Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Mass: Objects of the Mass - The Books

Every Catholic Mass shares elements in common, from the things we do and the way we do them, to the objects that we use and when we use them. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take some time to explain these objects and their meanings so that if you happen to visit a Catholic Church, you’ll be better acquainted with what to expect and the terminology that's used.

The Sacramentary

This is the book you will see the altar boys and girls holding for the priest to read. This book is kept on the table closest to the priest’s chair. It contains all of the prayers, blessings, and prefaces for every Mass, including those for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, and the rites of initiation.

Book of the Gospels

This book is carried into the mass by the Deacon, if there is one serving with the priest that day. It is used by the priest during the reading of the Gospel and is often ornately decorated so that everyone can see just by looking at it that this book has a special importance above all the other books used at the Mass. This book is never to be read from by the lector. Only the priest or the deacon is to read it during Mass.

The Lectionary

Used by the lector, if there is one, or by the priest if there is not, this book contains all of the readings for the day. It is stored underneath the ambo, where the lector stands and reads. The lectionary has ribbons which help to mark the correct readings for both the daily and Sunday Masses.

The Hymnal/Missalette

These books are usually located in the pews and are intended for the assembly to use. They contain an overview of the order of the Mass, instructions on when to sit, stand, and kneel, the readings for each Sunday, and the hymns that might be sung during Mass. Taking some time to familiarize yourself with this book can make your time in Mass, especially if you are new to it, less anxiety-prone. It will help you know what to expect and when, and will allow you to participate without worrying about making a mistake.

Now that we’ve covered the books of the Mass, we’ll continue on next week to go over the fixtures in the Church to explain what those are and where they can be found. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking like a pro about the Catholic Mass.

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