book report: The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister


I received for review from Thomas Nelson publishers the first book in a new series called the Ancient Practices Series called The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by Joan Chittister. I expected a book that was more encyclopaedic and almanac. However, this book is a liturgical devotional. Ms. Chittister finds abundant spiritual nourishment in the church calendar and seeks to demonstrate to those less enlightened the extraordinary benefits from observing the liturigcal calendar. I dog eared many passages in the center of her book where she meditates on ascetics and Lent and Ash Wednesday. Those devotions on pain and suffering for Christ spoke to me. However, as a low church Protestant, who has never followed the liturgical calendar, I asked myself frequently, “Why not the Bible?” For everything in the calendar she claims as a benefit for our spiritual growth I see primarily in the Bible, then, secondarily, in traditons. However, I know few Christians read through their Bibles regularly. Perhaps the calendar is for those? But, the symbols need a chapter of explanation. Does the rare attender of a high church which observes the calendar know the symbols any better than the Bible from which they are derived? Let me say that I enjoy the explanation of the calendar, but I’m one who likes to read these books. So few do. For this, I’m grateful for Ms. Chittister’s attempts. However, I wish she pointed her readers first to the scriptures, from which these holy days derive.

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