Definition: A Catholic organization founded in 1928 that encourages the universal call to holiness in one’s chosen profession. The group is a “personal prelature” – a non-geographical group that is not subject to the authority of a local bishop. External secrecy and internal communalism are two characteristics of Opus Dei. The leaders (Numeraries) take vows of celibacy and usually have communal living arrangements. The lay members (Supernumeraries) may also commit to lifelong chastity. Priests who join the group enter as lay members, but may then be chosen as “priests within the priesthood” – an elite force not unlike the Army Rangers or Green Beret. The organization monitors the private lives of its members through the use of spiritual directors. As part of the pledge to holiness, personal corporal mortification may be performed – the abuse of one’s own body for the betterment of one’s soul.
Discussion: Elitism and secrecy are two marks of a cult. They lead to an unhealthy pride and a dangerous dependency on the leaders of the cult. Harsh treatment of the body and self-imposed religion has the appearance of wisdom, but is actually of no value against fleshly indulgence (Col. 2:23). Opus Dei appears to be a cult within the cultic structure of the Catholic Church – a super-cult.
Articles & Viewpoints:
- Info from Bill Jackson – Opus Dei