Not much has changed for the congregation during the reading from Scripture which takes place in the Liturgy of the Word; the one exception is that instead of saying "Glory to you, Lord" just before the Gospel begins to be read, we will say "Glory to you, O Lord" (a change probably made for the sake of rhythm).Proclaiming the Gospel is a serious responsibility and the priest or deacon who does so prepares himself for it while the congregation is singing the Alleluia. If a priest proclaims the Gospel, he stands before the altar and, making a profound bow, prays quietly:
For the priest and deacon, however, there are prayers that are changing. These prayers happen to be said quietly, but it is important for the congregation to be aware of the quiet prayers of the priest and to know what those prayers ask for, so that the congregation can derive spiritual benefit from them.
There are two changes around the reading of the Gospel: the blessing before the Gospel (in this column), and the prayer after the Gospel (in the next column).
Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, Isa 6:5-7This prayer’s word order has changed slightly to better match the Latin, and the priest says “your holy Gospel” instead of just “your Gospel.”
that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel. Eph 6:19
If a deacon is proclaiming the Gospel, he stands before the celebrant, bows, and says:
Your blessing, Father.This has been changed from “Father, give me your blessing.” The old translation is reminiscent of the Prodigal Son in the parable: “Father, give me the share of property…” (Lk 15:12) Now the words sound less like a demand and more like a polite, yet confident, request.
The priest prays for the deacon with the following words, also said quietly:
May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips, Ps 19:14The priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the deacon, who also makes the Sign of the Cross and says “Amen.”
that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well, Eph 6:19
in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.
The priest prays for himself for purification (cleansing), while the prayer over the deacon is for benediction (blessing). God’s call to the prophet Isaiah provides the reason for these prayers. As he had a vision of the Lord seated upon His throne in the heavenly Temple, he cried out, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” (Isa 6:5) But then one of the angels he saw in his vision came to him,
having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people…” (Isa 6:5-9)First Isaiah is purified by the burning coal taken from the altar of incense. In like manner, the priest asks that God might purify his lips and heart, so that he may worthily proclaim the Gospel. The New Testament letter of St. James explains why such a prayer is needed, in its third chapter.
Isaiah, having been purified, is given God's blessing to preach prophetic words: “Go, and say…” So the deacon asks the priest for a blessing from God, and the priest prays that God would be in the heart and on the lips of the deacon: in his heart, that he will announce the good news worthily, and on his lips, that he will announce it well.
These preparatory prayers remind the priest or deacon of the grandeur of his mission and his need for God’s grace to carry it out well. The congregation should consider their own need to be well-prepared to receive the words of the Gospel, take them to heart, and put them into practice.