“If the Book of the Gospels, which is more
important than the Lectionary, is not
enthroned after the proclamation, why
would the Lectionary?”
~ Fr. Bill
Two Books Defined
There are two books from which we proclaim the Sunday readings. The Lectionary is used for the first two readings, and the Book of the Gospels is used for the third reading from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Greater reverence is given to the Book of the Gospels, for it reflects the words of Jesus. The ritual states that the Book of the Gospels may be accompanied by candles and incense, and is kissed, and enthroned upon the altar before the Liturgy of the Word. However, once the gospel is proclaimed, the Book of the Gospel no longer is given any focus. The words of the gospel are now located in the minds and hearts of those who listened to it.
I have never understood the local custom here at St. John the Baptist for placing the Lectionary on a bookstand in the sanctuary after the first two readings. If the Book of the Gospels, which is more important than the Lectionary, is not enthroned after the proclamation, why would the Lectionary? When the lector proclaims “The Word of the Lord,” he/she is not referring to the book, but rather to the act of proclamation – the experience of speaking, hearing, and taking to heart God’s Word in the scriptures.
I have asked around a bit to try to understand the origin and meaning of this local custom of placing the Lectionary on the bookstand. It seems to be one of those things describes as “we have always done it that way.” Beginning with Advent, I would like not to enthrone the Lectionary on a bookstand after the readings. The goal is to:
- express the dynamic experience of proclaiming God’s Word. It is not the book; it is the speaking, listening and taking to heart God’s Word.
- not give the impression that the Lectionary is more important than the Book of the Gospels,
- not add an additional focal point in the sanctuary (Only the altar, ambo, presider’s chair as well as the crucifix and the paschal candle during the Easter season are mention in the ritual as belonging in the sanctuary)
If anyone can give further insight to why “we have always done it this way,” please send me a note.