Nov 29, 2005
by Josemaria Escriva (Scepter Press, Princeton, 1982); www.scepterpublishers.org/
411 pp., $7.95 (pocket-sized, paperback “mini-edition”)
Doubleday has recently published a solid book on a “controversial” topic by the journalist John Allen, Opus Dei (320 pages, $24.95). According to its reviews, the book fulfills the promise of its subtitle, “an objective look behind the myths and reality of the most controversial force in the Catholic Church.” (See, e.g., Fr. John Neuhaus’ review in the November 2005 First Things magazine, p. 75.) While I have not yet read Allen’s book, I have received spiritual formation from priests of Opus Dei (in English, commonly called “the Work,” short for its Latin name, which translates as “the Work of God”) throughout my adult life. Friends who are members of the Work have told me not only that they cooperated with Allen’s research, but that they welcomed it and have learned a great deal about the Work by reading his book. If you are interested in the facts and circumstances surrounding this Catholic organization, especially if you were either scandalized or intrigued by its ridiculous depiction in Dan Brown’s silly but bestselling novel, The DaVinci Code, read Allen’s book. If you do not want to pay $24.95 for the fruits of Allen’s research, you can find out a good deal about Opus Dei absolutely free by visiting the Work’s website, www.opusdei.org, or its companion sites about the life and writings of its founder, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, at www.josemariaescriva.info/ and www.escrivaworks.org.
Josemaria Escriva was born in Barbastro, Spain, in 1902, was ordained a priest in 1925, founded the Work in 1928, died in 1975 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002. I first encountered the then-future saint shortly before his death in 1975, while I was a junior in college. A friend had given me a copy of his small but seminal book, The Way (originally published in Spain as Consideraciones Espirituales in 1934). The Way consists of 999 short paragraphs which the saint intended his readers to use as springboards into meditative or contemplative prayer. He himself says by way of introduction: