May 23, 2017

A Book to Enliven Your Ordinary

We Episcopalians love our liturgy and our “color coded” church year (as comedian Robin Williams so cleverly coined it). The liturgical calendar keeps us moving through the Bible, celebrates the major milestones and miracles of our faith, highlights examples of saints we might emulate, and so much more.

Better understanding of the “so much more” is found in The Liturgical Year – The Spiraling Adventures of the Spiritual Life, authored by Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister. The book is great reading for anyone desiring a deeper experience of each season and celebration. In plain terms, Chittister wakes us up to what’s going on each Sunday, explain that, “Each church year moves with measured rhythm in order to knit Jesus’ life and vision into our own personal journeys through time.”

Chittister defines the parts of the liturgical year in terms of what we can learn and gain from them, explaining that the year “steeps us in four major kinds of celebrations.” These are Sundays, seasons, the sanctoral cycle (commemorations of the saints sprinkled through the year), and Ordinary Time. Chittister explains:

Celebrating the liturgical year immerses us constantly, more and more deeply, always and forever into our encounter with God. We don’t do the liturgical year once, as if it were a practice to be accomplished or a pilgrimage to be experienced. We do the liturgical year over and over again. We do it every year and always so that what we missed in it before this, what we did not have the spiritual development to understand before, we can come to see when we need it most. (pg. 212)

On June 5, we will begin the longest of the two periods of Ordinary Time, stretching from the end of Eastertide (Pentecost Sunday) until Advent. This might prove an excellent period to read Chittister’s book with a study group or Inquirer’s Class, or with a friend who has just started coming to your church. Don’t worry, it won’t actually take you six months to read it! However, with its study questions and insights, the book’s impact may last a life time.