9. Jesuit influences in Opus Dei

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Escriva received a Jesuit influence through a double bond. His initial confessor from whom he received "the first stimulus for the construction of the Work was given to José María by a member of the Society of Jesus", (186) Father Valentín Sánchez. The relationship between the young Escrivá and his spiritual advisor, the Jesuit Father Sánchez, was at first intimate, cordial, fluid, and in full rapport. From Father Sanchez he would receive advice and teaching that he would never forget. The friendship between the confessor and the priest lasted until 1940, when there was "a stormy encounter, after Father Sánchez read the documentation that Escrivá intended to submit to the bishop's study, and he harshly criticized some articles of the Statutes and dismissed Escrivá unfriendly.  (187) That year Escrivá changed his confessor, from Sánchez to Portillo.

The second link of inspiration for Escrivá that he received from the Jesuits was the discovery of a text first published in Paderbon, in Westphalia in 1661, known as Monita Secreta, which contains the secret instructions of the Jesuits. It was one of his favourite texts, he knew it very well, he studied it, he devoured it, he was inspired by it. One might think that the two books that most decisively shaped Escrivá's will in the annals before the foundation of Opus Dei were Jacob Brafmann's The Book of the Kahal and the Jesuits' Secret Monk.

Many volumes have been written about the Jesuits, but perhaps an exhaustive study of the Jewish concomitances within the Society of Jesus has yet to be written; Julio Caro Baroja in the second volume of his work Los judíos en España, writes "It is known that in the 17th century the children of the converts and even Judaists often studied with the Jesuits in the various cities where the latter had schools and that they produced men who on the one hand had a solid Talmudic education and on the other hand had a profound scholastic knowledge, like Isaac Cardoso, the apologist of Israel. (188)

The famous anthropologist continues to tell us how "between Jesuits and Jews there were hidden and close relations and that in short, the so-called Jesuit morality was a Talmudic morality". (189)

It should not be forgotten that according to Father Miguel Marcos - back in 1593 - of the 27 Jesuits who had signed memorials against the current organization of the Society, no less than 25 were new Christians, including Acosta, nor, in this regard, should it go unnoticed that the second "Black Pope", the "General of the Society of Jesus" after Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Father Laínez, was of Jewish race.

From the Jesuits Escriva took the pattern for his work by wanting to create in his likeness a passive and obedient instrument that would spread throughout the world for his rule, that like the Jesuits, in his future organization all its members would walk at the voice of his command, like disciplined soldiers.

For Escrivá it was a great revelation to learn about the primer, known only to the superior members of the Jesuit order, and this after ensuring that nothing of its contents would be communicated to anyone and that it would be renounced if it suited the Society, called the Secret Monk.

The manual of the secret instructions was never printed, it was a manuscript and was found, by profane hands, for the first time in Paris, in the Jesuit convent, written by the hand of the scholar Brothier, who was the librarian of the Society. Its text is entirely consistent with the one that would later be found in the Ruremonde house in Belgium and that was deposited at the Court of Justice in Brussels when the Jesuits were expelled from the country... The unity of the text of these secret instructions, known only to the principal members of the Society, removes any doubt as to their authenticity. Ch. Sauvestre would publish in France, in 1861, an edition of the Monite Secréte with very interesting and curious comments.

In Spain it was first published as an appendix to the Historia resumida de la Compañía de Jesús written by Fernando Garrido and published in 1880.

In the Library of Rio de Janeiro there is a manuscript copy that was found in the school of the parents of the Society of Jesus when they were arrested in 1720.

The definitive wording is attributed to Father Claudio Aquaviva, fourth General of the Jesuits and reformer of the Society based on the recommendations received from his predecessors.

These instructions were possibly a source of inspiration and an invaluable tool in Escriva's hands. Let us select some of the provisions that are applied and taught in Opus Dei:

To seek the benevolence, mainly of ecclesiastics and lay people in authority, that they may one day need.

- That all seem to be inspired by the same spirit and that they learn to have the same manners.

- Let them buy property in the name of faithful friends who lend only their name and who keep the secret. In order that our poverty may be better seen, it is good that the lands held by any school be in the name of others who are far away, thus preventing princes and magistrates from knowing how much the income of society is.

- Let our people only go around the rich cities with the intention of residing there.

- The old widows must be made aware of our extreme poverty in order to get as much money as possible out of them.

- Let only the provincial know how much our income is; but let the sum of the Society's treasure in Rome be a sacred mystery.

- We must devote our efforts to win over the courage and the sympathy of the princes and the most important people so that no one will dare to go against us.

- The sympathy of the princesses will be won through their wills and maids; for this it is necessary to obtain their friendship, which is the means to enter everywhere and to get to know the most secret business of the families.

- Let ours get from the Bishops the government of the churches and let the parishioners be subject to the Society, which will get from them all that it can.

- The prelates are to be influenced when it comes to the beatification or canonization of our people.

- Let our prelates guide princes and illustrious men in such a way as to make it seem that they tend only to the greater glory of God and to austerity of conscience.

- Let the princes and those in authority believe that our Society contains the perfection of all the other orders, except chant and exterior austerity, in its manner of living and working.

Ways of conquering rich widows:

-Provide them with a confessor who will direct them so that they maintain their state of widowhood, affirming to them that in this way they will have eternal merit and an effective means of avoiding the penalties of purgatory.

-To keep them away from the conversations and visits of those who seek them.

- To set aside servants who are not in good standing with the Society, recommending that they be replaced by individuals who depend or wish to depend on ours to inform us of what is going on in the family.

- The confessor must have in view no other objective than to induce the widow to follow him in all his advice, showing her, when he has the occasion, that this obedience is the only condition for her spiritual perfection.

- He has to advise her on the frequent use of penance wherein she discovers her most secret thoughts and temptations.

- The widow must be induced to make donations, skillfully taking advantage of her spiritual disposition.

- They are not to be treated with too much rigor in confession so that they do not hate it: inasmuch as their sympathy could be lost.

- They are to be skillfully prevented from visiting other churches or attending other religious feasts, repeating often that all indulgences granted to other orders are accumulated in our Society.

- The widow must be made to dispose of her income in favor of our Society, so that she may become a saint and be given the hope of being canonized if she persists to the end.

- If she does not give all her possessions during her lifetime, she should be given the opportunity, especially when she is ill or in danger of death, to remind her of the poverty of our schools and of the many schools which are about to be founded, by inducing her, gently but strongly, to contribute to these expenses if she wants to enter into eternal glory.

- When something is offered to us, the opportunity to receive it will not be wasted.

- What was said about widows is useful for merchants, for rich married people without children, of whom the Society will be heir if the means indicated are used prudently.

- Devout persons who ardently aspire to perfection are to be induced to donate all their goods to the Society, in order to achieve supreme perfection.

- Even if with prudence, one has to instill fear of hell, or at least of purgatory, by making them aware that, just as water extinguishes fire, almsgiving extinguishes sin.

- Those who have scruples about acquiring goods and wealth for the Society should be expelled from our Society.

How to proceed with those expelled from the Society:

- Before expelling them, oblige them to promise in writing and to swear that they will not say or write anything to the detriment of the Society. The Superiors will keep their bad inclinations, defects, and vices, which they have confessed in the name of conscience, in accordance with the custom of the Society, and will make use of them, if necessary, by revealing them to the elders and to the prelates.

- They should write to all the colleges announcing the expulsions, exaggerating the reasons for them, preventing them from having any connection with them, saying everywhere that the Society does not expel any person without powerful reasons, just as dead bodies are thrown into the sea.

- The domestic exhortations will try to convince all members that the expelled are unstable individuals, exaggerating the misfortunes of those who will perish miserably by leaving the Society.

- When any unworthy and reprehensible fact of their conduct is discovered, it should be disclosed . Both those expelled and especially those who voluntarily leave the Society must be completely annulled.

- Great care must be taken in choosing men who are talented, handsome and noble, or who excel.

- They must be made to understand that it is only by special grace of Providence that they are chosen among so many who attend the school.

- In exhortations, they are to be censured by threatening them with eternal damnation if they do not obey the divine vocation.

- They are to be effectively warned not to reveal their vocation to any of their friends, not even to their parents, before being admitted...

In this selection we see how Escriva plagiarized, literally copied, enforced and consummated the Instructions he had learned in his Secret Monk's Manual. Without this text it would have been difficult for him to start Opus Dei.


186. Ricci, Marina, "30 Days" Magazine, No. 5 (May 1990), p 16.
187. Ibid, p 17.
188. Caro Baroja, "The Jews in Spain", Vol II, p 252.
189. Ibid, p 253.
        Rene Fulop Miller, "The Power and the Secret of the Jesuits", pp 216-221
        S. Pey Ordeix, "Jesuits and Jews before the Republic".

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