Use of the term 'Lector'
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,784
    In my new post, I am in charge of scheduling lectors. I asked the secretary to put a blurb in the upcoming bulletins to encourage new people to sign up to lector (lect?). This morning she questioned whether or not they are truly 'lectors' or just 'readers'. Her thought was that lectors are formally instituted (at least according to the old rite), so someone who isn't formally instituted wouldn't actually be a lector, properly speaking.

    I confess, I see the logic to this observation. My question is (apart from fiddling while Rome burns) if anyone can shed any light on this.

    Honestly, while I think she is right from a technical perspective, it seems appropriate for us to use the term lector anyways. This is common parlance, and it is the traditional term. In light of the fact that minor orders essentially do not exist in the novus ordo anymore, the term would basically be extinct if we don't use it. Also, "reader" just doesn't sound as good. "We are seeking volunteers to become readers." does not hit the same. It feels to me like it trivializes the act of solemnly proclaiming sacred scripture, whereas the traditional term imports a certain seriousness or solemnity to the act. It also implies that it is being spoken aloud, and not merely "read".

    I'm open to arguments either way.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,007
    Reader is a perfectly good English word of Saxon origin. Lector is both Latin and an English borrowing from Latin, but that doesn't make it better as a matter of English style (H.W. Fowler would generally prefer Saxon-derived English words over Latinate ones as a matter of style).
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  • davido
    Posts: 900
    The fact that a scripture passage is “a reading from…” instead of “a lesson from…” seems like a mark in favor of your secretary.

    Maybe when it’s in NABish it’s a reading/reader and when it’s in the King’s English it’s a lesson/lector…
    Thanked by 1mattebery
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,007
    Per Fowler, King's English would favor the more native Saxon over the less native Latinate.
  • So yeah, Pope Francis changed all this, unfortunately. I would still use the term Reader. I feel Lectors must be able to chant the readings and be male, as well as properly instituted.
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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,411
    The parish secretary is right, I am not sure whether this is the current Book of Blessings but
    1828 This order is not intended for the institution of lectors by the bishop, who uses the rite contained in the Roman Pontifical. Rather, this blessing is for parish readers who have the responsibility of proclaiming the Scriptures at Mass and other liturgical services. Care should be taken to see that readers are properly prepared for the exercise of their ministry before receiving this blessing. The functions of the reader are given in no. 101 of the General Instruction of the Roman
    The offices/ministries of acolyte and lector were established/changed from minor clerical orders in 1972 by Ministeria Quaedam modified in 2021.
    Can. 230 §1.n Lay persons who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

    Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.

    §2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

    §3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

    This Canon was changed on Jan 10th 2021 by the Motu Proprio Spiritus Domini to allow the conferral of these ministries on women as well as men.
    I might add that the function is to procaim the readings, not to simply read them.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,044
    My parish uses the term "proclaimer".

    I prefer the traditional term "lector".
  • DL
    Posts: 72
    My parish uses the term "proclaimer".

    “A reading from A Letter from America.”
    Thanked by 2tomjaw ServiamScores
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,156
    My parish calls us lectors.
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 276
    I always thought “reader” was for a lay person and “lector” was for an actual instituted lector.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I thought lector was like Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Hams.
  • Bombarde16
    Posts: 130
    I was corrected by our Diocesan MC that we have readers most of the time at Mass. It is seldom that Lectors read, because they are so few and far between (since there is not a real "norm" for establishing them under the current USCCB norms... {One would think that the old norms would be in force untill new ones were established, but I digress})...

    As a result, seminarians are really the only ones who are instituted as lectors, then acolytes, then deacons, etc ...

    Properly the laity are readers, as Lectors (while no longer a minor order) still must be instituted.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,097
    FUS always used "reader" (that might have come to them from the diocese of Steubenville, which is actually somewhat hands-on, both because it's a small diocese and because FUS punches above its weight in terms of influence, for better or worse, due to the influx of visitors).

    Before Spiritus Domini,I'd be very sympathetic. Now, well… I don't envy anyone who has to deal with any of it.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CharlesW