The reader in any liturgical celebration proclaims the Word of God.
The bishops at Vatican II were insistent that the riches of the Bible should be opened up to the people of God. They took up the image of
the two ‘tables’ the ‘table of the Word’ and the ‘table of the Eucharist’.
The reader’s task is to proclaim those parts of the Word of God which make way for the Gospel, prepare for it and set the scene so that the Gospel can be heard and take root in the hearts of the community.
The reader reads from the lectionary, the book which contains a selection of passages from the Bible. The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures are selected to go with the Gospel passages, and is followed by a New Testament passage written by an apostle, and the Alleluia verse which should be sung.
In practical terms the reader must prepare well to ensure that the Word is heard, understood and appreciated. So the reader having spent time at home preparing the readings must arrive early at Mass to ensure that the lectionary is in place on the ambo and opened at the right place. It helps to take time to familiarise oneself with where the reading falls on the page and if there is a need to turn to the next page also that the microphone is in the correct position to pick up one’s voice.
Public speaking needs to be slower than normal conversation and as a reader we need to remember that we are delivering a message so we must use the voice in a way that ensures the words have life. We are the instrument of the personal dialogue between God and His people. It is helpful for readers to belong to a Scripture Study Prayer Group and to have an occasional day of recollection and study of scripture.