Sunday, June 12, 2011

Formation of Lectors

Last night's Mass was, unfortunately, not the Vigil Mass for Pentecost, but a Mass of Pentecost Day without the Sequence. That's fine.
What was more unfortunate was the obvious lack of formation for the Lector. Please note that I am not decrying her, or her reading but using this as an example for why Lectors must recieve proper formation. Or, at the very least, they must practice in front of someone who has been formed and who has clear knowledge of the meaning and pronounciation of the words.

An excerpt from text of the First Reading for today's Mass:
'Surely,' they said, 'all thses men speaking are Galileans? How doesit happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontious and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome - Jews and proselytes alike - Cretans and Arabs; we hear them all preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.'
 Last night, I listened to it as it was rendered (by someone who speaks english fluently and whose accent is Australian) as:
'Surely,' they said, 'all thses men speaking are Galileos? How doesit happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Partyians, Meds and Eel-lam-ites; people from Meso-pota-mia, Judaea and Kappadotchia, Ponus and Asia, Fi-yi-ga and Pam-py-la, Egypt and the parts of Lib-ya round Kine; as well as visitors from Rome - Jews and pro-styles alike - Creations and Ara-bins; we hear them all preaching in our own language around the morals of God.'
Granted, these are somewhat difficult place names, but what struck me was Creations (usually, if it's mangled, it comes out as cretins) and around the morals of God.
These two mangalings showed, more than the others, that she had not practiced and did not know the meaning of the passage.
At the best of times, it is difficult to proclaim the Readings: when you have not read the passage before, it is often a reading and not a proclaimation. When you do not understand what you are reading, it is that much harder.

One upon a time, the Latin Rite had a Order [as in Holy Orders] called the Subdiaconate. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
"The duties of a subdeacon are to serve the deacon at Mass; to prepare the bread and wine and sacred vessels for the Holy Sacrifice; to present the chalice and paten at the Offertory, and pour water into the wine for the Eucharist; to chant the Epistles solemnly; to wash the sacred linen."

His role was similar to modern forma ordinaria Acolyte and,  had to have formation before having recieved the Order, and taken his duties. He was also olbliged (under the 1917 Code of Canon Law) to pray all the Canonical Hours.

The Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI Ministeria Quaedam that became effective of January 1st, 1973 split the role of the subdiaconate into two ministries. Since ministries are open to lay people, these roles were no longer restricted to those hoping to recieve Holy Orders.

3.     Two ministries, adapted to present-day needs, are to be preserved in the whole Latin Church, namely, those of reader [lector] and acolyte. The functions heretofore assigned to the subdeacon are entrusted to the reader [lector] and the acolyte; consequently, the major order of subdiaconate no longer exists in the Latin Church. There is, however, no reason why the acolyte cannot be called a subdeacon in some places, at the discretion of the conference of bishops.
4.     The reader [lector] is appointed for a function proper to him, that of reading the word of God in the liturgical assembly. Accordingly, he is to proclaim the readings from sacred Scripture, except for the gospel in the Mass and other sacred celebrations; he is to recite the psalm between the readings when there is no psalmist; he is to present the intentions for the general intercessions in the absence of a deacon or cantor; he is to direct the singing and the participation by the faithful; he is to instruct the faithful for the worthy reception of the sacraments. He may also, insofar as may be necessary, take care of preparing other faithful who are appointed on a temporary basis to read the Scriptures in liturgical celebrations. That he may more fittingly and perfectly fulfill these functions, he is to meditate assiduously on sacred Scripture. [He has to know what he's saying, what it means. Moreover, he has to meditate assiduously on, not just the Readings that he is to proclaim that week, but on the whole of sacred Scripture.]


7.     In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader [lector] and acolyte is reserved to men.

To any reader with information on when women were allowed to start proclaiming the readings, please share this informaiton in the comment box below. References to specific documents would be great.


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