Thank you for clarifying that point. I would like to ask you now what characteristics of the spiritual formation of the members make it impossible for anyone to derive any temporal advantage from belonging to Opus Dei?
Any advantage which is not exclusively spiritual is completely ruled out, because the Work demands a great deal detachment, sacrifice, self-denial, unceasing work in the service of souls and gives nothing.
Nothing, that is, in terms of material advantages, because in the spiritual sphere it gives very much. It offers the means to fight and win in the ascetical struggle. It leads one along ways of prayer. It teaches one to treat Jesus as a brother, to see God in all the circumstances of one's life, to see oneself as a son of God and therefore to feel committed to spreading His teaching.
Anyone who does not progress along the way of the interior life, to the extent of realising it is worthwhile to give oneself in everything, will find it impossible to persevere in Opus Dei, because holiness is not just a nice-sounding phrase to be bandied about. it is a very demanding affair.
And besides, Opus Dei has no activity with political, financial or ideological aims. It has no temporal action. Its only activities are the supernatural formation of its members and the works of apostolate in other words, the constant spiritual attention it gives to the members and the corporate apostolic undertakings in the area of social welfare, education, etc.
The members of Opus Dei have come together only for the purpose of following a clearly defined way of holiness and of cooperating in specific works of apostolate. What binds them together is something exclusively spiritual and therefore rules out all temporal interests, because in the temporal area all the members of Opus Dei are free and so each goes his own way, with aims and interests which are different and sometimes opposite.
Because the Work's aims are exclusively supernatural, its spirit is one of freedom, of love for the personal freedom of all men. And since this is a sincere love for freedom and not a mere theoretical statement, we love the necessary consequence of freedom which is pluralism. In Opus Dei pluralism is not simply tolerated. It is desired and loved, and in no way hindered. When I see among the members of the Work so many different ideas, such a variety of points of view in political, economic, social or cultural matters, I am overjoyed at the sight, because it is a sign that everything is being done for God, as it should be.
Spiritual unity is compatible with variety in temporal matters when extremism and intolerance are shunned and above all when people live up to the Faith and realise that men are united not so much by links of sympathy or mutual interest but above all by the action of the one Spirit, who in making us brothers of Christ is leading us towards God the Father.
A true Christian never thinks that unity in the Faith, fidelity to the teaching authority and tradition of the Church, and concern for the spreading of the saving message of Christ, run counter to the existence of variety in the attitudes of people as regards the things which God has left, as the phrase goes, to the free discussion of men. In fact, he is fully aware that this variety forms part of God's plan. It is something desired by God, who distributes His gifts and His lights as He wishes. The Christian should love other people and therefore respect opinions contrary to his own, and live in harmony and full brotherhood with people who do not think as he does.
Precisely because this is the spirit which the members of the Work have learnt, none of them would dream of using the fact that he belongs to Opus Dei to obtain any personal advantage or to try to impose his political or cultural opinions on others: they just wouldn't put up with it and they would ask him to change his attitude or leave the Work. This is a point on which no one in Opus Dei would ever permit the least deviation, because it is their duty to defend not only their own freedom but also the supernatural character of the activity to which they have dedicated their lives. That's why I think that personal freedom and responsibility are the best guarantee of the supernatural purpose of the Work of God.