Book of Gospels on the altar

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I read your answer to the question about what should go on the altar. I’m deacon and at Sunday masses I carry in the book of gospels in processon. The cross bearer nods to the altar and the readers make a profound bow and proceed to seats to the side of the large sanctuary. I nod to the altar and place the book of gospels on the too right side of the altar then after reverencing the altar go sit on the right side of the presider. 

On the altar is the chalice covered with a vale of liturgical co!or of the day. After the silence following the homily, as Deacon I prepare the vessels. I hand the presider the paton with the host to him as I also  prepare the wine and water in the chalice to hand to him. The server brings the bowl and towel to wash his hands. And mass continues as normal.

My question is it ok to place the book of Gospels on the altar as I described? We do have a large ambo where the readings are proclaimed and the homily is given from. But the book the readers read from is placed there before mass.


A: Here’s a previous post with some relevant information: .

A deacon may carry the book of the gospels in the entrance procession. Whereas other ministers reverence the altar as you describe, the deacon carrying the book of the gospels makes no reverence to the altar at all (GIRM 173), but walks directly into the sanctuary and places the book on the altar.

The absence of the reverence to the altar goes unexplained, but it implies that the book of the gospels is somewhat equivalent to the altar in deserving respect. It may be incensed. It is kissed. So the one holding it gives it full attention and is not distracted by the sacredness of the altar in that moment. 

Although the GIRM does not specify the part of the altar on which to the place the book, common practice is the middle. The chalice belongs on the credence table before Mass begins. It comes to the altar only at the preparation of the gifts (GIRM 73).