This week we continue our journey through the Holy Mass by delving into the Liturgy of the Word. The Institutio gives a wonderful overview of the Liturgy of the word by saying that “The main part of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of the readings from Sacred Scripture together with the chants occurring between them. The homily, Profession of Faith, and Prayer of the Faithful, however, develop and conclude this part of the Mass. For in the readings, as explained by the homily, God speaks to his people, opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation and offering them spiritual nourishment; and Christ himself is present in the midst of the faithful through his word. By their silence and singing the people make God’s word their own, and they also affirm their adherence to it by means of the Profession of Faith. Finally, having been nourished by it, they pour out their petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful for the needs of the entire Church and for the salvation of the whole world.”
The Institutio also speaks of the great value of silence during the Liturgy of the Word. Often times people become uncomfortable with the amount of silence that many priests insist upon during the Liturgy of the Word, but according to the Institutio this silence is to be observed and valued, in fact, it says that we should never hurry through this time set aside to listen to the Word of God. It says “The Liturgy of the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation, and so any sort of haste that hinders recollection must clearly be avoided. During the Liturgy of the Word, it is also appropriate to include brief periods of silence, accommodated to the gathered assembly, in which, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared. It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the first and second reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the homily.”
The readings from Sacred Scripture, except for the Gospel, are proclaimed by a Lector. The Gospel is proclaimed “by a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant. If, however, a deacon or another priest is not present, the priest celebrant himself should read the Gospel.” The office and role of the Lector will be discussed next week.