The Liturgy of the Word is not a Bible Study. The scriptures are not mere history records. They are Jesus’ words and deeds – God’s self-revelation. They are the witness to this self-revelation by the Church, charged with preaching Jesus everywhere until the end of time. They are our family story – proclaimed to be remembered. It is proclaimed so that we may become one with him who is
remembered. This means, not a series of words printed on a page, but God revealing himself in the Son – an encounter with the “living Christ.” It is truly Christ who speaks, through the minister who proclaims the message. This is the same Christ that we receive in communion.
It is an act of faith on the part of the minister – “the Word of the Lord,” “the Body of Christ” – calling forth an act of faith in those who receive – “thanks be to God,” “amen.” We receive the Bread of Life from the Table of God’s Word and are led in thanksgiving to the Table of the Eucharist. This is a living, present encounter. God confronts us. We respond to God.
- The scriptures, when read during the Liturgy of the Word are proclamations – official, formal public announcements; those who read them then, are rightly called proclaimers.
- To proclaim is to cry out, to declare publicly, to announce, to praise or glorify.
- Ministers of the Word do not read for the people, but enter into a dialogue with people a dialogue of faith.
- We must proclaim the scriptures in such a way that the hearers are drawn into an experience which is truly a dialogue.
- This dialogue facilitates a reverence for the active presence of Christ in the Word.
- Prayer – What is God saying to me, personally, through this passage?
- The Bible – A library of books – God’s self-revelation.
- The Lectionary – A liturgical book containing a cycle of scripture passages for each
- Sunday of the liturgical year, arranged in three recurring parts – years A, B and C. The scripture passages are laid out in “sense” lines for ease of reading.
- Biblical Study resources – Workbook for Lectors, Bible Commentaries, Pronunciation
- Guides (www.netministries.org), Study Bibles, Introduction to the Lectionary.
- The Liturgy of the Word – the first “table” from which we are fed at Mass.
- Ambo – The “table” of God’s Word.
- Microphone – a tool used to expand hearing range.
Read over the assigned passage several times, at least a couple of days previous to the scheduled time. PRAY with your passage. You might read it in a couple of different translations, use the Workbook and/or other resources for hints on pronunciation, meaning and delivery of the text. Some people find it helpful to print the reading out in double-spaced type to allow for marking of
words and phrases that need to be emphasized, etc.
- Arrive at the church at least 15 minutes before mass time.
- Check in with the mass coordinator or mark your name off on the list.
- Check the lectionary to make sure it is marked at the correct page and that you know where your passage is located.
- Read over the text again if you have not done so before leaving home.
- Make sure you know what other duties you might have, e.g., carrying the lectionary in the opening procession, reading the announcements before mass or leading the Prayers of the Faithful. Ensure that you have read over the necessary material and it is in its proper place for the beginning of mass. If a deacon is present he will proclaim the gospel and offer the prayers of the
- Make sure the microphone is in place and turned on.
- If you are reading the announcements before mass be sure to coordinate this with the music minister so as not to conflict with any music rehearsal that may be planned.
- Normally, announcements should not be read from the ambo.
- One of the readers will carry the lectionary in the opening procession – carry it high enough for people to see and follow the normal procedure in your church for placing it on the ambo and taking your seat.
- When approaching the ambo to proclaim the scripture it is best to move with quiet dignified respect – neither extremely stiff nor leisurely movements are appropriate.
- A profound bow (called reverencing), recognition of the altar as a symbol of Christ, is called for when crossing in front of it. If your route does not have you pass the altar, observe the present tradition in your church.
- Get the people’s attention before beginning to read, especially if you are the first reader. Do not begin until people are settled in their seats, children have left for the children’s liturgy, etc.
- The correct introduction to the reading is “A reading from the book of/letter to _.” Nothing else is added.
- When proclaiming the scriptures attention must be paid to the pace, articulation, emphasis, voice modulation and eye contact. Remember, this is a dialogue that requires a response.
- Pause before making the statement of faith “The Word of the Lord.” Look at the people and expect a response.
- Step back slightly and with head bowed, observe a time of silence. It is important that the Word be allowed to penetrate our minds and hearts.
- Turn the page for the next reader if necessary and return to your seat. A second bow is not necessary.
- The Prayers of the Faithful are introduced and concluded by the priest. The reader should be in place for the prayers before the introduction begins and return to their seat after the conclusion. This may mean approaching the ambo before the end of the Creed.
- The lectionary is not carried in the closing procession. One of the readers should ensure that it is returned to the sacristy in preparation for the next mass.
Prayer for the Ministers of the Word
Praise to You, Lord God, King of the universe, and all glory to your name. I praise You and thank You for calling me to proclaim your word to your beloved people. Open the hearts of all who worship with us, so that they may hear your voice when I read. Let nothing in my life or manner disturb your people or close their hearts to the action of your spirit. Cleanse my heart and mind, and open
my lips, so that I may proclaim your glory.