A priest friend visited today. He instructed me on why it is that the readings for Holy Mass were incorporated into the Roman Missal, for instance, in the early Missale plenum and then with the Tridentine Missale Romanum established with Quo primum. The words of Sacred Scripture are inspired by the Holy Ghost to form us into the One Living Word of God, the Eternal Logos, who is Himself being sacrificed on the Altar, and are appropriately, as it were, sacrificed with Him.
To put it differently, it is with the Holy Sacrifice that we are made one with the Head of the Body being sacrificed, He the Head, as Saint Paul says, and we the members, we who are being sanctified also with those words of Sacred Scripture inspired by the Holy Ghost and which were inspired in such manner as to assist us in being formed into that One Living Word of God in that Sacrifice of His.
I recall the critica textus project of the dogmatic first decree of the Fourth Session of the Council of Trent which proclaimed that the inspired words of the original language manuscripts (be they Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Phoenician…), those scrolls and papyri and codices, can be established if we can but ascertain which books and sentences and words were to be found always in the ancient Latin Vulgate (from Saint Jerome until April 8,1546) in all ages as used in the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, particularly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Word Incarnate, what with those words being inspired for our sanctification when the Eternal Word is lifted up on the Cross. The Holy Ghost did not inspire the words uselessly!
I already knew the mind of the Fathers of the Council of Trent on this matter. But it was like a light-switch turning on when this priest friend mentioned the Scriptures being on the Altar of Sacrifice bringing us all to Jesus on the Altar.
That is so different from the Scriptures being aimed at the congregants from some ambo or lecturn or podium or whatever. The lecturn thing is like smashing the congregants over the head with the Bible instead of inviting them right into the very Sacrifice of Christ Jesus Himself, we united with Him, upon the Altar. So. Very. Different.
The exception proving the rule in the Traditional Mass is that during a High Mass the scriptures are brought off the Altar to the “Liturgical North” – and not recited to the congregants present, but are read against the enemies, who are so often scripturally and figuratively depicted as being from “the North.” It is the Sacrifice of the Altar going all Ecclesia militans, all Church Militant, with the Holy Scriptures. The congregants are not being smashed over the head with a Bible, but are joining the Holy Spirit over against the demonic oppressors of the Church, you know, for their conversion. And this is, of course, the fullest action of being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, this solidarity with Jesus in His epic battle over against Satan and the demonic minions so as to claim us once more as His own. This is how the congregants are invited to be placed on the Altar with those inspired words as the Holy Sacrifice then proceeds.
The “Table of the Word” and the “Table of the Meal” thing emptied both the Scriptures and the Sacrament and the Sacrament’s Sacrifice in the perception of monstrous liturgical terrorists. How much we have lost. I recall that back in the bad old days at the North American College in Rome, America’s Seminary, an unveiled ciborium, apparently with the Blessed Sacrament contained therein, was placed on the Altar for adoration, and yet, with a lectionary enthroned elsewhere in the sanctuary with a superabundant explosion of flowers and fanfare and incense.
I think it is important to re-incorporate the Lectionary into the Roman Missal, lest we turn (in our own perception) the entire economy of salvation inside-out, upside-down, back-to-front. Oh, I forgot, we still have Summorum Pontificum!