I have been a lector at Mass for many years, privileged to read the Word of God so that others may hear and respond.
Yesterday morning I was installed as a lector by our bishop, Monseñor Darwin Andino, in a short ritual in the village of Montaña Adentro, where the bishop had gone to confirm more than sixty people – which included two elderly women.
The bishop had originally wanted to have the ritual at the afternoon Mass in the main parish church in Dulce Nombre, but both Padre German, our pastor, and I persuaded the bishop at the last moment – almost literally. I am so glad that it happened there.
I think it is significant that this happened among the poor, in a church on a mountainside.
There are two other reasons I think the place was appropriate. Several years ago a group of students from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ames came and helped with the foundations of the Montaña Adentro church.
Also, in the past few years Montaña Adentro has experienced the killing of four members of its small community.
So here I was, before the bishop, to be installed as an “official” lector.
What does that mean?
In 1972 when Pope Paul VI changed the four “minor orders” for two ministries: lector and acolyte, he wrote, in the Apostolic Letter Ministeria Quaedam:
The reader is appointed for a function proper to him, that of reading the word of God in the liturgical assembly. Accordingly, he is to proclaim the readings from sacred Scripture, except for the gospel in the Mass and other sacred celebrations; he is to recite the psalm between the readings when there is no psalmist; he is to present the intentions for the general intercessions in the absence of a deacon or cantor; he is to direct the singing and the participation by the faithful; he is to instruct the faithful for the worthy reception of the sacraments. He may also, insofar as may be necessary, take care of preparing other faithful who are appointed on a temporary basis to read the Scriptures in liturgical celebrations. That he may more fittingly and perfectly fulfill these functions, he is to meditate assiduously on sacred Scripture.
Aware of the office he has undertaken, the reader is to make every effort and employ suitable means to acquire that increasingly warm and living love and knowledge of Scripture that will make him a more perfect disciple of the Lord.
Here in Honduras I have not been reading as much as I did in the United States. In most ways, it’s more appropriate that native speakers read the scriptures.
But more recently I have been trying to help them read the scriptures better. Many of the people I work with have very little formal education and so reading publicly can be quite a challenge. Thus it is important for an “installed” lector to help them become better proclaimers of the Word of God which many of them are practicing better than I am.
But the real challenge of the lectorate is to meditate more on scripture, to acquire an “increasingly warm and living love and knowledge” of the Word of God, to become a better disciple of the Lord.
In the service in Montaña Adentro, the bishop read the recommended remarks from the ritual, which included several admonitions to the lector, or, as he is called, “the messenger of the Word of God.”
You will proclaim the Word of God in the liturgical assembly; you will educate children and adults in the faith and prepare them to receive the sacraments; you will announce the message of salvation to those who do not know it.
In this was and with your cooperation, all will be able to attain an understanding of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, sent be him, and they will be able to attain eternal salvation.
When you announce to others the Word of God, be docile to the Holy Spirit and receiving that Word, meditate on it with diligence in order that you may progressively acquire the soft and living affection [suave y vivo afecto] for the divine Word and that your life way give witness to our Savior Jesus Christ.
After a prayer the bishop handed me a Bible with these words:
Receive the book of the Sacred Scripture
and faithfully hand on the Word of God
that it may be more alive and effective
in the hearts of men [and women].
Reading scripture, mostly the psalms of the Liturgy of Hours each day and the daily readings from the lectionary, has been an important part of my life for many years. But perhaps what I really need to do is to read it, to study it, to pray it with more dedication in the coming year.
My ministry in the Dulce Nombre will help this since we will dedicate the year of studying the Bible for pastoral workers.
But above, it will mean trying not to rush through the psalms and the daily readings, trying to read them prayerfully – and in light of the signs of the times, so that I may better serve the people here.
More confirmation photos can be found here.
More confirmation photos can be found here.