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You are here: Documents > The Eucharist and the Mass > Introduction to the Book of the Gospels  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsDecreeII. The Proclamation of the Gospel at MassEndnotes

I. TheCentrality of the Gospel in the Life of the Church and her Liturgy

1. In the fullness of time, God "sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to be a bodily and spiritual medicine, the Mediator between God and man..."[1]Entrusted by the Lord to his Apostles, this Gospel was set down by the Holy Evangelists in written form so that the events fulfilled in Jesus might be known and believed, and that through this belief every person in every time might "have life in his name."[2]

2. Thus, the Church has received the Gospel from the Apostles to whom the Lord explained the Holy Scriptures.[3] From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to read "what referred to him in all the Scriptures"[4] and to celebrate the paschal mystery wherein "the victory and triumph of his death are again made present."[5]

3. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the word of God proclaimed is the foundation of every 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 operation."[6]

4. From the time of the Apostolic Fathers, the Church has consistently read the Sacred Scriptures, especially the Gospels, as an integral part of the celebration of the Eucharist which helps to prepare the congregation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist itself. While the whole corpus of the Scriptures is venerated by the Church as the word of God, the Gospels have always been proclaimed as the very voice of her Bridegroom. Especially on Sunday, "the day of the Resurrection ... the day of Christians ... our day,"[7] the Church proclaims the Gospel passages which are at the heart of her faith.[8]

THE BOOK OF THE GOSPELS

5. Formal liturgical books containing readings from Sacred Scripture have been common in the Church from the time of Saint Gregory the Great.[9] In our own day every effort is made to assure that the Scriptures are bound in books which are "worthy, dignified, and beautiful."[10]

6. This is particularly true of the Book of the Gospels which is venerated above all the books of readings by Churches of both East and West.[11] So clearly is the Book of the Gospels a sign of Christ present in the liturgy, that it is revered with the same holy kiss given to the altar.

For this reason it is desirable that "cathedrals and at least the larger, more populous parishes and the churches with a larger attendance possess a beautifully designed Book of the Gospels, separate from any other book of readings."[12]

7. Thus the Book of the Gospels as a sign of the presence of Christ in his word proclaimed is always accorded a place of honor in the Church's liturgy. It is borne by the deacon in solemn procession for the veneration of the entire congregation and accompanied by candles and incense at Mass. The imposition and presentation of the Book of the Gospels to a newly ordained Bishop illustrate that the faithful preaching of the word of God [13] is among his principle duties. The presentation of the Book of the Gospels to the newly ordained deacon "symbolizes the office of the deacon to proclaim the Gospel in liturgical celebrations and to preach the faith of the Church in word and deed." [14] Finally, the enshrinement of the Book of the Gospels whenever the Church gathers in a council or synod is a sign of the presence of Christ himself as teacher and guide.[15]

Table of ContentsDecreeII. The Proclamation of the Gospel at MassEndnotes

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The Catholic Liturgical Library
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You are here: Documents > The Eucharist and the Mass > Introduction to the Book of the Gospels  Back one page.

Home | New | FAQ | Search | Forum | Links


All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com