Q: When a church uses screens, what are your thoughts regarding what text should be posted on the screens? For example, a parish I know has two priests, one wants the gospel text on the screen, the other doesn’t. At the same time, as you know, some hymnal and missalettes have the readings. However, there is a difference having a large screen glowing off to the left of the ambo vs. a subtle hymnal and missal. What do you think?
A: Screens can be extremely effective to enhance the participation of the people. Music that they will sing (properly projected under copyright agreements), the words for the dialogues, and even artistic images can engage the faithful.
But participation is accomplished not just by looking, but also by listening.
The scripture readings are in a category of their own. GIRM 29 says it best: “When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel.” At the end of the gospel, the people say, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ,” because he has just spoken his word to them.
I know I’m in a minority here, but when people follow the readings from a hymnal, cellular device or big screen, they are diminishing the impact of the spoken word. Far better is to prepare for Mass by praying over the readings at home, and then pay attention at church. When the readings are proclaimed, open your ears, not your apps.