- Reader (liturgy)
In some Christian churches, the Reader is responsible for reading aloud excerpts of the
scriptureat a liturgy. In early Christian times, the reader was of particular value, given the rarity of literacy.
Roman Catholicism (Latin Rite)
Latin Riteof the Roman Catholic Church, the term "lector" is used in preference to that of "reader". The term can mean someone who in a particular liturgyis assigned to read a Biblical text other than the Gospel. (Reading the Gospel at Mass is reserved specifically to the deaconor, in his absence, to the priest.) But it also has the more precise meaning of a person who has been "instituted" (or, in some cases, "ordained") as a lector, and so is a lector even when not assigned to read in a specific liturgy. This is the meaning in which the term is used in this article.
In the Latin Catholic Church, the office of lector, in this sense, was formerly classed as one of the four
minor ordersand in recent centuries was generally conferred only on those preparing for ordination to the priesthood. With effect from 1 January 1973, the apostolic letter [http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P6MINORS.HTM "Ministeria quaedam"] of 15 August 1972decreed instead that::"2. What up to now were called minor orders are henceforth to be called "ministries".:"3. Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians; hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders.":"4. Two ministries, adapted to present-day needs, are to be preserved in the whole Latin Church, namely, those of reader and acolyte. The functions heretofore assigned to the subdeaconare entrusted to the reader and the acolyte...":"5. 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."
[http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P3Q.HTM Canon 1035] of the Code of Canon Law requires candidates for diaconal ordination to have received and have exercised for an appropriate time the ministries of lector and acolyte and prescribes that institution in the second of these ministries must precede by at least six months ordination as a deacon.
Instituted lectors are obliged to wear a liturgical vestment (
alb, or cassockand surplice) when proclaiming the readings at Mass; others who perform the same function are neither required nor forbidden by universal law of the Latin Church to do so: "During the celebration of Mass with a congregation a second priest, a deacon, and an instituted reader must wear the distinctive vestment of their office when they go up to the ambo to read the word of God. Those who carry out the ministry of reader just for the occasion or even regularly but without institution may go to the ambo in ordinary attire, but this should be in keeping with the customs of the different regions" ( [http://www.catholicliturgy.com/index.cfm/FuseAction/documentText/Index/2/SubIndex/11/ContentIndex/133/Start/126 General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass,] no. 54).
General Instruction of the Roman Missal, [http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/chapter3.shtml 101] speaks as follows of those who, without being lectors in the specific sense, carry out their functions at Mass::"In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture. They should be truly suited to perform this function and should receive careful preparation, so that the faithful by listening to the readings from the sacred texts may develop in their hearts a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture."
In its sections [http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/chapter4.shtml#sect1d 194-198] , the same document lists the lector's specific duties at Mass.
Traditionalist Catholicorganizations such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priestand the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianneyhave been permitted to continue to employ the denomination "minor order" rather than "ministry" for the lectorate and to use the pre-1973 rite of "ordination" rather than "institution" into the office. The controversial Society of St. Pius X(SSPX) and other traditionalist Catholic bodies in dispute with the Holy See, such as sedevacantists, act in the same way without seeking authorization.
Eastern Orthodox Church, the Reader (in Greek, "polytonic|ἀναγνώστης/anagnostis"; in Church Slavonic, Чтец/Chtets) is the second highest of the minor orders of clergy. This order is higher than the Doorkeeper (now largely obsolete) and lower than the subdeacon. The reader's essential role is to read the Old Testamentand Epistlelessons during the Divine Liturgyand other services, as well as to chant the Psalms and the verses of certain antiphons. There is a special service for the tonsuring of a reader, although in contemporary practice a laymanmay receive the priest's blessing to read on a particular occasion. The office of a reader subsumes that of a "taper-bearer", and the service of tonsuring a reader mentions both functions.
Readers are permitted to (and should in accordance with his particular church's practices) wear a
cassock, although many do so only when attending services (again in accordance with particular church practices). Readers will generally not wear a clergy shirt, and may not perform any of the duties reserved for a deacon, priest or bishop.
After being tonsured, the reader is vested in a short
phelonion[http://old.svots.edu/Three-Hierarchs-Chapel/2004-1005-patterson/pages/1200_JPG.htm] , which he wears while reading the Epistle for the first time. This short phelonion is then removed (and never worn thereafter) and replaced with a sticharion, which the reader wears thereafter whenever he reads the Epistle. This practice is not universal, however, and many bishops and priests will allow a reader to perform his function dressed only in a cassock or (if a monk) a riassa [http://www.kosovo.net/289_y.jpg] . Often, a bishop will decree what vesting practice he wishes to be followed within his own diocese; for an example, see [http://www.holy-trinity.org/liturgics/tikhon.lit1.html here] , section VIII.
icons often show readers and church singers wearing a sticharion-like garment (more loose and flowing than the modern sticharion) and a pointed hat with the brim pulled out to the sides (see [http://saints.oca.org/IconDirectory/LG/GreatLent/sundayorthodoxy.jpghere] , lower left corner). This distinctive garb is now obsolete.
Minor orders were discontinued in the reformed
Church of England. The modern office of reader is that of a licenced lay minister. After a period of theological training (often, in the case of the Church of England, three years of evening classes), a lay person is licenced to preach and lead public worship. A reader is not a member of the clergy, and cannot preside at the eucharist, baptize, perform marriages, absolve or bless. The reader is licenced to lead non-sacramental worship (including, in some cases, funerals), may assist in the leadership of eucharistic worship and may preach. An Anglican reader usually wears a blue tippetwith choir dress. [http://readers.cofe.anglican.org/ Reader Ministry in the Church of England] .
* [http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/pictures/12seattle_8.jpgPhoto: Tonsure of a Reader]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.