Friday, July 31, 2009


A weekly report on symbols has been going on for a couple of years now and we are nearing the end of my imagination short of some plants and animals that we have skipped. We’ve at least touched on most other areas and apart from a couple more points I wish to mention I think we just might be about done unless you can think of an area not yet touched upon. And if not perhaps you can think of another topic to replace this series!


The way books are handled during the Mass is also symbolic of their importance. For example, the Book of Gospels is the only book allowed to be carried in procession. This is true even of the Lectionary (the book containing all the readings) which should never be carried in procession. This book is placed on the altar at the beginning of Mass. Note the connection: Chris is present in several privileged forms during the Mass, the most august is in the Eucharist and also in His own words at the proclamation of the Gospel. How appropriate it is then that the altar and Gospel book are so linked.

The book may only be elevated slightly, not up over the head as is the practice in so many places. The book should not be elevated higher than the Eucharist is elevated at the consecration. And while the Book of Gospels is important it is not in the printed form that Jesus is present but in the proclamation. So the mere presence of the book is not cause for adoration as the Eucharist would be. That is why the book is not even elevated when the deacon or priest says, “The Gospel of the Lord.” It is not the book that is special but the words that were just proclaimed.

The book is still treated with reverence however. Therefore it may be put in a place of honor after the reading is proclaimed – usually on some sort of stand.

The book does not leave with the exiting procession. The word is to be in our hearts now and we take it with us as we do the Eucharist.


knuckledragger said... my parish the Sacramentary is carried in procession and the Book of Gospels is resting on the altar at the beginning of Mass.

Anonymous said...

A Protestant friend of mine said that as a child she was taught to always place the Bible on top of any stack of books she might be carrying, even if the Bible were one of the larger books in the stack. As a Catholic, I'd never heard that admonition (but I never read the Bible privately until I was in my 30s).

Anonymous said...

Suggestion for a new series: Catholic apologetics. Tell us how non-Catholic "evangelists" try to show that our faith is "un-Biblical" or worse. What are some of the common arguments against our faith from their perspective--and how do we answer?

ck said...

Good idea Anonymous. How about Friday Mythbusters? You could explain that Jesus really did multiply the loaves and fish, or how we don’t worship Mary. Catholic Answers has a great series of tracts that would make for a long series of subjects:

I also like “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” by Peter Kreeft. A friend of mine thought he was very clever to suggest that Jesus didn’t really die, he just “swooned”. That book helped me debunk that notion and many others.

Anonymous said...

I like 'mythbusters' - but I have also wondered about the different styles of Churches. I hear about Gothic, Roman, etc. but I know nothing about what this means.

Mikki said...

Since this is the “Year for Priests”, how about giving us some inside information on the formation of priests? Maybe start with “the call” and share stories of how you and some of your brother priests were called to the priesthood, or periodically have a brother priest be a guest blogger to share his story. Then, what is the process to enter a seminary? How does one decide which seminary to attend and which order to choose? What are the major differences between the different orders? What is the progression in the seminary (what does it cover, what types of classes, how many years do you attend, etc.)? What type of hands on training does a priest get? Can a priest flunk out? What happens when a seminarian changes his mind and leaves? What happens at graduation? What happens at ordination? How does a priest feel the first time he celebrates Mass? How are assignments made? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. This topic could easily keep you blogging for several years. I do not think most people know what is involved in becoming a priest; therefore, I think the subject would be of great interest to your audience. We are curious creatures.

john said...

I like the year of the priest idea. But I'd like to know why more emphasis isn't put on early formation. When I was young, one of the places early formation went on was with altar boys. Now that half the servers are girls, I think we may have lost that. It seems a little unfair to the girls too. It's like saying you can be a plumber's apprentice, but you'll never get to be a plumber.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a summary explanation of various types of "spirituality" within the Church. For example, Benedictine, Carmelite, etc.