First time reading at Mass ...very nervous!

I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this so I apologize if its not. I’m preparing for my first time reading scripture at Mass this weekend. Just looking for some last minute advice on preparation and how to stay calm…

I’ve been reading the readings from my workbook, researching the scripture and the context as well as reading aloud and of course praying about it. Any other thoughts or suggestions? Any help is greatly appreciated! :slight_smile:

  1. Many first time lectors tend to rush, especially if they’re nervous. Keep it at a tempo that can be easily understood.

  2. Don’t try too hard to look up and make eye contact with the congregation. Better to do a good job of reading than trying to “connect” with them.

  3. Consider using your index finger to keep your place, if the construction of the lecturn or ambo allows this to be done fairly discreetly.

You’ve done very good prep work, so just read the words on the page. Don’t “emote”–try to act out the words by being dramatic, just read the words, taking note of commas, etc. Speak loudly enough to be heard and look up from time to time. Keep a finger on the text so you don’t lose your place. Remember, you are there to read God’s word in service to him and to the congregation. Keep it simple, read clearly, and not too fast (nerves can make you speed through it). Say a brief prayer before going up and trust in God and all will be well. :slight_smile:

You’d be okay. Practice is the key to overcome all that nervousness. Read the passage given to you many times until like you are able to memorize it. You will be so confident during the actual reading, you’d just couldn’t wait and when the time come, you’d revel in it. Just want to encourage you. You will likely to bungle it first time trying like forgetting a bow or missing a line but no worry, nobody really care. You just do it like any other time, just relax, and I am sure all will be well. :wink:

Good luck and God bless. Come back after the reading and tell us about it.:slight_smile:

In addition, read out loud – not just to yourself. Some people say it helps to read in front of a mirror :confused:. If you practice in front of your own family, that is also a big help.

On Sunday (or the day you are to read), go earlier to church and go to the ambo. The Lectionary should be out. Make sure the Lectionary is open the correct Sunday.* Go through your reading from the Lectionary. If the Lectionary is not out, go to the Sacristy and read it there. The reading is the same, but it looks different without the bolded words, etc.

Before you do the Reading, take one or two deep breaths. It helps quite a bit to relax you. Just relax and read. Remember, you are the one stepping up to the plate! Many in the congregation would not like to be in your shoes and will forgive your “mistakes”, if any.

*I was told the Lectionary was not open to the proper readings two Sundays ago (I went to another parish that day), X started reading, then realized it was wrong, said “I made a mistake” and read the proper reading like nothing happened. People admired that Lector for the way the situation was handled.:thumbsup:

Good luck and God’s blessings!

Congratulations on becoming a lector! This is an important ministry, and I can tell from your post that you take it seriously. Preparation and prayer are both important. Your task as lector is to proclaim the Word - to convey the meaning to the congregation, so your research - understanding the meaning and context - is important. When you step up to the ambo, make eye contact with the congregation, and smile…then, take a deep breath, and begin. Occasional eye contact is sufficient…as you become more experienced, the eye contact will naturally increase. In our parish, the lector does the responsorial psalm in addition to the two readings. We pause for 20-30 seconds between readings, to allow the people to consider what they just heard proclaimed…this pause also allows you to connect with the congregation before you begin again.
As has been said before, it’s important to maintain a moderate pace, and to speak in a way that is understandable. Make sure that the microphone is properly positioned. Before Mass, make sure that the Lectionary is open to the right page. Know the readings well enough that strange names and places are familiar to you, and easily pronounced.
You’ll be fine. The ministry of Lector is a rewarding one. Enjoy it!

  1. Breathe! (really)

  2. Pray beforehand – after all, these aren’t your words, they’re God’s.

  3. Breathe!

A suggestion:

If you’re reading anything written by St Paul, I’d advise rewriting it, printing it out and taking it with you to read from rather than the Lectionary…

Before anyone shoots me though…! What I’m actually suggesting is that you type it up for reading aloud, rather than reading mentally.

It’s pretty well known that St Paul hadn’t really heard of commas (or at least his translators hadn’t) and it’s very hard to read his letters without getting the intonation completely wrong when you get caught half way through an extremely long sentence and run out of breath.

So rewrite it with pauses, underlines for emphases, etc.

Also, a tip for anyone reading anything aloud - print it in colours… alternate/rotate between two or three colours, one per line. The eye finds it much easier to focus that way and you’ll not lose your place.

I speak (literally!) from experience - I had to read at a funeral recently, both the readings and the eulogy. This sort of preparation will pay dividends, and, what’s more, you’ll really understand the message of the text you’re reading if you do so, which makes it far easier to read with conviction.

Hope this helps.

Thanks everyone for all of the great advice! I practiced a couple of times at the Ambo to get a feel for it - once during our workshop and once more a couple of weeks ago. I can say that I understand what has been said about the pacing of the reading. I have to make a conscious effort to maintain a pace so the words can be heard and understood. The other thing I experienced was breathing as a couple of you mentioned. I found that since I was nervous it was like I couldn’t breath. :eek: I think that will be the toughest part for me.

I will certainly let everyone know how it goes. But the first reading this weekend is a rather long one for a first time. I think it will go a lot better now that I have gained a solid understanding of the meaning behind it and the intended message.

Read clearly and naturally.

I’ve seen new readers read as if they are acting out a script using exaggerated intonation and even hand gestures.

Exactly. As Spencer Tracy once famously advised a young actor: “Know your lines and hit your mark.” It’s not about the reader, it’s about the material being read. :slight_smile:

Read at about half the speed that seems “natural” and remember to pronounce everything clearly. In normal speech, we often leave off the endings of words, but when reading, this can make you unintelligible, so remember to finish every word with a clear ending sound. Emphasize your consonants, stop for periods, and pause for commas. Better to sound like a really prissy English teacher and be understood, than have people think you mumble. And while you shouldn’t “act it out,” it helps if the expression on your face is aligned with the mood of the reading.

Read slowly; if it feels like you’re reading too slow, it’s probably about right.

Use the old trick in the book: Imagine everyone in their underwear. :smiley:

The most important thing is to breathe. Be sure to practice, so you don’t stumble on any words. :thumbsup:

I disagree with number 2.
Look up occassionally. You are reading to the congregation. Make sure you read the readings way ahead of time to understand the pronunciations and meaning of the passage. it helps to deliver it better and if you know it you have no problem looking up. I always read like I am reading to the people in the back of the church that way everyone can hear me clearly.

another thing I do, when I approach the lectern, I go center aisle hands in prayer form, when I bow, I make a sign of the cross on my lips with the tips of my fingers and ask God to help me deliver his word to the people.

Not sure what you use to prep for the readings but we use the “workbook for lectors, Gospel Readers and proclaimers of the word” published by LTP ( liturgy training publicantions). It contains all the readings for the year for Sundays and days of obligation and is a great resource for lectors because it expalins each reading and its meaning at the bottom of the page and in the left margin, gives the pronunciations of difficult words and how to emphasize parts of the passages. If you do not use it, I suggest ordering it. The normally come out in Novermeber before Advent.

You have all provided a lot of great advice. I wanted to let you all know that everything went fine at Mass last evening. Despite being nervous and afraid I would mess it all up and not be able to breathe, once I started to read it all went away.

I just asked the Holy Spirit to guide me that the Lord would use me as His voice to proclaim His word and to take my angst and nervousness away. I felt like I was shaking walking up to the ambo, but when I started to read I felt a sense of calmness.

I know it really helped that I read the readings everyday to myself and out loud. I was able to make eye contact. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect but it was good enough! :slight_smile:

Yes I used the workbook for Lectors, Gospel readers and proclaimers. That book is extremely helpful! Despite being so nervous, I ended up really enjoying the experience.

Again, thanks so much for all of the invaluable advice! God Bless :thumbsup:

So glad to hear all went well, Convert2013. :smiley: God bless you for your service to him and to his Church!

Well, we will agree to disagree, then. If you watch the readers on EWTN’s mass, they don’t really look at the congregation and the focus remains much more on the Word than on the reader. They also do not overemote. Chanting the readings produces the same effect: focus on the Word, not the proclaimer.

I can’t comment either way on the looking at the congregation. It seemed natural to me to occassionally do it. I will say this …the readers at Mass on EWTN seem very boring to me and very monotone. The readers in my parish that I truly understand the best and “get it” when they read, all occassionally look up. Again, I can only say what its like from my position in the congregation while someone is reading and I’m clearly no expert in it.

Everything I’ve read and the instructions we were given by the Deacon at our parish was to look up if we felt comfortable. In fact, during the Gospel readings the Deacon or Priest look up often while proclaiming.

So is there something we can reference in order to know what is the appropriate behavior (for lack of a better term)? Perhaps the GIRM? I only ask sincerely as I want to do a good job moving forward.

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