During the reign of The Da Vinci Code, the Catholic Church and, in particular, Opus Dei took some pretty hard punches. Cable specials, TV commentaries, the movie, and every ad aired conjured up the ogre and called him Opus Dei. Portrayed as secretive and exclusive, the organization didn’t take it on the chin and forget about it. Instead, the members viewed the Da Vinci controversy as an astounding opportunity to get their own message out. They decided to “make lemonade.” While people went to the Internet in droves to research the book and the movie, many clicked further and found the official Opus Dei website. (A quick search of “Opus Dei” and “Da Vinci Code” revealed 582,000 links.)
How did they fare? In a paper titled "Three Years with the Da Vinci Code" presented on April 27, 2006 in the Fifth Professional Seminar for Church Communications, the New York Communications Office of Opus Dei reported this:
The official website, www.opusdei.org, has proved to be an amazing instrument in a period such as this. The site is of its nature global, like the Da Vinci phenomenon. There we have offered the most extensive and detailed answer to the Da Vinci Code in 22 languages. During the year 2005, the American section of the website received more than a million different visitors (that’s visitors, not visits); and the total more than three million. The day that these reflections were finalised in New York, there had arrived 156 messages by 9 in the morning. One curious effect is the scholar-novelist Umberto Eco’s recommendation of the official Opus Dei website. Exhausted by continuous questions about the veracity of the DVC, Eco tells his readers, “Besides, if you want up-to-date information on all the matters in question, go to the site of Opus Dei. Even if you are atheists, you can trust it.”
Now Scott Hahn comes with his 11th book, Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei. Hahn, a former Protestant evangelical, a Presbyterian minister to be exact, relates how he eventually became a “wannabe Catholic.” But not until, as he says, he “arrived at Marquette University for graduate studies in theology with high hopes but low expectations.” There he met a couple of Catholics who — shock! — carried small Bibles in their pockets. Card-carrying Bible readers who depended on scripture in their everyday life were, in Hahn’s experience, not everyday Catholics. Thus begins Hahn’s introduction to Opus Dei and his first steps on a spiritual journey that would lead to his embrace of the Opus Dei spirituality and eventually end in his conversion to the Catholic faith.