by Paula Huston
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
I have been a hermit for over 6 glorious years now. Needless to say, people really don’t understand what I am about. Basically, I pray from 6-8 each morning, go to Mass, pray some more on my way home, work on my writing work, go to a parish or diocesan meeting, pray from 8-10. It is a blessed day. I’ve taken permanent vows and work for my Church and the archdiocese. As Paula states in the title, I’ve ‘moved from faithfulness to holiness’ with the assistance of God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit. I’ve had some friends along the way that have supported the drive to holiness. It is a surrender to My Beloved. Today I feel that John the Baptist was one who really focused on God, he was an outstanding disciple of Christ. Paula writes with such a deep finesse in regard to her journey that one just pours into that holiness. She states: “One morning in a hermitage nestled in California’s lovely Big Sur country, she read a Scripture verse that she had read hundreds of times before: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink”. This time, however, the verse penetrated her heart as never before. Much had happened to her in the preceding years: a return to Christianity, a conversion to Catholicism, a choice for a radically simplified life, an increasing hunger for prayer and the Eucharist. Now Paula understood that all these things were just the beginning, God was calling her to a deeper experience of holiness, an experience that would require arduous work and the simplest surrender.
By Way of Grace is Huston’s beautifully written and compelling account of what she learned during her journey into a deeper faith. She gained a keen sense of the profound challenge that orthodox Christianity present to the secular mind-set she had uncritically abandoned. Her journey also took her deep into a study of the lives and writings of the great saint of the Catholic mystical tradition, where she was spiritually strengthen by Christian virtues of prudence temperance, fortitude, justice, humility, faith, hope and love. More important she discovered that Jesus’ call to “come to me and drink” is an invitation that will fully satisfy a yearning heart. This book reveals the essential simplicity of holiness and how we can by way of grace, know, love and serve God. Before we can incorporate this knowledge into our way of being, however, we must learn to listen to our heart, that organ of prauer that is constantly communing with Godand we must develop the spiritual strength to handle an often-painful transformative process. Only then can God move us out of simple faithfulness and into the faith-filled holiness of the apostles and saints. Only then do we finally become what we were always meant to be.