THE HIDDEN LIFE OF
4. A Seer with Much Sight?
The Work's official hagiographer, Salvador Bernal, who has dived into,
and distorted, Escrivá's life without shame, has written his
biography in a
passionate, subjective and somewhat extreme way, evoking the words that
three months before the sudden death of the Work's Founder, during a
trivial scene, but which
is more the product of the subconscious than of the innocent man he
to present to us.
Escrivá said: "We passed by
(Luchana 33 mezzanine, DYA Academy) a
short while ago, and my heart was
pounding... How much suffering! How much contradiction! How much
quackery! How many lies!" (57)
And we underline three concepts that came
from the very lips of Escrivá: contradiction, quackery and lies.
If such were the beginnings, the origins, the roots... the Work and
Escrivá are fused into one because "The Work up to now has been
nothing other than the person of its founder. The divine inspiration of
his conception, its supernatural origin, its later development,
everything, because this is what Escrivá thought was
appropriate, the Work needed to be incarnated in his own personality,
human personality. The Work, until now, has been him and him alone".
years, that nebulous past, had to be covered with a
divine aura and a contract with the Most High, in order to impress the
believers. Escrivá had to follow the tradition of the biblical
or the founders of religions, he had to prefabricate an encounter with
God himself, from whom he would receive the order. A vision. An
apparition. That was the myth and the trigger.
To the question asked, "Where does
its huge halo come from, where does
its magnetism come from?" Alberto Moncada, who knew
Escrivá very well, says that "For
men of faith, Father Escrivá is
the one to whom, like Moses, God spoke. An internal story whispered
makes mention of apparitions, of divine messages that are
never fully explained. If parapsychology could be given the data,
perhaps we could have some idea of what really happened in those
stellar moments of his life. But neither science is yet mature nor do I
think it will be given that data." (59)
"The emotional charge with which
gullible people deal with the
supernatural makes demigods of the alleged emissaries of the divine to
point of making their clothes into talismans and their words into
"The only honest way for ordinary
people to contrast these
personalities is to judge their works, their fruits, their behavior
with the modest tools of the most universal ethics." (59)
There have been many interpretations, opinions, controversies about the
divine origin, the celestial message, the magic breath that served as a
trigger for the establishment of the Work through the person of its
author. For some the alpha
point was October 2, 1928 "while
making a spiritual exercise he saw
what God expected of him. He saw that our Lord was asking him to put
his whole life and all his energy at the service of what would become
Opus Dei". (60)
For a historian such as Artigles, "October
2, 1928, is
the date of the very beginning, the appointed day, which all the
publications of Opus Dei give as the starting point of the Work.
According to some of these publications, Escrivá was prompted to
Opus Dei by divine inspiration. On the contrary, hostile commentators
believe that the true origins of the Work, at least as we know it
today, were much later, probably in 1939, in the months following the
end of the Civil War. It should be noted that this latter opinion also
prevails among former members of Opus Dei who have separated from the
Other authors point to the scene in "October
2, 1928, when he
celebrated Mass - exactly after the consecration of the Host and the
Wine - Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer heard words from
heaven about what the Work had to be". (62) The supernatural origin
the revelation is once again stressed.
The version of the event
recounted by Jesuit Walsh places Escrivá near Madrid, in a
house owned by the Pauline Fathers, praying, when he "...saw the Opus Dei.
the same time he heard the bells ringing in the nearby Church of Our
Lady of the Angels, which celebrated the patronal feast, since October
2 is the day on which Catholics commemorate the feast of the Guardian
Angels. What really happened is not entirely clear. Some members of
Opus Dei want to believe that Escrivá had a heavenly vision, but
he himself does not claim that much." (63)
Many and very diverse have been the apparitions admitted by the Church.
In all of them, and for their official recognition, the Church has
demanded proofs, evidences, facts and concrete data, irrefutable
testimonies. The certainty between the supernatural and superstition
lies in the serious treatment of such delicate and controversial
subjects. Escrivá took it upon himself to spread and divulge the
image of the divine vision in order to relate it to the moment of the
foundation of his "invention". The unique reality is that the Catholic
Church has not officially or unofficially recognized the apparition,
nor the enlightenment because "there
is no proof". (64)
And there's no proof because it didn't happen, plain and simple. It is
another lie concocted under the cover of faith and the
spectacular effects produced by everything that is related to the
We provide an exceptional testimony, that of a friend of
Escrivá's when he was young, who tells us how "it is curious
that despite the great friendship he always offered me, he does not
talk to me in the initial year of 1928 about his great founding
project. Instead, around 1929, he tells me about creating an
association or congregation that was eminently youthful and
university-based, baptizing it in principle with the name of Caballeros
Blancos (White Knights). But never at that time, in spite of our great
friendship, did he tell me that on October 2 of the previous year,
while making a spiritual retreat in the Church of the Paúls on
Calle Gracia de Paredes in Madrid, he felt called 'to be on earth,' as
his biographer Salvador Bernal explains today, 'the instrument chosen
by God to carry out a divine undertaking of Opus Dei'". (65)
"The reality is that
Escrivá always refused to speak in an
absolutely clear way about that alleged event of October 2, 1928. But
the Prelate of Opus Dei at the time of this writing, Alvaro del
Portillo, said that the
young José María, while praying at his Paul's retreat,
'saw Opus Dei,' he said, 'and heard the bells' ringing in the
not-too-distant parish of
Our Lady of the Angels, near Cuatro Caminos, which were ringing in
celebration of their patroness." (65)
"When he spoke to me for the first
in the abstract about the 'Work' in 1931, and when someone asked him -
according to Salvador Bernal - 'how this Work of God is going', he
answered that he did not want what he was trying to do as an apostolate
to be called anything. And yet it was this question that he decided to
take as his name: 'Work of God', "Opus Dei', 'Operatio Dei', 'Work of
If the issue of divine revelation, which has never been recognized
in the Catholic Church, has been called into question, it has shown
that Opus Dei is trying to make a fable. A fable with something as
as the mystical vision of God. Claiming to receive the command and the
imperative directly from our Lord Jesus Christ, without it having taken
place and without the Church having had the least indication or
conviction to recognize it.
The denomination coined by the members of Opus Dei as 'the Work,'
"sounded somewhat provisional. It has
been suggested that its founder
once thought of calling it the Society for Intellectual Cooperation
Cooperación Intelectual) or
although nothing concrete came of this idea.
In Opus Dei, lies are made official. That false date of October 2 as
the fundamental date just as the false the intervention of God himself
presentation in the astral to Escrivá. "There is a prehistory of
Dei about which nothing, or very little, is known until the end of the
Civil War, but even if they - the members of
Opus Dei - know nothing about its beginnings, the exegetes and the
official workers of Opus Dei are about to create a whole
mythology, to build up and spread a golden legend around this birth and
its first mysterious uttering". (67)
Things are just as they are, and one
cannot go around deceiving the unwary.
For Moncada, the message that Escrivá confesses to having
received from on high - and which he tells the initiates in a veiled
manner - is a message of the influence of Christian doctrine in the
civil world. It was not something sporadic, casual, unexpected. "The
ardent priest of Barbastro knew very well what he was doing when, by
divine inspiration, he said,
he made a decision". (68)
Once again, Salvador Bernal, his most fanatical and feverish
biographer, betrays his unconscious when he writes, attributing the
reflection to a confidence from Escrivá himself: "What can a
that must fulfill a mission, if he has no means, no age, no science, no
virtues, no nothing? Go to his mother and father, go to those who can
do something, ask his friends for help...? That's what I did in the
spiritual life, but with discipline and carrying the compass". (69) And I would dare to say
square and the apron.
If the origin of the Work is manipulated with the aura of
divine revelation, and its hired spiritual killers institutionalized an
that never took place and was of late invention, such behavior must be
given the grave significance it deserves and that is
why one member confesses: "From the
sixties onwards, I saw no other
Gospel than The Way, and no other prophet than Josemaría
despite the fact that in "The Way
there is no
context! It is a doctrine, if one dares say so, a thought broken into
999 crazy pieces. A kaleidoscope ". (71)
It was not only
God that allegedly appeared. He also claims to have seen the
physiognomy of the devil, of the genuine demon, when suddenly, an
indescribable creature - a dwarf, a gnome - leaps across,
obstructs his path, gets tangled up between his legs, pushes him,
almost throws him down, injures him and finally throws this cry in his
" Donkey... Donkey!". And the
young priest replies: "Donkey, yes.
"The priest's name is
Josemaría Escrivá. He told this
story to his
friends some time ago. According to him, the creature that pushed and
insulted him was the devil. Was this irruption in his path a sign of
God's favor or the devil's anger?" (72) The visionary had a lot
57. Bernal, p 175.
58. Moreno, "Opus Dei, anexo a una
historia" ("Opus Dei, Addendum to a
History"), 1976, p 16.
59. Moncada, "El Opus Dei: Una
interpretación" ("Opus Dei: An Interpretation"), p.
60. Le Tourneau, pp 12-13.
61. Artigues, op cit.
62. Ynfante, "La prodigiosa aventura
del Opus Dei" ("The Prodigious Adventure of Opus Dei"), p. 12.
63. Walsh, p 30.
64. Magaña, p. 16.
65. Cavanillas, op cit.
66. Walsh, p 11.
67. Le Vaillant, p 14.
68. Fernando García Romanillos, "La cara oculta del Opus" ("The
Hidden Face of Opus"), History
No. 6 (September 1975).
69. Bernal, p. 45.
70. Moncada, "Historia oral del Opus
Dei" ("Oral History of Opus Dei"), p. 126.
71. Le Vaillant, p. 18.
72. Ibid, p. 9.
Index of Chapter II