Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace

This past wednesday, my Catholic Women's Book Club met to discuss Dr. Scott Hahn's book, Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace.

First off, I would like to say that our group is composed of young Catholic women who are mostly professional women in their maidenhood. Just two others and myself are married. It is very refreshing to meet with other women who share the faith and a love of literature. We recently selected our choices for the upcoming year for which we will meet every six weeks to discuss the current book. We have selected a variety of works including: history, biography, social commentary, mystical, etc.

Our latest book was Ordinary Work Extraordinary Grace by Dr. Hahn. Our entire group found this book to be beneficial to our prayer lives. Dr. Hahn begins by explaining the history of Opus Dei and some basic information about St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder. He then does a simple exegesis about the book of Genesis and the concept of work.

I especially enjoyed this section in light of the secular notions of "working for the weekend." That all our weekly activities are planned in anticpation for our leisure time. That leisure time is the pinnacle of our existence. Dr. Hahn takes the time to dispel this notion by highlighting God's original blessing of work to Adam. It is not a matter of what we do, but how we do it that is such a intrinsic element to our existence. We are not defined by the work we do, but by the attitude that arises out of our very being. A similar vein of thought would be that there is an abundance of grace poured upon us, but how do we respond to that grace?

Dr. Hahn continues with some personal reflection woven into this piece about his own experience with Opus Dei, their part in his conversion, and that it was not so much an "organization" that influenced his life, but the personal friendships that he had and the witness of those friends in the ordinary daily work of their lives.

In one of the closing chapters, I was struck by a reflection about St. Josemaria and his words on the subject.

Having shared some thoughts about our primary infertility, it would be fitting for me to moved by the following excerpt:

"...Nor will every marriage be blessed with children. Some couples face lifelong infertility. St. Josemaria taught them to love one another dearly and to spend their love lavishly on the people around them--to give more of their time to apostolic activity and service among their friends. This is what it means to live in the family of God. Thus, their lives, like the lives of parents, will be full.

'God, in His providence, has two ways of blessing marriages: one by giving them children; and the other, sometimes, because He loves them so much, by not giving them children. I don't know which is the better blessing. In any event, let each one accept his own. To those couples who don't have children, I tell you to love each other very much, very much. Human love within marriage is most pleaseing to God. Love one another with all your soul, according to the natural law and God's law.'"

[Transcript from a gathering at Pozoalbero, Jerez de la Frontera, November 12, 1972]

Overall, the group, myself included, would most definitely recommend this book. Unlike some other works by Dr. Hahn, this one is not primarily a scripture commentary with emphasis on sacramental relevance. This work, rather, is like one talking about an old friend in fondness. Sharing the history of the friendship and the favorite memories.

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