Part 4 of 4
The Molinoviejo annual course marked a new step toward my Opus Dei fanaticism, because it meant accepting the person of the Founder of Opus Dei as an acknowledged saint, for whom our love had to be greater than any human love, for he had "engendered us in the Lord."
Curiously, this idea has been literally set forth for future generations: "... God will call you to account for having been with that poor priest who was with you and who loved you so much, so much, more than your own mothers!" "I will pass away and those who come afterwards will look on you with envy, as if you were a relic; not for me, for I am -- I insist -- a poor man, a sinner, who loves Jesus Christ madly, but because you have learned the spirit of the Work from its Founder's lips." Barcelona: Monterols
I arrived in Barcelona on a splendid June morning. I caught a taxi from the France railway station to the Monterols administration.
My life in the Monterols administration will reflect the perspective of a numerary who is no longer a newcomer to the institution. She encounters persons and tasks with which she is familiar. There are few surprises, although expectations continue to be centered on proselytism.
The directress of the Monterols administration was Maruja Jimenez, one of the first Opus Dei female numeraries: I had not met her previously because she was always assigned to administrations outside Madrid. She was motherly and all the numeraries were very fond of her. When I arrived at Monterols, I was delighted to find Anina Mouriz whom I had not seen since Los Rosales. Anina was a perfectionist in her work but was pleasant to live with. I knew the remaining numeraries of the house only by name.
The Monterols administration had eight numeraries. The house was very large and the administration was enormous. There were large individual rooms with closet, shower, and sink.
Monterols was the first newly constructed building for an Opus Dei residence. The Monterols experience in Opus Dei allowed for corrections in the design of subsequent residences. But after the administrations I had known, it was a joy to be able to live in this house that even had a good-sized terrace next to the living room.
Although the establishment purported to be an ordinary students' residence, in reality, it was a center of studies for Opus Dei men. Because it was summer and most were attending annual courses, the administered house was almost empty, but it was still necessary to clean it.
As promised, they put me in charge of the work of St. Raphael as well as of cleaning the residence.
The first person to whom I was introduced in Barcelona was Mrs. Mercedes Roig, who had a numerary son, Barto Roig. He had just gone to the Opus Dei residence in Bilbao, Abando, as a member of the local council there. Barto Roig was an industrial engineer who later spent many years in Caracas. He died in Pamplona in 1995.
Mercedes Roig also had two daughters, one with some sort of handicap and the youngest one, known as Merceditas in the Work, who was also a numerary. Mercedes Roig was a charming woman, quiet and discreet, and elegant in appearance; a youngish widow, she came every day to the administration to help in any way she could. The directress told me that Monsignor Escriva was very fond of her because she had always been very generous to Opus Dei. I was surprised that she recited the Preces, the official Opus Dei prayer mentioned above, with us. Maruja Jimenez said that, if the Father consented, Mercedes Roig could be the first Opus Dei supernumerary in Barcelona and possibly the first in Spain.
It was then that I first connected the Opus Dei Catechism theory about supernumeraries with a person. The directress explained to me that the case of Mercedes Roig was unique, since her status as widow and mother of two numeraries gave her greater freedom to help the Work.
Since it was summer, there were no talks to the girls of St. Raphael, but there were get-togethers for some university students of Father Francisco Botella's, one of the first numerary priests and professor of mathematics at the University of Barcelona. They were agreeable girls, although very different in temperament and style from Madrid university students. Roser Torrens at the ripe age of fifteen had just requested admission as a numerary. She was pretty and full of energy. I went out several times with her and I found her to be a sensitive, intelligent, and mature person at such a young age. Her parents were happy with her vocation. Her father would drop her off and pick her up at the residence. I was astonished that they would allow her to become a numerary at such a young age. Years later, Opus Dei sent Roser to Colombia, where we met again. I had also the joy of seeing her parents in Caracas.
Concha Campa was one of the numeraries who requested admission while I was in Barcelona. She was also very young, joyful, with great artistic talents. She, too, was assigned years later to Colombia, where eventually I saw her again.
The major superiors in Madrid gave me a few specific tasks while in Barcelona. One of them pleased me very much since it meant going to Montjuich to copy Romanesque designs in the museum for chasubles to be produced at Los Rosales. So, I had reason to visit that extraordinarily beautiful museum several times.
After the cleaning of the residence, I would frequently meet the girls recently admitted to Opus Dei or future vocations and ramble around Barcelona. Let it be clear that when I say "ramble," I mean precisely that, visit the city on foot. As numerary of Opus Dei we could not have lunch or take a snack at any cafeteria, nor could Opus Dei numeraries attend any form of public entertainment.
One of the girls who came almost daily to the Monterols administration was Maria Josefa Planell. She was very pretty but had a spinal problem that caused her great pain and required a great deal of rest. We got along very well. She had two male numerary brothers; one of them Quico who was part of the Monterols local council at the time. Years later he was ordained an Opus Dei priest and works at the film archives of the Vatican. Maria Josefa used to go to San Quirico, a little village in the mountains, and had met Monsignor Escriva and his sister Carmen there at some point.
I had hoped that Maria Josefa Planell might become a numerary, but I was told by the directress that her health was too precarious, but in time she would become an Opus Dei oblate. I had also learned about the term oblate -- now called "associates" -- in the Opus Dei Catechism but I lacked any clear notion of what these members would be like in real life. I think that she finally did seek admission as an oblate, but I am not sure of that, since I left Barcelona after a short time. What I do know, through one of my sisters-in-law, a relative of the Planells, is that a few years ago, under the pressure of a depression, she committed suicide.
In 1951 Barcelona and all Catalonia were in an upheaval because Franco would not allow Catalonian to be considered an official language in Spain, but rather a dialect. Although Franco died in 1975, and Catalonian is now legally recognized as a language, there remains a conflict between Catalonians and non-Catalonians. I attempted to learn as much Catalonian as I could and Roser Torrens corrected me and was enthusiastic about my fondness for Catalonian.
With regard to the early days of Opus Dei in Barcelona around 1940, we heard about the "Palace," Palau in Catalonian, a somewhat pretentious name for a little apartment that the few men who then belonged to Opus Dei had rented. The anecdotes about that Palau had even reached the ears of the Women's Branch. As an interesting footnote, I learned a few months ago that Father Panikkar had been one of the directors there, if not the first, when he was still a layman.
Speaking of those early days, both superiors and Opus Dei priests, always stressed that Monsignor Escriva suffered a great deal in Barcelona because one of the attacks by government officials against the nascent Opus Dei had occurred there, and that one of the most sceptical persons was the Abbot of Montserrat, then the Most Reverend Jose Maria Escarre. Although the official Opus Dei biographies of Escriva do not state clearly that the Jesuits were the most energetic enemies of Opus Dei, within the houses of the Work everyone knew this to be true.
I also learned in Barcelona that because of all the "contradiction" suffered in this city, Monsignor Escriva had said that he would not return to Barcelona for many years until the city would receive him as he deserved. What exactly had occurred was a particularly obscure point that I never managed to clarify during my stay in Barcelona.
Superiors in Opus Dei also reported, most secretly, that in June 1946 on his trip to Rome on the J. J. Sister, when Monsignor Escriva embarked "the devil nearly made him suffer a shipwreck, because he did not want him to go to Rome." It impressed me personally that Monsignor Escriva should have traveled to Genoa on that ship, because my father made the return trip Genoa-Barcelona immediately following Monsignor Escriva's arrival in Genoa. I had gone with my mother and my youngest brother to meet my father and indeed had taken a snapshot of the boat. When I had left Opus Dei, I asked my father about "the terrible storm" that fell on the J. J. Sister on her trip to Genoa and my father said that no one on the ship had spoken of it as unusual, but as the most ordinary thing for that time of year. When this boat was decommissioned and sold for scrap, Opus Dei superiors bought parts of it as relics.
Monsignor Escriva publicly returned to Barcelona in 1964, when the mayor, who was very close to Opus Dei, officially named him "adoptive son of Barcelona." 
Although life in the Barcelona administration was pleasant, the plan of life was as rigid as anywhere else, and the practices of not leaving us time to read or of not allowing us to read the newspaper were the same as in the previous houses where I had lived.
In Barcelona there was talk of a future Opus Dei apostolate in which the women would open a school of art and home economics, where there would be classes of cooking, ceramics, painting, and so forth, for girls who were not university students, but specially designed for married women who could visit us and would participate in these classes. It would be the beginning of proselytizing married women as Opus Dei supernumeraries. Opus Dei superiors were also interested in Barcelona as a city of great financial resources that could contribute to the development of future activities of the Work.
During my stay in Barcelona, it was demonstrated once again that our apostolate had nothing to do with the poor, although we told the girls of St. Raphael to visit the poor, usually on Saturdays. On the occasions I had spoken to the directress about the apostolate with the poor, she had said that the direct apostolate with the poor was the main goal for other religious congregations but that "our task" was to do apostolate "among intellectuals," that is to say, among leaders in society. Years later, I also heard Monsignor Escriva say this, although he insistently recommended that the girls who frequented our houses should make visits to the poor, accompanied by a recent numerary vocation, in order to draw them near to Opus Dei. That is to say, visits to the poor were one more occasion for recruitment rather than a genuine apostolate to people in need.
Also, more than once I repeated in my confidence to the directress that our lack of real contact with what went on in the city, in the nation, in the world, not even reading the local newspaper, made us live, as a friend of mine would say today, "in a bubble," isolated.
Toward September, the directress told me that she had been told by the advisory central in Madrid that I was to leave Barcelona because I had been "permanently" assigned to Bilbao and the administration of the Abando men's residence where I would stay without further moves. I would also take over the work of St. Raphael there. The superiors specified that it was necessary to "raise the social level of the vocations of numeraries in that city because it is presently very low."
When changes were announced in Opus Dei, you are on your way to a new post three days later.
After a few months in Barcelona this new assignment is another brush stroke in the portrait of my life in Opus Dei: I had to accept that there would never be anything permanent in my life. I used to say that "you knew where you got up, but never where you would go to sleep."
My stay in Barcelona made me get a glimpse of the new supernumerary and oblate members of Opus Dei, but above all it made me see very clearly that there would no longer be anything permanent in my life, and I realized that as soon as I got used to a place, I would receive an order to change. Because juridically our life in Opus Dei as a secular institute was so different from that of nuns in orders and religious congregations, I never thought that in the matter of "reassignments," it was almost identical. And this was my new point of dedication to Opus Dei and toward fanaticism in my life within the institution: I would be ready to change residence as often as the good of the Work and the apostolate would require it without considering my inner feelings.
I departed from Barcelona, leaving behind a small but very select group of new numeraries, with whom, I would not be able to maintain the slightest friendship.
The numeraries in the administration of Monterols did not envy me my new assignment.Bilbao: Abando and Gaztelueta
There were no startling events in my stay in Bilbao. Mine was the life of a woman Opus Dei numerary in the administration of a male students' residence. The account is one of constant work and a routine, obscure, hidden life, alien to the vicissitudes of any ordinary Christian. It was the final point of the transformation of a woman of character and personality, as I believe I was, into one more piece in that puzzle called Opus Dei, a fanatic who like a puppet moved at the tug of a string.
From the Bilbao railway station, I took a taxi to the Abando residence administration. I was unfamiliar with Bilbao, but had heard that it was very gray in winter and quite humid in summer.
On my arrival, the administration directress, Dorita Calvo, received me. Her kind smile was an encouraging welcome. She was the kind of person who did not impose her authority, but her wisdom was so obvious that you followed her blindly. We had a natural relationship.
Mercedes Morado was the subdirectress and Tere Moran, secretary. They were waiting for me to come so that Dorita and Tere could attend their annual course, which was held right there in the Abando residence, usually occupied by men.
We were left alone in the administration for three weeks: Mercedes Morado as directress, Loli Mouriz, and I. Loli, had also been at the Los Rosales formation course.
The central and regional Opus Dei women major superiors and some directresses of Opus Dei women's houses were at this annual course.
Opus Dei has a kind of military hierarchical mentality. That is to say, annual formation courses or spiritual exercises are organized so that the numerary participants are homogeneous. Hence, mixtures are avoided at all cost.
Monsignor Escriva on his visits to Bilbao in the early days of Opus Dei, fell in love with the house, the customs, the style, and the elegance of an aristocratic lady, Carito Mac Mahon. He tried to duplicate them in Opus Dei from the uniforms of the servants to the manner of waiting on table.
Loli Mouriz was in charge of the kitchen, and I was responsible for the laundry, cleaning of the entire house, and the pantry. I always got along well with Loli in Bilbao. She was younger than I and I always accepted her strong personality as she did mine. Like her sister Anina she was very well-mannered and cultured and had a very ironical sense of humor. My conversations with Loli dealt with work. She was frank and direct.
By contrast, Mercedes Morado, the subdirectress was not open. It always seemed that she was waiting for a mistake to be made so that she could correct someone, not with affection but as a disciplinarian. She was not very attractive: she had a round face with bulky eyes and protruding teeth. When speaking you felt she did not believe you. I knew her not only from Zurbaran, where she attended the same spiritual retreat as I did, but also from my work in the Council for Scientific Research with Dr. Panikkar. She went to talk to him frequently while she was a student of pedagogy. I also knew Mercedes from Segovia, where our families were friends. So, I was delighted to see her as directress and thought everything would go well because we were within the same "spirit."
During the weeks that Mercedes substituted for the Abando directress, I realized that she was very rigid: if a day passed without my making a fraternal correction to Loli, she would do a fraternal correction to me for insensitivity in not noticing this or that detail. This became oppressive, because we were always told in our classes that fraternal corrections ought to be aimed at some error in conduct or in spirit but not at being a policeman. I always had the impression that Mercedes Morado might have felt inferior to me, perhaps because we came from different social levels. She knew that my family was prominent in Spain, just as I knew that hers was not. Unquestionably this created a kind of tension in her. I always had the impression that she used her rank as directress to keep me from skipping any rung on the ladder. My dealings with Mercedes were strictly formal.
Mercedes Morado became the directress of the central advisory, and I met her in Rome during my last stage in Opus Dei.
There was no conversation during the day except for the half-hour lunch and dinner and the half-hour get-together. Otherwise, each person had her little patch to cultivate in the administration, and we worked physically separated.
As an administration we functioned with complete independence from the residence or administered house. However, I recall a very kind gesture by Maria Jesus Hereza, major superior at the time. One day she came over to the administration so that I could teach her to make Swiss rolls, a favorite ingredient of the Spanish meriendas or afternoon snack. With this excuse, she spent time chatting with Loli and myself in the kitchen, giving us several pleasant hours.
By contrast, I recall what to me was negative behavior on the part of Maria Teresa Arnau, regional directress of the Spanish regional advisory. While I was cleaning the administered house with the maids, she summoned me to her office and told me to write to Arbor, the CSIC's journal, to tell them to stop sending me the journal, because my life was now involved in other activities and I had no time to read it.
I was completely absorbed in cleaning the house and with the clothes in the laundry room, besides attending the pantry. My only outing in several weeks was to accompany a group of the numeraries from the annual course to the shrine of Our Lady of Begona on the outskirts of Bilbao. On the way I got a panoramic look at the city, which I personally did not like. It was very gray and well nicknamed "the hole" because it is sunk in a river valley. It was covered with smoke from blast furnaces and its humid summer heat was very unpleasant. Furthermore, DDT did not yet exist, and fleas were endemic, however clean you kept a house.
When the numeraries' annual course ended, Dorita returned to the administration as directress. Mercedes went back as subdirectress, and Tere as secretary. Tere Moran was an exquisite person.
The Abando administration followed classic Opus Dei asceticism. We had no distractions. Of course we read neither the newspaper nor any book other than the spiritual reading which was designated for each of us. We hardly went out. Only Tere, in charge of errands, went out each day.
Our servants did not belong to Opus Dei, and they went out on Sunday afternoons and sometimes on a weekday if they had to go shopping.
The Abando administration house was pretty and pleasant. Not large, but decorated with good taste. We were told that Father Pedro Casciaro, the Opus Dei numerary priest who was already counselor in Mexico, had decorated it. The visitors' parlor was on the first floor and the dormitory office of the directress on the second floor as were the rooms of the numeraries: individual rooms, with closet and sink. We had only one bathroom, so Tere or I took turns using the servants' shower and never spent more than half an hour getting washed and dressed so as to arrive at the morning meditation punctually.
The windows in the administration bedrooms were half blocked, because they opened onto a patio which the residents' windows also overlooked.
As usual, the administration oratory was behind a lattice. In order to let the other numeraries attend the Mass in the house and to prepare breakfast for the residents while they were in the oratory, one of us would take turns going with some of the servants to Mass in a public church.
In Abando there were around ten servants. Each had her individual cubicle, camarilla, in Opus Dei jargon, with a sink and small closet. These cubicles were in the cellar of the house. In the same area there was a bathroom with several showers.
The kitchen was also in the cellar of the house and had very poor ventilation. It was large and old-fashioned. A kind of nook within the kitchen was called the pantry. The numerary in charge of the pantry in Opus Dei administrations is responsible for having the tables perfectly set and the servants ready in their uniforms inside the dining room when the students arrived. The ratio between the number of maids to serve at table and the number of students to be served was ordinarily one maid to every eight residents. From the pantry the numerary watched the servants doing their job, handing them the trays to be served through a special window between the pantry and the dining room. It is customary in Opus Dei houses and residences that meals last for thirty minutes only, except on Sundays and festivities when they last for forty-five minutes. During the meals silence in the administration was rigorous. We spoke when absolutely necessary and in a whisper.
The laundry area consisted of two large rooms. In the inner room, without windows or ventilation of any kind, there was an ancient washing machine and two stone sinks where the servants washed clothes by hand. In the outer room there were two large ironing tables. Most of the irons were old-fashioned. We had a hot plate for them. There were also a couple of electric irons for the oratory linens and the residents' white shirts and suits. There were numbered cubbyholes for each resident. The ironing room was small and claustrophobic. Not only was it in the cellar, but the windows were blocked almost to the ceiling. Since it rained and there was a great deal of humidity most days, we also had clothes lines inside the two laundry rooms, where we always left clothing to dry during the night and quite often during the day.
As I was in charge of the laundry, at the end of housecleaning, we collected the residents' bags of dirty clothes on Mondays and made a pile in the ironing room. I was the only person who could open each bag and check that each piece of dirty clothing coincided with the number of the paper that was inside of the bag. The residents never numbered less than seventy.
Usually there were six servants in the laundry rooms, two washing and four ironing. As the numerary in charge of the laundry, my mission also included responsibility for the servants in regard to the care of their uniforms, their personal hygiene, and their spiritual life. My task was to entertain them, to lighten their work. We would sing sometimes, at other times I would tell them about some other country, about customs of some Spanish region, and also about the spirit of Opus Dei. Each day, I prayed the rosary with them in the ironing room, and I also made some commentary on the gospel or a spiritual topic, while they had their snack. Needless to say, my chief mission was to win their confidence, help them, and especially to find out if any one of them could become an Opus Dei numerary servant.
In general, servants in Opus Dei houses wore a colored cotton uniform, and a white apron for heavy work. At that time they also wore white caps covering their hair. The servants who waited on table wore black uniforms with white aprons and a white headdress. On feast days they served table with white gloves. In the laundry they all were in blue cotton uniforms and white aprons.
Within the ironing area was a bell panel. There were also intercoms in the directress's room, the kitchen, the laundry room, and the secretary's room.
Many hours of my life were spent in the Abando laundry area. Friday was especially busy, because I had to distribute clothing by cubbyhole and check that each ironed piece corresponded to the number of the cubbyhole. Usually, the directress came down to the ironing area on Fridays to find out how things were going.
Saturday evenings, while the residents had supper, I would enter the residence with two servants to distribute the bags of clean clothing in accordance with the paper enclosed in the dirty clothes bag.
An odd detail that was hard for me in Bilbao was waxing the floors. All of the floors of the residence and of the administration were parquet. There were no electrical machines to polish the floor. With brushes tied to our feet with leather belts and then felt rags on each foot we had to brush and dance the wax. It was brutal work. This caused many numeraries in the course of time to develop uterine problems that sometimes required surgery, as in my own case.
After I had been in Bilbao for a short time, we were told that a boys school called "Gaztelueta" would open in Las Arenas but that this school was to be an exception in Opus Dei, since our mission was not to have schools like other religious congregations, Monsignor Escriva said. We knew that Father Antonio Perez-Tenessa, as Opus Dei secretary general, was the person primarily responsible for this project.
Since the school was about to open and the Opus Dei male numeraries on the Gaztelueta local council would move to the house before Christmas, the superiors in Madrid informed us that an administration would also be opened there. No external activity would be carried on from that administration. Mercedes Morado was appointed directress, Maria Ampuero, who had arrived recently from Madrid, subdirectress, and Pina Revilla, who had come to live at Abando weeks before, secretary. Maria was open and kind, extremely modern and elegant. Pina Revilla was very kind, efficient, and intelligent.
The shifts to Gaztelueta required reshuffling the local council of the Abando administration. Dorita Calvo continued as directress, Tere became the subdirectress, and I secretary.
The change involved a new room for me. The secretary's room was somewhat larger than the others, with a small desk where all the ledgers and the house money were kept. This room was next to the oratory.
Around November 1951, I was told to take charge of the work of Sr. Raphael. When I had to give the circle of St. Raphael and talk with the girls, Tere replaced me in the ironing room.
The work of St. Raphael was well organized. There was a file for each girl who had come to the house, with details about her life and personality, besides her telephone number and address.
We had a telephone in the administration, which facilitated contact with the girls. I found myself among a group of wonderful girls again.
When I was in Bilbao, Begona Elejalde, then very young, requested admission as a numerary. Years later, Begona was one of the founders of the Opus Dei Women's Branch in Venezuela. I encouraged her very much to be totally generous and try to proselytize her sisters. I tried to be affectionate and understanding to make her interior life easy so that things would not be as hard for her as they had been for me. Begona was intelligent and a very good artist; she painted very well and had a tremendous avantgarde style. She had a natural instinct for decoration. In fact, in Venezuela she gave classes in arts and crafts at the Etame School of Art and Home Economics, and left her mark as an artist on Opus Dei houses in Caracas.
These girls talked to me with great confidence. They explained what they had done recently and how they were preparing their families for the news that they wanted to come to live in Opus Dei as soon as possible. Before coming to live permanently in the Work, they had to resolve the financial problem of obtaining the tuition stipulated by the Opus Dei for the first two years of formation.
Maria Josefa (Mirufa) Zuloaga also requested admission as a numerary. Mirufa's family members were almost all well- renowned artists, and oddly, I knew one of her uncles, a well-known Spanish painter, who was a friend of my family's. These connections seem silly, but in the atmosphere of proselytism in Opus Dei they are still very important. Years later, Mirufa was in Rome when I lived there. When she returned to Spain she became a journalist. She contributed for many years to the magazine Telva, and later to Ama, both entrusted to Opus Dei women.
Tere Gonzalez was another girl who requested admission as a numerary during this period. Tere was pure goodness, open and sincere. She managed to come almost every day to Abando.
Mirufa Zuloaga, Begona Elejalde, and Tere Gonzalez asked me about the Work and the Father. I had identified myself with Opus Dei to such a degree that I spoke to these new vocations with the great ease of "the first" (as the first women numeraries in Opus Dei were called) about the "mission God had given to the Father" and about "the happiness of renouncing everything without receiving anything in exchange." The strange thing is that when you become a complete fanatic, you exercise a certain magnetism that can attract even very strong personalities. This is the terrible power of sectarian fanaticism. Outsiders cannot explain how a person can change so much so quickly. The faith that these three girls had put in me was infinite. I realized, furthermore, my responsibility as "an instrument in the hands of God for his Work.
The Bilbao girls were different from those of Cordoba. Within Spain Bilbao society and Andalusian society are remarkably different, not that one is better, just distinct.
I hardly set foot outside, but these girls came almost every afternoon and stayed a bit longer each day. I was notified when the girls arrived and I would go up to the visitors' parlor to talk to different girls about spiritual and material life, and the problems they might encounter. My mission was to encourage them to get through the period of separation from their families and to throw themselves into Opus Dei without the slightest doubt, and with the energy and enthusiasm of youth. The St. Raphael girls in Abando were not allowed to enter the working areas of the administration.
My life in the Abando administration was very professional. Dorita Calvo, the directress was understanding, courteous, and open. She had the charisma of having spent the very first years of the Work in Rome in Monsignor Escriva's house. We asked her to tell us about him. Now, I realize years later that what Dorita used to recall were rather pleasant anecdotes about family life in the Opus Dei house, but nothing especially related to Monsignor Escriva's personal characteristics. She only repeated to us that "The Father likes things well done."
My confidences with Dorita Calvo were very sincere. The three basic points of any confidence were faith, purity, and vocation. In my case, thank God, I never had doubts about faith, and my confidence in God always was and is infinite. Regarding purity, you had to explain in detail any personal impulse whatsoever that you might have felt and explain how you had overcome it. Regarding "the way," that is, vocation, I also had no doubts.
As an example of any confidence in Opus Dei, one of my Bilbao confidences may serve: using the Luxindex weekly planners (manufactured by one of the many companies headed by Opus Dei people and which in the last analysis belong to Opus Dei) I would religiously jot down the points, i.e., failures, to be discussed. I would begin to speak about the fulfillment of norms of the plan of life. For instance, if I had felt lazy about getting up or if I had hesitated an instant before jumping out of bed to kiss the floor saying, Serviam!; if my spiritual reading had applied to my own life; if I had been distracted or sleepy in the meditation; if I had prayed the three parts of the holy rosary meaningfully or routinely; whether I had been generous in my corporal mortification (this meant whether I had worn the cilice as tightly as possible and if I had applied the discipline with energy or sparingly).
In all these points the directress would make me see clearly how "feeling" was not important
. The advice was ascetically sound and directed to form an iron will, like a suit of armor that would completely banish sentimentality. Strictly speaking, everything so far is correct Christian asceticism. I would call this part "A" of the confidence, and you cover the same ground as in your weekly confession but in greater detail. What I would call part "B" is manipulative when the directress would utilize my confidence to add that whatever work I might have done, whatever development had taken place in my interior life, everything had to be channeled toward Monsignor Escriva. Between Opus Dei and Monsignor Escriva there were no boundaries. They were the same, since the Father "engendered" Opus Dei. They did not ask us in the confidence about our love for the Pope, the church, the poor, but about our "love for the Father."
We were made to feel veneration for him similar to worship, all your prayer and all your mortification were oriented toward "the things the Father had in mind over and above any church or personal thought." The Opus Dei dictum "we are not preoccupied but we occupy ourselves with things" has the exact sense that absolutely nothing in our lives had the slightest importance. Only the Father was important and consequently we had to consider the Father's things above all else. It must be remembered that numeraries have to write Monsignor Escriva, the Father, "at least once a month." Failing to write showed "bad spirit" or "lack of the spirit of filiation." However, not to write to our families once a month did not have the slightest importance. The directress -- Opus Dei in essence -- employed the confidence to indoctrinate, affirm, and insist on certain points in a numerary's life in order to make her identify with Opus Dei doctrine. The confidence exercises control over the members and is a very real kind of brain washing under cover of "good spirit" or "formation."
At that period, we also had to make index cards with the names of persons who might be able to contribute financially to the construction of the Roman College of the Holy Cross. Obviously, how you carried out proselytism was another topic. I gave a detailed report on each and every girl of St. Raphael, of their problems, and their confidences. Many times the directress indicated what I ought to say to the girls or if I should correct anything that was not quite right concerning the spirit of the Work. Today, I understand that in these confidences the souls of other persons were pawed over, since what the St. Raphael girls had said to me in trust and confidence was reported to the directress, to a major superior, or to any other person whose position in Opus Dei entitled her to ask about the girls. I must make my own act of contrition here, because I acted the same way when I occupied positions in Opus Dei government, particularly in Rome. That is to say, the most important thing in the confidence was to relate how you had lived the spirit of Opus Dei and specifically "the love for the Father."
By the time I reached Dorita's hands, many other superiors had manipulated my conscience and my soul.
It is worth noting here that according to canon law, members of religious institutions "are to approach superiors with trust, to whom they can express their minds freely and willingly. However, superiors are forbidden to induce their subjects in any way whatever to make a manifestation of conscience to them."  So, there is not, according to canon law, any clause that obliges and considers it a duty, a basic rule of life, to lay bare your conscience to the superior. By contrast, Opus Dei, which is not a religious institution obliges you to speak with your directress each week, "the fraternal talk," formerly called "confidence." Monsignor Escriva stressed that in your confidence you must speak with even greater clarity and detail than with the priest in confession. For Monsignor Escriva the "confidence" was fundamentally more important than confession. 
Whatever Opus Dei ordered me to do I did and this became proof -- according to the spirit of the institution -- that I had fulfilled the will of God and that God, in consequence, was happy with me.
In Opus Dei faith is cultivated through piety. I mean by this that piety is cultivated so that members do not formulate any kind of question whose resolution would take them toward true faith. Simply put, in Opus Dei, people are made childish, not more mature.
This childishness and abandonment into the hands of superiors is nothing but an escape from the daily life of ordinary Christians. My own development had reached the point where I coldly accepted anything at all without allowing it to make waves in my spiritual life. I was a faithful instrument in the hands of the superiors. I was a perfect fanatic within Opus Dei and consequently a numerary without problems. Therefore, I had the happiness that you can have in a life of dedication in the Work. The person of the Father and proselytism were the first things for me.
The numeraries who went to Gaztelueta lived in Abando, but at Christmas 1951, they had permanent quarters at the administration of Gaztelueta.
It was difficult to reach the Gaztelueta administration because the route was circuitous and the door bell could not be heard anywhere in the house but just in the hall. On Christmas Day, Dorita told me to come and have lunch with them, so they would not be alone.
My temper surfaced for the first time in a long while. Walking from Las Arenas on a cold and rainy winter day, I had trouble finding the administration entrance. I rang the door bell for more than forty minutes but nobody heard the door bell so I had to walk back downtown again and call them to open the door.
Although there were no classes during Christmas vacation, the administration still made the rounds. The Gaztelueta administration directress, Mercedes Morado, invited me to put on a white house gown to accompany them to see the boys' school.
Gaztelueta began to function as a school in 1951. It was the fruit of the efforts by Father Antonio Perez Tenessa. Tomas Alvira had assisted him, and was a member of Opus Dei who had participated actively in the Instituto Escuela, the Institucion Libre de Ensefianza's chief educational activity.
Since the Instituto Escuela had been my first school, and I was one of the pupils who had inaugurated the newly constructed building on Serrano Street in Madrid, in 1931, it is impossible to express my astonishment on visiting Gaztelueta that late afternoon. Before my eyes appeared a copy -- a bad copy -- down to minute details like the shape of the cubbyholes for the pupils, little tables instead of desks, the number of pupils per class, even the colors of the little tables and the blackboards. It disturbed me that Gaztelueta had copied the Instituto Escuela's material layout, while the Las Arenas upper crust were led to believe that the Opus Dei school was "original."
Back in Bilbao that night I reflected on why I had been angry to see Gaztelueta copy the Instituto Escuela. Years later, I now believe that my displeasure was so great because the Instituto Escuela had a special charisma. It is well-known in Spain that this school -- in a very positive way -- forms your character. It had been my first school and any student from the "insti," as we called it, felt proud to be part of it. A burst of light suddenly brought a ghost from my very happy childhood. I saw Gaztelueta as something degenerate, without any sign of the spirit which animated the Instituto Escuela. Opus Dei had copied the shell but they could not grasp the spirit: the freedom we enjoyed in the Instituto Escuela, a mixed school for girls and boys. None of that could be implemented in Gaztelueta, which was only a school for rich boys, located in a chalet which had belonged to a wealthy family, where there was even a sedan chair in the vestibule as decoration. Over the marble staircase there was a large ornamental hanging with the school motto: "May your yes be yes, your no, no."
In the Instituto Escuela, telling the truth was so much instilled in every student that we did not need an ornamental cloth to remind us that truth is precious.
When I speak about Monsignor Escriva, I will explain in detail his great dream of transforming the Institucion Libre de Ensefianza for Christ, making its ideas and ideals his. Now I see beyond doubt that this was always Opus Dei's tactic under Monsignor Escriva's thought: copy and adapt. If you dig into Monsignor Escriva's thought, you do not find many great original ideas. His enthusiasm for replicating all sorts of things was notorious. The decorations of Opus Dei houses, much of their architecture, oratories, galleries, and living rooms, headquarters in Rome, were copied from chapels, palaces, villages; the furniture he had seen some place he had visited and ordered a copy made by an Opus Dei architect. When he saw a movie in the aula magna, when some feature of the decoration interested him, he had not the slightest hesitation to have that part of the picture cut out -- from that rented movie -- and subsequently enlarged the photo to copy whatever it was.
After my visit to Gaztelueta, I spoke to my directress who gave me, of course, the universal answer. If Monsignor Escriva did something, it was by divine inspiration. She made it very plain that I should never doubt that inspiration.
Relations with my family continued unchanged. There were no confrontations but no improvements.
I had my twenty-seventh birthday in March in the Abando administration, but there was no celebration of any kind. A few days into early April, Rosario de Orbegozo, the central directress, announced that she would visit Bilbao. We were all looking forward to seeing her on her return from Rome and she had said that she had many things to tell us about the Father. She arrived and summoned me to a private conversation where she told me that Monsignor Escriva had said that he wanted me to come to Rome to serve as his private secretary for the Women's Branch worldwide. Maria Luisa Moreno de Vega, a major superior, had also been selected to go to Rome and to be secretary to the Father. She also had worked for the Council of Scientific Research in Madrid.
I was so affected that I did not react. Rosario very gravely asked me whether I did not want to go or did not realize the privilege involved in the Father's call.
I told her that I understood the enormous privilege of going to work directly with the Father in Rome, but I was somewhat apprehensive, not knowing exactly how the Father was. Rosario did not like my reaction.
Rosario also told me that although it was Lent, when we did not write nor have any contact with our families, I should telephone my father to announce my trip to Rome and ask him to give me a ticket Madrid-Barcelona-Rome.
We obviously never did anything without an ulterior motive. Our sole contact with our families was to request something or other: from a ticket to an overcoat, a dress, or money. We were told in Opus Dei that we always had to make our parents give us things because that way they would be united to the Work. Also we were advised that when visiting our families we had to take something from the house always: from an ashtray to a porcelain vase. What is easy to see is that our families were not given the slightest consideration but were used and manipulated. The interesting thing is that nowadays I have also heard some families with children in Opus Dei say that if they give things to their children, the Work esteems them more highly.
Rosario Orbegozo told me Maria Luisa Moreno de Vega would go by airplane, because she was a major superior, but that I would go by train with an Opus Dei numerary servant, along with the trunk of clothes and other things needed by the house in Rome plus our own personal luggage.
I went to the oratory to thank God for choosing me to go to Rome to work for the Father, and I also asked God with all my heart for his help, because I was afraid of the unknown.
When I asked Dorita: "What is the Father really like, you who know him?" she laughed and said to me: "To live near the Father is hard because he is very demanding."
I had to leave Bilbao April 8 or 9, I do not recall exactly which date, arriving in Madrid the next day to apply for my Italian visa; my passport was valid.
Looking back, the moment at which my departure for Rome was announced, I realized that I was an Opus Dei numerary more than a normal person. With this I mean I was ready for anything as long as it fulfilled not just God's will, but "the Father's will." This is what happens when you become an Opus Dei fanatic: the will of God no longer counts as much because what counts is "the will of the Father," what "the Father says," what "gives joy to the Father." It is as if the adoration owed God is exchanged for "the will of Monsignor Escriva," in whom the "good spirit of Opus Dei" is acquired. The Father is turned into the likeness of God. This cult to the Founder is so ingrained in the numeraries with "good spirit" so as to form the essence of their interior life. To please the Father, pleases God, and not the reverse.
This is the tragedy of Opus Dei. Whereas sects like that of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon or of the Bhagwan Rajneesh are considered small barren islands isolated from world religions and not belonging to anyone in particular, Opus Dei, which is no less a sect, is part of our holy mother the Catholic church. Yet, the fact that Opus Dei has received all the church's approvals, first as secular institute, February 24, 1947,  then with the perpetual ratification of its Constitutions, June 16, 1950,  and on November 29, 1981, with the juridical change from secular institute to personal prelature, does not detract at all from its thoroughly sectarian character. 
1. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).
2. "Cuius christifideli integrum est, confessario legitime approbato etiam alius ritus, cui maluerit, peccata confiteri." Code of Canon Law (Washington, D.C.: Canon Law Society of America, 1983), p. 362, no. 991.
3. Constitutiones Societtftis Sacerdotalis Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei, approved June 16, 1950, hereafter Constitutions, 1950. Reference here to no. 263, chapter V, n. 83. The Constitutions have been published in a bilingual Latin/Spanish edition, translated by Maltilde Rovira Soler: Constituciones del Opus Dei, vol. 1, 1950, and vol. 2, 1982 (Madrid: Tiempo, 1986).
4. Code of Canon Law, p. 236, no. 630, 3.
5. Code of Canon Law, p. 360, no. 983, 1.
6. "Cum sodales non sint religiosae, dotem non afferent, neque religiosa veste seu habitu religioso utuntur, sed externe in omnibus, quae sacularibus communia sunt et a statu perfcctionis non aliena, ut aliae mulieres propriae condicionis, se gerunt, vestiunt, vitam ducunt." Codex Juris particularis Operis Dei, Rome, November 1982, n. 439 (Madrid: Ediciones Tiempo, 1986).
7. Constitutions, 1950, pp. 102-3, n. 227.
8. See Cuadernos-3, p. 57, and especially chapter 7, pp. 52-59, in the paragraph entitled "Love for Unity."
9. These sentences are a reinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:7: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."
10. "My Lord and my God, I firmly believe that you are here, that you see me, that you hear me; I adore you with profound reverence, ask your pardon for all my sins, and grace to make this time of prayer fruitful. Mother Immaculate, St. Joseph, my father and lord, my Guardian Angel, intercede for me."
11. "I thank you, O Lord, for all the good resolutions, inspirations, and affections you have granted me during this time of prayer. I ask your help to put them into practice. Mother Immaculate, St. Joseph, my father and lord, my Guardian Angel, intercede for me."
12. See the Book of Daniel 3:51-90.
13. Liturgical ceremony when the tabernacle is open and the priest blesses the congregation with the ciborium or monstrance containing the consecrated host.
14. Rocca, L'Opus Dei, p. 193: "Transformazione dell 'Opus Dei in Prelatura Personale," T. Caratteristiche specifiche e realta sociale dell'Opus Dei, 1, para. 3.
15. "Insulation consists of behavioural rules calculated to protect sect values by reducing the influence of the external world where contact necessarily occurs. Of course, insulation may be a latent function of the moral demands of sect teaching." Wilson, Patterns of Sectarianism, p. 37.
16. See Wilson, Patterns of Sectarianism, pp. 23-36, where we can find the following definition: "Typically a sect may be identified by the following characteristics: it is a voluntary association; membership is by proof to sect authorities of some claim of personal merit ... exclusiveness is emphasised, and expulsion exercised against those who contravene doctrinal, moral or organisational precepts.... they [sects] dictate the member's ideological orientation to secular society or they rigorously specify the necessary stands of moral rectitude."
17. "So your talents, your personality, your qualities are being wasted. So you are not allowed to take full advantage of them. Meditate well on these words by a spiritual writer: 'The incense offered to God is not wasted. Our Lord is more honored by the immolation of your talents than by their vain use.'"
18. See Reglamento interno de administraciones (Grottaferratta: Scuola Tipografica Italo-Orientale, 1947), 9; in Rocca, L'Opus Dei, pp. 163-65.
19. See Rocca, L'Opus Dei, p. 164.
20. The fiance, Diego Diaz, eventually became a numerary priest. He spent many years in Ecuador. Years ago he left Opus Dei and married.
21. "Fellowship is an important value for all members: fellow members are 'brethren', ... The individual is a sect-member, before he is anything else, he is expected to find his friends within the group." Wilson, Patterns of Sectarianism, p. 43.
22. Constitutions, 1950, p. 44.
23. Jesus Urteaga, Man the Saint (Chicago: Scepter, 1959), translated from the Spanish El valor divino de lo humano.
24. Cuadernos-3, "Vivir en Cristo," p. 86.
25. See Andres Vazquez de Prada, El Fundador del Opus Dei (Madrid: Rialp, 1983), p. 356.
26. Code of Canon Law, p. 237, canon 630, 5.
27. See "La Charla Fraterna," Cuadernos-3, 17, pp. 142-48.
28. See "Decretum laudis de la Sociedad Sacerdotal de la Santa Cruz y Opus Dei como Instituto Secular de derecho Pontificio," 24 February 1947, in de Fuenmayor et al., El itinerario juridico del Opus Dei, pp. 532-35.
29. See" Decretum Primum Inter, de aprobacion definitiva del Opus Dei y sus Constituciones como instituto secular de derecho pontificio," 16 June 1950, in de Fuenmayor et al., El itinerario juridico del Opus Dei, pp. 544-63.
30. See "Constitucion Apostolica Ut sit, de Su Santidad Juan Pablo II, relativa a la ereccion del Opus Dei en Prelatura personal de ambito internacional," 28 November 1982, in de Fuenmayor et al., El itinerario juridico del Opus Dei, pp. 622- 23.