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Monday, October 03, 2005

Opus Dei: Two Reviews

Here's an interesting review by Christopher Howse of John Allen's "Opus Dei: secrets and power inside the Catholic Church". I haven't read the book, but I attended an Opus Dei study center for a few years back in college. I had a spiritual adviser, we had small-group discussions and catechism, and we had meditation and benediction every Saturday. I do recall some personal issues which led me out of the study center after college, but I wasn't actually "feeling damaged." In fact, I'd kept most of my study tools, most especially that tiny book of reflections, The Way. But it would be years before I'd come to realize that it wasn't the message of Opus Dei that bothered me. In fact, their message is uplifting because it is a message of hope and challenge. But in confronting myself as I was challenged to, I was doing so without joy, and that was my fault. I often lock on to certain aspects of things and forget the rest. But there is this simple joy that one should never lose if one is truly aware of one's self and the love that God bears for the least of his children. It's amusing to think that my spiritual director in this supposedly dark and negative organization was laboring at instilling the hope and joy of Christ in me. As it turns out, I did leave, and my "solution" then to lift that oppressive feeling was to avoid confrontating myself. Therein lies the source of my spiritual immaturity. I realize now that I have been letting this fear stunt my spiritual growth. For example, in the middle of reading St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, I found myself unable to continue at that point where he challenges the reader to confront the sinfulness of his entire life. It was sufficiently daunting that I haven't so far been able to go through the exercise. That was two years ago. Well, one has to grow up sometime.

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