Gospel Reading at Mass


Have recently attended a Mass where, instead of the sermon, the children of the parish were allowed to perform a nativity play, during the course of which several of them read from the Gospel from the altar. This was AFTER the official Gospel reading, which was given by the priest, but my understanding was the only a priest or deacon may read the gospel from the altar. If this was a breach of liturgy, well, I’m not planning to make a federal case of it with the bishop or anything like that; I’m just curious.


sounds innocuous enough…it’s good that our children are learning and attending mass…others may disagree


this really should have taken place after Mass, not during the Homily.




Well, I agree.
If the priest had already read the Gospel, then the Reading was part of the script of the play. I see nothing wrong with it. Goodness, if that’s the worst thing that happened in Mass, I say woo-hoo!


Better before and not after. Doing it before allows the priest (I presume that a priest was present as the OP said it was a mass) to refer to the play and use it as material for the homily. If the priest is not good with children, he is allowed to delegate to a layperson.

Generally, I make a distinction between children’s participation and the ministry to children. I assume that this is not a mass with only children and adult ministers to children but a mass where the general congregation is present. The guiding document is the Directory for Masses with Children.

The priest’s primary responsibility int he Gospel of the Word is to bring the congregation to a deeper state of spirituality during the hour at mass to allow us to commune with God in the Eucharistic elements. The idea of the homily is that by the time we reach communion after reflection on the message for the day (often, there will be a theme/image /etc that the priest prepare the liturgy around). Most of the time, the priest will do so directly with a sermon.

Alternatively, the priest could use other more novel ways to bring the message across. One way that I have participated in as a parish catechist, is having a dialogue between the priest (and myself there sometimes) with the children. This particular priest that I worked with was careful to work the dialogue in such a way that it is also directed at the adults present.

The priest in this case could allow the play (but I would prefer that it be done before the mass starts) and the incorporate some illuminating points in the play into his homily. This would be better for the children’s participation if it is explained to them that they are not merely doing a play but being part of Father’s message in his homily.

Children generally do not make good readers (there are exceptions of course) and we have all atttended mass with poor adult readers which leaves us either lost, confused or distracted. As a result, it is best not to have children reading at the general mass, unless the entire congregation is OK to be there to smile at ‘cute’ or ‘sweet’ children stuff instead of spiritual sustenance of which understanding the Gospel & homily is a fundamental pre-requisite.

Refer here if you have any question on church rules regarding Children’s Liturgy.


I do hope they read from the ambo and not from the altar.

Don’t forget that the assembly and a “reader” who may or may not be ordained proclaim portions of the Gospel on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. But on every other occasion, the Gospel cannot be proclaimed by a non-ordained person. The Gospel proper to the mass you attended was proclaimed by the priest and the homily was given by the priest so there were no violations of those rules. The breach of the rubrics comes in inserting a nativity play in between the homily and the Proclamation of Faith. It would have been better to have the play outside of the mass as nothing is to be added to or taken away from the liturgy itself.


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