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Liturgical Abuses

Ambo, improper use of

The ambo is a sacred, that is blessed, object and should only be used for sacred use by "a minister of the word." This means that announcements should not be done from the ambo, nor should the cantor use it as a music stand. Church references regarding the ambo include the following (emphasis mine).


From the GIRM:


58. In the celebration of the Mass with the people, the readings are always read from the ambo.

105. A liturgical function is also exercised by:


b) The commentator, who, if appropriate, provides the faithful briefly with explanations and exhortations so as to direct their attention to the celebration and ensure that they are better disposed for understanding it. The commentator’s remarks should be thoroughly prepared and notable for their restraint. In performing this function the commentator stands in a suitable place within sight of the faithful, but not at the ambo.

A person using an ambo as a lectern; liturgical abuse
Red x indicating incorrect

Abuse: As a sacred, blessed object, the ambo is not to be used for announcements. It is for the proclamation of the Word, not for reminding people to turn off their cell phones.

Screenshot from Facebook

Cantor using an ambo as a lectern; liturgical abuse
Red x indicating incorrect

Abuse: the ambo is not to be used by the cantor as a music stand

Screenshot from YouTube

The Ambo

309. The dignity of the Word of God requires that in the church there be a suitable place from which it may be proclaimed and toward which the attention of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the Word.

It is appropriate that generally this place be a stationary ambo and not simply a movable lectern. The ambo must be located in keeping with the design of each church in such a way that the ordained ministers and readers may be clearly seen and heard by the faithful.

From the ambo only the readings, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; likewise it may be used for giving the homily and for announcing the intentions of the Universal Prayer. The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister of the word should stand at it.

It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use a new ambo be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.

From The Theological Vision of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Roman Missal from the USCCB: 

The place of the ambo is sacred and is reserved for the proclamation of the Word of God, this includes the responsorial psalm. It may also be used for the homily and the Prayer of the Faithful. It is not to be used as a music stand: the cantor, the conductor of the choir/assembly and the commentator should use a moveable stand or lectern. The ambo is truly regarded as the table of God’s Word in the same way in which the altar is the table of the Lord’s body and blood.

Information on the ambo may also be found in the General Introduction to the Lectionary (Second Edition). Search for "ambo." 

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