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Reading in church: a practical guide

30 November, 1999

What we present here is the table of contents and a brief review of this practical booklet which will help those who undertake to read in church. The booklet is available from Fr Colm Kilcoyne, PP, Cong, Co Mayo. Phone 087 95 46030 or 087 2402 486 Email: [email protected]

  1. The structure of Mass
  2. What are we at when we read in Church?
  3. Why do we have scripture at Mass?
  4. The geography of the Liturgy of the Word
  5. Some problems –
    – ‘I know so little scripture’
    – Biblical names
    – Difficult pronunciations
  6. Nervousness. How do I cope?
  7. Clear speaking. Clarity
  8. Phrasing
  9. Take your time. Pace
  10. Emphasis
  11. Some liturgical nuts and bolts
  12. The ambo. The reader’s working area
  13. Dress code
  14. Getting there. Getting Started
  15. You’re on!
  16. Microphone
  17. It is over!


This booklet is an excellent introduction for the teams of those who offer to read the scripture in church. There are practical hints on how to find out what God might be saying to you through the reading as well as hints on how to cope with nervousness, getting the right pace and emphasis and it also gives a dress code for readers.

An extract from page 13, entitled

Take it personal

From the start, try to see the scripture as talking to you today, apart from the fact that you are preparing to read in church. if you do this, you’ll bring a much richer understanding to the Liturgy of the Word.

A way of doing this:

  1. I ask myself what do I think was the situation this reading addressed – love/hate; peace/war; compassion/anger; hope/despair; faith/doubt. Never mind for now if you only get tiny insights.
  2. What does this reading tell me about what God was saying to the people in those situations back then? Again, be happy with your judgement.
  3. Am I able to identify with any character or any situation in the reading?
  4. What do I think God is saying to me?

What is happening here is that I am opening a conversation between the bible story and my story. I am leaving myself open to being converted by the energy of scripture. I am moving the process beyond the mechanics of good reading on to a level where the Word has already both challenged and enriched me before I read in church.

One of the most effective readers I’ve known always tried to apply the reading to himself the week beforehand. When he came to read he said he was remembering both his successes and failures: God’s graciousness to him and his own efforts to respond. His reading had a rare power.

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