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The Feasts: How the Church Year Forms Us As Catholics - A Book Review

I received an uncorrected proof of The Feasts: How The Church Year Forms Us As Catholics, written by Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Mike Aquilina, for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.


During Holy Week, I shared my admiration for the traditions of the Catholic church. Does Amazon Sell Holy Water (I'm asking for a friend).

And just a few weeks ago, I bought A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, And Coming Together, by Jerusalem Jackson Greer. After reading some of her blog, I knew she too shared an interest in the rhythm of the church year. And why wouldn’t a Christian book by a gal named Jerusalem be excellent?

Today’s post falls right in line with my interest in the liturgical calendar. For thousands of years, Christians have been participating in the cycle of the church year. A constant calling to remember God’s plan and our place in it. To celebrate occurrences in the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

At the time Christianity appeared, the Roman world observed a calendar with ample time for partying. There was no shortage of civil and religious holidays.

Many of the church feasts developed in part as a response to these pagan holidays. Much like Jesus, a devout Jew, the church created a calendar year honoring the various events of our religious heritage.

The church year starts with Advent. It moves from there to Christmas. To Lent. Including Passover (the Last Supper). To Easter. To Pentecost. So many other feast days I have never heard about before now.

Many of these celebrations last more than one day. They often include many Holy Days and last for weeks. Feasts around the world have been celebrated at different times, often honoring local saints in addition to the feasts of solemnity (mandatory celebrations for all Catholics). For example, the Church in Ireland celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day as a solemnity, while other churches worldwide don’t consider it mandatory.

The feasts have a lot to teach us. God established them for this reason.

In closing, a book like this helps a Protestant gal like me understand the fine heritage all believers call their own. It was rich in church history, explaining how various feasts got their start and why we celebrate them when we do and as we do. 

I do not claim to fully understand Catholicism. Reading one book does not make me an expert. But it did give me an even greater appreciation.

Alongside other books and articles I am reading, it teaches me how to celebrate Christ year-round in my own home. In my own church. From Advent to Advent.

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