I was recently at a Mass where people were acting out the readings and the gospel was being read by a layman. Is this permissible? Could someone help and cite canon law please?
Don’t know about Canons, but The GIRM has the following:
By tradition, the function of proclaiming the readings is ministerial, not presidential. The readings, therefore, should be proclaimed by a lector, and the Gospel by a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant. If, however, a deacon or another priest is not present, the priest celebrant himself should read the Gospel. Further, if another suitable lector is also not present, then the priest celebrant should also proclaim the other readings.
After each reading, whoever reads gives the acclamation, to which the gathered people reply, honoring the word of God that they have received in faith and with grateful hearts.
The reading of the Gospel is the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy itself teaches that great reverence is to be shown to it by setting it off from the other readings with special marks of honor: whether the minister appointed to proclaim it prepares himself by a blessing or prayer; or the faithful, standing as they listen to it being read, through their acclamations acknowledge and confess Christ present and speaking to them; or the very marks of reverence are given to the Book of the Gospels.
It doesn’t specifically prohibit the stuff you’re talking about, but it is to be the priest or a deacon. I personally dont feel that the acting out is honoring the word of God, but unfortunately, Bishops are going to have to get much more specific about what is reasonable.
Here are some fo the Canons related to the “Preaching the Word of God”. At the very least, the Canons appear to state that if a Bishop, Priest or Deacon is present it is part of their “prinicpal duties” before a layman would read the Gospel. And since all Masses have to have a priest, I would believe there really wouldn’t be a reason to do otherwise. Thanks and God Bless.
Can. 762 The people of God are first united through the word of the living God, and are fully entitled to seek this word from their priests. For this reason sacred ministers are to consider the office of preaching as of great importance, since proclaiming the Gospel of God to all is among their principal duties.
Can. 763 Bishops have the right to preach the word of God everywhere, even in churches and oratories of religious institutes of pontifical right, unless the local Bishop has expressly forbidden it in particular cases.
Can. 764 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 765, priests and deacons, with the at least presumed consent of the rector of a church, have the faculty to preach everywhere, unless this faculty has been restricted or removed by the competent Ordinary, or unless particular law requires express permission.
Can. 765 To preach to religious in their churches or oratories, permission is required of the Superior who is competent according to their constitutions.
Can. 766 The laity may be allowed to preach in a church or oratory if in certain circumstances it is necessary, or in particular cases it would be advantageous, according to the provisions of the Episcopal Conference and without prejudice to can. 767 §1.
Can. 767 §1 The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy, and is reserved to a priest or deacon. In the course of the liturgical year, the mysteries of faith and the rules of christian living are to be expounded in the homily from the sacred text.
In our parish for many years , the Palm SundayGospel has been read by a team. Their is a lay narrator for the non-spoken parts, the priest reads the words of Jesus, and other lay persons which may include the deacon if he is present read the words attributed to Pilate and the other characters who are quoted. The congregation reads the words attributed to the crowd. That’s the only occasion that we have had anything resembling a skit. Other wise the Gospel is invaribly proclaimed by the priest or deacon. Personally I think skits would be just too cutesy.
[quote=rwoehmke]and other lay persons which may include the deacon if he is present read the words attributed to Pilate and the other characters who are quoted.
Deacons are not laity they members of the clergy they have received the fullness of the sacarment of Holy Orders in the permanent order of the diaconate and as such are confirgured into the threefold priesthood of Christ. Deacons however have not been elevated to be priests, as many priests have not been elevated to be bishops. Yet who would be so insenstive to call a priest laity because he is not a bishop?
Deacons are specifically called to proclaim the Gospel as one of their liturgical roles. Only when a deacon is not at that Mass is a priest or a bishop permitted to read the Gospel.
It is legitimate for the parts to be broken up on Palm Sunday for the adig of the Passion narrative. That may also be the case on Good Friday, but I forget. The proclamation of the Gospel really should not be liturgucally broken up into parts of read, let alone acted, dramatically other than that. That’s not to say that I haven’t seen it done, too.