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. These instructions include information about this ministry here at St. Mary’s. They also include some information from “Guidelines for Lectors from the Archdiocese of Portland.”
This ministry is open to women and men age 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 for the prayer.
The open lectionary should be placed on the Ambo and the folder (containing the Prayers of the Faithful, the introduction to the Mass, and the announcements) should be placed in the table near the Ambo before mass. The lector who reads the second reading will not process in, but will read the introduction paragraph from the Ambo just before Mass begins and then return to the pew.
The lector who reads the first reading follows the cross bearer and acolytes in the entrance procession. If there is a deacon, he will carry the Book of the Gospels. Otherwise, the lector who reads the first reading will carry the Book of the Gospels. “Ordinarily lectors should carry the Book of the Gospels slightly elevated (be sure that the printed cross in the Gospel Book cover should be facing the people) in the entrance procession at Sunday celebration. Thus, the assembly sees the Book of the Word and the respect with which it is held.” (Guidelines for Lectors)
The lector carrying the Book of the Gospels places the Book on the altar, walking around the altar and facing the congregation as the book is placed. Then they make a profound bow to the altar before going to their seat.
At the conclusion of the Opening Prayer, both lectors will go to the altar and make a profound bow in the middle isle at the foot of the sanctuary. The second reader will sit in one of the chairs behind the Ambo. The first reader will move to the Ambo to proclaim the first reading. Please be sure that the people are seated and ready to listen before beginning…. Proclaim the reading – brief pause – “The Word of the Lord.”
At the conclusion of the reading and the people’s response; count to five, lower your head and then sit on the second chair on the altar. If there is only one lector, please step down from the Ambo, but remain seated in the sanctuary during the responsorial psalm.
The second lector should go to the Ambo at the conclusion of the psalm. After the reading and the people’s response, place the lectionary on the table near the Ambo. Both lectors return to their pew after the second reading, each making a profound bow at the left side of the altar.
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; the lector then takes the folder and returns to his (her) 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 and sit on the outside seat on the aisle.
Neither lector processes out with the priest and the acolytes at the end of the Mass. The Book of the Gospels, lectionary, and folder should not be carried out of the church.
• Lectors should return the Book of the Gospels, lectionary and folder to the sacristy
• If you have a few moments, get some feedback from your partner or Father 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).”