Catholic Dictionary

Gospel, The Last

The Prologue of St. John's Gospel (1:1-18), which, being a summary of the entire Gospel and of the mystery of the Incarnation, has from earliest times been regarded with great respect and love. St. Augustine repeats the saying of a contemporary of his who had remarked that this pericope of the Gospel of St. John should be written in gold letters and placed in a prominent place in every church. Indeed, it was often copied by the faithful and carried about on their person as a sacramental. Just as blessings were and are imparted through the use of some sacramental or other ¡ª a cross, a relic, an icon ¡ª so blessings were imparted using the words of the Prologue. The Dominican Rite was among the first to prescribe it for the priest privately after Mass (in their Ordinarium of 1256), and eventually the custom arose here and there of reciting it right after Mass. In 1558 the Jesuits voted at their General Chapter to use in their Missal either this text or that of Lk 11:27: "Blessed is the womb that bore you!" By the time the Missal of Pope St. Pius V was published after the Council of Trent in 1570, it had become a regular appendage at Low Mass. Again, this pericope was regarded as a form of blessing. Around the time of the Second Vatican Council its use was discontinued; however, because of its special place in the Gospel writings, it should be used by Christians everywhere in order to ponder the great things God has done for us and for their own spiritual growth and edification.

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