Response to Opes Dei Article

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The following is excerpted from John
G u e g u e n ’s full letter due to space con –
straints. The full letter may be view at
h t t p : / / w w w. u c i m c . o rg / n e w s w i r e / d i splay/
Hi, Wendy.
In reading [your article], several things
occurred to me, which I hope you don’t mind
my sharing with you. One is the tendency by
most writers to treat Opus Dei as an external
“thing,” a movement or organization (some
strange new hybrid hard to classify) rather
than as an internal reality in the lives of people
God has called. One reason it is so diff icult
to “pin down” what Opus Dei is in trying
to write an objective article (as you did) is that
in reality what Opus Dei “is” continues to
evolve and develop in the lives of each member
from day to day, in the struggle to put into
practice the impulses of grace (which comes
from the Holy Spirit, as it does to all Christians
to enable them to fulfill their calling).
This leads into my second observation:
The people you cite throughout the article
give the kind of skewed understanding of
Opus Dei that would occur in reporting on
any topic by confining the research to such an
infinitesimal number of “experts” on the subject.
You can imagine what a variety of
answers you would get to a question like
“how do you live Opus Dei day by day?” In
my case, for example, I’ve started more than
15,000 new days since I asked for admission
to Opus Dei inApril, 1959, and as I look back
on them I find that no two of them were ever
the same. I can tell you that the renewal each
morning of my dedication to practice the spirit
of Opus Dei has led to marvelous insights
into myself, into others, into the nature of my
teaching and writing responsibilities.
I suppose most people aren’t that much
aware of what “spirit” they are dedicated to.
In the best instances, it is a spirit of professional
service, or of serving one’s family,
one’s children and spouse, or for students, a
spirit of achievement. For so many Americans,
it is a spirit of maximizing one’s own
pleasure, or profit, or influence – the infamous
materialistic, hedonistic, individualistic,
consumeristic “spirit.” When I used to
teach, one of my aims was to help my students
realize and then come to terms with the
“spirit” that was driving or inspiring their
lives. The “great books” we read were meant
to help them do that. Many realized that their
“spirit” was not very admirable, and they set
about reforming their lives, lifting their
sights, etc. That’s why I love to teach those
great books; they are such powerful stimulations
to get young people in their 20s to
examine themselves and their society.
[In email to me, you noted]: “As I’ve gotten
older, many things have seemed less
black and white, and I have a certain distrust
of any organization that offers to make
things too simple. At this point, I’m just too
old to jump on anyone’s bandwagon. So I
guess my goal is to muddle through and do
the best I can. Not too inspiring, but I’m sort
of a realist.”
T h a t ’s not “realism” in my book, but I
lived on a different planet from the one you
and your contemporaries live on. I call it the
“post-revolutionary” planet (referring back to
the disaster of 1968-70, which cut loose from
all the moorings of reality as it truly is, and is
wandering all over the universe, outside any
orbit). Nevertheless, it is a fitting epitaph for
the age that is currently unraveling and sending
our civilization to its graveyard. It is precisely
that worldview which you have PERF
E C T LY expressed which motivates virtually
your entire generation and is responsible
for that generation’s inability to make a permanent
commitment of any kind, and why
virtually all “marriages” that take place today
are invalid and break up after a short time
(since by definition, marriage is the union of
a man and a woman until death do us part for
the purpose of bearing progeny and educating
them to be mature men and women). It is
why monasteries and convents have emptied.
It is why vocations to the priesthood keep
declining, and why so many have left and
keep leaving. It is why you can go around
campus and find almost NO genuine friendships,
because friendship too requires a permanent
commitment, a letting-go of oneself.
The dorms are jammed with people struggling
desperately not to compromise their
i n d i v i d u a l i t y, their precious ego. A t e r r i b l e
loneliness and isolation results, and with it
the unhappiness which if not successfully
drowned in weekly binges can lead to suicide
(note the increasing rate among young people
in the prime of life).
This isn’t meant to be a criticism and it
has not the least touch of irony about it. You
are interested in reporting “facts” and there
you have one of the most appalling facts of
recent American cultural history. It is best
enshrined in the kind of music young people
like to listen to and imitate today – very like
the brainwashing cults engage in.
Best wishes in your studies and writing!
You’re in our prayers.

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