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!

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The Mass of the pre-sanctified

Canisius | 14 April, 2006 04:31

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, and then the single candle suddenly appearing in the silence. At my grad school, they did the vigorous old Palm Sunday procession where the leader would approach the church doors and strike them with the crucifix, whereupon they opened! The symbolism of the cross opening the doors of heaven did not occur to me at the time, but it must have registered at some deep level because I instantly recognized Gueranger's explanation as what I must have known it meant. My wife and I used to climb a seemingly eternal stairway to a tiny chapel in the tower of a medieval Carthusian monastery for a 6:00 a.m. Tridentine Mass; the priest who celebrated it has never been surpassed by any other in my experience for the sheer beauty and reverence of the presentation, and the highly skilled cantor who volunteered to sing at that unusual hour was the best I have heard. Pack all that into a space so small that we could actually hear all the words of the Mass, and it is no wonder that I learned to love the Tridentine Mass that year.

I could go on. God has been good to me.

Reading Gueranger's account of the Good Friday service, I wondered if I have been overlooking an interesting ceremony for years now: the "Mass of the pre-sanctified." The Priest brings out hosts that were consecrated the day before and conducts what amounts to a communion service--nothing unusual there. But since there are strict rules against reserving the wine for later consumption, no consecrated wine is available on Good Friday. So, according to Gueranger (VI,500):

"The priest then divides the Host into three parts, one of which he puts into the chalice, that thus he may sanctify the wine and water which he is to take after having communicated. The wine is not changed into the Blood of Jesus by contact with the consecrated particle; but it thereby receives a very special benediction, similar to that which attached to the garments worn by our savior."

Wild. Is this still what they do? Maybe it looks so much like the Mass that I never noticed. I'll be watching carefully this Friday....


Comment Icon

Anonymous | 15/04/2006, 21:50

Why was it called a Mass if it was just a communion service? Or was it actually a Mass?

Also, I am under the impression that the faithful weren't allowed to receive communion on Good Friday. Does he say anything about that?

Comment Icon Missa Presanctorum

Louis | 17/04/2006, 23:03

The Missa Presanctorum takes the name of mass by having a part of the real thing, i.e. distributing communion. Obviously it is not strictly speaking a mass, however.

A similiar thing is the Missa Sicca(dry mass), which started around the 1300 hundreds, and which consisted of the prayers of the mass without the essential parts, such as the canon, consecration, etc.

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