1. ¿What is the spirit of opus dei? Since it was founded in 1928, Opus Dei has spread that all the baptized are called to holiness, through the fulfillment of their work and their daily duties. “An essential characteristic of the spirit of Opus Dei is that it does not take anyone out of his place. Rather it leads each person to fulfill the tasks and duties of his own state, of his mission in the Church and in society, with the greatest possible perfection”. The following are some of the main features of the spirit of Opus Dei:
2. Divine filiation.- The Christian is a child of God by virtue of baptism. This basic truth of Christianity occupies a fundamental place within the spirit of Opus Dei. As the founder said: “Divine filiation is the foundation of the spirit of Opus Dei.” Thus the Opus Dei fosters confidence in providence, simplicity in their dialogue with God, a deeper awareness of the dignity of each human being and of the need for fraternity among all people, a Christian love for the world and for all human realities created by God, and a sense of calm and optimism.
3. Ordinary life.- The Christian can seek holiness in and through the ordinary circumstances of life. In the words of the founder of Opus Dei: “Ordinary life can be holy and full of God”. “Our Lord is calling us to sanctify the ordinary tasks of every day, for the perfection of the Christian is to be found precisely there.” Consequences:
- The little things take on great importance. “Great holiness consists in carrying out the little duties of each moment”, wrote the founder of Opus Dei. Examples: small acts of service, good manners, respect for others, tidiness, punctuality, etc. These little things are not irrelevant to Christian life if they are carried out for the love of God.
- For the majority of Christians, marriage and the family are among the things upon which sanctity should be built. “For a Christian, marriage is not just a social institution, much less a mere remedy for human weakness. It is a supernatural calling.”
- Sanctifying work.
4. Sanctifying work.- The sanctification of work is like a hinge on which the spiritual life of the Christian turns. Sanctifying work means carrying it out with the greatest possible human perfection (professional competence) and Christian perfection (for love of God and as a service to humanity).
According to the spirit of Opus Dei, work can be sanctified and turned into a path of sanctification. “Since Christ took it into his hands, work has become for us a redeemed and redemptive reality; not only is it the background of man’s life, it is a means and a path of holiness, it is something to be sanctified and something which sanctifies.” Any honest job, can be an occasion for giving glory to God and for serving others.
“It is we ordinary Christians immersed in the blood-stream of society, whom Our Lord wants to be saints and apostles, in the very midst of our ordinary work; that is, sanctifying our job in life, sanctifying ourselves in it, and through it helping others to sanctify themselves as well.”
5. Freedom.- The members of Opus Dei are ordinary citizens who enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same obligations as any other citizen. In their political, financial or cultural activities, they act with freedom and personal responsibility, not attempting to involve the Church or Opus Dei in their decisions, nor presenting their decisions as the only Catholic solutions. This implies respecting the freedom and the opinions of others.
6. Prayer and sacrifice.- The spirit of Opus Dei encourages prayer and sacrifice in order to sustain the effort to sanctify one’s ordinary occupations. The faithful of the prelature strive to incorporate into their lives: prayer, daily Mass, sacramental confession, and reading and meditating on the Gospel, devotion to Our Lady, etc. Also, to imitate Jesus Christ, they make sacrifices, particularly those that help them fulfill their duties and make life pleasant for others.
7. Charity and apostolate.- The members of Opus Dei try to bear witness to their Christian faith. In the words of the founder: “As we work at our job, side by side with our colleagues, friends and relatives and share their interests, we can help them come closer to Christ.” Eagerness to make Christ known is inseparable from the desire to contribute to resolving the material needs and social problems of one’s surroundings.
8. Unity of life.- Friendship with God, ordinary day-to-day life, and the effort to evangelize are all harmoniously fused into a “strong and simple unity of life.” “Unity of life” was an expression frequently used by the founder of Opus Dei. The Christians not live “a kind of double life. On the one hand, an interior life, a life of union with God; and on the other, a separate and distinct professional, social and family life.” “There is just one life, made of flesh and spirit. And it is this life which has to become, in both soul and body, holy and filled with God.