Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Permanent Bible at Lectern?

December 28th, 2010, Promulgated by b a

Theologian RR Reno, contributor to First Things, remarks in this short post:

Call me an insufficiently Catholicized Protestant, but I tend to cringe when I see people reading the assigned passages from the Old Testament and Epistles from loose sheets of paper—or whatever. Why is it that lectors in Catholic parishes always seem to be reading from a flimsy booklet or a bulky binder, as if the Word of God were a temporary memo fittingly reproduced in throwaway forms.

I’ve wondered sometimes: Is there something in canon law that prohibits the permanent presence of a big, fat Bible at the lectern? I doubt it. And so I find myself baffled. A hefty Bible conveys visually the fact that the Word of God contains weighty truths. So why neglect the symbolism?

Some might say that it’s awkward for the lectors to have to find the passages. All those minor prophets get confusing, and perhaps most Catholics don’t know where to find Ezra and Nehemiah. I don’t buy it, and in any event, I’ve always liked it when the lector has to flip a bunch of big pages to find the right place—it adds drama.

So, I have a suggestion that might add a bit of solemnity to the proclamation of the Word of God. Catholic Churches should put a royal folio-sized Bibles on their lecterns, the kind that makes a gratifyingly audible swishing noise when the pages arch and then cascade like a breaking wave when they are turned.

Oh, and will our dear bishops please release us from dreary New American Bible, a translation that goes out of its way to make the holy scriptures sound banal and stupid.


4 Responses to “Permanent Bible at Lectern?”

  1. Bill B. says:

    Pardon my ignorance; however, if we use a Lectionary, doesn’t that avoid conflict. Besides, some first reading and second readings eliminate some verses from the middle of a reading. It is already done for the Lector. Why use a bible or papers folded from a pocket all; simply use what is there. Why do parishes buy Lectionaries if they don’t use them? Weddings and funerals allow for different readings and there are Lectionary aids for those also.

  2. Bernie says:

    RR Reno raises a very good point. A reader, lector, deacon, or priest should only do a reading from as impressive a lectionary as the parish can afford, never from anything else! With the massive dumbing-down of the Liturgy following the Council came an irreverent attitude and general shabbiness and banality. The book the person is reading from is a visual clue to the congregation of the reading’s sacredness. An impressively elegant book communicates something that is far more important than does a piece of ordinary copy paper unfolded when the reader gets to the ambo or lectern.

    I was once asked to read at a funeral in a church I had not attended previously. I was given a copy of the text on a sheet of paper to prepare. When it came time to do the reading I arrived at the ambo and found that there was no lectionary or Bible from which to read. Luckily, I had brought the paper with me.

    It is just not that hard to have a lectionary or impressive Bible on the ambo with the selected readings marked for the readers.

  3. Rick D. says:

    Good point. At St. Stan’s, for Sunday Mass we use the Lectionary for most readings, Book of Gospels for the Gospel. At daily Mass we use a binder from a company that not only has the readings in order but commentary on the Saint/Feast being celebrated.

    Of equal concern to me is the delivery. I have heard lectors (ok, even some ordained ministers) speed through the readings, frequently mispronounce even common words and leave out words. When people compliment me on being loud, clear and well paced, I want to say “Just doing what I’m supposed to do.”

  4. Oh just wait until the e-readers and I-Pads show up (and they already have in some areas).

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