Have you ever noticed how even the simplest of texts can be transformed when read aloud? We are all familiar with the stories in the Bible, but every Sunday we hear three different Scripture passages read aloud in the Liturgy of the Word. At Mass, readers proclaim the Word of God to the rest of the congregation — through their careful preparation, they can grow in their own prayer and faith lives as well.
“Any lay Catholic can become a reader!” says ministry member Sam Guzman. “It’s a wonderful way to participate in the liturgy and share in the sacrifice of the Mass.”
Holy Family has two readers who serve at each weekend Mass, as well as Holy Days of Obligation — one each for the First and Second Readings. Readers choose which Mass works best for their schedule.
The readings at Mass are more than just readings — they are an invitation to the congregation to be drawn into and reflect upon the Word of God. Readers can facilitate this kind of “active listening” by proclaiming with clarity and quality.
“You need to read with expression — know your reading and be able to present it well,” says ministry member Karen Witherell. “This allows the listeners to enter into the story.”
“Speaking for myself, I pay attention to inflection, which words are emphasized, projection, clear diction, and reading slowly enough that the importance of the message can be absorbed,” Sam adds. “It’s a tension between sounding natural and yet speaking in a more formal way. I believe reading well can enable the Word of God to be more clearly understood and felt at a heart level.”
By serving as readers, both Karen and Sam have been able to grow in their faith and in their relationship with God.
“When I prepare for the reading ahead of time, it gives me a chance to mull over it, and it puts me in a better place to absorb the Word of God and take it into my everyday life,” Karen says. “It allows me to carry the message of the Scriptures into my week, and I can better try to be mindful about how I interact with everybody around me that week.”
“Reading at Mass has made me more engaged with the readings, taking them to heart and absorbing them in my own life,” Sam says. “I practice reading them several times before Mass, and by the time I am finished, I know the passage well.”
In addition, reading at Mass is an excellent reminder that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” as St. Paul says.
“The Scriptures contain a sacramental power of their own to move hearts and deepen our conversion,” Sam says. “So, by reading them and speaking them aloud for others to hear, one is participating in a very profound mystery of grace.
“The Scriptures are ultimately a grand story of God’s loving relationship with humanity, our fall and, ultimately, God’s plan to redeem and save us,” he adds. “In a very real way, it’s sort of a grand romance, filled with our sin and infidelity, but more importantly, with God’s loving fidelity to us. Reading the Scriptures and internalizing their truths makes me more eager to spread the Good News of God’s saving love for us, and how that is revealed in the beauty of the Mass, the sacraments, and the whole life of grace that brings us into living relationship with the Holy Trinity.”
For Karen, serving as a reader has also been an opportunity to grow in faith alongside her daughter, Abbie.
“Abbie started reading at 16, and we always made a point of reading at the same Mass and discussing what readings we’d each want to do,” Karen says. “I think doing it together really eased the way at first for her to get involved at the parish. We’re all given different gifts, and sometimes we can be hesitant with the ones that put us out there in front of everybody. But this is such a necessary and useful part of the Mass, so I think that if you feel like you have something to offer, give it a try! It’s a simple way to participate and serve the parish community.”
For more information about the Readers Ministry, contact Monica Conro at 918-582-6247, ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.