Liturgy of the Word
Most of the Liturgy of the Word is made up of readings from Scripture. On Sundays and solemnities, there are three Scripture readings. During most of the year, the first reading is from the Old Testament and the second reading is from one of the New Testament letters. During Easter Time, the first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles which tells the story of the Church in its earliest days. The last reading is always taken from one of the four Gospels.
In the Liturgy of the Word, the Church feeds the people of God from the table of his Word (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 51). The Scriptures are the word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures, God speaks to us, leading us along the path to salvation.
The Responsorial Psalm is sung between the readings. The psalm helps us to meditate on the word of God.
The high point of the Liturgy of the Word is the reading of the Gospel. Because the Gospels tell of the life, ministry, and preaching of Christ, it receives several special signs of honor and reverence. The gathered assembly stands to hear the Gospel and it is introduced by an acclamation of praise. Apart from Lent, that acclamation is “Alleluia,” derived from a Hebrew phrase meaning “Praise the Lord!” A deacon (or, if no deacon is present, a priest) reads the Gospel.
After the Scripture readings, the celebrant preaches the homily. In the homily, the preacher focuses on the Scripture texts or some other texts from the liturgy, drawing from them lessons that may help us to live better lives, more faithful to Christ’s call to grow in holiness.
In many Masses, the Profession of Faith then follows the homily, either the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed. The Nicene Creed is a statement of faith dating from the fourth century, while the Apostles’ Creed is the ancient baptismal creed of the Church in Rome. If baptismal promises are renewed, from a formula based on the Apostles’ Creed, this takes the place of the Creed.
The Liturgy of the Word concludes with the Universal Prayer, also called the Prayer of the Faithful. The gathered assembly intercedes with God on behalf of the Church, the world, and themselves, entrusting their needs to the faithful and loving God.
Consubstantial with the Father
Question: In the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, why has “one in being with the Father” been changed to “consubstantial with the Father?”
Answer: The new translation is more in keeping with the ancient Latin text of the Creed and a more accurate translation.
The bishops at the Council of Nicea (AD 325), in order to ensure that Jesus was professed as the eternal Son of God, equal to the Father, stated that he is “the Son of God, begotten from the Father, the only-begotten, that is from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, the same substance (homoousion) with the Father…” The Creed of the Council of Constantinople (381), which is professed at all Sunday Masses and Solemnities within the Catholic Church, similarly stated: “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of the same substance (homoousion) with the Father.”
When these two ancient creeds were translated into Latin, the term ” homoousion” was rendered as ” consubstantialem,” that is, “the same substance of the Father.” Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Latin ” consubstantialem” was rendered as “consubstantial” within the English translation of the Creed. Many theologians and the Holy See thought that the term “consubstantial” was more in keeping with the Latin tradition and a more literal and accurate translation than the more recent “one in being.”
This is in keeping with the mind of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which published an Instruction, entitled Liturgiam Authenticam. It stated: “Certain expressions that belong to the heritage of the whole or of a great part of the ancient Church, as well as others that have become part of the general human patrimony, are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible” (no. 56).