Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: The Liturgical Year

I just finished reading "The Liturgical Year" by Joan Chittister, one of seven books in the ancient practices series, and I wasn't thrilled with the book. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.
I didn't grow up following a liturgical year so I was very interested in finding out some specifics of this ancient practice, I was looking forward to knowing names and dates of fasts and feasts, finding out more about the history of the church calendar and why we celebrate when we do. It took me 4 chapters before Sister Chittister explained that the liturgical year is made up of 4 parts: Sundays, 2 major seasons (Christmas and Easter), sanctoral cycle and ordinary time. Yet later in the book she explained the year as Advent followed by Christmas, then ordinary time, then Lent followed by Easter and Pentecost and then another ordinary time.
Sister Chittister did do a great job unpacking each of the aspects off the liturgical year and how every year our lives should continue to look more and more like the life of Christ. I really enjoyed the history and wisdom she shared discussing Christmas and Easter and how those two events are the two poles that the year centers around.
I did feel that there were too many chapters to this book, with 33 chapters spanning 212 pages, I felt like we were just starting to unpack a topic and the chapter would end and we would jump to the next topic. I do understand that there is a lot of information to unpack in the explanation of the liturgical year, but I still felt a little rushed.
After finishing the book, I did walk way with a greater knowledge and respect for the liturgical year but it left me wanting to know more. I did learn that "the meaning and message of the liturgical year is the bedrock on which we strike our own life direction. Rooted in the Resurrection promise of the liturgical year, whatever the weight of our own pressures, we maintain the course." The liturgical year is the experience in both the present and in the mysteries of the past, those combined with the promise that the reign of God will be fulfilled in the future.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in knowing more about the liturgical year, but I would also couple that with a recommended read through Wikipedia regarding the liturgical year for some extra details.

I was given this book free through and Thomas Nelson Publishers but I am under no obligation to give it a positive review.

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