GIRM 175-177: The Deacon in the Liturgy of the Word

The deacon’s duties at the proclamation of the Gospel are at the center of this section:

175. During the singing of the Alleluia or other chant, if incense is being used, the Deacon ministers to the Priest as he puts incense into the thurible. Then, bowing profoundly before the Priest, he asks for the blessing, saying in a low voice, Your blessing, Father. The Priest blesses him, saying, May the Lord be in your heart. The Deacon signs himself with the Sign of the Cross and replies, Amen. Having bowed to the altar, he then takes up the Book of the Gospels which was placed on it and proceeds to the ambo, carrying the book slightly elevated. He is preceded by a thurifer carrying a smoking thurible and by ministers with lighted candles. At the ambo the Deacon greets the people, with hands joined, saying, The Lord be with you. After this, at the words A reading from the holy Gospel, he signs with his thumb the book and then himself on his forehead, mouth, and breast. He incenses the book and proclaims the Gospel reading. When this is done, he acclaims, The Gospel of the Lord, and all reply, Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. He then venerates the book with a kiss, saying quietly the formula Per evangelica dicta (Through the words of the Gospel), and returns to the Priest’s side.

When the Deacon is assisting the Bishop, he carries the book to him to be kissed, or else kisses it himself, saying quietly the formula Per evangelica dicta (Through the words of the Gospel). In more solemn celebrations, if appropriate, the Bishop may impart a blessing to the people with the Book of the Gospels.

Lastly, the Deacon may carry the Book of the Gospels to the credence table or to another suitable and dignified place.

Had not noticed the presciption to “store” the Book of the Gospels at the credence table.

176. Moreover, if there is no other suitable reader present, the Deacon should proclaim the other readings as well.

The prescription here is “suitable,” not “installed.” When might a deacon proclaim these readings? In a setting with very young children or very elderly or infirm people. Otherwise, I’m hard-pressed to think of an ordinary circumstance where this fallback plan would be needed.

177. After the introduction by the Priest, it is the Deacon himself who announces the intentions of the Universal Prayer, usually from the ambo.

I suspect Liam is right: GIRM 177 is a nod to late practice of singing these intentions. Some quick observations:

Prayer intentions are not naturally sung. Like the Lord’s Prayer. Or the Credo. And by that, I mean the genre of these texts implies the spoken word–unlike a hymn, the Gloria, for example, where a case could be made for always singing it.

That said, in all these instances, a musical setting does elevate the text. But a question might be raised: does that create an imbalance with nearby liturgical parts? In other words, does a sung General Intercessions, especially a well-done setting, overshadow the Creed?

It would seem that the proclamation of Scripture is “enough” of an honor for the deacon, especially the Gospel. Leading these intentions seems like a small-potatoes piece of the liturgy, even compared to one of the non-gospel readings. Hopefully the justification is more than just busy work for the deacon.

Comments?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to GIRM 175-177: The Deacon in the Liturgy of the Word

  1. Chris Sullivan says:

    Leading these intentions seems like a small-potatoes piece of the liturgy

    Perhaps the idea is that the Deacon, something of a bridge between the laity and the clergy, with a foot in both camps and usually one who works in the real world and raises a family, is especially well suited to introduce the prayers of the faithful ?

    God Bless

  2. Liam says:

    “But a question might be raised: does that create an imbalance with nearby liturgical parts? In other words, does a sung General Intercessions, especially a well-done setting, overshadow the Creed?”

    IMO, no. I see the concern in the abstract, but in practice I think it’s just not borne out.

    • Liam says:

      I should add that, by singing the intercessions, they are more likely (over time) to be formulated in rich, resonant prosody that takes well to song. That would help cure one of the great weaknesses of the Intercessions: poor, or banal, writing.

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