The Mass according to St Germanus of Paris: second apology

One criticism commonly heard of the Liturgy according to St Germanus of Paris is that it has nothing to do with St Germanus of Paris and cannot therefore be relied upon as being authentic.

Essentially, very little in terms of manuscript survives of the ancient Gallican Mass.  There is certainly no surviving complete extant missal or anything like that.  What we know comes from manuscript fragments, from extant books of closely related rites, and from descriptions of the Gallican Mass in other ancient writings.  One such description comes in the form of two treatises on the Gallican Mass known as "The Letters of St Germanus".

In these letters, we have a very detailed description of the Orthodox Mass as it was served in 6th-century Paris, from which it is relatively easy to compile a form of Mass for use in our own day, closely resembling what our Orthodox ancestors did before us.  This is precisely what was done by St John of Saint-Denis and his contemporaries in the 20th century, and the result of which has come to be used and known in our own day as the Divine Liturgy according to St Germanus of Paris.

So what's the problem?

Well, the authorship of these treatises is in dispute.  I've come across a number of suggestions, one being that these texts did not appear until the 7th century, after the death of St Germanus.

This really isn't the foundation-shattering news that opponents of the rite seem to think it is.  There are all sorts of reasons why writings attributed to a saint might not have surfaced until long after the repose of that saint, but let's assume the worst.  If the letters were not by the hand of St Germanus or a secretary writing them on his behalf, what would be the situation with which we would be faced?

It would mean that we have an ancient text, clearly written by a person of great piety and highly knowledgeable about the details of the liturgical worship of God by his people, which tells us how the Mass was performed in a specific part of the west in Orthodox times.  It would give us a glimpse into the form of worship that formed the sainted Bishop Germanus of Paris, known for his piety, wisdom, and generosity to the poor, as well as numerous saints besides him who are celebrated as beacons of Orthodox life and examples for us to follow.

That really doesn't seem to me to be any great undermining revelation.  In fact, if, as it is entirely possible, the letters were written by a pious woman - a nun, perhaps - and the name of the great saint was used because it is the only way that a writing of such provenance would have been given any credibility in an age when women's contributions to liturgical life were perhaps not greatly valued, then it is likely that this attribution to St Germanus is the only reason that this text survives today, and that rather than try to disparage this noble effort as a deception, we should be applauding and welcoming it as a means of intimately knowing part of our Orthodox heritage.

Whether or not St Germanus wrote this text, the authenticity of the present-day Mass resulting from it cannot reliably be called into question and, either way, it can be legitimately called the Divine Liturgy according to St Germanus of Paris.

There are, of course, other objections to this rite which I intend to deal with later in this series.  I intend to post those here once I have gathered my thoughts.

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