A note published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments provides instructions for the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God.
Pope Francis instituted the “Sunday of the Word of God” which will be held each year on the third Sunday in ordinary time, with the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu proprio “Aperuit illis” published on September 30, 2019.
The Pope wanted this to be a day dedicated to the celebration, reflection and dissemination of the Word.
Importance of Sacred Scripture in our lives
A note published Saturday by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and signed by the prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah, explains that the Sunday of the Word of God is a way of helping people to “regain consciousness of the importance of Sacred Scripture for our life as believers, starting with its resonance in the liturgy which places us in a living and permanent dialogue with God.
He adds that the day is also “a good opportunity to reread certain ecclesial documents, in particular the introduction of Order of mass readings. «
The note itself is divided into ten points, the first of which emphasizes that “through the biblical readings proclaimed in the liturgy, God speaks to his people and Christ himself proclaims his Gospel”. He indicates that “One of the suitable ritual possibilities for this Sunday could be the entrance procession with the Book of the Gospels or simply placing the Book of the Gospels on the altar.”
The document goes on to state that Bible readings organized by the Church at the Lectionary should not be replaced or deleted, and that versions of the Bible approved for liturgical use should be used.
“The proclamation of the texts of the Lectionary constitutes a bond of unity between all the faithful who listen to them,” says the note, which also recommends the chanting of the Responsorial Psalm.
Centered on the homily, it invites bishops, priests and deacons to “explain and allow everyone to understand Sacred Scripture” and “to make it accessible to their communities”, by carrying out this ministry “with particular dedication, by cherishing the means proposed by the Church “. The importance of silence in the liturgical celebration is also underlined, because “promoting meditation, it allows the word of God to be received internally by the listener”.
With regard to those who proclaim the Word of God in the assembly – priests, deacons and readers – the note specifies that “the specific interior and exterior preparation, the familiarity with the text to be proclaimed and the practice necessary to proclaim it” are mandatory.
He also insists on the care of the ambo from which the Word of God is proclaimed, and while “the homily and the intentions of universal prayer can be proclaimed from it,” “it is less appropriate to use it for comments, announcements or to direct the song. ”
There is also a demand to take care of the material value and proper use of “books containing readings from Scripture”, adding that it is “never appropriate to resort to pamphlets, photocopies and other pastoral aids. as a substitute for liturgical books. . ”
In order to make Sacred Scripture better known and its value in liturgical celebrations, the Congregation urges the promotion of formation meetings, near or in the days following the Sunday of the Word of God, to highlight in more detail “ the criteria for the liturgical distribution of the different biblical books during the year and its seasons, as well as the structure of the Sunday cycles and the weekdays of the readings of the Mass.
Finally, the document identifies the Sunday of the Word of God, where the community celebration of Lauds and Vespers is promoted, as “an appropriate opportunity to deepen the connection between Sacred Scripture and the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the Psalms and of Songs. of the Office, as well as Bible readings.
He also suggests that Saint Jerome be offered as an example “for the great love he had for the Word of God”.