As a conservative Lutheran, the structure of the Church Year is very important to me. From the beginning of the new year at Advent, to the season of Feasts and Festivals, to the teaching time of the year throughout the season of Pentecost, I mark my days by the flow of the church year even more than I do that of the calendar year.
Given my deep appreciation for the church year, and it’s usefulness in teaching and ordering our days, I was very excited to read The Liturgical Year (part of the Ancient Practices series) by Joan Chittister. This book is an excellent introduction to the concept of “Liturgical Time,” especially for those Christians who may not be familiar with the idea of having a specific routine of days in the church. The author summarized the church year well by saying:
The liturgical year is the process of coming back year after year to look at what we already know, on one level, but are newly surprised by again and again…
There were, of course, a few things in the book that didn’t sit quite right with me (emphasis on Marian feasts, for one, and a sense of mysticism, for another), as the book was written by a Roman Catholic, but the Lutheran church shares much history with the Catholic church, so I found it to be mostly beneficial.
I also appreciated the author’s description as to *why* we live a liturgical life:
We do not live a liturgical life to look good to other people. We do not develop a liturgical spirituality to affect a kind of spiritual dimension in our lives. And we certainly do not go to Mass regularly to avoid hell. We live a liturgical life in order to become like the One whom we follow from the manger to the Mount of Olives.
Great resource for those wanting to understand more about the basis and practice of the church year!