Book Review--The Holy Way Paula Huston


I have not reflected much on this book as I read it because many of my thoughts were entirely too personal to be relevant to much of an audience. However, having finished the book, I must say that it was a marvelous journey. If Ms. Huston can do for other readers what she managed to do for me, you will be richly rewarded for spending the time with this book. Each of the first ten chapters focuses both on a particular discipline and on a Saint who particularly exemplified the perfect practice of that discipline. For example, in the chapter on poverty, Ms. Huston uses St. Francis of Assisi

The subtitle is Practices for a Simple Life. Throughout the book Ms. Huston introduces us to a number of ancient practices that have served the servants of the church well throughout the ages. In the course of discussion, she give practical tips and hints through her own discovery of how the practice works. With everything except the final chapter, her story is a useful insight into how one might go about putting some of the practices to work.

Let's look for a moment at the one serious weakness of the book--the last chapter on "Contemplative Prayer." There are a number of errors in this chapter that make it less that perfect, while still rewarding. For example, Ms. Huston confuses meditation with contemplation. Moreover, using Bede Griffiths as her model, she appears to fall into an error regarding precisely what meditation is. It seems that she goes through a great deal of stress and strain to achieve the right "meditative position" and location. She then spends time regulating her breathing and holding her hands "just so." Perhaps this is more indicative of her personal needs than of the needs of the meditator. One need not bend like a pretzel or "breathe through the belly" or engage in esoteric practices to have access to the King's throne room through meditation. But this may be more indicative of how the spirit moved Ms. Huston than a suggestion for a general practice--above all, one must meditate in a way that encourages one to continue the practice.

Overall there are some splendid and frightening insights. The chapters on Celibacy (St. Augustine) and Poverty (St. Francis) pack a powerful punch in today's society.

I benefited tremendously from the time I spent reading this wonderful work and I think any serious seeker will do likewise. Highly recommended--but be warned, rather strong stuff (spiritually speaking).

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 23, 2004 7:09 AM.

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