Opus Dei is a personal prelature of the Catholic Church. Its mission is to spread the message that all Christians are called by God to make Jesus Christ known and to seek holiness in and through their daily work, family life and social relations. To help people carry out this message, Opus Dei offers specialized pastoral care through classes, talks, spiritual direction, retreats, etc. This formation fosters the exercise of human and Christian virtues, and stresses sharing in God's work of creation and redemption by following the example of Christ's hidden life of work. One’s work should be done well for love of God and be seen as a service toward all who are touched by it. Opus Dei's name is Latin for "Work of God."
Opus Dei provides spiritual formation at the following schools: Lexington College in Chicago, IL; The Heights School in Potomac, MD; Montrose School in Natick, MA; Northridge Preparatory School in Niles, IL; Oakcrest School in McLean, VA; and The Willows Academy in Des Plaines, IL. Opus Dei priests occasionally provide their pastoral services informally to other schools. Besides these schools, Opus Dei provides spiritual guidance to the following charitable institutions: Bayridge Residence in Boston, MA; the Midtown Educational Foundation in Chicago, IL; Service Brings Smiles in New York, NY; the South Bronx Educational Foundation in New York, NY; the Youth Leadership Foundation in Washington, DC; and Youth Services International in Chicago, IL. From time to time, Opus Dei may provide spiritual guidance to other charitable programs on an informal basis.
Opus Dei has more than 60 centers in or near 19 cities in the U.S.: Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Delray Beach, FL; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New York; Pittsburgh; Princeton, NJ; Providence; St. Louis; San Antonio; San Francisco; South Bend, IN; South Orange, NJ; Urbana, IL; and Washington, DC. Additionally, Opus Dei conducts activities in many other cities. To learn more about Opus Dei's activities in your area, please send an e-mail to email@example.com indicating where you are writing from and any other details you wish to include.
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Personal prelatures are ecclesiastical jurisdictions provided for by the Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canon Law that are created to meet specific pastoral needs with greater flexibility. Opus Dei combines in a single worldwide institution priests and laity, women and men, sharing the same vocation of spreading the ideal of holiness in the world and the sanctification of work. With these characteristics, it does not fit properly into canonical categories for religious orders and lay associations. Being a personal prelature, however, "provides Opus Dei with an ecclesial configuration fully in keeping with its foundational charism and sociological structure" (the Holy See's 1982 "Declaration on Opus Dei").
To learn about Opus Dei's activities of spiritual formation in your area, please fill in the message form below, indicating where you are writing from and any other details you wish to include. Opus Dei's activities of spiritual formation, conducted separately for women and men, are organized at times and places compatible with the professional and family obligations of those attending them.
One can be incorporated in the Opus Dei Prelature as an associate, a numerary or a supernumerary. Associates and numeraries commit themselves to celibacy; supernumeraries do not. But all the faithful of the Prelature share the same vocation of spreading the ideal of holiness in the middle of the world. Most members are married, and they strive to follow Jesus Christ by sanctifying their work both in the home and outside, maintaining a youthful love, generously receiving the children God sends them, educating their children well and transmitting the faith to them with their charity and their example. For apostolic motives, some lay men and women embrace celibacy as a gift from God. This enables them to dedicate themselves more to tasks of formation, without any change in their lay condition, their professional situation, or their position within the Church and society.
Membership in Opus Dei requires a supernatural vocation. It is a personal call from God to place one's whole life at his service, spreading the message of the universal call to holiness in ordinary work and social life. Members join by a contractual commitment rather than by vows, and remain ordinary faithful of their dioceses. This vocation is usually discerned after being involved in Opus Dei's activities (retreats, classes, spiritual direction) regularly over a period of time, which enables one to acquire an in-depth knowledge of Opus Dei. It is also important to acquire consistency in the Christian practices to which members commit themselves: frequent reception of the sacraments, prayer, apostolate and, in general, a humble and constant effort to acquire virtue and struggle for holiness in keeping with the spirit of Opus Dei. Adult Catholics, men or women, married or single, of any background, nationality or socio-economic condition, may be incorporated in the Prelature.
Through their prayer, work or donations, Cooperators assist the educational and social undertakings promoted by the Prelature's faithful throughout the world. Besides Catholics, Opus Dei has Cooperators who are Orthodox, Protestants or members of other Christian churches; Jews, Muslims, or followers of other religions; and people with no religion. One does not become a member of Opus Dei by becoming a Cooperator.
The chief apostolate of the Prelature's faithful is that which they carry out in their own milieu, not as a group endeavor, but as the natural and spontaneous expression of their Christian commitment. This apostolate sees friendship as a true Christian value; a good Christian tries to be a loyal and true friend. In addition, because of their desire to contribute to building a better world and to helping those most in need, Opus Dei members join with others to organize educational and social projects (schools, hospitals, professional training centers, universities, etc.). These are all quite diverse, with the distinct personality of their respective countries and cultures.
Women and men share equal dignity as children of God and are equally called to live their faith fully. Men and women faithful of the Prelature follow the same spirit, promote similar apostolates, work in all honorable professions, and have the same vocation of endeavoring to sanctify work and family life. In addition, lay women and men discharge identical responsibilities of government and formation in the Prelature.
Opus Dei does not publish members’ names but leaves it to them to tell people themselves, respecting their freedom. While members do not ordinarily announce their membership to the general public, neither do they conceal it. Friends, relatives and acquaintances will naturally know of it. Indeed, it would be impossible for Opus Dei to carry out its mission if members were not open about their involvement.
Opus Dei promotes only the teaching of the Catholic Church, and has no views of its own on politics, economics, or social matters. The Church’s teachings leave room for different opinions on many issues, and like other Catholics, Opus Dei members are free to form their own views on these questions.
Like other Catholics, members try to incorporate an element of sacrifice into their lives. In accord with its emphasis on finding God in everyday activities, Opus Dei encourages small sacrifices like carrying out one's duties conscientiously, putting others' needs before one's own, and finding a smile in annoying circumstances. In addition, as recommended by the Catholic Church, members practice small physical mortifications occasionally, such as giving up certain items of food or drink. Within this spirit, numeraries and associates (celibate members) sometimes practice traditional Catholic penances such as using the cilice and discipline. These are practices that Catholics have used for centuries and are commonplace in the lives of the saints, for example: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas More, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio and Blessed Mother Teresa. The motivation for these voluntary penances is to imitate Christ and to join him in his redemptive sacrifice (cf. Matthew 16:24), and they can also be a way to suffer in solidarity with the many poor and deprived people in the world.
As part of the Catholic Church, Opus Dei works closely with the local Catholic bishop, whose consent is required before an Opus Dei center can be set up in his diocese, and who is regularly informed of Opus Dei’s activities there. The relationship of lay members of Opus Dei with their parish and their bishop is the same as that of other Catholics. Like other Catholics they are bound by diocesan regulations and follow the teachings and guidelines of the bishop, and participate fully in the life of the parish according to their circumstances. Their commitments to Opus Dei relate to areas, such as spiritual development and apostolic commitment, in which all members of the faithful are free to follow whichever path to holiness they choose.
The Prelature of Opus Dei and each of its faithful strive to be in full communion with the Pope, the bishops, priests, religious and all ecclesial entities. The founder of Opus Dei continually repeated that Opus Dei exists exclusively to serve the Church and that the Prelature’s faithful have to be a leaven for unity.
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March 11, 2014