The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

Posts: General

Silver bullets

In his entry for the First Sunday of Lent (sorry I don't have the page numbers available), Gueranger follows the Fathers of the Church in correlating the three temptations of Christ with the three temptations in the world: the concupiscence of the eyes, the concupiscence of the flesh, and the...

Some thoughts on fasting

Gueranger's introduction to the Lenten volume (V, 1-19) stresses the importance of real, serious fasting, and how this practice had fallen by the wayside before the author's time. Of course, fasting even in Gueranger's time was much than now, because now we have a something lenient fast only...

Reviving the Gueranger Blog

As Lent approaches, with my children older and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (EFRR?) once again available at least once or twice a week, I have decided to work through the pertinent section of Gueranger again. I invite you to read stunning insights, brilliant analysis, and rare...

Preparing for the feast of St. Nicholas

To celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas properly, definitely visit the official website!

Solesmes and chant

A new article over at CatholicCulture.org explains in clear terms the importance of the abbey of Solesmes for our understanding of Gregorian chant. Read the article here .  (More)

O Antiphons

As last year, I am singing the O Antiphons to my kids each night and then reading Dom Guéranger's commentary out loud. This morning, I discovered that wikipedia has a really neat article on the O Antiphons. It points out that if you take the first letters of all the antiphons in reverse...

Dom Gueranger and the Immaculate Conception

Dom Louis Soltner reports in his biography of Dom Gueranger, Solesmes and Dom Gueranger (80-81), that the good abbot was asked by Pius IX to write something about the Immaculate Conception. It was a secret document, never went beyond draft form, and remained unpublished, but its influence...

St. Nicholas' "manna"

Dom Gu éranger's entry for St. Nicholas mentions a miracle of holy "oil" that comes from the bones of the saint, and the various liturgical texts he gives mention it time and again. This substance, called St. Nicholas's "manna", is still collected today, and is described in...

Applying the Psalms

The last prayer of the entry for St. Nicholas day is taken from the Mozarabic breviary (I,355). I do not have time at the moment to offer a fresh translation, but I did want to note that the prayer adapts the words of Psalm 54 (in the Vulgate numbering) to an Advent setting. Here are the first...

A special saint for children

Amidst the lengthy entry for the feast of St. Nicholas, one finds almost nothing about St. Nicholas as bringer of gifts—which is the only thing most people know about St. Nicholas, if they know anything at all about him. But at one place, Dom Guéranger offers what seems to me a beautiful...

Asking for the past

Several times in close succession (I,34; I,35; I36) Dom Guéranger says that all humanity, both before and after Christ's coming, owe a debt to God of asking for the savior. Hence when we pray for the coming of the Messiah, and use biblical passages that speak of Christ's coming, Guéranger says...

Thoughts on the General Preface, Part III

A quick digression on the Psalms. I mentioned last time that the Psalms were brought together to form a book which would speak with the voice of Israel. But at the same time, they came to be understood as part of Scripture and therefore spoken by God. Of course, all of the Old Testament...

Thoughts on the General Preface, Part II

I would like to extend my reflections on this passage from Guéranger’s general preface (I,6): The spirit of prayer, and even prayer itself, has been sought for in methods and prayer-books, which contain, it is true, laudable, yea, pious thoughts, but after all only human thoughts. Such...

Saints of the Old Testament

The brief entry for December 1 (I,297-299) urges us to meditate on the may Old Testament saints who lived and died in hope of the savior, along the lines of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. In book III of On Christian Doctrine , St. Augustine picks up what Paul says in Galatians 3 about...

Thoughts on the General Preface, Part I

Guéranger remarks in his general preface (I,6) that books of private devotion, however saintly the author and however wholesome the contents, are nonetheless lacking: The spirit of prayer, and even prayer itself, has been sought for in methods and prayer-books, which contain, it is true,...

Sources for St. Anne

Dom Fromage remarks (XIII,188) that "traditions which, although mingles with details of less authenticity, have come down to us from the very beginning of Christianity" concerning the parents of Mary the mother of Jesus. He is referring to the Protoevangelium of James , an apocryphal...

One on the right and the other on the left....

I hope you had a wonderful feast of St. James the elder. Sorry this post is going up so late! As we read in today's Gueranger entry (and in the office of readings for today), James and John approached Jesus together and requested that they be given special places in the kingdom of God,...

An odd coincidence

By chance, it seems, the Scripture reading in today's Office of Readings--in the current breviary--was from 1Kings 18, the very passage upon which Dom Fromage dwells with such profit in his entry for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. That is, it would have been the Scripture reading in...

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Dom Fromage offers some delightful traditions concerning our Lady of Mt. Carmel (XIII,110-113). In the story of Elijah and the three-year drought (1King 17-19), the drought signifies—obviously enough—the spiritual barrenness of the people. The rain that ended the drought signifies...

The feast of St. Bonaventure

The Church has moved St. Bonaventure's feast to the actual day of his death, July 15, which means that this year it is "cancelled" by the Sunday liturgy. Nonetheless, since Dom Fromage covers Bonaventure on the 14th, and since Bonaventure is an important figure in my own life, I would...

John the Baptist and Julie Andrews

I can't pass by this fun little fact: the "Do Re Mi" song we all recognize from "The Sound of Music" was actually kicked off by a hymn for the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Because the tune moved up incrementally, each hemistich being one tone higher than the...

Astronomy and the birth of John the Baptist

I already noted this, but I wanted it to appear on the appropriate day. In his commentary on John 3:30, Fr. Raymond Brown notes something worth adding to Dom Fromage's comments: This verse has played a significant role in the tradition concerning John the Baptist. Just as the birthday of...

The usefulness of religious orders

In his entry for the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Dom Fromage points out how St. Aloysius was gifted in government and encouraged by family and friends not to "waste" his gifts in the religious life. Dom Fromage says, heatedly (XII,195), Just as though the Most High must be...

Lives of the saints

One feature I like in the old breviaries is the biographies of the saints to go with the feast days. The editors of the new breviary truncated the biographical entries to three to four sentences for each saint, so brief and generic that they cannot form the basis of any devotional meditation or...

St. Silverius

In the entry for the feast of St. Silverius (XII,188-191), Dom Fromage continues the emphasis we saw in Dom Gueranger's work on the papacy. As I mentioned previously , France in those days was troubled by Gallicanism, a theory that promoted the rights of the local French bishops over the...

Quotable quotes from St. Ephraem the Syrian

The entry for the feast of St. Ephraem the Syrian is heavy on the quotations, which is fine with me. I think I may post this one on my door at the office (XII,156-7): He who applies himself with simplicity and purity of heart to the study of the Sacred Books will receive the knowledge...

Solesmes and the Sacred Heart

Dom Fromage does not mention the fact, but the feast of the Sacred Heart is a significant one for Dom Gueranger and Solesmes. When the project at Solesmes was nothing more than plans and hopes, he prayed a novena for the success of his efforts: "In the first days of this novena,"...

A man after my own heart--to some degree

I was charmed to read (XII,127) that St. Anthony's reputation as a finder of lost items apparently began when a commentary on the Psalms that he owned was stolen. The devil himself drove the thief to return it! Now I would like that kind of protection for my collection of commentaries!...

The Apostles through the year

In his entry for the feast of Barnabas, apostle(X,109-110), Dom Fromage makes one of those sorts of observations that keep me coming back to The Liturgical Year . While every liturgical season has at least one feast of an apostle, after Pentecost, when the apostles were sent out to convert the...

Corpus Christi and Divine Mercy Sunday

Dom Fromage gives us the history of the feast of Corpus Christi in his entry for the Monday after Trinity Sunday (X,131-145). The part that caught my attention was how Blessed Juliana of Liege was told in a revelation to have the feast established, but after years and years of work she had only...

What is lacking in the sufferings of Christ

Colossians 1:24 is a traditional puzzler text: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. What does St. Paul mean that there is something lacking in Christ's...

Trying to absorb it all

I am woefully uneducated in liturgical history. Today's reading from Dom Fromage contained so much new information that I had to reread certain several times to absorb it all. Here are some salient bits (all from X,160-162): 1) In the earliest days of the Church, priests did not (or were not...

What to name our new season

As Dom Fromage comments (X,2-3), this long stretch from after Pentecost to the beginning of Advent has been variously named. At many points in history, it has been broken up and named in virtue of important saints' days that come during that time, but by Dom Gueranger's time the Church had...

Trinity in the Old Testament

Fr. Fromage gives us in today's reading a sparkling tour of allusions to the Trinity in the Old Testament (X,95-96). Although brief, he clearly shows the same rhetorical power we are accustomed to seeing in Dom Gueranger. One little point seems to me worth clarifying. Fr. Fromage speaks as...

We hear from Dom Shepherd

Our translator, Dom Shepherd, inserts a line into today's reading on the feast of the Holy Trinity (X,93): In our own country, it was the glorious martyr, St. Thomas of Canterbury, that established the feast of holy Trinity. This is evidently not the voice of our author, Dom Fromage, a...

The end of Gueranger's opus

Today we read the last of Dom Gueranger's entries in The Liturgical Year . Heaven called him away before he finished his project, and volumes 10 through 15 were written by his disciple, Dom Lucien Fromage. In this his last week of commentary, Dom Gueranger has given us a systematic...

A Trinitarian Imprecision

In today's meditation, Dom Gueranger mentions the fact that the Holy Spirit is the only one of the three persons of the Trinity who does not have another person proceding from him. Then he mentions a patristic thought on this (IX,411): Hence, as the holy fathers teach, the Holy Ghost...

White Sunday

Our translation of The Liturgical Year was made in England, and uses British names for the feast days. So Pentecost is called "Whit Sunday", and the week following is named "Whitsun Week" because it is the octave of "Whit Sunday". According to the old Catholic...

Pius IX did what now?

In today's reading, Dom Gueranger refers to a deed of Pius IX which he regards as heroic (IX,400). In the person of the Piux IX, the Church showed love of principle when she braved the clamours of modern infidelity, yea, and the cowardly remonstrances of temporizing Catholics, rather than...

It is the Church who lives in me

In his entry for Wednesday in Whitsun Week, Dom Gueranger offers a splendid quotation from St. Augustine (IX,382): The spirit, by which every man lives, is called the soul. Now, observe what it is that our soul does in the body. It is the soul that gives life to all the members; it sees by...

Closure on the "soul" of the Church

Dom Gueranger indicated in today's reading (IX,382) that his previous use of the term "soul of the Church" was not his usual one. He speaks instead of the Holy Spirit as the soul of the Church, visible and invisible.

Shades of Jude

It was interesting to learn that the Introit for Whit Tuesday was taken from 4Esdra, an apocryphal text. Dom Gueranger comments (IX,367) that it was frequently read by early Christians because of its "admirable instructions". I suppose quotation from an apocryphal text should not be...

Gueranger on the "soul" and "body" of the Church

Dom Gueranger's meditation for Whit Tuesday (IX,359-367) is a whirlwind tour of Church history from the perspective of divine providence, from the day of Pentecost to the end of time. His emphasis on the Church's victory even in the face of apparent defeat reminds me of H. W. Crocker's...

Liturgical recycling

Dom Gueranger comments (IX,273) that the Easter candle used to be lit again at the vigil Mass of Pentecost, because this Mass was a kind of second Easter vigil when it came to administering the sacraments of initiation. So they used to keep the Easter candle burning during the time when Jesus...

A note on the birth of John the Baptist

This is not relevant to our point in the liturgical year, but I wanted to jot it down while it was on my mind. I have been digging into Raymond Brown’s commentary on John, and to my surprise I find it very rewarding. Just today I ran across this liturgical nugget in Brown’s commentary on John...

The pattern verified again

I have observed many times by now that Gueranger often takes his meditation for the day from the prayer or hymn given at the end of his entry. The meditation for Wednesday within the octave of the Ascension (IX,236-241) is about the faith that resulted from his absence. The hymn and prayer...

Commentary on a hymn from the missal of Abo

The hymn for Wednesday within the Octave of the Ascension (IX,241-243) has a few points of interest. The second paragraph of the English translation begins with "Oh!" The Latin word is a puzzler: Papae! It could technically be the vocative of "Pope", but that seems an...

Angels and the Ascension

Gueranger's meditation for today (IX, 220-224) is a magnificent essay on the angels' union with Christ and with us in the mystical body by way of God's providence. I wish I had the time to write out all the thoughts it provokes, and I will certainly read it again, but at the very least I want...

Ascension Day

Well, the Easter candle was not extinguished after the gospel reading at Mass this weekend. But, then again, the parish I attended this weekend was not exactly focused on rubrics. This particular church was cleverly designed. The tabernacle was handsome, but it was made out of a dark...

Follow the Pillar

Once again, I have overlooked the obvious. The Easter candle is erected on Easter, of course, and it symbolizes the light of Christ. And I knew that it is not up at other times of the year. But I have never paid attention to see when it was taken down; I suppose I had assumed it was taken...

Jesus' undercover mission....

For whatever reason, I had never asked myself how Jesus led the disciples out of Jerusalem to the mount of ascension (Luke 24:50) before reading these lines from Gueranger (IX, 170): It is the last time that Jesus walks through the faithless city. He is invisible to the eyes of the people...

A Question about Penance and Prayer

In his comments on the second of the Rogation Days, Gueranger notes that one reason we do penance is to avert the wrath of God. By so doing, he points out, we put off the day of wrath at the end of the world until after our time (IX, 153-154). That seems true. On the other hand, we...

Rogation Day Thoughts

In the Old Calendar, today begins the Rogation Days. As he contemplates the exhausting penitential processions customary in past times, Dom Gueranger falls into one of the few sarcastic statements I have seen in this devotional series (IX, 132): The faithful of those days had not made the...

A Poem for the Feast of James the Younger

Happy feast of Sts. Philip and James the Less! Paul Claudel wrote a fine meditation on James, and I recently found a translation of his French poem: All the Apostles have gone. Only James, brother of the Lord, has remained In this Jerusalem whence the true Israelites have been...

The Motherhood of Mary

Someone wrote to me this morning to ask: where did the Solemnity of the Motherhood of Mary come from, and what is the most appropriate devotion for today? What we do today is not quite the same as what they did in Gueranger's day: somewhere in the middle ages the Circumcision was added to...

Old Law and New Law in the Liturgical Year

Here's an interesting bit from St. Thomas Aquinas. In his Summa of Theology 1-2.103.3 ad 4, he says that the feasts of the New Testament replace the feasts of the Old Testament, and he even finds a correspondence between the various Old Testament feasts and our New Testament (Catholic!)...

The Temporary Return of the Gueranger Blog

SURPRISE! The Gueranger Blog is back, in a small way. Now that Advent season is here I actually have had time to return to my favorite devotional. My sister recently asked me to write something around 250 words long on the meaning Advent. She needed it for a newsletter that she passes...

How to interpret a fish: the sequel

Scan down the posts below, and you will quickly see that this is a quiet blog. Not many comments, no big debates. People don't react to Gueranger, apparently. But there is one topic that has consistently stirred the masses, one topic that draws even the most reticent sampler of the blogosphere...

The acolyte blew it on Ascension Thursday

Dom Gueranger describes a charming ritual that used to be performed on the feast of the Ascension. The Easter candle was lit for all the liturgies during the Easter season, but after the reading of the Gospel (which closes with mention of the ascension), an acolyte would blow out the Easter...

Michael says, "Who is like Jesus?"

One of the many peculiar beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that Michael the Archangel is the same person as Jesus Christ. He was an angel before the Incarnation, they say, and turned back into an angel after the crucifixion. He was (is) the most exalted of the angels, but only an angel....

Whose Michael?

In the last number of years, the status of the nation of Israel in God’s plan has become a question surrounded by controversy. Are the Jews still God’s chosen people? Is Judaism still a path to salvation? Should a Jewish convert try to retain his Jewishness, or just allow himself to be...

The grace of our age?

In VIII,175 Dom Gueranger claims that beginning from the 13th century every century has had a grace special to it: the feast of the Holy Eucharist and other Eucharistic devotions came in the 13th century, then the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, then the revival of frequent communion, then...

Joseph, OT and NT

In VIII,182, Dom Gueranger alludes again to the old notion that the Joseph of the Old Testament foreshadowed the Joseph of the New Testament. Here are a few thoughts along that line: 1) Joseph of the NT was the son of a man named "Jacob". 2)While folks often note that Jesus...

St. Joseph and the Fundies

Sunday of this week is the Feast of St. Joseph in Dom Gueranger's world, but of course we have already celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1. The Church decided it was important to counter the international socialist holiday on May 1, and St. Joseph was right on hand for the...

Old subject, new comment

Quite some time ago, I posted a question about the Marian title, “Mystical Rose.” Nobody replied…until now ! Thanks, Haerandir!

St. John and the South

Back in the day, May 6 was the feast of “St. John before the Latin gate”. It celebrated the time St. John the Evangelist was, according to tradition, cast into boiling oil. He survived by a miracle, but the Church has credited it to him as a kind of virtual martyrdom. As an aside, I’ve...

Dom Prosper Gueranger on the Papacy

Today's Gueranger entry gives me the opportunity to post a note that I have meant to get up for a long time. In VIII,150 we can see Dom Gueranger's theory of the papacy at work: Authority is derived from the one supreme Head; thence it flows to the bishops; and these delegate it to the...

The Joys of Mary

In VIII,126-8, Dom Gueranger offers a beautiful hymn about a tradition previously unknown to me, the "Seven Joys of Mary." As you might guess, they counterbalance the more familiar "Seven Sorrows of Mary." For those of you who do not have the text, here are the traditional "Seven Joys":...

St. Peter Martyr...the rest of the story

In the entry for the Dominican saint Peter Martyr (VIII,374), Dom Gueranger quotes Pope Innocent IV, who says (among other things), "The very sword that did the deed of parricide proclaims [Peter's] glory." This is more than pious rhetoric. Mark Johnson mentioned to me once that the man...

A hymn to the cross

A few quick notes on the simply marvelous hymn in VIII,122-3. 1) First, the hymn says at one point: By the Cross, the last made of creatures is associated with the morning stars, and repairs heaven's losses. My interpretation: the "morning stars" are the angels, who were the...

Jesus leaves his parents

The Gueranger entry for yesterday featured a lovely hymn (VIII,110) with a somewhat puzzling first verse: Let the Church of Christ sing a canticle to her beloved, who out of love for her, left father and mother, and, God as he is, clad himself with our nature, and cast off the synagogue."...

What to say about Mark the Evangelist?

Dom Gueranger's entry for the feast of Mark the Evangelist is rich with lively details, including Mark's method of writing the Gospel, where he preached, what institutions he founded, and even a vision given to Mark on the eve of his death. I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of...

Mass of the pre-sanctified, part III

I have to apologize to that most elusive of beasts, the Anony Moose, for a long delay in responding to his question about the Mass of the pre-sanctified. Things have been crazy around here, so it kind of slipped my mind! (And yes, this may indicate that my mind is slipping.) My thanks to...

How to interpret a fish

On Wednesday of this Easter octave, the Gospel reading in Gueranger is from John 21. With reference to the 153 fish caught by the disciples of Jesus, Dom Gueranger remarks: There is a mystery, too, in the number of the fishes that are taken; but what it is that is signified by these...

The Tao of Ezekiel--oops, I mean the Tau

For those of you who wondered about the word "Mesraim" in today's Gueranger reading (VII,197), it is simply the Hebrew word for "Egypt". You may also have wondered about the reference to Tau (VII,199). It is a letter in the Hebrew alphabet whose sound corresponds to our letter T. The...

Great balls of fire!

Dom Gueranger's reader's may have been puzzled by the following aside in VI,554-5: In order to help our readers to enter more fully into the mystery of the ceremony we are describing, we will here mention a miracle which was witnessed for many centuries. The clergy and people of Jerusalem...

Ubi caritas--"Where is love?"

The heart-rending Ubi caritas , traditionally sung on Holy Thursday, has one line that reads ex corde diligamus nos sincero . This is a great example of where a little knowledge of Latin subtlties can be important: the first-year Latin student might take nos at face value and translate it,...

Apocalypse Way Back Then

One of the prayers for the Mass of Holy Saturday contains a striking statement (VI,596): "[T]he creation of the world, in the beginning, was not a more excellent work than the sacrificing of Christ, our Passover, at the end of the world." This is bang on what the gospels are driving at: the...

Why Fish on Friday--Part III

A quick update on the fish question . A book I saw recently suggests that fish have some connection with the Eucharist; the author didn't explain what he meant, but I can only assume that he alludes to the fact that Christ multiplied fish along with the loaves when he foreshadowed the...

No wine for Good Friday

Update on the Mass of the pre-sanctified . I got my hands on a ritual book, and found that the funny business with the wine is no longer a part of the Good Friday ritual. Just as well, from my point of view. It seemed a lot like simulating a sacrament. But it would be interesting to...

Jesus rose on...Saturday morning?

Until I read Dom Gueranger's entry for Holy Saturday, I had forgotten that the Easter "Vigil" used to take place on Saturday morning! The custom began in the 11th century, and persisted until 1951. Gueranger never, ever criticizes the Church's liturgical choices, but he was obviously...

"Let us (not) kneel."

One detail about the Good Friday service in Gueranger's time really struck me: at the point in the grand ceremony of intercessions where they pray for the Jewish people, in Gueranger's day they did not kneel . They knelt for every prayer but that one. Something about that really strikes...

The Mass of the pre-sanctified

As I have read through Gueranger's account of the Triduum, I have become increasingly grateful for all the good liturgy to which I have been exposed. At my undergrad school, they did the traditional and unforgetable Tenebrae service, with all the stomping and banging on pews in the darkness,...

The Theological Apostles

Dom Gueranger remarks (VI,350) that "Peter, who was the first to confess the Divinity of Jesus, represents faith: and John, who leaned upon the breast of the Man-God, represents love." John, of course, is also the apostle who emphasizes love so much in his writings. It seems to me that one...

Reconstructing the Last Supper

Dom Gueranger's reconstruction of the Last Supper (VI,366-371) is the kind of thing one would like to see more often in popular literature. A few details about the structure of the Passover meal can really illuminate the sequence of events on that first Holy Thursday. However, there are a few...

The facts on the naming of Florida

I researched the Florida question at the University library. I pored over dictionaries of medieval Latin, medieval Spanish, and contemporary Spanish. I looked at the most recent history of Florida, and poked through a history of Florida written by a crusty old Spaniard in the 1700s. Here is...

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

In Dom Gueranger's time, today would have been--OK, by the very fact that it is today it couldn't have been in Dom Gueranger's time. Let me try again. Back in the day, the Friday of the week before Holy Week was the Feast of the Seven Dolours of Our Lady. (There was also another feast by...

Would the real Florida please stand up?

For those of you who receive my weekend letter: I just noticed the contradiction between what I said about the name "Florida" and what Dom Gueranger says in connection with Palm Sunday. After further poking about, I have discovered that historians disagree with one another! I will be hitting...

For God so loved the world...therefore, be afraid!

One of the most wonderful surprises about our salvation is how God found a way to preserve both his justice and his mercy. If he had simply pardoned our sins he would have been merciful without justice; if he had simply punished us he would have shown justice without mercy; but by sending his...

Changing the biblical text

Today's Old Testament reading in Gueranger is from Jonah (VI, 121-2). In the very last line of the reading, as Dom Gueranger points out, the Church actually changes the biblical text : where the original text has "God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not...

Blessed Salt

In V,342ff., Dom Gueranger describes the extremely impressive ceremony used back in the day for admitting candidates to the catechumenate. It involved a solemn procession to place one of the four gospels at each corner of the alter, an explanation of the distinctive features of each gospel, the...

Why can Catholic's eat fish during Lent---Part II

After the discussion in the combox about eating fish, I knew I had to face it: the box of "Kippered Herring Snacks" my mother gave me. I have been putting it off from day to day, but there we were with just enough rice for everyone and not enough beans to go around, so.... "Uagh!", my...

John of Capistrano, Saint for Today

On Gueranger's calendar, yesterday was the feast of St. John Capistrano. Dom Gueranger showed himself a consumate story teller in recounting St. John's exploits against the Islamic crisis of his age. Here's the short version. The sultan besieged Belgrade in the 1450's, and it was one of...

Naaman's baptism

Our Old Testament reading yesterday in Gueranger (V,263-5) was 2 Kings 5 , the story of Naaman the Syrian. No doubt following all of Christian tradition, and certainly in keeping with the liturgical season, Dom Gueranger relates the scene to baptism. It occurred to me that we might add a...

Why can Catholic's eat fish during Lent?

A friend recently phoned in a question: Why are Catholics allowed to eat fish on Fridays? His co-workers were puzzled by the distinction drawn between meat and fish. I did a little research on the subject. The practice of abstaining from meat on certain days goes back to the earliest...

It's all down-hill from here....

Happy mid-Lent Thursday! Today is the exact mid-point of Lent! OK, I'm speaking a bit loosely. In the current calendar at least, Lent runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday, and ends at the moment that the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins on Holy Thursday. So technically, today is...

The deification of Benedict

The first hymn for the feast of St. Benedict (V,436-7) makes an interesting play on Greco-Roman mythology that is lost in the translation. The first stanza says that "On this day Benedict ascended to the highest heaven." At least, that's what the English translation says. The Latin says, "On...

The Passing of St. Joseph

A hymn for the Feast of St. Joseph (V,426) describes Joseph's death as follows: Death was vanquished, the snare of the flesh was broken, and Joseph, sweetly sleeping, passed to the eternal home, and received upon his brow the glittering crown. This could be a bit misleading, I...

Jacob's mysterium

I'm a bit late on this, but I wanted to blog briefly on V,240-241. There Dom Gueranger comments on the story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27: you remember the plot line, how Jacob deceives his father into giving him the blessing instead of Esau, so Esau plots to kill Jacob and Jacob flees off...

Thoughts for the Feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Dom Gueranger's opening thoughts for the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (V,410-415) contain a number of very interesting ideas. They cohere into a kind of argument for why the Church still celebrates the feast of St. Cyril, whose greatest claim to fame is his series of lectures to catechumens....

Dom Gueranger and the Jews

In V,200-1 there emerges again the main theme that bothers me in Gueranger: his view that the Jews, as a nation, are cursed. Following Vatican II, the current Catechism is at pains to correct this view (CCC 597-8), arguing that not all Jews were responsible for Jesus' death, even at the time....

Lent for Mothers, Part II

A while back I raised the question of how mothers who are continually pregnant or breastfeeding could participate in the Lenten fast. In the combox , a reader responded: Throughout the Church's history, nursing and pregnant women have always been exempted from the Church's laws on...

Jesus and the Ark of the Covenant

I am continually impressed by how many of the differences between Catholics and Protestants boil down to the fact that Catholics see a much greater continuity between Old and New Testaments: we still have a priesthood, and a sacrificial system, ceremonies of cleanings, and the whole nine yards....

Abstaining from Baptism during Lent

The gospel passage in today’s Gueranger entry is another story about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and upsetting the Jewish authorities. A friend pointed out to me recently that this theme in the gospels is similar to a problem we have in our home diocese. The official position of the diocese is...

God's ways and our ways

The Old Testament reading for today (V,149-150) from Isaiah answers an important question. How is it that I sin so badly, and do it again and again in the face of all that God has done for me and despite all the times he has forgiven me, and yet God does not blow up in anger and condemn me...

Happy (old calendar) feast of St. Thomas Aquinas!

Dom Gueranger has one of the best lines I've seen on Aquinas: Thomas of Aquin is an honour to mankind, for perhaps there never existed a man whose intellect surpassed his. The hymn in IV, 328 is interesting. I don't have time at the moment to type it out here (sincere apologies),...

Gueranger on Lent--online!

All of Gueranger's volumes begin the same way: he introduces his reader to the history, the mystery, and the practice of the season at hand. These are invariably some of the best parts of the book, really worth reading. For Lend, you can find it all online! Here they are: History of...

Noah and...no meat on Fridays!

Gueranger has a pretty neat interpretation in V,3-4 of the earlier chapters of Genesis in connection with...fasting! I'm sure he's getting it from some Church Father somewhere, but I'll admit I've never seen this one before. The basic idea is that mankind first ate just plant products....

The Age of Wimps

In V, 34, Dom Gueranger asks remarks: But it will be asked: 'Are there, then, no lawful dispensations? We answer that there are; and that they are more needed now than in former ages, owing to the general weakness of our constitutions. I have to disagree: people today are getting...

Lent for Mothers

Now, there is one point the feminists have gotten right: history has been recorded from the point of view of the men, so it is often hard to know what life was like for the women. Unfortunately, the historians who have labored to fix this problem have done so with a polemical bent, so that...

Update on the 40 days of Lent

In a previous post I offered a bit from Dom Gueranger on why we speak of the "forty days of Lent". At the point where I wrote that, I had missed the fact that Jimmy Akin had already heard some of the same points from his readers, and commented on them here . There Jimmy pretty much...

Septuagesima and the Grinch

A reader writes: I've been enjoying your liturgical reflections and have a quick question about Septuagesima Sunday. On the old calendar, did it occur without fail two and a half weeks before Ash Wednesday, no matter how early Lent begins? Suppose Lent were especially early and...

Is Lent really 40 days?

Jimmy Akin has devoted a number of blog posts to the duration of Lent. (For his posts, go HERE and scroll down.) Basically, the problem is that the Church speaks about the "forty days of Lent", but when you count it out, Lent doesn't add up to forty days. Jimmy insists repeatedly that the...

Back in the day

Some of us are tempted to feel that the Church has softened. The obligation for abstaining from meat on Friday has been lifted, the fast before communion has been reduced, penances have been reduced to a few Hail Mary's. Already in Dom Gueranger's day, people felt that the Church had...

Mardi Gras

Dom Gueranger makes a great point in IV, 182. He's a bit reluctant about the parties before Lent, because he knows that we need a kind of psychological momentum going into Ash Wednesday which can be disrupted by a sudden emergence in worldliness. Nonetheless, even though a lot of folks take...

Mystical Rainbow

IV, 175 has one of my favorite Marian images so far. I've seen the burning bush before, and Gideon's fleece, and the gate of the Temple, but the one in this prayer to Mary is new for me: "If the flood-gate of His just indignation burst upon the face of our earth, millions of souls that...

Marian language in Gueranger, again

In a recent post , I raised again the question of whether the English translation edits out certain bolder Marian devotional phrases that might appear to confuse Mary with Christ. To do Gueranger justice, Iv, 174 has a clear and bold sentence of just the kind of devotion I was thinking about:...

Mystical Rose

In IV, 174, Dom Gueranger offers a prayer to Mary in which he runs quickly through several of her titles and comments on each. One Marian title that has continued to puzzle me over the years is "Mystical Rose", but Gueranger's comment makes sense to me: "Mystical rose! the fragrance of...

Text! Text!

I usually don't quote large blocks of Gueranger, because it would take me so long to prepare them that I wouldn't be able to blog consistently; hence the Gueranger Blog ends up being more useful to those who own a copy of The Liturgical Year . But the Hound of Ulster has specially requested...

Gueranger and Islam

Is it just me, or does IV, 167-9 seem written for Europe today? You could read it out loud in a city park, and pass it off as having been written last week. Well, except for the fact that Dom Gueranger thinks that invasions are punishment for sin. Only a few people today say that, and...

Fear, love, and presumption

In IV, 164, Dom Gueranger connects the reading of the Fall in Genesis 3 with meditation on the effects of original sin in us, while he connects the subsequent story of the deluge in Genesis 6 with meditation on the seriousness of actual sin. Very, very nicely done. Homilists, take note!...

Dom Gueranger on the Deluge

This may seem a bit too obvious to say, but I'll go ahead and make the remark: the meditations on the Fall and on the story of Noah and the flood--i.e., the meditations on the very beginnings of history--fit well with the way Gueranger has the season of Septuagesima mystically represent the...

It's a hard road....

The meditation for Saturday of Septuagesima week (IV, 145-6) was very helpful for me. I have been extremely low on emotional and spiritual juices lately, and Dom Gueranger reminded me that our entire life is one long struggle because of the wounds of original sin. You might think this would...

A little controversy about Eve

The meditation for Thursday of Septuagesima week (Vol. 4, pp. 140-141) was distracting to me, because I (brace yourself) disagreed with ALL of it! This is basically a Gueranger fan site, but I'm interested in getting these thoughts out for discussion. The meditation is in three paragraphs:...

How Adam sinned

Throughout Septuagesma week, Dom Gueranger has focused his meditations on the story of the Fall in Genesis 2. His account of it is fascinating. One paragraph in Vol. 4, p. 138 seems to sum up his thesis about Adam and Eve's decision: "They sinned through sheer ingratitude. They began by...

God talks back....

After my comments about Septuagesima, I thought that I should, you know, follow my own advice. So I spend a bit of time examining my conscience and thinking about what faults might require work this Lent. It was a lot to think about. I have a lot of faults. But what leapt to the...

Dom Gueranger on Scandals in the Church

In vol. 4, p. 98, Dom Gueranger comments on the parable of the tares and the wheats. Among other things, he says, it can refer to scandals in the Church. The tares must not be pulled up, but not just to avoid damage to the bad: "[T]he mixture of good and bad is an advantage; it teaches the...

Discovering Septuagesima

I'm a novus ordo generation Catholic, and haven't been exposed to some of the old liturgical ways. My first reaction when I read about the season of Septuagesima was, "This is wierd." After all, Lent is a time of preparation for the Easter season (or so I have been led to believe)....

Notes for the feast of St. Blaise

The priest at our parish always has folks line up in two rows for the blessing of throats on the feast of St. Blaise: he takes one row, and a woman from the congregation takes the other. I was concerned about this, and wrote to Jimmy Akin. Turns out, what our priest does is OK! See Jimmy's...

A feast day by any other name....

In vol. 3, p. 469, Dom Gueranger mentions that the Greek Church considers this Church of a feast of our Lord, but that the Roman Church has always considered it a feast of Mary--hence the name, the "Purification". I wonder why the modern calendar has changed the name to match the Greek...

Why was Jesus offered at the Temple?

In his entry for the Purification, Dom Gueranger spends some time meditating on why Mary and Jesus had to submit to these laws. Why did Jesus, the redeemer, need to be redeemed by a dove? Of course, this immediately brings to mind another scene with a dove, when John the Baptizer said, "I need...

Lost Tales of the Shepherds

In vol. 3, p. 469, Gueranger remarks that by the shepherds, the magi, Simeon, and Anna, "the divine seed is sown"; "it will spring up in its due time; and when our Jesus has spent his thirty years of hidden life in Nazareth, and shall come for the harvest-time, he will say to his Disciples,...

Dom Gueranger's Bible Bobble

In vol. 3, p. 464, Dom Gueranger says that "The majority of the Jews would not even listen to the Messias having been born; for Jesus was born at Bethlehem, and the Prophets had distinctly foretold that the Messias was to be called a Nazarene ." Now this is an odd statement. I'm no Bible...

Ignatius the Comet

In his edition of the apostolic fathers, Michael W. Holmes (no relation) makes this beautiful remark about St. Ignatius: "Just as we become aware of a meteor only when, after traveling silently through space for untold millions of miles, it blazes briefly through the atmosphere before dying in...

Polycarp in the Bible

I must admit that I was taken off guard when Gueranger identified Polycarp as the individual referred to in Revelation 2:8, but it makes perfect sense. I can't imagine why I haven't run across that idea. The Haydock Bible makes the same identification, although it allows for the possibility...

A mysterious hymn for the conversion of St. Paul

In vol. 3, pp. 404-5, Dom Gueranger offers an ancient hymn for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul that he says is "full of mysterious references". Mysterious indeed! The first verse says (if we exclude Gueranger's italicized, interpretive suggestions), "The Lord said: I will turn him from...

Saint Timothy

So we reach the feast of St. Timothy in Dom Gueranger Time! Whenever I think of Timothy, I think of Philippians 2:19-22: "I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him, who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare....

Where was First Timothy written?

In vol. 3, p. 398, Gueranger gives the Roman breviary's short life of Timothy. The little biography mentions that Pauls first letter to Timothy was written from Laodicea. Interested in this statement, I looked up First Timothy in Fr. Haydock's commentary , and he reports that the place...

St. Hilary, pray for the Church in the US

As I noted on the feast of St. Hilary, the Church's freedom from government interferance was a real issue in Gueranger's day. Strangely, though, a number of headlines have popped up just recently having to do with Church/state problems right here in the United States. Their significance...

Pallium update

My report that the Church continues the tradition of making the pallia from lambs blessed on the feast of St. Agnes has been confirmed: Pope Benedict blessed the lambs this year ! There was no mentioned, however, of whether the lambs were subsequently raised at a nearby convent--one of...

St. Raymond of Pennafort

At last we reach the feast of St. Raymond of Pennafort on Gueranger's calendar. For reasons uknown to me, the feast occurs a little earlier in the year on the current Church calendar. My horribly weak knowledge of history tends to be like a man peering into the darkness with a flashlight:...

The Ascension of Agnes

In vol. 3, p. 364-9, Gueranger offers a hymn from Aurelius Clemens Prudentius . He remarks that it is "quite long", but in fact what he gives us is only the portion used in the Mozarabic breviary for the feast of St. Agnes: the original poem was a much longer work that honored many different...

Agnes and the Pallium

Upon reading Gueranger's entry for the feast of St. Agnes, I was struck by the beautiful custom of making bishop's pallia out of lambs blessed on the feast of St. Agnes and raised at a convent. Since so many beautiful customs have vanished since the mid-1800s when Gueranger wrote, I wondered...

Where in the world is the Pope?

The comments about the papacy in vol. 3, p. 316-317 got me to thinking about the problem raised: St. Peter ordained any number of bishops in various places, so how was Peter supposed to indicate which of his succesors was the one to inherit his special authority in the Church? A bunch of...

Peter's Chair at Rome--and at Antioch?

The entry for the memorial of St. Peter's Chair at Rome is very helpful. I had not known that there used to be a double memorial for the St. Peter's chairs at Antioch and at Rome on February 22; then, after Protestant challenges to the papacy, the memorial of the chair at Rome was separated out...

The effect of monasticism

It seems probable that Gueranger had a devotion to St. Antony, inasmuch as Antony was the first Abbot and Gueranger himself was the founder and Abbot of a monastery. I didn't detect in special exuberance in today's entry, however. In vol. 3, p. 306, Gueranger says that "the Faithful had...

Pope St. Marcellus and a new approach to charitable giving

The life of Pope St. Marcellus (vol. 3, p. 303) records that he persuaded a wealthy Roman woman named Lucina to make the Church of God the heir of her estates. My alma mater makes a similar pitch, trying to rope wealthy folks into willing their fortunes to the college. Perhaps they should call...

Puzzling over Gueranger's Treatment of the Synoptics

In his entry for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany (pp. 242-3, to be exact), Gueranger remarks, "St. Matthew, the Evangelist of the Humanity of our Lord, has received from the Holy Ghost the commission to announce to us the Mystery of Faith by the star; St. Luke, the Evangelist of Jesus' Priesthood,...

Thunder at the Jordan?

A beautiful preface from the Ambrosian Missal in vol. 3, p. 232 refers to when God showed himself to us "in the river Jordan by speaking to us from heaven in the voice of thunder." Now this is a reference to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, but you can search the gospels up and down without...

Incognito in Bethlehem

I recently praised a hymn by St. Ephrem the Syrian, found in vol. 3, p. 192ff., which describes a the conversation that might have taken place between Mary and the magi. Someone pointed out that it seems a rather odd conversation, because Mary doesn't seem to know that her son is a king,...

Matthew's Magnificat

An example of the meditation/hymn connection I mentioned recently is how Gueranger devotes part of his meditation in vol. 3, pp. 188-9 to the thought of what conversation must have passed between Mary and the magi, and then beginning on p. 192ff. offers a wonderful piece from St. Ephrem...

Gueranger's Meditations and the Hymns

I have noticed that there is often a connection between Gueranger's meditation and the hymns he subsequently offers. While there have been a number of instances of this, I only have one marked with pencil: in vol. 3, p. 167, he describes the passage in Virgil that many took to be a prophecy of...

The Journey of the Magi's Faith

The Church at large has entered ordinary time now, but for those in traditional communities and those who read Gueranger we are still within the Octave of the Epiphany, and this week is devoted to meditation on the magi. Gueranger's meditations have struck me as particularly fine this week...

More on Buying Gueranger's Work

Sorry so many of my recent posts have been centered around such mundane topics. I do have other topics I want to post about, but they will take me a bit more time to get written. Meanwhile, I found a foreign ebay listing that offers the complete original French edition (i.e., last...

A Bit of Bibliography

I found an interesting book about Dom Gueranger's work to which I will probably want to refer several times in the upcoming posts. Rather than repeat the reference again and again, here it is once and for all: Cutherbert Johnson, O.S.B., Prosper Gueranger (1805-1875): A Liturgical Theologian...

New Data on the Magi

A sequence from the ancient Roman-French Missals (Vol. 3, pp. 156-7) presents a neat picture of the magi and their quest for Jesus. Most of it is familiar, but two items caught my attention. According to this sequence: (1) The star not only guided the magi to Bethlehem, but also showed...

Enosh--the first liturgist?

In Vol. 3, p. 153, Gueranger refers to "Enos, who had the honor of regulating the ceremonies and solemnity to be observed in man's worship of his creator." So where'd he get that? While I don't know a great deal about Scripture, I do have an idea on this one: Genesis 4:26 says that "To...

Did God reject Israel?

In Vol. 3, p. 136, Gueranger says in a prayer, "If thy predilection, for a long period of ages, was for the race of Abraham, henceforth thy preference is to be given to the Gentiles. Israel was but a single people; we are numerous as the sands of the sea, and the stars of the firmament....

A little inter-species controversy

Gueranger says in a prayer in Vol. 3, p. 136, "Thou hast loved Man above Angel, for thou has redeemed the one, whilst thou hast left the other in his fall." It's true that God did not redeem any of the fallen angels, and it is even true that he has redeemed all fallen men. But some...

Conquest of the nations

Gueranger's moving description of the victory of Christ over the pagan nations really struck me in the entry for Epiphany. Within a few hundred years after Christ, his teaching became the official position of the major world empire, despite fierce persecution. Of course we can look back and...

Thoughts on a Hymn for Epiphany

In Vol 3, p. 117-118, the first verspers of Epiphany, Gueranger offers a few stanzas from a hymn by Sedulius. It is a marvelous hymn, both in sound and content. First let me offer a smoother translation, and then I'll note a few thoughts about each stanza. The following can be sung to the...

That's when the Holy Innocents went to heaven!

I previously posted about a prayer from the Mozarabic rite (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, 290-1) that seemed to say that the Holy Innocents went to heaven before Jesus. But another prayer from the same rite (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, 442-3) clearly states that Jesus took them to heaven when he died. It's not possible...

More on the Baptism of the Holy Innocents

In a previous post on the Holy Innocents' baptism of blood , I pointed out that, according to the opinion of Aquinas and many fathers of the Church, every circumcised Jewish infant had the life of grace. Hence the martyrdom of the infants would not have been necessary for their salvation. A...

More on the Holy Innocents

The liturgies for the Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Octave of the Holy Innocents quote Matthew chapter 2, "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." That verse in Matthew is...

What is the name which is above every name?

Philippians 2 is used several times in the liturgies for the Holy Name. While the Vulgate says "and every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father", the Greek text is grammatically ambiguous. On the Vulgate's rendering, it would mean that everyone...

What does IHS stand for?

In the entry for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 397), Fr. Shepherd inserts the following translator's footnote: "The name was, anciently, often written Ihesus ; hence in its contracted form alluded to, the letter H was given: the E following was virtually included...

The Circumcision of Jesus and Mary's Motherhood (and Joseph's Fatherhood!)

Today is the Feast of the Circumcision on the old calendar. Today is the Solemnity of the Mother of God. From what Gueranger says, today has always been a feast in honor of Mary's motherhood, but now they have changed the name to reflect that fact and have made it more important in the...

Mary's merit and the Incarnation

In Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 386, a prayer for Mass of the Roman Rite says (with reference to Mary), "Grant, we beseech thee, that we may experience her intercession, by whom we received the Author of life, Jesus Christ our Lord." The translation omits one phrase, though: the original says,...

The Infant Destroyer

The introit for Sunday with the Octave of Christmas (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 341) is a quotation from Wisdom 18:14-15: "While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy Almighty Word, O Lord, came down from thy royal throne." This text is used in...

An Original Poem

Last night, Louis and I were admiring the abundance of Latin poems and hymns in The Liturgical Year , and especially the ones with clever, intricate rhyme schemes. Louis was commenting that it would be easier to write such poems in Latin than in English because one can rearrange the words more...

Liturgical intertextual references

It's really wonderful how the liturgical hymns for Thomas a Beckett's feast allude to the Feast of the Holy Innocents on the day before. It not only points out the providential appropriateness of the day Thomas gave his witness, but also gives those who participate in the liturgy the sense that...

Sanctifying the Church of the Gentiles

A hymn from the Greek Church (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 294) says that when Herod slew the Holy Innocents, "The earth was reddened by the infants' blood, and the Gentile Church mystically made pure...." So what does it mean that the Gentile Church was mystically made pure? If I remember...

When did the Holy Innocents go to heaven?

The same prayer that seems to imply a Herodian Star Wars program says that "the Infant Jesus sends these infants, before himself, to heaven...." My understanding has been that no one entered heaven before Jesus' death on the cross. How should we interpret this phrase?

The Baptism of the Holy Innocents

Gueranger comments (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pg. 280) that the Holy Innocents received a Baptism of Blood. This is certainly possible. However, they were all Jewish males, and the common opinion among the Fathers and Doctors of the Church was that circumcision obtained the forgiveness of original sin...

Riddle Resolved

The same luminary who pointed me to the solution of the Infant Virgins puzzle also mentioned the obvious reason for the commemoration of St. John the day before his feast, the commemoration of the Holy Innocents before their feast, etc. If these feasts had occurred in isolation, Vespers of the...

Infant Virgins Revisited

Someone who knows more about these things than I has pointed out the solution to the puzzle of the Infant Virgins mentioned in a recent post. The words applied to them regarding virginity are taken from Revelation chapter 14 (one of the readings for the Mass of the Holy Innocents), and when you...

Infant Virgins?

The commemoration of the Holy Innocents that I mentioned recently (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pg. 262) celebrates them specifically as "virgins," "who were not defiled with women." Is it just me, or does it seem a bit odd to celebrate children under two years of age as virgins? To...

Riddle Redux!

In a previous post, I noted that St. John is commemorated the day before his feast, in the middle of St. Stephen's liturgy. Well, today in the middle of St. John's celebration, we have a commemoration of the Holy Innocents--the day before their feast day! A pattern!

Why St. Stephen's Feast is the day after Christmas

Gueranger offers some very nice reflections on why St. Stephen's Feast is the day after Christmas. He remarks on how important the martyrs are for maintaining the witness of Christ's death over time, and the special honor due to St. Stephen as the first martyr. He seems to hint at a further...

St. Stephen's Day Riddle

In the middle of the entry for December 26, the feast of St. Stephen (Volume 2, Book I, page 235), Gueranger has a "commemoration of St. John"--whose feast is December 27th! Is this a publisher's blooper, or did they really insert a commemoration of St. John the day before his feast?

Gueranger Blog Begins

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! Someone gave me Abbot Gueranger's The Liturgical Year for Christmas, and you have stumbled across the notebook where I record my thoughts as I read through the 15-volume set. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of...
 
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