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Can I Trust Opus Dei?

January 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Can I Trust?, Dan Burke, Videos

Dear Dan, I am contemplating a vocation to Opus Dei. For years, I have been hearing a call. I am afraid  however, when I read negative info on websites. I feel torn apart. Can you guide me, provide some insight?

Dear Friend, your concerns are valid. To set the stage for my comments I need to state that I am not a member or in any way Josemaria-Escriva-Prayer-Card24053lgformally or informally affiliated with Opus Dei. However, I have engaged with an Opus Dei priest who wrote the forward for my book Navigating the Interior Life, I have attended one Opus Dei meeting, and I have read quite a bit on Opus Dei, including the web site you reference (though I have not provided the link because I believe the authors of the site are guilty of calumny and detraction). I also have a few good friends who are in some form of relationship with Opus Dei.

Lets take a look at a few of the accusations against Opus Dei.

Corporal Mortification: This is listed on one site as the top bullet point reflecting problematic issues with Opus Dei. Beyond the tactic of putting this item forward first, the complaint about this issue is, on its face, absurd. Why, because they don’t really practice corporal mortification? Actually, no, they do. It is because in the teaching and tradition of the Church, there is nothing wrong with corporal mortification as long as it is undertaken with free will and under the guidance of a spiritual director. So, why all the shouting about it? Simply put, these people reject the traditions of the Church. If you are not familiar with the tradition and practice, Fr. Barron has provided a very helpful video discussing the corporal mortification practiced by St. John Paul II.

Aggressive Recruitment: Here’s a quote the opponents of Opus Dei offer as problematic, “University residences, universities, publishing houses. . . are these ends? No, and what is the end? . . . to promote in the world the greatest possible number of souls dedicated to God in Opus Dei…”(Founder of Opus Dei, Crónica, v, 1963)”.

The first point is that they deceptively omitted St. Josemaría Escriva’s name and substituted “Founder of Opus Dei.” Why would they do this? Because it militates against their cause. The founder of Opus Dei is a saint. He has undergone extreme scrutiny and found to be holy enough to be named a saint. Do they reject the Church’s work and decision on this matter? I think the answer is obvious.

Aggressive Recruitment Continued: So, they cite the quote provided above in their opening paragraph outlining the problem of recruitment. Let’s cut to the essence of the quote. They are concerned that St. Escrivá is encouraging recruitment of souls to God within the Church approved framework of Opus Dei! Oh the horror! More people to God in a Church approved institution!? This must be stopped! Forgive me, I can’t hold back the sarcasm because this is simply juvenile. The Church teaches that all of us are called to this “aggressive recruitment” – it is called “evangelism.” Jesus, in Luke chapter fourteen tells us to, “Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” Is it ok to make friends with folks in order to “compel” them to “come in”? Is there a better way? Is it problematic to make friends with people to help them to heaven? Are you kidding me?

“Alienation” from Families: The complaints here are simply painful reflections of the normal process of separation from family for those entering religious life. Coupled with the challenges of their suffering, these complaining parents either are not committed to the Church or are ignorant of Church teachings on religious life. I don't mean to belittle their struggles but the implications are clear.

In the history of the Church and within healthy religious orders, religious are always called out of their families and into the new family of their charisms. Many orders have fallen out of the rigor of this practice as they stray from the parameters established by the Church and their founders. Unfortunately, many modern witnesses of this trend assume that this laxity is the healthy norm when it is not. They then compare the practices of Opus Dei to these wayward organizations and coupled with the pain of losing their children to the work of God, they feel compelled to cry foul. The real foul here is the failure of other religious institutions to maintain their fervency for Christ and the Church.

Is Opus Dei Beyond Reproach?

All that said, is Opus Dei a perfect institution beyond reproach of any criticism? No, and no such institution exists. Are they guilty of any of the negative criticism they receive? I am sure they are. Is the problem endemic to the organization? I have not seen it and neither has the Holy See. Thus, the constitutions of the organization are valid and Church approved and supported.

Furthermore, if I claim to be a magisterium faithful Catholic, I need to be supportive of the Holy See and the organizations they approve. Does this mean I cannot be critical? Of course not. However, we need to think with the Church in these matters, not criticize organizations on the basis of practices that are actually approved by the Church. Otherwise, we will find ourselves opposing the Church itself and maybe even Christ Himself.

My bottom line conclusion? You should pursue a vocation within Opus Dei with all your heart. Allow the Lord to lead you and enjoy the journey. If you find the charism does not match your call, pursue others with all your heart and enjoy the journey!

I would like to open the comboxes to those of you who have testimonies of good experiences within Opus Dei and other similar organizations that are faithful to the magisterium of the Church. How have they helped you? How have you been blessed by your involvement? I am not interested in reiterations of the calumny, detraction, or gossip. If you have complaints, follow Christ's admonitions in the Gospel of St. Matthew 18:15-17 and avoid these grave sins and take your concerns to those who have the proper authority and perspective to address them. Again – positive comments only please.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • LizEst

    Dan, I know a member/cooperator of this prelature. This person, one of the holier and humbler people I have met, mentioned it to me in passing years ago as something to consider. Otherwise, I would never have known of their involvement. There was no heavy pressure, not even “you really should try it” or “you would be really blessed by it.” The extent of the conversation was about as much as I have written here.

  • I went to an Opus Dei school for grade 2 and 3. I remember we had confession once a month or was it once a quarter of a school year? Can’t remember so well now… I had my First Holy Communion there and we were taught the one hour fast before Communion. I remember that our Religion classes were really good! Best taught of all our subjects.
    Transferring schools, I forgot some the things we learned there…like the fast…But I’ve just recently realized how much I’ve benefited from there and how it made it easier for me to go to Confession often and fast before Mass. Since I was there in my formative years, what they taught stayed with me. And I am so very grateful to God for that! Seeing that He was leading through my time in an Opus Dei school. Thank You!

  • Anthony Gettig

    Opus Dei has been very good for me in my spiritual journey. 

  • Steve Calovich

    Sorry to edit out your post Steve – I asked for positive comments, not negative.

  • LisSchaef

    When I was a young mother and had strayed far from the church, I became friends with a neighbor who was very involved with Opus Dei. Gently, almost inperceptibley (except in hindsight), she invited me to events held at the Opus Dei center: retreats, formational talks, mornings of reflection. Over time,she would charitably answer my questions about the church, sometimes referring me to a kindly Opus Dei priest for harder issures (like contraception). I never felt judged. I credit Opus Dei as the insrument that God used to lead me, my husband, and my family back to full communion with the Catholic Church. Even though I never “joined” Opus Dei, I would say my dearest, most loyal friends are still those I made through Opus Dei. They are the ones I can go to if I really need the truth, spoken in love.

  • robertobellarmino

    I am a Jesuit priest and I generally seek out Opus Dei priests for my confession. My experience has shown me that they are generally more orthodox and much better prepared than Jesuits or Redemptorists as confessors.

    • LizEst

      Thank you for that tip! God bless you, Father.

  • Michael Guglielmo

    I have occasionally
    visited the New York community for prayer, confession and spiritual guidance. I
    am lucky to be geographically close as this has enabled me to become closer to
    my Savior.

  • Fiona

    I am not an associate or cooperator of Opus Dei but the parish that I attend is run by Opus Dei. I have attended their monthly recollections for the past four years and have also gone on their yearly retreats but have never witnessed or been the subject of any aggressive recruitment tactics. I am also very active within the parish itself and have worked closely with both the priests and numeraries. I am very grateful for the formation that they provide as they adhere strictly to the teachings of the Magisterium.
    With regard to the issue of corporal mortification. This is no great secret. I find, however, that their formation puts more emphasis on hidden, interior mortifications.

  • Hannah T

    I’m not in Opus Dei, but I am very involved in their programs (retreats, classes, and I’m even going to the Art Of Living competition in Boston next month! [I’m 17, btw]) The numeraries are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and the priests give great meditations and confessions. Through the works of Opus Dei, I’ve been able to delve much deeper into my faith and spiritual life. For this, I am very grateful <3

  • FitzO

    I lived with the Opus Dei in Lesseps Barcelona, Spain for some three months. It was a good experience as we were involved in Christian activities: prayers, Masses, descent mode of dressing, communal behavior, selected TV programs etc. Now what the Brothers and the ordained Clergy etc did outside of our view, was theirs with God. My brother remained an active member until his demise which has nothing to do with his membership of the Opus Dei. By the way, the Universidad de Pamplona, remains easily the best in Spain and Europe on critical fields. And that is thanks to St. Escrivá and others after him. 

    On a lighter mood. the best foods/meals are served in the Opus Dei refectories. Good, simple and balanced meals. José Maria (please not St. Josémaria Escrivá) was a kind of our Supervisor while we were there.

    • Pergolesi

      ¿Why do you write: “José María (please not St. Josémaría Escrivá” )  ?

      • FitzO

        Pergolesi; They are two different people. Bless you and yours!

  • Silvia Aldredge

    I have a good friend who is in the process of discerning the call to become a member (not sure how this works) of Opus Dei. Occasionally, she hosts afternoon talks or book club meetings for ladies. I have to say that I have found these talks to be incredibly informative. I always walk away with a new way of looking at things in my own life or in the life of the Church. Invariably, the talks are positive, affirming and helpful. I suspect the Opus gets such a bad rep because it is such a powerful agent for teaching Catholics about our faith.

  • I’m an Opus Dei cooperator. I go to their cooperator circle, monthly recollection and yearly retreat. Opus Dei has really helped me tremendously in my spiritiual growth and most of all, in facing the day to day challenge of being a father and a husband. Opus Dei keeps reminding us that being a saint can be accomplished through your day to day activities. Simple things like smiling when you don’t feel like it, do your work well, do the little things unnoticed, do a little sacrifiice here and there, etc. This has really helped me a lot because this was exactly things that I did not pay attention to before I knew Opus Dei.

  • $1650412

    Dan, Father Barron’s video is brilliant and covers topics that would be great matter for discussion apart from any consideration of Opus Dei! The concept of sharing/participating in one another, the idea that sensual normative desires are like children, and the value of corporal discipline for spiritual development are all things I would love to read more about here!

  • Charlie500

    The ways of the faith are more and more being looked at as weird and even mentally unbalanced. We have to be careful to weed out the culturally-correct way of viewing life. A good antidote to that is to read the lives of the saints and double up on prayer and sacrament in these deceitful times.

    • BW

      I agree with you, brother.

      This is the slur against religion in general, Christianity certainly, and the practitioners of both: the demonic a.k.a. secular culture, awash in sin and shaking its fist at God, insinuates — nay — overtly labels anyone who would partake of religion, let alone partake of it seriously, as mentally unbalanced if not, astonishingly, somehow immoral! Piety is suspicious on a very serious level: the pious man is a lurking danger to yourself and your children. There is something wrong with him. Why won’t he abandon his Hope and go to the mall on Sunday with the rest of us? He is rogue and if we scratch the surface we will find a monster. Where there is smoke there is fire. Sequester him, re-educate him, and if that fails, kill him. Kill him actually, first, since we don’t want to bother with the two initial steps and their trouble. Thus the demon who is the prince of this world shows his true power over most hearts and almost all institutions. Beloved St. John wrote circa 90AD that “this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” And we are still waiting for this (technically these — legions of them) figure to make his debut? Ha! The apostles knew they themselves had lived to see the commencement of the last days.

  • AndreaMaciejewski

    Almost 2 years ago, I began discerning a call to The Work.  It was all the more amazing as there is no Opus Dei Center even in my state (Michigan).I lived through many amazing “coincidences” – which made it clear to me that St. Josemaria was calling me (I don’t mean to sound so crazy, and appreciate your giving me the benefit of the doubt here!)  

    I can say that for years I have been studying Sunday’s readings every Sunday night during a Holy Hour of Adoration using my Navarre Bible, which I didn’t connect with Opus Dei.  I just knew it was by a saint who had some strange name… 🙂
    I am now a cooperator.  I attend retreats, and every other month I drive an hour to mornings of recollection given by an Opus Dei priest visiting from Chicago.  I am able to find people near me who are members, but VERY few…I am having the exact opposite experience of feeling I am being “recruited”…in fact, when I finally went to Spiritual Direction with the visiting priest last month, he confirmed what I had heard, that I could not become a member because I did not live near a Center and thus could not participate in good formation.  He recommended finding a good archdiocesan priest for spiritual direction (I had been seeing a Legionary priest).  I told him I thought the Detroit Area would so benefit from a Center, and he said there needed to be a groundswell of interest, so I am telling my friends!

    Of course, through even more “coincidences”, I have immediately found a new spiritual director who is totally on board with me and is supporting me and helping me discern this call.  Ironically, perhaps, he had a full reversion to his faith after discovering the charismatic renewal…(I am indebted to my Legionary priest friend for wonderful spiritual direction and leading me to this new priest).  These commenters totally get it – the almost imperceptible charism of the Work.  The members are called to live very holy lives, with a beautiful if rigorous daily plan of life, and then to live in the world loving God’s children they meet in their ordinary, everyday lives.  I think it’s controversial because it is so unusual to our culture – polished yet welcoming, holy, yet ordinary.  May God bless Opus Dei!  St. Josemaria, pray for us!

  • Stellahermit

    For over ten years I attended a yearly retreat at the Opus Dei center, Featherock near Schulenburg, Texas. I must say that these experiences served to help me practice and understand my Faith enormously. It was where I received practically all my spiritual formation. I tried the Third Order Lay Franciscans, the Charismatic movement, the Carmelites, the Dominicans. In all these other groups I have to say honestly that some of the “trends” were a little off. The writing and other spiritual material was extremely helpful because it offered concrete examples of how to put my Faith into action. I attended an occasional Day of Reflection, a half day mini retreat but did not make it a monthly effort because it was held during the day and I worked. I also had problems with having to “pay” a fee to become a cooperator. That didn’t make sense to me and it did make me feel like it was an exculsionary practice because as a single woman, needing every cent I earned to pay for living expenses I felt “left out”. But even this requirement did not keep me from learning and putting what I learned into my everyday experience. In the end, I went to live as a hermit for nearly three years and found this very much more in line with what I felt God was calling me to. After three years I had to leave to take care of my mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.   As God is wont to do, He changed the course of my life and now I am living again “in the world”. This is okay too. However, I wanted to start attending the Opus Dei retreats and found the cost prohibitive. In the past I had always been able to pay the fee over the course of the year but now they require the payment up front. This practice, of course serves to “weed out” those who don’t have the means to benefit from the wonderful experience of an Opus Dei retreat. I am sad about this but I have learned to go with the flow as God takes me.  So as you can see, in my opinion, there is good and bad in the way Opus Dei is set up but that should not stop anyone who has the means ($$) to proceed in a vocation, especially to the priesthood.  All the priests I came in contact with were great. I am happy to say Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles was one of the retreat masters that I had to good fortune to hear and the Holy Father also chosen others to help him lead the Church in these very difficult times where the Faith appears to be dying out. So go for it!  

    • Quicksilvr2Gold

       My experience is that if you contact the retreat center, there are sometimes scholarships for those who cannot afford to pay the full fee, and sometimes arrangements can be made to make payments.

      But if you can make payments, then just make the payments to yourself into an account and then when you have the money make the full payment for the retreat.

      I have been asked to pray, but never have I been asked to pay a fee to be a cooperator.

      My experience is a long one, with living too far from the centers nearest to me to do more than the occasional day of reflection, I have done retreats at Featherock for years, even when discerning with the Lay Carmelite community that met at the parish I attend.

      • Stellahermit

        I did contact the retreat center in Houston and even told them I had a scholarship given me by a couple who had made a retreat at the hermitage but they told me they no longer provided scholarships nor payments. I think that the personnel there must’ve changed over the time I was gone and that may be why things changed. In spite of the “obstacles” I still very much go to Opus Dei material to learn and grow but as we know, there are many paths that lead in the same direction and the journey is always amazing, isn’t it?

        • AndreaMaciejewski

          As I wrote, I am discerning a call to become a member, but it is not possible at this time in my life as well.  When I was told to find a different Spiritual Director by an Opus Dei priest, I was put off because I liked the priest I was going to, but realized I need to follow the advice if am was to continue on this particular path.

          I asked a trusted friend (who had been in seminary for 7 years, before leaving, and later marrying…)  He told me if God calls us to a particular vocation, he gives us just enough light along the path to get us there.As I said, I immediately found a new priest that was a great fit.  I still don’t understand why God has called me to Opus Dei, but I love it, and I give it to Him to lead me.  I don’t understand, but I choose to not be confused, but just to enjoy the journey, as you say!  (That doesn’t mean I won’t be calling all of greater Detroit to take a look at this thing called “The Work!”  😉

          • Stellahermit

            Great for you! At my age and after many twists and turns, some of my own making and finally just letting God take the reins I, too, have found profound peace in living life where and how He chooses.  To me it’s a sad thing to have discovered so late in life how peaceful it is to leave everything in God’s hands. He makes much better choices than I ever did. And guess what? Ever since I have never been “without”. I always had exactly what I needed and I was happy with what I got. Somehow, after each change and even tho’ it sometimes took me a while to see “why” He put me where He did, it was always an opportunity for me to grow. I have had to decrease so He could increase. (St. John the Baptist). OH, how Detroit could use the charism of Opus Dei. I will add that to my prayers. 

    • LizEst

      So, are you saying, after having tried all those other things in your past, if you had the means, Opus Dei would be where you would find the right fit, at this point in your life?

      • Stellahermit

        Yes, since at my age and changes that occurred at the hermitage are prohibitive to my returning I am where I think God wants me to be. Nevertheless, I will always want to learn and grow in my Faith and that is why I wanted to attend a yearly retreat again. I never miss an opportunity to share my wonderful experience with Opus Dei.

        • LizEst

          Thank you for writing back. Your history resonated with me as I’ve had similar experiences with the good God changing the course of my life a number of times. Have been interested in some of the same groups you mentioned previously (though never a member) and left one calling to bring my parents into our home and care for them. Many years ago, a Cardinal mistook me for an Opus Dei member because of something I said to him! Ha!

          God bless you, Stellahermit…and thanks again. Reading your story has helped.

        • mariano3

          I can feel you, one reason a number of people unfortunately accuse Opus Dei of being elitist, however I do know a number of people who though dont have all the means but still have access to means of spiritual formation Opus Dei offer. There is always a way out to assist so that noone is felt shut out from my own experience.

  • saa5of5

    : ) Aesthetical comment: I’ve seen other videos filmed in front of a book shelf. The camera is focused on the book shelf and the person’s face is blurry.

    Very interesting discussion.

  • Michael King

    I’ve had very good experiences with Opus Dei and am in fact a cooperator (a miinamal level of involvement). I have found the priests quite solid and grounded. The laity who are involved have impressed me with their fervor, orthodoxy and attractive life style.

    Even so Dan, I wonder whether we should always accept every organization approved by the Holy See if we have objectively grave reasons not to do so (after all, this is not at the level of infallibility). I’m thinking of The Legionaries of Christ and the many concerns and accusations in their regard that have surfaced over the years. I know, respect and like a number of Legionary priests, but the founder and orgainization have proven to have many problems.

    Returning to Opus Dei, a wonderful and entertaining introduction may be had by watching the movie Here Be Dragons. The film was done by the same man who made The Killing Fields and The Mission.

  • Joaquin Reyes

    Hi everyone!

    I’m 21, and I am a numerary (celibate) faithful of Opus Dei. I can honestly say that God’s calling me to Opus Dei is the best thing that has ever happened in my life.

    Opus Dei only exists to serve the Church and to serve the world by spreading the universal call to holiness, i.e. holiness is possible and accessible to anyone (married or single); everyone is called
    to be a saint and this is not reserved for some sort of “elite” few (like only priests or religious). This is the message of the Second Vatican Council, but it’s not “new”. It’s as “old as the Gospel, and like the Gospel, new”.

    The universal call to holiness is precisely what Jesus first proclaimed 2000 years ago. Over the years, this message was continually proclaimed by the Church and many saints, but was increasingly ignored or forgotten by most people. God therefore chose St Josemaria as his instrument to remind people of this message: that it is our Christian duty (by virtue of our baptism) to strive for sanctity and do apostolate (which is simply sharing with others the great discovery of our relationship with God) in whatever state of life we are in.

    Mr Dan Burke speaks well by saying:
    The Church teaches that all of us are called to this “aggressive recruitment” – it is called “evangelism.”

    I agree entirely- if only more Christians did the same! As St Catherine of Sienna says: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”. So if the universal call to holiness and Opus Dei in anyway appeals to you, checkout for some great info and videos and the “contact us” link on the top right. Also check out for the writings of St Josemaria, especially The Way, which has had such an awesome impact on my life and the lives of millions of others.

  • Janet Baker

    Was Steve Calovich’s comment disrespectful or did he just not have a good opinion of Opus Dei?  I’ve had my brushes with Opus Dei and have been involved with similar groups.  After having left them (and became a much stronger Catholic as a result), I did some reading on the dynamics of high-control groups.  One common earmark of all these groups is “information control”: that is, the admittance of only that information/feedback that will lead the recipient to accept the group and reject all other opinions.  When you ask “how have you been blessed by your involvement”, that’s information control.  Now this is your blog and you have the perfect right to do so, but please admit what you’re doing.  God bless!

    • Thanks for your question Janet. It is all very simple. Steve didn’t answer the question I asked. Neither have you. In contrast, I will answer your question and accusation. I am completely open about the “information control” on this site (can you hear the sinister music in the background masking the top secret mind-control session seeking to lead Catholics into a deeper relationship with Christ!!! Oh the horror!). Feel free to read the FAQ’s. We are very open about what we do here. There are sites dedicated to tearing down Opus Dei, Regnum Christi etc. This is not one of them. On this site, we support all groups that are magisterium faithful and approved by the Church. Do we think they are perfect? No, this is clear in my comments. Do I, for instance, support the efforts of reform with the Legionaries and Regnum Christi? Absolutely, and so do all good members of these groups. That said, I don’t allow people who are disrespectful, uncharitable, or destructive to rule the comboxes here – period. Without apology we openly set the agenda, we ask certain questions and establish approaches to dialogue all the time. We do this with a bent toward magisterium faithful and charitable dialogue – this is not a sign of cult activity – it is just a sign that we are committed to acting like adults and honoring scriptural admonitions regarding how we should treat one another (you know, things like dignity and respect). I have absolutely no patience for people who rail against these groups and all the while essentially arguing against practices that the Church approves and supports. I have no patience for people who claim to be faithful orthodox people but who freely and widely commit sins of calumny and detraction all over the internet. I have no interest in dialoguing with people who’s opening statements are accusations filled with negative assumptions and suspicion. Instead, we choose to engage with people who are honestly seeking how to better know and love Christ and His Church. I know many people who have been profoundly blessed by Opus Dei and Regnum Christi and because the Church endorses them, so will I. This site is a safe place for all who are seeking to better know and love Christ. Those with destructive hateful intentions and denigrating agendas can go to… well, other places where their kind of interaction will be voluminously and ruthlessly returned in kind for all of eternity. 🙂 I am not wishing anyone there, but many seem to have chosen that path already… Lord have mercy.

      • Sarp1

        Wow Sarp – I don’t know what to say. I asked a simple question which is the focus of this post. You didn’t answer it. Why is this so difficult to understand?

      • LizEst

        I agree. In my experience on this site, I have found it to be fair, balanced and faithful to what the Church believes and teaches.

        Many people come here because they want to be holy, better and more faithful Catholics (many also come from other denominations and religions). They want to improve their understanding of the faith and grow in holiness. They come here because they know they will get the truth in their search for Truth and spiritual direction.  

        This site speaks the truth in love. It believes what it reads in Scripture. It preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ in season and out of season. And, it practices what it preaches. And, it asks simply that people follow the guidelines established and treat others as one would treat Christ, in whose image and likeness we are all made, and who is among us in all His different disguises.

      • Becky Ward

        I, for one, am grateful that I don’t have to wade through all the ugliness here that is found in many other places on the Internet. 🙂

        Thanks Dan!

    • Stellahermit

      What???? To ask someone how they’ve been blessed by their involvement is “mind control”?? I am sorry to say you don’t know what mind control is? And what is a stronger Catholic? I think each person is on the path God has prepared for them and so each person, depending on how they respond to God’s grace, will travel along in their own pace. If people become disaffected with the Church or some organization or group in the Church, why is their first reaction to try to tear it down? I don’t understand. Charity in all things should guide us, not division and destruction. There are enough outside groups doing that to the Church.

  • tanyahe

    I don’t know what would have become of me if I hadn’t met the Opus Dei. I give God thanks for all of His guidance through all the Opus Dei retreats, confessions to great priests , Masses and the goodness of all the people who have helped me over the years. Saint Josemaria pray for me, and Happy Birthday, January 9th

  • I’m currently discerning a vocation to Opus Dei. My spiritual director is currently a priest of the prelature. In no way has he been pressuring me and as far as I am concerned, his direction has been sharp and orthodox. I will discern if this is what the Lord wants from me at this stage of my life and I invite others not to be afraid.

  • Henry_A

    Dear Dan – Great post!
    St. Escrivia’s writings are amazing and have been a
    great help to me in the past and I am very good friends with a numerary in Opus Dei, who I believe is a saint.
    Additionally, all the people he has introduced me too are wonderful.
    Since you asked us to share our experience with another “similar organization”, I’d like to briefly talk about how following Christ in Communion
    and Liberation,
    an ecclesial Lay Movement in the Church, has been the second greatest grace in my life.
    As an adult convert to the Faith, my greatest grace
    was, and is, the virtue of Faith received in Baptism.  I spent 16 years studying, writing, and teaching the Faith to others, especially potential and actual converts, before encountering the writings of the servant of God, Fr. Luigi Giussani, in 2001. It is difficult to describe in a few words the impact that the charism has had on my relationship with Christ but suffice it to say that I am continually grateful to Christ for leading me to the charism and the writings of Don Giussani. 

    I call the encounter with CL the second greatest
    grace of my life because through it I have come to the certainty that Faith is more than a beautiful intellectual construct but the fully human relationship with a present Presence – the Presence of the risen Christ – in every moment of my day. And it is the magnetizing Presence of Christ that
    activates and fulfills the deepest desires of my heart which are continually activated by my interaction with reality. So, to summarize, my relationship with Christ is now tangibly and concretely linked to my relentless desire to be happy now, today, this moment, and not just in some moment in the future. After all, I want to be happy now and it’s an
    immense grace that “Happiness became/becomes flesh” so that I could, and can, encounter him now in the present!  

  • Paternoster7

    Praise the Lord. Several years back I was looking into
    Opus Dei in New York City (Riverside Drive). I attended a few meetings and I
    was so impressed with these holy men of God. I ultimately chose the Secular Franciscans,
    however, there was never any pressure to join or unusual or cult like
    atmosphere or attitude. The real reason I think I did not pursue Opus Dei was
    MY lack of discipline! Everyone there chose freely to dedicate themselves to
    God via this Charism. They were brilliant intellectually and very welcoming and
    kind. I am so proud of the people
    dedicated to Opus Dei and I wish I had the discipline to be among their number.
    I am so impressed with all of them and I pray for their continued success.
    Eddie M.

    • Stellahermit

      Dear Paternoster7, take it from one who is totally lacking in the virtue of discipline, thank God, I would encourage you to give Opus Dei another chance. All of us have been given the gift of being human, meaning we are not perfect. Only God is perfect. Our human failings are the way to Him, if we make the effort to overcome them. And that is the journey. I tried the Secular Franciscans, or Third Order Lay and unfortunately, they were so far off that I felt very uncomfortable at the meetings which were chaotic and noisy. Our “spiritual leader” was a professor at the University of St. Edward in Austin, Tx. He was into “all things Celtic” and I finally had to withdraw because I simply did not feel I was going in the right direction. There were some members who were and did receive much from the spirituality of St. Francis but I think it was because they were able to separate the good from the bad. I just felt I didn’t even want to be “exposed” to the bad. I hope you consider Opus Dei again and use the wonderful books to guide you and allow yourself to overcome all those shortcoming you think you can’t. 

  • Bob Gravlin

    IN St Louis I have attended several Opus Dei functions and have found them to be good traditional Catholic Spirituality with confessions, Eucharistic Adoration, good teaching etc. And I am always welcomed to come again with friendliness and no coercion. I may investigate their spirituality more but have not been pressured to do so and I will likely need to ask about it to find out more.

  • The best years of my life are the two years I spent at an Opus Dei run residence in Kianda, Kenya. Interacting with members of Opus Dei had a very positive impact on all the areas of my life. I am a better person because of this experience and eternally grateful to God for the oportunity I had to live and share experiences with them. God Bless them all always – Jackie

  • Peter Brennan

    Fr. C. John McCloskey is a priest of Opus Dei. Fr. John Trigilio is a cooperator with Opus Dei, Scott Hahn, Ph.D. is a member of Opus Dei. Can you trust it? Uh, yeah, I think you’re fairly safe. Just watch out for the albino monks and lament the fact that they have banned felt banners and tambourines.

    • $1650412

      I like your comment here,Peter, but I think the most important thing is not confidence in the reputation of adherents, but the judgement of the Church. (i think every group has a rogue or two fussing about their version of the banner lament) 

  • sophie73

    I am a former numerary of Opus Dei. I left bec I felt it wasn’t for me. Now being in the outside world and seeing the state of the parish churches (not all but a lot) and the lack of evangelism among the Catholics, I feel quite blessed now that God has granted me the grace to live and know the spirituality of Opus Dei bec it is guiding me now in my life. Sure, there were issues I have with some members. Looking back now, the problem probably is not in the institution itself but in the members transmitting the charisma. For example, I disliked it that when they asked me to join, I never was told everything before hand like the expense account, corporal mortifications etc. Sure, there is nothing wrong with them esp that it is approved by the Church and each organization just like any family sets up their own rules. What I didn’t agree with is how they hid the information before a person joins so I joined without full knowledge at that time. However, I am quite happy that until now, I have remained good friends to a few of those members whom I have developed a deep friendship. The irony is when some of these members had their own crisis in their vocation, contemplating to leave, I was the one who prayed for them and encouraged them to stay put and talked it out. I have learned that no directors are perfect and are only human but the whole message of encouraging people to be saints and acting like the first Christians of wanting everyone to love Christ, is just  refreshing! I know very well now 20 years after my first contact with Opus Dei that they have impacted my life in ways I can never describe. It had been the lighthouse when things are dark and I still remember the teachings and the plan of life that was well hammered down in my soul by my saintly spiritual director. I have not gone to any formation for more than a decade now but all the wonderful memories remained. My life is not screwed up and I have the proper love for the church all because of the formation from Opus Dei. I pray for the members to continue to be a beacon of light to the world. And I thank St Escriva for his faithfulness to his vocation allowing thousands if not millions of souls to benefit. God bless. 

    • Hi Sophie,
      I am a supernumerary member of the Opus Dei since 2008. Over the years, I have really grown to love and appreciate Opus Dei. I’ve moved from Manila, Seoul, Canberra, stints in NY and Washington DC, and now in Prague and have been taken care of by faithful of Opus Dei through the Centers. In Canberra, the priest would drive 4 hours from Sydney just to see us for recollections.

      I was deeply touched by your message. I know that the faithful of Opus Dei are not perfect. We are all human with feet of clay. I always think of myself as a broken vessels which is mended and still made useful by God to spread his love.

      I am grateful to God for showing me the way. I thank St. Josemaria and all the faithful of the Opus Dei for their prayers, I also pray for your intention.

      • Brian Doce

        Hi I would like to ask whether a non married supernumerary can be elevated to be an Opus Dei priest? Thank you

      • Eriol

        Jed, I am discerning a vocation to The Work. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions in priv on Twitter. Thanks

      • Eriol

        Jed, I am discerning my vocation to The Work. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions on priv, eg. on Twitter (Eriol_o_Eressea) Thanks. Martin

  • Macchabee

    Opus Dei is a remarkable gift. Some of the people I have met in the discipline are truly remarkable without being sanctimonious. Among them are some of my closest friends. . The people I have met are interesting in many ways. . Nothing that I ever encountered in its guidance is contrary to the magisterium of the Church. 
    The Retreats I attended when I could were brilliant in their insights and the availability of the Sacraments was another gift. .

    Opus Dei is Catholicism .

    I am grateful for the graces I have received under their auspices. So thank you.
    And fellow Catholics remember Christianity is not a spectator sport. The spectators are seated in the arena watching, while the Christian is in the arena contending for his own soul and the souls of his neighbor.

     I respectfully suggest that if someone is doing something good, give them your encouragement.   When the culture and media pass on untruths, follow Solzhenitsyn’s rule at the very least “Do not participate in the lie.” 

  • I am not a member of Opus Dei, nor have I ever attended a meeting. I have had occasion to attend mass several times and confession once or twice by an opus dei priest.  They are extremely well versed and in terms of doctine and true church teachings.  I would suspect that the author is not….Anyone would be a fool if they felt called to Opus Dei, not to pursue that calling.

  • Guest

    Hi! I’ve been a Numerary in Opus Dei for 30 years, 21 of them in Africa. I thank God everyday for the incredible graces he has given me and the thousands of souls he has touched through the little I’ve done. Certainly, some people may have complains and what not… but all I can say is that if I were to go back 30 years in my life I’d have made the same decision. However, this is so because it is my vocation and the directors helped me and guided me well. Thank God!

  • mariano3

    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 one need a lot of prayer and direction, my prayer life at this 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 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 2, that God may grant my kids vocation to Opus Dei (my daily prayers) when I came across this post.

    If God will give me another life to live on earth, I will be a Numerary 30 times over. I am what I am today from the tremendous formations I have received from Opus Dei free of charge. I have worked over 60% of my career with church institutions that is not Opus Dei, thanks for this solid formation, I could have lost my faith, indeed those years of working in those institution made me understood what Opus Dei stood for in the church.

    Dan you already answered the most critical issues eloquently God bless you. In addedum I have come to realize people critical of Opus Dei have problems with core Catholic teachings and tradition they want abolished or watered down, those intrinsically having problems with their own vocations, and those envious of little progress Opus Dei have made in the church.

    • St. Jude

      Is there no way for you to rejoin Opus Dei, now that you’re married, as a Supernumerary?

      I mean is there a rule in Opus Dei that says once you leave you can’t ever come back?

  • Pingback: | Catholic Spiritual Direction | Can I Trust? Series Catholic Spiritual Direction()

  • LizEst

    Not finding that information anywhere. Does de Prada list a source for that?

    • Joaco

      “de Prada” would have taken that information from the Archivos Generales de la Prelatura. I’ll look it up.

      • LizEst

        Thanks Joaco. Much appreciated. God bless you now and always!

        • Joaco

          Found it: Apuntes, no.838. On September 12, 1932, Father Josemaría went to the Carmelite monastery in Madrid to request admission to the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites. “For two purposes (besides love) I want to become a Carmelite tertiary: to put more pressure on my Immaculate Mother, now that I see myself weaker than ever; and to provide suffrages to my good friends the blessed souls in purgatory” (Apuntes, no.823). The date of his entrance into the Third Order was, as he requested, October 2, 1932 (see Apuntes, no.838)

          • LizEst

            Thank you so much, Joaco. Now I understand. In your comment, you had said the Franciscans … when you actually meant the Carmelites! That makes more sense to me. Thank you for clarifying and for the reference as well. God reward you!

          • Joaco

            oh no… sorry for the confusion and thanks for pointing it out!

          • LizEst

            It’s OK, Joaco. Only God is perfect! Besides, I learned something from this and it will stay in my mind because of the interaction. May the Lord bless you and keep you now and always!

  • marybernadette

    Thanks Dan for this great post. When you think of it, whenever there is a ‘true work of God’ there will always be ‘suffering’ attached to it. St. Faustina was told this by her Spiritual director. Many ‘Gifts’ from God have been ‘maligned, ridiculed, etc.’ the Charismatic Renewal, Legion of Mary, being other examples. Of course, there will always be people in these ‘Apostolates’ who have ‘problems’ and may put others off (although that can be an excuse). It is so important today to encourage and to be encouraged in our Catholic Faith, which is again under attack from within and without. We need to be ‘solid on the Rock’ about the Church’s Teachings which come from the Lord Himself. I used to belong to a social justice group, which I was happy to do for the ‘poorest of the poor.’ However,I decided to leave after there was so much emphasis on the ‘politics’ even to the detriment of ‘Church Teaching.’ I was particularly shocked and saddened that one woman was angry because of an emphasis on ‘returning to Confession’ and a man believed a woman had the right to ‘choose an abortion.’ Certainly there is a ‘Crisis of Faith’ and we desperately need the ‘Truth’ of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Teachings of His Church.

  • St. Jude

    The only problem I have with anything you said in this article is where you suggest that evangelizing is about helping people to get to heaven. Here’s your quote, ” Is it problematic to make friends with people to help them to heaven?”

    My problem with it is that this is not what the Gospel says at all. In fact this is a pagan reading of the Gospel, i.e. that a hero suffers making it possible for others to get to heaven. The creed we all recite at Mass clearly says, “we look for the for Resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” We are not resurrected into heaven and our future life is not there. Furthermore, this isn’t the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.

    What we believe is that Jesus reconciled all things unto himself, and that the nations which had previously been disinherited are now reclaimed, with Jesus, Israel’s anointed King (and God) having become King of the whole world. This means that through Jesus heaven and earth have been once again reunited, and we will be able to experience this more fully in our resurrected bodies. God in the person of Jesus will live among us. Sounds a lot like the Garden of Eden restored, doesn’t it?

    Now, having said that if you meant to use the term “heaven” (as the Bible in fact sometimes does) as a sort of short hand for this future earthly state, then I’ve just misread your point. Nevertheless, all too often poorly catechized Catholics, and many not so poorly catechized one’s as well, take the term to literally mean that our goal is to make it to some spiritual place where we will live with God forever, which, in the end, is just a Christianized version of Valhalla.

    This of course wasn’t the point of your article, and I apologize if it comes across as petty or tangential. However, I believe that it is such an important point that I speak out on it whenever I find it, because this subtle shift in meaning about our life goal as Christians can radically change the way we live out our vocation on earth. In fact, many Christians don’t even seem to realize that they have a vocation in Christ, and in place of it the sum total of their life’s focus becomes just trying to be a “good person” so that they can make it to heaven.

    In this association I think Opus Dei offers an opportunity to understand and live out such a vocation, and I am at this moment discerning joining Opus Dei myself.

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