5. Report to the Pope In the report on the eleventh general meeting, which was given to the Holy Father on November 10, 1966, the relator of group 11 summed up as follows the end results of the long and complex development of the Lectionary for Mass.
1) Sundays and feast days Sundays and feasts will have three readings: Old Testament, apostle, and gospel. Not only will the number of passages read be increased, but there will be a broader vision of the history of salvation, which will be seen from its earliest foreshadowings to its fulfillment.
-The three readings will be obligatory. If one is left optional, it will be regularly omitted, to the detriment of a progressive introduction of the faithful to the knowledge and love of the scriptures. The overall length of the three readings will usually not be significantly greater than that of the present two readings.
- The Lectionary for feasts will be arranged in a three-year cycle, so that the same passage is read every third year. This will also mean a greater variety in subjects for the homily.
-In keeping with tradition, some books will be read during specified periods; for example, the Gospel of John during the second part of Lent and during the Easter season; the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter season.
- On the Sundays of Ordinary Time one of the three synoptic Gospels will be read in each year of the cycle; there will thus be a Matthew year, a Mark year, and a Luke year. It will be possible in this way to bring out more fully the characteristics of each Gospel. The parts of John that are not read in the other seasons of the year will be used in the Mark year, since Mark is the shortest of the Synoptics.
- Except in Advent and Lent, there will be a semi-continuous reading of each Gospel. The other readings will be harmonized more or less closely with the gospel, so that as far as is feasible, there will be a thematic unity that will ease the preacher’s task.
-In this selection of passages, those will be omitted that require a complex exegetical or literal explanation before any spiritual application is possible. This does not mean, however, the exclusion of all texts that may be somewhat difficult, simply because they are difficult; the homily, after all, has for one of its functions to explain the meaning of the sacred text in its context.
-For some readings that would be very long if read in their entirety (for example, the stories of the Samaritan woman and the man born blind), the Lectionary will indicate how the passage may be shortened in a way that retains the essential parts of the pericope. In a limited number of cases, moreover, an alternate optional reading will be given that has the same meaning; the celebrant can choose it if he thinks it fits better with the concrete situation of the congregation before him.
2) Weekday readings. A further expansion of the knowledge of scripture will be made possible by the series of weekday readings, which will be independent of the festive Lectionary. Each day will have its own reading from Scripture at Mass, just as it does in the office. It will thus be possible on weekdays to avoid repetition of the Sunday readings and of the same readings in the Common of the Saints.
The principle governing the organization of the ferial or weekday Lectionary are the following:
-For the weekdays of Advent, the Christmas season, Lent, and the Easter season, there will be a one-year cycle for both readings.
- For the weekdays of Ordinary Time, the Gospel will be arranged according to an annual cycle; the first reading, on other hand will follow a two-year cycle, with alternating weeks of Old Testament and New Testament Passages.
-In the case of some books, the arrangement of the readings will take tradition into account (for example, Isaiah in Advent; the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John during the Easter season); the others will be read according to their order in the canon of the Bible.
-These weekday readings will be used at Masses of the third and forth class, which do not have readings of their own.
PS In May 1969 the proofs for the Lectionary were given to the Pope, who sent the following handwritten note of approval to Cardinal Benno Gut, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship:
“In the very limited time allowed me, I have not been able to get a complete and detailed grasp of this new and extensive Ordo lectionum Missae.But because of the confidence I have in the skilled and devout individuals who spent a long time compiling it, and because of the trust I owe to the Congregation for Divine Worship, which has examined and corrected it with such expert care, I gladly approve it in the name of the Lord. The feast of St John the Baptist, June 24, 1969 Paul VI, Pope”