Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Journey with Jesus through the Liturgical Year (Scepter Publishers)

Álvaro del Portillo was the head of Opus Dei from 1975 to 1994 and the successor to Josemaría Escrivá. He was beatified on September 27, 2014. During his life, del Portillo gave a myriad of homilies and wrote many pastoral letters. 241 of these pastoral letters were gathered, compiled, and organized according to the Liturgical Year in a book called Journey with Jesus through the Liturgical Year. The six sections are called:

1. Advent: Awaiting the Lord
2. Christmastime: Lessons from Bethlehem
3. Lent: A time for conversion and penance
4. Holy Week: Accompanying Jesus in the Passion
5. Easter: Fount of true joy
6. Ordinary Time: Sanctifying daily living

The lessons for Advent invite us to purify ourselves before Christmas arrives. The way to do this, del Portillo says, is by turning to the Virgin Mary and imitating her. He also invites us to "build a crib for our God in our hearts." During Christmas, some of the reflections tell us to focus on and learn from "the Three." Contrary to what I was thinking, "the Three" are the Holy Family and not the Holy Trinity. Other letters encourage us to practice poverty. Though, I enjoyed reading about the fast and feast seasons, the reflections for Ordinary Time proved to be the most fruitful, because that is where we spend over 60% of our year. These Ordinary Time letters tell us to see God in everything; to not seek extraordinary things; and to see the great value of little things.

Though the book is organized by season, the book is atypically organized for a series of letters/reflections. By this I mean that there isn't a reflection for every day of the year. Instead, there are just several groups of letters organized by season and then by theme. Each letter is approximately one page long, so you can easily read it in the morning over coffee. However, I found myself reading several letters at a time, since several letters were under each theme. Reading the words of saints (and future saints) is a practice I recommend to all. If you are looking for a book for the rest of this year or 2016, then Journey with Jesus through the Liturgical Year is sure to please.

This book was provided to me for free by Scepter Publishers in exchange for an honest review.