“I was attending Mass with my family in early October 2005. The Mass had just begun and I felt very uneasy, a feeling that had started when I woke up that morning. I was as white as a sheet, sweating, trembling and (I) felt very anxious. My family thought I was having a heart attack … I remember thinking for the first time in my life, “Jesus, I don’t know what to do anymore and I need your help. I surrender. Please lead…and I will follow.” As soon as I thought these words, I felt something like a strong push from behind…
… I was suddenly on fire about joining the (Catholic) Church… I met with a deacon of the parish the next day, and he helped me understand that I had been helped by the Holy Spirit to let go of twenty-three years of stubbornness, pride and ego that had been keeping me from Christ. At the age of forty, I had finally reached a place where I was ready to surrender to Christ and put his will before my own.”
* * * * *
Husband, father, successful businessman and author Randy Hain writes these compelling words early on in his new book Along the Way, and with them Hain’s readers are drawn in to read about what changed this man so profoundly, what shaped his perspective so distinctly, and what insights lead from his experiences about becoming the best Catholic possible in today’s modern world. Hain humbly draws parallels between the biblical Prodigal Son and the conversion of Saul to St. Paul and the profound conversion in his own life. And he offers his readers a no holds barred view of his experiences for their spiritual benefit. His excellent message- part biography, part counsel- is delivered in a quick-paced, comfortable way.
A Baptist convert to the Catholic faith, Hain wrestled with Church teachings on purgatory, the Blessed Mother, and with the humbling knowledge that the Church is full of many imperfect people, including himself. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with these challenges, a determined Hain analyzed the process of improving in the life of faith and remained open to movement in the Holy Spirit. In Along the Way, he offers his readers some step-by-step accomplishable goals to help them put God first and thus jumpstart their faith life.
Hain starts by offering his own priorities:
- To serve Christ and love Him totally.
- To identify family as a primary vocation.
- To come to see the workplace not just as a place of earning a living and that which must be tolerated, but also as a place of active ministry.
He then encourages his readers to do the same.
In Along the Way, Hain shares the idea that being a good Catholic is not just knowing the catechism, reciting Bible quotes and attending Mass on Sundays. He communicates that being a faithful Catholic is something that one must fight to do every day, and that faith absolutely must be integrated with normal ordinary life.
In his 124 page dynamic, focused text, Hain offers readers:
- Tips to getting the most out of the sacrament of Reconciliation
- Guidelines on how to appropriately bring one’s faith into the workplace and other primary areas of one’s life
- A description of six common obstacles to bearing witness to Christ and how to overcome them
- Some simple ways to incorporate the works of mercy in one’s daily routine: What it means to ‘seek and help Lazarus’
- Advice on how to control noise and distractions in one’s busy life to find an oasis of prayer.
- Five ideas for how to tame calendars in order to lead fuller, richer, more integrated lives
- A basic checklist to help readers to return to “spiritual wellness” when they get off track
- Advice on how to combat what Hain calls ‘Catholic boredom’ in six easy steps.
- Five thoughts on how to overcome the fear of what others may think when publicly sharing the faith:
- An explanation of ‘the power of yes’
Along the Way is a handbook for contemporary Catholics who hope to grow in faith and love of God and others. The tone of the author is servant leadership and the message is that there is strength in surrender. It’s an easy and interesting read, perfect for the busy businessman or woman on the go. The text is organized into small chunks so that readers who want to utilize waits in the doctor’s office or while getting their car’s oil changed, for example, will find efficient and enjoyable use of their time.
Hain, a successful executive at a thriving national executive search firm, is used to helping professionals build authentic relationships. He takes this talent to a new level as he applies his skill of connecting people to helping others build a relationship with Christ. Readers will find Hain’s easy conversational writing style to be like listening to a friend offer advice over a sandwich. Too soon the lunch is over, and too quickly the book ends.
The strengths of the book Along the Way include its concise suggestions for authentic Catholic living in the public square, particularly the workplace. The chapters on joy and courage were two of my favorites. I like Hain’s recommendations for doing little but significant things like saying “Merry Christmas” instead of succumbing to the generic “Happy Holidays”. And I found myself nodding as I read his written rejection of the ‘I don’t want to offend’ mindset.
On the other hand, I would have liked to see even more concrete suggestions on how to authentically live the faith life within the very personal context of the family, in consideration of those particular interpersonal relationships and struggles. How did Hain specifically manage those during his time of conversion and growth, and more importantly, what particular suggestions would he offer readers in regards to that? I wanted to read more specific recommendations for joy and courage not just in the public sphere, but also inside the home. Perhaps readers will be treated to that in Hain’s next volume. I have heard through the grapevine that he is working on a book about being a Catholic father for release in 2014 and I truly look forward to it!
All in all, Along the Way offers excellent and much needed advice, and effectively helps readers find direction in an increasingly confusing and hostile-to-religion world. The book is like a compass pointing towards a rich, faith-filled life and the ultimate reward, which is heaven. It’s a gem written for faithful Catholics, unfaithful Catholics, and pretty much everyone in between. Lucky is the man or woman who finds it in his or her Christmas stocking this holiday season.
*Along the Way will be in local Catholic bookstores December 1st.
Theresa Thomas is the co-author Stories for the Homeschool Heart (Bezalel Books, 2010 & winner of About.com Best Catholic Book of 2010), family columnist at Today’s Catholic News and a contributing writer for the Integrated Catholic Life™.
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