On Reading in the Liturgy
Not everyone has the ministry of proclaiming the Word of God in the Liturgy, but everyone can develop a well-informed understanding of what is required of readers in good liturgy. Liturgy will improve as expectations rise.
Reading in the Liturgy is not just a matter of reading words so that the ritual is fulfilled. The reading of the scriptures in the Liturgy is a proclamation of the Word of God. Proclamation presupposes that the meaning of the passage is understood by the lector or reader, is believed to be important, and is spoken out with conviction and faith. The proclamation is complete when it is understood and accepted as an important Word, inviting a response in faith and love, and ultimately in behaviour and action.
The spoken-out Word engages with the participants in the Liturgy especially through the emotional overtones in the reading. If there is no emotion, no conviction, if the reading is flat, usually no engagement is established, or at best the engagement will be weak.
If the Word is not received because there is no real connection between the reader and the listeners, or if the lectors reading is incomprehensible, then the reception of the Word is being blocked. The words read can only be the Word of the Lord for people when they are received and understood with faith. Otherwise it can be a boring charade; it would be no wonder if people stop coming.
When we have to celebrate Sunday Liturgy without a priest it is even more important to have the Word proclaimed well. Along with the gathering of the people in the name of Jesus, the Proclamation of the Word is a most powerful indication of the presence of Jesus himself. With the proclamation of the Word, in faith, we can perceive the presence of the Lord Jesus and draw inspiration, guidance and strength from our communion with him in that way. We need this weekly, Sunday nourishment and support in order to live the gospel way of life in an often hostile world.
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