Tuesday, January 12, 2021


 As I see it now this will no longer be possible with Pope Francis new liturgical decree:

God willing, this will be the new norm for lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, at least 21 years old, completed formation program, called by the bishop and installed by him and to wear proper liturgical vesture, fewer lectors and Communion ministers but better trained, highly committed and formally installed:

I placed this papal change on my parish facebook. There have been a few good questions raised. Do all our lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, already chosen and functioning, have to go through a diocesan defined formation process and then installed by the bishop either at the cathedral or the local parish?

At first blush, I would say so, once the local bishop issues his decree on this. 

But, what about school or children’s Masses? It is quite often the case that children even in the first and second grade will act as lectors. Will that no longer be the case?

I don’t think this applies to altar boys and girls. They will continue to be chosen as has been the case for centuries (for boys) and now girls. Reading at Mass is a different story, I think. So I would venture a guess that the lector has to be installed.

Technically, after Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were allowed, a priest could deputize a lay person on the spot to assist with distribution in case of need. Can that still happen after this new decree is implemented?

The same for lectors. Many parishes allow anyone to lector even if they are not confirmed Catholics. At weddings and funerals, Protestants often are asked to do this ministry. Will that be forbidden? What if there is no installed lector available for a wedding or a funeral? Does the priest or deacon read instead of a lay person?

What I think is good about the new decree, if it is followed to its logical conclusion is that there will no longer be ad hoc selection of readers and Extraordinary Ministers. There will be age requirements such as 21 and older. You won’t have teenagers distributing Holy Communion at their high school Masses or at parish Masses. You will have to be fully initiated, baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. 

You won’t have non Catholics reading at Mass or any sacramental celebration such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. 

They will have to be Catholics in good standing and those applying during their formation period could be eliminated as is the case with those studying for the Permanent Diaconate or in the seminary. 

If this is done properly, we will have fewer lectors and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and there will actually be a “contract” with them. They have to show up when scheduled. How many of us pastors have lectors and Eucharistic ministers scheduled for Sunday Mass only to have to search for others because the scheduled person doesn’t show up, especially at the point of the distribution of Holy Communion.

In other words, there will be strict rules for these official liturgical ministers.

If done properly, this is huge and will make these two ministries to be taken more seriously by clergy and laity. 


Tom Marcus said...

The Ape of the Church.

We've had 30 years to get used to it. Now it's in full fruition.

Tom Makin said...

Don't count on any of this coming to pass. The proverbial "horse has left the barn" and there is no going back. I am very cynical of any of this because I believe "past history is truly indicative of future results".

John Nolan said...

Father, I think you are reading to much into 'Spiritus Domini'. It does not affect EMHC who do not require formal installation into the ministries of Acolyte or Lector. These ministries will still be transitional in the context of priestly formation. It was always possible for them to be conferred as permanent ministries, but there was little point in so doing, since laypeople already performed these functions and will continue to do so.

There have been cases where installed Lectors have turned up in a parish and expected to replace scheduled lay readers. They have been told that they are not entitled to claim precedence. The existing norms allowing women to serve at the altar are not affected, and a future installed female Acolyte would not have the right to act as such wherever she goes.

Where do you get the idea that formal installation will be a requirement for reading in church? Nothing in the motu proprio even suggests this.

Anonymous said...

What is the need for laity to assist at Mass other than alter servers? The clergy are already present and should be able to handle lector role. Using the Latin Mass as an example - what is the objective of getting laity in the sanctuary during Mass - installed by the Bishop or otherwise?

Laity (men) in the sanctuary during Mass with a defined role approved by the pastor should be a Segway to discerning Holy Orders, and only when there is a bonafide need that can’t be accomplished by clergy. Regarding distribution of Holy Communion - who was it that the Apostles chose as deacons? Again, let’s stick to adding reverence and demonstrating the real, true difference (indelible mark of Holy Orders) between our clergy and the lay faithful. Well trained and installed individuals by a Bishop may lead to better functioning lectors/acolytes but at the detriment of misleading the vast majority of uninformed faithful that laity (women) dressed in clerical vestments should then be allowed to Segway into being ordained priests, deacons and/or bishops.

I don’t see the value - how about all clergy step up and take on these roles, demonstrating true servant leadership to the masses as Mass? I think of one great example: JP2 at Central Park Mass in the 90s. Communion was distributed by swarms of... priests!!! Where there is a need there is a gift... let’s pray for the gift of Holy Orders and solid formation of our priests!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

a@9:33, Pope Francis decree gives the rational behind it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John Nolan, then what would be the point in the USA and my parish of having anyone formally installed? It seems to me, and I know this is just my opinion from reading the decree, that if anyone can still be chosen to be a lector or adult server who would also function as an EMHC, you don't need Pope Francis' decree.

One or the other methods is makes sense but having both is problematic.

johnnyc said...

The Francis pontificate has done more for the Traditional Latin Mass then anyone could have imagined.

Anonymous said...

What is the value of reading from the Scriptures at Mass?

I mean, we have Jesus in Holy Communion, there's no need for hearing the same boring stories from the Bible over and over and over again.

"He who eats my flesh has eternal life." End of story.

What we don't need is to sit in an uncomfortable pew listening to a poorly formed, poorly trained, poorly dressed, poorly coiffed, poorly shaved, possibly unshod "lay reader/lector mumble on about Isaiah, the Battle of Jerico, weddings in Cana, or dragons with seven horns.

Anonymous said...

Frances Xavier Cabrini
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys
These three were not Acolytes or Lectors or, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. They never tried to be. In their time churches were thriving , and schools were built which also thrived. With the Vatican II “reforms” and the feminist assault on the sanctuary churches closed, parishioners left in droves,Catholic schools closed, and the number of priests dwindled. If women followed the example of past Catholic women rather than continuing their feminist take over of the priesthood, the Church would be far off.

Unknown said...

Sophia (an authentic feminist) here: Bless you Anonymous @ 11:35 AM. You hit the nail on the head! The culture too would be much better off if feminists championed women’s actual powerful intrinsic role in, and impact on society rather than denigrate and undermine it!

Anonymous said...

Father, i've been a longtime reader of yours from Indonesia and to be frank it still shocks me on how lax the liturgical norms in the US is ! Over here, lay lectors, and (in an increasing number of parishes) psalmists are installed by the parish priest to serve for a term of several years and do their part in the liturgy while vested in alb and cincture. Same with EMHC's or as we call them here "prodiakon" (pro-deacon, in the place of a deacon) who are given a period of training to then be installed by the bishop in their respective parishes to distribute communion, lead funerals in the absence of Priests and such for a set number of years. They also perform their functions in alb and cincture. As a further note, it also boggles my mind that in the US there isnt a national hymn & psalm book.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you reading my blog, but how in the heck did you learn about it?

Yes, the state of the liturgy is all over the board here. The biggest problem is lack of proper oversight and the sloppiness in which the Mass and other liturgies are carried out. The personality of the priest plays way to much of a role.

As it concerns the selection of lectors and Eucharistic ministers, there are almost no enforced guidelines. No specifics about dress. I feel now that these two ministries should be vested even if they come from the nave to do what they will do.

I am glad things are better in Indonesia. I find it interesting that you call the “adult servers” pro-deacons. Interesting. I suspect that installed acolytes here will be pastoral assistants, men or women who then can have an official role in funeral rites in the absence of a priest, Communion Services, and delegated to witness marriages in the absence of a priest or deacon. I hope, though, because now women will be allowed into this non ordained ministry that the use of permanent deacons will be dismissed.

Anonymous said...

Does not matter what Bergoglio says or how well “trained” the EM’s are. NO laity should be touching the Holy Eucharist with their un consecrated hands. Period. It is SACRILEGE.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I hope you aren’t using Bergolio to denigrate or show detraction and contempt/disrespect to the person of the Supreme Pontiff. That, you know, would be a mortal sin if you fulfill the second and third criteria for serious matter to be a mortal sin, you know that and certainly you do, and you do it with full consent of the will, meaning you are not drunk or otherwise compromised.
Apart from that, who says your tongue is any lore worthy to touch the host over hands? I would like to know how you come to this conclusion.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

More not lore.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome father, i happened upon your blog by chance a couple of years back from Fr.Z's (i think) and i've been reading since.

That's the thing that's mind boggling to me, how lax the liturgical norm over there is. Recently i've been watching Masses from the US and practically the only parish with vested lectors is St. John Cantius in Chicago, and that's because they're part of the community !

I think you're right on permanent deacons, because here permanent deacons are practically not a thing. The last time my dioceses even have a permanent deacon was in the 90s i think.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's a video of my parish's livestreames Mass (from last week) so that you can see the vested lay lector, psalmist, and "pro-deacons" in their functions.