The Ministry of Lector
“The Word of God as proclaimed in the sacred Scripture lies at the heart of our Christian life and is integral to all our liturgical celebrations (Book of Blessings, 1827).”
The ministry of lector is an important and essential one for our celebration of the liturgy. This article includes information about this ministry here at St. Mary’s. It also includes some information from “Guidelines for Lectors from the Archdiocese of Portland.”
This ministry is open to women and men aged sixteen and above, who have been fully initiated. They should be practicing Catholics, in good standing with the parish community and possess a love of the Scriptures. (“Guidelines for Lectors”)
At St. Mary’s, there are two lectors for each Mass. They serve as part of a liturgical ministry team which is on a four week rotation.
Preparation for this ministry begins at home with reading and studying the Scriptures. “The lector designated to proclaim the readings from Scripture, should have both the perspective and the ability to understand the Word, and must proclaim the sacred texts from a standpoint of faith. Therefore, preparation for this ministry should include both study of the scriptures and prayerful reflection on the passages to be proclaimed.” (Guidelines for Lectors)
“Good communication skills are necessary for anyone who proclaims the Word of God. Pauses, enunciation, phrasing, and the speed with which one proclaims should be well practiced. Silence after the readings is essential. Readers use the text as written; they do not add their own words.” (Guidelines for Lectors)
Lectors are asked to arrive at least 20 minutes early for Mass. This allows the lector to practice with his (her) partner and also to become familiar with the prayers of the Faithful.
Once lectors have practiced, we ask them to join Father and the acolytes in the vestibule.
The lectionary and the folder containing the Prayers of the Faithful and the announcements should be placed in the pew where the lectors will be seated before mass. (Front pew center aisle, ambo side).
The lectors follow the cross bearer and acolytes in the entrance procession. If there is a deacon, he will carry the Book of the Gospels. Otherwise, one of the lectors will carry the Book of the Gospels. The other lector carries the wood covered Book of Prayer requests (kept in the vestibul).
“Ordinarily lectors should carry the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated in the entrance procession at the Sunday celebration. Thus the assembly sees the Book of the Word and the respect with which it is held.” (Guidelines for Lectors)
When the lectors reach the altar, the lector carrying the Book of Prayer requests places the book on the left corner of the altar. After that, the lector or Deacon carrying the Book of the Gospels places the Book on the altar. Then they should rejoin the others at the base of the steps and make a profound bow before going to their seat.
At the conclusion of the Opening Prayer, the lector will go to the ambo to proclaim the first reading. Because the lector will be moving in front of the altar to get to the ambo he (she) should make a profound bow in front of the altar. Please be sure that the people are seated and ready to listen before beginning. Hold the lectionary in your hands as you read—you may want to practice holding the lectionary so you become comfortable. Proclaim the reading – brief pause – “The Word of the Lord.”
At the conclusion of the reading and the people’s response, place the lectionary on the ambo; count to five, lower your head and return to your seat. If there is only one lector, please step down from the ambo, but remain in the sanctuary during the responsorial psalm.
The second lector should go to the ambo at the conclusion of the psalm.
The Prayers of the Faithful happen once the Creed is finished. Be ready to return to the ambo as soon as the Creed is completed. Please be in the aisle when the congregation is saying “AMEN.” Look at Father while he is doing the introduction to the prayers. Hold the folder in your hands and read the prayers. Turn back to Father while he says the concluding prayer; then take the folder and returns to your seat.
If there is no Creed, watch for Father to stand after the silence following the homily. Come forward when Father stands.
If the lector is to read the announcements, wait until all the Eucharist ministers have left the altar, the Eucharist is returned to the tabernacle and the musicians have completed the Communion song. The lector should be ready—not rushed.
At the conclusion of Mass, line up with Father and the acolytes at the base of the altar steps. When Father makes his profound bow, the lectors should make one also.
Process out in the same order that you processed in. The Book of the Gospels, lectionary, Book of Prayer requests and folder should not be carried out of the church.
- Return Book of Gospels, lectionary and folder to the sacristy
- If you have a few moments, get some feedback from your partner, Father, Kathy or Jane regarding your delivery, i.e., speed, volume, clarity, etc.
“Christ is truly “present in the word” since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are proclaimed in church (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 7).”