The Word of God — Scripture — is fundamental to our faith. Wisely, the Church incorporates Scripture throughout the Mass. The Liturgy of the Word presents to us three readings, generally one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and one Gospel passage. Using a three-year cycle means that just by attending Mass, we hear a large portion of the Bible. Our lectors are key to bringing Scripture to life before us.
Nita Weissert trains lectors and she certainly has the experience needed, having served as a lector for 46 years herself. Nita even recalls serving as a lector when she was in grade school at the cathedral. At the time, she simply thought it was something she could do and a way for her to serve.
Even after 46 years of proclaiming the Word, Nita finds herself making new discoveries in the Scripture she prepares to read. With a prayerful approach and using the workbook that lectors are given, she takes time during the week before Mass to practice and prepare.
“I always read through the workbook during the week a few times,” Nita says. “It explains how to pronounce words and goes into the background of the reading. I usually practice it out loud. Then on the weekend, right before I read, I say a prayer to the Holy Spirit to let me read in a way for people to understand how God wants it to be heard.”
While proclaiming the Word takes some intention and practice, and it helps to be comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, a lector’s purpose is different from any other kind of public speaking. Nita even used some of the skills she learned for the public speaking she did in her professional life. Still, the ministry of a lector is unique.
“It’s the Word of God, and my hope is that people hear it and understand it the way the writer intended,” Nita says. “Each time I go through a reading, I get a little more understanding or context in what was being said. I think that helps with being a lector. We’re not trying to just read through and get to the end, and we are not acting or performing, but we are proclaiming it.”
Nita schedules one-on-one training with new volunteers. She shares her own experience along with the practicalities such as using the microphone and dealing with acoustics. Sister Tess schedules the lectors and is able to accommodate individual schedules and preferences. Lectors generally serve once or twice a month — having a larger pool of lectors helps to give everyone a little more freedom and flexibility to serve when it works best for them.
“If you are willing to get up in front of the congregation and read and that wouldn’t make you too nervous, we can use you,” Nita says. “And if you have a special talent in terms of speaking, that’s a skill that lends itself well to lectoring.”
To be trained to proclaim the Word of God at Mass, contact the parish office at 618-234-1166.