Josemaría Escrivá Obras

You have occasionally referred to Opus Dei as 'organised unorganisation'. What exactly do you mean by this?

I mean that in our apostolate we give primary and fundamental importance to the spontaneity of the individual, to free and responsible initiative guided by the action of the Spirit, and not to organisational structures and tactics imposed from above, from the seat of government.

There is obviously a minimum of organisation, with a central government, which always acts collegially and has its seat in Rome, and regional governments which are also collegiate, each headed by a Counsellor. But all the activity of these organisms is directed fundamentally to one task: to provide the members with the spiritual assistance necessary for their life of piety, and an adequate spiritual, doctrinal, religious and human formation. And then, off you go! That is to say, Christians, sanctify all the paths of men, for all bear the imprint of the footsteps of God.

Having reached this point, the Association as such has done its job, the job precisely for which the members of Opus Dei have come together. The Association has nothing else to do. It neither can, nor should it, give any further indications. Here begins the free and responsible, personal action of each member. Each one does his apostolate on his own initiative, working with complete personal freedom. Autonomously forming his own conscience before the concrete decisions he has to take, he endeavours to seek Christian perfection and to give Christian witness in his own environment, sanctifying his own work. whether it be professional, intellectual or manual. Naturally, as each one makes decisions autonomously in his secular life, in the temporal realities in which he moves, there will often be different options, criteria and ways of acting. We have, in a word, that blessed 'unorganisation', that just and necessary pluralism, which is an essential characteristic of good spirit in Opus Dei, and which has always seemed to me the only just and orderly way to conceive the apostolate of the laity.

I will add that this 'organised unorganisation' appears even in the corporate works of apostolate which Opus Dei directs as an association, with the desire of contributing to resolve in a Christian way the problems which affect the community of each country. These activities and initiatives of the Association are always of a directly apostolic nature. They are educational or social welfare activities. But it is precisely our spirit to see that these initiatives should not come from above. And since the circumstances, needs and possibilities of each nation or social group are unique, the central government of the Work leaves to the regional governments practically total autonomy. It is their responsibility to decide, foster and organise the concrete apostolic activities which they consider most appropriate, a university centre, a residence for students, a welfare centre or an agricultural college for farm workers. The logical result is that we have a multicoloured and varied mosaic of activities, a mosaic which is 'organisedly unorganised'.

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