Lector Guidelines

Who can lector?

Any confirmed Catholic may be a lector at our Sunday liturgies. We especially welcome our newly confirmed 7th– 8th grade students who feel a call to this ministry.


Please love your ministry enough to prepare your readings ahead of time. Read your reading over and over again. Seek to understand the Word! Find the meaning and let the Word come into your heart! Practice out loud. You should have read it enough so that by the time you are ready to read at Mass you will almost have it memorized. When the assembly hears a lector read well their faith is built up. They can be encouraged, comforted, challenged or moved in some way by what they hear. In the same manner a poor reading can detract from the liturgy.

The way in which you proclaim the Word affects the liturgy every bit as much as a stirring homily or stirring music. YOU interpret the Word for us!

Please touch our hearts with the Word of God!


Two Lectors are scheduled for each Mass on Sunday – one for each reading. There are many people who want to lector and it’s good to have two people participating. You can prepare both readings ahead of time or you can call the other lector who is scheduled with you and decide who is doing what reading. Some lectors just assume that if their name is listed first in the schedule they will do the first reading. Please try and get a sub if you cannot be there. A roster is available from the sacristy or on the cork board found in the sacristy. If you cannot find a sub, please call the Office.

In order to be regularly scheduled at Mass (after being commissioned) you will need to fill out a Liturgical Minister Information Form. Here you will indicate your Mass preferences. A new ministry scheduled is printed about every four months.   Please pick up your ministry schedule each time it is distributed.

Dress appropriately

What we wear to church is extremely important. We would hope that everyone – not just our Liturgical Ministers – realizes this. However, we especially ask that all Ministers model proper and “holy attire” that expresses the dignity of our celebration. If possible, the men should wear a coat and tie. All clothing should be neat, clean, modest, and appropriate signifying the honor of the ministry you perform. Dress should be conservative, including skirt length and general style. Shorts and jeans are never acceptable.

Remember – you are attending a sacred celebration! Whether you are scheduled in your ministry or not, each Sunday we would hope that your dress would reflect your appreciation of this holy gathering.

Before Mass

Please arrive 15-20 minutes early. Check the Lectionary to make sure the correct readings are marked with the ribbon, and familiarize yourself with their layout on the page. Place the ribbon at the first reading.

Find the binder in the sacristy and read over the welcome, petitions or the announcements.

If you have not talked to the other lector earlier in the week you will need to decide who is reading which reading. One of the lectors will take the Lectionary and binder to the Ambo. If you are going to be doing the first reading adjust the microphone. The book remains closed at the Ambo until the first reading.

The binder with the petitions and announcements can then be placed on the left side shelf of the Ambo. Wait in the sacristy for Mass to begin. Many times those in the sacristy will join in prayer right before Mass starts.

NOTE about adjusting the microphone. Do not adjust the microphone at the BASE. Please notice that the microphone has a “flexible” section just a few inches from where you speak into it. Adjust the microphone by flexing that section – NOT the section that attaches to the ambo. It’s harder on the equipment if you move it at the base, and it also makes noise. Move it at the base when absolutely necessary. Any questions on this, please ask.


At every Mass we will be reading a welcome to the congregation. At 4 minutes before mass begins one lector will go to the ambo to read the welcome. The lector should walk up the center aisle, but approach the altar from the side, as when lectoring. You will read the welcome and then walk to your seat. This lector will not be in the entrance procession. Please place the back on the left side shelf.


Entrance Procession – When the priest is ready, proceed with him and the servers to the gathering space. You are an important part of the entrance procession.

When you arrive at the Altar platform, you bow reverently. Lectors can sit anywhere but try to be near an aisle. The usual spot is in one of the first pews just to the right of the ambo – on the north side of church – facing the side of the altar.

First Reading

After the opening prayer, and after the priest is seated, it is time for you to read. Walk up the nearest aisle straight towards the altar. Go up the steps and bow to the altar. (When you bow both head and eyes should “go to the floor”) Bow SLOWLY and deliberately, short pause. Bow to the side of the altar if you are coming from the side. Walk slowly. Do not hurry.

When you arrive at the ambo OPEN THE BOOK and then LOOK at the community gathered. Make sure that they are ready to listen. You have something very important to tell them. (If the children are being dismissed for children’s Liturgy of the Word, please wait until the children are out the doors before you begin.)

Maintain eye contact. Say, “A reading from the book of ______.”   (Do not say, “Our first reading is______.”) Read slowly and clearly, and project. Read with enthusiasm and interpret the reading for the listeners. Don’t be afraid to read with all the meaning the Word of God deserves.

At the end of the reading PAUSE before you say, “The Word of the Lord” and say it with meaning. (Note: Do not say, “This is the word of the Lord.”) The pause is very important as it distinguishes the reading and adds to our meditation time.

Responsorial Psalm

Most of the time the Psalm will be sung. At most masses there is a cantor or choir and s/he will come forward after the first reading. The cantor will meet you on the top step and reverence the altar with you. (You will bow together)

NOTE: IF by chance there is only one lector, please leave the sanctuary while the psalm is sung and then come forward again.

When there is no cantor and you are reading the psalm please step back (or bow your head) after the first reading. Wait for the length of a “Hail Mary” and then proceed with the antiphon (first line) of the psalm. If the psalm is read DO NOT SAY, “Our Responsorial Psalm is _____.”

Second Reading

Wait for the cantor to finish the psalm. Do not rush up to the altar before s/he has finished. Meet the cantor and reverence the altar together. After your reading place the Lectionary on the RIGHT SHELF. Do not place it on top of the petition binder as this makes it difficult when it comes time for the petitions to get to the binder.

Prayers of the Faithful – (Intercessions)

Please anticipate the time for the Intentions (as well for the Announcements) and be in place AHEAD of time. There are still some lectors who are not coming forward early enough. The Lector who will read the Prayers of the Faithful should stand and start walking forward at the last line or two of the Creed. Wait on the floor level until the creed comes to an end. When the creed is completed you will go up to ambo AS the priest introduces the intercessions.

If the Book of the Gospels is on the ambo, you can open and place the binder on top of it. It seems to work better than moving the Book of Gospels.

Please try to read the prayers with meaning – Read the intentions PRAYERFULLY and say the names of our parishioners slowly and clearly. If the petition begins with a quote from Scripture please pause a bit after the Scripture reading. This will set it apart from the petition. After each petition is read –pause slightly – and then say, “Let us pray to the Lord.” (DO NOT say “Please respond, “Lord hear our prayer.” The only time you would announce the response is IF it is different than our usual response.)

When finished reading the intercessions – DO NOT LEAVE! IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU WAIT until the priest FINISHES saying the concluding prayer. After he is done and after all respond, “Amen” you may leave the ambo. (Basically you will be seated as everyone else sits for the presentation of the gifts.)   As you leave the ambo please LEAVE THE Binder OPEN to the ANNOUNCEMENTS! This saves time later.

Come to floor level as priests says, “Let us pray” and stay at floor level until the congregation responds, “AMEN”. This prayer is usually very short so start walking soon enough, please. Come up the steps as everyone says, “Amen”, reverencing the altar as usual. Hopefully the previous lector has left the binder open to the announcements. PLEASE read the announcements in a conversational tone – make them interesting and feel free to “ad lib” a bit if the wording seems awkward.

Stay at the ambo until after the Final Blessing. The lector is a part of the procession out of church. If you have just read the announcements STAY at the ambo and join the procession out as the priest leaves the sanctuary. If you aren’t already up there, come forward as the priest and servers bow at the altar, and process out, following the cross bearer. You do not carry the Book out.

Just a few last thoughts:

Most of our Lectors do not proclaim the word strongly enough. Even though you have a microphone you need to speak a little more loudly – as if you are talking to the person in the back of the church. Our church is big and there’s a lot of noise even when people are trying to listen. I don’t mean that you have to shout. Just speak strongly and clearly! I know you can’t tell how you sound when you are up there. You think you are loud enough but most of you are not.

Once in a while before Mass – please ask someone who will be attending Mass to give you some feedback or call to see if the church is available and come up and practice – I would be happy to meet with you for a few minutes.