When I was first approached to be a lector in my second year of undergrad, I had already been contemplating the idea. It had been in the back of my mind for a while. I always wondered whether I have what it takes to be a lector: to be confident in speaking to a large group, to have a calm, clear voice. These were all the physical or technical aspects of being a lector; I had not even considered the spiritual and religious aspects of it.
After finally deciding to join the new lectors’ group, I realized that the organizer at the time, Benjamin Gordon, and Father Gregory had a lot more in mind for the lectors than merely showing up on Saturday or Sunday to do a reading. Instead, they planned to create regular, weekly meetings for the new lectors’ group that would initially involve some explanations about the role of the lector in the liturgy, followed by a run-through and personal reflection and prayer. This concept was very new to me. Sharing my thoughts and feelings about the readings in a group setting had never exactly been my idea of being a lector. However, I quickly learned how important these meetings were.
The lector, as I learned, is part of the ministry of the Church. I remember Father Gregory explaining how priests and other students in the seminary, in the early days of the Church, were the only ones to do the readings. After this ministry was extended to laypeople, the same idea for preparing to read was followed. Father Gregory also shared with us certain passages from the Catechism that explained the ministry of the lector. I also learned that preparation for reading required more than a technical understanding of the words and pronunciations of the passage; a key part of preparation includes a spiritual understanding. This is where the weekly meetings come in.
The outline of a regular meeting is first, deciding who will read the first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, and gospel. Then, we begin with an opening prayer, a run-through of the passages, and followed by a sharing of our reflections on the readings and a closing prayer. Father Gregory, in the initial meetings, would start us off by asking if there were particular words or phrases that stood out to us or reminded us of something. Then, we would try to make some connections between the readings, responsorial psalm, and gospel. While it is important to note that there is not always a clear connection, there is definitely some reason that the Church decided to place these passages together for the particular week. Some of my favourite spiritual discussions have come out of these reflections, including reflections on our own baptisms and the meaning of Christmas in today’s society. However, for my first year being a lector, I was very shy with sharing my reflections; I would go through some meetings without even talking once! This was mostly because it was not something I had done before. A combination of these meetings and joining faith studies (shout out to Discovery and Source!) built my confidence in sharing my thoughts on spiritual topics.
These regular meetings are open to all lectors – not just the ones reading that weekend, as well as anyone who would like to join us. They are scheduled on an ad hoc basis, based on the schedules of the lectors for that week, but we have a Facebook group to coordinate that, if you are interested.
Beyond the meetings, another part of becoming a lector that I did not consider was the orientation and installation. The orientation is a meeting we have near the beginning of each semester to encourage new lectors to join as well as have a refresher for old lectors on certain procedures during the mass. These orientations would usually end with the readings and reflections for the week. This semester, the orientation meeting is Sunday, January 26th at 1:30 PM. Anyone interested in learning about or becoming a lector or acolyte (altar server) should attend.
The installation is a yearly event to install new lectors and re-install old ones. It is during a specific Sunday mass, in which the celebrant presents the lectors for the year to the rest of the assembly and does a blessing for each lector. This year, our installation mass will be on Sunday, February 2nd, so please join us for this special day!
Although I’m in my last semester now, I can still remember one of the first masses I attended at Newman Centre in 2010. It was a different kind of experience from the masses in my home Church in Mississauga, Ontario. Newman was much more intimate, friendly, and welcoming. While my home Church was friendly and welcoming, it was a big Church and I didn’t know most of the people there, even though I had regularly attended mass there for over 10 years. I found that the intimacy and closeness at Newman made the difference for me. It was in this intimacy that I discovered my mission or calling, at least for now. (It helps to read in front of a smaller group when starting off as a lector). Being a lector now means more to me than just completing the reading in a correct technical manner; instead, it means learning how to better serve the community through scripture. Lectors have a more important mission than merely reading during mass; they are conveying messages from God through Bible passages. It is important for lectors to understand what they are reading, to reflect on it, and to share these revelations with other lectors and members of the community.
Your mission (should you choose to accept it) may not be to become a lector, though I would encourage you to give it a try. Regardless of what you think God is asking you to do at this time in your life, I would most definitely encourage you to listen to Him. A lot of our lives are based on unreflective action: okay, I’m in university now. That means lots of reading and studying to build a good foundation for My Future. Like my reflection here about how I became a lector, our ideas about certain “missions” should not only include the technical aspects (like grades, etc). Instead, make a point to reflect and pray when you’re thinking about your mission in life. These have helped me begin to direct my life, with God’s guidance, and I hope it helps you too.