Sacrament of Holy
The Order of Reader
The Lectorate -- the 2nd of the Minor Orders
|According to the Traditional
Catholic Rite of Holy Orders
by A. Biskupek, S.V.D
Mission Press, 1954
May 4, 1942 Charles Michel, S.V.D. Provincial
May 4, 1942 + Samuel A. Stritch, D.D.
Archbishop of Chicago
The lector is a reader. Readings from the sacred books
formed part of the divine services even in the Old Testament. In the Christian
Church such readings were incorporated from the very beginning into the
celebration of the Eucharistic mystery. The first part of holy Mass constituted
the so-called Mass of the catechumens, or instruction service, for those
who prepared for baptism and were not allowed as yet to assist at the whole
Mass. The instructions were based on Holy Scripture, and the reader would
read the text.
It must be remembered that the ancient manuscripts were not as easy
to read as a modern book. No distinction was made between small letters
and capitals, words were not clearly separated, punctuation marks not used.
Reading, therefore, required careful preparation in order to be done correctly,
fluently, and distinctly.
It seems that in the beginning capable laymen took care of this reading,
but at a very early date readers were ordained; even boys possessing the
necessary knowledge were admitted to this order. As the Mass of the catechumens
lost its original significance, and reading at the divine services was
taken over more and more by members of the major orders, readers began
to form the schola cantorum and took care of the singing, probably before
the seventh century.
The rite mentions as another duty of lectors the blessing of bread and
first fruits. The faithful as well as the catechumens would bring along
these things to be blessed, and since the catechumens were dismissed before
the beginning of the Mass of the faithful, it was convenient that the lector
should perform the blessing before they left. Canon 1147 reaffirms this
privilege of the lector. It is the only case where a cleric in minor orders
is authorized to perform a blessing.
At the present time it is customary in seminary chapels that a reader
sings the Epistle during a simple High Mass; but the singing of the Epistle
at the solemn High Mass is reserved to the subdeacon. Readers, however,
sing the prophecies on Holy Saturday and the Saturday before Pentecost.
If the lectorate is conferred during Mass, this is done:
Saturday before Passion Sunday: after the Kyrie.
Holy Saturday: after the Gloria.
Saturdays of Ember weeks: after the second lesson.
On other days, if the Mass has Gloria: after the Gloria; if the Mass
has no Gloria: after the Kyrie.
The Call. The bishop, with his miter on, sits
on the faldstool before the middle of the altar. The archdeacon bids the
candidates come forward; the notary reads their names:
Let those come forward who are to be ordained to the
office of reader: N.N., etc.
Each one answers, adsum, goes before the altar and kneels, holding the burning
candle in his right hand.
The Instruction. When all are assembled, the bishop address them as follows:
Here the candles are laid aside.
Dearly beloved sons, chose to be readers in the house
of our God, know your office and fulfill it; for God is powerful to give
you in increasing measure
the grace of everlasting perfection.
The reader's duty is to read what he preaches (or: to read the Scripture
text for the preacher), to sing the lessons, to bless bread and all new
fruits. Endeavor, therefore, to read the word of God, that is, the sacred
lessons, distinctly and intelligibly, without any mistake or falsification,
so that the faithful may understand and be edified, and that the truth
of the divine lessons be not through your carelessness lost for the instruction
of the hearers.
But what you read with your lips, you must believe in your hearts and
practice in your works; so that you may be able to teach your hearers by
word and example.
Therefore, when you read, stand in a high place
of the church, so that you may be heard and seen by all. This your
bodily position is to signify that your life ought to move on a high
plane of virtue, so that you may give the example of a heavenly life to
all those by whom you are heard and seen. May God by His grace
accomplish this in you.
The Bestowal of the Office. The bishop now
presents to the candidates the book containing the lessons, that is, a
missal, breviary, or bible. The ordinands touch it with the right hand,
while he says:
Receive, and be readers of the word of God. If
you fulfill your office faithfully and profitably, yours will be the reward
of those who have duly administered the word of God from the beginning.
Prayer. The bishop rises and prays:
Let us beseech, beloved brethren, God, the Father
Almighty, graciously to bless these servants whom He deigns to assume into
the order of reader. May they intelligibly read what is to be read in the
Church of God, and carry it out in works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
His Son, who lives and reigns with Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
The bishop, with miter off, turns to the altar and says:
Let Us Pray
Turning again to the candidates kneeling before him, the bishop prays:
Let us bend our knees. R. Amen.
Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, vouchsafe
to + bless these Thy servants for the office
of reader. May they by constant application to reading acquire knowledge
and proficiency, read aloud what must be done and practice what thy have
read, so that by the example of their virtue in both respects they may
give support to holy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who
lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever
and ever. R. Amen.
Procedure after an ordination.
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