A Lector at Mass

When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to His people, and Christ, present in His word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, the readings from the Word of God are to be listened to reverently by everyone, for they are an element of the greatest importance in the Liturgy. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM], no. 29)

What is a Lector? 

This ministry may also be called reader or minister of the word.

A lector is the person who proclaims the first or second reading at Mass. This person also may lead the Psalm (in the absence of a cantor) and the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass (in the absence of the deacon).

A lector must have the qualifications listed below and have a desire to minister in this capacity at the Mass. This ministry in the Church requires a person who is of excellent character and serious about the practice of his or her faith.

The lector must believe that Sacred Scripture is the Word of God and have deep respect for God's presence in that Word.

Who can be a Lector?

All the faithful, especially those who will serve as lectors should be properly trained on the following:

  • Be practicing Catholics, distinguished in their Christian life, faith and morals
  • Be at least 16 years old (or selected by catechists for family Masses)
  • Have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist
  • Demonstrate a deep reverence for and devotion to holy Scripture
  • Possess the requisite abilities and temperament to carry out their assigned duties.
  • Participate in Practical training of Proclamation and opportunity for practice and critique
  • Complete Safe Environment training annually.

The two requirements for lectors listed in the General Instruction are that they are to be truly suited to perform this function and that they should receive careful preparation. The General Introduction to the Lectionary provides a more detailed description of the qualifications for non-instituted lectors:
The Liturgical Assembly truly requires readers, even those who are not instituted. Proper measures must, therefore, be taken to ensure that there are qualified laypersons who have been trained to carry out this ministry. Whenever there is more than one reading, it is better to assign the readings to different readers, if available. (#52)

Regarding what is necessary for an individual to be truly suited, this involves being a fully initiated Catholic living in communion with the Church. Being truly suited also implies the necessary talents to serve as a lector. Thus, individuals who are not able to proclaim the readings in a clear manner that expresses the dignity of scripture may not be suited for this service in church.

What is required for formation?

All new candidates for lector must receive training in their parish. No person, no matter how well educated or trained, may be excused from formation for the ministry of lector. On rare occasions, the priest may ask someone to “read” for that particular Mass only.
The instruction must include the following:

  • Scriptural spirituality for Ministers of the Word
  • Preparing the Scriptures prayerfully
  • Instruction in Liturgy of the Word
  • Proclaiming the Word: practicum and formation in public speaking

Prayer for Lectors

Praise to you, Lord God,
     king of the universe,
     and all glory to your name.
I praise you and thank you for calling me
     to proclaim your word to your beloved people.
Open the hearts of all who worship with us,
     so that they may hear your voice when I read.
Let nothing in my life or manner disturb your people
     or close their hearts to the action of your Spirit.
Cleanse my heart and mind,
     and open my lips so that I may proclaim your glory.
All praise to you, heavenly Father,
     through the Lord Jesus in the Holy Spirit,
     now and forever.
Amen.