A lector is someone who proclaims the readings from Sacred Scripture, except for the Gospel in the Mass and other sacred celebrations; is to recite the Psalm between the readings when there is no psalmist; is to present the intentions for the general intercessions in the absence of a Deacon.
The Mechanics of Lectoring
Check in at sacristy at least 15 minutes before start of Mass:
- Put a check mark beside your name on the bulletin schedule to confirm your attendance & work out with the other lector who does which activity.
- Locate the correct readings in the Lectionary. Make certain that the Lectionary on the pulpit is opened to the right spot for the 1 st reading. If the priest chooses to use the Book of Gospels, make sure it is properly book-marked.
- Practice the Prayer of the Faithful petitions found in the sacristy. (This is a sacristy copy, leave it there; the original is in a folder at the Lectern)
[Note: Check with priest/others for the correct pronunciation of proper names if you are unsure]
- For those doing Saturday 5PM Mass, you need to make sure the original copy of the Prayer of the Faithful petitions gets into the folder at the Lectern – otherwise you may get up there and find it is last week’s edition!
Line up for Processional into Church:
- Cross bearer leads, if present.
- Deacon with Book of Gospels next (If no deacon, then a Lector carries Book)
- Both Lectors are requested to join in the procession (regardless of carrying the Book)
- Priest follows at the end
- Carry Book of Gospels in both hands, facing forward, chest high.
- Use a slow to moderate walking pace – no need to rush!
- Walk right up the steps to the altar and place the Book of Gospels on the altar. Do NOT genuflect. If there are flowers in front of altar, place Book in center of altar.
- Lectors not carrying the Book will genuflect and return to their pew – sit anywhere you like, preferably with your family.
First Reading Guidelines:
- Remain in your pew until the priest concludes the prayer.
- Proceed to lectern as the congregation takes their seats and are getting settled.
- If you pass across the center aisle/front of the altar, pause and bow briefly.
- Upon reaching lectern, find your spot in the lectionary, then pause and establish eye contact with the congregation. WAIT until the congregation is completely settled and you clearly have their undivided attention.
- Announce the scripture reading (e.g. “A reading from the book of Exodus”) then pause.
- Read the scripture & then pause at the end.
- Complete the reading with “The word of the Lord.”
Responsorial Psalm Guidelines:
- These are usually sung when a choir is present; when in doubt, confirm with the choir leader before Mass starts.
- When sung, remove the Lectionary from the lectern to provide the cantor with room for their music materials. [Use the lecture shelf for storage]
- If choir does not sing these, the Lector reads them & leads the congregation in the responses.
Second Reading Guidelines:
- Basically a repeat of guidelines for First Reading. After the reading, place the lectionary at the pulpit on the shelf of the pulpit.
- Retrieve the announcements folder for later use and return with it to your pew
- If you pass across the center aisle/front of altar, pause and bow briefly.
Prayers of the Faithful Guidelines:
- Toward the conclusion of the Creed, begin to approach the Lectern.
- As the priest says the introductory prayer, get your script ready for reading.
- Announce to the congregation the proper response (e.g. “Lord hear our prayer”)
- Devoutly read each petition.
- Remain at lectern until priest has concluded the closing prayer; then return to your pew as the congregation is being seated.
Final Announcements Guidelines: (NOT USED)
- Remain in pew until after Communion & the priest returns to his seat.
- After a short silent prayer the priest will stand for the concluding prayer. You IMMEDIATELY proceed with the announcements folder to the steps at the bottom of the lectern. Wait until the “Amen”, then go to the lectern.
- Read the announcements then store the announcements folder on the shelf under the lectern for use at later Masses.
- Remain standing at the lectern for the Final Blessing and join in the procession as it proceeds out.
Both lectors are encouraged to process out with the priest. The Book of Gospels and the Lectionary remain at the lectern – because the word of God remains.
Some final “odds & ends”:
- If you can’t make your scheduled Mass, find a substitute. Having two lectors scheduled at each Mass does NOT mean we have an installed spare! A listing of lector names and telephone numbers accompanies each new schedule. Save them for reference.
- A computer now develops our schedules; provide any changes in your time preferences or restrictions to the rectory Mon-Fri during office hours.
- At Masses without a choir – lead the congregation in the Communion Antiphon immediately after the priest receives communion. You can do this while remaining in your pew.
The Ministry of Lectoring
It boils down to three very important basics:
- Know what the scripture text means.
- Practice, Practice, Practice……read the passages out loud.
- Pray about it, make yourself an open tool of the Holy Spirit.
1. Know what the scripture text means
- We now have Lector Workbooks that are stored in the Sacristy counter top. We have several so you can borrow one the week ahead and then return it the day you lector.
- The theme of the passages can sometimes be a little obscure – especially for some of the Old Testament readings. The workbook will help you unravel the main themes and the connection that exists among the three readings.
- Identify, if possible, one or two sentences from each reading that best captures the “essence” of the reading and plan to appropriately emphasize it during your reading.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
- Don’t rely on everyday miracles! Give the Holy Spirit a fighting chance by doing your homework!
- Reading the passages silently is undeniably helpful – but not sufficient. You need to practice out loud to identify “tongue twisters”, to get your phrasing in sync with your breathing patterns, etc.
- It’s ideal if you can record yourself – a tape recorder can be your best critic.
- Get familiar enough so that you can make occasional eye contact with the congregation without disrupting the flow of your words.
- For most people, you will do best if you speak louder than you think is necessary and speak slower than you think is necessary.
- Work on varying the speed of your delivery and the pitch of your voice to provide a devout level of animation and emotion to the readings. To the extent possible, make the readings come “conversationally alive” as you deliver them.
3. Pray about it
- A lector is a Minister of the Word. Take this responsibility seriously.
- In private conversational prayer, open yourself up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Not only will you grow spiritually, your delivery of the scripture will really improve.
- Then force yourself to relax – it’s in the hands of the Holy Spirit!
What happens from that point forward is His will.