In the tradition of the Church, the reading of the Gospel is marked by special honor. It begins with a processional in which the Gospel Book is taken from the altar and brought into the middle of the nave. This procession symbolizes the coming of the ‘Good News’ of our salvation from heaven (the altar) to the midst of God’s people on earth (the nave). The Gospel Book is accompanied by two candles on each side which are both a token of joy and a symbol of Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12). All stand for the Gospel reading out of respect for Christ since these readings come from the portion of Scripture about His life. We also acknowledged Christ to be present in the reading of His Gospel by making acclamations directed to Him both before and after the reading. All present face the Gospel Book, and the priest or deacon reading from it, throughout the reading and during the two acclamation’s.
It is also customary that all present make a sign of the cross with the right thumb on the forehead, lips, and breast when the Gospel is announced. By this gesture we are asking Christ, through the reading and hearing of His Holy Gospel, to instruct our minds, aid us in our witness as we proclaim Him to the world, and renew our hearts. It is at this point also that the priest makes the sign of the cross on the Gospel Book blessing the word where we meet Christ (if a deacon reads the Gospel, he will turn to the celebrating priest to bless the Gospel Book before the processional). When the reading is concluded, it is appropriate for the priest or deacon to kiss the Gospel Book out of love and reverence for Christ.