The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist “are so closely interconnected that they form but one single act of worship.”
The word proclaims what the sacrament enacts: it’s the same Christ, really present. The Second Vatican Council’s “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” taught that Christ is present in multiple ways in the liturgy: in the people assembled, in the word proclaimed, in the ordained minister, in the other sacraments and especially in the Sacred Species.
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” states: “The Liturgy of the Word is an integral part of sacramental celebrations. To nourish the faith of believers, the signs which accompany the Word of God should be emphasized: the book of the word (a Lectionary or a Book of the Gospels), its veneration (procession, incense, candles), the place of its proclamation (lectern or ambo), its audible and intelligible reading, the minister’s homily which extends its proclamation, and the responses of the assembly (acclamations, meditation psalms, litanies and profession of faith).”
Notice how we offer the word what we usually associate with the Sacred Species: incense, gilded books even processions.
The General Introduction to the Lectionary goes so far as to say, “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.”
To honor the word of God, the ambo should be a fixed, dignified place that parallels the altar itself, since there is “one table of the word and the Eucharist.” We don’t proclaim the word from disposable booklets for the same reason wine isn’t consecrated in a throwaway cup. There should be adequate lighting and amplification.
Regarding preparation, Pope Benedict writes, “I ask that the Liturgy of the Word always be carefully prepared and celebrated. Consequently I urge that every effort be made to ensure that the liturgical proclamation of the word of God is entrusted to well-prepared readers.”
Just as we appreciate silence after receiving Communion, it’s good to have periods of silence after the word so it can resonate in our hearts.
To read about the other parts of the Mass and what’s happening, and why, check out the other articles in this series under the Related Content section below.
About Father Tom Margevicius
Father Tom Margevičius worked for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources before joining the National Evangelization Teams (NET) and working for St. Paul’s Outreach in the Twin Cities. He is a full-time instructor at the St. Paul Seminary. He has served the parishes of Nativity in St. Paul, St. John the Baptist in Dayton, and currently is also pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Northeast Minneapolis, where he celebrates the sacraments in Sign Language for the deaf.
© 2007 Rev. Thomas Margevicius
Used with permission.