The Code of Genius
The new Opus Dei World Headquarters and conference center, known as Murray Hill Place, was situated at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City. With a price tag exceeding $47 million, the building spanned 133,000 square feet and featured a facade of red brick and Indiana limestone. Designed by May & Pinska, the structure included more than one hundred bedrooms, six dining rooms, libraries, living rooms, meeting rooms, and offices. Chapels adorned with millwork and marble were located on the second, eighth, and sixteenth floors, while the seventeenth floor was designated for residential use. Men accessed the building through the main doors on Lexington Avenue, while women used a side entrance that ensured their acoustic and visual separation from men within the premises.
Earlier that evening, Bishop Manuel Aringarosa had packed a small travel bag and dressed in a traditional black cassock within the confines of his penthouse apartment. Normally, he would have worn a purple cincture around his waist, but he wished to avoid drawing attention to his high office while traveling in public. He wore a 14-karat gold bishop’s ring with a purple amethyst, large diamonds, and an intricately designed mitre-crozier appliqué. With his travel bag slung over his shoulder, he offered a silent prayer and left his apartment. In the lobby, his driver awaited to transport him to the airport.
Currently seated on a commercial airliner bound for Rome, Aringarosa stared out at the dark expanse of the Atlantic. The sun had already set, and he recognized that his own influence was on the rise. He thought, Tonight, victory will be secured, marveling at how just months prior, he had felt powerless against the forces that seemed determined to dismantle his empire.
As the president-general of Opus Dei, Bishop Aringarosa had dedicated the past decade to spreading the doctrine of “God’s Work,” or Opus Dei. Founded in 1928 by Spanish priest Josemaría Escrivá, Opus Dei advocated a return to conservative Catholic values and urged its members to make significant personal sacrifices in order to serve God’s purpose.
While Opus Dei’s traditionalist philosophy initially took root in Spain prior to Franco’s rule, the global dissemination of Josemaría Escrivá’s spiritual book, The Way—containing 999 points of meditation for engaging in God’s Work—had propelled the message worldwide. The book had been published in forty-two languages with over four million copies in circulation, establishing Opus Dei as a global force. Its presence extended to residence halls, educational centers, and even universities in major cities worldwide. Opus Dei was hailed as the fastest-growing and most financially stable Catholic organization. However, Aringarosa knew that amidst a climate of skepticism toward religion, cults, and televangelism, Opus Dei’s expanding wealth and influence drew suspicion.
Reporters often questioned Opus Dei’s status, branding it a “brainwashing cult” or an “ultraconservative Christian secret society.” Aringarosa patiently explained, “Opus Dei is neither. We are a congregation of Catholics dedicated to rigorously following Catholic doctrine in our daily lives.”
Challenged about the organization’s practices, Aringarosa responded, “God’s Work doesn’t necessarily require vows of chastity, tithing, self-punishment, or wearing a cilice.” He emphasized the diverse levels of involvement within Opus Dei—some members were married with families and engaged in community service, while others embraced ascetic lives within cloistered residences. Despite these explanations, public skepticism persisted. Scandals involving a few misguided members tarnished Opus Dei’s reputation.
An Opus Dei group at a university had drugged recruits with mescaline to induce a perceived religious experience. Another member had dangerously abused his cilice belt. A disillusioned man had donated his life savings to Opus Dei before attempting suicide. These incidents spurred the creation of the Opus Dei Awareness Network (ODAN), whose website exposed stories from former members warning against joining. The media began referring to Opus Dei as “God’s Mafia” or “the Cult of Christ.”
Aringarosa reflected on how fear stemmed from ignorance, contemplating the positive impact Opus Dei had on countless lives. The group was endorsed by the Vatican, operating under the Pope’s personal prelature. Yet, recently, Opus Dei had encountered a formidable adversary more potent than the media—an adversary Aringarosa could not ignore. Five months earlier, the power balance had been disrupted, and Aringarosa had yet to recover.
“They underestimate the war they’ve initiated,” Aringarosa muttered to himself, observing the ocean below. His reflection stared back at him—a face marred by a flat, crooked nose, the result of a youthful injury. Yet, his concern was for matters of the soul, not appearance.
Above Portugal, Aringarosa’s silenced phone vibrated. Despite flight regulations, he knew he couldn’t miss this call. Only one person had this number—the person who had sent him the phone.
Excited, the bishop answered discreetly. “Yes?”
“Silas has found the keystone. It’s in Paris, within the Church of Saint-Sulpice.”
A smile crossed Aringarosa’s lips. “Then we are close.”
“We can retrieve it soon, but we need your influence.”
“Of course. Tell me what needs to be done.”
Aringarosa ended the call, his heart racing. Gazing out into the night, he felt dwarfed by the events he’d set in motion.
Hundreds of miles away, Silas, the albino, stood over a basin of water, wiping away blood from his back. Observing the patterns in the water, he whispered a prayer. As he dressed in an ankle-length robe, memories of his past surged within him—powerful emotions he had struggled to suppress over the past decade. Tonight, these emotions were rekindled, bringing an unexpected anticipation. His past skills resurfaced, rusty but intact.
The teachings of peace, nonviolence, and love had shaped Silas’s beliefs, but now these values were threatened. The enemies of Christ were prepared to use force, and Silas believed that responding in kind was justified. For those who threaten God with force, force will be met with force.
Throughout history, Christian defenders had safeguarded their faith against those seeking to undermine it. Silas perceived himself as a soldier called to battle.
Dressing in a simple, hooded robe of dark wool,
The Code of Genius
Native Language: English