Growing up I often looked at being Catholic as a “to do list” or a penance. Tales of Catholic guilt and nuns with rulers were predominant themes in my knowledge of my faith. This book focuses on the joy of being Catholic and encourages us to recognize that there is cause for celebration in a love so great that Jesus died for us on the cross.
One of the earliest chapters in the book justifies the use of feasts as celebration, because they create memories for our children; memories they will take with them for the rest of their lives. My favorite excerpt follows:
“A very old man carries within him the memories of Christmases in his earliest childhood. If he loses his home and all his savings, those memories will continue to bring him profound joy, which is what God made him to desire. What’s more is because he is Christian, he will always have a reason to celebrate the feasts again.”
What a powerful reason to make sure we know about the feasts and incorporate them into our family traditions.
Aside from Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter my family has not traditionally celebrated many of the Catholic feasts days. I was hoping this book would provide a quick review of the additional or lesser known feasts celebrated in the Catholic Church. This book is not a comprehensive “cheat sheet” of all the feasts, which I admit I was hoping for; however, it is a very functional and useful listing and explanation of the most important feasts that shape the liturgical year. Admittedly, there were times that I found the text dry and the pictures dated. Some of the words and images felt as though they didn’t apply to me in my daily life.
Overall, the book is absolutely worth sitting down and reading. It surprised me that my favorite part of this book was actually not the feast descriptions (though I did find many of the specific explanations for certain rituals helpful) but, rather the overriding message that Catholicism is to be celebrated and joyous! This book shares such a beautiful message to which I wholeheartedly say Amen!
From the Publisher
Every day is a holiday in the Catholic Church. In their latest collaboration, Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Aquilina examine the history and traditions behind both favorite and forgotten holidays, from Christmas to Easter, from the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity to the Feast of the Holy Angels
Catholic faith is festive, and the Catholic faithful count their days by celebrating the mysteries of Jesus’ life. There is a message to be found in the passing of days, weeks, and seasons. Through the feasts, ordinary Christians learn the life of Christ, share it, and come to imitate it.
This book continues the work the authors began in their books The Mass and The Church, exploring the meaning and purpose of the most basic and beloved aspects of Catholic life. Each chapter uncovers the biblical origins and development of one of the great feasts or fasts — Advent, Epiphany, the Holy Angels, all the Marian feasts, and even this very day. The calendar can be a catechism for Catholics who know how to live it.
“The feasts form us,” write the authors, “They help to make us and remake us according to the pattern of the life of Jesus Christ. We number our days as we walk in his footsteps, from his birth to his baptism, from his passion to his resurrection, from his Ascension to his sending of the Spirit to make us saints. We do this faithfully every year, and it defines us as who we are.”
About the Authors
DONALD W. WUERL is the sixth and current Archbishop of Washington D.C., previously serving as Bishop of Pittsburgh. He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and later studied at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. He continued his priestly formation at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and the Pontifical Gregorian University. After his ordination he received a Ph.D. in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
MIKE AQUILINA is the author of over 20 books, including The Mass of the Early Christiansand Fire of God’s Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist. He appears regularly on EWTN with Scott Hahn.
“I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”