OPUS [Monsignor EscrivÃ¡], the JESUITS [St. Ignatius of Loyola] and a couple of LEGION parallels
Neither do I think there is anything particularly original or charismatic in Opus spirituality. The notion of sanctifying oneself by means of one’s daily work could hardly be considered a new or revolutionary idea to regular Christians. Maybe it was in the case of the nobles and aristocrats to whom EscrivÃ¡ directed retreats in the twenties in Spain. The Spanish aristocracy traditionally derived its wealth and status from land ownership and looked down on “servile work”. So, the notion of sanctifying oneself by means of work would have been a novel idea to them, not to regular blue collar Christians.
It would also appear that at the same time a number of Jesuits in Spain were organizing groups of lay people in associations later called Marian Congregations. So, I would guess that EscrivÃ¡ copied them. Never mind the myth that he had some mystical vision during a Mass and so forth. So great was Don Jose Mariaâ€
In the same year that Pope Pius XII published “Provida Mater Ecclesia”, which, at least in part, did accommodate the â€˜Workâ€
The OD seems to have canvassed John Paul II already when he was bishop of Krakow. On arriving in Rome for the Conclave which elected him, he went to Viale Bruno Bozzi, headquarters of the OD and a place of pilgrimage, to the tomb of EscrivÃ¡ and paid his respects there before entering the conclave. At that time Cardinal Baggio, later Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, was close to OD. So, with this and other contacts, they achieved the status of Personal Prelature; this creation, incidentally, appears clearly contrary to the ecclesiology of Vatican II, as it involves having a bishop with a worldwide community without a local diocese. The Church, by its nature, is local and Eucharistic, so I see no place for such a â€˜prelatureâ€
By way of a footnote, it is worth mentioning what Hans Urs von Balthasar, the gifted Catholic theologian, commented after reading EscrivÃ¡’s handbook Camino: It is original and Christian; but what is original in it is not Christian, and what is Christian is not original.â€