The Role of Sacred Books during the Mass

  • Holy books, other than The Bible have a prominent place in every Mass. Roman Pontifical and Roman Missal are some of the books which have been derived from Holy Scriptures. Liturgy of the Hours, the Book of Apostles, the Lectionary and the Book of Gospels are some of the liturgical books that are commonly used in Catholic churches. The term ‘Sacramentary’ (pope’s book) is being widely used for 40 years among the Catholic churches for the book of daily prayers. [Information Credit: Holyart]


    • The Book of Gospels

    The Book of Gospels can be distinguished into pericopes which are dedicated to Mathew, Luke, John and Mark. During the Mass, the priest or the deacon places the sacred book on the Holy Table (altar) and it can be seen as one of the Holy Icons. The book is removed from the altar for the proclamation of the Gospel or when it needs to be carried in the procession. The Book of Gospels can be used throughout the liturgical year. On the event of ordination, this book is presented to the Deacon. The Deacon carries the Book of Gospels at the mass.


    • The Roman Missal

    Roman Missal first appeared in mid 15th century. It is considered to be the main book of prayers during a Mass. Roman Missal incorporates both the Ordinary prayers of the Mass and the Proper Prayer (prayers said on memorial days, at votive Masses, and during solemnities and certain feasts). It is also a guide to the procedures while celebrating a Mass.


    • The Book of Apostles

    Also known as the Book of Epistles, this sacred book consists of the Epistles of Peter, John, James and Jude. This book too can be distinguished into pericopes. Alleluia and Prokeimena verses are a part of the Book of Epistles.


    • The Lectionary

    The Lectionary is read usually during the Mass. It is a collection of teachings of Jesus Christ and saints, from Scripture. The Lectionary is often carried by a lector during the entrance procession. The first two readings are from this book while the final reading is from the Book of Gospels during the Mass.


    • The Roman Pontifical

    Pontificale Romanum is a liturgical book, which contains the directions for services like confirmation, ordination, and initiation rites. Episcopal services are also mentioned in the book. The Roman Pontifical is for the use of the bishop and includes all Masses. Rubrics for liturgical celebrations are also included in the Pontifical.


    • Euchologion

    It is the book of prayers which contain the prayers of Mass for the priest, deacon and bishop. Euchologion also consists of the Sacraments.


    The instructions for a feast or celebration and the faith of the Church were generally articulated in liturgical prayers. These prayers were gradually collected from various churches from different places and then compiled into booklets (‘libelli’). Over centuries these have developed into books, housing a large collection of prayers.