Working for a holier world

First slide

As an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Daryl Glick didn't really know what he wanted to do with his life. He was an idealist though, thanks to his Catholic upbringing in Michigan, and believed he could make a difference in the world.

"I felt like God wanted me to do something with my life and I thought it might involve a vocation, but I was very tentative about what specific kind of vocation it might take," Glick said.

While he was trying to discern God's call, Glick attended activities organized by Opus Dei, an organization of the Church that encourages lay people to seek holiness in their day-to-day activities.

Through Opus Dei, Glick began to think about the ways in which he could spread the word of God and make the world a better place simply by living out his faith in every aspect of his life.

"The ideal of Opus Dei is that you have dedicated men and women who, through their interaction with others in the workplace - ordinary human pursuits - will promote an awareness of the calling to holiness through their friendships, work relationships, family life, involvement in society and their efforts at leadership," Glick said. "That was a big discovery for me to recognize that my studies and my future career could be the substance of a vocation of serving God."

While Glick felt strongly that he was making the right choice in joining Opus Dei, his family was a little wary of the organization, which they weren't familiar with, but has come under suspicion many times since its inception in 1928. Opponents have criticized the group, calling it secretive, extremely right-wing and overly strict on its members.

Glick believes the criticisms of Opus Dei are false and that the group is a "fully proved and established part of the Church." He didn't let his family's misgivings stop him from joining.

"My family said, 'don't do anything you can't get out of,' but I never had any doubts," Glick said. "It's been a great vocation."

Glick joined Opus Dei as a celibate lay member 45 years ago.

He continued school, eventually earning his doctorate in philosophy from Notre Dame. From there, he taught philosophy for five years at the college before being invited to work for the Opus Dei national office in New York in 1972. Ever since, he's been working full time for the organization, doing administrative and pastoral work in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

During this time, Glick met St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

"Can you imagine what it's like being with a saint? It's like being with Christ," Glick said. "It was like getting an energy charge, touching a live wire almost, leaving a feeling like you could do anything."

Three years ago, Glick came to Virginia to become director of the Reston Study Center, a men-only Opus Dei center in the Arlington Diocese. At the center, he spends his time offering spiritual direction, coaching and encouragement to men looking to deepen their spirituality and bring their faith into all parts of their lives.

"Our focus is on sanctifying the ordinary life, bringing God into the events of everyday and trying to deepen our prayer lives and draw others closer to Christ," Glick said.

To do this, Glick and his coworkers meet with Opus Dei members regularly - usually weekly - to get acquainted and suggest readings and classes for them. They also plan seminars, retreats and conferences to strengthen their members' spiritual practices.

"Someone said once, Opus Dei is like a spiritual Weight Watchers," Glick said. "You can be in the program and you can more or less do it on your own, but eventually you poop out and you have to come back and be re-energized and recommitted and checked against your resolutions so they can get you going again."

The goal of all the classes and seminars is for members to begin taking their faith more seriously.

"We want them to realize God is a player in their life," Glick said. "He's not just kind of out in the distance somewhere and you've gotta make sure you give Him His due every now and then on Sundays. That's not the Catholic life really. The Lord should be in all aspects of your day - keep Him present while you're working or relaxing, entertaining or socializing."

For Glick, the most rewarding aspect of his job is his work with college and high school students. Reston Study Center has members from several colleges, including George Mason University, University of Virginia and William and Mary. The center also works with students from The Heights, an Opus Dei boys' school in Potomac, Md.

"We try to organize activities for them to keep them nurturing their faith life and their prayer life and we challenge them so they don't get too comfortable in the Faith," Glick said. "I really enjoy that - sticking it to these college students - asking, 'What are you doing? What are you reading? How are you deepening your faith?'"

To people looking to deepen their own spirituality, Glick suggested that they hold themselves to a higher standard of Catholicism.

"The good enough Catholic concept doesn't cut it anymore," he said. "That's not God's plan for us just to get along with the minimum."

To do this, Glick said that people should start by engaging in a minimum of 10 minutes of free-flowing mental prayer a day, using a guide if needed.

"Get up close and personal and be real," he said. "Oftentimes our worship and our prayer life is sort of a façade - official and formulaic - where we're going through the motions, but our minds are somewhere else. We need to be real and let our guard down and put it all out there. If people do that and stick with it, it will change their life."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2008