15. Isn’t Opus Dei only for the “professional elite?”

In Opus Dei members are encouraged to see their professional work as a means of sanctification. They’re taught that they must do it to the best of their ability if they’re going to offer it to the Lord as prayer. Naturally those who are particularly gifted may reach the top of their profession. The prestige they attain can be a genuine help in their apostolate.

Imagine for a moment that you’re an atheist. If you were to work with some Catholic who seemed like a nice enough guy, but wasn’t particularly good at his work, you probably wouldn’t take anything he says about Christianity very seriously. In the Work, members try to remember that their professional reputation can be either a great help or a great hindrance to their apostolic activity.

It is the explicit desire in Opus Dei to help people of all social classes and conditions, especially intellectuals and those at the top of their professions, to accept the teachings of Christ and to sanctify their work so that they may influence civil society according to the will of God. Thus, you will find centers of Opus Dei close to many of the best colleges and universities, and many of Opus Dei’s corporate works of apostolate are schools and colleges. See Question 29 – What is a “Corporate Work of Apostolate” of Opus Dei? for more information.

Still, Opus Dei is not only for the professional elite. I was an average college student at a relatively good college, graduating with a C+ average. After 30 years in my profession I’m a staff-level analyst at a local hospital with no particular reputation for medical informatics greatness. I just do the best I can. I know cops, accountants, teachers, housewives, low and mid-level bureaucrats, bakers, computer network “cable pullers,” and even janitors who are in the Work. One of the numeraries I know sells men’s clothing in a department store. These are hardly the “professional elite,” and most of the members of Opus Dei are like me. They’re people who are just trying to support their families and get to heaven doing it.

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