Inside Opus Dei Catholic

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Ben W, May 24, 2006.

  1. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Here is an interesting article on Opus Dei that may well be of interest to those that study the groups within the Catholic Church.


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    Inside Opus Dei

    The movie, The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks and based on Dan Brown's mega-million best seller, opens at Ulster cinemas this weekend. But is Opus Dei, which features heavily in the book, the dark and secretive sect Brown makes it out to be? Deborah Dundas talks to an Ulster member of the ultra-conservative Catholic organisation.
    19 May 2006

    A social misfit wearing a spiky leather strap around his thigh beats himself with a knotted rope. both draw blood that trickles down his back and legs. it is an intense ritual of mortification and his tolerance for the pain is alarmingly high.

    Meanwhile, misguided priest Bishop Aringarosa unleashes a chain of horrible events in his desire to keep Opus Dei in favour with the Vatican.

    Both are members of the ultra-conservative Catholic organisation Opus Dei, according to Dan Brown's best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code.

    And, reading about them, you would be forgiven for thinking that Opus Dei is a secretive, power-grabbing, monied group that confirms the darkest rumours about the Catholic Church.

    "It's grossly over-exaggerated," says Charles Tindal (69), who has been a member of Opus Dei for the last 45 years or so. He is a farmer in Donegal and co-ordinates Opus Dei activities in Londonderry.

    Despite all of the apparent negative publicity The Da Vinci Code has given the organisation, he says the book is also giving members an opportunity to come out and tell more about themselves.

    Opus Dei has about 86,000 members worldwide, 800 of them in Ireland. There are Opus Dei centres dotted across the island - in counties Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Meath. There is no centre in Northern Ireland, but there are members here.

    While the numbers may not seem that big, with its outreach activities, it's estimated that Opus Dei actually reaches millions of people, helping them to become more spiritual, and live more holy lives through organising retreats, conferences, youth groups and other activities.

    Like the majority of Opus Dei members, Tindal is an ordinary person with an ordinary life: he's a farmer and businessman, is married (to Rosemary) and has seven children and 12 grandchildren (none of whom belong to Opus Dei).

    What is unusual about him is that he has signed up to a lifelong commitment to Opus Dei, a commitment he describes as a vocation, demanding a lot of his time and a lot of self-discipline.

    "It involves being available for God in one's everyday life," he says.

    It also gives him "a great sense of happiness".

    Opus Dei was founded in 1928 by Spanish priest St Josemaria Escriva, who was beatified in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. He felt that all lives could be lived in a more holy way.

    Says Tindal: "He, like us all, was searching. He realised something was wrong because it wasn't necessary for lay people to be holy. But he felt that it was possible for everyone to be holy."

    Living that way, in Opus Dei terms, means imitating Jesus Christ in thoughts, feelings, words and deeds.

    It also means that any work can be made holy - what matters is the love that's put into it, not its perceived importance.

    It also means constantly striving to attain holiness.

    Tindal's call to Opus Dei occurred when he was in his early 20s. He had just finished two years' National Service in the Royal Marines. When that finished, he went into the management side of newspapers, first for the Daily Mail and then for The Economist, later moving into banking in the City.

    These were, he said, his "bachelor days", a time when he was living "a loose and easy life, but it wasn't satisfying". Like many young people, he says, he was searching for something.

    He grew up in a very Catholic family and was introduced to Opus Dei through a family friend. "That was in the early days of Opus Dei," he says, "and it was far from being elite."

    He was hooked from the first meeting - what is called a "formational circle".

    During the meeting, he says, "the hat was passed around and we all put in something for some old people we were going to visit."

    He continued going to the circles, which are held once a month or so, and where the members talk about spiritual issues like mass or guardian angels. When he realised he was ready for the lifelong commitment of Opus Dei, he was asked to write a letter saying he wanted to join. Then, he says, "there is a six-month cooling off period - that's very important. People can think it's something it's not."

    This is where the rumours come in, with people thinking that, perhaps, it's a high-powered group of people. Tindal denies this: "There are members who are very high-powered ? but it's a cross-section of society."

    The young, old, powerful and ordinary join Opus Dei in one of four levels of commitment: supernumerary (they can marry, have children, and lead otherwise normal lives); numerary and associate (who practise celibacy and do not marry); and priest (about 2% of male numeraries and associates are ordained).

    "All members, no matter what their level, have the same vocation," says Tindall. "The vocation is to live one's ordinary life - whether you're retired, a priest, a housewife or a student - and to do everything as well as possible. To do one's best."

    The mission to become more holy is reflected in every member's everyday life. "My day is much the same as anybody else's," says Tindal, "but I try to set aside periods during the day to talk to our Lord. I go to mass every day - which is getting slightly more difficult because of the shortage of priests."

    Just in case you're wondering, the cilice spoken of in The Da Vinci Code - the leather strap with barbs - is worn by some in Opus Dei, those who are numeraries and upwards. It's not a blood-letting gadget, rather it's worn in order to create discomfort so that the wearer can better understand the pain Jesus Christ suffered.

    Tindal does not wear one of these. But his devotion to becoming closer to Christ means that, along with attending mass every day, he sets aside half an hour in the morning and, again, later in the day to pray. In addition, there are meetings once a week with other members of Opus Dei, as well as others.

    "I have several friends who live in Derry," he adds. "We get together once a month and give a circle. It's a doctrinal circle - so there is commentary on the Gospel, and then we have a talk on a subject, last week it was 'prayer.'

    "We then take time and examine ourselves, and ask ourselves 18 questions - for example, Do I waste time? So we literally take a look at our lives. We take three to four points each month that we try to improve on.

    "Every six months there is a Day of Recollection, where a priest will give talks, and opportunities to go to confession. It's an opportunity to pray, to take another critical look at yourself and examine specifics.

    "For example, around Easter we were talking about small mortifications and the resurrection."

    He says that he "lives with the Lord" every minute of the day. In the way he conducts himself, for example, by engaging in small mortifications - things like smiling and being cheerful to people, even when he doesn't want to; or going to visit an elderly person when, really, it's the last thing in the world he wants to do that day.

    It's a way of living that appeals to a lot of people. Membership is growing and their work is bringing others into the fold. It seems to appeal to a more conservative trend within Catholicism that introduces more structure to one's life, requiring people to live life in a disciplined way.

    "Our work is very strong in certain parts of the world, says Tindal. "The bishops in Scandinavia, for example, asked us to come. It's a region where, traditionally, there are not a lot of Catholics. And now we're in Scandinavia, Norway and Finland."

    Being apostolic (spreading the word as the apostles did) is an important part of Opus Dei. Tindal says: "I would be interested in finding out about what people think about the important things of life: what are we going to make of our lives? Are we out for just a good time, money, or do we take things more seriously?"

    He quickly points out that, while living in this more holy way "would lead to looking more closely at one's life, having a more critical look" there is an emphasis on not becoming too introspective.

    Tindal adds:"We encourage a good sense of humour. And we try to understand that not everyone is like us."

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/features/story.jsp?story=691651
     
  2. Melanie

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    There are a number of Third Order communities within the RCC. The idea of a third order is for a devout laic person to undertake the life of an order within their social sphere but without vows.

    Therefore there is a third order of the Carmel, Franciscans etc.

    First order is that of the state of priesthood, the second order is of the professed religious as in brother (monk), nun etc.
     
  3. Joseph M. Smith

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    I have a friend -- actually she was on my church staff at one point -- who became Catholic, and Opus Dei, saying that she wanted and needed the certainty that it provided, not the "anything goes" style she perceived among Baptists. I don't agree with her assessment of Baptists, but notice that her testimony is in line with the one cited in the article. Some people need structure and do not feel that our tradition of "soul liberty" gives it to them.
     
  4. Eliyahu

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    This may sound a side issue, but I have been quite curious so far.

    I wonder where St Josemaria Escriva was staying after her death thru 2002, if one goes to the Heaven when she or he is canonized by Pope, according to the Catholic theory.
    Was she staying in the Purgatory because she was a laywoman in the meantime until she was canonized ? So, her destiny was changed by the Pope, the human being? I wonder why Pope doesn't grant the Saint-ship to Catholics as many as possible, so that they can go to Heaven without going to Purgatory.
     
  5. Glen Seeker

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    Eliyahu,

    1) Perhaps you don't read well, but the article said that Josemaria Escriva was a priest. (HE not SHE)

    2) Do you really think that one goes to heaven upon being cannonized by the Pope or are you just trying to mislead others into thinking that?
    Personally, I can't believe that you are that unknowing of what the declaration of sainthood in the RCC means.
     
  6. Eliyahu

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    Sorry to have misunderstood as the name Jose-Maria sounded like female.
    I don't believe that one goes to the Heaven just because he or she is canonized Saint by Pope.
    However, Some Catholics say that unless any Catholic is canonized as a Saint, she or he goes to the Purgatory for the purification.
    If the person is canonized as a Saint, she or he go to the Heaven directly. Do you agree to this or do you have another theory for the Purgatory?
    Where do you go after your death?

    My question was that when there is a gap between someone's death and the canonization, where do they stay?

    Do you believe in Purgatory theory?
     
  7. cbus

    cbus
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  8. cbus

    cbus
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    I believe that we arrive in Heaven in a very different spiritual state than we were at the moment of our death...meaning we leave all this petty baggage behind (animosity, bitterness, pride, etc.)In that sense, I do believe in a purgatory-like theory; however, I think it would be a mistake to attach a concept of place and time to it.
     
  9. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
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    cbus,
    Thanks. Your explanation may coincide with the doctrine of Catholic.
    The reason why I raise the question was because Catechism of RC in some other countries mention clearly that all believers who died in the grace and mercy of God except the saints should go to the Purgatory. I tried to find out such clause in English Catechism but in vain.
    I am not sure but even in other countries, the catechism may mean the same as your explanation.

    One more point from yours is that Pope's canonization may not coincide with the actual Saint-ships, because, as you said, the actual saints may be much more than those numbers who have been canonized.
    In other words, you have admitted that there is a gap between what RC and Pope have done and what God has been doing actually, right?

    We born again believers hear from God directly by the Holy Spirit, not via Popes or any clergy system.
    Therefore any organization like Opus Dei doesn't mean very much to the true believers.

    Bible says the Believers are the Saints ( 1 Cor 1:2).
    You say that Purgatory is not the place but a kind of state or status, which I hear often from Catholics. In any case, RC claims that they all will be in the state of Purgatory, not in the state of Paradise as the Robber at the Cross went there directly, moreover RC doesn't explain how long they have to spend the time in that state, which is painful condition of fire. Do you believe that you will spend a lot of time in the state of such torment with fire after your death?

    [ May 25, 2006, 10:27 AM: Message edited by: Eliyahu ]
     
  10. cbus

    cbus
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    Eliyahu,

    Thanks for your reply and questions. I just remembered this is an Opus Dei thread, so I don't want to get too off topic, but I would like to address your questions. Also, for the sake of full disclosure. I consider my personal beliefs to be influenced by all three major branches of Christianity (in no particular order, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Reformed).

    That being said...yes I do admit that there is a gap between what the RC and Pope has done, with respect to canonization, and what God has been doing. As I said earlier, canonization by the church simply recognizes what has already been done. It occurs after a lengthy investigation, which allows time for any unknown scandals to surface, and it also requires proof through miracles. The miracle part is the part that I'm not quite comfortable with, because it requires praying to them. I do not doubt that saints in Heaven pray, and I'm sure that they pray for us; I just don't feel comfortable praying to them. I'm sure they pray for us without us having to ask them personally.

    About purgatory. I believe that it is logical to assume that we are purified of our sinful nature before we enter Heaven. If not, we would have the same problems in Heaven that we have here on Earth. How this happens, I have no idea. I think the problem we run into is that we try to imagine Heavenly things in terms of the temporal, physical world that we see around us. It's like a fish in Lake Erie trying to contemplate Paris. Nothing in its experience that it could draw upon to even begin to imagine what Paris is like. The same is true for us when we try to imagine things like Heaven, hell, and purgatory (if it's proper to think of purgatory as a place).

    In your last question, you asked me if I believe that I will spend a lot of time in torment with fire after my death. I certainly hope not. All I believe is that I will enter Heaven purified from my sinful nature that I carry around here on earth. I do not know how this will happen.

    Finally, since this is an Opus Dei thread, I don't think Opus Dei members believe they receive any kind of special grace for being members. It's my understanding that it is simply a fellowship of people who are seeking holiness in their daily lives and they have come together to support each other in that endeavor. I don't understand some of the things they do, but I'm not going to knock them for trying.

    God Bless,
    Cbus
     
  11. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
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    cbus,

    Thanks for your answer.
    You are quite right about the subject of this thread and I would think about those matters in another opportunity.
    Thanks again.
    Eliyahu
     

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