Sunday of the Word of God

On the feast of St Jerome Pope Francis issued a ‘Motu Proprio” instituting the Sunday of the Word of God. It will be marked each year on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The Holy Father had proposed the idea at the conclusion of the Year of Mercy when he wrote: a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people.

The document provides a summary of the Church’s teaching on Scripture and the place of Scripture within the Liturgy. It suggests a number of ways that the day might be marked:

  • in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word.
  • it would be particularly appropriate to highlight the proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honour that it is due
  • Bishops could celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a similar commissioning of readers, in order to bring out the importance of the proclamation of God’s word in the liturgy
  • renewed efforts should be made to provide members of the faithful with the training needed to be genuine proclaimers of the word.
  • Pastors can also find ways of giving a Bible, or one of its books, to the entire assembly as a way of showing the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with sacred Scripture, especially through the practice of lectio divina. 

The timing of the day will mean that it will often coincide with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and is at the same time as commemorations for Holocaust Memorial Day. Pope Francis notes this:

This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity. [3]

He also addresses the concern that individual days of prayer can seem to highlight something which should be part of the normal life of the Church.

A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. [8]

The text of the document together with other resources on Scripture and Liturgy are available.

The God who Speaks

The Pope’s Motu Proprio happily coincides with the Bishops of England and Wales announcing a Year of the Word — The God who Speaks to be celebrated from the First Sunday of Advent 2019.

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sunday between 21 January – 27 January

Lectionary Readings for 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Year A

Reading 1Isa 8:23b–9:3In Galilee of the nations the people have seen a great light.
PsalmPs 26:1. 4. 13-14 r. 1The Lord is my light and my help.
Reading 21 Cor 1:10-13, 17Make up the differences between you instead of disagreeing among yourselves.
Gospel AcclamationMatt 4:23Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom, and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.
Matt 4:12-23He went and settled in Capernaum: in this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled.
GospelMatt 4:12-17He went and settled in Capernaum: in this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled.

Year B

Reading 1Jon 3:1-5, 10The people of Nineveh renounce their evil behaviour.
PsalmPs 24:4-9 r. 4Lord, make me know your ways.
Reading 21 Cor 7:29-31The world as we know it is passing away.
Gospel AcclamationMark 1:15The kingdom of God is close at hand; believe the Good News.
GospelMark 1:14-20Repent and believe the Good News.

Year C

Reading 1Neh 8:2-6, 8-10Ezra read from the law of God and the people understood what was read.
PsalmPs 18:8-10, 15 r. John 6:63Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.
Reading 21 Cor 12:12-30You together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.
shorter1 Cor 12:12-14, 27You together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.
Gospel AcclamationLuke 4:18The Lord has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives.
GospelLuke 1:1-4; 4:14-21This text is being fulfilled today.

Day of Prayer for Survivors of Abuse – 12 April

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) has highlighted the importance of prayer and suggested to Pope Francis that the worldwide Catholic Church should join together in a day of prayer. The Holy Father has welcomed this initiative.

In the Cycle of Prayer for England and Wales, this day is marked every year on the Friday of the fifth week of Lent.

On Friday 12 April the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is encouraging the Catholic community to take part in a day of prayer for survivors of sexual abuse.

A number of resources have been produced for the Mass on Friday, 12 April and for prayer and personal reflection.

St Paul VI added to liturgical calendar

Canonisation of St Paul VI
© Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

In a Decree dated 25 January 2019 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments add St Paul VI to the General Roman Calendar on 29 May as an Optional Memorial.

The Decree cites the achievements of his pontificate.

Among these initiatives we ought to recall his voyages as a pilgrim, undertaken as an apostolic service which served both as a preparation for the unity of Christians and in asserting the importance of fundamental human rights. Furthermore, he exercised his Supreme Magisterium favouring peace, promoting the progress of peoples and the inculturation of the faith, as well as the liturgical reform, approving Rites and prayers at once in line with tradition and with adaptation for a new age.

The Congregation has issued:

  • a Decree
  • a Commentary
  • the Liturgical texts in Latin

ICEl will prepare an English translation of the liturgical texts which will be presented to the Bishops’ Conference in due course.

Copies of the documents and an indication of the Readings can be found on the May Sanctoral page on the Liturgy Office website.

Calendar 2018-2019

The monthly calendar pages for 2018 – 2019 are now available.

One particular date has been queried by a coupe of people and may be helpful to explain the reason behind. Next year the Solemnity of St George in England will fall on Tuesday 30 April. The rules governing the transfer of dates are explained in the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year – (pdf text). Next year the usual date for St George (23 April) falls in the Easter Octave. The eight days of the first week of Easter are celebrated as Solemnities of the Lord and take precedence over other celebrations. This means that other celebrations, such as the Feast of St Mark (25/4), are not celebrated next year. Solemnities, because of their importance are transferred to the next available day.

This is explained in paragraph 60:

if several celebrations fall on the same day, the one that holds the highest rank according to the table of liturgical days is observed. however, a solemnity impeded by a liturgical day that takes precedence over it should be transferred to the closest day not listed under nos. 1-8 in the table of precedence, provided that what is laid down in no. 5 is observed.

Paragraph 5 9s about the pre-eminence of Sunday, particularly in Advent,Lent and Easter. Nos. 1-8 of the table of precedence are:


  1. The Paschal Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the lord.
  2. The Nativity of the Lord, the Epiphany, the Ascension, and Pentecost. Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter.
    Ash Wednesday.
    Weekdays of Holy Week from Monday up to and including Thursday. days within the Octave of Easter.
  3. Solemnities inscribed in the General Calendar, whether of the Lord, of the Blessed Virgin Mary or of Saints.
    The commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.
  4. Proper Solemnities, namely:
    1. The Solemnity of the principal Patron of the place, city or state.
    2. The Solemnity of the dedication and of the anniversary of the dedication of one’s own church.
    3. The Solemnity of the Title of one’s own church.
    4. The Solemnity either of the Title
      or of the Founder
      or of the principal Patron of an Order or Congregation.
  5. Feasts of the Lord inscribed in the General Calendar.
  6. Sundays of Christmas Time and the Sundays in Ordinary Time.
  7. Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Saints in the General Calendar.
  8. Proper Feasts, namely:
    1. The Feast of the principal Patron of the diocese.
    2. The Feast of the anniversary of the dedication of the cathedral church.
    3. The Feast of the principal Patron of a region or province, or a country, or of a wider territory.
    4. The feast of the Title, Founder, or principal Patron of an Order or Congregation and of a religious province, without prejudice to the prescriptions given under no. 4.
    5. Other feasts proper to an individual church.
    6. Other Feasts inscribed in the calendar of each diocese or Order or Congregation.

So St George as the Solemnity of the principal Patron of the place, city or state.(4.1) is transferred to the next available day outside the Octave of Easter. Monday 29 April is the Feast of St Catherine of Siena, patron of Europe is ‘the Feast of the principal Patron of a region or province, or a country, or of a wider territory’ (8.3) and so the Solemnity of St George has to be transferred to Tuesday 30 April.

Cycle of Prayer – Intercessions & Bible Sunday

Model Intercessions

The Cycle of Prayer is how the various days of special prayer are organised into a whole year’s calendar. When it was created in 1996 the hope was that parishes and communities would reflect, pray and act on the various intentions within a particular season. For many of the intentions there is a specific day and a Church agency which sends out material. To help promote some of the intentions which do not have as much prominence and also to offer for all the intentions a handy compilation of prayers the Liturgy Committee has prepared a couple of model intercessions for every intention in the Cycle of Prayer. These can be used or adapted in parishes and communities on the designated days and at other times.

Bible Sunday

In Pope Francis’ letter at the end of the Year of Mercy he commended the idea of a Sunday which focussed on the Scriptures. In England and Wales this is marked on the 2nd Sunday of Advent. This year the Scripture Working Group of the Bishops’ Conference has prepared a series of resources under the title of ‘Welcome the Word’. Rather than focus on one particular day there is material for the whole of the Advent – Christmas – Epiphany season. As well material focussed on the ministry of reader and psalmist, looking at the Lectionary for the Year of Mark; there are reflections on art and scripture and other aspects of God’s word.

The resources can be freely downloaded from the Bishops’ Conference website.

 

Holydays of Obligation

With effect from the 1st Sunday of Advent 2017, two holydays of obligation are being reinstated. This decision was made by the Bishops of England and Wales, and has been confirmed by the Holy See. The days are:

  • The Epiphany of the Lord — 6 January (transferred to the adjacent Sunday when it falls on Saturday or Monday)
  • The Ascension of the Lord — Thursday after 6th Sunday of Easter

The Holydays of Obligation for England and Wales are therefore:

  • According to a decision of the Bishops’ Conference (1984) Holydays which fall on Saturday or Monday are transferred to the Sunday.

The Bishops decided to retain the decision made in 2006 for the Body and Blood of the Lord to be transferred to Sunday as it allowed for Eucharistic Processions and other devotional practices to be celebrated.

For further information:

Liturgical Calendar 2017

The monthly Liturgical Calendar for 2017 has now been published. As with each iteration of the calendar the year has its uncommon features. As the Epiphany of the Lord falls on Sunday 8 January, the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on Monday 9 January. The current Lectionary does not make clear that when a Feast of the Lord is celebrated on a weekday there is only one reading before the Gospel, in line with other Feasts — either first or second reading may be chosen. Therefore, this year, when the Transfiguration of the Lord does fall on a Sunday it has 2 readings before the Gospel.  Two Solemnities are transferred: St Joseph to Monday 20 March, St George to Monday 24 April.

Draft Calendar Notes for 2018 (pdf) are available.

The Congregation for Divine Worship recently published a list of additions to the Lectionary, mainly those Saints which have been added to the Universal Calendar. An English version of the list is available with references to the current Lectionary.

Feast of St Mary Magdalene

Fra Angelico - Noli me tangereOn Friday 10 June the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments announced that the celebration of St Mary Magdalene on 22 July had been raised to a Feast. The decree recognises St Mary Magdalene as first witness to the Resurrection and the first evangelist. Called by St Thomas Aquinas  an ‘apostle of the apostles’.

The Decree can be found on the Vatican website. The Latin decree includes a new Preface for the feast which will be translated into English in due time.

90th Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen

The Bishops’ Conference establishes that, at all Sunday Masses on 11–12 June 2016, each parish prays for Her Majesty the Queen to mark her 90th birthday by including such an intention in the Bidding Prayers and by reciting at the end of Mass (after the Prayer after Communion and before the Final Blessing) the Prayer for the Queen.

Parishes may also wish to sing the chant Domine, salvum fac and/or the National Anthem.

The Prayer for the Queen and additional resources are available here.

Recent Additions

The following resources are now available on the Liturgy Office website:

Calendar Notes 2017

The annual Calendar Notes for 2017 are now available as well as the draft Notes for 2018:

Easter Vigil: Sacraments of Initiation & Rite of Reception

With the publication of the Order of Confirmation which comes into  use at Easter 2016 this may affects the celebration of the Easter Vigil where Confirmation takes place. As a guide for celebrants the text of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: Appendix I has been updated with texts from the Roman Missal and the Order of Confirmation. 

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