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A creative exploration of why Opus Dei would be so concerned about the recent movie out, The DaVinci Code.
"I confess that when I attained the summit of the forest hill, I was suspicious of what appeared a pagan shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe. A large piece of tourmaline was there for the taking as was a rosary of amethyst beads. I declined after admitting the temptation within myself."
"Why did you even consider stealing?" Father Patrick asked.
"If you are not raised Catholic, the tradition appears filled with ritual and incense. I cannot believe that a Living God would require such rigorous strictures before He could be approached. It seems holiness is a fearful thing."
Father Patrick sighed. He had been an economist before entering the monastery. His business acumen allowed the monastery to thrive through a range of judicious business ventures - a bindery, a wine warehouse, a specially concocted fruitcake, and a sustainable forestry enterprise. It was the rising at 4 A.M. that remained the hardest part of his contemplative lifestyle. This particular confessor disturbed his equanimity. He directed his attention again to the confessor.
Liam continued, "In my tradition, we know a just and loving creator. Catholics impose a doctrine of original sin, claiming all are born evil. This violates the premise of a just God who would allow us to chose good or evil, just as I chose not to take the piece of tourmaline from the shrine."
Patrick answered, "Our abbot does not require us to always remain here. He, himself, travels frequently. It is important to have a home in this uncertain world. Power is geographically specific."
Liam countered, "That sounds pagan, an earth-based religion. I thought your body was the temple of the Spirit?"
"Perhaps you had better seek your answer somewhere else, since I seem unable to help. Is there anything else you need to confess?"
Liam thought, "I do have some other questions, but we do not need this confessional. Let's go down to the pond and I can ask my questions."
Patrick emerged from his side. They walked across from the sanctuary to the cafeteria and each poured a cup of coffee. Patrick was a well-built man, in his early forties by appearance, although he was in fact over fifty-years old. Liam, too, appeared much younger than his fifty-six years, though his hair was beginning to gray, unlike Patrick's still red hair.
Seated, Liam commenced, "We two are both Irish - you from Donegal, I from the south. My ancestors fled when Cromwell was executing all good Catholics. We were allowed our own dispensation coming to the New World. Yet, I find concern that our Supreme Court now has five positions filled by practicing Catholics. Opus Dei actively recruits at Harvard where Chief Justice Roberts attended. He sends his children to an Opus Dei school. Justice Scalia frequently makes decisions that appear to stem more from religious conviction than adherence to the rule of Law. Does Europe seek to impose its will on America through the Catholic diocese?"
"Again, you ask more questions, that I can answer," Patrick smiled. It was an introverted smile, as though not used to the open jesting of his ancestors.
Liam, sensing Patrick's discomfort reverted to another tact. "Paddy the Cope is a history of the Irish cooperative movement. They subverted the efforts of the merchant brokers by direct marketing their famed Irish lace to London. Did you realize that it was the sessions of these Irish peasants, a bit of good Irish brew, and fiddle music that kept their spirits up?"
"Perhaps, a little help from the good Lord, too," suggested Patrick.
"How does your Irish soul come out in this monastic life?"
"I have tried a bit of poetry, but so far all that emerges are the tangled skein of sorrows."
"Aye, lad that tis the point I be makin'," Liam lapsed into brogue for a moment. "Your Escriva advocated crucifying the flesh in some extreme forms. Opus Dei may be a sub-order of Catholicism, but they also had their roots in European fascism. It begins to look that same way with the Bush presidency and their arbitrary violation of the Constitution. Are you concerned?"
Patrick breathed in the moist laden air of the forest surrounding their retreat. "Your questions always seem directed toward the strivings of this world, whereas I seek the inner peace that comes from knowing God."
"I'll grant you may have the better of me in the way of praying," Liam conceded. "Often I find myself wrestling with lethargy when praying. However, to remain sequestered, that seems to violate the grace inherent in the Power of Christ. I guess the best we can do is part friends, though I would be sore tried to remain confined here as you do."
"It is not easy," Patrick confessed.
Correction 06.Jun.2006 20:06

opus dei

A paragraph was omitted in the original submission. Please insert after,"just as I chose not to take the piece of tourmaline from the shrine." the following:

"In our Protestant ethic, Christ told us to seek out the lost, that where sin abounds, grace will that much more abound. How can a Trappist brother excercise these commands when withdrawn from the world?"

Also, speaking with a practicing Catholic sister, she felt the story was negative toward Catholics, that Catholics allow both for hermits and those that choose to be in the world. A careful reader will note that Father Patrick is attributed with powers of prayer, the result of his asceticism. Finally, I googled Opus Dei as reported in Time magazine issue April 24, 2006 for anyone interested in 'fair and balanced' reporting.