Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Reflections on Opus Dei

I'm a pretty big Opus Dei fan and St. Jose Maria Escriva devotee as I'm Spanish and my parents were very loyal Generalissimo Franco supporters. My maternal grandfather was a Colonel in Franco's Nationalist Army. He was a very devout Catholic and life long participant in 24 Hour Eucharistic Adoration. As a child, my mother used to tell us stories of her father praying the Rosary while marching back and forth in front of the trenches his troops were in while trying to avoid Republican Air strikes and strafing. St. Escriva started his Obra de Dios or Work of God just before the civil war in 1930 and during the war 1936-39 cared for the victims of that horrendous Civil War. Just under 1 million people died in that conflict! Although the press and historians lump Franco into the same bag with Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin as a fascist dictator, he saved Spain. Had Franco and the Nationalist not been victorious Spain would have become communist and with the fall of the USSR, Spain might of been torn apart by ethnic differences like Yugoslavia was. As you know this might have been caused mostly by Basque and Catalan people. Franco stabilized Spain and allowed for economic development so that a middle class, previously almost nonexistent, flourished. A notable quote from Franco, a devout Catholic was "I am responsible only to God and history." Upon his death in 1975 a peaceful transition to a democracy took place because of his middle class legacy and the intelligent plan implemented by King Juan Carlos. I shudder to think what might have happened had Franco and his Nationalist movement not prevailed. It was under Franco's regime that St. Escriva and Opus Dei developed. While in Houston during my residency training a fellow resident was an Opus Dei lay member. He was a Numerary or a member of the Opus that pledges to remain celibate and generally live in Opus Dei houses. They commit their entire salaries to Opus Dei. They are the equivalent of Brothers or Nuns consecrated in the religious life but live and work in the community among secular peoples of all walks. They had a house on the campus of Rice University which was in walking distance from the Hospital at Baylor where I trained. He invited me to Opus functions including days of Recollection. I became familiar with some of Escriva's writings The Way, Furrow, The Forge, Christ is passing by, Friends of God,The Way of the Cross, Conversation among others. Very solid and Christ centered movement. My Spanish God father has a son who after graduating from medical school went to an Opus Dei seminary and became an Opus Dei Priest. He was a missionary priest in Kenya for 20 years before being reassigned to an Opus Community in Spain. My father and brother along with thousands of other Spaniards where in Rome in 2002 when St. Escriva was canonized.
More reflections on Opus Dei:
Early in his Preisthood while making a retreat in Madrid, the Holy Spirit revealed to St. Escriva his specific mission. He was to found Opus Dei, an institution within the Catholic Church dedicated to helping people in all walks of life to follow Christ, to seek holiness in their daily life and grow in love for God and their fellow men and women. From that moment on, he dedicated all his strength to fulfilling this mission, certain that God had raised up Opus Dei to serve the Church. In 1930, responding to a new illumination from God, he started Opus Dei's apostolic work with women, making clear that they had the same responsibility as men to serve society and the Church.
Opus members close to the Pope John Paul II include the Vatican's Spanish spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, and financial adviser Jose Angel Sanchez Asiain.
The pope, who shared the founder's vehement anti-communism, is said to be impressed with the Opus Dei's ability to inspire religious fervor and bring the faith into the everyday lives of Catholics.
The core of the movement is made up of "numeraries," about a third of the total membership. They are celibate and live in all male or female homes.
Some, like psychiatrist Rafi Santos, who lives with nine other professional women, donate their salaries to the cause. She works at an Opus-sponsored social aid organization and a private clinic, and also rises at the crack of dawn.
"My life is not all that different from that of any other professional. Maybe what's different is my motivation"
Aguilar, the school principal, lives with his family of eight children. He prays and attends Mass daily, having joined the movement at age 18 after visiting an Opus-sponsored youth center. "I was impressed by the cleanliness and the discipline," he said.
Opus Dei's has a reputation for elitism which started during the Franco era 1939-75. However Escriva's strategy or thinking was that a good way to change society was by attracting to the movement people who would become educated professionals. These people would go on to hold important post in government and influential positions in society. If these people had a strong spiritual life and a close relationship to Jesus then because of their position of prominence in society perhaps they could effect a positive change for the good of society. Because it evangilized educated people it was unfairly labeled as elitist. Many of the technocrats in Franco's later governments belonged to the movement, and are widely credited with helping bring about Spain's economic boom of the 1960s. Today, Opus Dei runs IESE, one of the nation's leading business schools; and the University of Navarra, which Escriva founded in 1952. Two of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's children went to Opus-run schools. Remember that Jose Maria Aznar was a stanch supporter of the US in the Iraq war and continues to support the US in his editorials. I think this speak well of the Opus Dei movement. Of course the press and the current ruling establishment in Spain and the Liberal segment of Catholic Church can't stand the Opus Dei and vilify it via rumors and innuendo.
Other Notable Spanish Opus members include Defense Minister Federico Trillio, Justice Minister Jose Maria Michavila, Attorney General Jesus Cardenal and former National Police Chief Juan Cotino.
As you know the Spanish Zapatero government is out of control with its support of Gay marriage and gay adoption of children. Judge a movement by its fruits and the Opus Dei has an abundance of good fruit. There are over 85,000 members in 62 countries and include married members with families, celibate lay individuals and 1,800 Priests. I prefer Aznar to Zapatero as I'm sure you do. Thanks for reading.


Blogger Hephaestion said...

Judge a movement by its fruits?
Then judge the gay movement by all the brilliant and loving people it has produced. Gay men and women have made and continue to make huge, positive contributions to the world, even while lunatics irrationally try to keep us from doing so. I guarantee you I am a better father than my straight siblings are; it is absurd to think that heterosexuality makes one a good parent. Gay parents have proven that in spite of active and constant discrimination against us, as well as constant dehumanization by all media, we are BETTER parents than straight people.

11:02 AM, May 18, 2005  
Anonymous antonio salgado nolasco said...

Don José María Michavila, gran jurista, hombre cabal. Fue un buen Ministro de Justicia.

3:56 AM, January 26, 2007  

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