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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Great balls of fire!

Canisius | 19 April, 2006 00:50

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 assembled for the service of Easter eve in the church of holy sepulchre. After waiting for some time in silence, one of the lamps suspended over our Lord's tomb was miraculously lighted. The other lamps and torches throughout the church were lighted from this, and the faithful took its holy flame with them to their homes. It would seem ath this annual miracle first began after the Saracens had taken possession of Jerusalem: God so ordaining, that it might be a proof to these infidels of the divinity of the Christian religion. The historians of those times, who have written upon the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, all speak of this miracle as of an incontestable fact; and when Pope Urban II went to France, there to preach the first Crusade, he brought forward this miracle as one of the motives which should inspire the faithful with zeal for the defence of the sepulchre of Christ. When our Lord, in the unsearchable ways of His justice, permitted Jerusalem to be reconquered by the infidels, the miracle ceased, nor has it ever been witnessed from that time. Our readers have no doubt heard of the scandalous scene, which is now repeated every Holy Saturday in the church of holy sepulchre in Jerusalem: we allude to the deception practiced by the schismatic Greek priests, whereby they persuade their deluded people that their ingenious trick for lighting a lamp is the continuation of the miracle.

His readers have "no doubt" heard of this stuff? Maybe, maybe not. Turns out he is referring to the miracle of the holy fire, which today is quite a propoganda piece for the Greek Orthodox because (they claim) the miracle happens every year when the Greek Orthodox patriarch calls for it but fails when Roman Catholic priests perform the ceremony! Some claim to have captured the miracle on video, although exactly what happens in the video is not clear to me. Still pictures are actually more helpful.

The folks over at Catholic Answers are not quick to dismiss the miracle, although the Wikipedia Article mentions some serious criticisms--mostly from folks who hate all religion and claims of the supernatural.


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