Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 05 March |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Jeremiah of Wallachia
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Did you know Mass readings in the early Church were almost always as long as Palm Sunday?

Congerdesign | Pixabay

Philip Kosloski - published on 04/13/19

The bishop was in charge of how long the readings were, which could have meant very long Sunday Masses!

For Roman Catholics, the weekly Sunday Mass readings are extremely short when compared to the Passion narrative that is recited (or sung) every year on Palm Sunday. This makes Palm Sunday somewhat difficult to attend for those who have trouble standing for the entire Gospel proclamation.

However, did you know that every Sunday may have been like that in the early Church?

Many of the first Christians were Jewish, and so, not surprisingly, they modeled their liturgy on the synagogue services. This included a continuous reading of Sacred Scripture that was carried on from one week to the next. It was divided up into two separate readings, one from the “Law” and the other from the “Prophets.”

Similarly, early Christians divided up the readings into three separate readings, one from the Old Testament, another from the New Testament Acts or letters, and finally, one from the Gospels.

Yet, the length of each reading was not specified as it is today.

St. Justin Martyr in the 2nd century wrote, “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.”

The Catholic Encyclopediafurther explains, “At this time, then, the text was read continuously from a Bible, till the president (the bishop who was celebrating) told the reader to stop.”

This means that the recitation of Sacred Scripture varied between Christian communities and was dependent on the bishop who was presiding. If he wanted a long reading, he got one!

Over time the Sunday readings were standardized and specific verses were selected according to the liturgical calendar. The Second Vatican Council in the mid-20th century further refined the practice and returned to the original tradition of three separate readings (for many centuries the Church only had two readings).

If you think “Oh, no, it’s the long Gospel!” at the Palm Sunday liturgy, just remember it could be longer!




Read more:
What was Mass like for the early Christians?


MOM,SON,PRAYING

Read more:
Why do Roman Catholics kneel at Mass?

Tags:
BibleLiturgy
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
GUARDIAN ANGEL
Philip Kosloski
10 Mysterious things to know about guardian angels
2
SAINT JOSEPH AND CHILD JESUS
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about St. Joseph
3
DANCING NUNS
J-P Mauro
Let these Dublin nuns raise your spirits with this viral dance
4
TRANSFIGURATION
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
5 Theological truths to see in the Transfigured Christ
5
POPE AUDIENCE
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Do you know the 3 words that describe God’s style? Pope Fra...
6
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
7
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.