Monday, May 01, 2006

Jogging worse than flogging

It won't be long now before The Da Vinci Code hits theaters. You probably know that the movie -- based on the popular novel of the same name by Dan Brown -- has stirred a bit of controversy among Roman Catholics, and a big beef they have with Brown's book is the insistence that certain details about the Church are factual when they aren't.

One of the "factual" depictions is that of Opus Dei, a Catholic organization founded in 1928 as a way for members to strengthen their faith. It turns out that San Antonio has its own former member of Opus Dei, and he was willing to talk about the organization to WOAI-TV. That person is Archbishop José Gomez.

Gomez (who happens to be a CPA) heads up the Archdiocese of San Antonio. No small position. So, when he speaks out about Opus Dei, his characterization should carry more weight than Dan Brown's, at least among the faithful.

Which is why this is interesting:

But "The Da Vinci Code" spotlights practices of Opus Dei that might sound like fiction.

"It's just a way of controlling yourself better, and giving more importance to the spiritual than to the material," explains Gomez.

Some members use unusual "instruments" to practice daily self-discipline to remind them of their faith and sacrifice. "They call it the cilice and the discipline."

A cilice is a kind of chain worn around the thigh, for a couple hours a day. The discipline is a small whip. Both are used to inflict pain on yourself.

Gomez admits that he has used such instruments in the past, but that their use shouldn't cause others to fret. Now that he is archbishop, he says that he is too busy for such minor punishments, and he seems to find regular living to be much more brutal.
Gomez insists he doesn't use the instruments anymore. "Not anymore. I don't have time. For me, I have bigger things that are sacrifice for me. It's much more difficult to get up in the morning and go jogging for an hour, than to use that thing." [emphasis added]

Well, if that's not an excuse to not work out, I don't know what is. And you have the Archbishop's word on that.

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