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New book on Lent and Easter

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Following his recent publication of “Celebrating a Merry Catholic Christmas,” Father William P. Saunders, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls and episcopal vicar for faith formation and director of the Office of Catechetics, just released his newest publication, “Celebrating a Holy Catholic Easter.” Best known for his Straight Answers columns in the Catholic Herald that ran for decades, later published as a two-book set of answers to questions about the Catholic faith, Father Saunders does more than just provide insight to the faith.

As a guided tour through the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter, Father Saunders provides a brief history of holidays and traditions, an explanation of the liturgy and spiritual exercises, and practical ways to live the faith today.

As a catechist, I’m familiar with many of the traditions and celebrations — yet I still learned a great deal. This resource calls to mind the “glory days” of our faith, with nostalgic accounts of celebrations — such as the St. Joseph table, Shrove Tuesday pancakes and hot cross buns. My favorite chapter is “Beer and Pretzels.” Not only did I learn the health benefits of beer (thank you Minim Friars), I could relate to the account of overcooked pretzels. Hopefully someday, my similar cooking method will be so well-received.

This book is a great resource for teachers and catechists, makes a lovely gift (the pictures are full color and beautiful), and offers something very important, especially in our society. Today, more and more there is a divide between religion and faith. I often hear people long for the faith of their childhood — when processions and feasts marked the passage of time and united the family and church community. 

When we are so busy, it’s easy to leave religious instruction to the Catholic school or parish religious education programs. The in-home celebration of the faith, and dialogue, can be diminished by daily distractions and the frantic pace at which we live. The book provides an easy read for adults to learn more about the faith and why we live it, as well as practical suggestions and resources for guiding individuals and families to practice what is read. Religious instruction, devoid of culture, creates an intellectual vacuum of sorts. It removes the breath upon which we proclaim the faith — it makes religion a subject among others; it becomes history.

I see in this book an invitation to renew our culture and live our faith, restoring or creating new traditions at home. This Lent, more emphasis will be placed on prayer, penance and almsgiving in our home — lessons I want to instill in our children. (I will stop purchasing stick pretzels, and might even indulge in a beer — just for the sake of my faith.) And though my children are still too young for our family to attend the rigorous schedule of Holy Week, I will pick up this book and ponder these celebrations and mysteries from home. 

Congratulations to Father Saunders on another wonderful book. I hope it is embraced as a resource in every home. 

Lienhard is the director of the Catholic Education Center and special consultant for catechetics for the Diocese of Arlington.

Find out more

 

“Celebrating a Holy Catholic Easter,” by Fr. Saunders, can be purchased on Amazon or from TAN Publications.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020