Question on the Choice of Readings/Antiphons for Daily Masses
  • A question to you all:

    For daily Masses from the Proper of Saints where there are no prescribed readings and there is an option between using the readings/antiphons for the day OR from the Commons, is there a preference to be given (in the rubrics and documentation) as to which is preferred?

    It seems that in common practice the readings/antiphons of the day are used if nothing else is prescribed. In the Lectionary, however, the preference seems to be given to the Commons over the Mass of the day, in the ordering (e.g. readings and antiphons are to be taken from the Common of _______ OR from the Weekday Mass).

    Is the reason that the weekday readings/antiphons are typically selected out of convenience? Or is there actually something in the legislation somewhere that actually makes this a preference for use over the Commons?

    Do any of your parishes commonly used the readings/antiphons from the Commons over weekday readings for Memorials and Optional Memorials?

    I welcome your feedback!
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  • I'm not so sure about the preference of ordering applying here because I seem to recall there is a statement somewhere in the rubrics that the continuity of the semi-continuous weekday readings should not be disturbed unless it would be to the spiritual advantage of the congregation to have the readings from the Commons.

    If one were to supplant the weekday readings for every memorial, let alone optional memorials, there would be many gaps in the semi-continuous readings.

    [Of course, some memorials do have proper readings (usually the Gospel) which must be read.]

    Granted, presiders are allowed to rearrange and combine semi-continuous readings that are supplanted by another celebration, but that might be difficult to accomplish if a parish has several priests who rotate through the daily Mass schedule, and it would be a confusing situation for those who do not always attend daily Mass at the same parish. My experience is that that kind of rearranging is not done much.

    My personal preference for memorials (for Ordinary Time at least) is for the readings of the weekday with the antiphons of the saint - since otherwise we'd just be repeating Sunday's antiphons anyway - and there are likely going to be some "ordinary" weekdays in a given week where people are exposed to those.
  • On November 29, Fr. Friel had some observations about this.
  • Thank you for the thoughts, SkirpR, and Jeff also.

    A question to Skirp: If you choose the antiphons from the Commons for Memorials and Optional Memorials, would you also want to use the Responsorial Psalm from the same common? Or would you opt to use the RP from the day which corresponds to the readings of the day?
  • The legislation that Adam is looking for and to which Richard is alluding is in the Lectionary for Mass: Introduction.
    3. Principles to be Followed in the Use of the Order of Readings

    a) The Freedom of Choice regarding Some Texts

    78. The Order of Readings sometimes leaves it to the celebrant to choose between alternative texts or to choose one from the several listed together for the same reading. The option seldom exists on Sundays, solemnities, or feasts, in order not to obscure the character proper to the particular liturgical season or needlessly interrupt the semi-continuous reading of some biblical book. On the other hand, the option is given readily in celebrations of the Saints, in ritual Masses, Masses for various needs and occasions, votive Masses, and Masses for the dead.

    These options, together with those indicated in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the Ordo cantus Missae,103 have a pastoral purpose. In arranging the liturgy of the word, then, the priest should “consider the general spiritual good of the congregation rather than his personal outlook. He should be mindful that the choice of texts is to be made in harmony with the ministers and others who have any role in the celebration and should listen to the opinions of the faithful in what concerns them more directly.”104

    1) The Two Readings before the Gospel

    79. In Masses to which three readings are assigned, all three are to be used. If, however, for pastoral reasons the Conference of Bishops has given permission for two readings only to be used,105 the choice between the two first readings is to be made in such a way as to safeguard the Church’s intent to instruct the faithful more completely in the mystery of salvation. Thus, unless the contrary is indicated in the text of the Lectionary, the reading to be chosen as the first reading is the one that is more closely in harmony with the Gospel, or, in accord with the intent just mentioned, the one that is more helpful toward a coherent catechesis over an extended period, or that preserves the semi-continuous reading of some biblical book.106

    2) The Longer and Shorter Forms of Texts

    80. A pastoral criterion must also guide the choice between the longer and shorter forms of the same text. The main consideration must be the capacity of the hearers to listen profitably either to the longer or to the shorter reading; or to listen to a more complete text that will be explained through the homily.

    3) When Two Texts Are Provided

    81. When a choice is allowed between alternative texts, whether they are fixed or optional, the first consideration must be the best interest of those taking part. It may be a matter of using the easier texts or the one more relevant to the assembled congregation or, as pastoral advantage may suggest, of repeating or replacing a text that is assigned as proper to one celebration and optional to another.

    The issue may arise when it is feared that some text will create difficulties for a particular congregation or when the same text would have to be repeated within a few days, as on a Sunday and on a day during the week following.

    4) The Weekday Readings

    82. The arrangement of weekday readings provides texts for every day of the week throughout the year. In most cases, therefore, these readings are to be used on their assigned days, unless a solemnity, a feast, or else a memorial with proper readings occurs.107

    In using the Order of Readings for weekdays attention must be paid to whether one reading or another from the same biblical book will have to be omitted because of some celebration occurring during the week. With the arrangement of readings for the entire week in mind, the priest in that case arranges to omit the less significant passages or combines in the most appropriate manner them with other readings, if they contribute to an integral view of a particular theme.

    5) The Celebrations of the Saints

    83. When they exist, proper readings are given for celebrations of the Saints, that is, biblical passages about the Saint or the mystery that the Mass is celebrating. Even in the case of a memorial these readings must take the place of the weekday readings for the same day. This Order of Readings makes explicit note of every case of proper readings on a memorial.

    In some cases there are accommodated readings, those, namely, that bring out some particular aspect of a Saint’s spiritual life or work. Use of such readings does not seem binding, except for compelling pastoral reasons. For the most part references are given to readings in the Commons in order to facilitate choice. But these are merely suggestions: in place of an accommodated reading or the particular reading proposed from a Common, any other reading from the Commons referred to may be selected.

    The first concern of a priest celebrating with a congregation is the spiritual benefit of the faithful and he will be careful not to impose his personal preference on them. Above all he will make sure not to omit too often or without sufficient cause the readings assigned for each day in the weekday Lectionary: the Church’s desire is that a more lavish table of the word of God be spread before the faithful.108

    There are also common readings, that is, those placed in the Commons either for some determined class of Saints (martyrs, virgins, pastors) or for the Saints in general. Because in these cases several texts are listed for the same reading, it will be up to the priest to choose the one best suited to those listening.

    In all celebrations of Saints the readings may be taken not only from the Commons to which the references are given in each case, but also from the Common of Men and Women Saints, whenever there is special reason for doing so.

    89. Among the chants between the readings, the psalm which follows the first reading is of great importance. As a rule the psalm to be used is the one assigned to the reading. But in the case of readings for the Common of Saints, ritual Masses, Masses for various needs and occasions, votive Masses, and Masses for the dead the choice is left up to the priest celebrating. He will base his choice on the principle of the pastoral benefit of those present.
    If a priest avails himself of the permissions in §§82 and 89, then when the the first reading changes, the responsorial also changes.

    My emphases are in bold.
  • Thank you Paul. I did indeed read this in its entirety before posting my question, and was looking for any further clarification on preference from other legislation or rubrics. What I read above seems to rely mostly on the judgement of the celebrant, though I see shades of preference such as "he will make sure not to omit too often or without sufficient cause the readings assigned for each day in the weekday Lectionary: the Church’s desire is that a more lavish table of the word of God be spread before the faithful."
  • And the following also indicates a preference for daily readings over the commons: "In most cases, therefore, these readings are to be used on their assigned days, unless a solemnity, a feast, or else a memorial with proper readings occurs."
  • I knew you had, Adam. But this is something we all can understand better.

    There are very few PROPER readings for the weekday saints, but it's great that the lectionary now provide appropriate accommodated readings for the weekday saints when a parish needs to celebrate a patron or on other pastorally beneficial occasions.
  • Sorry, when I said antiphon, I may have read too quickly and thought you were referring to the Introit (i.e. Entrance Antiphon) and Communion (Antiphon).

    I didn't mean to suggest separating the Responsorial Psalm antiphon from its Psalm.

    Sorry again for the confusion!
  • I think I'm clear on the readings as discussed above, but what about the antiphons for weekday Masses when a memorial is observed? Assuming one is going to use the readings of the weekday but the orations for the Saint, which processional antiphons would be preferable? From the commons as Skip describes or from the previous Sunday? I'm also assuming that there is no proper antiphon in the Missal.

    For example: Pope Gregory (Sept 3) has a proper entrance antiphon in the Missal. Peter Claver (Sept 9) does not. My sense is that one is free to choose, but is there an official preference between common of the saint or the ferial practice of repeating the antiphon from Sunday.
  • My sense is that one is free to choose, but is there an official preference between common of the saint or the ferial practice of repeating the antiphon from Sunday.


    I don't believe there is. I think if there is a proper antiphon in the Missal, that itself indicates a subtle preference for using it. As for other memorials without proper antiphons, I can't say there is a preference other than the fact the memorial Missal antiphons (proper or commons) are - if anything - linked more with the orations than the readings, so that suggests their use over the ferial practice of using those of the previous Sunday.

    As I may have stated elsewhere, in a previous daily Mass situation where I was not always able to coordinate with the celebrant in advance, I would use antiphons from the proper (or the commons if not in the proper) for obligatory memorials (simply because I knew they'd be observed), and I'd repeat the Sunday antiphons for optional memorials. (In that case, I wouldn't know what was being celebrated until I saw Father walk out vested and then had seconds to choose and execute the antiphon. If I used Sunday, I would not be liturgically incorrect for the memorial, but if I used the commons, I would be liturgically incorrect for the feria.)
    Thanked by 1Earl_Grey
  • From what I understand:

    On Solemnities, Feasts and Memorias, there are prescribed readings and these MUST be used.

    For Optional Memorias, there are usually a few different options for the readings. It is usually preferable to stick to the daily readings unless there is a particular pastoral benefit in using the readings from another mass.

    The use of Propers from the previous Sunday mostly applies to Ordinary Time. There are prescribed weekday propers for Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.
  • The prescribed readings for Memorials are not required unless they are marked "Proper" in the Lectionary. Read para. 83 in the quote above from Paul Ford!

    Yes, for the OF Missal, the entrance and communion propers from Sunday only applies to Ordinary Time. In the OF Graduale, only weekdays of Lent receive their own propers; Advent and Easter and some of Christmas also generally repeat the previous Sunday.