May 5, 2011

Book Review: The Liturgical Year

Reviewed by Brenda Keller (@BrendaAKeller)

The Liturgical Year:
The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life
Joan Chittister, OSB
Thomas Nelson (2009)
Paper: 229 pgs.
There are years to mark every stage of life, from childhood to old age. And in the center of them all, unchanged for centuries is the liturgical calendar. Beginning at Advent and rolling through the following November, the churches liturgical year represents nothing less than the life of Jesus Christ – he whose life and attitudes Christians strives to emulate. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us repeatedly into the sense and substance of the Christian life, until, eventually, we become what we say we are: followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God.
Joan Chittister, a long time Benedictine nun, presents a work about the Liturgical Year that’s heartfelt, honest, easy-to-read and even easier to apply to everyday life.

We’ve recently stepped from Ash Wednesday, Lent and through Holy Week into the Easter season.  We’ve walked where Jesus walked. We remembered his death and hopefully strengthened our resolve to live faithfully for him.  The church calendar runs all year but for me, I’m closest to the heart of Christ during the Easter season.

This is the first year I’ve experienced Lent and Easter in a liturgical church.  The symbolism, ancient traditions and practices are changing my life in ways I’ve yet to process.  I’m glad this book by fell into my lap during this season.  I’m finding the subtitle to be true: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life.

The Liturgical Year  is a beautiful reminder that by following and acknowledging the liturgical calender, we live in sync with the Church and her people.  So many things in life we prepare for, accomplish, and discard.  I love that the liturgical year never ends.  Every year we join the rest of the Church to stand at this time, in this moment, to worship God.  It may be an “important” time like Advent or Lent or Easter, but it also may just be a regular Sunday when, falling in step with routine, we find that even in the ordinary moments we can be changed.
The liturgical year is an adventure in bringing the Christian life to fullness, the heart to alert, the soul to focus. It does not concern itself with the questions of how to make a living. It concerns itself with the questions of how to make a life.

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