Wednesday 16 January 2019

The Church's Year Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ - David W. Fagerberg - Living the Liturgy Series

The Church's Year
Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ 
Deeper Christianity Series
David W. Fagerberg
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860828942
eISBN 9781784693718
CTS Booklet LT06

I love that we have a liturgical year. And in fact, personally, consider the beginning of Advent, the beginning of the church year more important than the calendar new year. I love the changing colors, the focus in the readings and prayers at mass. And this is a wonderful little book that give an overview of the seasons and major transition days. The description of the book is:

“The Church’s Year is often something we live through without noticing its importance. From Advent to Christmas, from Lent to Easter, and into “Ordinary Time”, the calendar unfolds in a spiral, teaching us the mysteries of our faith. Studded with the celebrations of the saints as the sky is studded with stars, the sacred calendar is an essential element in Catholic life. This book is designed for catechists, teachers, and ordinary Catholics, to explain the purpose and meaning of the calendar and how we can use it to draw closer to Christ.”

And it the chapters in this book are:

Why Have a Liturgical Year?
Following in Christ’s footsteps
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
The Season of the Incarnation
The Nativity of our Lord
The Season of the Paschal Mystery
Holy Week
Easter and the fifty days
The Season of Pentecost and the Church
Ordinary Time
Seeing Jesus in His Friends
Why saints?
Our Holy Lady
Further Reading

The first chapter ‘Why Have a Liturgical Year?’ has a powerful image of the church year, and how we interact with it.

“Perhaps you have had the experience of standing on the seashore and throwing a stick out into the waves. The stick eventually works its way back to shore, but not quickly or directly. The stick is pushed to shore eventually, but only by riding the peaks and troughs of successive waves. To an impatient observer it can look as though the stick is barely moving forward at all, and instead is only rising and falling on cyclical waves. But in actual fact, the energy of the waves does move a small amount of water forward in each cycle, eventually bringing the stick back to land.

I would like to propose this as the image behind this booklet concerning the liturgical year. We may not pay close attention to the liturgical calendar because it is so predictable - indeed, a new one comes by every year! We tend to only remember exceptional individual days, like a Christmas Day from childhood or a special family Easter, while the whole year itself escapes our attention by its repetition. We have lived through so many Advents and Lents that we may not give them attention any more. Nevertheless, I propose that like that piece of driftwood moving forward on the cycle of rising and falling waves, our souls are carried forward, toward heaven, on cyclical liturgical seasons. Each liturgical year pushes us toward the shoreline where God awaits us. There is a swell to each liturgical season, and with each rising and falling we are moved a little bit forward.”

Each year at the prior to Advent and lent I make plans, on what I will read, what I will read with my children, and what devotional practices I plan to do. And this book is an excellent tool to help all of us go deeper into the Church year and grow with it year by year. 

Fagerberg states:

“We will repeat the liturgical seasons again next year and there is a risk that we will become bored by the repetition. G.K. Chesterton tries to startle us out of this state of mind by suggesting we adopt the mind of a child: “They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.” This repetition comes from a rush of life and he imagines God having this rush of life.”

And he concludes the book with these words:

“Each liturgical year is an annual spiritual track through sin and holiness, death and life, from earth to heaven, from sorrow to beatitude. We are not just examining Jesus’ historical steps in the New Testament, we are putting our feet in his footprints and following him to his throne. We are not just remembering his deeds in the past, we are putting on those deeds as our cloak of righteousness. The liturgical year is not a tour through a museum, it brings us further up and further in. Each annual cycle moves us forward, if we would let it.”

I believe that no matter how deep your spiritual life, or how faithfully you practice your faith, this wonderful booklet will help you grow and deepen your faith. It is an excellent little read and is deserving of your time. I know it is one I will likely return to again. A very solid 5/5 stars!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by David W. Fagerberg:
C.S. Lewis: An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Narnia
Consecrating the World: On Mundane Liturgical Theology
The Church's Year: Unfolding the Mysteries of Christ
Liturgy outside Liturgy: The Liturgical Theology of Fr. Alexander Schmemann
Around Chesterton: An Adventurous Tour Through the World of G.K. Chesterton
The Size of Chesterton's Catholicism
What Is Liturgical Theology? A Study In Methodology
Why do we need the Mass?: Asceticism, Sanctification, and the Glory of God
On Liturgical Asceticism
Theologia Prima: What Is Liturgical Theology?
Christian Meaning of Time
Mary In The Liturgy

Books contributed to:
Holy Eros: A Liturgical Theology of the Body (Forward)
Understanding the Diaconate: Historical, Theological, and Sociological Foundations (Forward)
Suspended Between Two Abysses: Meditations on Freedom (Preface)
The Liturgy Documents, Volume Three: Foundational Documents on the Origins and Implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium
Between Being and Time: From Ontology to Eschatology

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