Respecting the Proclaimed Word in the Liturgy
“The Word of God is no less important than the Body of Christ”.
Archbishop Caesarus, a sixth century Archbishop of Arles, said this in a teaching: “I have a question for you, brothers and sisters. Which do you think more important –the word of God or the body of Christ? If you want to answer correctly, you must tell me that the word of God is no less important than the body of Christ. How careful are we, when the body of Christ is distributed to us, not to let any bit of it fall to the ground from our hand. But we should be just as careful not to let slip from our hearts the word of God that is addressed to us.”
We would be dismayed if the consecrated bread of Communion were treated disrespectfully. We should be equally dismayed if the sacred word in the Liturgy is treated disrespectfully. It is disrespect if the sacred Word is not proclaimed well, if the words cannot be heard or understood, if the meaning and the emotion in the Word is not conveyed.
Similarly, the sacred Word is not respected when anyone does not listen attentively. Simultaneously reading the text from a book (unless there is a very good reason to do so – such as being deaf) does not show respect for the proclaimed Word. We can train ourselves to listen respectfully and effectively to the Word of God. Carefully reading the texts beforehand can also help our appreciation of the proclaimed Word in the Liturgy.
Those proclaiming the Word can also train themselves so that all the proclaimed words can be heard, understood and appreciated – thus helping release the power of the Word. Only then is the sacredness of the Word properly respected.