I come from a faith tradition that doesn’t emphasize the liturgical year. Of course, special events are held in a decorated church to mark the weeks of Advent leading to Christmas. Similarly, there are various activities that mark the Easter season. And, though it isn’t observed in any special way, I’m certainly aware of Pentecost. All the same, that leaves gaping holes in my understanding of the liturgical year with its feast and fast days
Joan Chittister’s The Liturgical Year helped to fill the gaps. Following the pattern of the liturgical year, Chittister begins with several chapters on Advent and Christmas before moving into Ordinary Time I. Lent and the events of Holy Week comprise a significant portion of the middle chapters of the book before it concludes with discussion of Pentecost, Ordinary Time II and feast days associated with Mary and the saints.
Chittister’s writing represents a deeply spiritual approach to discussing the liturgical year. As each of the elements of the liturgical year is explored, the focus is on the transformation of soul and spirit through the traditions and disciplines associated with these special days. To put it simply, her poetic style aptly answers why one might observe the liturgical year and, indeed, she presents a compelling case for doing so in the opening chapters.
I would have appreciated a little more information on how some of these celebrations developed and how they are observed today, but overall Chittister offers a fresh look at the liturgical year and how it can help believers in their quest to grow closer to Jesus.
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