Your friends’ perception is probably due to the fact that it is a secret society (if I understand correctly), and to people outside such groups this secrecy lends an air of having secrets they need to hide, and this is reinforced by the rumors of mortifications that they practice.
I will re-purpose my answer from that thread. For a rigorously even-handed portrayal, you can check out John Allen’s book: “Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church”. It’s about $5 used on Amazon.
Allen’s one of the most well-rounded and fair-minded Catholic journalists out there (IMO) and he gives a thorough airing to the arguments for and against Opus Dei. He comes at it from a neutral perspective and really gets at the heart of all the issues (and ends up coming away with a surprisingly positive view). I am thoroughly glad I read it.
It probably has some secrets, but they’re not all that secret. While he was in school, my son was invited to teach in one of their schools in NYC to “at risk” teenage boys. While there, he lived the life the Opus Dei people live. Kind of Spartan. Lots of prayer. Also, lots of interesting talks by some extraordinary people. The meals are good but just a little short of ample. In the evening, they tend to get together and listen to some expert on something or other talk. Tonight it might be theology. Tomorrow night it might be nuclear physics. Next night it might be some aspect of the law. Next perhaps medicine. Next perhaps some argument of St. Thomas Aquinas. Typically, they have one (just one) beer, mixed drink or glass of wine at those talks. That’s their relaxation time. They don’t watch TV.
Pretty intellectual, but also pretty spiritual. Their habits are very punctual and regular.
What I think puts some people off is that there is, within it, an even more Spartan group that live celibate lives in community, which is what my son experienced. They share a life of prayer and work. All or most of them work outside the community and are all kinds of things; doctors, lawyers, architects, government people.
They’re not conspiring to take over the world. A lot of Opus Dei is about showing your faith in your work and setting example.
P.S. But seriously, I applaud you for questioning what you have heard people say. I think one of the big problems in our world is that people are too quick to believe things they hear (or read as the case may be).
I have heard many people say that John Allen is bad.
“…due to the fact that it is a secret society.” ???
What is that supposed to mean?? That is no “fact.” And what is the source of such “facts”? Hearsay and gossip from folks who loathe orthodox Catholicism I’ll guess.
The label “secret society” gets thrown around casually, yet no one seems to define what that is. I suppose for some people, unless Opus Dei members publish when they eat, sleep, drink, pray, and fart each day, they’re being “secretive.”
I’m not sure what “secrets” some people are after. Ridiculous. Probably after information that is personal and none of their business anyway.
Hi. I have my doubts about certain societies, and in some cases these come in the form of very strong reservations, yet, still, we have to be careful not to get pulled into the conspiracy theorist’s undisciplined imagination, no doubt often accompanied by too many D.B novels, and material of a similar brand. Start with fact, not fiction. It is okay to not like everything and even to seriously call into question some areas of religious practice, but do make sure that your reservations and questions on the matter, are accompanied instead, by lots of prayer.