Lectionary . Liturgical book currently used to proclaim the Biblical readings at Mass. There are several volumes, classified according to the Cycles of readings of the Catholic liturgy, and according to whether they are Sunday, midweek or special feast readings (universal saints, local saints, masses of the deceased, Weddings etc.)
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- 1 What is the Lectionary
- 2 Use
- 3 History
- 4 Lectionary Structures
- 5 Principles observed in the choice of texts
- 6 The Sunday and festive Lectionary
- 7 The Fair Lectionary
- 8 The Lectionary of Saints
- 9 The remaining sections of the Lectionary
- 10 Collection of Lectionaries
What is the Lectionary
The Lectionary is, certainly, the result of a selection and systematization of Biblical texts. However, it is much more than all this. The Lectionary exists from the moment the church prepares to celebrate her Lord not through abstract ideas, but in the historical events of her earthly life, in which she carried out salvation
A way of remembering, celebrating and updating the presence of the mystery of salvation in the church than remembering, celebrating and updating what it also means to live the deeds and words carried out by Christ to save us. Now these deeds and words constitute the center of the whole history of salvation, fulfillment and the goal of a long wait and preparation, which we know as the OT. It is understood then that the celebratory program contained in the liturgy of the word, and whose ensemble forms the Lectionary, is fundamentally and essentially based on the evangelical passage around which the rest of the biblical texts are structured.
At the beginning, in the origins, the Christian communities had no more liturgical book than the OT Holy Scriptures. Their reading at celebrations is supposed to have followed the same ritual and probably the same order as in the Jewish synagogue. When the gospels and the letters of the apostles, the writings that Justin calls memoirs of the apostles (I Apol. 67), began to circulate, it is also conceivable that they were incorporated into the liturgical reading. Later, although it is not known when or where it was done for the first time, annotations began to be written in the margin of the sacred books to indicate the beginning and the end of each reading, as well as the day when it should be read. The next step was to copy the list of these marginal annotations, not in the order of the biblical book, but following the calendar, adding in addition, to facilitate their location, the first and last words of the corresponding biblical text. We are already before a systematization of the Biblical readings according to a liturgical calendar. The selection of the text and the assignment to a certain day, in order for the text to be repeated every year when the date arrived, was part of what is now called thematic reading, and it began to be done, surely, from the fourth century onwards, at the same time that the first developments of the liturgical year were taking place. The first indications of a fixed ordering of readings have come to us through Saint Ambrose of Milan (340-397) from Saint Augustine (354-430), witnesses of northern Italy and northern Africa, respectively. Studying the homilies of the holy bishop of Hippo, the Lectionary of this church has been reconstructed, at least in the time of its author. The same has been done from the homilies of Saint Cesáreo de Arles, delivered in this city between 502 and 503. The lists of Biblical pericopes with the beginning and the end of the readings, following the liturgical calendar, were called capitularia : it would capitulate lectionum, those that contained the reference to non-evangelical readings; it would capitulate evangeliorum, those that contained the gospels, and cotationes epistolarum et evangeliorum, those that brought together the two types of readings. Manuscripts containing lists of the three classes, dating back to the sixth century, have come down to us. To do the reading the capitulare was not enough; you had to go to the book of scriptures. So there came a time when, to facilitate the reader’s work, some books were made that contained not only the indications of the calendar and the Biblical pericope, but also the complete text of the readings. These books appear from the 8th century and have received the most diverse names: Comes, Apostolus, Epistolare, etc., for that of non-evangelical readings; Evangelium excerptum, Evangeliare, Liber evangelii, etc., for that of the Gospels, and Comes, Epistolae cum evangelis, Lectionarium, etc., for those who gathered one and the other readings. These last books are the ones that most closely resemble our current Lectionaries at Mass. but also the full text of the readings. These books appear from the 8th century and have received the most diverse names: Comes, Apostolus, Epistolare, etc., for that of non-evangelical readings; Evangelium excerptum, Evangeliare, Liber evangelii, etc., for that of the Gospels, and Comes, Epistolae cum evangelis, Lectionarium, etc., for those who gathered one and the other readings. These last books are the ones that most closely resemble our current Lectionaries at Mass. but also the full text of the readings. These books appear from the 8th century and have received the most diverse names: Comes, Apostolus, Epistolare, etc., for that of non-evangelical readings; Evangelium excerptum, Evangeliare, Liber evangelii, etc., for that of the Gospels, and Comes, Epistolae cum evangelis, Lectionarium, etc., for those who gathered one and the other readings. These last books are the ones that most closely resemble our current Lectionaries at Mass. for those who gathered some and other readings. These last books are the ones that most closely resemble our current Lectionaries at Mass. for those who gathered some and other readings. These last books are the ones that most closely resemble our current Lectionaries at Mass.
The complete and typical edition of the Lectionary of the Roman Missal, in Latin, comprises three volumes: I. De tempore: ab Adventu ad Pentecostem (ed. 1970). II. Tempus per annum post Pentecostem (ed. 1971). III. Pro missis de Sanctis, Ritualibus, Ad diversa, Votiva et Defunctorum (ed. 1972). The official Spanish edition began to be published in 1969, the year in which cycle B of the Sunday Lectionary corresponded, appearing in the same volume the Lectionary for Advent, Lent and Easter. At present this anomaly has been corrected, and the series of volumes has been as follows: I. Sunday and public holiday (cycle A). II. Sunday and holiday (cycle B). III. Sunday and public holiday (cycle C). IV. Ordinary time “per annum” V. Own and common of saints (and deceased). SAW. Various and votive Masses. VII. Fair time (Advent, Lent and Easter). VIII. Lectionary of the ritual masses.
Principles observed in the choice of texts
- a) Principles observed in the choice of texts On Sundays and holidays the most important texts are proposed, in order to fulfill the mandate of SC 51, that in a certain period of time – three years – the faithful the most relevant parts of Holy Scripture. Note that most Christians we call practitioners have no other contact with the word of God than Sunday Mass. The rest of the Scripture that is not read on Sundays or holidays is assigned to fairs. However, the Sunday series and the fair series are independent of each other. Furthermore, while the Sunday series covers three years (cycles A, B and C), the fair series takes place in two in ordinary time and in one, in the times of Advent, Lent and Easter. The readings for the celebrations of the saints,
The Sunday and festive Lectionary
The set of readings for Sundays and feasts of the Lord is characterized by two fundamental things:
- Every mass includes three readings, which are obligatory in principle: the first, from the OT, except on Easter, which is from the Acts of the Apostles; the second, from the apostle, that is, from the letters and the Apocalypse, and the third, from the gospel. We already know the meaning of this structuring: history / prophecy, enlightenment, Christ.
- Three-year cycle: A, B and C, structured, in a way, taking into account the Synoptic Gospel, which is read in semi-continuous reading during ordinary time, and which is also present in some of the main solemnities. Each year he has a synoptic assigned, having reserved Saint John for part of Lent and Easter -in the three years- and to complete Saint Mark in year B.
The Fair Lectionary
The great novelty of this part of the Lectionary of the mass consists in having provided readings to the fairs every week of the year. Each mass has two readings, taken the first from the OT or the NT -in the Easter season, from Acts- and the second from the Gospel.
- In Advent, Lent and Easter, the readings are always the same every year, having been chosen according to the characteristics of each of these liturgical seasons.
- In ordinary time, at the thirty-four week fairs, the evangelical readings are distributed in a single cycle, which is repeated every year. Instead, the first reading is divided into two cycles, which are read in alternate years: cycle I in odd years, and cycle II in even ones.
- The principle of harmonic composition is used only in Advent, Lent, Easter; not so in ordinary time, in which the principle of semi-continuous reading prevails.
The Lectionary of Saints
- It is necessary to distinguish in it a double series of readings: the one found in the saints’ own, following the solemnities, festivals and memories contained in the calendar; and the one that includes the common calls of the saints. In the first case, they are own texts or more appropriate for the celebration of each saint, and in the second, repertoires of readings distributed according to the different categories of saints (martyrs, shepherds, virgins, etc.).
- The texts of the second series are grouped by OT, NT and Gospel readings, so that the celebrant chooses at will taking into account the needs of the assembly.
The remaining sections of the Lectionary
The readings for the ritual masses, for various needs, votive and deceased are grouped in an analogous way and with the same purpose as the common of the saints. The readings for the ritual masses are also found in the respective ordines or rituals of the sacraments. It should be noted that the readings of the Ritual of Penance are not found in the Order of readings of the Mass because, in no case, should the celebration of penance be linked to the Eucharist. The praenotanda of the OLM also explain other minor criteria in the selection and extension of the readings, omission of some verses, etc., and offer the principles that must be applied in the use of the Lectionary: power to choose text, number of readings, long form or brief reading, what readings should be taken in the celebrations of saints, rituals, votives, etc. They also dedicate a chapter to describe the order of readings of each liturgical season – fundamental aspect for liturgical catechesis and for the homily – and, finally, they give norms and suggestions for adaptations and translations to modern languages.
For a better distribution of the texts, the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy of the Episcopal Conference created a collection of nine books containing all the readings from the mass, which were distributed as follows:
LESSON I: Readings for Sundays and Feasts of the Lord. Year A (now we explain it) LESSON II: Readings for Sundays and Feasts of the Lord. Year B LESSON III: Readings for Sundays and Feasts of the Lord. Year C LESSON IV: Readings for the fairs (weekdays) in Ordinary Time LESSON V: Readings for the Feasts of Saints LESSON VI: Mass readings for various needs and votives LESSON VII: Readings for the Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter fairs LESSON VIII: Readings for the celebrations of the sacraments and sacramentals (funerals, blessings of churches, abbots, virgins, …) LESSON IX: Lectionary for masses with children.