The premise of Paula Huston’s One Ordinary Sunday is really quite simple. She attempts to explain the power of Sunday Mass in her own life for herself and for those who do not really understand what occurs during Mass. To do so, she researches Church fathers and contemporary theologians, popes and Christian historians. She proceeds to meticulously examine each aspect (and sometimes individual lines) of the Mass, tracing them as far back as their Jewish roots. To stop here, however, would only tell half the story. As Huston sits in her pew reviewing her research, she also reveals her own inner struggles: her vague, gray feeling of grief over the deaths of those she has lost, her worries for her grandchildren’s futures, and her discomfort with aspects of the Mass because of her Protestant upbringing. Indeed, in one poignant quote, Huston says, “Do I understand all of it? No. Do I believe it? I am trying.” Therefore, the beauty of One Ordinary Sunday is how it reveals the coming together of human beings, with their problems, doubts, and sorrows, to be transformed by a 2,000-year-old liturgy which is suspended in time, pulsing, and occurring around the world on any given Sunday. In capturing that coming together of human frailty with ancient liturgy, Huston encapsulates the power of Sunday Mass for those who may feel disconnected from it.
(Reviewed in exchange for a copy of book via Netgalley.)