Whole Bible in 3 Years?


Peace be with you and thanks for your help. My question is this: I have often heard it said that if one attends Mass according to our obligations as Catholics, over a three year period, the entire bible is read aloud during the Liturgy of the Word. Although I’m realatively certain that this doesn’t really include “every written word”, I’m not sure what criteria are used for the small portions not actually being read aloud. A protestant friend was doing some research and asked me the question. Can you help?


While you won’t hear every word of the Bible over a three year period the Church has selected and arranged the readings so that you will hear the most important parts of it. Vatican II’s document *Sacrosanctum Concilium * (SC) states, “The treasures of the bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years” (SC 51).

The Order of Readings for Sundays and festive days extends over three liturgical years. Each liturgical year begins with the first week of Advent and is designated by the letter A, B, or C. The cycle is arranged as though the first Year A was the calendar year 1 A.D. (beginning with the prior calendar year’s Advent). Thus, 2004 (which began with the first week of Advent in 2003) is a Year C.* The years are also known by the Gospel reading selections for Ordinary Time – Matthew in Year A, Mark in Year B, Luke in Year C. Similarly, the Order of Readings for weekdays extends over two liturgical years. Year I corresponds to odd numbered years; Year II to even.

*Note: An easy way to determine which year of the cycle we are in is to determine which years are divisible by three. Those years are Year C.

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