Sydney Avey

Dynamic Women — Changing Times

Book Review: One Ordinary Sunday by Paula Huston

Nov 3, 2017 | Book Reviews, Faith | 0 comments

One Ordinary Sunday: A Meditation on the Mystery of the MassOne Ordinary Sunday: A Meditation on the Mystery of the Mass by Paula Huston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One Ordinary Sunday by Paula Huston is tagged A Meditation on the Mystery of the Mass. That is three “M” words that raise red flags for many Protestants. I have always been curious about the difference between how Protestants celebrate Holy Communion and how Catholics celebrate the Eucharist. Paula Huston does an excellent job of walking non-Catholics through the components of the Mass. Read this book, and you might feel less intimidated about accompanying a friend or neighbor to a Catholic Mass.

Huston personalizes this record of experience with anecdotes of her trepidation. Raised a Lutheran, she embraced atheism before being drawn, body and soul, to the ancient traditions that form the core of Catholicism. She masterfully explains what is possibly the most misunderstood and off-putting practice in the Catholic church, transubstantiation. Also, without judgment, she helps readers understand the essential differences between the Protestant and Catholic practices. I came away believing it is the same faith but a different emphasis. Indeed, a different culture.

The mystery of one ordinary Sunday


I have always loved the role of mystery in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Huston defines mystery as the “invisible realities beyond the physical.” I also noted her discovery of the value of story: “…unless a story point[s] to something beyond the sum of its own physical details, it might be entertaining but it [will] never be great.” It seems to me that these two statements describe the cleaver that separates the believer from the non-believer.

This book led me to ponder the Protestant emphasis on fellowship and the Catholic emphasis on unity. Style or substance? On a personal note, my mother once said to me, “I wish I could attend a service that blended Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant worship.” Her wish was heartfelt. The three traditions were at war within in her. I wish that too, Mom.

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