The celebrations of the Catholic Church are much more than a requirement. They are a glimpse into the faith itself. The yearly cycle from Sunday Mass in Ordinary Time to the grand feasts of Easter and Christmas are a living catechism for all to enjoy. Co – authors Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina explain the importance of feasts in their latest book The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us as Catholics.
“The feasts form us. 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.”
This book in turn is an overview of many of the feasts we celebrate. For practicing Catholics of any length of time you probably are saying to yourself do we really need a book about feasts I attend every year, like clockwork. My answer and the authors’ answer is……yes. The point of the book is this. Certainly faithful Catholics roll through the Church year attending Sunday Mass regularly and most likely making sure they fulfill holy days of obligation. Do you do that out of a sense of obligation or a true understanding of what each feast day is about? This book attempts to reveal that truth, the whole story about many feasts so that with a better understanding we may participate more fully.
The authors begin by spending time on the church calendar itself and how it came to be in its present form. This was by no means an overnight process and the calendar has seen a few versions through the years. The most recent major change was instituted by Venerable Pope Paul VI in 1969. To this day there are still minor changes made with Popes such John Paul II adding a few celebrations and restoring some older ones. This truly illustrates the fact that the church calendar is a “living document” that can be enhanced as time passes for the greater good of the faithful.
The real meat of this book lies in the dedicated chapters to significant feasts. Each chapter goes into detail on the history and purpose of each feast. In addition to the Sunday feast you will learn about the Solemnities of Easter, Christmas, Pentecost, Epiphany, The Baptism of the Lord, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Christ the King, the Most Holy Trinity, Divine Mercy, All Saints as well as the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. All of this talk of celebration may may seem overwhelming but keep in mind: “Our feasts are a joyful anticipation of greater days ahead: the definitive Day of Our Lord. When we feast on earth, we show our confidence in the promises of heaven”.
The Feasts is the third collaboration between Cardinal Wuerl and Mike Aquilina. Starting with The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition, followed by The Church: Unlocking the Secrets to the Places Catholics Call Homeand now, The Feasts they have provided the faithful with a triple play of easily digested cathechesis. There is a lot to learn from these books for both seasoned Catholics as well as those just entering or considering entering the Church. A series I highly recommend you spend some time with to grow to a deeper understanding of our Catholic faith.
I received a copy of the book for this review from the publisher, Image Books.