If you’re like me you know Christmas and Easter as the two events where the church service attendance skyrocketed. Also, if you are anything like me, you’ve heard of things like Advent and Lent, but never feasts, times of penance, or any other particular day off the Christian calendar. For many those things are “much too Catholic”, somehow equated to a work done away with by Jesus, or some other excuse for flat-out ignorance. I know for me it was.
Chittister brings out the aspects of the liturgical year in such a way that a newbie like myself can stand in awe of. The book itself is an exploration in the liturgical year, essentially from her Roman Catholic perspective, yet in a generic way that any Christian tradition could agree with. She begins with an overview of the basics and then dives into every season and major day celebrated within the calendar.
Her main contention is to bring to light the spiritual ramifications and transformation brought about by living out the Christian year in step with Jesus’ life. The Christian calendar isn’t a mundane routine meant to keep us in the know regarding the dates of Christian events. Rather, it is the following of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection as it overlaps, intertwines, deepens, and transforms our lives. The annual ins and outs of the Christian calendar bring us into the mysteries of Christ’s life that have been reflected upon and embodied for hundreds and hundreds of years by thousands and thousands of people. By allowing the life of Jesus to determine the flow of our every day, we are gently molded into and by the community Jesus brings us into.
Overall, I’d recommend the book to anyone looking to connect to the historical stream found within the Church. In a world dominated by fiscal, athletic, school, and social calendars and timetables, the liturgical calendar stands strong as a reminder that we call Jesus not only Savior, but Lord, and that includes our time and seasonal rhythms. Chittister’s book would be a great introduction for anyone seeking to enter the realm of the ancient practices.
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