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Posted July 21, 2006

Book: Ordinary Work: Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei
Author: Scott Hahn
Doubleday, New York. 2006. Pp.192

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

To conspiracy theorists, Opus Dei is a highly secretive and powerful international organization. To its members, however, Opus Dei is a spiritual path, a way of incorporating the teachings of Jesus into everyday life. In Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace, Scott Hahn, a member of Opus Dei, describes the organization's founding, its mission, and its profound influence on his life.

Hahn recounts the invaluable part Opus Dei played in his conversion from Evangelical Christianity to Catholicism and explains why its teachings remain at the center of his life. Through stories about his job and marriage, his role as a parent, and his community activities, Hahn shows how Opus Dei's spirituality enriches the meaning of daily tasks and transforms ordinary relationships. He offers inspiring insights for reconciling spiritual and material goals, discussing topics ranging from ambition, workaholism, friendship, and sex, to the place of prayer and sacrifice in Christianity today.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Work and Worship: The Plan of Life

When you bring order into your life your time will multiply, and then you will be able to give God more glory, by working more in his service.

Some years ago, as researchers labored feverishly to map the human genome, one of the leaders of the project permitted himself a brief break to be interviewed by a reporter. Since he was already a Nobel Prize winner - having achieved that milestone in his youth - his time was extremely valuable, but not only to his colleagues but also to his country. Ever since the discovery of mankind's basic genetic material, all the developed nations of the world were in competition, rushing to be the first to crack the code. The media hyped a range of possible outcomes: the eradication of many killer diseases, the cloning of mice and men, the creation of new breeds of crops and livestock, the manufacture of replacement limbs and organs, and the greatest but most elusive promise of all those long hours in the laboratory - bodily immortality. It's difficult to imagine more exalted material goals than these, measured against any purely earthly standard.

The Nobel Prize winner was, understandably, breathless as he spoke with the reporter about the work of his team of researchers. "So much is happening so fast," he said, "that we are in a constant state of excitement and hardly have time to think."

To careful readers, that line was chilling. Here was a team of brilliant men applying the whole of their lives to a work fraught with consequences and tangled in ambiguities - and they had no time to ponder those consequences or sort out the ambiguities.

No matter what work we do, our actions have consequences, and the world turns on those consequences. In my high school physics class, I learned Newton's third law: that every acton has an equal and opposite action. That by itself would be a sobering thought. Now, moreover, physicists tells us that a change in a butterfly's flight pattern in Honduras can affect the weather in New York City. Our actions, then, even in the natural order, can produce outsized reactions. Even though you and I might be working at tasks more humble than the Human Genome Project, we should be deliberate about our work. We should work with recollection. We should make the time to stop and think. We should make the effort to contemplate.

Table of Contents:

1. A personal prelude
2. The secret of Opus Dei
3. The Catholic work ethic
4. The work and the church
5. Work and worship: the plan of life
6. Aiming high
7. Friendship and confidence
8. Secularity and secularism
9. Sex and sacrifice
10. The workshop of Nazareth: on unity of life
11. A working mother
12. Turn up the romance

appendix 1 St. Josemaria and scripture

appendix 2 Some prayers of St. Josemaria