Archive for the ‘Lectors’ Category

After the Introductory Rites during the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word begins. You will see a reader (lector) walking up to the sanctuary and make a bow before he/she walks up to the ambo/pulpit to deliver the first reading. Who or what is the lector bowing to? Sharing an article published in Zenit.org

I have been asking lay readers at the parish to bow to the presider of the Mass when they approach the sanctuary to proclaim their reading. I remembered studying this in the seminary when reviewing the proper gestures and postures of the people during Mass, as well as those participating in the liturgical ministries. In my parish church the tabernacle is in the center and the priest sits to the left of the altar. The pulpit is to the right. From reading Church documents, I have been only able to identify the person they should bow to in Masses where the bishop presides. From a theological as well as liturgical point of view, it is my understanding that the priest as presider (in persona Christi) at the Mass is where the liturgical ministers would bow, signifying they are participating in his ministry as presider. Am I instructing the people correctly? And is there a particular liturgical document that covers this area well for instruction? ~ G.D., Halifax, Nova Scotia.

This question is often broached and is sometimes subject to degrees of confusion. First of all, I would say that, strictly speaking, it is not correct to say that readers are sharing in the ministry of the priest celebrant. Rather, they are fulfilling a specific lay ministry within the celebration itself.

In fact, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), No. 59, clearly excludes the presidential character of reading in the Latin rite, to wit: “By tradition, the function of proclaiming the readings is ministerial, not presidential. The readings, therefore, should be proclaimed by a lector, and the Gospel by a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant. If, however, a deacon or another priest is not present, the priest celebrant himself should read the Gospel. Further, if another suitable lector is also not present, then the priest celebrant should also proclaim the other readings.”

Not every liturgical gesture requires a theological foundation. Some are customary signs of courtesy and respect that add overall decorum to the celebration.

Monsignor (now bishop) Peter Elliott describes the reader’s bow in his “Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite”: “The lector (comes to the sanctuary and) makes the customary reverences; first bowing deeply to the altar , then bowing to the celebrant, before going to the ambo …”

The sanctuary situation described here seems to correspond to that of our ZENIT reader’s parish church. Two bows are described. The first bow toward the altar is based on the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 72: “A deep bow is made to the altar by all who enter the sanctuary (chancel), leave it, or pass before the altar.”

The second bow, toward the priest celebrant, is not explicitly prescribed in the liturgical books, but may be considered as customary and based on an extension of the indications for reverence toward bishops in the Ceremonial, Nos. 76-77:

“The bishop is greeted with a deep bow by the ministers or others when they approach to assist him, when they leave after assisting him, or when they pass in front of him.

“When the bishop’s chair is behind the altar, the ministers should reverence either the altar or the bishop, depending on whether they are approaching the altar or approaching the bishop; out of reverence for both, ministers should, as far as possible, avoid passing between the bishop and the altar.”

It is noteworthy that none of these texts explicitly mention readers, and are only applicable insofar as they enter or leave the sanctuary, or, in a very broad sense, assist the presiding celebrant. It does not appear that these bows form a stable and obligatory part of the rites for those who exercise the ministry of reader.

Indeed, in describing the Liturgy of the Word the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 137, makes no mention of any bows: “After the opening prayer, the reader goes to the ambo and proclaims the first reading “

Therefore if, for example, the seating arrangements are such that the readers are in the sanctuary from the beginning of Mass and have no need to cross in front of the altar, they could exercise their ministry without making any of these bows.

ROME, NOV. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.


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The areas covered during the above workshop were:-
1. Presentation: “Let’s Warm Up”
2. Topic: Tone of Voice
3. Discussion: Watch your Tone of Voice

1. Presentation: “Let’s Warm Up”
Each child was invited to stand before the class to give an introductory lesson on two vocal warm-up exercise before his/her speech. A relatively simple task to teach. However, the one who is teaching will learn that there will some in the audience who are inattentive, ignorant, occupied with some other things or just chatting away with those around. The teaching aspect of the vocal exercises are simple, but captivating the audience attention and maintaining it is the difficult part. How do you set your tone of voice to try and sustain rap attention?

2. Tone of Voice
(a) Meaning: The manner in which a verbal statement is presented. It conveys the emotions and moods of the statement.
(b) Types: Under different situations,we speak with a variety and a combination of tones of our voice when conveying a message. It brings our feelings and emotions in the words that we express in speech.
Examples: Bored / interesting, happy /sad, angry / benevolent, worried / unconcerned, hurtful / ignorant etc.

3. Discussion: Watch your Tone of Voice
Each child was asked to select a newspaper article of his/her choice and was invited to deliver the contents of the article in his/her speech bearing in mind the above topic title. Some observations were:-
(a) To persuade potential buyers in the audience to try the new Olympus underwater camera, verbally describing about the camera to your audience will contain a combination of: slightly faster pace of speech, sounds interesting, higher than usual pitch, emphasizing on certains key words like ‘brand new’, ‘never before’, ‘first time invention’, ‘wacky idea’, etc
(b) To break the news to listeners about how the rice shortage affected a typical Filippino family, the tone of voice will have a combination of: sombre mood, slower than usual pace of speech, worrying and concern tones, keys words like ‘poverty’, ‘coping hard’, ‘earning only $6 a day’, ‘hungry mouths’, ‘city slums’ etc.

Different tones are used to convey the emotions and moods of the message under different situations. We speak in different tones to our spouse, children, collegues, boss, strangers. With it, we also convey our feelings and emotions in our manner of speaking in the same manner we receive the underlying tones of the message when someone speaks to us.

Lectors are called to place themselves in the context of Scripture and to feel what the biblical writer is trying to convey, not just by pronouncing the words clearly, but by incorporating the emotions that comes with it. To make the congregation feel the emotions of Scripture.

A poem for your reflection. Are we conscious of our tone of voice?

It’s not so much what you say,
as the manner in which you say it;
It’s not so much the language you use,
as the tone in which you convey it.
“Come here”, I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept.
“Come here”, I said he looked and smiled,
And straight to my lap he crept.
Words may be mild and fair,
But the tone may pierce like a dart;
Words may be soft as the summer air,
But the tone may break my heart;
For words come from the mind
Grow by study and art,
But tone leaps from the inner self,
Revealing the state of heart.
Whether you know it or not,
Whether you mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love and hate,
Envy, anger are there.
Then, would you quarrels avoid
and peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words,
Keep it out of your voice.

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The areas covered during the above workshop were:-
1. Presentation: “Join Me!”
2. Topic: Pace
3. Discussion: You are the Voice
4. Listening skills
5. Others: Debate

1. Presentation: “Join Me!”
Each child was invited to stand before the class to present his/her speech, as a lector respresentative from the ministry, to invite children to join. After each lector has presentated his/her speech, they realise that:-
(a) There is a need for preparartion. Otherwise your points and essence of the speech will go off tangent.
(b) Say what you mean and mean what you say. This gives honesty, sincerity and truthfulness in your words.
(c) If you are speaking to a class, do check with the last row at the back if they can hear you. Otherwise, only a small number of listeners will be able to hear you and an even smaller number, who is interested, is actually listening to what you are saying.

2. Pace
(a) Meaning: The speed of speech.
(b) Types: Different people speak at different paces and different paces are adopted for different settings for the message to be effectively transmitted. Can be very fast, fast, moderate, slow, extremely slow. It all depends on a variety of factors:- your audience, purpose of message, situation setting etc
(c) Pauses: For the meaning of your sentences to be understood by the audience, there are pauses needed to effect a meaningful sentence. Otherwise, all sentences will just flow in connection without stopping thus giving no meaning to the text.

3. Discussion: You are the Voice
Each child was asked to select a newspaper article of his/her choice. Each child was invited to deliver the contents of the article in his/her speech bearing in mind the above topic title. Some observations were:-
(a) Signs of nervousness where the pace of delivery becomes too fast and listeners were unable to understand what was spoken.
(b) Ask around as to how to pronounce certain words you find difficult or unsure. You may be a fool for a minute (others may laugh at you) but you are wiser for a lifetime.
(c) Where permitted, articulations using hand and body motions/gestures can give greater effect to what you are saying. However as a lector, you can only make the best by giving meaning in the way you delivery without any other forms of articulation. The point is to draw the congregation’s attention to the Word of God and not to you.

4. Listening skills
In conjuction with the exercise in (3), the rest of the children were asked to listen and questions will be asked. An observation was that the children heard what was said by the speaker but did not really listen to fully understand what was said and to infer from the information received as to the `whys’ and `hows’ of the newspaper article. E.g. in the recent case of the wife of the CEO of Venture Corpn who slapped the air stewardess. After the article was read to the class, the children are aware that a slapping case took place. Someone slapped someone but do not really know who slapped who. Only one lector pointed out that the incident took place during the Tokyo bound flight. Nobody really knows why did the slapping incident happened. The children were told to infer from the article where it described that after the slapping incident happened, the wife of the CEO asked the stewardess loudly “Why did you talk to my husband” – a sign of jealously as she might have felt that the air stewardess was flirting with her husband which made her angry resulting in her slapping the stewardess. Sometimes when the lector prepares to deliver the Reading, he/she must also try to understand why was such a message transmitted, in what tone was it spoken etc etc.

5. A sharing from one of the junior lectors whom we came to know is in his school debating team. He finds that the toughest part during the debate is when you are posed with questions against your motion and you are not in a position to prepare any answers to such adhoc questions. Thus it is difficult to refute, rebut and prove convincingly that your motion stands in an off-the-cuff manner. The only solution for such situation is – you got to know your stuff inside out. Similarly when someone were to question you: “Why are you wearing a Cross?”, “Why do you make the sign of the Cross?” etc etc. How will you stand your ground?

We hope that the above feedback will provide you parents with a follow up to today’s workshop with your children at home. God bless.

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The areas covered during the above workshop were:-
1. Presentation : “My New Year Resolution”.
2. Topic : Eye Contact
3. Discussion : The Painter
4. Written Exercise
5. Reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (for Sun 3rd Feb 2008 Children’s Mass)

1. Presentation : “My New Year Resolution”
Each child was invited to stand before the class to present his/ her New Year Resolution. Resolutions ranging from wanting to study harder, spending less meaningless time surfing the internet, sending less meaningless smses to friends to save in handphone bills and trying to be more loving towards family members were made. Questions were posed to each presenter as to the why and how will the presenter carry out their resolutions. The purpose of this exercise was to give the lector an opportunity to speak in front of a group to gain confidence. Each child was asked as to what was their greatest fear when speaking in front of a group. Fear of making mistakes, being laughed at and not being able to answer the questions posed to them were cited. Drawing their attention to that of a lector, one must be adequately prepared in knowing the content so that the Word of God can be delivered convincingly and meaningfully.

2. Eye Contact
(a) Purpose of eye contact with the audience.
(b) Various feelings the audience will have when the presenter display different types of eye contact such as:- being shy, afraid, stern, loving, indifferent, stoic etc.
The eye plays an important part in establishing a relationship with the audience. Feel the emotions through the the eyes of a person.

3. Discussion : “The Painter”
A light-hearted discussion on the story of “The Painter”. In this story, it tells of how a painter’s first attempt to paint a pig was construed by his friend to be a dead pig. After much thought, the painter’s second attempt was successful in protraying a lively pig where his friend exclaimed that he could have actually touch and smell the pig as though it was alive. For the lectors, do we paint the story of God’s Word in a deadpan manner or are we able to bring the scripture alive to the listeners?

4. Written Exercise
A written exercise was given to the lectors to complete as part of their catechism and revision as follows:-
Qn 1: We are now in which liturgical year? Year A or B or C? Which of the four Gospels are presently use in the Mass? Why do we have liturgical years?
Qn 2: Which day marks the beginning of the Lenten season? Which liturgical colour is used during the Lenten season? Why?
Qn 3: Where does the ashes, used for the imposition of ashes during Ash Wednesday, come from?
Qn 4: Which area in the Church does the lector and celebrant proclaims the Word of God? Why?
Qn 5: What are some of the preparation exercises a lector can carry out to prepare himself/herself before reading?

5. A Reading from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (for Children’s Mass 3rd Feb 2008)
The children were encouraged to apply what they have learnt during the workshop to understand the scripture passage with a deeper meaning in the likes of:-
(a) How many character(s) are there in the text?
(b) Who is speaking to whom?
(c) Where can you locate the essence of the message in St Paul’s letter?
(d) Why do you think St Paul delivered such a message to the Corinthians?
(e) In what manner do you think St Paul delivered the message to the people of Corinth assuming if you were standing beside him facing the crowd?

We hope that parents will take this opportunity to continue your journey with your child in this ministry by having a simple session of sharing at home to bring the Word of God to them.

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The buzz created these few days was a message delivered by a principal to a group of students of Secondary 5 saying that it was better for them to apply for a course in ITE rather than sit for the `O’ Levels. This statement made by the principal did not go down well with the parents of these group of children whom may not have scored well to be expected to pass the `O’ Level exams if they were to sit for it. Story at Channel News Asia

Citing this situation as an example in relation to the ministry of lectors, how will you calibrate the tone of your voice in a fitting manner that the Word of God goes out to the listeners? Will it be a lofty, harsh with a holier-than-thou attitude or perhaps in a manner that is encouraging, compassionate with a well-intended and meaningful delivery?

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The meaning of the scripture passage read by a lector can be most memorable even after days or weeks have passed. Certain words or phrases are etched in your mind which becomes a trigger to remember the scripture meaning. On some occasions, the start of a reading could lead some listeners to a state of “spiritual coma” – hearing but not listening, with eyes open. How is this so? Was the scripture passage too dreary that caused us to switch off our minds, or perhaps the lector lack sufficient training to deliver the message meaningfully? What about the `natural’ and `nurturable’ attributes? The spiritual and the technical dimension of the lector.

Joe Moreira, our Junior Lectors trainer, contributed his personal sharing in the website www.lectorprep.org. Perhaps, you may want to take this opportunity to ponder on how you can feel the scripture before actually vocalising the message as you read his sharing on the topic of Lectors’ Training

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The Painter

painterThere is a story of an artist who painted a pig asleep in a sty. When the painting was finished he showed it to his friend. The friend looked at it, turned up his nose and said: “Oh, a dead pig in a sty!” “It is not a dead pig”, protested the artist, “it is a sleeping pig”. “Oh”, said his friend, “I thought it was a dead pig”.

So the artist went back to his pig. For hours he made sketch after sketch. He filled his sketchbook and put it away.

Then he just paused and looked at his pig. He became fascinated by its little beady eyes, just half open, by the little curly tail; he wondered what the hairs on the pig’s skin felt like, what the grunt meant. He found himself breathing in time with the pig’s breathing.

As he quietly sat and watched and wondered and imagined, he began to really see the pig. Then he took up his brush again.

He showed his painting to his friend and waited for his reaction. It was not long in coming: “Oh, what a cute little pig, so full of life and mischief; it makes me want to pat its back!”

So many of us, as readers, paint dead pigs.

This is because we do not sit quietly with our text, and watch and wonder and imagine. If we, as readers, paint live pigs, we would get the same reaction as the painter’s friend; people would sit up and listen.

What is the difference between a reader who paints dead pigs and one who paints pigs that are alive?

(An extract from “Break Open The Word” from the Liturgical Commission)

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