Reading at Mass

A Guide for Readers at Mass

As a reader you are chosen and called to be a Minister of the Church.  You are a servant of the people of God, for whom you proclaim the precious and inspired Word of God.  The responsibility of the Reader is one of joy and wonder.  In the Liturgy of the Word, God speaks and his people listen.  Both spiritual and technical preparation are required for when you read at Mass.

Check the newsletter / rotas for when it is your turn to read.  Find the reading for the correct Sunday or Feast Day in the missal and read through it several times to try to understand what the writer is saying and take note of the following:
– Where is the reading from (Old or New Testament)?
– Who wrote the reading – prophet, poet, songwriter, historian?
– To whom was it addressed – pagans, Jews, Christians?
– For what purpose was it written – teaching, information, consolation, reply?
– In what tone was it written – inspire, anger, to give joy etc?

On the Day:
– Arrive at Church early
– Find your place in the Lectionary before Mass begins
– Use missals / leaflets only to prepare – do not use at the lectern – use the Lectionary
– Approach the Lectern with dignity – Bow to the altar AND to the priest.  (The reason is that at this stage of the Mass the bread & wine have not yet changed into the Body & Blood of the Lord. The altar is the main focus of worship and not the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is).
– Wait until the shuffling has stopped before you start reading. Do not be afraid of the silence, remain calm and relaxed

– Say ‘ A reading from……..’ – you do not need to say ‘first’ or ‘second’
– Don’t doubt half-way through a difficult word – stick to what you have prepared
– If you make a mistake correct it and carry on
– Use your own dialect and the accent God gave you
– Don’t try to compete with babies crying – pause if it gets too loud
– At the end of the reading, pause before saying ‘The Word of the Lord’
– If you are leading the psalm sing/say the response and wait for the people to repeat it.  You do not have to say ‘the response is…’

After each verse look up at the people to repeat the response.  If you do not sing, at St Joseph’s the choir will usually lead the psalm.
– When not sung the ‘Alleluia’ or verse before the Gospel will be said by the reader.   At St. Joseph’s the choir usually sing the Gospel Acclamation.
– After the second reading, leave the altar and turn to bow to the altar AND to the priest.  Then return to your seat.

General Intercessions / Prayers of the Faithful (Bidding Prayers)
– In these prayers the people intercede for all mankind.

The 4 intercessions should be composed under the following headings:
1 – The needs of the Church
2 – Public Authorities and the salvation of the world
3 – Those oppressed by any need
4 – Local community

Examples of approved format are:
– Let us pray
– We pray

During the Profession of Faith (Creed) when we start to say the words “…I believe in the Holy Spirit …”. start to approach the lectern in the same manner as for the readings and read the prayers, this will mean you are ready to start to read as soon as the creed is completed.  The priest will introduce the intentions, the people gathered being invited to pray.  After each prayer / intercession there will be a PAUSE for silent prayer, the response is then led by the priest.

After the 4 prayers an invitation is given for the people to pray in silence for their own intentions, say, ‘Let us pray for a while in silence for our own special intentions.’

After this silent prayer the priest will again lead the response.

The reader then invites the people to commend the prayers to Our Lady with words such as, ‘Let us offer these prayers to Our Heavenly Mother as we say Hail Mary……’

The priest will then conclude the General Intercessions and you then return to your place in the same manner as you approached.