The Ministry of Lector is one of the major steps a seminarian takes on his way to the priesthood. In general, the rites and ministries that a seminarian completes during his time in seminary serve to help him learn to become a priest, as he publicly takes on the practical responsibilities of priesthood step by step. Altogether they are:
Rite of Candidacy (received 9 June 2012)
A seminarian publicly declares his intent before the Church to study and prepare for the vocation of priesthood; the Church (led by the local bishop) publicly accepts him as an official candidate for the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
Ministry of Lector (received 13 January 2013)
He publicly receives the Book of Scriptures from the Church and is called to increase his study of and devotion to the Word of God. He proclaims the readings (except the Gospel) at public liturgies like the Mass, and is called to evangelize in charity with his knowledge of Scripture.
Ministry of Acolyte (Spring 2014)
A seminarian is now called to be present in the sanctuary of the church during Mass, to aid the deacon and minister to the priest. He attends to the service of the altar and the care of the Mass vessels. When the need arises, he is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
Rite of Ordination to Diaconate (Fall 2015)
The ordination to the diaconate sacramentally configures the seminarian to Christ the Servant. Deacons serve the Church by preaching, prayer, and acts of charity. They read the Gospel during Mass and can preach the homily, are ordinary ministers of Communion and baptisms, can perform weddings, funeral rites, and administer sacramentals. Those in the permanent diaconate typically serve their local parish in some specific capacity, like ministry to jails, the homeless, the home-bound, RCIA etc. Transitional deacons continue in seminary to prepare for priesthood.
Rite of Ordination to Priesthood (Summer 2016)
A man ordained to the priesthood is configured sacramentally to Christ the Head and Shepherd. In this way, he is set apart in order to be at the service of the whole people of God. The priest "stands in the breach" (cf. Psalm 106:23) between God and man, bringing Him to them and them to Him. Having received the power from God to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), the priest shepherds the pilgrim Church after the pattern of Christ during his earthly life. Principally, this means that the priest effects the Sacraments, leads the Church in public worship, teaches, preaches, evangelizes, catechizes, prays, heals, forgives sins...in sum, he continues Christ's earthly ministry by becoming alter Christus ("another Christ").
As you can see, I have a little ways to go yet! But all in good time. For the Mass of my installation to the ministry of Lector, we had as our principal celebrant Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is the Cardinal Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. He is an excellent preacher! That particular Sunday was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, so the Gospel reading was Luke's account of Jesus' baptism. Cardinal DiNardo spoke about the divine sonship of Jesus, how at his baptism in the Jordan he basked in the Father's love, and related it to our own journey toward priesthood. What animated Jesus' entire earthly mission, his fundamental mode of operation, was the knowledge of the Father's total and infinite love. This, then, must be our fundamental perspective as well, because it is this knowledge which allows us to lay down our lives as Christ laid down his life.
Ok, enough talking (writing?), we all know that looking at pictures is the most exciting part anyway. So here they are, in all their chronological glory:
|We gather as a class before Mass to line up in the hallway. Just like elementary school! See, proof that you will need this skill later on in life.|
|We're so candid. Except Rob on the right who's looking at the camera. I'll give Garrett on the left the benefit of the doubt.|
|This is my buddy Paul. You've seen him before at the beginning of the year when I posted the pic of us at St. Paul Outside the Walls. Clearly, he's cheesing the camera and trying to make us think he's holy with his folded hands.|
|This is where my classmates and I were told to walk in a straight line as we processed in together.|
|Not only do these seminarians walk straight, but they kneel together and pray together as well.|
|Our celebrant Cardinal DiNardo giving the homily.|
It is at this point in which the official rite of installation begins. The introductory exhortation to us about to receive the ministry is:
To you, my dear sons in Christ who aspire for the ministry of Lector, through his Son, who became man for us, God the Father has revealed the mystery of salvation and brought it to fulfillment. Jesus Christ made all things known to us and then entrusted his Church with the mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world.
As readers and bearers of God's Word, you will assist in this mission, and so take on a special office within the Christian community; you will be given a responsibility in the service of the faith which is rooted in the Word of God. You will proclaim that Word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and prepare them to receive the Sacraments worthily. You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it. Thus with your help men and women will come to know God our Father and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent, and so be able to reach eternal life.
In proclaiming God's Word to others, accept it yourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Meditate on it constantly, so that each day you will have deeper love of the Scriptures, and in all you say and do show forth to the world our Savior, Jesus Christ.
|My turn! Here as I receive the Book of Scripture the Cardinal says:|
Take this Book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the Word of God,
so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.
|Mass continues as normal after the installation|
|Following Mass we all process out as official lectors!|
|Cardinal DiNardo ends with the post-Mass blessing, "Pro sit", a Latin phrase that means "May it (the sacrifice of the Cross) be to your benefit", to which all respond, "Pro omnibus et singulis", "For all and for each"|
This day was a great celebration for the whole Church as she received 55 new lectors, and a special day for me as I was able to receive this ministry on my way to priesthood. It is always a great encouragement for me to experience the solidarity of brotherhood, and this Mass was certainly one of those moments. I think above all it was a particular and important moment of knowing and receiving the Father's personal love, so that little by little I may learn to lay down my life after the example of Christ.