“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Opus Dei - a work of God.

I was having a telephone discussion with Wesley J. Smith. He’s a good friend and confidant. At one point during our conversation, he asked me if I had ever considered joining Opus Dei.* As a matter of fact, I have flirted with the idea; I’ve been receiving their electronic newsletter for a few years. With Wesley’s prompting, I attended an Opus Dei meeting. Quite frankly, I did not know what to expect.

The Opus Dei website says,

Opus Dei is a Catholic institution founded by Saint JosemarĂ­a Escrivá. Its mission is to spread the message that work and the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.” (see http://www.opusdei.ca/)

The church where the Opus Dei meeting was held had a number of people quietly praying before the Blessed Sacrament. A priest delivered a half-hour reflection. He spoke about time: The difference between wasted time and time well spent serving God, our families and communities. Good stuff. There was opportunity for confession for interested participants.

In an adjacent room to the chapel, an Opus Dei member gave his insightful thoughts about prayer. Then there was more meditation in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament and a final reflection by the priest to assist those present in their Christian walks.

There were no sinister monks (albino or otherwise) lurking in the shadows. That was the bigoted anti-Christian fiction of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code.

I think I might join Opus Dei. Granted, I have been unable to work in years because of multiple sclerosis. Still, I believe that even my circumstances of everyday life -- relegated to a wheelchair -- can be fertile ground for growing closer to God. Already in my personal disability journey spanning more than 20 years, I have been able to serve others facing the consequences of catastrophic disabilities or chronic illnesses. And in my small and impotent way, I hope I’ve been able to serve society. Perhaps my service to society takes the form of bearing witness to inviolable dignity of all human life – even imperfect human life, like me.

A contribution to make?

We, the incurably ill and disabled, are not life unworthy of life. We have contributions to bring to the table of the Human Community, even if it is only by our presence.

We can challenge society to include those who may difficult to include, or those who bring discomfort to sophisticated or polite company. We call those around us to a higher standard of love and friendship. We can knock at the door of mainstream society and demand admission and reasonable accommodation so that we can find our rightful places in the world. If the disabled and incurably ill despair of life, we need people to lift us up as indispensable members of society and worthy of life. We do not need the abandonment of a utilitarian society eagerly agreeing to assist with our suicides, or euthanasia of those who can't communicate to defend themselves.

Contrary to what bioethics may promote, our rightful places in the world are not graves or crematoriums.

A man like me is increasingly viewed as a liability to society. I need an organization like Opus Dei to encourage and mentor me to use my circumstances of everyday life for “growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.”
Mark Pickup
* Opus Dei (Latin for the work of God).

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