Publisher: Ave Maria Press (2016 - March 11)
eARC (256 pages)
Reading Challenges: Read 2015
The popular, award-winning writer Paula Huston draws on her spiritual wisdom and her talent as a novelist to provide both a moment-by-moment record of her experience of one particular Mass on one particular Sunday in her home parish in California and a theologically and historically rich exploration of the origin and meaning of the liturgy.
For Catholics, the Mass is the “source and summit of the Christian life,” as the documents of the Church put it. Yet many Catholics might confess to not understand in any depth what goes on in an “ordinary” celebration of the Eucharist. In perhaps her most compelling and original book to date, novelist and spiritual writer Paula Huston guides us through a Mass on the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time at her home parish in Arroyo Grande, California. Huston’s personal and spiritual reflections offer fresh and often unexpected insights into the profound mystery at the heart of the Catholic faith.
A natural storyteller, Huston deftly illuminates what might seem either mysterious to those unfamiliar with the Mass or overly familiar to those who have lost an appreciation of its mystery. In the Mass “we are healed and restored and spiritually fed,” she writes. “We are handed strong armor against evil. We are unified and made whole as a people and as a Church. We get a little taste of heaven.”
First of all, this book has so much in it. It isn’t really that big of a book, but One Ordinary Sunday has so much content! It is rather amazing how it all fits together. So much is covered in the context on one Sunday Mass in Ordinary Time.
The book is divided similarly to the parts of the Mass with the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Paula Huston gives a brief overview of every part of the Mass. This is far more than just a book about the Mass, though. Huston takes this further when she goes into the symbolism beneath what happens in the Mass such as the vestments and the actual prayers of the Mass.
One Ordinary Sunday touches briefly on almost everything you need to know about the Catholic Church. There is talk of monastic life, the Trinity, Theotokos, the Mystical Body, the Communion of Saints, annulment, the historicity of the Mass, the Real Presence, and so much more. There is a defense of the priesthood and an explanation of why not ordaining women is a good thing.
There are connections made to heresies of the early Church, the Jewish pattern of worship, the pre-Vatican II Mass, and the existence of the Eucharistic celebration in the Acts of the Apostles. There is mention of the origins of the Creed and the Sanctus as well as RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, for those who don’t know).
I thoroughly enjoyed One Ordinary Sunday as we heard not only mention of necessary theological points but also Huston’s own thoughts on the Mass that day. Her own observance of the reverence shown to the Eucharist is part of what led her to the Catholic Church and now she has the reverence in abundance.
This meditation on an ordinary Sunday Mass somehow transcends the ordinary and gives a glimpse of what the Catholic Church is really made up of: ordinary individuals striving to become the saints we were created to be. This was a wonderful read and, as far as I can tell, something necessary to our current time where the reverence and the history of the Mass are being forgotten.
I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley for
review consideration. This in no way affects my opinion of the title
nor the content of this review.