CHAPTER I


SECTS AND OPUS DEI


11. An Outrageous Usurpation



The name "Opus Dei" implies in its second noun, "Dei", as being produced or worked by God himself. This is how the Founder and his members interpret it.

As Moses met God to hear his will, so Escrivá heard within himself on October 2, 1928, God's desire that he should found "Opus Dei". Its basic concepts, its organization, its interior life, its aims, all of this, down to the smallest detail, corresponds, according to him, to God's will: therefore, it is divine. This is not a merely human matter or a matter of rational thought, but something unique and supernatural.

Moses heard the voice of God, who communicated to him his commandments, clearly outlined. Escrivá received something else, that is, a kind of general power. Everything that passes through his mind in execution of his assignment will have divine guarantee; it is unmistakably desired by God himself.

In this manner he assured his work since any hostile act towards it means a confrontation with God. Never in the history of the Church, not one Pope, not one saint, not even one heretic, has made such a claim.

As a parenthesis: it seems natural that in these almost divine circumstances Escrivá would demand that one remain on one's knees in his presence.

In our world it was God-Man who said of himself: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). Now we are presented with a Jew who says, de facto, the same thing about his person, copying and impudently usurping the venerable figure of Christ, since already he has become the way, the truth and the life, by a pretended commission. He says it and they believe it.

Can we imagine a worse blasphemy?

Is that not, moreover, a sign of the fierce and persistent struggle of Judaism against the Church of Christ?

And it is precisely the young people who are targeted by them because they are aware that youth has a desire for religion, altruism, a desire for spirituality. This is an asset gained on fertile ground.

This theological laboratory, full of religious fervor, arises from the need for transcendence that Opus Dei transforms, alchemically finding its philosopher's stone, into a desire for meditation, generating "complicated and even morbid" relationships with its followers. (123)

The popular imagination had circulated the joke that by comparing members of Opus Dei with flying saucers, he said: “Do you know what they call those in Opus Dei?” - “No” - "Well, the URO: Unidentified Religious Objects.” (124)

Dr. Alfonso Alvarez Villar, professor at the University of Madrid and head of the department of the Institute of Public Opinion, an expert in psychiatry and a psychologist, offers the following explanation about Opus Dei: (125)

“On an unconscious level, at some point in our lives the desire has arisen to 'tuck ourselves in' to a powerful organization that would make things easier for us, encourage us to promote ourselves culturally and professionally, and even defend us against that Spanish envy that makes a struggle of all against all. But then doubts arose and, above all, we asked ourselves if, after this protection, we were not going to give up a part of our freedom. I have spoken many times about the cryptoreligions. Opus Dei is undoubtedly a 'cryptoreligious' organization.”

“Moreover, its very name links it to these cryptic sects, since, as we know, "Opus Dei means Work of God"; that is, the members of this organization consider themselves representatives of God on Earth, as the Brothers of Perfection felt in Languedoc before, during, and after the persecutions of Simon de Montfort. Opus Dei, then, concentrates in itself all the forces of an everlasting dimension of man that I have defined with the term "enlightenism". Only here this enlightenism has drifted into one of the two forms that I distinguish: that of underground propagation. And here we should point out why a merely religious association becomes a powerful pressure group on the political, social, economic, and other levels. But this is not purely a matter of internal dialectics: cryptic enlightenment tends to realize what I also call "the myth of paradise. Its model can be, for example, the "New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse". The journalist Mario Rodríguez Aragón goes so far as to write that "in Torreciudad they are trying to establish a cryptoculture in concurrence with the Vatican".”
 
It is symptomatic to see how these sects flourish in Christian environments and that under no circumstances are they dedicated to the conversion of unbelievers, of infidels. They are like a vine around the tree. (126) They proliferate only in Christian environments and the more deeply rooted the Christian feeling in a given people or society, the more prone these sects are to act, even though in reality they are the antithesis of the Christian spirit.

One cannot serve two masters at the same time and one cannot claim that the ideals of Opus Dei are compatible with the Gospels. Lucia Jones wrote that “as a Catholic I detest Opus Dei for the simple reason that it seems to me to be a prostitution of Christianity and a focus of scandals.”

The member of the "Real Academia de la Lengua Española" ("Royal Academy of the Spanish Language"), the writer Juan Antonio de Zunzunegui, observes that “Opus Dei, to the simple souls of our consumer society, not only promises the salvation of their souls, but what is most attractive and immediate, the salvation of the body in the form of vey worldly and delightful advantages, positions, and tasty profits. What a delight! Opus Dei's insatiability for money is enough to make you tremble.” (128)

Bryan Wilson in his work on "The Sociology of Sects" published in B. Wilson's essay on Religion in Sociological Perspective, published in 1982 by the University of Oxford, analyzes a type of sect that presents the following characteristics. They tend: 1) to be exclusive; 2) to maintain a monopoly on complete religious truth; 3) to be secular, although they may develop a group of professional organizers; 4) to deny "special religious virtues" to all but perhaps their own founders and leaders; 5) to be "voluntary" - it is the individual who chooses to be a member; 6) to be concerned with maintaining standards, sanctioning the unfit and the unruly; and 7) to demand total loyalty.

In most of the above categories Opus Dei fits very easily. (129) It is exclusive on several levels, in its selective recruitment and in the secrecy surrounding it. It would be uncertain to say that it claims a monopoly on religious truth but its members are completely convinced that the interpretation of the Catholic faith to which they adhere is the only Orthodox version, as confirmed by Escrivá's exhortation to his faithful after Vatican II. That it is a lay organization is one of its proudest boasts although technically it is a prelature and is undoubtedly dominated by the Clergy. It is also one of its characteristics to depend almost entirely on the writings of its founder. It therefore fits neatly into the characteristic as stated by Dr. Wilson. The recruitment procedures, the internal discipline of Opus Dei, and the total commitment required of its members are in line with points 5) and 7).

For members of Opus Dei, their "salvation" is guaranteed by the "Father"/"Founder" when he promises his followers: "When the years go by, you will not believe what you have experienced. How many good and great and wonderful things you will see! I can assure you that you will be faithful, although sometimes you will have to suffer. Besides, I PROMISE YOU HEAVEN. (130)

According to the teachings of Opus Dei, in the Church, there can be mistakes; in the "Father", no. (131)


REFERENCES

123. Moncada, "Oral History of Opus Dei", p. 10.
124. Carandell, p 49.
125. Alfonso Álvarez in ""¿Por qué no es usted del Opus Dei?" ("Why Aren't You in Opus Dei"), pp 42-45.
126. "Cuadernos de realidades sociales", No. 35/36, p 32.
127 Lucia Jones, "Tiempo" magazine (25 August 1986).
128. Juan Antonio de Sunzunegui, in "¿Por qué no es usted del Opus Dei?" ("Why Aren't You in Opus Dei"), p. 215.
129. Walsh, p. 194.
130. Ibid, p. 198.
131 Moreno, "Opus Dei, anexo a una historia", p. 122.


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