You have spoken a lot about work. What place would you say work occupies in the spirituality of Opus Dei?
The vocation to Opus Dei in no way changes or modifies a person's condition or state in life. And since man's condition, his lot, is to work, the supernatural vocation to holiness and apostolate according to the spirit of Opus Dei confirms this human vocation to work. The vast majority of the members of the Work are lay people, ordinary Christians. Their condition consists in having a profession or trade which is often absorbing and by means of which they earn their living, support their family, contribute to the common good, and develop their own personality.
The vocation to Opus Dei confirms all this: to such an extent that one of the essential signs of this vocation is precisely a determination to remain in the world and to do a job as perfectly as possible (taking into account, of course, one's personal imperfections), both from the human and from the supernatural point of view. This means it must be a job which contributes effectively towards both the building up of the earthly city — and therefore it must be done competently and in a spirit of service; and to the consecration of the world — and in this regard it must both sanctify and be sanctified.
Those who want to live their Faith perfectly and to do apostolate according to the spirit of Opus Dei, must sanctify themselves with their work, must sanctify their work and sanctify others through their work. It is while they work alongside their equals, their fellow working men from whom they are in no way different, they strive to identify themselves with Christ, imitating His thirty years in the workshop in Nazareth.
Ordinary work is not only the context in which they should become holy. It is the 'raw material' of their holiness. It is there in the ordinary happenings of their day's work that they discover the hand of God and find the stimulus for their life of prayer. This same professional job brings them into contact with other people — relatives, friends, colleagues — and with the great problems which affect their society and the world at large; and it affords them the opportunity to live that self-giving in the service of others which is essential for Christians. This is where they should strive to give a true and genuine witness to Christ so that all may get to know and love our Lord and discover that their normal life in the world, their everyday work, can be an encounter with God.
In other words, holiness and apostolate and the ordinary life of the members of the Work come to form one and the same thing, and that is why work is the hinge of their spiritual life. Their self-giving to God is grafted on to the work which they were doing before they came to Opus Dei and which they continue to do after they join.
In the early years of my pastoral work, when I began to preach these ideas, some people did not understand me, and others were scandalised: they were so accustomed to hearing the world spoken of in a pejorative way. Our Lord had made me understand, and I tried to make other people understand, that the world is good, for the works of God are always perfect, and that it is we men who make the world bad, through our sins.
I said then, as I do now, that we must love the world, because it is in the world that we meet God: God shows Himself, He reveals Himself to us in the happenings and events of the world.
Good and evil are mixed in human history, and therefore the Christian should be a man of judgement. But this judgement should never bring him to deny the goodness of God's works. On the contrary, it should bring him to recognise the hand of God working through all human actions, even those which betray our fallen nature. You could make a good motto for Christian life out of these words of St Paul: 'All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's' (1 Cor 3:22-23), and so carry out the plans of that God whose will it is to save the world.