A short history of Opus Spiritus Sancti, (OSS)

The Opus Spiritus Sancti (OSS) is the official Latin title for the federation of five individual Communities/Societies founded by Rev.  Fr.  Bernhard Bendel. In fact, he always rejected to be called the founder of OSS Communities/Societies but rather he would say the founder is the Holy Spirit, I am an instrument. These Communities/Societies are:

  • The Apostolic Life Community of Sisters (ALCS).
  • The Community of Apostolic Christians (CAC).
  • The Secular Institute of Priests (SIP).
  • The Secular Institute of Women (SIW)
  • The Apostolic Life Community of Priests (ALCP).
The Opus Spiritus Sancti is translated as Work of the Holy Spirit. This name arose from an inspiration of the founder, after a careful reflection and a confirmation by the Bishop of Limburg Dr. Wilhelm Kempf with whom they shared many conversations about the title. Work of the Holy Spirit carries with it a twofold expression: it is a question of a special calling and the statement   of a very concrete obligation. Therefore, the very inspiration to start the Congregation is the Holy Spirit, so the name of the Community/Society itself obliges us to work, with and for the Church. Every Community/Society is autonomous in all matters concerning their internal life and administration.
When we speak of the Opus Spiritus Sancti (OSS), our minds focus directly   on these five Community/Society.  It has its own spirituality, goals and mission. These are found in the Communities/Societies and lived in the concrete life of the Church.   The members of these   different Communities/Societies   are members of the OSS or belong automatically to the OSS. They have in common a dedication   to the Holy Spirit in their respective Community/Society. All the Communities/Societies   participate   in the life of the Opus Spiritus Sancti.   There is a general Constitution and Directerum Spirituale for all Communities/Societies    as well as a Basic Spiritual Exercise.  These Communities/Societies   are autonomous and independent   regarding their administration, the formation of their members, their temporal goods and their specific activities. But all these facts   should not hinder   the different Community/Society   from   reflecting   upon   their   individuality.
The Opus Spiritus Sancti    has its goals   and mission in the Church. These must be communicated   to the members, while they are   in formation.  That all   the Communities/Societies    are apostolic and secular   in character. But the goals and mission   depend on the nature   of each Community/Society. The formators   of each Community/Society   in the OSS must understand their own nature and spirituality which should   be in the formation of the Church’s doctrine. The application   of the goals and mission of the OSS is to participate   in the testimony which the Church bears to Jesus Christ.
The Community/Society   in the OSS   are characterized   by unity and solidarity   in their basic principles.  They are established   in different continents   but united   in the Holy Spirit and in the charism of the founder, Father Bernard Bendel.

The emblem/Logo of Opus Spiritus Sancti (0SS), is portrayed by two pictures as seen above:

  1. The picture of the Mother of the Church
  2. The picture of the Mother of Eternal Love

NB: The originals of both pictures are part of a famous Marian altar in the Church of St. Reinoldi in Dortmund, West Germany, painted in the 15th century.

 The picture of the Mother of the Church.
The picture of the Mother of the Church was chosen by the founder Fr. Bernhard Bendel as the emblem of the Opus Spiritus Sancti (OSS), to show the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost. Through the work   of the Holy Spirit we, like they were, are filled with a true   understanding   of the nature of God’s   work   on earth.  We are imbued with zeal and courage and thereby enabled to bring the Good news to all.
Father Bendel envisioned a new Pentecost in our time.  As he prayed  about this vision  he saw  the Spirit  once  again  filling  the hearts  and souls  with the Spirit’s   fire, so that,  like the Apostles  in union with Mary they could go into the world spreading the good News  and enkindling  new fires.  He prayed that the Opus Spiritus Sancti might be a modern-day instrument for renewal and for better establishing the Reign of God.

The picture of the Mother of Eternal Love
This picture of “Our Mother of Eternal Love” was chosen by Father Bendel early in the history of the Opus Spiritus Sancti as particularly expressive   of the spirituality and the aims of the Opus.
The central point   in human history is the Incarnation. The Word of God became flesh and lives among us.   The incarnation brings God into union   with humankind and expresses God’s   love the human family.
As Father Bendel saw the Incarnation, it was not as isolated event in history, but a continuing reality, a making present in every age God’s laving care for all people everywhere. The eternal Word who became Incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary continues to become incarnate in those people who are open   to the action of the Holy Spirit.
This is precisely   the vocation of the Opus Spiritus Sancti: to make this incarnation of God an ever-growing   reality   in the lives   of each member   of the Opus and through   them   to influence all in the world. We are to burn   for love   of Jesus and others are to be warmed by the burning.  Paul’s admonition, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14) is the daily vocation of the members   of the Opus.  And we can realize our vocation only by our generous cooperation with the continuing action of the Holy Spirit.