Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass
Translated from the French by Rev. Dom Laurence Shepherd
Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Guéranger
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Translated from the French by Rev. Dom Laurence Shepherd
Monk of the English Benedictine Congregation
St. Mary’s Abbey, Stanbrook—June 14, 1885

An excerpt from Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass on the incensing of the altar…

The Altar represents our Lord Jesus Christ. The Saints’ Relics which are there, remind us that the Saints are His members.  For, having assumed our human nature, He not only suffered His Passion, triumphed in His Resurrection, and entered into His glory by the Ascension, – but He, also, founded the Church upon earth, and this Church is His mystical Body; He is its Head, and the Saints are its members.  From this point of view, then, our Lord has not the fullness of His mystical Body without His Saints; and it is for this reason, that the Saints, who are reigning with Him in glory, are united with Him, in the Altar, which represents Him…The Priest, having finished the prayer, which he said bowing down, and his hands joined on the Altar, prepares for its Incensing…Holy Church has borrowed this ceremony from heaven itself; where St. John witnessed it.  In his Apocalypse, he saw an Angel, standing, with a golden censer, near the Altar, on which was the Lamb, with four-and-twenty elders around him. (Apoc. viii. 3.)  He describes this Angel to us, as offering to God the prayers of the Saints, which are symbolised by the incense.

About the Author…

Dom Prosper Louis Pascal Guéranger (1805—1875) was a Benedictine priest and abbot of Solesmes. On July 11, 1833, the feast of St. Benedict, Dom Prosper Guéranger and five companions reopened the small monastery at Solesmes. It was the first monastery to be reopened in France after the Revolution. Abbot Guéranger encouraged the chant research and restoration work of the monks of Solesmes, and he worked tirelessly to restore monastic life to France, to purge the French Mass of its Gallican elements and thereby restore the Roman Liturgy to France.

Dom Guéranger was the author of The Liturgical Year, which covers every day of the Catholic Church’s Liturgical Cycle. It is a set of 15 volumes. Guéranger, the Abbot of Solesmes, restored the Priory of Solesmes. Guéranger was well regarded by Pope Pius IX, and was a proponent of the dogmas of papal infallibility and the Immaculate Conception. Dom Guéranger is credited with reviving the Benedictine Order in France, and revitalizing the Tridentine Latin Mass.

Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass includes the following chapters…

  • EXPLANATION OF THE MASS
  • JUDICA ME
  • CONFITEOR
  • INCENSING THE ALTAR
  • INTROIT
  • KYRIE
  • GLORIA IN EXCELSIS
  • COLLECT
  • EPISTLE
  • GRADUAL
  • ALLELUIA or TRACT
  • SEQUENCE
  • GOSPEL
  • CREDO
  • OFFERTORY
  • INCENSING OF THE ALTAR
  • LAVABO
  • SUSCIPE, SANCTA TRINITAS
  • ORATE FRATRES
  • PREFACE
  • SANCTUS
  • THE CANON OF THE MASS
  • TE IGITUR
  • MEMENTO OF THE LIVING
  • COMMUNICANTES
  • HANC IGITUR
  • QUAM OBLATIONEM
  • CONSECRATION OF THE HOST
  • CONSECRATION OF THE WINE
  • UNDE ET MEMORES
  • SUPRA QUAE PROPITIO
  • SUPPLICES TE ROGAMUS
  • MEMENTO OF THE DEAD
  • NOBIS QUOQUE PECCATORIBUS
  • PER QUEM HAEC OMNIA
  • PATER NOSTER
  • LIBERA NOS QUAESUMUS
  • AGNUS DEI
  • PRAYERS BEFORE THE COMMUNION
  • COMMUNION
  • POSTCOMMUNION
  • ITE MISSA EST
  • THE BLESSING
  • THE LAST GOSPEL