When Sacred Scripture is proclaimed in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, the readings from the Word of God are an element of high importance in the Liturgy (GIRM 29, 55).
The proclamation of the Word of God is truly a ministry in the Church. Lectors bring the living Word of God to the liturgical assembly. In and through them God speaks to the gathered faithful. The ministry of the Word, therefore, is treated seriously and with great dignity.
All liturgical ministers, especially the ministers of the Word, must be properly trained for their ministry. The ministry of the Word requires skill in public reading, knowledge of the principles of liturgy, and an understanding and love of the scriptures. A basic knowledge of the Bible, Lectionary for Mass, and the Liturgy of the Word, as well as the necessary oral proclamation skills are additional essential requirements. A basic knowledge of Sacred Scripture includes: the plan of salvation, the organization of the books of the Bible, as well as the variety of genres and literary forms of its books. Some of the oral proclamation skills include: eye contact, enunciation, diction, inflection, projection and pronunciation.
In order that the service of the Word might be effective, all lectors are expected to be prepared for their ministry. Preparation should be spiritual, scriptural, and practical.
- Spiritual preparation involves prayer over the text and reflection on its message.
- Scriptural preparation involves understanding the text and interpreting it sufficiently so as to evoke a response from the assembly.
- Practical preparation involves a correct knowledge of the biblical reading to be proclaimed, mastering difficult words, learning the right pronunciations and practicing the delivery of the text aloud, ideally in the presence of someone who is able to critique the delivery. It is unacceptable to rush into the sacristy just before Mass to “look at the readings” (Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass #55).
The readings for every Sunday and weekday of the liturgical year can be found on the website of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops at: www.usccb.org