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Book Review: The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister

Growing up in evangelical churches, the most I knew about the liturgical year was the weird dates that were printed in the bulletin at my grandparents’ Lutheran church: “Third Sunday of Pentecost” and things like that. I’ve learned more as time has gone along, but when the opportunity arose to review this book, I figured it was a good chance to learn some more.

The Liturgical Year comes from an unabashedly Roman Catholic perspective. Written by a Catholic nun, there are times when its obviously Roman biases show through, but on the whole it provides an evenhanded perspective on the year that appears to address both the Catholic and Protestant views fairly well. (There is one chapter dedicated strictly to Marian observances, but it’s relegated to the end of the book, after the basic discussion of the year.)

The Liturgical Year is split into 35 short chapters that work their way through the year, starting with the observance of Advent and Christmas, taking several chapters to discuss Lent and Holy Week, and addressing the “Ordinary Times” that are present around those observances. In general the book is written in a more flowery tone than I expected – at times I felt it suffered from too many fluffy words and not enough meat. But as a primer on the hows and whys of the liturgical year, it served its purpose well enough.

Disclaimer: My copy of the book was provided for free by the folks at in return for my publishing a review.

One Comment

  1. Jim Jim

    Over the years, I've come to grow to appreciate the rhythm provided by the liturgical year. It's especially helpful, I think, in forcing the church at different times to think about the various aspects of Christ's life, death, and resurrection, his earthly ministry, the work of the church, in a way that I found missing in my non-liturgical life.

    As an added bonus…this year, especially in the void of such a hard winter, I have found myself thinking about Madi Gras, Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter as helfpul markings in a time of the year that can be difficult to plod through. I wonder how I ever marked, and quite frankly, got through the time without those seasons before.

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