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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Thoughts on the General Preface, Part I

Canisius | 01 December, 2007 09:20

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, laudable, yea, pious thoughts, but after all only human thoughts. Such nourishman cannot satisfy the soul, for it does not initiate her into the prayer of the Church. Instead of uniting her with the prayer of the Church, it isolates her.

I notice that he does call devotional books “nourishment,” even if he says they cannot finally satisfy the soul. Moreover, he would certainly agree that a devotional book not composed by the Church can aim at aiding one to unite with the intentions of the Church’s prayer; witness his own The Liturgical Year, which certainly contains prayers that are not part of the liturgy!

What he specifically says that a privately composed and published book of prayers cannot do is unite one with the prayer of the Church; in fact, if such books are used exclusively, they isolate one from the prayer of the Church.

This is the heart of his general preface, to my mind. The liturgy is not just spoken by all the individuals taking part in it, but is spoken in the voice of the mystical body of Christ, and so in the voice of Christ himself. The “I” or “We” of liturgical prayer is Christ and his body. Individuals can unite their sentiments with the prayers of Christ, but only Christ can authorize particular word as his own.


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