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!

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