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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Incognito in Bethlehem

Canisius | 13 January, 2006 05:47

I recently praised a hymn by St. Ephrem the Syrian, found in vol. 3, p. 192ff., which describes a the conversation that might have taken place between Mary and the magi. Someone pointed out that it seems a rather odd conversation, because Mary doesn't seem to know that her son is a king, despite the fact that an angel told her all about it at the child's conception!

The key to unravelling the riddle is to read the entire hymn rather than just the selection Gueranger gives on that day. In other words, read pp. 192-194 together with its continuation on pp. 203-205. When you do that, the following story emerges.

Mary was well aware that her child was king, and guessed that Herod would attempt violence against the child if he knew about it. When strangers showed up at her door, therefore, she pretended to know nothing, and tried to persuade them that they were looking at the wrong house for a king. When it became clear that they really knew, she asked how they had come to know, because she was worried that word had gotten out. Relieved to discover that they had found out by supernatural means rather than by a general rumor that everyone might know about, she begs them not to say anything to anyone in the area, for fear of what Herod might do. Then she reveals more to them about what the angel had told her, and bids them proclaim what they know in distant lands (far from Jerusalem!).

All in all, a plausible and rather ingenious reconstruction!


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