Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Some people, precisely because of the presence of laymen of Opus Dei in influential positions in Spanish society, speak of the influence of Opus Dei in Spain. Can you explain what this influence is?

I dislike intensely anything that might sound like 'blowing one's own trumpet'. But I think it would not be humility but blindness and ingratitude to the Lord, who so generously blesses our work, if we did not recognise that Opus Dei has a real influence on the life of Spain. It is logical that in those countries where we have been working for quite a few years — and the Work has been in Spain for thirty-nine years, because it was God's will that our Association should be born to the life of the Church in Spain — the influence of Opus Dei should already have had a noticeable social impact which reflects the progressive development of our apostolate.

How is this influence felt? Obviously, since Opus Dei is an Association with spiritual and apostolic aims, the nature of its influence — in Spain as in the other countries, spread over the five continents, in which we are working — can be none other than spiritual and apostolic. Opus Dei's influence in civil society is not of a temporal nature (social, political or economic); though it is reflected in the ethical aspects of human activities. Like the influence of the Church itself, the soul of the world, it belongs to a different and higher order and is expressed precisely by the word 'sanctification'.

This leads us to the subject of the members of Opus Dei whom you call influential. In an association whose aim is political, those members will be 'influential' who occupy positions in parliament or in government, in the Council of Ministers, in the Cabinet. In a cultural association, the 'influential' members will be philosophers of renown, or authors of national reputation, etc. But if, as in the case of Opus Dei, the Association seeks the sanctification of men's ordinary work, be it manual or intellectual, it is obvious that all of its members have to be considered influential because all of them work, and in Opus Dei the general duty of man to work carries with it special disciplinary and ascetical significance. All of them endeavour to do their work, whatever it may be, in a holy, Christian manner, with a desire for perfection. For me, therefore, the witness which a son of mine who is a miner gives among his companions is as influential as important and necessary, as that of a vice-chancellor of a university among the other members of the academic body.

Where, then, lies the influence of Opus Dei? The answer is easily found when we consider the sociological fact that people of all classes, professions, ages and states of life, belong to our Association; men and women, clergy and laity, old and young, celibate and married people, university men, industrial and agricultural workers, clerks, members of the professions, people who work in official institutions, and so on. Have you considered the great power of spreading Christianity represented by such a broad and varied spectrum of people; especially if they are counted in tens of thousands and are animated, with the same apostolic spirit, to sanctify their profession or job, regardless of differences of social environment, to sanctify themselves in that work and sanctify with that work?

To this personal apostolic work should be added the growth of our corporate works of apostolate: student residences, conference centres, the University of Navarra, training centres for skilled and unskilled workers, technical institutes, schools, secretarial colleges, home management schools, etc. These centres are undoubtedly sources which project the Christian view of life. Managed by laymen, directed as professional activities by lay citizens who are the same as their colleagues at work, and open to people of all classes and conditions, these centres have made many sectors of society appreciate the need of offering a Christian solution to the problems which arise in the exercise of their profession or job.

All of this gives Opus Dei prominence and significance in society not the fact that some of its members occupy positions of human influence. This does not interest us in the least, and is left therefore to the free decision and responsibly of each member. What interests us is that all the members (and the goodness of God is such that there are many) carry out tasks of which even the most humble are divinely influential.

This is quite logical. Who would say that the influence of the Church in the United States began on the day that a Catholic, John Kennedy, was elected President?

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