Opus Dei is a little known secretive Catholic society brought to the spotlight by The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. With the book selling over 60 million copies and the movie opening with nearly 30 million dollars in ticket sales, bringing it to a different set of eyes, Opus Dei is getting more and more media. Many say it is a personal call from God to be an Opus Dei member, but what are the similarities and the differences between these members?
To join the Prelature and become a member of Opus Dei you must be Catholic, and must freely ask to be a part of this vocation. The request should be made in writing and should be accepted by Prelature authorities. After a minimum of six months, admission is granted.
After this admission and after a period of a year has passed, then the person can be temporarily accepted into the Prelature from a formal declaration of a contractual nature. This contract is renewed annually and in keeping with canon law, none will be juristically incorporated into the Prelature who are not 18 years. At the minimum of 23, or after five more years, the incorporation into the Prelature of Opus Dei can then become definitive.
Opus Dei Prelature members can be one of three types; an associate, a numerary or a supernumerary. Supernumeraries do not commit themselves to a life of celibacy like the associates and the numeraries.
While most Opus Dei members are indeed married they do try to sanctify their work in the home and in their job or career. They maintain a “youthful love”, receiving the children that the Lord sends them and transferring their faith to them via charity and life examples. Some members embrace celibacy in an effort of apostolic motives, as a gift from God.
Men and women have the same and equal dignity in Opus Dei. They are equally “called to live their faith fully”, as children of God. They are faithful to the Prelature in the same spirit and will promote very similar apostolates. They will work in the same professions and have the same drive to sanctify work and their family life. In Opus Dei Prelature, men and women will both equally discharge the same responsibilities of their government and the formation of the Prelature. Women are not looked at as lower or subservenient.
Membership in Opus Dei, according to their website, will take a “commitment to receive spiritual formation from Opus Dei and to participate in its mission”. Members keep their ordinary lives, living as a Catholic in everyday society, but spread the message of holiness and is described as a “supernatural vocation”. The members are joined by a contract rather than taking vows. They are normal everyday citizens and are free to join in the same social and political activities as any other Catholic in society. The will keep the same jobs as they had prior to joining Opus Dei and they will live in the same location and house. Nothing outwardly will chance after becoming a member of one of the most secretive sects of Catholicism, a sect that before the Da Vinci Code became a sensation no one but other Catholics knew about. They are a offshoot of traditional Catholicism that only includes around 3,000 members as apposed to the tens of million Catholics in society.
These joiners of Opus Dei choose to do their normal jobs and relationships in a way to grow closer to their God, to help others become closer to God, and to in themselves become a holier person. The stress is on the seeking of holiness instead of creating a special way to live and act. They are more natural in their striving for a better spiritual place for themselves. The faithful members of the Opus Dei do not hide the fact that they are members belonging to the Prelature. Their life will reflect this is all their doings.
Opus Dei members are committed to bettering themselves, others, and their community. They participate in apostolic formation and spiritual needs of the circumstances around them. Their philosophical and theological guidance is in accordance with the rules set down by the Catholic Church. Their lives rotate on the commitment of daily Mass, Holy Communion, reading of the Sacred Scripture, reciting the Rosary, Personal Prayer, and the use of the sacrament of Penance. It is said that they “embrace the Cross of Christ hidden in the challenges of daily life”.
The members of Opus Dei will have ongoing formation in the Catholic faith and pastoral care from the Prelature priests. The commitment to remain in Opus Dei is the aim of the member and to respects its norms. The membership and bond will end at the contract term, or can be terminated earlier if the person likes with the agreement of the authorities. This contract termination will end the rights and duties that exist bilaterally between the Prelature and the Opus Dei member.