Readers Workshop

One of the greatest gifts that the Holy Spirit gave the Church through the Second Vatican Council is a renewed sense of the centrality of the Word of God in Catholic life. One of the greatest gifts of the Council to us and to our fellow Christians is our new Lectionary for Mass. The reader is entrusted with these gifts for her/himself and for the Church and for the World.

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This chart highlights the Universal Prayer (also known as the Prayer of the Faithful or the General Intercessions) as the climax of the Liturgy of the Word, as well as the Collect as the climax of the Introductory Rites, Communion as the climax of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the Dismissal as the climax of the Concluding Rites. See also the document “The Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, 17 April 1966.”
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The Liturgy of the Word is anchored in the two missions from the Father: the mission of the Son and the Mission of the Spirit, and in the Paschal Mystery.
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The basic theology of the Word and the practice of the reader is in “The Lectionary for Mass: Introduction.” Here is my edition of this introduction with highlights.
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The Office for Worship of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles formulated these principles for all liturgical ministers.
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The Sunday Lectionary has a special design, one for Ordinary Time and one for what I call “Extraordinary Time”—Advent, Lent, and Easter. This chart explains that design.
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Every reader needs to continue to form her/himself. Here is a list of books and articles and videos that need to be in every parish liturgy library.
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Cardinal Roger Mahony’s pastoral letter, “Gather Faithfully Together” has much to say to the reader. Here is my digest for readers.
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I use this chart in almost every class I teach on ecclesiology and liturgy. It describes the relationship between Liturgy and Life, between the One Hour per Week at Sunday Mass and the Other 167 hours of the Week. It portrays the heartbeat of liturgy, the systole/diastole, contraction/expansion, in the gathering and sending. It finds a place for the three ancient silences for the prayer of all at the Collect, the Prayer over the Gifts, and the Post-communion Prayer. It compares the five “stations” of the Liturgy to the five stages of lectio divina. To appreciate this chart, see also my essays “Lived Liturgy” and “A Place for Everybody.”

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