Where are lectors supposed to sit during the Mass. In the sanctuary or in the pews?

Thanks and God Bless,

If they are duly instituted Lectors (usually seminarians), then they should (must) be in the Sanctuary.

If they are temporary readers (which is the usual experience in US parishes) then either the sanctuary or the nave (pews) is proper. In this case, some bishops have established policies for their own dioceses, which should be followed.

Ours sit in the pews. They only enter the sanctuary to read, and then return to their pew.

This. Works for me. Very well.

I don’t believe the Church makes a distinction between instituted lectors and commissioned readers in this case. Probably more of a diocesan or parish rule. It also likely has to do with the amount of space in the sanctuary.

I am familiar with Parishes where there is one Lector for both readings, who comes up from the pews and remains in the Sanctuary until he/she is finished with both readings.

I have seen other parishes where there is a different Lector for each reading and they each come up from the pews in turn, and return when they are finished.

I have also seen parishes where the Lector goes into the Sanctuary (usually standing near the servers) after the Procession and stays there until finished reading.

Question about “temporary” vs “duly instituted” readers. My experience has been that readers are selected and trained for their ministry and are called (I believe) “Lay Ministers of the Word”. Why would they not be “duly instituted”? In parishes with a Deacon assisting at Mass, I usually see a lay person do the first two readings and then the Deacon doing the Gospel reading. Would it be more proper for the Deacon to do the first two readings?

Thanks for enlightening me on this.

Lector used to be a minor order on the road to ordination. After Vatican II, the minor orders were suppressed but Lector and Acolyte were kept as Instituted Ministries. As they prepare for the Diaconate or the Priesthood, seminarians are instituted as Acolytes and Lectors (I can’t remember in which order).

These instituted ministries are also open to men who aren’t seeking to become Deacons or Priests. Most parishes do not have Permanent Lectors or Permanent Acolytes so they use child altar servers and men and women as readers (the term lector is used in the GIRM for both the instituted and non instituted minister.)

“Duly instituted Lectors” refers to those who have been installed in this ministry permanently by the bishop (or in some cases a priest delegated by him). Although it’s not an ordination, we might think of it as if it were an ordination of sorts because it has its own specific liturgical rite. The Church allows for the possibility that those who have not been so installed to act as substitutes under certain circumstances (if there are no installed Lectors present). The difficulty comes in that “duly institited” doesn’t mean “appointed by the pastor or the priest saying Mass” or anything similar, but means that the bishop has “instituted” him into this permanent ministry.

Most people who are proclaiming the readings at Masses in the US are in fact temporarily deputed readers and not Instituted Lectors.

It might, or might not be proper for a deacon to do the first 2 readings. That one depends upon the circumstances. We can’t make a blanket statement that it would “always” be proper for a deacon to proclaim them.

If a duly instituted Lector is present, then he must exercise his proper ministry, and it would be wrong for anyone else to do so–even a deacon, and most especially one who is not duly instituted.

Sort of yes, and sort of no. A duly Instituted Lector must always take his proper place in the Sanctuary, and perform his proper ministry. Of course, exceptions exist if this is impractical, such as a seminary that has 20 Instituted Lectors at Mass, or if he’s unable to do so because he’s ill, etc.

On the other hand, there is no outright requirement that a layperson who isn’t “duly instituted” must be in the Sanctuary.

So the distinction is that one is required, the other is optional.

I’m currently in formation for ordination to the permanent Diaconate. I am an Instituted Lector and Instituted Acolyte.

In the Diocese of Kansas City - St Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas the policy is that Instituted Lectors do not vest and sit in the sancutuary. They sit in the pews and come up to do the reading in the same manner as Lay Readers. When serving as Instituted Acolytes we do vest and sit in the sancutuary in accordance with the GIRM.

The exception to this rule was today when myself and another man that I’m going through formation with served at daily mass where the Archbishop of the Military Services for the United States was the celebrant (we both work on the military installation and serve at daily mass there). The Catholic Chaplin asked that I vest and process in as an Instituted Lector while my brother candidate vested and served as the Instituted Acolyte. I also assisted the main Acolyte with the alter prepartion and clearing.

I believe that most diocese in the United States probably do not let Instituted Lectors in formation for the Permanent Diaconate vest and sit in the sanctuary. Not sure why but that just seems to be the trend that I have observed.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :

“195. Upon reaching the altar, the lector makes a profound bow with the others. If he is
carrying the Book of the Gospels, he approaches the altar and places the Book of the Gospels
upon it. Then the lector takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers.”

yes the Church does make this distinction, as the first response indicates.

Keep in mind that the word “lector” in the GIRM is referring to a duly instituted Lector.

Only by extension might it apply to temporarily deputed readers, who can be appointed to proclaim the readings if a Lector is not present (GIRM 101).

Our Lectors sit in the Sanctuary throughout the whole Mass.

Where is that? I have never read where the Church directs commissioned readers not to sit in the sanctuary.

The title “lector” is not limited to instituted men based on what has been typed. The title “lector” is colloquially used to denote both instituted lectors and commissioned readers just as it is here. In any event there is no language that I am aware of that prohibits commissioned readers from sitting in the sanctuary. In the end the Church makes no distinction.

The Church doesn’t. But neither does the Church direct that they should sit in the Sanctuary.

The difference is instituted Lectors, who should take their proper place in the Sanctuary. The Church does say that in the GIRM; see numbers 99 and 194 - 198.

That’s the difference (again) instituted Lectors are required to be seated in the Sanctuary, temporary readers are not. With regard to temporary readers, either within or outside the Sanctuary is acceptable.

Yes, that is the colloquial use of the word “lector” however, the GIRM doesn’t employ words according to colloquial usage. The word “Lector” in the GIRM refers to duly instituted Lectors (the ordinary ministers of proclaiming the first readings.) GIRM 101 says that in the absence of a Lector, laypersons can be temporarily deputed to proclaim the readings, but does not refer to them by any particular word. I’m not saying that the colloquial use of the word is wrong, only that when the GIRM says “Lector” the GIRM means a duly instituted Lector, and therefore, the requirement that the Lector takes his proper place in the Sanctuary refers only to duly instituted Lectors, and does not require that temporary readers likewise be seated there.

The Church does make a distinction. It’s a distinction between an ordinary minister and an extra-ordinary minister. Unfortunately, that entire distinction is all too often lost in contemporary Catholic practice, even though it’s a very important one.

I suspect that this is as much a peculiarity of the English language as any attempt at making a distinction. Is there a term other than ‘lector’ in Latin that means “someone who reads”?

In French the term ‘lecteur’ applies both to the instituted minister reading the Old Testament at Mass and the guy down the street reading the newspaper or the latest novel and neither Canon Law nor the French translation of the GIRM has felt the need to invent another term to distinguish between the two.

The language used in the GIRM does not specifically do this, and it very easily could have. You are offering this as a given based on the language in the GIRM and it’s not a given.

I wonder in how many places does the GIRM use terminology like “instituted lectors and/or commissioned readers” or at least “lectors and/or readers?”

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