The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister
The subtitle of this book is: "the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life." This is a good summary of the best of this book. Chittister explains how the observing the liturgical calendar works as a spiral. The effect is not instantaneous or remarkable. But, over time, the participant discovers themselves to be increasingly aware of redemption history by their reenactment of it throughout the year. Of all the benefits Chittister argues for, this is the most persuasive.
The liturgical year itself gets scant attention in this book. Note: the first chapter to address an actual calendar item is chapter 9, on Advent. Then, chapter 12 on Christmas; chapter 17 on Lent; 18, Ash Wednesday; 22, Holy Thursday; 23, Good Friday; 24, Holy Saturday; 25, Easter; 27, Paschaltide; The Sanctoral Cycle and Marian Feasts in 31-32. So, about ten actual calendar items in thirty-three chapters. Chapters also include, "Joy," "Asceticism," "Suffering," "Celebration," "Fidelity," and "Models and Heroes." Better than half of the book is taken up with these loosely related essays.
In addition to offering us little information about the Liturgical Year, the book is difficult to read. Chittister's devotional thoughts are generic, introduced by unrelated stories; her prose reads like a series of spoken addresses that have escaped significant editing.
The book is light reading and offers some enjoyable moments for those willing to meander with Chittister through the high points of the Christian calendar… and related thoughts. Those seeking information about the Liturgical Year will be frustrated.
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