Mini Review of By Way of Grace by Paula Huston

ByWayOfGraceI first came across Christian author Paula Huston a few years ago.  Huston's The Holy Way: Practices for a Simple Life spoke to me in ways that few non-fiction pieces could.  As someone who has always been fascinated by monastic living, Huston touched a chord with me as her own life has been enriched by engagement with a group of Catholic monks near her home in California.

The Holy Way captured a sense of one woman's struggle to break away from the stress of daily life and better ground it in Christian ideals.  I was blown away by her ability to weave personal story with tried-and-true Catholic perspective.

By Way of Grace: Moving From Faithfulness to Holiness is a bit different from The Holy Way, but just as satisfying.  It's a more gradual read and draws the reader into its meaning rather than capturing you right from the start.

The book is organized into a simple structure:

  • The author's struggle with a particular issue (i.e. justice, temperance, fortitude)

  • Discussion of a virtue as taught and lived by a Catholic saint

  • Application to daily life via ordinary practices

Huston is adept at introducing an ancient figure as if they just moved in next door to you.  You want to learn more about them and hear the rest of their story.  Whether it is Edith Stein talking about charity or Francis de Sales on faith, Huston describes her encounter with each saint's writings.

One of my favorite chapters dealt with fortitude, or what Huston calls "the art of courageous continuing".  As a Catholic educator, I feel the daily pressure of the bottom line and the challenge of ongoing recruitment.  Continuing is a concept that I found encouraging.

If you're looking for a quick read, By Way of Grace may not be for you.  On the other hand, if you are struggling in the Christian walk and want to taste the fruit of virtuous living, Huston's work is just the ticket.  You'll walk away having learned about some phenomenal saints but more importantly, you'll glimpse the real possibility of living like them.

Other Mini Reviews
Soul of a Leader, Margaret Benefiel

Who's Got Your Back?, Keith Ferrazzi
Books, FaithMike StPierre