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Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei Hardcover – September 26, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With interest in the controversial group Opus Dei piqued by the popularity of the novel, TheDa Vinci Code, a book by a member who purports to tell his "personal story" is bound to attract attention. Unfortunately, this latest work from author and Catholic convert Hahn consists mostly of a didactic treatment of the theology of Opus Dei, containing little that is compelling about its relationship to Hahn's life. The author was drawn to Opus Dei after meeting several of its members at a time when he was pondering whether to join the Catholic Church. Disappointed in the lack of zeal he had found among other Catholics, he was pleased to discover in Opus Dei members a lively faith that was closer to what he had known among fellow evangelical Protestants. "Opus Dei," he writes, "was someplace where I could begin to feel at home." Other than this brief personal vignette, Hahn remains in the role of teacher and biblical theologian, expounding on the group's tenets as formed by its founder, St. Josemaría Escrivá. Hahn's book is useful as an introduction to Opus Dei for those seeking to learn about the organization and its spiritual foundations, but it could have benefited from greater personal reflection. (Oct. 3)
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Advance Praise for Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace 

“Only a few years ago, Opus Dei was seen as alien, secretive, and sinister. Then some writers began to take a closer look. Now Scott Hahn has given us a lively and readable account of the joy he and thousands of others have discovered in doing God’s work in God’s world.”

—(The Rev.) Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of First Things

“If you want the real story about Opus Dei, Scott Hahn will give you the shocking truth—the shock of a Gospel life lived effectively in the midst of the world. Like all his other books, this one will challenge your view of the Christian life.”

—Father Benedict J. Groeshcel, C.F.R., author of Arise From Darkness

 “Scott Hahn’s abilities as a scholar, teacher, and writer are already well known. But the story of his journey to Opus Dei that emerges here, and his portrait of The Work remind us that each of us, no matter what our vocation or state of life, is called to holiness. This is compelling reading.”
—Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver

“In the vast ocean of literature on Opus Dei, what we have not had until now is a book written by an insider but accessible to outsiders. Faced with the popular myth of a militant, foreboding society, the average person has been left to ask: What in the world might attract someone to this? Scott Hahn provides the answer. He opens up the spiritual core of Opus Dei, explaining why tens of thousands of thoughtful people have seen it as their pathway to holiness, and to the holiness of the world. In these pages, Hahn’s prose is at its sparkling, insightful, crystal-clear best. It’s a book that needed to be written, so that we all may understand.”

—John Allen, Vatican writer for the National Catholic Reporter and author of Opus Dei

“Scott Hahn is one of our finest spiritual writers, and in Opus Dei he has found a subject worthy of his gifts. This is a book that everyone can ponder and pray over with profit.”

—Russell Shaw, author of Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church and Personal Vocation

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Image (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385519249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385519243
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Scott Hahn is the author (or editor) of over forty books, including several recent titles (Joy to the World, Evangelizing Catholics, Angels and Saints, and Consuming the Word), along with best-selling titles like Rome Sweet Home, The Lamb's Supper, Hail Holy Queen, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, Lord Have Mercy, First Comes Love, Swear to God, Understanding Our Father, Scripture Matters, Spirit and Life, Understanding the Scriptures, Catholic Bible Dictionary, Many Are Called, Signs of Life, Reasons to Believe, Answering the New Atheism, Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace, and Living the Mysteries. His academic publications include Kinship by Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God's Saving Promises (Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library), The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1-2 Chronicles, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, Letter and Spirit: From Written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy, and Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture (1300-1700). He is the editor of the academic periodical, Letter & Spirit: A Journal of Catholic Biblical Theology, and co-editor of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible.

An exceptionally popular speaker and teacher, Dr. Scott Hahn has delivered thousands of popular talks and academic lectures, nationally and internationally, on a wide range of topics related to Scripture, Theology and the Catholic faith. Hundreds of these presentations have been recorded and distributed by Lighthouse Catholic Media. He has appeared on hundreds of television programs on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), where he has also been the regular host and presenter on several popular 13-week series (including Our Fathers Plan, The Lamb's Super, Genesis to Jesus, Consuming the Word).

Founder and President of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology ( / ), Dr. Hahn holds the Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he's taught since 1990. He also holds the William and Lois McEssy Distinguished Visiting Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. In 2005, he was awarded the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary (Latrobe PA), which he held through 2011. He also held the Cardinal Laghi Chair of Catholic Theology from 2002-2004 at the Pontifical Seminary Josephinum (Columbus OH).

Scott graduated from Grove City College in 1979 with his BA in Theology, Philosophy and Economics (magna cum laude). He graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1982 with his M.Div (summa cum laude). Scott received his Ph.D. in Theology from Marquette University in 1995 (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). He was ordained in 1982 at Trinity Presbyterian Church (Fairfax VA). He entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, 1986.

Dr. Scott Hahn was born in 1957, and has been married to Kimberly since 1979. They live in Steubenville Ohio and have six children and twelve grandchildren.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on October 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Whenever I have a question about the Catholic Faith, be it doctrine, dogma, or just Catholic culture I always find myself turning to Dr. Scott Hahn for answers. Whatever the subject, Dr. Hahn seems to have written about it and I feel that I can depend on him for honest answers written in a context that I or anyone else can easily understand. This book written from the perspective of an insider is no exception as the author explains the theology of the supposedly menacing and dark Opus Dei.

As one reads this book it is easy to see the influence of Opus Dei on Dr. Hahn and his previous writings. One of the central tenants of the order is Divine Filiation (God our Father, Christ our Brother, all of us as part of one Holy Family) and that same emphasis is a major part of Dr. Hahn's writings. Other important facets of the order are daily prayers, reading of scripture, and Mass attendance. In other words, Opus Dei is an organization that promotes the living of a Holy life in our daily living. This is indeed an important teaching since we all too often forget about God except on Sunday.

The most important and central point of the teachings of Opus Dei however seems to be that all that we do should be done for and in honor of God. According to Dr. Hahn our work should be done in the absolute best way that we can and then offered to God as a sacrifice such as the sacrifices offered up by the Israelites in the Old Testament. These sacrifices were required to be the best available and thus our work should also be as perfect as possible. This teaching makes sense but would also seem, like the Protestant work ethic, to be a teaching that could be used by employers as an excuse for taking advantage of their workers.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. McEvoy on November 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This extraordinary little book is unlike anything else out there about Opus Dei. There are books that both vilify and support or endorse Opus Dei, but this book is about personal journey, the positive, transformative, life-changing effects that being involved with the work has had upon one man's life. Unlike the fictional Da Vinci Code, which portrays Opus Dei as the ultimate evil, or even the supposedly non-fiction books Their Kingdom Come by Robert Hutchinson or Michael Walsh's Opus Dei: An Investigation into the Powerful, Secretive Society Within the Catholic Church, this book is based upon a true story and personal experience.

In this book, Hahn has an openness and transparency about his personal life seldom seen in authors writing about spiritual matters. Hahn opens up areas of his life for us to see; he shares mistakes he has made and how through the guidance of others he has learnt and grown with the help of the spirituality of Opus Dei.

Dr. Hahn opens up the world of Opus Dei, through his coming into contact with a few men who were devout Catholics - men of faith and of the Word that influenced his spiritual growth in many ways. Hahn reveals the spirit/core/intent of Opus Dei in the order that he came to understand it.

In this compact 155-page book, Hahn provides lively and easily- accessible explanations of key aspects of Opus Dei, such as: "divine filiation", the idea that we are sons and daughters of God, the foundation of Opus Dei's spirituality. Also he explains how ordinary work is a way of imitating Jesus and a way to share in God's creation and the redemption of the world. He also explains Opus Dei as a "personal prelature", and how that works, as well as the role of Opus Dei in the Catholic Church. Dr.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Carson Weber on November 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for an autobiography such as what you'll read in Dr. Scott Hahn's "Rome Sweet Home," (coauthored with his wife, Kimberly) you will not find it in "Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei." Rather, the content is an explanation of charism of the personal prelature, Opus Dei.

If you take out the appendicies, the added margin space due to indentations and subtitles, the extended quotations, and the endnotes, the book would consist of less than 100 pages of material. The material is very good, but upon finishing the book, I felt as if I had been shorted for the money I spent to acquire a copy for myself.

I did enjoy Dr. Hahn's explanation of the healthy anticlericalism St. Josemaría Escrivá espoused, which teaches how sanctity is accessible to every baptized soul.. that God's vocation for each soul is inseparable from his call for that soul to attain holiness. Like Russell Shaw in his "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church," Opus Dei focuses upon the real - and often neglected - baptismal priesthood of every Catholic, which is the indispensable foundation for living our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways.

We often see clericalism raise its head in the Church today in the form of "lay ministers" who feel as if to be of importance, they must do those things traditionally reserved to the clergy within the liturgy such as distributing the body and blood of Christ as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Rather, the laity are called to be nourished in the liturgy so as to go forth and live their priesthood in the day-to-day, mundane activities that fill our everyday lives.
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