its culture of death.
From the data, we understand why Pope Francis called the Filipinos to action,  insisting that we protect the family and protect children.

MARRIAGE. An "inviolable institution" and "the foundation of the family", according to the Philippine Constitution. The Philippines is the only country in the world, outside the Vatican, that does not have a divorce law. Pope Francis in Manila said, "The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by a lack of openness to life."
  • Registered marriages: from 577K in 2000, these went down to 492K in 2009 then to 476K in 2011.
  • Separated and Divorce: from 558K in 2000, these went up to 893K in 2010 (60% increase)
  • Annulments: from 5250 in 2010, up to 10,528 in 2012 (100% increase)
  • Support for Divorce Law: from 43-44% support in 2005, to 60% support in 2014 (SWS)
  • Morality of Divorce: Total of 32% say that it is morally acceptable (25%) and a non-moral issue (7%), as against 67% who find it morally unacceptable (PEW survey of 2013)
  • Same-sex unions as equivalent to "marriage": 16% agree while 84% disagree (Laylo).
  • Morality of homosexuality: Total of 32% find it morally acceptable (25%) and a non-moral issue (7%)

Quick reply to divorce: Research shows that 44% of women fell into poverty after a divorce.
Quick reply to same-sex unions as marriage:  While marriage is (1) procreative, (2) complementary, (3) sensitive to the needs of a child to be raised by his own father and mother, same-sex union is (1) non-procreative, (2) non-complementary, and (3) not sensitive to the needs of a child to be raised by his own father and mother.

CHILDREN AS BLESSINGS. A proverb of Masbate says: A child is a grace given by the Lord to a married couple. An Ilokano proverb says: A child is the wealth of the poor. The Catholic Catechism says: Large families are a sign of God's blessings and the parents' generosity. (CCC 2373) Pope Francis in Manila raised the alarm of "the threat of the destruction of the family through the privation of children."
  • Fertility rate (no. children per woman): From 7.4 children in 1965, to 5.98 in 1975, to 4.14 in 1995, to 3.09 in 2015.
  • Contraceptive prevalence rate (% of women ages 15-49 using contraception): From 15.40% in 1968, to 36.2% in 1978, to 50.70% in 1995, to 55.10% in 2013
  • Morality of contraception: Total of 69% find them morally acceptable (60%) and a non-moral issue (9%); Only 29% morally unacceptable. (Pew survey of 2013)
  • Use of abortifacients: 26.3% of married women use abortifacients: 19.8% use pills, 3.4% injectables, 3.1% IUD (2011)
Quick reply to small families:  Recent study has shown that parents who have four or more children are happier and more satisfied with their lives.
Quick reply to contraceptives: Science facts on contraceptives:  The pill kills children. The pill injures women’s health: cancer, stroke, heart attacks; Contraceptives leads to more premarital sex, fatherless children, single mothers, abortion; Wide condom promotes spread of AIDS.

CHASTITY AND SEXUALITY.  A Tagalog proverb says: Ang puri’t dangal mas mahalaga kaysa buhay. (Chastity and honor are more valuable than life.)  The Catholic Catechism teaches:  Sexuality is ordered to conjugal love. (CCC 2360)
  • Engaged in Premarital Sex among 15-24yos: From 23% in 1994 (26.1% of boys and only 10.2% of girls) to 32% (35.5 boys and 28.7% of girls) 
  •  Morality of Premarital Sex: A total of 27% find it morally acceptable (20%) and a non-moral issue (7%); 71% say it is morally unacceptable.  
  • Living Together or Cohabitation: From 5.2% of women 15yos and above in 1993 to 8% in 2003.
  • Production of child pornography: Philippines is among the top 10 countries producing online child pornography
  • Search for sex in the internet: Philippines among top 10 countries (Google Trends)
  • Exposure to pornography: 56.5% of Filipinos aged 15 to 24 years old have been exposed to pornographic videos  
    Reported Cases of Acts of Lasciviousness: From 580 in 2004, it rose to 1035 in 2013 (78% increase) 

Quick reply to cohabitation:  According to extensive research, cohabition is “the worst possible preparation for marriage" and is “a training for divorce.” Cohabiting couples have less income, are less happier, and have more problematic children than married couples.
Quick reply to pornography:  Research has shown that it has great social cost: it traps men into addiction, can make them sexually incompetent with real partner, women feel betrayed, it increases the likelihood of break up in the family,

1. Pope Francis in Manila told us: Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family.
2. Synod of the Family 2015 and Pope Francis document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, gave these directions:
a. Offer formation programs that nourish conjugal life
b. Catechesis in the Family. John Paul taught: There cannot be too great an effort on the part of Christian parents to prepare for this ministry of being their own children's catechists and to carry it out with tireless zeal.
c. Openness to life: This situation calls for an ever-increasing spread of the documents of the Church’s Magisterium which promote the culture of life.
d. Families need to be prepared, trained and empowered to guide others in living in a Christian manner.
e. For Christians engaged in political life, the commitment to life and the family must take priority.

Download one-page Executive Summary here in PDF