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Sunday of the Word of God


Pope Francis' Apostolic Letter, Motu proprio "Aperuit illis", establishes that "the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God". Pope Francis is clear from the very first paragraph of this letter that the relationship between the Risen Lord, a community of believers, and sacred Scripture is essential to who we are as Christians.

Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the occasion.

Date of Celebration: Sunday, 26 January 2020

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Pope Francis is inviting Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his Word. 

Sunday, 26 January is a time when the community is called to give greater attention not just to the Word of God. It is also urged to reflect on how we honour that Word in our celebrations, the books that we proclaim the Word from.

  • Is the Gospel book carried in procession?
  • Is it a well-made book that shows forth its life-giving content?
  • Is it honoured with incense, and do we sing during the Gospel procession? 
  • Are the readers who proclaim the Word formed in the art of proclamation, and the knowledge of what they are announcing?

Pope Francis suggests in his letter that this Sunday is an ideal time to reflect on these issues. For presiders, it is also a call to reflect once again on their preaching of the Word of God. This Sunday might well be an appropriate time to commission and bless those who serve the community as readers, and initiate new ones to this essential ministry. If the parish community does not enthrone the Word of God every Sunday, maybe today is an opportunity to start.

Resources for Sunday of the Word of God

Celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God

Resources have been prepared for the 'Sunday of the Word of God' by the the Faculty of Theology, Pontifical University, St Patrick's College Maynooth and taken from The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference website.

Pope Francis suggests the following ways to celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God:

  • Enthrone the sacred text.
  • Highlight the proclamation of the Word of the Lord.
  • Emphasise the honour due to the word of God in the homily.
  • Celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a commissioning of Readers.
  • Provide training for Readers.
  • Give a Bible, or one of its books, to everyone.
  • Encourage people to read and pray with Scripture daily, especially through the practice of lectio divina.

What is the Word of God?

We often identify the Bible as the Word of God. This is not wrong, but God speaks to our hearts in many different ways. For instance, he speaks to us in prayer and through our conscience, and often through other people.

Hence, the Word of God covers much more than a printed book. Nevertheless, the Bible is the privileged collection of communications between God and his people. These stories and poems have nourished the lives of the people of Israel and the Christian Church right through the centuries, and they continue to nourish us today. They tell the story of God’s love and our salvation from ancient times onwards. The scriptural texts offer us both challenge and encouragement for our lives, and are especially valuable to us through the hope they offer us at dark moments.


Resources for ‘Sunday of the Word of God’ | Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference

A wide range of useful resources covering the readings of day, reflections, homily guidance and suggested liturgies for Commissioning Ministers of the Word.

Liturgy suggestions for Commissioning of Readers on Sunday of the Word of God

Prayers, Liturgy guidance and suggestions following Pope Francis's invitation to celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a commissioning of Readers.

Celebrate Sunday of the Word of God | Tarsus.ie

THE WORD Newsletter by Tarsus.ie provided helpful tips and guidance to celebrate Sunday of the Word of God.


Enthroning the Bible in the Family | United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

To show that God is at the center of their lives, many families enthrone the Bible, the Word of God, in a visible place in their homes. By placing the Sacred Scriptures in a prominent place decorated with flowers and art, and by gathering at this spot for daily prayer, families show that God is present and active through his Word. ​


Sunday of the Word of God: making the Scriptures part of our everyday lives - Vatican News

Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization explained during a press conference on Friday, it is an initiative that the Pope has entrusted to the whole Church so that "the Christian community may concentrate on the great value that the Word of God occupies in its daily existence"

Social Media Resources

These visuals are selected quotes from Pope Francis from his Apostolic Letter of 30 September 2019, Aperuit illis and can be shared on social media to coincide with the celebration of the Sunday of the Word.

Thought for the Day visuals designed by Brenda Drumm, Catholic Communications Office.

Derry Diocesan Pastoral Plan

Pope Francis' is invitation for all Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his Word fits in with the Diocese of Derry Pastoral Theme 3.0 Work to Make Jesus Known and Loved.

THROUGH the Gospel WE EXPERIENCE the love of the Father, forgiveness in the Son and the power of the Spirit. AS CHRISTIANS we are all called to be part of the work of making this relevant in our own lives in today's society.

Confirmation Schedule 2020
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