Text taken from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Guéranger, O.S.B.
(Translated from the French by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.)
Advent. Volume 1. St. Bonaventure Publications, www.libers.com
Originally published 1949.
Republished by St. Bonaventure Publications, July 2000.
Unless otherwise stated, Illustrations are taken from UNA VOCE OF ORANGE COUNTY
which reproduced them, with the kind permission of St. Bonaventure Press, from
The Saint Andrew Daily Missal, 1952 Edition.
But, if the exterior practices of Penance, which formerly Sanctified the Season of Advent, have been, in the Western Church, so gradually relaxed as to have become now quite obsolete, except in Monasteries, [our recent (Late-19th-Century) English observance of Fast and Abstinence on the Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent, may, in some sense, be regarded as a remnant of the Ancient Discipline. Note of the Translator.] the general character of the Liturgy of this Holy Time has not changed; and it is by their zeal in following its Spirit, that the Faithful will prove their earnestness in preparing for Christmas.
The Liturgical form of Advent, as it now exists in The Roman Church, has gone through certain modifications. Saint Gregory seems to have been the first to draw up The Office for this Season, which originally included five Sundays, as is evident from the most ancient Sacramentaries of this great Pope.
It even appears probable, and the opinion has been adopted by Amalarius of Metz, Berno of Reichnau, Dom Martene, and Pope Benedict XIV, that Saint Gregory originated the Ecclesiastical precept of Advent, although the custom of devoting a longer or shorter period to a preparation for Christmas has been observed from time immemorial, and the Abstinence and Fast of this Holy Season first began in France.
Pope Benedict XIV (1740 - 1758) adopted the opinion that
Saint Gregory originated the Ecclesiastical precept of Advent.
Saint Gregory, therefore, fixed, for the Churches of The Latin Rite, the Form of The Office for this Lent-like Season, and sanctioned the Fast which had been established, granting a certain latitude to the several Churches as to the manner of its observance.
The Sacramentary of Saint Gelasius has neither Mass nor Office of preparation for Christmas; the first we meet with, are in The Gregorian Sacramentary, and, as we just observed, these Masses are five in number.
It is remarkable that these Sundays were then counted inversely, that is, the nearest to Christmas was called The First Sunday, and so on with the rest. So far back to the 9th- and 10th-Centuries, these Sundays were reduced to four, as we learn from Amalarius of Metz, Pope Saint Nicholas I, Berno of Reichnau, Ratherius of Verona, etc, and such also is their number in The Gregorian Sacramentary of Pamelius, which appears to have been transcribed about this same period.
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PART SIX FOLLOWS