The Book of the Gospels is a collection of Gospel passages proclaimed at Mass. It is an excerpt of the lectionary, usually containing the Gospels for Sundays and solemnities, and decorated with dignity. It does not contain the entire texts of all four Gospels.
The words of Jesus are highly esteemed by Christians, so the Book of the Gospels receives more respect than other volumes of the lectionary.
It is not required to use the Book of the Gospels at Mass, but it is recommended.
This book — not the lectionary — may be carried in the entrance procession by a deacon, or by a lector when there is no deacon. The minister walks with the book slightly elevated and places it on the altar, which represents Christ, the living stone (1 Pt 2:4). This placement unifies two primary symbols for Christ: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During the Gospel acclamation, the deacon or priest goes to the altar, lifts the Book of the Gospels, and carries it to the ambo. He may incense the book after announcing the evangelist. He proclaims the Gospel and then kisses the book.
If a bishop presides, the deacon who proclaims the Gospel may carry the Book of the Gospels to the bishop for him to kiss. The bishop may then grasp the book and bless the people by making the sign of the cross with it.
Afterward, the book may be placed on the credence table or in some other worthy place.
During the ordination of a deacon, the Book of the Gospels is placed briefly in his hands. During the ordination of a bishop, the Book of the Gospels is briefly laid on his head.