The Minsitry of Reading

Understanding Service and Responsibility


We gather as a parish community on Sundays, and sometimes on weekdays, to celebrate Mass. Mass is not a possession, nor is it merely a social practice, but rather it is a gift from God in which we meet with him through Word and Sacrament. Sometimes it is easy to focus solely on the second part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, in which God reveals himself to us, and unites himself with us, through the giving of his Body and Blood in Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Whereas it is right that we approach the Sacrament of the Eucharist with reverence, gratitude and awe, it is important that we do not regard the first part of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word, as simply a kind of holy preamble to the second Part, The Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Liturgy of The Eucharist, God communicates with us though Sacrament. In the Liturgy of the Word, God communicates with us through Readings from Sacred Scripture, which are as relevant to us, the faith community of St Bride’s, East Kilbride, right here, right now, as they were to the people who first heard them. What is God saying to us? What is he saying to me? What can I do about it? How can I better listen to him? What is the relevance of the Readings at Mass to my life and where I find myself right now, in this place and in this time?

In order to assist us to hear what God is saying to us through the Sacred Scripture we listen to at Mass, the Church invites her people, each and every one of us, to consider whether or not they are being called to the Ministry of Reading. Reading at Mass is a service, not an honour. It is a service set aside for those who feel they are able to proclaim the Word of God to his people. It is not just a question of giving the priest a rest, or letting the congregation hear an alternative voice. It is an invitation to the laity to take their rightful place by active participation in the Liturgy. It is an invitation to those who feel able to respond to be a conduit of God’s Word through their proclaiming of it to his people. St Paul tells us that we are the Body of Christ; each part of the body has a different function, and it is not a sign of failure to feel that one is not being called to the Ministry of Reading. But the invitation is there for our consideration, and a great blessing for those who feel able to respond to it.

The Ministry of Reading is, moreover, one which carries responsibilities: the responsibility to be aware of the importance of this service by preparing the Readings beforehand; the responsibility to pray about the Readings and to reflect on them beforehand; the responsibility to proclaim the Readings clearly and meaningfully; the responsibility to be a possible link between the Word of God and his people. It is also a Ministry which brings great joy to those who participate in it with the intention of serving God through their parish.