Lector's Bow


Being new to Catholic Answers, this question might have been answered many times before, but I find no clear document or ruling on what the lector should do before approaching the ambo and when leaving it. I have read some guidelines from other Catholic churches that the lector does not bow to the altar when approaching the ambo but does when leaving. Our lectors bow before they ascend the steps to the ambo and once again when leaving. This is done for both readings because they leave the ambo when the cantor sings the Psalm. It seems rather overly done. What is the real answer, or is there really an real answer? Thanks.



Get guidance from the pastor of the parish. Different pastors have different expectations. In general, behave reverently.



Thanks for your response. My pastor will pass the question on to our Lector Leader. I already know he won’t care one way or another, maintaining peace. However, what have you seen, what does your church Lector’s do? Is behaving reverently satisfied by just one bow or does two really hit a home run? Are there guidelines presented by the USCCB?



I’m not aware of any official guidelines. My personal practice is to bow to the Altar every time I pass by it, when I’m acting as a reader or sacristan. This is the custom at the parish where I work.

At my home parish, the Pastor requests that people serving in the Sanctuary only bow once, at the beginning of Mass, and then once at the end of Mass, at the foot of the Altar, when they are in procession.



When I’m a lector I reverence the altar with a bow if I’m walking in front of it. Since I’m sitting on the Ambo side of the church 99% of the time, I don’t normally bow.

If I was seated in the sanctuary I wouldn’t bow at all because I would have done so at the beginning of Mass



If on the ambow sits the scriptures to be read from, the lectors are bowing to Christ, the Logos, the word incarnate, who very much present.



Thanks for all the answers. My take away from them is that there is no clear cut answer as to what to do. I get the bow before the altar when passing by it (as we do passing by the tabernacle), but our lectors are told to sit on the side near the ambo, so they never cross in front of the altar. I guess it’s a individual church guideline and to change anything now will become a personal thing whereas we will have some bowing twice and some bowing once. There are some die-hards that will not change: “we’ve been doing it this way for years…” There are a couple of lectors that still insist that they must bow to the image of the risen christ which is on the wall behind the altar; no crucifix there. Although told many times, the lector insists that is to what they should bow to!

Your continued comments on this issue are welcomed. Thanks.



When I was a lector at my parish on Guam, I was taught to bow to the Ambo as I approached it. The reason: it is the Altar of the Word of God. I still do it now as a lector at my current parish and have not been told to stop otherwise. When asked why I do do it, I give the above reason and most of the time people say that that makes sense.

Any thoughts?



You shouldn’t be bowing to the ambo. The ambo is not an altar, even when the Lectionary is on it. When you bow, it is to the altar.



You might be a little to critical of the post…I would think the bow to the ambo he spoke of might bowing in the direction of the ambo that holds The Logos. The poster made it clear it was an act of reference to Christ and not the inanimate object of the Ambon.



During my formation - a Masters degree in Pastoral Ministry - the priest told us that Lectors/Readers should not bow to the Tabernacle, the altar or perform any action that calls attention to oneself … we have genuflected upon entering the Church in procession and at the Altar … the focus is on Christ in the Word … not the person proclaiming the Word … he even said if you need to wear glasses - they should be on your face before you get to the ambo - and not be put on there …



But we don’t bow to the Ambo or to the Logos. We bow, outside of the proscribed bows during Liturgy, to a) the actual Body and Blood of Christ and b) the altar of Sacrifice. The ambo does not “hold the Logos” any more than the missals in the pew do. :confused: It’s a bizarre practice that has no source in the reality of Mass.



With all due respect to the priest, and your degree, that would be like saying the congregation, ministers, priests and deacon should not make the sign of the cross after blessing themselves on entering the sanctuary, and that such an action only brings attention to ourselves.:shrug:



Well perhaps it may appear so to you - however, some actions and responses are specifically called out for the corporate worship - like all making the sign of the cross - or the priest genuflecting during the Eucharistic prayer … the bow before receiving the Body & Blood and during the Creed [though I observe this bow ignored my most] …the Lector/Reader approaching the ambo is vastly different in character. The Lector is there to proclaim the Word which should be the focus of our attention - anything that directs the attention to the one reading is to be avoided … most especially if it is an action that ‘see how pious I am and listen to me read to you’ … now you can say that is not the intent … but the one who does not bow is not saying “I am important and Jesus does not matter” either …I would suggest that the OP actually implied that it seemed distracting - overly done was their phrase …

So - you may disagree … free to do so …not my problem or concern …for me - I will follow what I learned or as my parish priest directs - if he chooses to direct me otherwise - in obedience …



This is also the reasoning of the pastor of my home parish.



They should receive and accept direction from their Pastor, so that there is consistency within the parish, I think.

When it comes to liturgical ministries, there should be no “die hards” of any kind - everyone should take up the spirit of obedience and follow the direction of the pastor. He is the person in charge of the liturgy; not the volunteers who help out.


   This is exactly how I feel.


That’s exactly how the monks at our abbey do it. The lector of course can vary from one side of the choir or the other depending on who is assigned lector for the week, but those sitting on the ambo side do not bow, those on the opposite side, bow as the pass the altar.



I read this as meaning that the lector has processed in with the priest. While that was a common practice years ago, my observation is that this is no longer so.

I read the OP’s question as pertaining to situations where the lector does not enter in the procession and thus has not already genuflected, not at the altar, and perhaps not even when entering his/her pew if the tabernacle is not in the sanctuary. Would the same advice apply in this case?



Hmm…although I was the one who started this thread and mentioned in was overly done, I can also agree, like some do, that the lector is not really bringing attention to themselves over the reading to be done mainly because they are not reading yet. To me, it shows reverence to the altar as they approach the sanctuary and is not distracting to me. I personally think the lector should either bow before the reading or after it eliminating it being over done. Personally after the reading somehow makes more sense than bowing before the readings. I guess the bottom line is that we all have different viewpoints on the subject, none of which are wrong since their no clear directives from Mother Church.


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