Q: May I know where the Book of Gospels should be placed at the beginning of Mass. The GIRM says on # 122 “It is praiseworthy practice for the Book of Gospels to be placed on altar.” Does this mean that the Book of Gospels could be placed some where else – since it is only “praiseworthy” hence it could be placed on a side table or on a shelf at the Ambo till it is used at the Gospel reading?
And if the Book of Gospels is placed on the altar and when there is incensing, the Book and the altar are both incensed, is this appropriate?
A: If the book of the gospels is to be carried in the entrance procession by a deacon, or in his absence by a reader, then it may be placed in any dignified place before the procession begins. Once the procession reaches the sanctuary, the book is placed on the altar.
If it is not carried in procession, then it may be placed on the altar before mass begins.
You’re right that when GIRM 122 says it is praiseworthy to place it on the altar, it opens the possibility that it could be placed somewhere else. But the altar is certainly best.
When incensing, the priest is incensing the altar, even though the book may be there. In the same way that the altar cloth is there, but he’s incensing the altar, not the cloth.