Lay Minister of the Word of God

INTRODUCTION:

"Christ does not speak in the past, but in the present, even as he is present in the liturgical action." Benedict XVI Sacramentum Caritas (Sacrament of Charity) March 2007 Paragraph 45.

In proclaiming the Word of God from Sacred Scripture, readers exercise their responsibility in mediating the presence of Christ. God speaks to the assembly through them, and the impact of God's message will depend significantly on their conviction, their preparation and their delivery.

The minister of the Word is a vitally important role in the liturgy - whether that be the Mass or another liturgical service in church.

A document written as a consequence of the Second Vatican Council in 1963 and called 'Sacrosanctum Concilium' (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) states: Christ is present in his Word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church.

Thus, this places a considerable challenge to the Reader as a Minister of the Word to both proclaim the Word of God and to sincerely listen to the Word.

Therefore, it is vital and necessary for readers to prepare well at home throughout the week before they are scheduled on the rota to read.

How necessary it is to pray with the Scriptures such that they will be able to fully convey God's presence to the congregation.

THE PARISH SETTING:

It is NOT possible to the liturgy of the Eucharist without first celebrating the liturgy of the Word. The late Rev Hugh Lavery (Priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool) in one of his lectures at Upholland Northern Institute said we must always remember that "The Word must be spoken for the bread to be broken".

The liturgy of the Word then is a time for all to fully experience the life-giving Word of God proclaimed competently by the reader. For the Word of God to be effectively proclaimed to the congregation it is essential that the Word of God must be visibly alive in the daily life of the Reader.

The ministry of Reader then is exactly as the title describes the role of the person, that is as a ministry.

The late Bishop of Middlesborough - Augustine Harris when he was an auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool wrote in the Catholic Pictorial Newspaper that for him the ministry of the Reader was the most demanding of liturgical tasks. He said that preparation and the delivery of the Scripture had to be 'just right' for it to reach the congregation with genuine meaning.

Attached to this section are a number of documents which will help in your ministry:

  1. The Lector's ministry - notes by Austin Fleming 1985 Washington D.C.
  2. In Communion with Christ - 3. Word by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
  3. Intercessions: example from the Epiphany of the Lord Year C The Mass Liturgy of the Word Liturgy of the Eucharist