Hi from a former Opus Dei member
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30-03-2016, 05:11 AM
Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Hi, everyone! My name is Anna, I'm from Moscow, Russia, married and have 2 kids. I'm a linguist but currently work as a part-time tutor. I'm an atheist but used to be Catholic and supernumerary in Opus Dei.
I'm sure everyone knows about this cult like movement within Catholic church thanks to 'DaVinci Code'Smile
My story with OD (Opus Dei) is so complicated, I don't know where to start. I would recommend everyone to read this book of a former OD member http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Threshold-L...0826410960 It describes the things as they were and as they are now, because nothing has really changed within the organization since its foundation.
To tell the story short - it's a cult-like organization with really aggressive ways of finding new members. OD has many members who are very good people and do an undeniable amount of good. However, it is a very tightly structured and controlled organization. Many people are members for years and still do not know what goes on in the leadership. OD has 5 types of members - numeraries (lay people who can't get married and live at the centres separated for men and woman), supernumeraries (lay people who are married, my husband and I were supernumeraries), numerary assistants (only women who can't get married and work as servants, usually from poor uneducated Latin American, Asian or African families), associated members (those who can't live at the centres, usually male members from military background), OD priests (usually ordained numeraries) and helpers (non-catholic people who help financially). OD is usually recruiting its members from the universities or colleges when they are young, they've started recruiting at high schools. You can now become a numerary even at the age of 14! They tell you that you can leave at any time, but that's not true, especially for the numeraries.
I met this girl from OD, she was a supernumerary, pregnant with her 1st child, I was at my first trimester with my second, so we had a lot in common (that's what they do, they always send someone who's really common to you, has the same interests or hobbies etc.), she invited me to the Centre. I had just converted to Catholicism and was looking for some community to continue my spiritual education. So, I guess I was an easy target with a good mold for them - young, intelligent, charismatic, in a financially secure marriage, and most importantly, I was eager to please and sought affirmation. These are their main targeted features in supernumeraries. They're never recruiting among the poor, unattractive and uneducated people (except for assistants). At first, before making any commitments, I really enjoyed going there. Well, as a married woman with a small kid I was getting a lot of attention, the people were so pleasant and they knew how to keep a nice company. To become a supernumerary, or how they call it - "to whistle" one should write a letter to the Prelate at Rome. Than you're excepted for a sort of probation period. As a supernumerary you get two special mentors. One from the supernumeraries and one from numeraries. They are your formal spiritual directors. You have to 'confess' everything to them. And they don't tell you about it before you join OD. This was shocking for me. We found out that they were transferring the information that they got from me at the women's centre or from my husband at the men's centre to each other. Before you join OD, you are introduced to a priest who starts to guide you in a context of spiritual direction. As a supernumerary I had my so called 'daily norms' which were: the Heroic minute, waking up punctually and saying "Serviam!", morning offering (fixing one's intentions to do everything for the glory of god), spiritual reading (usually something from Escriva's works) and reading the New Testament, mental prayer, reading the "Preces" - a traditional OD pray, attending the Holy Mass daily (preferably at the Center), praying Rosary, Memorare and Angelus daily, giving a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, to give an examination of conscience at the end of the day (like trying to remember what you've done wrong during the day, sort of mini confession to god),three Hail Marys before bed to pray for the virtue of purity, to give short, spontaneous prayers throughout the day and offering your job, sufferings and daily routines up to God. We also had our weekly norms: weekly confession with an OD priest (it wasn't welcomed to confess to other priests, especially jesuits), the so called 'Circle' - a group meeting of spiritual formation, the praying of a Marian antiphon on Saturdays, making Psalm 2 the basis of mental prayer on Tuesdays and making the 'Adoro te devote' the basis of mental prayer on Thursdays. We also had to attend special one-week seminars for supernumeraries once a year, which were taking place in Lithuania, so all the accommodation and travelling costs were on us .Also members were expected to make a day-trip pilgrimage where they recite Rosary on the month of May in honour of Mary. These were the official norms, but they also have so called 'traditions', like sprinkling one's bed with holy water before going to sleep, writing letters to Prelate, mortification of the flesh for numeraries with cilice and sleeping without a pillow or sleeping on the floor, fasting or remaining silent for certain hours during the day and taking only cold shower for men. These are the things that you can see and that they share with you before you join OD. The worst parts of it you will experience only after joining it. Like your spiritual director has great “insight” into your soul, and she proceeds to find imaginary faults in your character regarding your use of time. “Use of time” is a virtue which is given a lot of emphasis in OD. Since we were supposed to sanctify our lives with our jobs, it was a grave offence to waste the time God has given us for our hobbies, family and friends who are not regarded by OD as 'potential' interests. One thing that bothered me the most were the status of numerary- assistants and how the OD members scrutinized and directed their numeraries' relationship with their family. The numerary-assistants are usually recruited through OD schools for young girls which gives them a certification in household management or cookery. They just tell that assistant numeraries and numeraries are the same, just that the assistants' work was different. But soon you realize that their life is one of long working hours and absolutely no social life. It was very clear that they are in no way the same as numeraries.
First of all, there are some material differences between the two classes of members. Numeraries wear expensive clothes while assistant numeraries wear uniforms with a white apron most of the time. Assistant numeraries can only wear ordinary clothes if they leave the center for grocery shopping but they are usually second hand or inexpensive clothes. Numeraries eat in different dining rooms with better quality foods while assistants eat the leftovers in a separate room. And these are only material differences. What shocks the most is a psychological difference between them. Assistant numeraries could never be left alone. Numeraries always had to accompany them wherever they went, they also couldn't have access to any money and their passports and papers are kept in a safe place at the director's room. I just felt that these women's human rights were severely violated by the attitudes and rules of OD. However, OD continues to justify this type of status to exist. It can only be described as the serious exploitation of a vulnerable group of uneducated and poor women and violation of their rights. Not to mention how they were treated at the men centre. They were treated like they didn't exist.
OD men are another story - these are men, who don't do anything around their house, yes, nuns and monks do live separately, but they don't have any servants like numeraries do. The amount of what women and men in OD are doing is just not equal at all.
What also bothered me was that as a supernumerary, I started to feel the control OD was having over my life, especially my sexual life. Not to mention that OD does not reveal all of the lifestyle changes numeraries and supernumeraries make before they join. In that way and in a way their founder Escriva is only to be called 'the Father' OD is like a cult. Here are some examples of its cult-likeness:
-numeraries are told to have a list of 15 friends, the top ones on the list should be people with the potential to join OD. To spend time with anyone who does not have the potential to become an OD member is considered a waste of time.
-numeraries are not allowed to keep gifts of clothes, jewelry and other small presents from their parents. These gifts are given to other numeraries in the center by the Director or kept in a closet.
-numeraries eat with others in the center. Members have no input into the menus or food shopping. They must eat what they are served. Members are sometimes encouraged to offer up in penance their sweets or other denials.
-female OD numeraries sleep on a board placed on top of their mattress. Once a month, there are all-night vigils when the members sign up to pray in the middle of the night for one-hour stretches.
- numeraries surrender all control over their finances and generally do not hold their own bank accounts, their passports and other documents are kept in the Director's office.
- numeraries have very little time for leisure, entertainment or vacations. Movie and concert-going are forbidden unless you are invited by a 'potential' person. Numeraries do go on one excursion per month with the other numeraries in their house. Even if they have too much homework to do, they may still be directed to go and “have fun.”
- numeraries are told where to live, what jobs to take, what schools to attend and are expected to obey their superiors without question.
- in the weekly chat with a spiritual director numeraries are influenced to report any doubts about their vocation and if they've noticed that some other member is having doubts.
-numeraries are obligated to make the so called fraternal corrections, which basically means telling on other numeraries.
- if numeraries are successful in their recruiting, they are allowed to invite their friends or family members.
- numeraries typically report to their directors every time they leave or arrive at the OD house. They are allowed only brief visits to their families, often with a chaperone. They are not allowed to talk with members of the opposite sex behind closed doors.
- in-going and out-going mail is read by the Directors, most of the time without the knowledge of the writers.
As I look back I can't understand how I got myself into joining this cult. The people there just seemed so nice and intelligent I just didn't notice anything disturbing at first. And after you become aware of these negative aspects you can find it too hard to leave, especially for numeraries.
From my experience I can tell you that there are two types of OD members - those who come from huge OD families or those who are recruited. For example, my son's godmother is a supernumerary from a family of 16 children, her parents were among the first generation of supernumeraries and most of her siblings are either numeraries or supernumeraries. Such members usually come from large families, where each child attends OD schools from the beginning and is supposed to become an OD member at some point. If you're a member of such a family and you don't want to become an OD member or you want to quit you're sort of banished from your family.
The thing with numeraries is, that they are very dependant from OD, they usually don't know how to live alone, how to make decisions by themselves, they're like children living with their parents in a way, so a lot of them want to leave but are just afraid to do it. Those who are recruited outside the OD are another story. Most of them are recruited at the age of 14-18 by their friends (who just 'happened' to be numeraries) at their colleges or schools. Most of them are recruited at the most vulnerable moments of their life - someone from their family has just recently passed away, or they are about to get married and have some doubts about their choice. This is usually when OD comes. They tell you that you're such a special person, that god wants you to find your way, that marriage may not be the best choice for you as you're clearly having some doubts which means that god has guided you to them for some purpose etc. And people are easily bought into these words.
A lot of numeraries begin to struggle with their choice at some point, but prefer not to leave, especially men, because they're actually comfortable, I mean their food is prepared for them, their clothes are washed and ironed for them, they are served as in fancy restaurants by their servants, they don't have to make any decisions and choices.
I've never lived at the Centres, only during retreats. I stayed there with my 3 month old son for a week on a retreat, and I decided to leave OD after it because my family was far more important than OD and I had a lot of issues with their ideology by that time. I couldn't even called my husband without being watched. That made me crazy. They were always telling me, that I should consider OD as my 3rd child, who needs the equal amount of attention and money as my own kids. That was the end for me. I could never treat an organization as my own child. So I went home after my first retreat and told my husband that I was done with OD. To my surprise he was excited to hear it, he came to the same decision a week before. He just couldn't stand the way men were treating woman there.
We spent almost 2 years of our life there and I found my personality to be completely torn apart, I can't even imagine how those who left OD after 5, 10 or 20 years must have felt like. And you know what? My family didn't even know about it. They told me not to tell them, 'cause they might be strongly opposite it", so for them it was ok to keep this a secret.
The only excuse I have for myself and how I could be so blind is the simple fact that new members of OD are always making just an initial commitment without knowing any of the details of OD life are treated as full members. Instead of allowing new recruits to examine the details of membership and then re-evaluate their commitment, OD just deliberately withholds information and then strikes with a great pressure on new recruits to remain in OD, even if they object to one or more aspects of OD life. It was so easy to be impressed by OD, with its beautiful, clean and organized apartments, its energy, its sense of purpose, its likeable, well-dressed and groomed women, and its apparent loyalty to traditional catholicism. But this is only one face of OD. Internally it is totalitarian and full with fascist ideas turned to religious purposes. It has developed a wide range of successful techniques to persuade young people to join which are closer to the methods of cults. "Love-bombing" has long been used, the provision of a total environment, and the gradual alienation from family, friends, and the church - these are all the means that OD doesn't hesitate to use.
After leaving OD I continued going to the church for some time, but after my son has been diagnosed with autism I started questioning my faith and the existence of god. I'll tell about why I left the church and became an atheist a bit later, because I usually don't write long posts in English and it takes me lot of time to spell proof everything, please forgive me for my poor writing skillsBlush
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[+] 9 users Like Anka's post
30-03-2016, 08:13 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Welcome!

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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30-03-2016, 08:13 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Hello! Big Grin
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30-03-2016, 08:18 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Greetings.

Marburg virus, Ebola, Rabies, HIV, Smallpox, Hantavirus, Dengue Fever all brought to you by god - who cares for us and loves us all Censored
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30-03-2016, 08:19 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Wow, what a story. Welcome to the forum.
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30-03-2016, 08:51 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Welcome.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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30-03-2016, 10:08 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Welcome!
I found your story very interesting, especially since I am a former RCC and I suspect that some of my relatives, and some former acquaintances, may be OD, (what I now refer to as Octopus Dei).
I'm especially interested in any insight you have about OD's efforts to infiltrate political organizations.

Your faith is not evidence, your opinion is not fact, and your bias is not wisdom
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30-03-2016, 10:29 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Welcome.
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30-03-2016, 10:39 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
How do I join ?

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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30-03-2016, 10:43 AM
RE: Hi from a former Opus Dei member
Welcome!

It's always interesting to learn about cults...

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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