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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What to name our new season

Canisius | 03 June, 2007 06:14

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 settled on a single name for the whole period: "Time after Pentecost." This single name has the advantage of bringing out clearly the unified significance of this part of the liturgical year.

Nowadays, of course, we call this time tempus per annum, or, as our English translators have chosen to name it, "ordinary time". At the moment, I dislike the new name for two reasons:

1) Tempus per annum, literally "time through the year", is exeptionally bland; it seems to mean something like "time going by". It has no character to it at all. "Time after Pentecost" at least points out to us that we stand at this time of year in a definite relationship to what came before.

"Ordinary time" is worse, though. Rather than name this season from its signification, or give some pointer towards its mystery, "ordinary time" names the season from a lack. It is the time that is not special. Blah.

2) Instead of one long stretch from after Pentecost to Advent standing under one name, we now have a little bit of "time through the year" tucked in between Advent and Lent. Applying the same name to this two very different times in the liturgical year makes it more difficult to perceive that the season we are now in has a significance. It is not a time with a message, one would think, but just the time that is not special, the time that lacks a significance.

All of this, of course, is written just after I have read Dom Fromage's inspiring explanation of the meaning of the year. As long as I consider the question under the aspect of bringing out this meaning, I don't like our current names, but it may be that the Church had in view some other aspect of the question that is more important. I will be patient and wait for that reason to become apparent to me.


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