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Improve Your Reading

Some suggestions to help you in your Ministry

The Mass has two major parts, The Liturgy Of The Word (ie, the readings from the Bible) and The Liturgy Of The Eucharist (the consecration and receiving of Holy Communion.) People coming to Mass will be nourished, first by God's Words and then by God's Son, Jesus, given to us in Holy Communion, and the Word which the reader proclaims has equal importance to Holy Communion. So reading is a great privilege and honour, and it comes with a responsibility to understand how important it is.

Collect a copy of the Missalette the week before you are due to read: any of the priests, or the Sacristan, Tommy, will give you a copy from the Sacristy. (Check the date on the front!) If sharing the reading with another, make contact with your partner: agree who will read what. The Readings in the Missalette are extracts from longer sections; reading the entire section will lead to a better understanding of the short piece you will be reading. If you have a Bible at home, use the small numbers on the Missalette to guide you to the longer Section: for example, 1 Cor. 15:54-58 means the extract comes from the 1st Letter to the Corinthians; in the Bible, the Sections and Verses are numbered, so you look for Section 15 and the Verses used will be Verse 54 as far as Verse 58.

Before you begin to read through the section, take a few moments to pray to God to help you, and, because of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, there will be three of them to help you out! "God the Father, thank you for asking me to help to spread the Good News; Holy Spirit, grant me the wisdom and understanding to proclaim these holy Words; Jesus, I place my trust in you." Read and understand the message of the Gospel: although you will not be reading it for the congregation at Mass, the Gospel is central to this part of the Mass. It is usually the easiest of the Readings. If there are long words or names which are difficult to pronounce, remember, these are usually the names of ancient people and places, and even history scholars can only guess how they might have been pronounced all those years ago! Do not worry unduly about difficult words, just pronounce them as best you can and keep going.

Try to practise reading the passage aloud: this helps you to find the best place to take a breath or a pause and often helps you to a greater understanding of the passage. You may find it helpful to write the Readings down, clearly marking the places where you want to pause: writing is a great aid to memory. If you wish, you can bring your own copy to Mass and read directly from it. Although you will have agreed with your partner who is reading which piece, practise doing both readings and the Psalm in case he or she fails to turn up. If you know you are going to miss your turn at reading, contact your partner as soon as possible and let him or her know that you will be missing.

On The Day
Don't be late! If you arrive late you will be flustered, nervous and will not be relaxed. Get to the Church at least five minutes before Mass begins. If it is intended that you share the Reading with another Minister, find him/her. If he or she does not turn up do not panic. You should have practised both readings and the Psalm just in case. Take a few moments to kneel and pray: "God the Father, thank you for asking me to help to spread the Good News; Holy Spirit, grant me the wisdom and understanding to proclaim these holy Words; Jesus, I place my trust in you." If there is a Choir singing at Mass, ask if they will be singing the Psalm. Go to the sacristy and let the priest know you have arrived and will be reading. Junior Readers will participate in the opening procession, taking your place behind the Altar Servers and ahead of the priest. When the priest goes up on the altar you should sit with the Altar Servers.
When the priest introduces the first Reading, walk slowly to the Ambo and commence the reading. Read the words clearly and carefully; raise the volume of your voice but do not shout; there is a long echo in our church, so leave pauses after every full stop, and leave a longer pause before saying, "This is the Word of the Lord." You will occasionally come across difficult words: do not worry unduly about them, just pronounce them as best you can and keep going. If you make a mistake, try not to let it distract you or make you nervous, just keep on reading. When finished your piece, bow your head and walk slowly back to your place. At the end of the second Reading, as the collection begins, both readers can leave the altar and join their families or friends. Junior Readers will NOT be required to pray the Alleluia or the Prayers Of the Faithful.

And if you are having difficulty with any aspect of your ministry, take heart from the words St Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the passage we mentioned above:
Never give in then, my dear brothers and sisters, never admit defeat; keep on working at the Lord's work always, knowing that, in the Lord, you cannot be working in vain. 1 Corinthians, 15:54-58

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