November 09, 2011

Full Participation and the Importance of the Word of God

Continuing with the Holy Father's suggestions for a true "fuller participation" in the liturgy, we find several that relate, in one way or another, to emphasizing the importance of the Word of God.

Pope Benedict shares the synod's suggestion "that the proclamation of the word of God, and of the Gospel in particular, should be made more solemn..." Especially on major feasts, the book from which the Gospel is read should be processed in at the beginning of Mass. It can then be carried up to be read from, rather than simply waiting at the lectern like any old book. The Pope also suggests proclaiming the Gospel in song to emphasize its importance. (What might this sound like? Try the Miles Christi Schola Cantorum's recording of the Passion according to St. John.)
 Whether its sung or read, the Gospel needs to be heard. The Holy Father specifically points to the visual and hearing impaired as needing help "fully participating". They need appropriate assistance so that they, too, can "experience a living contact with the word of the Lord." More broadly, the Holy Father also asks for attention to church acoustics within liturgical and architectural norms.

He also notes several things about the ambo. It should be clearly visible (no guessing where the Gospel reading will take place), placed to naturally draw attention (no neck cramps from looking way over there), fixed (no portable wooden podium), and designed to "present visibly the theological significance of the double table of the word and of the Eucharist." (In a way, the ambo is the "altar" on which the Word is offered to us.)

And in case there was any question, the Holy Father reiterated the Synod, which reiterated Pope John Paul II, who reiterated liturgical law, which clarifies ancient liturgical practice: no reading, including the Responsorial Psalm, may come from any source but the Bible.

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