'I am a priest of Opus Dei, and I have come across your blog entry on Opus Dei with its humorous imagined conversation involving someone being rejected by Opus Dei on account of their being unemployed.
While it is clearly of the essence that anyone who feels called to Opus Dei – a calling which requires a more or less lengthy period of discernment – should have the desire of seeking sanctification in the ordinary circumstances of life, unfortunately such “ordinary circumstances” are increasingly likely these days to involve some time or degree of unemployment.
However, that is not a bar to sanctity: the effort to find a job can itself become a way to God, and there are many things that one can do during the period of unemployment to show one’s love for God “with deeds”, even if no payment is received for them. No one ever claimed that it was a requirement for holiness that one had to have paid remuneration.
Unemployment can be considered as in some way analogous to illness: something which one tries to overcome, but if it is the will of God that it should remain, then it can be accepted and offered as a “pleasing sacrifice”. In fact, the beginnings of Opus Dei are closely associated with the sufferings of the incurably sick in the hospitals of Madrid at the end of the 1920s and early 1930s.
In his book "The Way of the Cross" St Josemaría includes the following consideration: “God is my Father, even though he may send me suffering. He loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. Jesus suffers, to fulfil the Will of the Father... And I, who also wish to fulfil the most holy Will of God, following in the footsteps of the Master, can I complain if I too meet suffering as my travelling companion?”
And as the current Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría, has written, encouraging us to pray for a solution to the grave problem of unemployment: “Men and women of faith should use this situation to improve personally in the practice of virtue, taking extra care of the spirit of detachment, practising rectitude of intention, giving up unnecessary possessions, and so many other things. Besides, we know that we are always in the hands of our Father God, and that if divine providence permits these difficulties, it is so that we can draw good from evil: God writes straight with crooked lines” (Letter of the Prelate, 2 October 2009).
As you may be aware, there is a booklet available on the Opus Dei website entitled "Novena for Work", together with accounts of various favours received.
I wish you every blessing in your own work and activities, and hope they help to bring many people closer to the love of God.
Yours in Christ
Fr Paul Hayward'