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Posted July 1, 2010

Book: Jose Maria Escriva: Writing the Way: The Story of a Spiritual Classic
Author: Russell Shaw
Scepter Publishers, New York. 2010. Pp. 102

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

When The Way by St. Josemaria Escriva was published in 1939, its author, the founder of Opus Dei, thought it might sell as many as 3,000 copies. Since then this little book for meditation and prayer has sold 5 million copies and been translated into more than 40 languages, while winning recognition as a modern spiritual classic.

Read and cherished by popes and priests, fathers and mothers, students and workers, people of all classes and conditions, The Way in its 999 “points” is a clear, down-to-earth guidebook for serious Christians living in the world who aspire to climb the “inclined plane” that leads to union with God. In Writing, ‘The Way’ Russell Shaw tells a dramatic and often moving story of how this remarkable book came to be and offers important insights into its meaning for today.

An Excerpt from the Book:

A Guinness Stout of the Interior Life

In his carefully researched and reported study Opus Dei, journalist John L. Allen, Jr., remarks that the spirit of Opus Dei is to the spiritual life what that dark, strongly flavored beverage Guinness Stout is to beer. “In this era of new ecclesiastical brews,” he writes, “Opus Dei offers a robustly classical alternativ.” To that one might add: Classical, yes; old-fashioned, no. from a historical point of view, as Allen points out, Opus Dei’s “vision of laity and priests, women and men sharing the same vocation and being part of the same body, all free to pursue that vocation within their professional sphere as they see fit, was so innovativ that St. Josemaria was accused of heresy in 1940s Spain.”

The accusations of heresy have died down by now, mot least because Vatican II validated so many of St. Josemaria’s insights. Yet in many respects Opus Dei and what it stands for remain something new and largely untried in Catholic life. Allen writes: “At its core, the message of Opus Dei is that the redemption of the world will come in large part through laywomen and men sanctifying their daily work, transforming secularity from within. ‘Spirituality’ and ‘prayer’ according to this way of seeing things, are not things reserved primarily for church, a set of pious practices marked off from the rest of life; the real focus of the spiritual life is one’s ordinary work and relationships, the stuff of daily living that, seen from the point of view of eternity, takes on transcendent significance. It is an explosive concept, with the potential for unleashing creative Christian energy in many areas of endeavor.

Table of Contents:

1. Books of fire

2. A profitable lesson for our soul

3. The writing of The Way

4. Up the inclined plane

5. The originality of St. Josemaria Escriva