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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Gueranger and the Freedom of the Church--a note for St. Hilary's Day

Canisius | 16 January, 2006 05:32

On the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers, Gueranger offers several lengthy and powerful quotations from Hilary's writing against the emperor of his day who wished to force Arianism on the Church. Hilary's text is a masterful expression of the Church's independence of the state and of her supreme right to proclaim the gospel as she sees fit--or rather, as God commands her to.

This freedom of the Church from the state is a theme that Gueranger comes back to again and again in the course of The Liturgical Year. "The great principle of the Church's liberty" obviously means very much to him, and he passes up no opportunity to point out where a particular saint has been zealous in its defense. For example, he devotes a fair amount of space to it in his entry for the feast of St. Thomas Becket.

To understand the passion Gueranger has for the Church's liberty, one must recall that he grew up during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, who subjected the Catholic Church in France to the state. Even in Gueranger's later years, when Bonaparte was dead and gone, there was an office in the French government whose function it was to approve public displays of religion--to monitor liturgy, in other words, that aspect of Church life so dear to Gueranger. The liberty of the Church was not something he could take for granted.


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