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For Your Marriage

Reviews of books pertaining to marriage, dating, family life, children, parenting, and all other things For Your Marriage.

The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life

What do piles of “sawdust” spaghetti, flaming crowns of evergreen and lingonberry, and New Year’s Eve in November have in common with each other?  According to Kendra Tierney, they are all part of a dynamic liturgical life in the Catholic faith.  The Church founded by Christ is both a family “and is in the bosom of the family” since, “parents are by word and example the first heralds of the faith” (CCC 1656).  But now more than ever, Catholic parents need a great deal of help and inspiration to truly live out their roles as effective proclaimers of the faith and Catholic culture in their domestic churches.  Thankfully, Kendra Tierney’s The Catholic All Year Compendium—a thorough survey of the many Catholic feasts, seasons, saints, stories, and practices—encourages families to learn about and live the rich traditions of the faith in joy-filled and creative ways.

In 2013, Kendra Tierney started her blog, Catholic All Year, to share how her family made the many seasons and feasts of the Catholic liturgical year come alive in their home.  Tierney is currently expecting her 10th child, supporting her husband through cancer treatments, homeschooling several of their beautiful children, and continuing to renovate their cool California home. Even with these many responsibilities, she still prioritizes Catholic liturgical living as an integral part of their collective family culture.  Faithful blog followers as well as new readers will rejoice over this distillation of her many years of research, creative ideas, and quick wit found in The Catholic All Year Compendium.

This well-organized and informative compilation of liturgical living demonstrates just how deep, dynamic, and downright fun Catholic culture can be.  Tierney’s tone throughout the book is familial and funny as she offers her thoughts on how to celebrate the seasons of the Church as if she was sitting in the reader’s kitchen having coffee.  The first time I read the book, I couldn’t put it down and I learned so much!  Overlooked feast days like the Chair of Peter become opportunities for family-wide candy chair building competitions, and the feast of St. Bridgette of Ireland is a great excuse to make sweet cream.  Most importantly, The Catholic All Year Compendium helps families reclaim the inherited traditions of the faith and weave those practices, prayers, saints, and stories into the ebb and flow of ordinary life.  Some of the traditions shared in the book are hundreds of years old and some are more recently hatched out of the creativity of the Tierney clan, but all of them are rooted in a love for the Church.

Catholic All Year reminds all of us that our faith is fundamentally rooted in the idea of family. The many saint stories and celebrations covered in this compendium help us learn more about the family members that have gone before us and now cheer us on from heaven.  My own family keeps the book in the dining room so we can learn about different saints and feasts. We have found that the more we celebrate the saints and know their stories, the more we see them as members of our families.  Few children forget St. Thomas Aquinas’ nickname after eating a bowl full of oxtail soup!

This compendium is a great resource for any Catholic family, but in particular this would be a fantastic gift for newlyweds and converts to the faith. Learning to live liturgically—especially if one did not grow up with these traditions—can be overwhelming, but Kendra Tierney offers down-to-earth advice about how to slowly weave these practices into the fabric of daily life.  For example, Tierney encourages families to start by celebrating the baptism anniversaries of each member of the family in addition to major feasts like Christmas and Easter.  She also includes many prayers like the blessing of the advent wreath.

Kendra Tierney’s The Catholic All Year Compendium reminds Catholics that our culture and faith is not only incredibly fascinating to learn, but exciting to live.  Plus, readers will find so many reasons throughout the year to eat fun desserts like sacred hearts made out of gelatin and pretzel sticks.  This gem of a book helps Catholic families regain a sense of reverence for the rich traditions of the faith and soak up the wisdom of the Church’s many saints and seasons.  Finding the joy and meaning of our faith in the everyday is possible; as Kendra Tierney so aptly puts it, “you just need to know when to add whipped cream.”

About the Reviewer
Kathleen O’Beirne is a freelance writer and part-time middle school literature teacher living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five kids.  Kathleen and her husband also help run conferences for the engaged couples in the Arlington Diocese.