06 August 2012

The Ministry of Reader -- and a New Feature

In the midst of the reforms of the liturgy in the 1960s, Paul VI issued new instructions rearranging what were typically called the minor orders.  The reordering created two minor orders -- that is to say, two steps -- to be taken by men before they were ordained to the diaconate and, subsequently, to the priesthood.  Likewise, a man being ordained to the permanent diaconate would likewise required installation to these two ministries.  Such ministries, however, were conferred.  Ordination (and thus ontological change) did not take place.

Pope Paul configured these ministries as "reader" (or lector) and "acolyte."  The ministry of reader was to be conferred first upon the aspirant to the priesthood.  In time (a minimum of six months), the same man was to be conferred with the ministry of acolyte.  Here is what Paul had to say about the ministry of reader, as written in the document 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.
Why do I mention this seemingly arcane bit of formational trivia?

Funny you should ask.

I wrote my Provincial Minister on July 29, requesting that he confer this ministry upon me in the fall.  I received a note from him this afternoon, affirming that he would do so this fall.

While some may sniff at such "ministries" -- there are plenty of public readers of the Word around, myself included -- I am, I must say, honored.  And not a bit overwhelmed by it, as well.  Because, quite plainly, this brings me another step closer to petitioning for final vows and Holy Orders.  Time, indeed, marches on.

As I prepare for the installation, I ask the readers of New Sandals for your prayers.  I also hope that you'll indulge the snippets of the day's readings that I (attempt to) publish daily, along with a bit of commentary on each.  As the Lord calls me closer into relationship with his Word, I hope that I'm able to share a bit of my journey with you all.

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