At the end of last September in his apostolic letter Aperuit illis, Pope Francis declared that the third Sunday per annum in the Novus Ordo would be the “Sunday of the Word of God.” In his letter, the pope left the particular shape of any celebrations to local churches (not especially helpful to those of us who are sick of improvisation in the liturgy), but stressed that the word of God should be enthroned in some manner [i]. Consequently, the Vatican said in a press conference reported at Vatican News that “there will be the solemn enthronement of the Lectionary that was used in all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council” before the Papal Mass on this newly themed Sunday.
In the Vatican News story, this fact appears under the heading “Vatican II Lectionary to be enthroned.” If one was just skimming this news story, one might come away with the impression that it is the post–Vatican II lectionary that is being referred to here. After all, the title page of this book proclaims that it has been “renewed by decree of the most holy Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican” (ex decreto sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum). What else could “Vatican II Lectionary” refer to?
What should be recalled by everyone is that the “Vatican II Lectionary” is, in fact, the one used at the Council itself, before the liturgical reform: in other words, the traditional lectionary of the Roman Rite. The traditional lectionary, with its one-year cycle of readings that is pedagogically and psychologically much more suited to the lay faithful; the traditional lectionary that, through its yearly repetition of readings, allows those who participate in the liturgy to internalize the biblical text and make God’s word come alive in them [ii]; the traditional lectionary, which preserves the whole message of the Sacred Scriptures and has not been constructed to assist with the sanitizing of “hard” texts; [iii] the traditional lectionary, tried, tested, and proven in the lives of countless saints who have gone before us.