In keeping with our Lord's words in Saint Matthew 19: 30 "But many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first", we have chosen to honor first among the five selected to be inducted into the prestigious Tower of Trent Hall of Honor for 2006 the last chosen. He is the venerable and, many believe, very holy Benedictine Abbot Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger who basically restored the Benedictine Order in France and Gregorian Chant for all of Europe and beyond in the aftermath of the French Revolution. But to all today he is not known so much for his work at the Monastery of Solesmes, but for his magnificent complete compendium of the 15-volume devotional masterpiece The Liturgical Year. If you do not have this hardbound 15-book set yet, save up and by all means purchase it for your family. Dom Gueranger's masterpiece work can amd cultivate holiness in families and sprout holy vocations both to the priesthood, religious life and to the married state as Traditional Catholics should live. Few works are more inspirational for daily reading in keeping one's heart on the Propers of the Daily Mass - the fulcrum of Catholic worship since Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament in the upper room and consummated the Holy Sacrifice on the gibbet of the Cross. For the Ordinary of the Mass, for the essence of the Immemorial Canonized Mass of All Ages, this inspired Benedictine Abbot has also written a masterful work simply called The Holy Mass.
Michael Cain, editor, The Daily Catholic
In the general description of The Liturgical Year we have these words that enhance the over 7,300 pages:
Some have justly called the fifteen volumes of Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year the "Summa" of the liturgy of the holy Roman Catholic Church. Not only did this giant of the Benedictine Order almost single-handedly restore the ancient regime of his order's monastic tradition, he was also a preferred theologian of his friend, Pope Pius IX, due to his energetic support for the soon-to-be-defined doctrines of papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Still, he is best known for his literary accomplishments, a life-long labor, the composition of these magnificent volumes honoring the liturgical year. These productions express the very heart of the Church's public worship, both in her sacrificial liturgy and in various extracts from the divine office which celebrate her principal feasts. In essence, this incredible work is a commingling, as it were, of divine and human elements, the human being Abbot Gueranger's own Mass (as well as parts of the Divine Office) and they are especially fruitful in the biographies he provides for those saints who highlight the ecclesiastical calendar. It is filled to overflowing with beautiful meditations and many historical anecdotes found nowhere else in one set of volumes. The Liturgical Year can provide for you a priceless treasure for your own devotion. Such was the strategy employed by Louis Martin, the pious father of Saint Therese of Lisieux, who made it his practice to read daily to his five daughters from these very volumes. So great was the fruit thereof that all five entered religious life.
If it was good enough for the father of a holy saint who herself was elevated to the status of Doctor of the Church, albeit by a conciliarist "pope", still it is proof of the efficacy of Dom Gueranger's work and should someday elevate him to the ranks of Doctor of the Church when the Mystical Bride of Christ is fully restored and the cancer of conciliarism rid from the Mystical Body of Christ.
In establishing the importance of Gueranger's contribution to Holy Mother the Church, it is important to trace the Benedictine roots of Solesmes and how Dom Prosper Gueranger was so influential in the rebirth of the Benedictine Rule in France and the struggles he faced. The origins of Solesme began in the fifth century when Saint Thuribus, the holy Bishop of Le Mans, first held public worship of the Holy
Mass in the Gallic-Roman Villa of Solesmes. This property was acquired by the villagers for the Church and in the ninth century it became the property of a vassal in Charlemagne's court. The Normans raided the area and to protect Solesmes, situated on the River Sarthe, the counts of Le Mans established one of the count's own brothers as lord of Sable. After the threat died down, the count donated the property to the monks of la Couture, drawing up a charter on October 12, 1010. This is the official date of the founding of Solesmes.
Throughout the latter part of the middle ages, Solesmes came under attack, especially during the Hundred Years War with England when the English troops ravaged and destroyed the monastery, leaving the village ransacked. Thankfully, the monks had retreated to a house on the Isle of Sable on the river and continued the rule despite the grave hardships of medieval warfare.
In the middle of the fifteenth century with the war completed, French officials saw the need to restore Solesmes and thus made heavy donations to the monks to provide for the necessary liturgical and devotional duties in building the Church of St. Peter at Solesmes. This included the daily obligation of the King's Mass which was said after the office of Prime and set up by King Louis II of Anjou who was also at the time King of Jerusalem and Sicily.
The Renaissance brought a renewal to the structures of Solesmes when special structures and sculptures were created in enlarging Saint-Pierre church including the magnificent marble Tomb of Our Lord sculpture in the south transept of the church including the completion of the church's roof vaults with sturdy buttresses. During the period that a certain navigator named Christopher Columbus was making new discoveries in the name of Spain, in Solesmes as more structures rose so did vocations and reverence. During this time, because of the stark contrast to the ribaldry in the world, the cloistered monasticism became an ideal that drew many to its portals.
Unfortunately through the centuries, royalty had its privileges and penalties and often the governing of Solesmes was given to secular interests as a prize from the king. Thus for hundreds of years the monks were left on their own, with no superior who could exact the necessary discipline the Benedictine Rule demanded. This led to a relaxation of discipline and devotion on the part of many monks. In 1618 the monks turned to the Congregation of St. Maurus to give them direction and less than 50 years later the Congregation agreed to take on the project of Solesmes.
Early in the century of the Revolution, the marquis of Torcy oversaw the building of new lodgings and a Priory. How great it seemed to all was the Enlightenment. But they too were fooled and with the outbreak of the French Revolution 1789 the progress of Solesmes came to a halt. In the aftermath of the bloody revolt and the storming of the Bastille, the French Constitutional Assembly mandated in 1790 the prohibition of religious vows. In 1791 the monks were forced to vacate the premises which greatly saddened the locals as the humanistic heresy of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity spread across the land. Clergy were persecuted and martyred. Of the seven ordained monks at Solesmes, six refused to leave the sanctuary of Solesmes. For this Dom de Sageon was incarcerated for three years in Le Mans, Two others Dom Cotelle and Dom Morel were jailed first in Rennes then taken to Jersey. The other three retreated to the catacombs of the area, hiding for fear of their lives. One, Dom Papion kept the faith alive despite the constant hunting down of priests. It is not unlike the times in Mexico in the 1920's and 30's and in Russia and China today, as well as Vietnam and for traditional Catholics putting up with a different kind of persecution today as "dry martyrs" for preserving the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church in this time of The Great Apostasy.
Officially the new proletariat sold off the property in Solesmes, Priory and all. Through the providence of God, no one of the revolutionary mindset came forward to purchase the land. This afforded a group of faithful Catholics to meet there clandestinely where Dom Papion celebrated the Holy Mass for them. In 1792 and again two years later, these same group of faithful kept what is the most prized possession of the Priory of Saint-Pierre at Solesmes - the holy relic of a thorn from Christ's Crown of Thorns which Saint Louis, the ninth monarch of France had brought back from the Crusades and it eventually found its way to Solesmes most probably during the Hundred Years War for protection from English marauders. It would be solemnly returned to Solesmes in 1850 to Abbe Gueranger who established public exposition on Easter Monday each year, a practice still held today.
That brings us to the beginning of the 19th century. Five years in on April 4, 1805 - the Feast of the seventh century holy Bishop and Doctor of the Church Saint Isidore - another gardener of the Faith came into this world in the person of Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger on the Isle of Sable on the Sarthe River. Born in the shadow of the Benedictine retreat, young Prosper spent his childhood dreaming of someday wearing the habit of a follower of Saint Benedict. He would return to the quietude near the monastery walls where he would sit and contemplate and pray for hours. After completing his prep studies in Angers, he entered the seminary in Le Mans. It was here where he was drawn to the fascination of Church History and the formation of the monastic life with the early desert anchorites such as St. Paul and St. Anthony, but it was on studying St. Benedict that he realized where God wanted him, but it wouldn't be that easy. Yet, so fervent was his desire and vocation that in 1927 at only 22 he received a special canonical dispensation from the Bishop to be ordained early. As a young priest he was employed as the Bishop's secretary in both Paris and LeMans. Interesting that this monastery on the Sarthe is a little over three hours southwest of Paris, but in a direct line between Solesme and Paris is the great Cathedral in Chartres where Traditional Catholics make their annual pilgrimage from Paris.
In 1831 the Savior of Solesmes stepped forward in the person of the young priest Fr. Prosper Gueranger. He learned that the ancient Priory would soon undergo the wrecking ball, so to speak. Thus, he turned to God in prayer and humanly crusaded to save it, gaining the favor of the Bishop and raising enough money to at least rent the property and stay the execution of this noble property. With the Bishop's permission he and three other priests moved in and thus began the new era of Solesmes on July 11, 1833. Few realized the impact this would have - this mustard seed, if you will, would grow to be a great tree with abundant fruit thanks to the holiness and determination of the Abbot at the 'new' Solesmes. As young as Gueranger was, he still exuded holy authority to all and had a knowledge of the monastic life far beyond his years, as if the holy Father Benedict was guiding him from Heaven. So much so that he attracted more monks to Solesmes as well as benefactors. Soon the flowers sprouted again and devotion began to flourish as wealthy patrons made sure the monks had everything they needed out of their affection for Father Gueranger. These funds enabled him to travel to Rome in 1837 to seek permission from the Vatican for Solesmes to be officially recognized as a Benedictine Congregation. A year before on August 15 all the monks had made a public declaration of their desire to live the Rule of St. Benedict permanently. In Rome, Providence saw that not only did Dom Prosper get his wish, but His Holiness Pope Gregory XVI was so impressed by the spiritual maturity of the young Gueranger that he elevated Solesmes from a Priory to an Abbey. Thus through the direction of its young Abbot, Solesmes became thee new head Congregation for all of France, succeeding the Congregation of St. Maurus. Thus 250 years after the latter had taken priority over Solesmes, the Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes was rightfully reinstalled as the first and leading Congregation once again. On July 26, 1837, at the request of the Holy Father himself, Dom Prosper Gueranger was solemnly professed as, not only the official new Abbot by the Abbot of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls in Rome no less, but also the Superior General of the entire Benediction Congregation of France! Today it governs over 32 Benedictine Houses in the world with over 900 monks and remains solely a contemplative Abbey. Those are just some of the fruits borne from the constant gardener Dom Prosper Gueranger.
Returning from Rome to his beloved Priory, now a full-fledged Abbey on the banks of the Sarthe, Abbe Gueranger devoted his time to molding the young monastic community as more construction soon ensued. Not only wealthy benefactors but ecclesiastics who would become influential were touched in the same way the Pope had been; men like the future Benedictine Cardinal Pitra who would renew Benedictine literary traditions of the previous two centuries. Other luminaries such as Bishop Berthaud of Tulle and Bishop Pie of Poitiers made frequent visits. In addition the Count of Montalembert Pere Lacordaire all encouraged the project Abbe Gueranger had proposed. A massive project, but with the grace of God he would do it. That, of course, was The Liturgical Year begun officially in 1841 though for twenty years prior Dom Prosper had been collecting notes and gathering old manuscripts and books that had been discarded in the wake of the terrible French Revolution. This also had played a significant role in the French more and more distancing themselves from the Roman ways and this is something that greatly bothered Abbe Gueranger for he was a devout and ardent servant of the Church. Thus he wanted to bridge the expanse and bring more respect and conformity to France in total alignment with the Primacy of Peter. This endeared him to not only Gregory XVI, but his successor Pope Pius IX who was so impressed with Dom Prosper that he took several of the Abbot's writings in formulating the definitions of papal infallibility as well as prior to that a work Gueranger had submitted on the Immaculate Conception which Pius had requested input from his bishops of the world before proclaiming Mary's perpetual purity as a Dogma of the Church in 1854. Gueranger wrote in his book in honor of our Lady in April 1850, Mémoire sur L'Immaculée Conception on page 131, that proclaiming her everlasting purity would be "beneficial for the human race, as it is not possible that earth raise its praise to Mary without this Mother of mercy not acknowledging with new benefits her children's impulse of heart toward her, especially when this praise has as its objective to glorify in her the gift she most loves, the integrity of her soul, her exemption from any stain, in a word, holiness." His Holiness was so impressed that he personally asked the Abbot in 1851 to write a document formulating the proposal on the definition of the Dogma. From this came his Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus.
The inspiration for Gueranger's conviction of the Immaculate Conception first touched him on December 8, 1823 while he was still in the seminary. He writes in his Mémoire book:
"It was then when the merciful and compassionate Queen, Mother of God, came to my assistance in a way which was as triumphant as it was unexpected. On December 8, 1823, while I was doing my meditation with the Community, and I approached my argument - the mystery of the day - with my rational viewpoints, as usual, suddenly I was led to believe in Mary Immaculate in her conception. Speculation and feeling were united effortlessly in this mystery. I felt a sweet joy in my consent; without rapture, with a gentle peace and sincere conviction. Mary deigned to transform me with her blessed hands, without anxiety, without vehemence: One nature disappeared to leave room for another. I did not say anything to anyone, especially because I did not imagine the significance that this revelation would have for me. I was undoubtedly overwhelmed; but today I am still overwhelmed when understanding the scope of that favor that the Holy Virgin deigned to grant me that day." On page 129 he wrote, "The Church had to wait a suitable time to recollect herself to confirm this universal agreement which today is the proof that this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church."
Not only was Dom Prosper Gueranger trying to bring France out of its rebellious ways, but Heaven as well was trying to restore the Eldest Daughter of the Church for it was France where the Blessed Virgin Mary chose Rue du Bac earlier in the century to ask Saint Catherine Labouré for her Miraculous Medal to be cast, and in 1858 confirmation of her Immaculate Conception at Lourdes to a peasant girl Saint Bernadette Soubirous, not to mention twelve years before at La Salette where our Lady appeared as a weeping mother bringing a most stern message to the peasant visionaries Melanie and Maxim, one that really didn't gain attention globally until the 20th Century. But now it has become so obvious in the words "Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the antichrist." The world was fast becoming satan's pawn and Gueranger realized this. That is why he poured himself into his work, guided by the Holy Ghost in producing an irrefutable work that has been the bedrock of the Traditional liturgy in modern times when Modernism has gained such a suffocating grip on civilization. Sadly today, because of the abominations wrought by the reforms of Vatican II and the accursed Annibale Bugnini, the devil's personal helper in destroying the Sacred Liturgy, the three year cycle has made The Liturgical Year almost "archaic." But thanks to those intent on preserving the Faith and all the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church this 15-volume set has enjoyed a renaissance, if you will, for it so closely aligns with the spiritual life of a Traditional Catholic and one can only grow in holiness by reading it daily to better understand the wisdom of Church fathers in establishing the liturgical calendar so beautifully adapted to the Church's liturgical year and the main vehicle for worship - the Traditional Latin Mass - as the noted and well-respected English priest Father Frederick W. Faber called - "the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven."
In the 19-page Preface of Volume 1 for Advent, Dom Prosper Gueranger laid out the purpose and depths he was intending. For brevity sake we provide a few excerpts all he wrote in the Preface to give one a glimpse of the treasure contained within the volumes:
Prayer is man's richest boon...
The Holy Spirit dwells in the Church, his favored Bride, is the principle of everything in her, and prompts her prayers, her desires, her canticles of praise, her enthusiasm, even her mourning. Her prayer is as uninterrupted as her existence. Day and night is her voice sounding sweetly in the ear of her divine Spouse, and her words are ever finding a welcome in His Heart.
The prayer of the Church is the most efficacious of all prayers, because the Church is the Bride of Christ, and so, happy is he who unites his own petitions with hers. This is why our Savior taught us pray our Father, not my Father; give us, forgive us, deliver us, not me. Hence we find that, for upwards of a thousand years, the Church, who prays in her temples seven times in the day and once again during the night, did not pray alone. The people kept her company, and fed themselves with the delight on the manna which is hidden in the words and mysteries of the divine liturgy...
Prayer said in union with the Church is the light of the understanding, is the fire of divine love for the heart. The Christian soul would not wish to avoid the company of the Church, for she knows that her own soul is a part of this Church, which is the bride. Jesus said: 'Father, may they be one, as We also are one." And when we are gathered in His name, He is also in our midst, and we sing praise in the sight of the angels, whose eternal prayer blends with the prayer which the Church utters in time...
But this liturgical prayer would soon become powerless were the faithful not to take a real share in it, or at least not to associate themselves to it in heart. It can heal and save the world, but only on the condition that it be understood. Be wise, then, ye children of the Catholic Church, and obtain that largeness of heart which will make your prayer the prayer of your mother. Come, and by your share in it fill up that harmony which is so sweet to the ear of God. Where would you obtain the spirit of prayer if not at its natural source? Let us remind you of the exhortation of the apostle to the first Christians: "Let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:15-16)
In divine psalmody there are several degrees: the lowest are near enough to the earth to be reached by souls in the very beginning stages; but in proportion as a soul ascends this mystic ladder, she feels herself illuminated by a heavenly ray; and still higher, she finds union and rest in the sovereign Good. The Church Fathers, the desert Fathers, the Saints throughout the ages acquired their spiritual knowledge and tender devotion from their long hours of psalmody, during which truth, simple yet manifold, unceasingly passed before the eyes of their soul, filling it with streams of light and love. It was the daily use of the liturgy, in the midst of which they spent their days, which permeated them with the light and love of Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
...It is therefore Jesus Christ Himself Who is the source as well as the object of the liturgy; and hence the ecclesiastical year is neither more nor less than the manifestation of Jesus Christ and His mysteries, in the Church and in the faithful soul. It is the divine cycle, in which appear all the works of God, each in its turn: the seven days of the creation; the Pasch and Pentecost of the Jewish people; the ineffable visit of the Incarnate Word; His sacrifice and His victory; the descent of the Holy Ghost; the holy Eucharist; the surpassing glories of the Mother of God, ever a Virgin; the magnificence of the angels; the merits and triumphs of the saints. Thus the cycle of the Church . . . having attained its last perfection . . . will disappear in eternity, as the written Law gave way the day on which the invincible power of the Blood of the Lamb rent asunder the veil of the temple...
Would that we might worthily describe the sacred wonders of this mystical calendar! The graces of all the divine mysteries are renewed, so that, being made fruitful in every good thing, the mystic garden yields to the Spouse, in every season, under the influence of the Spirit He breathes into her, the sweet perfume of aromatic spices. Each year the Spirit of God retakes possession of His well-beloved and gives her light and love. And what the liturgical year does for the Church at large, it does also for the soul of each one of the faithful that is careful to receive the gift of God. This succession of mystic seasons imparts to the Christian the elements of that supernatural life, without which every other life is but a sort of death. There are some souls, so far acted upon by the divine succession of the Catholic cycle, that they experience even a physical effect from each evolution: the supernatural life has gained ascendancy over the natural, and the calendar of the Church makes them forget that of astronomers...
It is wonderful how the succession of year after year diminishes not one atom of the freshness and vehemence of those impressions, and each new beginning of the cycle of mystic seasons seems to be our first year. This renovative power of the liturgical year is a mystery of the Holy Ghost, who unceasingly animates the work which He has inspired the Church to establish among men; that thus they might sanctify that time which has been given to them for the worship of their Creator.
There must needs be a great progress in a Christian soul. The Holy Spirit makes the liturgy to be the center of His working in men's souls. Is not the formation of Christ within us the result of our uniting in His various mysteries, the joyful, the sorrowful, and the glorious? These mysteries of Jesus come into us, are incorporated into us each year, by the power of the special grace which the liturgy produces by communicating them to us: the new man gradually grows up, even on the ruins of the old. In order that the divine type may the more easily be stamped upon us, the liturgy offers us examples, by offering us the practical teaching and the encouragement of our dear saints, who shine like stars in the firmament of the ecclesiastical year. By looking upon them we come to learn the way which leads to Jesus, just as Jesus is our Way which leads to the Father. But above all the saints, and brighter than them all, we have Mary, showing us, in her single person, the Mirror of Justice in which is reflected all the sanctity possible in a pure creature...
Finally, The Liturgical Year should bring before us the most sublime poetry that the human mind has conceived, the divine songs of David and the prophets, and canticles and hymns the finest, the most sublime, and the worthiest of the subject; and from many countries, wherein are blended the most perfect harmony of thought and sentiment with the most marked diversity of genius and expression. Poetry, whether rhythmical or in prose, being the only language adequate to the sublime thought which is to be expressed, is to be found everywhere in the liturgy, as it is in the inspired writings; and the complete collection of the formulae of public prayer would be, at the same time, the richest selection of Christian poetry, of that poetry which sings on earth the mysteries of Heaven and prepares us for the canticles of eternity...we have only to add that we submit our work, both in its substance and in its form, to sovereign and infallible judgment of the holy Roman Church, which alone is the guardian both of words of eternal life, and of the secret of prayer.
It is due to Dom Louis Shepherd that we have the English translation today. Indeed, Abbot Gueranger played a significant role in Shepherd's life which began with a visit by the latter to Gueranger's Abbey at Solesmes in 1853. That visit inspired him with the zeal for the liturgy which he could understand so well from conversations with Gueranger. As Novice Master and Canon of Ampleforth Abbey in England, Dom Shepherd's health was fragile and often he was sent to Solesmes in France to recover. It was not just rest he was receiving across the English Channel, but the unparalleled wisdom of Dom Gueranger that he would later translate for the English-speaking world. Seven years later Shepherd had the privilege of inviting Dom Gueranger to a Solemn Dedication of the Pro-Cathedral of St. Michael's in Belmont, England. already gaining great fame within not only the Benedictine communities but other orders as well. In his obituary we find this from the Ampleforth Abbey regarding Dom Prosper's visit:
The itinerary was all mapped out for Abbe Gueranger; the first stage would bring him to the English Priory in Douay, and the Prior, Dom Adrian Hankinson, would then answer for the safe-conduct by land and sea of the traveller who was unacquainted with the English tongue. To this proposal the Abbe gave consent and on August 30, 1860 he set out for Douay. His reception there was cordial, but was seriously marred by an unexpected trial when Dom Hankinson revealed to him that to make his appearance in England, he must put on a secular dress, for, by a law of 1850, any one wearing the religious habit in public did so at the risk of imprisonment. To this ordeal he must submit. Amongst the accessories of the secular dress were the high hat, the chimney-pot in common parlance, and the tight fitting clerical coat, a veritable straight-jacket, in which, once imprisoned, he was scarcely able to move, and still less to be recognized. The crossing and railway journey were accomplished with ease. Upon their arrival at Gloucester the Abbot of Solesmes stepped out bare-headed for inadvertently he had left his hat in the compartment and it was only his pitiful tone and accent which revealed he had left his hat in the compartment and it was only his pitiful tone and accent which revealed the situation to Dom Shepherd. "See, my son Laurence," he explained, as he opened his arms for an embrace, "see how they have treated me." Dom Laurence ran to recover the mislaid hat and once arrayed in it the Abbot of Solesmes was absolutely no longer to be recognized.
Besides Dom Shepherd, Abbe Gueranger was accompanied by a great gathering of ecclesiastics enroute to the Solemn Dedication. This included nine Bishops, three mitered Abbots and numerous Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans and Cistercians as well as other orders. Many considered the turnout for the Dedication as the greatest assembly in England of Catholic hierarchs since before the Reformation. Gueranger's fame had preceded him even in 1860 and he was the most sought-out cleric by those present from prelate to postulant. Thanks to the close concierge of Dom Shepherd, Dom Prosper's time in England was, for the most part, save for having to dress in ridiculous secular clothes while traveling, It was at this time when two venerable clerics met when Dom Gueranger paid a visit to Bishop John Henry Newman - before he was elevated to the cardinalate - in his Oratory at Birmingham. Also during this journey Abbe Gueranger had the privilege of meeting the great priest of England and the 19th Century Father Faber.
There were other trips Dom Gueranger made, but this one left an impression on him, so much so that he dedicated to the English Congregation of the Benedictines his Preface to the Encheiridion Benedictinum, a volume of over 600 pages published in 1862. This included Saint Gregory's 'Life of Saint Benedict', as well as other saints including the 'Mirror for Monks' by Abbot Blosius and the 'Exercises of Saint Gertrude' "which breathe the spirit of the Holy Patriarch. It was a work that would provide for countless vocations in better explaining Benedictine cloistered life and choir. He tried to found Priories in Paris and Acey but those failed, however Abbe Gueranger was successful in establishing houses in Liguge and Marseilles in Southern France. In the early 70's he established a monastery of Benedictine nuns not far from Solesmes at the Abbey of Saint Cecilia. What he had planted blossomed into a garden of Faith.
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes the following about his work:
In publishing his mystical work he hoped to arouse the faithful from their spiritual torpor and to supplant what he deemed the lifeless or erroneous literature that had been produced by the French spiritual writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 'L'Anee Liturgique' (The Liturgical Year), of which the author was not to finish the long series of fifteen volumes, is probably the one of all Dom Gueranger's works that best fulfilled the purpose he had in view. Accommodating himself to the development of the liturgical periods of the year, the author labored to familiarize the faithful with the official prayer of the Church by lavishly introducing fragments of the Eastern and Western liturgies, with interpretations and commentaries. Among his many labors Dom Gueranger had the satisfaction of witnessing the spreading of the restored Benedictine Order.
For those who do not have the 15-volume set, there are several traditional outlets where The Liturgical Year is available, but the most economic and fast delivery can most probably be found with Saint Bonaventure Publications in Great Falls, Montana. You can go to their website at libers.com
The work of The Liturgical Year is attributed to Dom Gueranger, but, in truth, though he had countless notations made for the entire liturgical year, he did not live to finalize it. That was finished in two stages with Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B. picking up where Gueranger left off after Volume Nine. Fittingly Dom Gueranger was called home after completing the third book of Pascal Time, just as the time of year Christ ascended into Heaven. In Book Ten, Dom Shepherd writes the following:
The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit, would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.
This was the idea which the author of the LITURGICAL YEAR was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honor and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.
That was the extent of the eulogy given for Dom Gueranger, but no need for more for his gift to God and to His children was this wonderful work. Talk about a legacy. Dom Shepherd would go on to complete the work - the entire project taking 60 years to complete as he writes in Volume 15:
THE LITURGICAL YEAR begun sixty years ago, is at length completed. The five hundred thousand volumes that have passed through the press before the conclusion of the work bear ample testimony to its popularity. Our Lord seems to have imparted to it a large share of the blessings merited by Dom Gueranger's great labors for the Church.
In the most filial devotedness to his holy Church, in absolute obedience to the Vicar of Jesus Christ, we fulfil the duty that would have been so gratifying to our illustrious Father, and declare once more that we unreservedly submit all and every the fifteen volumes of this work to the representative of God on earth, To praise, to condemn, to reprove, all that the sovereign See of Peter praises, condemns, and reproves, will ever be, according to the tenor of its Constitutions, the cherished maxim of the Benedictine Congregation of France.
We have yet another duty to fulfill with regard to our readers: to thank them for their prayers, which have enabled us, in augustia temporum, to bring to its term the task imposed upon us by obedience twenty-five years ago. In return, we promise, as in justice bound, ever to remember them before God. We beg of them not to cease from affording us their valued assistance, until the day when we shall be united with the Church triumphant, in the measure it has been granted us to identify ourselves with her on earth in prayer and in love.
Dom Shepherd completed the work and then set out on translating this massive tome into English so that it would reach so many more. Alas, it was a work that consumed the rest of his life in translating eleven of the fifteen books. Volume Twelve through Fifteen were translated by others for Dom Shepherd joined Dom Gueranger in eternity ten years to the day after his abbot's death. Dom Gueranger passed away on January 30, 1875 and the Englishman Dom Shepherd on January 30, 1885.
The fruits of Dom Prosper Gueranger's work is enjoying a renaissance in this time of such a grave crisis in the Church for though the main body of the conciliar church eschews the one-year cycle, thus making The Liturgical Year obsolete in Novus Ordo circles where change after change is expected as the conciliar church of Vatican II veers further away from the patrimony of the true Roman Catholic Church, Abbe Gueranger's work remains a constant that there is only one true Church, only one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - the Immemorial Canonized Traditional Latin Mass. The holy Abbot of Solesmes brought to life the saints and feasts, the very lifeblood of the liturgical seasons; one year embodied in the fifteen volumes that enhances the spirituality of every soul who utilizes his inspired work for the greater honor and glory of God. As we have said, we believe that someday a truly Catholic Pope will elevate Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Gueranger not only to the status of sainthood, but proclaim him a Doctor of the Church. His work has been compared to Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica in impact. Indeed, it is a Summa for the liturgy.
Through all of this we have touched little on his work in perfecting Gregorian Chant at Solesmes where today it still rings out as the center of the universe for the renaissance of Chant in all its purity. The monks' CD's are well known throughout the world, all thanks to the yeoman efforts of the brilliant, humble and holy Abbot of Solesmes - Dom Gueranger. It is with the great delight that we honor this dedicated servant and enshrine him into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor and proclaim this feast of another fellow Frenchman Saint Vincent de Paul as the start date for Dom Prosper Gueranger Week through next Tuesday, July 25th, the Feast of the holy Apostle Saint James the Greater and the Traditional Feast of Saint Christopher.
For those inducted so far into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor see HALL OF HONOR