VNO 18: For the Evangelization of Peoples

There is an important, overlooked rubric at the beginning of this section:

This Mass may be used even on Sundays of Ordinary Time, whenever there are special celebrations for the work of the missions, provided it does not occur on a Sunday of Advent, Lent or Easter, or on any Solemnity.

In my parishes, we receive a guest preacher every year or two to promote some mission work somewhere in the world. Never has it been suggested by anyone other than me to bump the ordinary Sunday Mass, substituting appropriate and permitted Scriptures and prayers.

The Lectionary for Mass (872-876) gives a number of options. Old Testament choices favor the prophets: Isaiah (2:1-5 or 56:1, 6-7 or 60:1-6), Jonah 3:10—4:11, and Zechariah 8:20-23. New Testament possibilities include three readings from Acts (1:3-8 or 11:19-26 or 13:46-49)–remember these can be used as the first reading during an Easter weekday. For another time of the year, including an ordinary Sunday, Romans 10:9-18 or Ephesians 3:2-12 or 1 Timothy 2:1-8.

Particular circumstances might suggest other particulars, but I’d favor that first Isaiah reading, the ideal place of universal peace on the Lord’s mountain. Then mix in that reading from Acts 11.

My favored Gospel readings would be one of the two mission statements of the Church: Matthew 28:16-20 or Mark 16:15-20. You might pick Luke 24:44-53 or John 11:45-52
or John 17:11b, 17-23. If we’re looking at music, those who pieced together this part of the missal went to some of the same texts for Lectionary and Antiphonary psalms. Check these antiphons:

O God, be gracious and bless us, and let your face shed its light upon us, and have mercy. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your salvation. (option A, Entrance, Psalm 67)

Tell among the nations his glory, and his wonders among all the peoples, for the Lord is great and highly to be praised. (option B, Entrance, Psalm 96)

O praise the Lord, all you nations; acclaim him, all you peoples! For his merciful love has prevailed over us, and the Lord’s faithfulness endures for ever. (option B, Communion, Psalm 117)

The Great Commission contributes the other two antiphons for Communion:

Go into all the world, and proclaim the Gospel, says the Lord. I am with you always. (Mk 16: 15)

Teach all nations to keep whatever I have commanded you, says the Lord. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Mt 28: 20)

Are these the best possibilities? Other responsorial psalms include 19A (often paired with the Mark 16 text in other Lectionary locations) and Psalm 98 suggesting the universal salvation of which we sing at Christmas. Many New Testament canticles are more explicit in praise of Christ. These might be a consideration to link with antiphons for entrance or Communion.

A final thought on that provision for “special celebrations for the work of the missions.” If a diocese or parish were to commence some important evangelization initiative, it would seem fitting to make use of this option for a weekend kickoff. Thoughts?

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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