QUESTIONS ABOUT OPUS DEI
Answered by CRNET's Robert P. Sheehan (Member of Opus Dei)
Do you become a cooperator before becoming a member? What is the contract
members agree to?
Typically, anyone seeking to become a member first becomes a Cooporator.
It provides an opportunity for the person to learn about Opus Dei and the
commitment that membership entails before making a vocational decision.
This is not to say that Cooporators are expected to become members of Opus
Dei; being a Cooporator is a calling in and of itself and the vast
majority remain Cooporators.
All of the members of Opus Dei (priests, men and women), have the same
divine vocation, a calling to be holy and apostolic in all of their
ordinary and every day activities.
The contract that Opus Dei members make is a formal declaration whereby
the Prelature promises to provide the continual training and guidance in
doctrinal, spiritual, ascetical, and apostolic matters, as well as
personal pastoral help and spiritual direction. The member declares that
he is firmly resolved to seek holiness with all his strength and to carry
out an apostolate according to Opus Dei's spirit. He promises to remain
under the jurisdiction of the Prelate and his representatives in regards to
all matters proper to the Prelature. He further pledges to fulfil all the
duties of his condition as an Opus Dei member and to follow all the norms
of the Prelature and the indications of its authorities in matters of
government, spirit, and apostolate.
The commitments that Opus Dei members make are ascetical, formative, and
apostolic. The commitments entail obedience to the Prelature's directors,
an obedience which is undertaken freely and responsibly not blindly.
The ascetical commitments include a demanding program of spiritual life:
daily Mass and Communion plus weekly Sacramental Confession; daily
meditation on the Gospel and the reading of some spiritual book; morning
and evening prayer; rosary; particular and general examinations of
conscience; monthly days of recollection and an annual retreat; constant
seeking of God's presence; frequent consideration of one's divine
filiation; spiritual communions; aspirations; and so on. Members also
maintain a spirit of mortification and penance in keeping with one's age,
health, and circumstances. Special attention is paid to one's daily work
as a hub of holiness and apostolate. There, members try to develop the
natural virtues of diligence, spirit of service, honesty, loyalty,
self-sacrifice, etc. as well as the supernatural virtues.
The formative commitments involve a religious education that never ends.
The goal is to nourish each person's spiritual life and to equip members
intellectually to spread good doctrine effectively in the exercise of
their apostolate. Philosophical and theological instruction is given to all
members as far as their personal, family, and occupational circumstances
The apostolic commitments lead members to carry out the common duty of all
Christians to be apostolic in a practical, constant and effective manner.
These apostolic efforts have two aspects: first, to bring the knowledge of
Christ to those who do not yet know it; and, second, to help Christians to
seek holiness in carrying out the duties of their state in life and of
their everyday work. For members of Opus Dei, this apostolate is not an
additional activity to be carried out during certain times but an integral
part of one's every day life. It involves one's family, friends, colleagues,
and so on.
And most important of all, all of this is carried out without pretentions,
with naturalness and in the open. Members of Opus Dei are indistinguishable
from their colleagues: they have the same interests and concerns, the same
kinds of background, even the same ways of dressing. They don't advertise
their membership nor do they hide or disguise it. They try to work quietly
and effectively, without being noticed. Those who know them, recognize them
as members by their daily lives and their apostolic efforts which witness
I hope this answers some of your questions about what Opus Dei members
commit to. As you can see it's a demanding vocation, but as a vocation
God supplies the graces to carry it out.