November 8th

At the end of the first and second readings of the Mass, the congregation responds to the Word of God by saying: “Thanks be to God.”  That can seem pretty strange, if we think about some of the readings that we hear proclaimed, particularly from the Old Testament.  (e.g. Think of the account of David and Bathsheba.)  If we have just heard a reading that has a tragic ending, one might wonder why we are thanking God for something tragic.

The reason that we thank God at the end of the reading, is not necessarily because of what we have just heard, but because through the Scriptures, God continues to speak to us.  We thank God because He has just spoken to us through His Word.

After the second reading, we stand for the proclamation of the Gospel.  There are several things that we do during the proclamation of the Gospel to show the importance and the reverence that we have toward the Gospel.  We all stand out of respect for the words and teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  We all sing the “Alleluia” before the Gospel is proclaimed.  The word “Alleluia” literally means: “praise the Lord”; it is a hymn praising God for revealing Himself to us through the Gospel.

While the Alleluia is being sung, the priest bows to the altar and says a short prayer, by which he asks God to purify his heart and his lips that he may worthily proclaim the Gospel.  If the person proclaiming the Gospel is a deacon, the deacon asks the priest for a blessing.  The priest blesses the deacon, and prays that God will purify the deacon’s heart and lips that the Gospel may worthily be proclaimed.  The prayers that the Church puts on the lips of her ministers at the time of the Gospel proclamation remind us of how holy the Gospel is and how important it is that the minister strive to be holy, that he may worthily proclaim it.

The Gospel reading is further elevated from the other readings by the fact that it is read from a separate book which is decorated with gold.  The Gospel book is also carried aloft in procession both at the beginning of the Mass as well as right before the Gospel is read to show its importance.

There are several ways that the priest (or deacon) shows reverence toward the book of the Gospels right before he proclaims it.  The book may be reverenced with incense (on special occasions); the priest signs the book with a cross before he reads; once the Gospel has been proclaimed, the priest reverences the Gospel book with a kiss.  As he kisses the book, he says: “By the Words of the Gospel may my sins be wiped away.”

A final way that the Gospel is marked off from the other readings is that there is a special response made by the congregation at the conclusion of the Gospel: “Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.”

God bless,

Father White

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