Proclaimation of the Gospel - Week #3 of Lent?

I went to Mass early on the third Sunday of Lent and the celebrating priest read the Gospel in its entirety. Great.

I also went to evening Mass. The same gospel proclamation was broken-up into three parts. The celebrant read part. A deacon read another part and a female reader read the part of the Samaritan woman.

The piano was played softly during the entire reading. Several times during the long reading, there would be a pause for the “refrain” “bring us water, bring us water, bring us water, bring us water!” accompanied by a much louder playing of the piano.

Is this something that’s allowed or directed on the third Sunday of Lent or is my parish up to its old liturgical shenanigans again? I locked eyes with the visiting priest – a friend from the local Newman Center who was there to ask for funds, and he gave me this look like it wasn’t his idea.

Is this something new I didn’t know about?


The GIRM addresses this very question.

  1. If there are several present who are able to exercise the same ministry, nothing forbids their distributing among themselves and performing different parts of the same ministry or duty. For example, one Deacon may be assigned to execute the sung parts, another to serve at the altar; if there are several readings, it is well to distribute them among a number of readers, and the same applies for other matters. However, it is not at all appropriate that several persons divide a single element of the celebration among themselves, e.g., that the same reading be proclaimed by two readers, one after the other, with the exception of the Passion of the Lord.

I see that this applies to “who are able to exercise the same ministry.” How does that apply to a layperson proclaiming part of the gospel? The only exception noted here is for the Passion of the Lord - not for the 3rd Sunday of Lent.

IMHO, after reading Phemie’s quotation, is that having a woman read the part of the Samaritan woman was not in keeping with the the directives of the Church.


It wouldn’t even be appropriate for two priests or a deacon and a priest to take turns reading the same Gospel. With the exception of the Passion, each reading is to be done by only one person.

Thanks. I really was curious. I honestly thought my parish was past the liturgical abuses. I honestly wonder what drives this garbage? I really do…

Back in the day there was a book published that contained readings formatted that way. It’s possible that your parish may have one of those in its library and made use of it. I know I have one that had been in my parish for years. Thankfully I’ve never seen it used.

There were experiments done over the years that have since been corrected by various documents. For example a “Liturgy of the Word” ritual book published by the Western Bishops Conference (one of 4 regional groupings of Bishops in Canada) in the 70s directly stated that it was more important for the community to gather “as a community” for a liturgy of the Word on Sunday than to go to Mass in a neighbouring parish. That error has since been corrected by a ritual book published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops which states the opposite.

My Francophone community for several years functioned with that “gather as a community at all cost” mindset. Although comprised of members who all lived in different geographic parishes, some travelling through as many as 5 or 6 to get to where we normally gathered for Mass, they all came to a Liturgy of the Word in their language rather than stop for Mass in English (a language they all spoke fluently) at one of those parishes. For me those priest-less Sundays were an occasion to visit neighbouring parishes.

Thanks, I appreciate the input. The skit I witnessed in place of the Proclamation of the Gospel was extremely inappropriate, but there’s no question it came out of a book somewhere. Someone spent time putting it together. It wasn’t done within my parish.

I’m just sad. I really thought we were past this sorta garbage at my parish. I very rarely open my eyes during Mass anymore but I did as soon as I heard the second voice of the three. I looked at the faces of people around me and they looked sad. Not angry or bitter, but just sad, maybe a touch disgusted.

Like it or not, this is the sort of thing that just destroys any respect one has for a pastor. He obviously wasn’t forced or coerced to do it by the local ordinary. It’s also not as if he’s new and it’s a decades old, ingrained practice at my parish that he’s trying to deal with. Either he pushed it or he supported someone else pushing it.

Given its prohibition I truly have to ask “why” it happened? Does my pastor want to show his independence from the Church? Does he do it in hopes of angering or driving away people in the pews? Does he want to placate “liturgical insiders” at the cost of not doing things correctly? Does he benefit from a benefactor if he institutes such garbage?

Just exactly where is the upside to doing things wrong? I don’t ask these questions facetiously. I would really like to know.

In the end this is just another “that’s just the way it is.” “This is the Catholic Church” and there’s not a darned thing I can do other than switch parishes or just leave" – as millions already have. Yes, I know I can pray that my parish actually follow what the Church directs.

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