Opus Dei

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Ok guys you knew it was coming! What is the deal with Opus Dei? They seem to be a great asset to the Church but some of their practices are less than admirable… Why do they practice corporal mortification and other strange things? Should they be investigated for thought reform practices and dismantled by the Church?
I wish I knew more about Opus Dei but I would begin by saying that corporal mortification is not a “strange thing.” Well, it is “strange” in our society but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Br. Dan
Indeed, Our Lady of Fatima told the three children that we should practice self-mortification for the conversion of hearts. Jacinta and Francisco, two of the children wore these cords right up until they were about to die. Only then did they take them off: like a true follower of Christ, they did not want to make a public display of their acts of piety.

As for Opus Dei, I know very little about it. All I know is that the recent “DaVinci Code” hysteria has portrayed the organization in a very bad light. I tried to do some research on it, but found only negative things, most of which came from less-than-credible sources.

I tend to brush criticism of Opus Dei off without many second thoughts. There are always conspiracy theorists who think that every private, closed-mouth organization is plotting some mischievious deed. If someone can prove me wrong, be my guest.

Expose the Illuminati! ;p
For about 400 years the Jesuits were the boogey men of the Catholic Church for many outside and inside the Church, until their
reputation for fidelity to Church and Pope seemed to self destruct
in the past thirty years. Now Opus Dei gets all the bad press and conspiracy theories. Go figure.
Corporal mortification has been practiced by many religious orders throughout the centuries, although it is often a foreign concept to the modern mind.

To get the true facts on Opus Dei, a good place to start would be their own website at opusdei.org/

Jim G
Is not one’s body the temple of the Holy Spirit? Should we then desecrate the temple of the holy Spirit?
As others have stated Corporal mortification is a part of our Catholic heritage. I’ve read of many Saints that practiced it. It does take alot of different forms some very mild. Sleeping on bare floors, hair shirts, and of course extreme fasting. I think it’s something to be done only by those that have become very intuned to their relation with God.

Oh and BTW if that piece of rubbish book Da Vinci code attacks Opus Dei, then there must be something good and holy about it.
Nucatholic, you wrote:

“some of their practices are less than admirable… Why do they practice corporal mortification and other strange things?”

What practices are these and what is your understanding of them? Your source for this understanding?

What other strange things?

As far as I understand it, corporal mortification is voluntary and permission has to be obtained for it. The Jesuits and other religious orders, not so very long ago practiced corporal mortification.

Corporal mortification is “the practice of Christian asceticism in order to overcome sin and master one’s sinful tendencies, and through penance and austerity to strengthen the will in the practice of virtue and grow in the likeness of Christ.” Pocket Catholic Dictionary - Fr John A. Hardon, S.J.

I don’t know about you but I think it is a good idea to deny oneself in order to grow in the likeness of Christ. Some things I do are: no computer until all housework is done, delay having something to eat when I feel hungry,for 10 minutes etc I offer these things to God through the sufferings of Jesus.

Corporal mortification is part of our society. The footballer who trains in order to become fit, the young person who restricts the amount of food she eats in order to become fashionably thin, the jockey who fasts and wastes in a sauna so that he can ride a particular horse, the gymnast who trains and fasts in order to be able to compete. These people are all practising corporal mortification as a part of their training regimes but not for supernatural motives.

Those of us who believe that the most important goal in our lives is to reach heaven practise a range of corporal mortifications in order to become spiritually fit. If we can develop the self control to say “no” to little things e.g. the second piece of chocolate, in time we will strengthen our wills and develop self mastery so that we can say " no" to a bigger temptation e.g. sexual sin. Corporal mortification is a small part of a training regime which would include Mass, prayer, adoration, the Rosary etc.

🙂 Yin
Some of you have said that you wish to know more about Opus Dei. Here’s what I can tell you:

Opus Dei is the only personal prelature of the Church, meaning that it’s basically a diocese without geographic boundaries.

The basic message of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, is that we are all called to be saints, and all of us can strive toward holiness by means of the ordinary situations in life. Whatever your occupation–office worker, construction worker, stay-at-home mom, whatever–you can use the mundane details of everyday life to sanctify yourself and the world. Opus Dei puts a heavy emphasis on sanctity (by means of the sacraments, spiritual direction, and lots of prayer) and apostolate (bringing other people to God and bringing God to other people).

I’d be happy to answer any other questions about “the Work.”
Hello- St Josemaria’s feast day is Saturday, June 26th. If you would like to know more about Opus Dei, attend a mass celebration. There are many going on throughout North America and www.opusdei.org would be happy to let you know where the closest feast day mass is near you.
baltobetsy beat me to it! Matt’s a great guy, good Catholic, and his Unofficial Opus Dei Faq is well-written and covers most of the basics.

I don’t need to join Opus Dei as I have already received my Fifth Degree in the Knights and have achieved the rank of “Jesuit Assassin.” 😃
Obviously some have already commented on this, but I just read the Davinci Code, in order to be able to answer objections that come out of it.

This has been addressed in other responses, but the DC puts both the RCC and coporal mortification in a very negative light. It gives very little accurate explanation of either. In fact it is quite misleading. The description of mortification implies that the severe method that Silas (the character in the book that practices it) is commonplace and expected.

I would recommend reading this book, just to be able to answer these questions, to help people from being lead away from Truth. But certainly research afterward and get the real facts, because there are only about 2 facts in that book.

Pardon me for quoting an anti-Catholic philosopher, but Fredrich Nietzsche said, “What does not kill you makes you stronger”. Lifting weights is painful, but we become stronger by doing it. Every saint began by making small sacrifices, and only then were they prepared for the greatest ones.

Pain itself is a bad thing. It is through our suffering that we are purified. Are we desecrating the temple of the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus desecrate the temple of the Holy Spirit when He sacrificed Himself for the sake of the world? Of course not.
Thanks for responding and trying to explain some of the reasoning behind Opus Dei’s practices. I am reading the Da Vinci Code and I am finding that it is quite ridiculous in its claims and supposed “historical accuracy.” However, as a former protestant on my way home to Rome, I am trying to learn as much as possible about Catholicism. I do believe the RCC to be the true Church founded by Christ. The Da Vinci Code seems to me to be a covert form of leading many uninformed people astray from the faith. Of course we all know that knowledge through Gnosticism will lead to paradise…(sarcastic in case some didn’t pick up on that.) Once again thanks and keep posting if anyone has any more facts or comments!
Here is a link to a set of frequently asked questions about Opus Dei, written by a friend of mine who was a member for many years. I find it to be very balanced and fair.


One observation. Matt was only a SuperNumerary, that is,
he didn’t live in a OD community and was not in the inner sanctum.
of the group I would like to hear what former full members ( Numeraries ) and associates
think. Perhaps this website is worth your scrutiny.

Scott Waddell:
I wouldn’t trust that ODAN site one bit.

Me either, Scott. I’ve looked carefully at that website, and found it to be driven by the very bad experience of one or two people. Opus Dei has 80,000 members; if things were really as bad as they say on the ODAN site, there would be many more people participating. Opus Dei is a human institution, and, as such, is subject to the errors and sins of its members. Occasionally, bad things will happen, but we should not make generalizations as a result. Also, these people seem so angry that they may not be speaking entirely objectively.

Matt’s being a Supernumerary does not detract from his ability to speak about Opus Dei. The vast majority of members are Supernumeraries - this is where the rubber meets the road. Numeraries are indeed the inner circle, but there are proportionately so few of them, and their vocation is so specialized that you cannot draw conclusions about the whole organization based on the realities of Numerary life. Most people are not called to the Numerary vocation. Those who are, like those called to the priesthood or the cloister, live a different life from those who are not. This is not bad or weird, just different.

I have known Opus Dei since 1977, having briefly tried out a vocation as an Associate, and finding that this was not what God was calling me to. I want to make it clear that I did NOT leave because of anything wrong with the Work, but because I did not have the vocation. I left on good terms and have been a Cooperator since 1980. The formation I have received has been most valuable, and the spiritual direction I continue to receive from an Opus Dei priest is serving me very well.

I think Opus Dei is great! I want to join, but the closest council is in Miami, and I’m just south of Tampa.

St. Escriva has some great writings. One that I read frequently is “The Way”. Check it out here: escrivaworks.org/book/the_way/contents

999 points to ponder.
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