Randy Hain, co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life, has come out with his second book, Along the Way – Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith. I recommend it for all who are trying to live as authentic Christians, but particularly for Catholic dads. More on the Catholic dad double-down below.
What is Along the Way about?
This second book draws on the lessons of Randy’s own faith journey. There is a bit about Randy’s personal journey: drifting from Christ and his Baptist roots as a teen, American hedonism in college and the early adult life, serving the “career” above all, compartmentalization of life, conversion to Catholicism, and his striving to live an authentic integrated Catholic life. The focus, however, is not on this journey, but on the lessons that Randy has recognized on this journey. The purpose is not to inspire through autobiography, but to point out guide lights he has noticed on the way.
What makes this book worth reading is that Randy’s story and the lessons he learned are NOT unique. These are issues many of us encounter in our journey to and with Christ. What Randy adds is an intelligent simplicity in framing issues. Randy does not delve into the theology of the journey, he applies a successful businessman’s way of thinking to navigate the journey. In reading this, I could almost see and hear Randy as a consultant providing clear thinking and no-nonsense presentation of problems and solutions to allow progress and foster breakthrough.
The book is composed of 22 chapters broken into four sections. Each chapter is short (7 to 10 pages), and can be read in less than 10 minutes. While not explicitly organized this way, Randy presents his view of the goal, strategies, and tactics of the Christian journey. The ultimate goal is union with Christ in heaven. Randy presents three major strategies: daily surrender to Christ, being an authentic Catholic, and living a faith that is integrated into life. Under these inter-related strategies are a variety of issues, stumbling blocks, challenges, etc. Randy looks at these and provides tactics to deal with them (e.g., how to pray more, importance of Eucharistic adoration, Confession, saints, doing charity, spiritual direction, etc.). What I like, and what I cannot do justice to here is the way in which Randy connects the strategies to the tactics in ways easy to understand and implement, with illustrations, examples, and a lot of useful lists.
Why I am recommending Along the Way.
Most Catholic Dads are task focused. Many are business people. We tend to think in no-nonsense ways. We are looking for the goal line and how to get across it. Randy writes in a way that those of us like this can get it and feel comfortable getting it. He also chunks the information into nice, concise chapters that can be integrated into a busy daily routine easily. Maybe it is because Randy is a Catholic dad and a businessman that makes him so easy to understand. Whatever the reason, I think that Catholic Dads would value reading this book.
On a personal note, this book arrived at a good time. Randy had asked me to read it, but it didn’t come in the mail, and I was quite busy. He asked a couple times more, but his publisher never got it out. So I went to Amazon and bought a copy directly. I am not sure why Randy wanted me to read it, but I am glad for his prompting. It had been a couple months since going to confession, and that got fixed right away. It also helped me to refocus on priorities and surrender again to Christ. I found my struggles in the struggles he describes, and I recognized the right solutions when he not only reminded me of them, but laid them out clearly for me to find again and again. It also prompted me to reevaluate my priorities in work, in family, and in serving him. I needed to realign and surrender priorities to him again. Thank you for that Randy.
This would be a perfect book now at the beginning of the New Year in making the changes we need to ensure we are on the right track. Lent starts February 13, and that may be a perfect opportunity to read a chapter a day.