Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite by Matthew P. Hazell (review)
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Reviewed by
Matthew P. Hazell
Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite
Lectionary Study Aids, 1
s.1.: Lectionary Study Press, 2016
xxxviii + 232 pages. Paperback. $16.95.

Index Lectionum is a study tool compiled by the young English biblical scholar Matthew Hazell, who also maintains the website Lectionary Study Aids, which makes available liturgical and historical resources for the roman Lectionary and Missal [End Page 86] (http://catholiclectionary.blogspot.co.uk/). The book mainly consists of a detailed table that list the Scripture readings used in the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Forms of the Roman rite of Mass. The readings are arranged in the order of biblical books and it is indicated where they appear in either form (including the Propers and Commons of Saints, Ritual Masses, Votive Masses, and Masses for Various Needs and Occasions). Although the title of the volume may suggest a wider scope, the index covers only the readings at Mass, excluding the use of the Psalms, and it does not consider the Divine office and the Roman Ritual (with the exception of sacramental celebrations and blessings that are found in each missal). In fact, this is meant to be only the first volume in a series, and Hazell mentions a separate volume on the Psalms being in preparation, as well as the project for an index comparing the Breviarium Romanum of 1961 and the latest edition of the Liturgia Horarum. The volume contains appendices with specific tables comparing the Sundays in the liturgical year, the weekdays of Lent, the Propers and the Commons of Saints.

This volume is an outstanding resource for the ongoing discussion on the post-conciliar liturgical reform. There are evident limitations in the lectionary of the Tridentine missal, which were inherited from the missal of the Roman Curia in the later Middle Ages. During the work of preparation for the Missale Romanum of 1570, it was suggested to select three passages each from the Letter of St Paul and from the gospels, which are not contained in other Mass formularies, to be used every week on ferial days, in order to avoid repeating the Sunday readings; however, this proposal was not heeded. The Ordo Lectionum Missae of 1969 followed the demand of Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 51 that “[t]he treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of god’s word.”

The gains of this richer fare can hardly be disputed, for instance, on the ferial days of Advent when the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament are read, or on the ferial days in Paschal Time, with the rich pericopes from the Acts of the Apostles and from St John’s Gospel. However, a mere quantitative comparison [End Page 87] is only of limited value, because the fullness of the new lectionary can be appreciated only by faithful who attend Mass very regularly, if not daily.

There are questions about the shifting, redistribution and omission of readings in the process of revision, as discussed in Peter Kwasniewski’s Foreword to the Index Lectionum. For instance, there is the complete absence of the verses 1 Cor. 11:27–29, read on Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi in the Extraordinary Form, from the new lectionary. The healing of the centurion’s servant from Mt. 8:5–13, with the memorable words adapted as immediate preparation for Holy Communion in the Roman Rite, “Lord, I am not worthy…,” is relegated from the Third Sunday of Lent (Extraordinary Form) to a weekday in Advent (Ordinary Form). Although there is a far greater presence of the Old Testament in the new lectionary, it may come as a surprise that the judgment of Solomon (1 Kings 3:16–28), a story that has inspired the Christian imagination through centuries, has been removed from the Mass entirely (previously on the Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent).

These few examples may be sufficient to suggest that a reevaluation of the lectionary reform from a multi-disciplinary perspective, including biblical studies and systematic theology, is a real desideratum...