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Sacred Scripture and the sacraments

53 In discussing the importance of the liturgy for understanding the word of God, the Synod of Bishops highlighted the relationship between sacred Scripture and the working of the sacraments. There is great need for a deeper investigation of the relationship between word and sacrament in the Church’s pastoral activity and in theological reflection.[188] Certainly “the liturgy of the word is a decisive element in the celebration of each one of the sacraments of the Church”;[189] in pastoral practice, however, the faithful are not always conscious of this connection, nor do they appreciate the unity between gesture and word. It is “the task of priests and deacons, above all when they administer the sacraments, to explain the unity between word and sacrament in the ministry of the Church”.[190]The relationship between word and sacramental gesture is the liturgical expression of God’s activity in the history of salvation through the performative character of the word itself. In salvation history there is no separation between what God says and what he does. His word appears as alive and active (cf. He 4,12), as the Hebrew term dabar itself makes clear. In the liturgical action too, we encounter his word which accomplishes what it says. By educating the People of God to discover the performative character of God’s word in the liturgy, we will help them to recognize his activity in salvation history and in their individual lives.

[188] Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 44-45: AAS 99 (2007) 139-141.
[189] Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (15 April 1993) IV, C, 1: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 3123.

The word of God and the Eucharist

54 What has been said in general about the relationship between the word and the sacraments takes on deeper meaning when we turn to the celebration of the Eucharist. The profound unity of word and Eucharist is grounded in the witness of Scripture (cf. Jn 6 Lc 24), attested to by the Fathers of the Church, and reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council.[191] Here we think of Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life in the synagogue of Capernaum (cf. Jn 6,22-69), with its underlying comparison between Moses and Jesus, between the one who spoke face to face with God (cf. Ex 33,11) and the one who makes God known (cf. Jn 1,18). Jesus’ discourse on the bread speaks of the gift of God, which Moses obtained for his people with the manna in the desert, which is really the Torah, the life-giving word of God (cf. Ps 119 Pr 9,5). In his own person Jesus brings to fulfilment the ancient image: “The bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” … “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6,33-35). Here “the law has become a person. When we encounter Jesus, we feed on the living God himself, so to speak; we truly eat ‘the bread from heaven’”.[192] In the discourse at Capernaum, John’s Prologue is brought to a deeper level. There God’s Logos became flesh, but here this flesh becomes “bread” given for the life of the world (cf. Jn 6,51), with an allusion to Jesus’ self-gift in the mystery of the cross, confirmed by the words about his blood being given asdrink (cf. Jn 6,53). The mystery of the Eucharist reveals the true manna, the true bread of heaven: it is God’s Logos made flesh, who gave himself up for us in the paschal mystery.

Luke’s account of the disciples on the way to Emmaus enables us to reflect further on this link between the hearing of the word and the breaking of the bread (cf. Lc 24,13-35). Jesus approached the disciples on the day after the Sabbath, listened as they spoke of their dashed hopes, and, joining them on their journey, “interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lc 24,27). The two disciples began to look at the Scriptures in a new way in the company of this traveller who seemed so surprisingly familiar with their lives. What had taken place in those days no longer appeared to them as failure, but as fulfilment and a new beginning. And yet, apparently not even these words were enough for the two disciples. The Gospel of Luke relates that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lc 24,31) only when Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them, whereas earlier “their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Lc 24,16). The presence of Jesus, first with his words and then with the act of breaking bread, made it possible for the disciples to recognize him. Now they were able to appreciate in a new way all that they had previously experienced with him: “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Lc 24,32).

[190] Ibid., III, B, 3: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, No. 3056.
[191] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 48 SC 51 SC 56; Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 21 DV 26; Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad Gentes, AGD 6 AGD 15; Decree on the Ministry and Life of PriestsPresbyterorum Ordinis, PO 18; Decree on the Renewal of the Religious Life Perfectae Caritatis, PC 6. In the Church’s great Tradition we find significant expressions such as “Corpus Christi intelligitur etiam […] Scriptura Dei” (“God’s Scripture is also understood as the Body of Christ”): Waltramus,De Unitate Ecclesiae Conservanda, 1, 14, ed. W. Schwenkenbecher, Hanoverae, 1883, p. 33; “The flesh of the Lord is true food and his blood true drink; this is the true good that is reserved for us in this present life, to nourish ourselves with his flesh and drink his blood, not only in the Eucharist but also in reading sacred Scripture. Indeed, true food and true drink is the word of God which we derive from the Scriptures”: Saint Jerome, Commentarius in Ecclesiasten, III: PL 23, 1092A.
[192] J. Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), Jesus of Nazareth, New York, 2007, 268.

55 From these accounts it is clear that Scripture itself points us towards an appreciation of its own unbreakable bond with the Eucharist. “It can never be forgotten that the divine word, read and proclaimed by the Church, has as its one purpose the sacrifice of the new new covenant and the banquet of grace, that is, the Eucharist”.[193] Word and Eucharist are so deeply bound together that we cannot understand one without the other: the word of God sacramentally takes flesh in the event of the Eucharist. The Eucharist opens us to an understanding of Scripture, just as Scripture for its part illumines and explains the mystery of the Eucharist. Unless we acknowledge the Lord’s real presence in the Eucharist, our understanding of Scripture remains imperfect. For this reason “the Church has honoured the word of God and the Eucharistic mystery with the same reverence, although not with the same worship, and has always and everywhere insisted upon and sanctioned such honour. Moved by the example of her Founder, she has never ceased to celebrate his paschal mystery by coming together to read ‘in all the Scriptures the things concerning him’ (Lc 24,27) and to carry out the work of salvation through the celebration of the memorial of the Lord and through the sacraments”.[194]

[193] Ordo Lectionum Missae, 10.
[194] Ibid.

The sacramentality of the word

56 Reflection on the performative character of the word of God in the sacramental action and a growing appreciation of the relationship between word and Eucharist lead to yet another significant theme which emerged during the synodal assembly, that of the sacramentality of the word.[195] Here it may help to recall that Pope John Paul II had made reference to the “sacramental character of revelation” and in particular to “the sign of the Eucharist in which the indissoluble unity between the signifier and signified makes it possible to grasp the depths of the mystery”.[196] We come to see that at the heart of the sacramentality of the word of God is the mystery of the Incarnation itself: “the Word became flesh” (Jn 1,14), the reality of the revealed mystery is offered to us in the “flesh” of the Son. The Word of God can be perceived by faith through the “sign” of human words and actions. Faith acknowledges God’s Word by accepting the words and actions by which he makes himself known to us. The sacramental character of revelation points in turn to the history of salvation, to the way that word of God enters time and space, and speaks to men and women, who are called to accept his gift in faith.

The sacramentality of the word can thus be understood by analogy with the real presence of Christ under the appearances of the consecrated bread and wine.[197] By approaching the altar and partaking in the Eucharistic banquet we truly share in the body and blood of Christ. The proclamation of God’s word at the celebration entails an acknowledgment that Christ himself is present, that he speaks to us,[198] and that he wishes to be heard. Saint Jerome speaks of the way we ought to approach both the Eucharist and the word of God: “We are reading the sacred Scriptures. For me, the Gospel is the Body of Christ; for me, the holy Scriptures are his teaching. And when he says:whoever does not eat my flesh and drink my blood (Jn 6,53), even though these words can also be understood of the [Eucharistic] Mystery, Christ’s body and blood are really the word of Scripture, God’s teaching. When we approach the [Eucharistic] Mystery, if a crumb falls to the ground we are troubled. Yet when we are listening to the word of God, and God’s Word and Christ’s flesh and blood are being poured into our ears yet we pay no heed, what great peril should we not feel?”.[199] Christ, truly present under the species of bread and wine, is analogously present in the word proclaimed in the liturgy. A deeper understanding of the sacramentality of God’s word can thus lead us to a more unified understanding of the mystery of revelation, which takes place through “deeds and words intimately connected”;[200] an appreciation of this can only benefit the spiritual life of the faithful and the Church’s pastoral activity.

[195] Cf. Propositio 7.
[196] Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio (14 September 1998), FR 13: AAS 91 (1999), 16.
[197] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 1373-1374.
[198] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 7.
[199] In Psalmum 147: CCL 78, 337-338.
[200] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, DV 2.

Sacred Scripture and the Lectionary

57 In stressing the bond between word and Eucharist, the Synod also rightly wanted to call attention to certain aspects of the celebration which concern the service of the word. In the first place I wish to mention the importance of the Lectionary. The reform called for by the Second Vatican Council[201] has borne fruit in a richer access to sacred Scripture, which is now offered in abundance, especially at Sunday Mass. The present structure of the Lectionary not only presents the more important texts of Scripture with some frequency, but also helps us to understand the unity of God’s plan thanks to the interplay of the Old and New Testament readings, an interplay “in which Christ is the central figure, commemorated in his paschal mystery”.[202] Any remaining difficulties in seeing the relationship between those readings should be approached in the light of canonical interpretation, that is to say, by referring to the inherent unity of the Bible as a whole. Wherever necessary, the competent offices and groups can make provision for publications aimed at bringing out the interconnection of the Lectionary readings, all of which are to be proclaimed to the liturgical assembly as called for by the liturgy of the day. Other problems or difficulties should be brought to the attention of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Nor should we overlook the fact that the current Lectionary of the Latin rite has ecumenical significance, since it is used and valued also by communities not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. The issue of the Lectionary presents itself differently in the liturgies of the Eastern Catholic Churches; the Synod requested that this issue be “examined authoritatively”,[203] in accordance with the proper tradition and competences of the sui iuris Churches, likewise taking into account the ecumenical context.

[201] Cf. Constitution on Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium,
SC 107-108.
[202] Ordo Lectionum Missae, 66.
[203] Propositio 16.

Proclamation of the word and the ministry of Reader

58 The Synod on the Eucharist had already called for greater care to be taken in the proclamation of the word of God.[204] As is known, while the Gospel is proclaimed by a priest or deacon, in the Latin tradition the first and second readings are proclaimed by an appointed reader, whether a man or a woman. I would like to echo the Synod Fathers who once more stressed the need for the adequate training[205] of those who exercise the munus of reader in liturgical celebrations,[206] and particularly those who exercise the ministry of Reader, which in the Latin rite is, as such, a lay ministry. All those entrusted with this office, even those not instituted in the ministry of Reader, should be truly suitable and carefully trained. This training should be biblical and liturgical, as well as technical: “The purpose of their biblical formation is to give readers the ability to understand the readings in context and to perceive by the light of faith central point of the revealed message. The liturgical formation ought to equip readers to have some grasp of the meaning and structure of the liturgy of the word and the significance of its connection with the liturgy of the Eucharist. The technical preparation should make the readers skilled in the art of reading publicly, either with the power of their own voice or with the help of sound equipment.”[207]

[204] Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 45: AAS 99 (2007), 140-141.
[205] Cf. Propositio 14.
[206] Cf. Code of Canon Law, cc.
CIC 230 §2; CIC 204 §1.
[207] Ordo Lectionum Missae, 55

The importance of the homily

59 Each member of the People of God “has different duties and responsibilities with respect to the word of God. Accordingly, the faithful listen to God’s word and meditate on it, but those who have the office of teaching by virtue of sacred ordination or have been entrusted with exercising that ministry”, namely, bishops, priests and deacons, “expound the word of God”.[208] Hence we can understand the attention paid to the homily throughout the Synod. In the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, I pointed out that “given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily ‘is part of the liturgical action’ and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful”.[209] The homily is a means of bringing the scriptural message to life in a way that helps the faithful to realize that God’s word is present and at work in their everyday lives. It should lead to an understanding of the mystery being celebrated, serve as a summons to mission, and prepare the assembly for the profession of faith, the universal prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy. Consequently, those who have been charged with preaching by virtue of a specific ministry ought to take this task to heart. Generic and abstract homilies which obscure the directness of God’s word should be avoided, as well as useless digressions which risk drawing greater attention to the preacher than to the heart of the Gospel message. The faithful should be able to perceive clearly that the preacher has a compelling desire to present Christ, who must stand at the centre of every homily. For this reason preachers need to be in close and constant contact with the sacred text;[210] they should prepare for the homily by meditation and prayer, so as to preach with conviction and passion. The synodal assembly asked that the following questions be kept in mind: “What are the Scriptures being proclaimed saying? What do they say to me personally? What should I say to the community in the light of its concrete situation?[211] The preacher “should be the first to hear the word of God which he proclaims”,[212]since, as Saint Augustine says: “He is undoubtedly barren who preaches outwardly the word of God without hearing it inwardly”.[213] The homily for Sundays and solemnities should be prepared carefully, without neglecting, whenever possible, to offer at weekday Masses cum populo brief and timely reflections which can help the faithful to welcome the word which was proclaimed and to let it bear fruit in their lives.

[208] Ibid., 8.
[209] No. 46: AAS 99 (2007), 141.
[210] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum,
DV 25.
[211] Propositio 15.
[212] Ibid.
[213] Sermo 179, 1: PL 38, 966.

The fittingness of a Directory on Homiletics

60 The art of good preaching based on the Lectionary is an art that needs to be cultivated. Therefore, in continuity with the desire expressed by the previous Synod,[214] I ask the competent authorities, along the lines of the Eucharistic Compendium,[215] also to prepare practical publications to assist ministers in carrying out their task as best they can: as for example a Directory on the homily, in which preachers can find useful assistance in preparing to exercise their ministry. As Saint Jerome reminds us, preaching needs to be accompanied by the witness of a good life: “Your actions should not contradict your words, lest when you preach in Church, someone may begin to think: ‘So why don’t you yourself act that way?’ … In the priest of Christ, thought and word must be in agreement”.[216]

[214] Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 93: AAS 99 (2007), 177.
[215] Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Compendium Eucharisticum (25 March 2009), Vatican City, 2009.
[216] Epistula 52, 7: CSEL 54, 426-427.

The word of God, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick

61 Though the Eucharist certainly remains central to the relationship between God’s word and the sacraments, we must also stress the importance of sacred Scripture in the other sacraments, especially the sacraments of healing, namely the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance, and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The role of sacred Scripture in these sacraments is often overlooked, yet it needs to be assured its proper place. We ought never to forget that “the word of God is a word of reconciliation, for in it God has reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2Co 5,18-20 Ep 1,10). The loving forgiveness of God, made flesh in Jesus, raises up the sinner”.[217] “Through the word of God the Christian receives light to recognize his sins and is called to conversion and to confidence in God’s mercy”.[218] To have a deeper experience of the reconciling power of God’s word, the individual penitent should be encouraged to prepare for confession by meditating on a suitable text of sacred Scripture and to begin confession by reading or listening to a biblical exhortation such as those provided in the rite. When expressing contrition it would be good if the penitent were to use “a prayer based on the words of Scripture”,[219] such as those indicated in the rite. When possible, it would be good that at particular times of the year, or whenever the opportunity presents itself, individual confession by a number of penitents should take place within penitential celebrations as provided for by the ritual, with due respect for the different liturgical traditions; here greater time can be devoted to the celebration of the word through the use of suitable readings.

In the case of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick too, it must not be forgotten that “the healing power of the word of God is a constant call to the listener’s personal conversion”.[220] Sacred Scripture contains countless pages which speak of the consolation, support and healing which God brings. We can think particularly of Jesus’ own closeness to those who suffer, and how he, God’s incarnate Word, shouldered our pain and suffered out of love for us, thus giving meaning to sickness and death. It is good that in parishes and in hospitals, according to circumstances, community celebrations of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick should be held. On these occasions greater space should be given to the celebration of the word, and the sick helped to endure their sufferings in faith, in union with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ who delivers us from evil.

[217] Propositio 8.
[218] The Rite of Penance, 17.
[219] Ibid., 19.

The word of God and the Liturgy of the Hours

62 Among the forms of prayer which emphasize sacred Scripture, the Liturgy of the Hours has an undoubted place. The Synod Fathers called it “a privileged form of hearing the word of God, inasmuch as it brings the faithful into contact with Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church”.[221] Above all, we should reflect on the profound theological and ecclesial dignity of this prayer. “In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church, exercising the priestly office of her Head, offers ‘incessantly’ (1Th 5,17) to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name (cf. He 13,15). This prayer is ‘the voice of a bride speaking to her bridegroom, it is the very prayer that Christ himself, together with his Body, addressed to the Father’”.[222] The Second Vatican Council stated in this regard that “all who take part in this prayer not only fulfil a duty of the Church, but also share in the high honour of the spouse of Christ; for by celebrating the praises of God, they stand before his throne in the name of the Church, their Mother”.[223] The Liturgy of the Hours, as the public prayer of the Church, sets forth the Christian ideal of the sanctification of the entire day, marked by the rhythm of hearing the word of God and praying the Psalms; in this way every activity can find its point of reference in the praise offered to God.

Those who by virtue of their state in life are obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours should carry out this duty faithfully for the benefit of the whole Church. Bishops, priests and deacons aspiring to the priesthood, all of whom have been charged by the Church to celebrate this liturgy, are obliged to pray all the Hours daily.[224] As for the obligation of celebrating this liturgy in the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, the prescriptions of their proper law are to be followed.[225] I also encourage communities of consecrated life to be exemplary in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, and thus to become a point of reference and an inspiration for the spiritual and pastoral life of the whole Church.

The Synod asked that this prayer become more widespread among the People of God, particularly the recitation of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. This could only lead to greater familiarity with the word of God on the part of the faithful. Emphasis should also be placed on the value of the Liturgy of the Hours for the First Vespers of Sundays and Solemnities, particularly in the Eastern Catholic Churches. To this end I recommend that, wherever possible, parishes and religious communities promote this prayer with the participation of the lay faithful.

[220] Propositio 8.
[221] Propositio 19.
[222] Principles and Norms for the Liturgy of the Hours, III, 15.
[223] Constitution on Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 85.
[224] Cf. Code of Canon Law, cc. CIC 276 § 3, CIC 1174 § 1.
[225] Cf. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, cc. CIO 377 CIO 473 § 1 and 2, 1°; CIO 538 § 1; CIO 881 § 1.

The word of God and the Book of Blessings

63 Likewise, in using the Book of Blessings attention should be paid to the space allotted to proclaiming, hearing and briefly explaining the word of God. Indeed the act of blessing, in the cases provided for by the Church and requested by the faithful, should not be something isolated but related in its proper degree to the liturgical life of the People of God. In this sense a blessing, as a genuine sacred sign which “derives its meaning and effectiveness from God’s word that is proclaimed”.[226] So it is important also to use these situations as means of reawakening in the faithful a hunger and thirst for every word that comes from the mouth of God (cf. Mt 4,4).

[226] Book of Blessings, Introduction, 21.

Suggestions and practical proposals for promoting fuller participation in the liturgy

64 Having discussed some basic elements of the relationship between the liturgy and the word of God, I would now like to take up and develop several proposals and suggestions advanced by the Synod Fathers with a view to making the People of God ever more familiar with the word of God in the context of liturgical actions or, in any event, with reference to them.

a) Celebrations of the word of God

65 The Synod Fathers encouraged all pastors to promote times devoted to the celebration of the wordin the communities entrusted to their care.[227] These celebrations are privileged occasions for an encounter with the Lord. This practice will certainly benefit the faithful, and should be considered an important element of liturgical formation. Celebrations of this sort are particularly significant as a preparation for the Sunday Eucharist; they are also a way to help the faithful to delve deeply into the riches of the Lectionary, and to pray and meditate on sacred Scripture, especially during the great liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter. Celebrations of the word of God are to be highly recommended especially in those communities which, due to a shortage of clergy, are unable to celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice on Sundays and holydays of obligation. Keeping in mind the indications already set forth in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatiswith regard to Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest,[228] I recommend that competent authorities prepare ritual directories, drawing on the experience of the particular Churches. This will favour, in such circumstances, celebrations of the word capable of nourishing the faith of believers, while avoiding the danger of the latter being confused with celebrations of the Eucharist: “on the contrary, they should be privileged moments of prayer for God to send holy priests after his own heart”.[229]

The Synod Fathers also recommended celebrations of the word of God on pilgrimages, special feasts, popular missions, spiritual retreats and special days of penance, reparation or pardon. The various expressions of popular piety, albeit not liturgical acts and not to be confused with liturgical celebrations, should nonetheless be inspired by the latter and, above all, give due space to the proclamation and hearing of God’s word; “popular piety can find in the word of God an inexhaustible source of inspiration, insuperable models of prayer and fruitful points for reflection”.[230]

[227] Cf. Propositio 18; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on Sacred the LiturgySacrosanctum Concilium,
SC 35.
[228] Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 745: AAS 99 (2007), 162-163.
[229] Ibid.
[230] Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory of Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Principles and Guidelines (17 December 2001), 87: Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, No. 2461.

b) The word and silence

66 In their interventions, a good number of Synod Fathers insisted on the importance of silence in relation to the word of God and its reception in the lives of the faithful.[231] The word, in fact, can only be spoken and heard in silence, outward and inward. Ours is not an age which fosters recollection; at times one has the impression that people are afraid of detaching themselves, even for a moment, from the mass media. For this reason, it is necessary nowadays that the People of God be educated in the value of silence. Rediscovering the centrality of God’s word in the life of the Church also means rediscovering a sense of recollection and inner repose. The great patristic tradition teaches us that the mysteries of Christ all involve silence.[232] Only in silence can the word of God find a home in us, as it did in Mary, woman of the word and, inseparably, woman of silence. Our liturgies must facilitate this attitude of authentic listening: Verbo crescente, verba deficiunt.[233]

The importance of all this is particularly evident in the Liturgy of the Word, “which should be celebrated in a way that favours meditation”.[234] Silence, when called for, should be considered “a part of the celebration”.[235] Hence I encourage Pastors to foster moments of recollection whereby, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the word of God can find a welcome in our hearts.

[231] Cf. Propositio 14.
[232] Cf. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Ephesios, XV, 2: Patres Apostolici, ed. F.X. Funk, Tubingae, 1901, I, 224.
[233] Saint Augustine, Sermo 288, 5: PL 38, 1307; Sermo 120, 2: PL 38, 677.
[234] General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 56
[235] Ibid., 45; cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium,
SC 30.

c) The solemn proclamation of the word of God

67 Another suggestion which emerged from the Synod was that the proclamation of the word of God, and the Gospel in particular, should be made more solemn, especially on major liturgical feasts, through the use of the Gospel Book, carried in procession during the opening rites and then brought to the lectern by a deacon or priest for proclamation. This would help the people of God to realize that “the reading of the Gospel is the high point of the liturgy of the word”.[236] Following the indications contained in the Ordo Lectionum Missae, it is good that the word of God, especially the Gospel, be enhanced by being proclaimed in song, particularly on certain solemnities. The greeting, the initial announcement: “A reading from the holy Gospel” and the concluding words: “The Gospel of the Lord”, could well be sung as a way of emphasizing the importance of what was read.[237]

[236] Ordo Lectionum Missae, 13.
[237] Cf. ibid., 17.

d) The word of God in Christian churches

68 In order to facilitate hearing the word of God, consideration should be given to measures which can help focus the attention of the faithful. Concern should be shown for church acoustics, with due respect for liturgical and architectural norms. “Bishops, duly assisted, in the construction of churches should take care that they be adapted to the proclamation of the word, to meditation and to the celebration of the Eucharist. Sacred spaces, even apart from the liturgical action, should be eloquent and should present the Christian mystery in relation to the word of God”.[238]

Special attention should be given to the ambo as the liturgical space from which the word of God is proclaimed. It should be located in a clearly visible place to which the attention of the faithful will be naturally drawn during the liturgy of the word. It should be fixed, and decorated in aesthetic harmony with the altar, in order to present visibly the theological significance of the double table of the word and of the Eucharist. The readings, the responsorial psalm and the Exsultet are to be proclaimed from the ambo; it can also be used for the homily and the prayers of the faithful.[239]

The Synod Fathers also proposed that churches give a place of honour to the sacred Scriptures, evenoutside of liturgical celebrations.[240] It is good that the book which contains the word of God should enjoy a visible place of honour inside the Christian temple, without prejudice to the central place proper to the tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament.[241]

[238] Propositio 40.
[239] Cf . General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 309.
[240] Cf. Propositio 14.
[241] Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 69: AAS 99 (2007), 157.

Verbum Domini EN 53