Josemaría Escrivá Obras

How is Opus Dei organised?

Since, as I have just said, the vocation to the Work finds a man or a woman in his or her normal life, in the middle of their work, you can understand that Opus Dei is not built on the basis of committees, assemblies, meetings, etc. On occasion, to the surprise of some people, I have gone so far as to say that Opus Dei in this sense, is an 'unorganised organisation'. The majority of the members, practically all in fact, live in the same place as they would have lived had they not been members of Opus Dei: in their home, with their family, in the place where they work.

And it 's there precisely that each member of the Work finds the purpose of Opus Dei: to try to be holy, making his life a daily apostolate, which is ordinary, insignificant if you like, but persevering and divinely effective. That's the important thing. And to nourish this life of holiness and apostolate they receive from Opus Dei the spiritual help, advice and orientation they need. But only in the strictly spiritual sphere. In everything else — in their work, in their social relationships, etc. — they act as they wish, knowing that this is not neutral ground but material in which they can be sanctified and which itself can be sanctified and become a means of apostolate.

And so all live their own lives, with the relationships and obligations this entails, and they turn to the Work for spiritual help. This does call for a certain amount of structure, but always a very small amount. Everything is done to limit it to what is strictly indispensable. The Work does organise religious doctrinal formation, which lasts all one's life and leads one to an active, sincere and genuine piety and to an ardour which necessarily encourages constant, contemplative prayer and a personal and responsible apostolic activity, devoid of any kind of fanaticism.

In addition to this all the members know where they can find a priest of the Work with whom they can discuss matters of conscience. Some members, very few in comparison with the total number, live together to attend to the spiritual care of the others, or to conduct some apostolic activity. They form an ordinary home, just like any Christian family, and continue at the same time to work at their profession.

In each country there is a regional government, always collegial in character, headed by a Counsellor; and there is a central government in Rome made up of people of very different nationalities. Opus Dei has two Sections, one for men and one for women, which are absolutely independent, to the extent of forming two distinct associations, united only in the person of the President General.

I hope I have explained what I mean by 'unorganised organisation': we give priority to spirit over organisation and so the life of the members is not strait-jacketed by directives, plans and meetings. Each member goes his own way. What unites him to the others is a shared spirit and a shared desire for holiness and apostolate which accompany him as he strives to sanctify his own everyday life.

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