GILM 83-84: Choices for Saints’ Celebrations

In these detailed prescriptions for readings proclaimed on saint days, most of these principles we’ve already covered. First, if there are proper readings for a saint, they should be used if these illustrate something biblical about the saint or about an important quality:

83. When they exist, proper readings are given for celebrations of the Saints, that is, biblical passages about the Saint or the mystery that the Mass is celebrating. Even in the case of a memorial these readings must take the place of the weekday readings for the same day. This Order of Readings makes explicit note of every case of proper readings on a memorial.

A definition: accommodated reading is a passage of Scripture that brings out some quality of the saint’s life and work. My parish’s patronal feast emphasizes the wisdom and learning of St Thomas Aquinas. The responsorial psalm for his feast, for example, is derived from Psalm 119, that longest meditation on God’s law.

In some cases there are accommodated readings, those, namely, that bring out some particular aspect of a Saint’s spiritual life or work. Use of such readings does not seem binding, except for compelling pastoral reasons. For the most part references are given to readings in the Commons in order to facilitate choice. But these are merely suggestions: in place of an accommodated reading or the particular reading proposed from a Common, any other reading from the Commons referred to may be selected.

Here follows the most explicit rendering of the Church’s desire that the personal preferences of the minister(s) are not a concern for the selection of liturgical options:

The first concern of a priest celebrating with a congregation is the spiritual benefit of the faithful and he will be careful not to impose his personal preference on them. Above all he will make sure not to omit too often or without sufficient cause the readings assigned for each day in the weekday Lectionary: the Church’s desire is that a more lavish table of the word of God be spread before the faithful. [SC 51]

In the groups of readings addressing a “common” feature, there are choices to be made. When our parish chose the second reading for our patronal feast’s observance on Sunday, the option from 1 Corinthians enabled us to maintain the semi-continuous reading of that letter on Sundays in early Ordinary Time:

There are also common readings, that is, those placed in the Commons either for some determined class of Saints (martyrs, virgins, pastors) or for the Saints in general. Because in these cases several texts are listed for the same reading, it will be up to the priest to choose the one best suited to those listening.

In all celebrations of Saints the readings may be taken not only from the Commons to which the references are given in each case, but also from the Common of Men and Women Saints, whenever there is special reason for doing so.

And finally, some particular legislation for saint days:

84. For celebrations of the Saints the following should be observed:

1. On solemnities and feasts the readings must be those that are given in the Proper or in the Commons. For solemnities and feasts of the General Roman Calendar proper readings are always assigned.
2. On solemnities inscribed in particular calendars, three readings are to be assigned, unless the Conference of Bishops has decreed that there are to be only two readings. [GIRM] The first reading is from the Old Testament (but during the Easter season, from the Acts of the Apostles or the Book of Revelation); the second, from an Apostle; the third, from the Gospels.
3. On feasts and memorials, which have only two readings, the first reading can be chosen from either the Old Testament or from an Apostle; the second is from the Gospels. Following the Church’s traditional practice, however, the first reading during the Easter season is to be taken from an Apostle, the second, as far as possible, from the Gospel of John.

Liam reminded me of Fr Felix Just’s site and his summary of the readings for saints’ observances.

Other thoughts? Comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in General Introduction to the Lectionary, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to GILM 83-84: Choices for Saints’ Celebrations

  1. Liam says:

    Here’s a very handy reference tool for the sanctoral cycle propers:

  2. Todd says:

    Excellent, Liam. Fr Just has done a lot of detailed work for those interested in the Lectionary.

  3. FrMichael says:

    A lot of work. Thanks for the link.

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