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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Asking for the past

Canisius | 03 December, 2007 19:58

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 that we really unite our intentions with those of Israel before the time of Christ:

For, notwithstanding His having saved the work of His hands, He still wishes us to beseech Him to save us. (I,36)

I have a hard time understanding this. If I know that something has taken place, I can be appreciative of its having taken place, but I do not see how I can actually ask that it take place, any more than I could ask that it not have taken place. Even if I pray that what has taken place may have taken place, it seems to me that what I am doing is not rightly described as asking.

Now, lots of people received grace because Jesus offered himself for them later in time. Clearly, one can merit that something take place after it has already taken place. But in our case, we cannot really merit that Christ come, because Christ coming is the principle of all our merit!

So what does Guéranger have in mind?

I think there is something to what he says. What we do when we join in the prayers of ancient Israel is not quite rightly described as "asking", and it is not quite rightly described as "meriting", but by these longings and prayers we do render ourselves fit recipients of Christ's coming. The original recipients were rendered fit for that great event, and in that sense "merited" it, by longing for it and praying for it; we do well to join our hearts with theirs, in longing as though Christ had not come, and in praying as though all depended on it, so that we too may be fit to receive him.

The fact that we have already received the savior only makes it all the more urgent that we be fit to receive him.


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