Sacred Rituals for Every Day: A Book Review
Review of Anselm Grün, Sacred Rituals for Every Day (New York: Paulist Press, 2017).
All humans are ritual beings. So, if rituals are “a culturally strategic way of acting in the world,” then it is worth reflecting on our strategy and to what end we perform our rituals. In his brief book, Sacred Rituals for Every Day, Anselm Grün offers a collection of 14 simple rituals associated with the days of the week. Christian tradition, according to Grün, connects each day with a different aspect of the faith. They are as follows:
- Monday—the Trinity
- Wednesday—St. Joseph, the patron saint of work
- Thursday—the Lord’s Table
- Friday—the death of Jesus
- Saturday—resting in the tomb
Layout of the Book
The book is divided into two sections of seven chapters, one for each day of the week (times two weeks). The chapters are very short and suggest a simple ritual to follow as one is able to perform it during the day. The rituals are listed below and compared with one another.
The Daily Rituals Closer Perspective
All of the rituals are simple, practical, and require little to no preparation. Each daily ritual covers the span of 2 to 3 pages and Grün offers some variation on how each ritual may be performed.
Some conceptual overlap exists between rituals from week to week, but this is not necessarily true for every day. For example, on Thursday, there is the repeated theme of thanksgiving in breaking bread (week 1) and giving thanks (week 2). The main difference pertains to the focus of giving thanks. In week 1, it is the act of breaking bread at a meal with reflection on this act whereas in week 2, the focus is on one’s body and life story.
One evening, during our family prayer time, which includes small children, we did the candle meditation (Monday, week 1) as a family. After turning out the light and sitting in pitch darkness, I lit the candle. This provided an experiential way to talk about the light shining in the darkness (John 1:5) along with the verses we normally say every night:
Lord, you have now set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised,
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior whom you’ve prepared for all the world to see,
A light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people, Israel
(Luke 2:29–32 cited from Hour by Hour)
Since candles eventually burn up, it also provided a way for us to talk about our human limitations, including the importance of balance and taking care of our bodies. Since Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12), we also talked about the importance of staying near the light and the fact that Jesus gave himself up just as a candle eventually extinguishes.
I highly recommend this book due to its intensely simple, practical, and easy to use format. Whether you are experienced at doing rituals like this or not, Grün is a great guide to lead you.
 Catherine Bell, Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. Oxford University Press, 2009, vii, 7.