Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Back In Print At Last: Enid Chadwick’s My Book of the Church’s Year

As a regular NLM reader likes to say: “The hits keep on comin’!” Even in these dark times of ours, we hear news on an almost daily basis of new (positive) pastoral initiatives, new locations of the old Mass, new sacred music commissions, new religious communities and apostolates, and especially new traditional Catholic books of the highest quality. What was once a trickle has become a river.

Some years ago, I attempted to reprint a gem of a book, Enid Chadwick’s My Book of the Church’s Year. My cheap and flimsy paperback was by no means adequate to the task, and I let the project fall by the wayside. Happily, Lisa Bergman of St Augustine Academy Press, well known for their book Treasure and Tradition (available now in English, Spanish, and Portuguese), has just released a beautiful hardcover edition of Chadwick done so well that the endpapers, thickly-textured paper, and rich color illustrations of the original edition are all faithfully reproduced. The photos will show this better than any words.

Lisa asked me to contribute a Foreword, which I was glad to do, as this is one of my all-time favorite children’s books. Here’s part of what I wrote:
It’s the loveliest, most charming, and in many ways most clever introduction to the liturgical calendar I’ve ever come across. It is informed by a deep Catholic love for the seasons of the year, the feasting and fasting, the great holy days, the pageantry of the saints and their stories, the underlying rhythm that connects nature, culture, and sanctity. . . . Though written and illustrated by a High Church Anglican, the feasts depicted in this book differ only in very minor ways from the traditional Catholic calendar. Chadwick’s handsome illustrations are simple enough for young children, and yet at the same time full of complexities for those who are attentive.
My Foreword includes pointers on the theological insights built into the illustrations, comments on terms and calendar features, and notes on particular saints who may be less known to readers. As Fr Hunwicke recently pointed out, it can be striking to see how closely traditional Anglican publications like Chadwick’s correspond to the ethos and even the details of traditional Roman Catholicism than either of them do to anything from the sphere of the Novus Ordo. Examples would include an emphasis on Christ coming in judgment; Epiphanytide; January 1st as the Circumcision; February 2nd as the Purification or Candlemas; February 14th as St. Valentine; Septuagesimatide, with mention of Lenten fasting; Passiontide; Low Sunday; May 3rd as the Finding of the Holy Cross; Rogationtide; the lifting of the chasuble at the elevation and kneeling for communion (p. 33); a catafalque on All Souls, being incensed by a priest in a black cope; and so forth. Such things are simply not to be found in children’s books published after 1969.

Helpfully, Lisa has provided at the book link an electronic flip-through of the contents (scroll to the bottom of the page to find it) for anyone who would like to preview the content before purchasing. If you are looking for an ideal Advent or Christmas gift, a read-aloud to catechize about the liturgical year, or a special weapon for the arsenal of books for little ones to look at in church, you’ll want to check this out!

Some comparison photos, showing the original 1948 edition and the 2018 facsimile edition (selling at the website for $12.95).

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