Thursday, August 22, 2013

Opus Dei and Jesuits

Opus Dei : A Dialogue Between Friend and Foe 

ADDENDUM: OPUS OBEDIENCE IS JESUIT OBEDIENCE (and also "openness of conscience" to the superior)

I hope to show here that there's no substantial difference between those 2 conceptions of religious obedience and so that you cannot avoid the conclusion that classical Jesuits are Fascists (It's obvious if we follow your FAQ at "6.2 Liberty"). Still more, If you read The Way 614-629 on Obedience, you'll see that it goes LESS FAR than St Ignatius, who's talking, YES, and explicitly, of BLIND OBEDIENCE.
True, those are only principles, and they don't prove that in practice misuses don't occur, or that the practice of Opus is not different from that of Ignatius. But for the moment you were talking about principles....

First, here's a cut of our exchange:

it is very common among classical Jesuits to talk about the "surrender of one's own will" and to see the will of the Father superior as the will of God, not in all instances perhaps, but as an ascetic technique for self-detachment.

>i can understand how that kind of obedience can help to increase spirituality. but it is a dangerous thing.. especially when it becomes a principle that they want to apply to society as a whole.

maybe i cut&paste a piece i have written about "obedience" to another person here:
>obedience is a difficult topic. on order to investigate its usefulness to society i tried to discuss it with an other person.. here is what i wrote to him:

when we talk about obedience than we have to distinguish between several forms of obedience.
first we can distinguish it by the target that is subject of the obedience.

there is

*) outward obedience. but you would still have your free will and would be able to think what you want...

*) intellectual & spiritual obedience. you would be obedient in what you believe and think. you would be obedient even if you know something is wrong because you do not have to "know" something yourself. you accept that your leader knows better than you..

then we can distinguish between a temporary obedience and a permanent obedience.

then we can distinguish between normal obedience and blind obedience. blind obedience is when you either thrust your leader so much that you do not question his commandments or if you are in a position where you have not enough information so that you could judge about a commandment.

finally it is important to also see by whom the obedience is demanded: a leader, a spiritual director, God, your conscience, the law, etc..

well, so much for the definition of terminology. the obedience that the opus dei demands in in this diction an obedience that is both outward and intellectual & spiritual side (with an emphasis on the i& s side). it is a permanent and most of all a blind obedience. they tell people that the obedience is demanded by God, but the leaders of the opus dei take out the right for themselves to decide what the will of God is and to demand obedience in his name. so the primary leader is the opus dei and not God.

now for the big questions: is obedience founded in the scripture? in other catholic orders? if yes: what type of obedience? (according to the above terminology) to whom is the obedience directed? etc..etc.. well i hope you people have answers to some of it. iwould especially be interested in how you think about the kind of obedience the opus dei demands.

my own view about that topic goes like this:
when we look at the kind of obedience that is demanded by other orders than i think (i am not an expert here) it is mostly outward obedience. (you have a strict plan on how you have to spend your day in the monastery, are not allowed to talk at certain hours etc etc.. but you are completely free in your mind). i guess this kind of outward obedience might help some people to develop more freedom on their inside and help them in spiritual growth.
you may argue that this obedience was a worldly one and that obedience to the church is different. well, if people would have been disobedient to the pope than maybe we would not have had the crusades or the burning of witches... etc..
the only "permanent blind intellectual & spiritual obedience" that you can sell me is if it is obedience to God. as long as there is no one that has the right to tell me what God wants from me but scripture and most of all conscience.

--The Jesuit obedience is internal, permanent and blind. Before Opus, it was the only order like this, cause obedience is the center of their constitution, simply because, like Opus, It's an ACTIVE, apostolic order. So obedience comes from PRACTICAL purposes.

Those are quotations of 2 books by serious Jesuits:

- for him, the "elimination of the inapts" candidates was an essential part of government of the company

- One saw in him the soldier of God (...). Military man, Ignatius, they say, has created an army, with more or less secret instructions, with strict discipline (...) waging war to Satan

- War imagery (...) in the Spiritual Exercices all times.

- After the soldier has been recruited by taking the miliraty oath, has joined his commander camp and courageously decided to win a victory over the enemy, he must now begin to fight.

- a human group linked like that (...)by absolute obedience - that order uttered in Rome by the black pope being blindly followed everywhere, is likely to become powerful, if not glorious.

- this renouncement to one's own will , which is found in all mystical experiences...

- "complete indifference" is end of any asceticism of the will...
His disciple must not have any other inclination than to obey

- absolute obedience (...) do the sacrifice of they liberty in the hands of the Society Superiors.

- "The mind must be directed towards God (...) for the love of whom we obey to a man (...). All the energies must be put on that virtue, that is obedience, toward first the Pope, then to the Superior of the order (...). Everybody, on a word of the leader , as if it were from Christ himself (...) will renounce any occupation, even to write an alphabet letter that he has begun to write(...). All orders must be good to us . For our part we will renounce all other way to see things and all other opinion, in a kind of BLIND OBEDIENCE , and that in all what is not a sin. Everybody must be convinced that anybody who live in obedience must let himself be guided and lead by divine Providence, through his superiors, as if he was a corpse which we can move everywhere and treat in any way , or as if he was an old man's stick which is useful everywhere and for whatever purpose(...)
One must see Christ in him "

- the corpse image comes from St Francis, who received it from an ancient tradition
it is necessary that the subordinate love the order and that he understand and approve it.
the duty of the subordinate, all explanations having been made, is to obey: he will put the issue in the hands of the Lord.

- The expression Jesuit General is liked by those who see in the society a powerful and disciplined army (...)
The General (...) is a monarch . The fact that this monarchy is elective must not give illusions: (...)the electorate is not elected but designated by the General

- The society organization looks heavily centralised. Nothing is outside the General's control. . From top to bottom a unique power is manifesting, through intermediaries , its sovereign authority.
This elective monarchy can become all-powerful only by relying on an aristocracy , that of the apti ad gubernationem.

- St Ignatius was of a very quick temper


- the essential point, the fundamental consideration, in the ignatian doctrine of obedience, is that the superior is the interpret of the divine will(...)
"But for the purity and perfection of obedience, for the true renouncement to our will and the self-denial of our judgment , I want earnestly (...) that those in this society distinguish themselves from others"

- he is very rigorous with some (...); that happen mostly when some don't want to obey or abandon one's own judgment against what is ordered

- "Perfect obedience to superiors, who hold the place of Christ..."

- Ignatius taught that obedience is an offering of all one's being : behavior , will , intellect ; an holocaust
- "If you want to remember that Master Salmeron is in authority and that God (...) is cooperating with him by a more special light (...) you will conclude that your own judgment may more easily be in error than his and that it is preferable, after having explained yourself, to submit your judgment to his"
... This doctrine is completely natural. If the subordinate must (...) obey to the authority's decisions, it is normal that the divine wisdom assist the superior by special graces.

- We must believe (...) that divine wisdom will guide all superiors for the best

- "A prudence of a lesser degree in the superior (...) is not a reason for disobedience (...) because he represent the person who is the infallible wisdom, and that one will compensate for what is lacking in his minister"

- When we enter the society, "one must put everything in to the hands of the superior, as the one who's taking place of Christ"

The representation of the subordinate must not be seen from a governmental point of view, but on the level of inspiration
"It seems to me that obedience want to be BLIND . I call it BLIND in 2 ways: the first one, that is the inferior -where there's no sin - must submit his judgment and follow the order given; the second one, that is the inferior (...) must tell with humility to the superior reasons against the order or inconveniences (...), without being attracted to one party or the other, so that "
"Once that indifference is present in the candidates , must consider the talents and natural inclination, when he will distribute the responsibilities"
"It is important to the utmost that the subordinates be entirely known from the superiors"
To this end, he has instituted what he calls the account of conscience. This (...) ask everybody to tell the superior, at set times , what concern their INNER and exterior life

- " open his conscience to the superior with a lot of humility, sincerity and charity (...);he will not hide anything concerning himself"
The practice of the account of conscience is in direct link with religious obedience(...)
In the account of conscience, obedience is able to deploy itself in an ideal fashion

- thus the account of conscience is the meeting of 2 charities, inside 2 submissions: that of the subordinate to his leader, that of the superior to divine will over the subordinate and the society


--Isn't that impressive? I have 2 other facts to add. Like opus, Society of Jesus has grades: brothers, and above all 2 level of priests: professed (profes) and coadjutors, of which only professed can be superiors. Opus has 3 levels of membership, plus cooperators.

The last fact is that Jesuits were always the target of the same kind of attacks than Opus: Glick, Foreword to Estruch p. XV:
"secretiveness, greed for corporate wealth and power, elitism, and propensity for manipulation".

Isn't it interesting? That alone is not a proof, but at the very least it casts suspicion about the criticisms.

Now, some comments about obedience. In both cases it is rooted in faith, and supernatural; being a member implies that you think that God is there whatever the superior may be. The constitutions are approved, so it`s a part of the church, and everybody is free to follow this vocation, as a part of the tradition (no need of it being explicitly in the scriptures, for a catholic).
In both cases there are some external checks against abuse: scriptures, catechism, papal teachings, the pope himself, who can eliminate Opus. There are internal checks: consultations, written books, explanations with superiors (I think we can see it, or deduce it from Tapia's experience).
Now, differences: Jesuits didn't recruit the same way, but nevertheless were doing recruiting; as you know, the ignatian exercices are highly motivational, and you have to choose your vocation, and there is hell possibly at the end of life, etc... A lot of psychology in those 7 or 30 days in silence... Exercices were proposed to young men just at the end of high school...
Before final vows, a Jesuit wait and study 10 years, so he knows exactly what it's all about when he surrender his liberty. For Opus, it is 5-6 years, but there is no vows, just contracts.
The most important thing is that Opus is for lay people, and from that come the problems; it seems that the conflict, or the difference between the inside and the outside is much more acute, because members are in the lay world, with, let's say, all the temptations, all the objections or ideas, all other people. A good guess would be that they need a reinforced defense system, more than Jesuits do. And so when a clash arises between the inside and the outside of opus in a candidate's mind, there's a strong perception of the will being forced. It's just an hypothesis that i'm giving you here.
You can well say that opus use authority in a different and bad way. We have to check that. But from the texts one can see that St Ignatius obedience was more Fascist. So if we keep the word, we must distinguish between good and bad fascism. Or each time we use "fascist" we must add the Jesuits and Ignatius. And if somebody doesn't do so, we must suspect there are hidden reasons for this...

In "short", this is my argument is this addendum.

Better would be to address the only real issue, beyond "fascism" and "reaction": just say that they are over-authoritarian and that authority is misused. Then we will have to address the real facts and their interpretations. But then the question remains: are the Jesuits over-authoritarian? I'm afraid the answer is not as easy as you may have thought first...

Last word: your last paragraph is incomplete: your must add holy tradition, that is dogmatic doctrine, and scriptures as interpreted by the church and his authentic magisterium. I agree, however, that all depends on the word "Blind". Our strict obedience is not the same as the blind obedience that is a particular Jesuistic-opusian thing.
You're right, obedience to supernatural church is different than that to state, because state matters are much more contingent. Crusades and heresy crimes punished by prison or death have few things to do with faith matters, since they concern political defense of some territories and relations between criminal law, canon law, and common good in this or that historical circumstances. Opus obedience seems at first sight 90% spiritual.


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