Yesterday I argued for a hefty Bible at the lectern . Weighty truths, its seems to me, are fittingly stored in weighty tomes. That doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to pocket Bibles or bible verses that you can call up on your cell phoneor for that matter to any form of scripture. Sometimes convenience speaks in favor of various media.
But as one reader observed: Catholics place the blessed sacrament in a prized place within the Church, and we ought to do something analogous with the Word of God, which after all makes Christ present to us in the ancient scriptures of Israel and in the apostolic witness of the New Testament.
But another reader, the Assistant Village Idiot (it’s a tough job, I’m sure, and requires assistance), pointed out that recitation of scripture from memory is also a very powerful symbol. To which I say: Quite right!
On a couple of occasions I have attended churches where the lectors did not read but instead recited scripture from memory, and it was indeed a powerful experience. Once, in fact, the lector (who apparently had a stage sense), began the reading (Genesis 22, as I recall) at the lectern, but then, after the first verse or two, stepped away and toward the congregation to complete it from memory. It sent chills down my spine.
Actually, reciting from memory and reading from a big Bible share in a common symbolism. Both remind us of the powerful permanence of God’s truth. Memory fixes God’s word in our minds, giving it weight within, while the bulky big bible does the same outwardly.
So by all means memorize. I think it’s an excellent idea for youth ministries to invest a good bit of time in preparing kids to recite memorized passages as lectors in the regular liturgy of the church. Memory is the storehouse of the soul, and it’s very good to have life-giving provisions ready at hand.