The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

The Book of Gospels.

The Book of the Gospels is the central object of the Liturgy of the Word and the first in importance among liturgical objects after the chalice and paten. This is because it is a visible sign of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. For this reason it should be handsomely bound, sometimes made of precious metal and decorated with jewels, rich fabric or artistic embroidery.

For the same reason, at the start of the Mass, the Book is solemnly carried in by Deacon Michael during the entrance procession, and then enthroned in the middle of the altar. It is again carried in procession accompanied by the acolytes with candles and is honoured with incense before the proclamation of the Gospel.

The contents are so important that the proclamation of the Gospel during the Mass is a role reserved to priest or deacon, never a lay person – although we are all encouraged to study the Gospels and the rest of sacred scripture privately. Its proclamation is a ministerial, not a presidential role. In practice this means that although Father Paul is the (main) celebrant at the Mass it is not he but Deacon Michael or a concelebrating priest who will proclaim the Gospel. The importance of the Gospels, the words of Jesus, the Word, Himself, is further stressed by the congregation standing and the altar servers standing and turning towards the ambo during its proclamation.