Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

St Mary Magdalen and different readings

Posted by universalis on 22 July 2009

Two people have asked why their missals show Song of Songs 3:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 as First Readings for today, while Universalis shows Exodus 16:1-5,9-15.

The answer is that the fact that the missals and Lectionary print those readings doesn’t mean that they should actually ever be used.

Here is the what the Introduction to the Lectionary says:

83. Where they exist, proper readings are given for the celebrations of the saints, that is, biblical passages about the saint or the… saint’s life… Even in the case of a memorial these readings must take place of the weekday readings for the same day…
In some cases there are accommodated readings… Use of such readings does not seem binding, except for compelling pastoral reasons…
… Above all [the priest] will make sure not to omit too often or needlessly the readings assigned for each day in the weekday Lectionary…

The way that this works for St Mary Magdalen is as follows:

First Reading – Song of Songs 3:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 are “accommodated readings” and so should not be used except for ‘compelling pastoral reasons’. Exodus 16:1-5,9-15 is the “reading assigned for each day” and should not be omitted ‘too often or needlessly’.

Psalm – Psalm 62 is an “accommodated reading” and so should not be used except for ‘compelling pastoral reasons’. Psalm 77 is the “reading assigned for each day” and should not be omitted ‘too often or needlessly’.

Gospel – John 20:1-2. 11-18 is a “proper reading” and must be used.

A good cross-reference in this case is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ web site. Its page of Mass readings for today displays exactly the same texts as Universalis, for exactly the same reasons.

The rules are different for feasts and solemnities as opposed to memorials. In a local calendar that promoted St Mary Magdalen to a higher rank, Universalis would show the other readings.

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