62. The pastoral advantage of having in the Roman Rite a single Order of Readings for the Lectionary is obvious on other grounds. All the faithful, particularly those who for various reasons do not always take part in Mass with the same assembly, will everywhere be able to hear the same readings on any given day or in any liturgical season and to meditate on the application of these readings to their own concrete circumstances. This is the case even in places that have no priest and where a deacon or someone else deputed by the bishop conducts a celebration of the word of God. [SC 35, Inter Oecumenici 37-38]
63. Pastors may wish to respond specifically from the word of God to the concerns of their own congregations. Although they must be mindful that they are above all to be heralds of the entire mystery of Christ and of the Gospel, they may rightfully use the options provided in the Order of Readings for Mass. This applies particularly to the celebration of a ritual or votive Mass, a Mass in honor of the Saints, or one of the Masses for various needs and occasions. With due regard for the general norms, special faculties are granted concerning the readings in Masses celebrated for particular groups. [Actio pastoralis 6, Directory for Masses with Chidlren 41-47, Marialis cultus 12]
The Order of Readings in the liturgical year is a point of unity for the Church. But because of the need for a diverse expression of worship and appealing to the needs of particular groups, uniformity is not imposed. What does this mean in practice? It ensures that pastors and liturgists apply the principle of progressive solemnity. A special Mass for a special occasion may be celebrated, say, at the end of a special day of the Eucharist or of the Blessed Mother. If it’s a Sunday or major feast, use the readings of the day. If it’s an ordinary weeknight in the summer or Fall, use the votive Mass readings to draw out the theme for spiritual benefit. Children, according to the Directory, might or might not inspire a change in the daily Lectionary, either to draw out themes of value or to emphasize the sanctoral cycle.
Moving off the Lectionary page is not intended to be a casual personal choice for clergy or liturgists. A good rule of thumb: moving to a votive Mass or a saint’s feast should involve extra work for musicians, preachers, and presiders for a genuine spiritual benefit of the faithful. Otherwise, everybody’s better off adhering to the Lectionary.
Can any readers think of times when it’s of particular benefit to be off the Lectionary page? I mean beyond the obvious: sacramental celebrations and the patronal and dedication feasts of a parish and diocese?