From time to time someone notices that a reading on Universalis is different from a reading in a book or on some other site. I thought I’d gather together the commonest reasons for this happening.
It’s possible that I have made a mistake or have typed something in wrongly. This becomes less likely as the years go on, because the readings are generated automatically from a permanent database: so if someone discovered an error back in 1999 and pointed it out, it will have been corrected in 1999 and will never occur again. But I am sure that there are still quite a few mistakes there that no-one has yet noticed or reported! If you think you have found a mistake then please let me know.
Other people can make mistakes too. For instance, this year one reader pointed out a difference between the Office of Readings psalms for the Friday after Ash Wednesday in Universalis (psalm 77(78)) and the printed “St Joseph’s Guide” (psalm 54(55)). In fact psalm 77(78) is used in Advent, Christmastide, Lent and Eastertide, and psalm 54(55) at all other times. The compiler of this year’s St Joseph’s Guide must have thought that Lent started only on the First Sunday of Lent: but both the Latin and the English breviaries agree that Lent starts on Ash Wednesday.
2. Allowable variations
On most saints’ days it is allowable either to use the readings of the saint or the readings of the day. The exceptions are (a) during high seasons such as Advent, when the readings of the day must be used, and (b) when the saint’s day has a high rank (feast or solemnity).
In most cases when there is a choice, Universalis uses the saint’s readings. Quite often parish priests take the opposite approach. This is one of the cases where you may find that Universalis and your priest disagree but both are right.
3. The third, fourth and fifth Mondays in Lent
On the third Sunday in Lent, the Gospel reading is of the Samaritan woman (the “living water” passage from John).
Because of the rule that all Sunday readings should change on a three-year cycle, this reading occurs only in Year A. Because it is such an important reading and should not be omitted even in Years B and C, the Missal contains “alternative readings” for the third week of Lent, which contain exactly this Gospel. It strongly recommends that the alternative readings should be used on one day in the third week in Years B and C, so that the “living water” passage is not forgotten.
Universalis follows this recommendation by using the alternative readings for Monday of the third week of Lent. Other authorities may do it on a different day in that week, or may not do it at all (since it is, after all, only a recommendation).
Exactly the same thing happens in the fourth week of Lent, when the Gospel for Year A is the story of the man born blind (the “I am the light of the world” passage from John), and in the fifth week, when it is the story of the woman caught in adultery.
This is another case where Universalis can disagree with other sources but both can still be right.