Guidelines for Lectors
"The celebration of Mass is a corporate act, an act of the whole assembly gathered for worship. All the particular ministries serve this corporate function. In the Mass, the Church is joined to the action of Christ, 'the high point of the work that in Christ God accomplishes to sanctify us and the high point of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, whom we adore through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit'. We are joined to this divine action through baptism, which incorporates us into the risen Christ. This action, which lies at the center of the whole Christian life is not initiated by us but by God acting in and through the Church as the body of the risen Christ. It becomes our action only to the extent that we give ourselves to this mystery of redemptive worship. The liturgy is designed to bring about in all those who make up the worshipping assembly 'a participation in body and spirit that is conscious, active, full, and motivated by faith, hope, and charity'. To the extent that we are able to participate in this way, the work of redemption becomes personally effective for each of us. By such participation, we make the actions and prayers of the liturgy our own; we enter more fully into our personal communion with Christ's redeeming act and perfect worship.
"The Eucharistic celebration is an action of Christ and the Church, which is the 'sacrament of unity,' that is, a holy people gathered together and ordered under the Bishop. For this reason, the Eucharistic celebration belongs to the whole Body of the Church. Such a celebration manifests this same Body and affects it. As to the individual members of the Body, the Eucharistic celebration touches them in different ways, according to their rank, office, and degree of participation in the Eucharist. In this way, the Christian people, 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own,' demonstrates it cohesion and its hierarchical ordering. Therefore, all, whether ordained ministers or Christian faithful, by virtue of their function or their office, should do all and only those parts that belong to them."
"When the Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself is speaking to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the gospel. The reading of God's word must therefore be listened to by all with reverence; they make up a principal element of the liturgy. In the biblical readings God's word addresses all people of every era and is understandable to them, and a fuller understanding and efficacy are fostered by a living commentary on it, that is to say, by the homily, understood as an integral part of the liturgical action." "… designated readers must be truly qualified and carefully prepared for this office, so that the faithful will develop a warm and lively love for Sacred Scripture from listening to the reading from the sacred texts."
"In texts that are to be delivered in a loud and clear voice, whether by the priest or deacon or by the reader, or by all, the tone of voice should correspond to the genre of the text, that is, accordingly as it is a reading, a prayer, an instruction, or a liturgical song. The tone should also be suited to the form of celebration and to the solemnity of the gathering. Other criteria are the idiom of different languages and the genius of peoples."
- This ministry is open to men and women who are practicing Catholics, in good standing with the parish community, and possess a love of the Scriptures. Regarding the age of Lectors, generally speaking it is recommended that Lectors be 16 years of age, but an exception may be made for younger readers who are gifted in the area of proclamation of the Word. The role of Lector is not to be visibly confused with the roles of other ministers, such as deacon, eucharistic minister, cantor, and so on. Those invited into this ministry should realize that it is a leadership role in the community.
- Lectors should dress appropriately for their ministry.
- Lectors must be properly trained in their ministry before beginning this ministry. They need the perspective and ability to understand the Word and to interpret the Scriptural texts. Ample material is available to assist with background and understanding. Ongoing education is encouraged.
- Good communication skills are necessary for anyone who proclaims the Word of God. Pauses, enunciation, phrasing, and speed with which one proclaims should be well practiced. Silence after the readings is essential. Lectors use the text as written; they do not add their own words.
- Lectors slowly pace themselves in procession carrying the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated. The assembly sees the Book of the Word and the respect with which it is held.
- The Psalm is usually sung, and is the role of the cantor, unless there is no music or cantor.
- Scheduling ministers for this ministry is important, even during difficult seasons and vacations months lest the impression be given that the ministry is trivial or unimportant.
- We welcome and encourage youth (teenagers) to learn the skills of proclamation and communication thus preparing them for the ministry of lector.
These guidelines are being implemented to assist you in your ministry, as we all work together to make our Sunday celebrations true expressions of all we believe.
We encourage you to study and read all the readings prior to coming to Mass on any Saturday or Sunday. This will help you to put in context the readings you proclaim on the days you are scheduled. When you are scheduled to lector, please prepare both readings. When you are scheduled to read, please arrive in the sacristy 15 minutes prior to Mass. Don't forget to check with the Priest for any last minute instructions. Pre-read the Announcements to become familiar with any unusual pronunciations.
When you receive your schedule, please note if you cannot serve a particular liturgy, please call a substitute as soon as possible. Following are a Lector's responsibilities:
- Carries in the book of Gospels in the opening procession
- First Reading
- Second Reading
- Announcements after Communion
At the start of Mass only the book of Gospels is carried in procession and placed on the altar. The lector genuflects toward the tablenacle with the priest and servers, then turns toward the congregation and all bow together. Everyone then takes his or her respective seats. If the Deacon is present, the Deacon with carry the Book of Gospels.
The lectionary remains on the ambo. When you arrive before Mass, please check that the lectionary is on the ambo, marked to the correct page. It helps to memorize the page number in case the ribbon is moved.
After the introductory prayers, the Lector steps to the ambo as the assembly is seated, introduces the reading by saying: "A reading from the Book of…", pauses after the reading, and then says: "The word of the Lord." Remove the book from the ambo and return to your seat.
The cantor proclaims the psalm. After an appropriate pause following the psalm, the introduce the second reading by saying: "A reading from the letter of…", pauses after the reading, and then says: "The word of the Lord." When finished, please place the lectionary on the table next to your seat. Return to your seat.
The Lector reads the Prayers of the Faithful, unless the Deacon is present, in which case the Deacon will read the Prayers of the Faithful.
After the Priest reads the post-Communion prayer, the Lector reads the announcements from the ambo, and then steps back for the dismissal Blessing. At the recessional, the Lector processes out following the servers. You do not carry the Book of Gospels in the recessional.
Your workbooks contain the readings for all Sundays for the year. We encourage you to pray over the readings and take the time to read in the Bible what comes before and after your particular text.
Remember to make eye contact with the community during your reading. Sound tends to echo in our church and these reverberations garble words that are read too fast. Speak slowly into the microphone. Your mouth should be about three inches from the microphone. Watch for the "P" popping by speaking words with the letter P slightly away from the microphone. This may take some practice.
Please take momentary rests during your readings to let the echoes subside. Remember, too, that you are not reenacting Biblical events, but merely repeating them. Our responsibility to the gathered church is to make God's word live. Your careful prayer and preparation will make that happen. May the God revealed in the Word you proclaim continue to initiate all we do.