Sunday, September 15, 2013

Should the laity be lectoring?

I have unwittingly neglected the Catholic Carnival I was writing for on Sundays, so to catch up: 

September 15: Name and link to two Catholic blogs you really enjoy. 

Here's the link to that post; been recommending a lot of other blogs a lot lately. :)

 September 8: What is your favorite formal (memorized) prayer?

The Our Father, right?  I mean, that's the Lord's prayer.  Otherwise... I do love the Memorare. It is one of the Marian prayers that make me really feel that Mary is, indeed, my heavenly mom.  And I like that.  I need one.  Badly. 

 September 1: With which ministries/activities within your parish are you involved?

None at the moment, but I have pretty much done everything I could legitimately do... and then some, depending on who you ask.  Let's see.... I've taught CCD, sung in choirs, served in the oratory of an Opus Dei house where I did vestment care, handled chalices with white gloves, polished candlesticks for hours, decorated altars with flowers, changed the tabernacle veils, vacuumed between pews, and cut out altar bread... that last one was a beautiful honor.  I can still remember getting the cooled rectangular sheets of communion wafers and carefully sliding the sheet into the circular punch, making sure each one was perfect, praying in silence as instructed all the while.  

I have served as a maid and waitress in a couple rectories (this is beginning to sound like a resume, lol).   I once was the housekeeper of a true "old school" priest who liked my work aside from his great annoyance at the fact that I routinely forgot to leave his shaving dish alone; he used an brush, bar, and plain razor method.   It looked like soap scum to me so I'd automatically scrub it clean but somehow that messed with his shaving lather.   I also remember he was prone to leaving baked potatoes in the oven which would detonate, leaving a unique chore there...

How did I get on potatoes?  Ministries, ministries... I turned down the position of altar girl (I was about 15 when that was first allowed and my parish offered it to me--the resident "future nun" ha--but I declined).  However, I did several years of lectoring and also served as a Eucharistic minister for a local hospital.   

Since lectoring was routinely done by women in my parish (with a strong New England accent of course), I didn't hesitate to volunteer for it at the time.  However, I'd since run into several who insist being a "lector" should be reserved as a minor order.  And I do agree: in Catholic churches, the priests are the people who are set aside to proclaim the word of God from the pulpit.  

Still, while the laity are allowed and encouraged to lector, should they?  Is it better for devout people who love the Scriptures to serve as lectors, or for them to decline the position because it should be a minor order?  And secondarily, there's the argument about gender: I've debated with a good friend whether, say, a holy nun lectoring is better than a unbelieving man reading from the pulpit?  I was on the side of the nun but that was hotly contested....  Any traditional Catholics out there have an opinion on that for the comments?  Anyway....

As for being a Eucharistic Minister... that was short-lived for me.  I thought about it long and hard and, having a great devotion to the Real Presence, I came to the conclusion that it was better for someone with devotion to take the task of bringing communion to the sick then someone who was being disrespectful or, say, no one at all.  What got to me in the end was that I was instructed by the hospital chaplain to give communion to anyone at all who requested it... and I was not at all sure whether these people were believers or atheists.  So, I declined to continue the position.  But I'd be curious to have feedback on these issues, if anyone cares to comment...  (Your comments are, always, appreciated.  As is your patience with my occasional rambling days.  Like today.)  Have a great week everyone! 


  1. I feel very blessed to be a Lector. In my parish, the Lector is seated to the side of the altar. It is there, up so close to the priest consecrating the bread and wine, that I understood in my heart, what Jesus is all about. Before, the Eucharist was an intellectual concept. But up so close,I feel so blessed, to be so close, to witness the consecration. I could easily weep.
    I thank God for the opportunity to be so close to the action, which would never have happened if the female laity weren't allowed to Lector.

  2. As far as giving communion to those whose spiritual states you do not know, I understand your reluctance; however, unless it is a very small parish, chances are that the pastor does not know many of the people in the pews and whether they are believers or atheists; committed Catholics or mortal sinners. We do not have the communion police, even if the priest is the only one distributing.

  3. I have to say... I felt as you did, Faith: that it was a huge blessing and a great honor to lector and be near Our Lord. And I agree with you RAnn about parish scenarios... my concern was that I was a eucharistic minister in a hospital actually, instructed to give Communion to absolutely anyone in a room who requested it (without knowing if they even were of our faith or not.) While we can't judge the state of a person's soul, people are usually quite free about informing you what denomination they are from... that's where I totally balked. I wasn't at all okay with handing out "First Communion" willy-nilly to people who had no idea what it was all about.