By Tim Walch
“Living the Seasons: Simple Ways to Celebrate the Beauty of Your Faith Throughout the Year,” by Erica Tighe Campbell. Ave Maria Press, 242 pages. $34. 95
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes serves as the theme for families interested in celebrating specific holy days and seasons throughout the liturgical year.
Erica Tighe Campbell begins “Living the Seasons” with a beautiful sentiment. “This book is dedicated to all the women in our community who seek to be in communion with God,” she writes, “who continue to grow more fully into who God beckons them to be, and who in turn bring more light and love into the world.”
From the start, Campbell emphasizes that our celebrations should keep three ideas in mind. First, we should begin our celebrations with what we know — those traditions that are most familiar to our own families. Second, we should begin our celebrations in whatever season we find ourselves — Advent, Christmas, Lent — it’s our choice. Third, we should give thought to the coming liturgical year and embrace what we love.
“For each day or season,” she notes, “you’ll find a variety of ways to celebrate. Some activities are simple with no supplies needed. … Some are specifically for children, and some are for anyone of every age. … There is something for everyone at every stage of life.”
Most important, Campbell reminds us, are not the activities but the larger goal — a deeper relationship with God. We embrace the stories, traditions and history of our faith “in order to contemplate and connect with God in our everyday lives.”
“Living the Seasons” is organized around the liturgical year. The first two chapters are on Advent and Christmas and offer ideas to refresh our celebration of the familiar seasons and feast days. Also included in these chapters are practical ways to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the feasts of St. Nicholas, St. Lucy and Our Lady of Guadalupe, among others. Numerous prayers, songs and craft projects will engage the kiddos.
Following a chapter on Ordinary Time are three substantive chapters on Lent, Holy Week and Easter. The tone in this part of the book is a mix of quiet reflection and thoughtful preparation for the coming of Easter. Also included here are a variety of ways to celebrate the weeks after Easter in preparation for Pentecost.
The balance of the book includes a chapter on the second period of Ordinary Time and an appendix of additional reading and indices of feast days, saints and craft projects. The entries on the saints offer children ways to learn about worthy role models as they prepare to receive the sacraments.
“Living the Seasons” is a beautiful book in its design, format, use of photographs and in its practical content. It’s a perfect Christmas gift for an energetic young mother or teacher interested in ways to engage children in the life of the Church.
The achievements of this book are an extension of a larger effort by the author. Campbell is the creative force behind “Be A Heart,” a company that offers a wide variety of items that facilitate liturgical celebrations. More information on her company is available at www.beaheart.com.
The endorsements for this book are exceptional and come from designers and entertainers as well as from Father Ronald Rolheiser. “God is more domestic than monastic,” he writes. “Drawing on the joys of ordinary family life, Erica shows how God is present in every moment of our everyday lives. This book, loaded with beautiful prose and art, helps teach us what the liturgical cycle looks like in our homes.” I couldn’t have said it better.
(Timothy Walch is a parishioner at St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville and a member of The Catholic Messenger Board of Directors. He regularly reviews books for the Messenger and other publications and is the author of many books, including “Irish Iowa.”)