Many Catholics who know well to show great reverence for the Holy Eucharist are uninformed about the way our Catholic faith reverences the word of God in Scripture.
Sr. Mary Timothea Elliott, RSM, a highly-respected Scripture scholar, who is now engaged in pastoral ministry in Tennessee, shared with me recently how she helps Catholics grasp the importance of Sacred Scripture to our Catholic faith.
She reminds people of what Vatican II says on the subject:
The Church has always venerated the divine scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord, in so far as she never ceases, particularly in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ.
Since Vatican II the “veneration” of the Scriptures in the liturgy is powerfully connected with the Eucharist itself. Sr. Timothea invites then people to remember and picture in their minds how we venerate the word of God at Mass.
Sr. Timothea gave a few examples off the top of her head that I found arresting:
1) The deacon carries the Book of the Gospels into the Church, leading the procession, and lifting it high above his head for all to see.
2) He places the Book of the Gospels upon the altar table for the introductory rites of the Mass.
3) In the Liturgy of the Word, the book of the Gospels is carried in procession by the Deacon from its place on the altar to the ambo. In solemn liturgies he is led by two altar servers carrying lighted candles signifying the Word as Light
4) In solemn liturgies incense is offered to the book of the Gospels—indicating the presence of Christ in the Word.
5) After reading the Gospel the Deacon kisses the page of the Gospel reading
6) Then he carries it to the presiding celebrant who kisses it also.
7) If a Bishop is presiding, he takes the book of the Gospels and blesses the Congregation with it—again indicating the presence of Christ in his Word.
So, “The Church has always venerated the divine scriptures as she venerates the Body of the Lord….” Do we?