Chapter I: General Principles for the Liturgical Celebration
1. Certain Preliminaries
a) THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD IN LITURGICAL CELEBRATION
1. The Second Vatican Council,  the
magisterium of the Popes,  and various
documents promulgated after the Council by the organisms of the Holy See
 have already had many excellent things to say
about the importance of the word of God and about reestablishing the use of
Sacred Scripture in every celebration of the Liturgy. The Introduction to the
1969 edition of the Order of Readings for Mass has clearly stated and briefly
explained some of the more important principles. 
On the occasion of this new edition of the Order of Readings for Mass,
requests have come from many quarters for a more detailed exposition of the same
principles. Hence, this expanded and more suitable arrangement of the
Introduction first gives a general statement on the essential bond between the
word of God and the liturgical celebration, 
then deals in greater detail with the word of God in the celebration of Mass,
and finally explains the precise structure of the Order of Readings for Mass.
b) TERMS USED TO REFER TO THE WORD OF GOD
2. For the sake of clear and precise language on this topic, a definition of
terms might well be expected as a prerequisite. Nevertheless this Introduction
will simply use the same terms employed in conciliar and postconciliar
documents. Furthermore it will use "Sacred Scripture" and "word of God"
interchangeably throughout when referring to the books written under the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, thus avoiding any confusion of language or
c) THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LITURGY
3. The many riches contained in the one word of God are admirably brought out
in the different kinds of liturgical celebration and in the different gatherings
of the faithful who take part in those celebrations. This takes place as the
unfolding mystery of Christ is recalled during the course of the liturgical
year, as the Church's sacraments and sacramentals are celebrated, or as the
faithful respond individually to the Holy Spirit working within them.
 For then the liturgical celebration, founded
primarily on the word of God and sustained by it, becomes a new event and
enriches the word itself with new meaning and power. Thus in the Liturgy the
Church faithfully adheres to the way Christ himself read and explained the
Sacred Scriptures, beginning with the "today" of his coming forward in the
synagogue and urging all to search the Scriptures. 
2. Liturgical Celebration of the Word of God
a) THE PROPER CHARACTER OF THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATION
4. In the celebration of the Liturgy the word of God is not announced in only
one way  nor does it always stir the hearts of
the hearers with the same efficacy. Always, however, Christ is present in his
word,  as he carries out the mystery of
salvation, sanctifies humanity and offers the Father perfect worship.
Moreover, the word of God unceasingly calls to mind and extends the economy
of salvation, which achieves its fullest expression in the Liturgy. The
liturgical celebration becomes therefore the continuing, complete, and effective
presentation of God's word.
The word of God constantly proclaimed in the Liturgy is always, then, a
living and effective word  through the power
of the Holy Spirit. It expresses the Father's love that never fails in its
effectiveness toward us.
b) THE WORD OF GOD IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION
5. When in celebrating the Liturgy the Church proclaims both the Old and New
Testament, it is proclaiming one and the same mystery of Christ.
The New Testament lies hidden in the Old; the Old Testament comes fully to
light in the New.  Christ himself is the
center and fullness of the whole of Scripture, just as he is of all liturgical
celebration.  Thus the Scriptures are the
living waters from which all who seek life and salvation must drink.
The more profound our understanding of the celebration of the liturgy, the
higher our appreciation of the importance of God's word. Whatever we say of the
one, we can in turn say of the other, because each recalls the mystery of Christ
and each in its own way causes the mystery to be carried forward.
c) THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LITURGICAL PARTICIPATION OF THE FAITHFUL
6. In celebrating the Liturgy the Church faithfully echoes the
"Amen" that Christ, the mediator between God and men and women,
uttered once for all as he shed his blood to seal God's new covenant in the Holy
When God communicates his word, he expects a response, one, that is, of
listening and adoring "in Spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:23). The Holy
Spirit makes that response effective, so that what is heard in the celebration
of the Liturgy may be carried out in a way of life: "Be doers of the word
and not hearers only" (Jas 1:22).
The liturgical celebration and the participation of the faithful receive
outward expression in actions, gestures, and words. These derive their full
meaning not simply from their origin in human experience but from the word of
God and the economy of salvation, to which they refer. Accordingly, the
participation of the faithful in the Liturgy increases to the degree that, as
they listen to the word of God proclaimed in the Liturgy, they strive harder to
commit themselves to the Word of God incarnate in Christ. Thus, they endeavor to
conform their way of life to what they celebrate in the Liturgy, and then in
turn to bring to the celebration of the Liturgy all that they do in life.
3. The Word of God in the Life of the People of the Covenant
a) THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
7. In the hearing of God's word the Church is built up and grows, and in the
signs of the liturgical celebration God's wonderful, past works in the history
of salvation are presented anew as mysterious realities. God in turn makes use
of the congregation of the faithful that celebrates the Liturgy in order that
his word may speed on and be glorified and that his name be exalted among the
Whenever, therefore, the Church, gathered by the Holy Spirit for liturgical
celebration,  announces and proclaims the
word of God, she is aware of being a new people in whom the covenant made in the
past is perfected and fulfilled. Baptism and confirmation in the Spirit have
made all Christ's faithful into messengers of God's word because of the grace of
hearing they have received. They must therefore be the bearers of the same word
in the Church and in the world, at least by the witness of their lives.
The word of God proclaimed in the celebration of God's mysteries does not
only address present conditions but looks back to past events and forward to
what is yet to come. Thus God's word shows us what we should hope for with such
a longing that in this changing world our hearts will be set on the place where
our true joys lie. 
b) THE CHURCH'S EXPLANATION OF THE WORD OF GOD
8. By Christ's own will there is a marvelous diversity of members in the new
people of God and each has different duties and responsibilities with respect to
the word of God. Accordingly, the faithful listen to God's word and meditate on
it, but only those who have the office of teaching by virtue of sacred
ordination or who have been entrusted with exercising that ministry expound the
word of God.
This is how in doctrine, life, and worship the Church keeps alive and passes
on to every generation all that she is, all that she believes. Thus with the
passage of the centuries, the Church is ever to advance toward the fullness of
divine truth until God's word is wholly accomplished in it.
c) THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE WORD OF GOD PROCLAIMED AND THE WORKING OF THE
9. The working of the Holy Spirit is needed if the word of God is to make
what we hear outwardly have its effect inwardly. Because of the Holy Spirit's
inspiration and support, the word of God becomes the foundation of the
liturgical celebration and the rule and support of all our life.
The working of the Holy Spirit precedes, accompanies, and brings to
completion the whole celebration of the Liturgy. But the Spirit also brings home
 to each person individually everything that
in the proclamation of the word of God is spoken for the good of the whole
gathering of the faithful. In strengthening the unity of all, the Holy Spirit at
the same time fosters a diversity of gifts and furthers their multiform
d) THE ESSENTIAL BOND BETWEEN THE WORD OF GOD AND THE MYSTERY OF THE
10. The Church has honored the word of God and the Eucharistic mystery with
the same reverence, although not with the same worship, and has always and
everywhere insisted upon and sanctioned such honor. Moved by the example of its
Founder, the Church has never ceased to celebrate his paschal mystery by coming
together to read "what referred to him in all the Scriptures" (Lk 24:27) and to
carry out the work of salvation through the celebration of the memorial of the
Lord and through the sacraments. "The preaching of the word is necessary for the
ministry of the sacraments, for these are sacraments of faith, which is born and
nourished from the word." 
The Church is nourished spiritually at the twofold table of God's word and of
the Eucharist:  from the one it grows in
wisdom and from the other in holiness. In the word of God the divine covenant is
announced; in the Eucharist the new and everlasting covenant is renewed. On the
one hand the history of salvation is brought to mind by means of human sounds;
on the other it is made manifest in the sacramental signs of the Liturgy.
It can never be forgotten, therefore, that the divine word read and
proclaimed by the Church in the Liturgy has as its one purpose the sacrifice of
the New Covenant and the banquet of grace, that is, the Eucharist. The
celebration of Mass in which the word is heard and the Eucharist is offered and
received forms but one single act of divine worship.
 That act offers the sacrifice of praise to
God and makes available to God's creatures the fullness of redemption.