The Armchair Liturgist: Booking the Priest

As we head deep into Lent and clergy are presiding at form II, scrutinies, and the myriad liturgies of Holy Week, let me ask this of you armchair liturgists eager to assist: what do you think of booking the clergy?

In other words, would you advocate the priest (and lay presiders) lead the rites from the official rite books?

Some clergy prefer to have their “scripts” in one convenient location. You get blessing of Girl Scouts at 9:30 Mass, scrutiny at 11:30, renewal of marriage vows on Saturday night. Who can keep track of all that?

Did you know you can now buy software to prepare liturgy? It is easy to insert real names for “N.” You can enlarge or shrink the font size. You can keep it in traditional black and red, too.

If the latter, do you think three-ring binders are serviceable? Or the special “presider binders” you can get from a few liturgy distributors?

In one parish, the AE committee prepared nice cloth covers for the ubiquitous binders you get at the office supply store.

What would work for you from the purple chair perspective?

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Booking the Priest

  1. STMsem says:

    I think there are times where a binder could be helpful in keeping everything together in one location (ribbon placement being critical if the official books are used, but that can lead to lots of flipping). Last night I couldn’t figure out what the presider was asking for during the creed until at the last moment I realized he left his binder at the ambo across the sanctuary. My bad! We should come up with better MC code, maybe some fancy “third base coach” hand signals!

  2. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I seem to recall reading (although I can’t find it now) some document (perhaps from the USCCB) about how the Lectionary is not to be replaced by a binder or other less-dignified book containing the readings.

    Personally, I’d prefer minimal books (that is, not using a more specific book if its contents are found in a more general book) in a single sitting; I’d avoid binders for the Orders of Rites simply because they evoke a business imagery rather than a worship imagery (exception is made for the choir, since such binders are not Ordos but songs).

    That’s not to say that the priest has to have a massive tome that covers all circumstances; simply that within a single liturgical act (Mass, a wedding, a funeral, a blessing, etc.) there should be a minimal number of books used.

  3. Matthew Meloche says:

    I think it depends on the Priest… We’ve probably all seen Priests that were really well organized, could find things quickly and not miss a beat, and knew what they were looking for.

    Then again, we’ve probably all seen Priests who are nor organized, spent long periods of time flipping through books, and couldn’t find things (perhaps because they just didn’t know what they were looking for).

    Sometimes for an elderly Priest a binder might be better. Sometimes for a young Priest who gets flustered or has anxiety problems a binder may be better.

  4. For years I’ve “booked” for myself – and for several reasons:

    1) Putting together the book for a particular celebration is an excellent way of familiarizing oneself with the texts, the order of worship and the moving pieces that can become land mines in the sanctuary for the unprepared.

    2) It’s easy to make a copy of the “book” and give it to the organist and/or cantor. I find this particularly helpful in Holy Week.

    3) One can make notes in a prepared book that you wouldn’t want to write in the Sacramentary.

    I use the MV liturgical binders: color coordinated to the celebration and of a quality that befits this use.

    I’ve been a priest for nearly 35 years and have been preparing a “book” for myself nearly all that time. The advent of the computer age, of course, has made that easier and improved the quality of what’s in the book.

  5. Padrevic says:

    Ditto the ConcordPastor’s view. Book all the way, makes it easy for me and others.

    Enjoy Lent
    peace to all

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