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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Ignatius the Comet

Canisius | 30 January, 2006 01:16

In his edition of the apostolic fathers, Michael W. Holmes (no relation) makes this beautiful remark about St. Ignatius: "Just as we become aware of a meteor only when, after traveling silently through space for untold millions of miles, it blazes briefly through the atmosphere before dying in a shower of fire, so it is with Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in Syria. We meet him for the first and only time for a few weeks shortly before his death as a martyr in Rome early in the second century."

I find it fascinating that Ignatius wrote exactly seven letters. The book of Revelation also contains seven letters to various churches, and scholars universally understand this to mean that the letters are to the whole church--seven being the number of wholeness or completion. Could something similar be at work with Ignatius's seven letters? At any rate, we can in retrospect appreciate them as a wonderful message for the whole Church of all time.


Comment Icon Ignatius the Sponge?

Louis | 30/01/2006, 04:41

I guess that is supposed to be a praise of Ignatius, right? The sense being that he lived a glorious life, but we only saw him at the end of it.

Your post actually reminded me something that came up a little earlier in The Liturgical Year. If you think the comparison of Ignatius with a comet is grandiose, take a look at the praises and comparisons lavished on St. John Chrysostom by the Greek Church(The Liturgical Year Volume 3, pp. 427-430). I was kind of amazed when I read it. I've never seen anyone lavish so much praise all together on a saint. At one point he's even referred to as, "the golden sponge that takes away the clammy sweats of sad despair". Maybe it's unique to the Greek church, but it kind of struck me, since I've never heard praise of this kind before.

Comment Icon Greek Praise

Peter_Canisius | 30/01/2006, 16:37

Yes, my impression from Greek liturgies I have attended has been that they tend to use extreme language as much as possible. If you heard only the middle of a hymn, you might have a hard time knowing whether they were talking about Jesus or just one of the saints. Gueranger implies this characteristic of the Greek liturgy when says (p. 427) that "The Greek Church, in her Menaea, honours the memory of her great Doctor [Chrysostom] with an enthusiasm which even her liturgy has seldom surpassed"--i.e., her liturgy is known for enthusiasm.

But yes, it was even more extreme in the case of Chrysostom. Speaking of a doctor of the church as a glorious sponge sounds odd to a Western ear, but I suppose it's no stranger than some of the imagery used in the Song of Songs. Seems like I can sometimes "get into the mood" and appreciate it.

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