“The Liturgical Year” is part of the Ancient Practices series written by Joan Chittister and Phyllis Tickle. The book is all about the importance of observing the liturgical year in regards to the Christian faith. The liturgical year starts with Advent, continues on through Christmas, passes through Easter and returns to the Advent season once again. Within the year many different feast days and fast days exist. The authors maintain that by following the liturgical year you are walking in the steps of Jesus and will therefore become closer to Him.
Let me start by stressing that I am not Catholic, I am Protestant. Therefore, a lot of the rituals present in the Catholic liturgical year (on which this book is based) mean little or nothing to me. That being said, I didn’t particularly care for this book. The writing was dry bordering on downright boring at times. If I wasn’t careful I found myself reading on ‘autopilot’, I would stop and realize that I had read 5 or 10 pages without really absorbing what was written; my mind had been wandering in an attempt to keep itself awake.
In my opinion, the author spent over 200 pages saying the same thing; that following the liturgical year will bring you closer to God. I also got the impression that the author was implying that if one doesn’t follow the liturgical year they will never be close to God and that simply following the steps, by rote, of the liturgical seasons, year after year, will be enough, on its own, to bring you close to God. Theologically, I happen to disagree with this. However, this is only my humble opinion and a person of the Catholic faith may get a whole lot more out of this text.
I chose to read this book because I was hoping for something very different. I was hoping that the book would delve into the history and reasons for each event in the liturgical year. I would be extremely interested to hear how the celebration of different feast and fast days evolved and why they are celebrated in the first place. There is a minimal amount of historical discussion about the major holidays of the liturgical year, but even that is written in a boring and dry manner.
I am certain that the author wished to impart more knowledge, but after reading this book I came away with only one thing; in the authors opinion, following the liturgical year is of dire importance to one’s faith. In my opinion, this idea could be introduced, discussed, and summed up in a few paragraphs; 200 pages was not needed to make this point. So, after reading this book I find myself asking the question, “What, exactly, was the point of this book?”
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