This book is part of the Ancient Practices Series and is the first I have read of it. Overall it focuses on the benefits of the liturgical year, of having a rhythm in our lives and living the Jesus’ life. By using the aid of the liturgical year, we can enter into Jesus’ story and realise it within our own lives. It focuses on particular elements of the year, including the main ‘feasts’ of Christmas and Easter and the preparation times surrounding them, as well as other factors such as the role and meaning of Sunday.
The first thing that struck me about the book was how quickly I was drawn into it, and how peaceful I felt in reading it. Immediately I felt an ally within the words encouraging my own spiritual desire to go deeper and search for new and old ways to mature my faith. Chittister uses language beautifully; frequently I would re-read a paragraph in delight. It’s not just the language, however, but the depth that it signifies.
It is difficult for me to encapsulate all the things I like about this book. It talks sympathetically and powerfully about the struggles we face in our ordinary lives, and portrays life’s potential in a way that excites and inspires.
‘Life is an intoxicant no amount of mundane inebriants – faster, deeper, more alluring, more captivating – can possibly equal. The problem is that for life to become its own exhilarant, we must learn to live it consciously, to live it deeply, to live it to the brim, beyond the visible to the meaningful.’ – The Liturgical Year, p170
This book encouraged me to slow down and examine the things of faith while also firing up the embers of my heart. The spiritual life is seen as an adventure, which I love. I also found it genuinely interesting and informative. Written by someone in the Roman Catholic tradition, some of the references and vocabulary were not known to me, which could be a stumbling block for some. Likewise the chapter on Marian feasts. For some of these things I needed more explanation, but that is outside the remit of the book and would detract from the main emphasis. Overall, I found in the book warmth and welcome and plenty of common ground.
I would recommend this book to any who feel weary of the shallowness of life and want to explore new ways of celebrating and learning about their faith. By focussing on the meaning of the liturgical year rather than merely the intricacies of the structure, there is much that can be taken and applied to our individual lives. Personally, it has sparked an interest in an entire new area of thought for me, informing my own learning, future writing and, hopefully, my own spiritual life.
To see earlier thoughts on this book, read this post.