The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have announced that a new edition of the Lectionary is being prepared. Archbishop George Stack, the chair of the Department of Christian Life and Worship, which is leading the project, described it as “a gift to the Church in England and Wales,” saying that the new Lectionary “will deepen the understanding and love of the scriptures by the People of God.”
The most significant change from the 1981 Lectionary currently in use is that rather than following Jerusalem Bible and Grail Psalms, the new edition of the Lectionary will use the Catholic Edition of the English Standard Version (ESV) and an updated translation of the Grail Psalms called the Abbey Psalms and Canticles.
In addition to the change of translation, the new Lectionary will contain provision for saints added to the Universal Calendar since 1981, as well as readings for use with National Calendars and expanded readings for some liturgical rites, such as Holy Matrimony. The layout will be expanded so that the readings are arranged in “sense lines,” allowing them to be read more easily by the lector.
Approval for the texts is still ongoing, and expected to be completed by the CBCEW in the Autumn of this year before going to the Vatican for review and confirmatio. The earliest date for publication of the new Lectionary, the use of which will be mandatory in England and Wales, is 2022. The Bishops stress the importance of the People’s Missal and other connected materials being available at the same time as the volumes for liturgical use.
The Catholic Truth Society (CTS) has been appointed publishers of the Lectionary. Pierpaolo Finaldi, the CEO and Publisher of CTS told the Catholic Herald that work is well underway on the project. “We have already been working with partners in Italy on resolving some of the problems of durability we have seen in the past,” Finaldi said, “especially with the larger volumes of the lectionaries, and with finding solutions for the more rarely used volumes that will keep them in pristine condition.”
Finaldi sees this project as a continuation of CTS’s mission “to provide liturgical publications of the very highest quality while maintaining a reasonable price.” Many parish priests, anticipating the requirement to purchase the many volumes the Lectionary will comprise, will be relieved that such practicalities guide the publisher’s considerations.
This does not mean that the considerations are only practical. Finaldi stresses that beauty is essential to the nature of the liturgy, and that the Church has a long history of her liturgical books sharing the same high aesthetic.
“We have been working with the best bookbinders and silversmiths to produce something really special for the Book of the Gospels,” Finaldi said. “Once the current restrictions are – please God! – a thing of the past,” he went on to say, “we look forward to returning to the beauty of those big joyful Catholic occasions.”
“Who doesn’t like a good procession with the Book of the Gospels at the centre?” Finaldi asked. “CTS looks forward to providing a book which reflects the beauty of the Word inside.”
The publication of the Lectionary is still at least a year away, but further information on the volumes and how to purchase them will be made available on the CTS website as it becomes available, and well in advance of the introduction of the new Lectionary in England and Wales.