The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life - The Ancient Practices Series

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There are years to mark every stage of life, from childhood to old age. And in the center of them all, unchanged for centuries, is the liturgical year.

Beginning at Advent and rolling through the following November, the church's liturgical year represents nothing fess than the life of Jesus Christ-he whose, life and attitudes Christians strive to emulate. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us repeatedly into the sense and substance of the Christian life until, eventually, ...

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The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life - The Ancient Practices Series

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There are years to mark every stage of life, from childhood to old age. And in the center of them all, unchanged for centuries, is the liturgical year.

Beginning at Advent and rolling through the following November, the church's liturgical year represents nothing fess than the life of Jesus Christ-he whose, life and attitudes Christians strive to emulate. It proposes, year after year, to immerse us repeatedly into the sense and substance of the Christian life until, eventually, we become what we say we are: followers of Jesus all the way to the heart of God.

In the Liturgical Year you'll learn

how following the liturgical calender helps us meld our lives with the life of Christ;

the role that asceticism plays in liturgy;

the four major kinds of celebrations, from Sundays to saints' days;

how even non-holy day have a place in the liturgical routine.

The liturgical life is not a relic of the past. It is the resounding reality of life in the present lived out of an ancient but living faith.

The Ancient Practices

There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries ... everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. Compelling and readable, the Ancient Practices series is for every spiritual sojourner, for every Christian seeker who wants more.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849946073
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2010
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 706,943
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, is a Benedictine nun and international lecturer who has been a leading voice in spirituality for over 30 years. She has authored 40 books, including her most recent, the critically acclaimed The Gift of Years.
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Table of Contents

Aknowledgments ix

Note to the Reader xv

Foreword xvii

1 The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life 1

2 A Living Model, a Real Life 9

3 The Year That Gives Meaning to Every Other Year 15

4 The Components of the Liturgical Year 23

5 Sunday 32

6 Human Time, Liturgical Time 39

7 The Place of Worship in Human Life 44

8 Calendars 49

9 Advent: The Human Experience of Waiting 58

10 The Voice of Advent 63

11 Joy: The Essence of It All 70

12 Christmas: The Coming of the Light 76

13 The Christmas Season: Stars to Steer By 84

14 Christmastide: The Fullness of the Time 89

15 Ordinary Time I: The Wisdom of Enoughness 95

16 Asceticism 100

17 Lent: A Symphony in Three Parts 108

18 Ash Wednesday and the Voices of Lent 114

19 Suffering 123

20 Holy Week I: Hope to Match the Suffering 129

21 Holy Week II: Faith Tested to the End 134

22 Holy Thursday 141

23 Good Friday 147

24 Holy Saturday: The Loss That Is Gain 152

25 Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday 158

26 Celebration 165

27 Paschaltide: The Days of Pentecost 170

28 Fidelity 177

29 Ordinary Time II: The Wisdom of Routine 182

30 Models and Heroes 189

31 The Sanctoral Cycle 195

32 Marian Feasts 201

33 Epilogue 209

Notes 213

About the Author 216

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 7, 2011

    Exploring the Liturgical Year

    Being a student at Asbury has been really enlightening to me in the way of learning about other denominations, particularly Methodism. One thing I have noticed about students at Asbury is their appreciation of the liturgical year.

    The liturgial year begins with Advent, moves to Christmastide, then some Ordinary Time, Lent, Eastertide, Pentecost, and then more Ordinary Time. With each season there is a different thing to focus on, and much in the way of spiritual contemplation and formation that goes with it. For some reason this has really resonated with me, so when The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister became an option on booksneeze (Thomas Nelson's book review program), I jumped at it.

    Although the book started out slow and slightly redundant, when Chittister moved into discussing the parts of the Liturgical year, their histories, and the spiritual themes that went along with them, I couldn't put the book down. I actually learned a lot of new things- things that will hopefully help our family to better start some intentional, life-giving traditions as it relates to holidays (Jake and I were waiting until after this book was read to start discussing/brainstorming on what that could look like). Anyway, Chittister does a good job of succinctly explaining the feasts, and helps the reader to understand that the reason for us celebrating these days and weeks is not to impress anyone or to work at some holiness. Instead, it's about pressing into the life of Jesus, learning to think as He thinks and live as He lived. There is a beautiful paragraph on page 179 of the book that I want to leave you with:

    Liturgical spirituality is about learning to live an ordinary life extraordinarily well. Fidelity to the liturgical life is the cement that keeps us grounded in Jesus, no matter what other elements of life emerge to seduce us as the years go by. It gives us the sense of balance we need to choose between spurious and things sacred. By its very unremitting regularity, it dins the Word of God into our very souls until we can finally hear it. Then, alive in that Word, we find ourselves becoming what we seek. It is fidelity that keeps us on the road when we would most like to simply sit down in the dust and let the world pass us by.

    Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers, I received this book free to review! Thanks so much, TN!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2009

    It's that time of year...

    Just in time for the Advent season I have wrapped up The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister. This book was a little bit of challenge for me because I don't come from a tradition that follows any type of liturgy. Nor do we follow any "church calendar." So thinking about the flow of the year in connection with the life of Christ is new to me. Coming in as an outsider there were some terms that I wish had been better defined, but they are probably quite elementary for those whose traditions follow the liturgical year.
    There are many great challenges within this short book which is part of the Ancient Practices Series. One of the first, and most powerful to me is this,
    "The liturgical year is an adventure in bringing the Christian life to fullness, the heart to alert, the soul to focus. It does not concern itself with the questions of how to make a living. It concerns itself with the questions of how to make a life."
    Isn't that what we are searching for, how to make our lives meaningful?
    I would highly recommend The Liturgical Year for the reader who wants a deeper look into the experience of someone who has followed the liturgical calendar for a number of years. Sister Joan Chittister is a gifted communicator who brings this Christian practice to life. It has certain challenged me to rethink the way I spend the Sabbath, special days in the life of Christ, and time in general.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A Year in the Life...

    "The Liturgical Year: the spiraling adventure of the spiritual life" takes the reader on a journey through one year of the liturgical calendar. The book briefly talks about the basics of liturgical life. The adventure starts with Advent and takes the reader step by step through each pinnacle of the Christian year, including Christmas and Easter. It also speaks of ordinary time and Marian feasts. Nothing is left out and it gives a glorious full picture of the joys of the Christian year, and why each day is special in its own way.

    I am a weekly church goer, and I have tried to understand the various parts of the year, but could never quite grasp the meaning of certain periods of the year. This book opened my eyes to the beauty behind the purpose and reason for each day. I also was pleased that this book was not overly technical with the theology. It was written for the layman. Joan Chittister wants us to understand and appreciate our faith and the gifts it offers. I think she was successful with this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2011

    Happy New Year! Liturgical Year, that is!

    The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister is a simple, yet comprehensive guide to the Liturgical Year. As a layperson, I had an easy time reading and understanding the doctrinal and historical content. I was expecting it to be dry and boring, but it wasn't. I highly recommend all Christians, regardless of denomination, take a moment to understand the rich history and perspective one can gain from the Liturgical Year.

    *This book was given to me for free from Booksneeze in exchange for a book review. My opinions are mine alone.*

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

    Highly recommended

    This is so far the easiest book to understand in the Ancient Practice Series. It describes, and in depth explains all the Christian dates on the calendar, similar to the Sabbath book, but explains reasoning for different Christian bases, such as Catholics, Judisim, ect. I recommend this book to those who are wanting to further their understanding on the "behind the scenes" of calling yourself a Christian, and who are wanting to learn and understand the meaning behind the holidays, not necessarily where they orignated from, but why they're there & I suppose how to "properly" celebrate them. Its a book worth reviewing, or sending as a gift to a friend or family who is interested in this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully Written

    "The Liturgical Year" by Joan Chittister is a lyrical book that delves into the deep spirituality of the Christian liturgical year. What is the "liturgical year"? It is the church year, marked by special days such as Christmas and Easter, and seasons such as Advent and Lent. Chittister, a Benedictine nun, outlines the deeper meaning of the various seasons and feasts, and provides some historical context and whys for these special times on the Christian calendar.

    I was drawn to this book because I wanted to learn more about the liturgical tradition - I grew up in it, being raised Episcopalian, but I really didn't have as much of a grasp on the meanings of the various seasons as I should have. OK, I got Easter and Christmas. But what's "Pentecost" all about? What's the deeper meaning behind Lent other than you give something up for 40 days? (OK, I knew this has something to do with Jesus's trial in the desert, but I still wanted to know more.) You can learn a lot about the liturgical year by reading this book; Chittister is extremely knowledgeable and has a firm grasp of not just the metaphorical underpinnings, but the history behind the church calendar.

    I also found it interesting to hear an argument by a Catholic nun that it is not so important what actual date Jesus was born on - that it was the "event" that was important. (Chittister is aware that the date of Christmas is quite arbitrary, and even points to the different dates among the various church branches - negating the argument by some atheists that Christians are blithely unaware of the origins of the Christmas holiday.)

    With all this, the book suffers perhaps by one thing - it is so well-written and so scholarly, that it does not back up for those who maybe didn't go to Catholic Sunday school and may not know the basics about the various church holidays. I was personally hoping the book would break it down for me and give me the elementary school version...and having an outline of the actual calendar would have helped. But otherwise, this is a beautiful book and should be something that Christians of all denominations read just to get a sense of the history and beauty of the liturgical year.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant! Inspiring! Brilliant! Inspiring!

    Brilliant! Inspiring!

    Joan Chittister is a spiritual giant and a gifted communicator.

    If you are interested in learning more about how the annual celebrations of the liturgical calendar can help you grow in your faith and live in a more Christlike way, then get a copy of this book.

    It receives my highest recommendation.

    I am so grateful that the publisher of this book provided me with a free copy for my unbiased review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    It falls Short

    I have put off writing this review for the past couple of weeks. I really tried to like this book but could not get into the book. It is crazy because the topic is something that I was very interested in. I wanted to learn about the Liturgical year, but the writing was rough and geared for an older reader. I believe it was just me and would challenge someone to take a chance, but it is filled with very dry writing and is written from a scholarly point of view, and not from a regular persons point of view. I thought the authors could have hit a home run if they brought the Liturgical year from history and made it come alive to a new generation that desires to see more in the traditions of the church. Outside of that this book falls very short to the potential of what it could have been.

    It does go through the year, but I believe is written for an older reader and you will need to bring to the table and very large base of knowledge to grow through this book. You can purchase the book Here: Barnes and Noble

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  • Posted January 3, 2011

    Good Reflections in the Liturgical Year

    The Liturgical Year is a part of the 8 book "The Ancient Practices Series" from Thomas Nelson. It is also now the second one I have read in this series, and I must say that I enjoyed this a good bit more than the other(Fasting by Douglas Leblanc). I believe this may mainly be due to the topics, however. This one definitely lends more towards Chittister's style of writing from what I've heard quoted before(this was actually the first book of hers that I've read, though).

    In The Liturgical Year, Chittister takes us through a year in the church calendar. Through this time we get different reflections of these periods as well as some history on the origin of these celebrations. I would have wished for more of the latter, but am still very appreciative of her different reflections on these times.

    Joan Chittister is a Benedictine nun and prolific author, so it really is a treat to get her thoughts on these times for both of these reasons. Life in the monastery has a very different approach to time than the rest of the world, so these special days within the Christian calendar have a poignancy that most of us often miss. Our days often do not change that much on these days of remembrance, yet after reading through this it definitely seems as if it should. Our lives are often so involved that we fail to really slow down and ponder our remarkable history and the moments that are worth remembering. I'm not sure what my next steps will be in response to this, but I will certainly attempt to be more intentional in trying to understand and orient myself to the year.

    Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life as a part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program.

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  • Posted December 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Liturgical Year laid out

    "The purpose of the liturgical year is to bring to life in us and around us, little by little, one layer of insight after another until we grow to full stature in the spiritual life." pg. 21
    The Liturgical Year, what is it? What are its components? In her book, Sister Joan Chittister lays out the year beginning with Advent and continuing through Lent, Easter, and more, explaining the importance of each to the Christian walk. The chapters are short, making it easy to make time to pick up the book and read one at a time - creating something to meditate upon. With each explanation, the reader is drawn to the truths that lead to a fuller, deeper Christian walk.
    I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to using it as a study text to accompany my Bible. While I have been in church all my life and have many study books, it is nice to have the liturgical year put together within easy reach. This book is a great resource not only for personal devotional study, but for group study as well. I received this book as part of the Book Sneeze program, and thank them for the opportunity to review it.

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  • Posted December 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A new way to look at your Spiritual Life - through the Liturgy!

    "The Liturgical Year" is part of the Ancient Practices series (see my friend Beth's recommendation about another Ancient Practices book here), and is a terrific addition to it. Whether you are looking for an informative read to learn more about the purpose of the Christian Liturgy, or desiring a devotional study, this book fits the bill. Chittister, a Benedictine Nun, is an excellent writer with a strong understanding of the historical aspects of the church year. However, she also writes thoughtfully, answering questions the reader might be asking about "How does this all apply to me?"

    The book begins by providing a brief historical account of different world calendars and how the liturgical calendar fits in, emphasizing the importance of the cyclical nature of the liturgical year and explaining the components of the year itself (e.g. Sunday/Sabbath, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter). Soon she delves into detail about the different elements, spending more time on the more important events in the Christian year, such as Advent/Christmastide and Lent/Easter. Each event is explained from a historical perspective and a devotional perspective. While sometimes the text is somewhat wordy, and there are weird "quotes" throughout the pages that are highlighted - but are essentially what you just read in the paragraph, the book is insightful and enjoyable.The chapters are relatively short and if you read one per day, you would finish the book in just over a month of devotional readings.

    For me, the first half of the book was especially powerful and poignant. The chapter on Advent is entitled "Advent: The Human Experience of Waiting" and it was interesting that I ended up reading it actually during Advent. This meant that God had my attention because every sermon was about waiting and hope, and so was this chapter. She says, "the year opens with Advent, the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious.It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored" (p. 59). In this chapter she argues that learning to wait expectantly and patiently is a key element to spiritual maturity. As I was reminded of the stories of Simeon and Anna during this Advent season, I realized that in order to be more spiritually mature, I must also learn to wait in hopefulness and watchfulness for what God has for me.

    Later, in the chapter on Ordinary Time (which happens twice, first between Epiphany and Lent, and then between Easter and Advent), she teaches about the problem of self-indulgence and the wisdom in asceticism (or withholding from the self certain pleasures). I was reminded how important it is to train my body to submit to my mind and spirit.

    All in all, its a great read and I give it 4.5 Thomas Kincaide calendars out of 5. It may be a little cerebral for some people, but if you are willing to go with her down the road, it is both informative and completely emotionally engaging.

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    Posted January 3, 2011

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    Posted December 11, 2010

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