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Chapter 4 Liturgy of the Word

141. For a "Mass with adults at which children also participate", according to DMC 17, it is permissible "to celebrate the liturgy of the word, including a homily, with the children in a separate, but not too distant, room. Then, before the eucharistic liturgy begins, the children are led to a place where the adults have meanwhile celebrated their own liturgy of the word."

First Reading

142. After the Opening Prayer all sit (IG 128). According to CB 109, when the bishop is seated he places his palms on his knees. This is not mentioned in the IG, and ministers are not directed to do so in the CB. However bishops could regulate on this, for a more uniform posture, following IG 107.

143. The priest may introduce the Liturgy of the Word.

144. Then the reader goes to the ambo and reads from the Lectionary placed there before Mass.

145. According to IG 101 "In the absence of an instituted reader, other lay people may be designated to proclaim the readings ...". Only men can be instituted readers (Code of Canon Law, Canon 230), they are instituted by the bishop in a liturgical rite (after writing to request it), and must wear vestments (LM 54).

146. According to LM 111 "In the Liturgical Assembly the word of God must always be read either from the Latin texts prepared by the Holy See or from vernacular translations approved by the conferences of bishops for liturgical use, according to existing norms."

147. The Lectionary has rubrics which are not to be read aloud. The reader does not proclaim "First Sunday of Advent", "Year B", "First Reading", "Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1.3-8", or the heading "Oh that you would tear the heavens apart and come down". All that is proclaimed before the reading, in this example, is "A reading from the prophet Isaiah". This is clear from Notitae 14 (1978) 303, no 5 (in Documents on the Liturgy, page 491).

148. According to LM 125 "the words for the reader This is the word of the Lord, or similar words suited to local custom, are to be printed at the end of the reading for use by the reader." Thus the reader must use the words printed in the approved Lectionary. There are no instructions to hold up the book when saying these words.

149. At the end of the reading there may be a brief period of silence for all to meditate on what has been heard (IG 128).

2002 IG 128 removes "brief" (brevimus) about the silence.

150. For Mass without a deacon or suitable reader, the priest may do the readings (IG 59).

151. For Mass with a deacon "if there is no qualified reader present" the deacon may do the readings, as well as the Gospel.

152. For a concelebrated Mass "if there are no other ministers present" their tasks may be done by suitable faithful or by concelebrants, so they could do the readings.

153. For Mass with only one minister (without a congregation) the minister "reads the first reading and psalm, the second reading, when it is to be said, and the Alleluia verse or other chant" (IG 261). This changes the instruction of GIRM 217 which had "the minister or the priest himself" could do these readings. Unfortunately the English translation did not include this change. The term for the priest "sacerdos" has been removed from the Latin: "Dicta collecta, minister legit primam lectionem et psalmum, et, quando dicenda est, secundam lectionem atque versum ad Alleluia vel alterum cantum." (IG 261).

154. For this Mass, the location of the readings is complicated. According to IG 58 "In the celebration of the Mass with a congregation, the readings are always given from the ambo" using the term "ex ambone" in the Latin. But for Mass without a congregation: "As often as possible, the readings should be delivered from the ambo or a lectern." (IG 260). This uses the terms "ex ambone vel ex pluteo". In English the terms "ambo" and "lectern" have been used interchangably. Perhaps "pluteo" should be translated as "a stand", as "pluteus" has been translated, in GIRM 272 and IG 309. According to a reply in Notitiae 14 (1978) 302, no. 3 (DOL page 520) "In the very exceptional case when not even a bench can be set up, the priest may stay at the altar, where the missal and lectionary are set on a reading stand." According to IG 257, after kissing the altar the priest "turns to the missal at the left side of the altar, and remains there until the end of the general intercessions". This seems to require the priest to remain at the altar when he reads the Gospel.

2002 IG 256 is rewritten so the priest goes to the chair. It removes the instructions about him remaining anywhere "until the end of the general intercessions".

155. For Mass with Children: "If three or even two readings appointed on Sundays or weekdays can be understood by children only with difficulty, it is permissible to read two or only one of them, but the reading of the gospel should never be omitted." (DMC 42).

156. According to DMC 47, "When the text of the reading lends itself to this, it may be helpful to have the children read it with parts distributed among them, as provided for the reading of the Lord's Passion during Holy Week." However this provision seems to have been removed, by IG 109: "it is not at all appropriate that several persons divide a single element of the celebration among themselves, e.g., that the same reading is divided into two parts for two readers, unless it is Passion of the Lord".

157. For the Stational Mass, after the reading "The reader retires and there is a brief pause for all to reflect on what they have heard. Then the psalmist or cantor or reader sings or recites the psalm...". This indicates that, at least for the Stational Mass, the reader is required to sit (or at least leave the ambo) for the period of reflection.



Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 18 March 2002. Last updated 15 April 2002.