I am a huge proponent of using proper terms in the proper settings. The word "Lector" is one of them. Canonically (ie referring to Canon Law), there is no such thing as a "Lector" in our parishes, and no, Vatican II did not do away with this appointed position. The reality is this: only men can be appointed Lectors, although the 1983 Code of Canon Law allows uninstalled men and women both to READ during the liturgy, and for both, it is a privilege. Still, only MEN can be appointed, and so I find it both insulting and irritating that we continue to call READERS "Lectors" as this misuse and overuse of terminology denigrates the Office of Lector itself, and leaves us to wonder if the Readers at Mass are in fact installed Lectors or are just filling the role because the Bishop refuses to install the proper men or because not enough have stepped up to the plate.
I suspect it's more a lack of education on the part of all lay people. I had to pay thousands of dollars and get a Master's degree to obtain this simple information that should be readily available and explained to the general populace of any given parish. It's not like Canon Law is a secret.
Lest someone protest, indeed, as a Minor Order it was suppressed, but the new Code did NOT suppress the installation of the position or the obligation upon those installed to serve in that capacity during the Liturgy. Ergo, if an installed Lector is in attendance at a given Mass, there should not be an uninstalled Reader performing the liturgical role.
It has become the fashion at my parish for the readings to be read dramatically, according to the whims of the canonically not-installed Readers, both male and female, although I cringe to admit the problem seems to have been introduced by a woman.Still...the virus seems to affect men, too.
Nearly every time I have attended Mass at my parish within the last year or so, I have had to look around to see if, in fact, I was present at a "Concert" given by an Elocutionist as portrayed in "Anne of Green Gables."
To be clear; I am not saying the readings should be proclaimed in a monotone! That is just as awful! Rather, I am merely suggesting that those doing the Readings for the Mass each week follow the description given in the GIRM, paragraph 56:
"The Liturgy if the Word is to be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation, and so any sort of haste that hinders recollection must clearly be avoided."
Yes, indeed. However, pausing dramatically after every few words and over-emphasizing every third word a la melodrama does not meet the theological understanding of "meditation". It falls to "dramatic interpretation" and is TERRIBLY distracting!
So as not to be uncharitable, I quote the continuing context of the GIRM, paragraph 56:
"During the Liturgy of the Word, it is also appropriate to include brief periods of silence, accommodated to the gathered assembly, in which, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared. It may be appropriate to observe such periods of silence, for example, before the Liturgy of the Word itself begins, after the first and second reading, and lastly at the conclusion of the homily."
This puts the first part in context. I suspect that the more dramatic Readers tend to read the first part of this paragraph (assuming they have actually read this very important document) and stop there, thinking that their idea of "meditation" and "silence" is the proper one. Therefore, we in the pews are afflicted by their own PERSONAL reading versus their reading of the Word for the rest of us, who are trying to meditate upon it.
One of the things I most loved about my various monastery and convent visits was this: they all understood meditative reading in accordance with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Not a single Sister got up and read according to her own interpretation. Certainly her voice rose and fell for general emphasis, but it was always carried out to foster our OWN meditation, so that we could allow the Holy Spirit to emphasize words and phrases...not the reader.
Every time a Dramatic Reader takes the pulpit in my parish, I consider fleeing. The first time it happened, the woman actually looked at the
Since that time, this behavior has become all the rage of our parish
I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not. We in the pews have a right to speak up, too, and it's not proper to throw tomatoes at Mass or cut the cords to the sound system. That kind of thing is generally frowned upon. Unfortunately, it has become the culture in our parishes that those who speak up, even gently, are cranks, and no real criticism is tolerated, for fear it might hurt someone's feelings.
God forbid someone in a liturgical role is introduced to the GIRM and therefore has their feelings offended by official documentation.
The Readings at Mass are not meant to be read as though proclaimed in a theatre, but are meant to be proclaimed in a worshipful setting, open to be received by the people in the pews, all ranges of people. There is a place for drama, but the Word of God doesn't need any help from we lay people; He can stand alone just fine on His own if the Readers would only stand aside enough to let Him speak.
I long for the monastery, and the sober, truly meditative reading of the Word of God, in the Office, in the Lectionary, and pray that one day, our lay Readers will also cultivate an appreciation for this lost, yet simple, art of proclaiming the Word to the Faithful devoid of their own personal dramatic interpretation.