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Meeting Christ in the Liturgy
Instruction of the Roman Missal

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    • B. Liturgy of the Word
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B. Liturgy of the Word

33. Readings from Scripture and the chants between the readings form the main part of the liturgy of the word. The homily, profession of faith, and general intercessions or prayer of the faithful expand and complete this part of the Mass. In the readings, explained by the homily, God is speaking to his people,31 opening up to them the mystery of redemption and salvation, and nourishing their spirit; Christ is present to the faithful through his own word.32 Through the chants the people make God's word their own and through the profession of faith affirm their adherence to it. Finally, having been fed by this word, they make their petitions in the general intercessions for the needs of the Church and for the salvation of the whole world.


34. The readings lay the table of God's word for the faithful and open up the riches of the Bible to them.33 Since by tradition the reading of the Scriptures is a ministerial, not a presidential function, it is proper that as a rule a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the one presiding read the gospel. A reader proclaims the other readings. In the absence of a deacon or another priest, the celebrant reads the gospel.34

35. The liturgy itself inculcates the great reverence to be shown toward the reading of the gospel, setting it off from the other readings by special marks of honor. A special minister is appointed to proclaim it and prepares himself by a blessing or prayer. The people, who by their acclamations acknowledge and confess Christ present and speaking to them, stand as they listen to it. Marks of reverence are given to the Book of the Gospels itself.


36. After the first reading comes the responsorial psalm or gradual, an integral part of the liturgy of the word. The psalm as a rule is drawn from the Lectionary because the individual psalm texts are directly connected with the individual readings: the choice of psalm depends therefore on the readings. Nevertheless, in order that the people may be able to join in the responsorial psalm more readily, some texts of responses and psalms have been chosen, according to the different seasons of the year and classes of saints, for optional use, whenever the psalm is sung, in place of the text corresponding to the reading.

The psalmist or cantor of the psalm sings the verses of the psalm at the lectern or other suitable place. The people remain seated and listen, but also as a rule take part by singing the response, except when the psalm is sung straight through without the response.

The psalm when sung may be either the psalm assigned in the Lectionary or the gradual from the «Graduale Romanum» or the responsorial psalm or the psalm with «Alleluia» as the response from The «Simple Gradual» in the form they have in those books.

37. As the season requires, the «Alleluia» or another chant follows the second reading.

a. The «Alleluia» is sung in every season outside Lent. It is begun either by all present or by the choir or cantor; it may then be repeated. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the «Graduale».

 b. The other chant consists of the verse before the gospel or another psalm or tract, as found in the Lectionary or the «Graduale».

38. When there is only one reading before the gospel:

a. during a season calling for the «Alleluia», there is an option to use either the psalm with «Alleluia» as the response, or the responsorial psalm and the «Alleluia» with its verse, or just the psalm, or just the «Alleluia»;

b. during the season when the «Alleluia» is not allowed, either the responsorial psalm or the verse before the gospel may be used.

39. If the psalm after the reading is not sung, it is to be recited. If not sung, the «Alleluia» or the verse before the gospel may be omitted.

40. Sequences are optional, except on Easter Sunday and Pentecost.


41. The homily is an integral part of the liturgy and is strongly recommended:35 it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should develop some point of the readings or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day, and take into account the mystery being celebrated and the needs proper to the listeners.36

42. There must be a homily on Sundays and holydays of obligation at all Masses that are celebrated with a congregation. It is recommended on other days, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter season, as well as on other feasts and occasions when the people come to church in large numbers.37

The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant.


43. The symbol or profession of faith in the celebration of Mass serves as a way for the people to respond and to give their assent to the word of God heard in the readings and through the homily and for them to call to mind the truths of faith before thy begin to celebrate the eucharist.

44. Recitation of the profession of faith by the priest together with the people is obligatory on Sundays and solemnities. It maybe said also at special, more solemn celebrations.

If it is sung, as a rule all are to sing it together or in alternation.


45. In the general intercessions or prayer of the faithful, the people, exercising their priestly function, intercede for all humanity. It is appropriate that this prayer be included in all Masses celebrated with a congregation, so that petitions will be offered for the Church, for civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all people, and for the salvation of the world.38

46. As a rule the sequence of intentions is to be:

a. for the needs of the Church;

b. for public authorities and the salvation of the world;

c. for those oppressed by any need;

d. for the local community.

In particular celebrations, such as confirmations, marriages, funerals, etc., the series of intercessions may refer more specifically to the occasion.

47. It belongs to the priest celebrant to direct the general intercessions, by means of a brief introduction to invite the congregation to pray, and after the intercessions to say the concluding prayer. It is desirable that a deacon, cantor, or other person announce the intentions.39 The whole assembly gives expression to its supplication either by a response said together after each intention or by silent prayer.


31. See SC art. 33.

32. See SC art. 7.

33. See SC art. 51.

34. See SCR, InterOec no. 50.

35. See SC art. 52.

36. See SCR, Instr, InterOec no. 54.

37. See ibid. no. 56.

38. See SC art. 53.

39. See SCR, Instr. InterOec no. 56.

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