Question about being a reader

First, some background info:

When I became a Christian at age 25, I was baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran church. After I married, I had some unfortunate experiences with the Lutheran churches in my new neighborhood, so I joined a wonderful, dynamic Presbyterian church. After we moved to the suburbs, I continued with another Presbyterian church, which I have attended for 12 years. I am now an ordained elder and regularly read Scripture at the Sunday service.

While I love the Presbyterian church, I do miss two things: a) a daily Matins service, and b) the Lutheran liturgy (which, obviously, is very similar to the beautiful Catholic mass). I would gladly attend any weekday morning service at a Lutheran or Episcopalian church, but there are none provided in this area. The Catholic churches here are the only ones that offer daily services, so I have been attending the 9 a.m. mass at one of the Catholic churches fairly regularly since last May. I enjoy being with a community of believers on a daily basis, and it helps me a great deal to get the day started on a good spiritual note.

The other day, one of the the regular lay readers approached me after Mass and very graciously asked me if I would like to be a reader. I replied that I would like to do so, but I did not know if I were allowed, as I am not Catholic. She said she would speak with one of the higher-ups at the church to see if this would be possible.

The next day, she told me that it would not be possible for me to be a reader because I am not Catholic, but said that I would be very welcome to continue attending Mass and hoped that I would continue to get something out of it.

So, my question is, what is the reasoning behind only Catholic being able to read Scripture at a service in a Catholic church? At our Presbyterian church, anyone who accepts Jesus the Christ as Savior may take communion or be a reader. I know why non-Catholics can’t take communion, but I don’t know the reasoning behind not being able to be a reader, and I don’t see it anywhere in the Catechism.

On further thought, I remembered that I had served as a reader at both my brother’s and at one of my nephew’s weddings, each of which had a Catholic nuptial mass. Was this also incorrect?

If you are still with me after reading this mini-novel, bless you! I am looking forward to reading your answers.

I stuck with you, and don’t worry, I have carried on much longer than that before. I noticed that you said that your other church shares communion with others outside of the church, but please be aware that this isn’t just communion that we celebrate in the Catholic Church. This is the Eucharist, this is the Sacramental presence of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Do you think its really just a coincidence that you ended up here? I don’t. As far as the readings go, I can’t speak for that, but it does make sense, that if you aren’t in full communion with the church and are just visiting, you probably shouldn’t be doing the readings. I know that you said that you were going to read all responses, so I’m going to take you at your word and post a couple of websites for you to look at. Many people outside of the church have a hard time understanding the Eucharist, as well as many Catholics, who really don’t know what a gift they have right in front of them on the altar. Please take the time to view these and I think that you will understand why we take our faith so seriously, and why so many Saints have been martyred through the years, for what many people take for granted Today. P.S. also remember two other things. 1. Many of Jesus’ apostles walked away from him because they couldn’t understand this very teaching. 2. “We walk by faith and not by sight.”

Maybe one way to look at this is that you are a guest at the service. You are quite welcome to come to Mass and to inquire about the Faith. You may even join an RCIA class as an inquirer even if you have no intention at this point in time in joining the Catholic Church.
A guest is not expected to serve the meal. The lay person who reads the scriptures or assists the priest in the distribution of the Eucharist is called to serve. We feast on the Word of God in scripture and the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.
There are times after Mass when I have been asked specific questions about my Catholic Faith. Why was I asked these questions? It was because I was seen in the role of EMCH or lector and a presumption is made concerning my personal knowledge of the Catholic faith or the readings.

Even within a family, when a guest is invited into the home, there are some parts of the home which are restricted to family members.

My son-in-law is a Presbyterian minister. For me to accept communion at his church is to say that I accept the teachings of Calvin. To receive communion at an Episcopal church is to say that I submit to the authority of the Bishop of Canterbury. Neither is true.
In other words for me to accept communion at a church of a different denomination is to ascent to a unity that does not yet exist.
When I accept the Eucharist at Mass I say “Amen” to the words “Body of Christ” stating my belief not only that Christ is present in the Eucharist but that I also am a part of that Body.

Welcome to CAF, Mickey! :wave:

I’m afraid I don’t have any specific citations for you, but I just wanted to point out that these sorts of things are governed by the Church’s liturgical rubrics. That is why you didn’t find the answer in the Catechism. Hopefully someone will come along with the right citation. :slight_smile:

When you served as a reader at some Catholic wedding Masses, that probably wasn’t technically supposed to be done, but perhaps the priest didn’t know that you were not Catholic or else the priest is accustomed to making such concessions in wedding liturgies (regardless of whether or not he is suppose to make such concessions).

I think DebChris gave a pretty good explanation of the rationale for why this is the case. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a general rule. The Church wants the people who serve at Mass (whether as reader or altar server or whatever) to be practicing Catholics in good standing. This is because, by the very fact that they are in that role, they become a role model.

I’m sure you wouldn’t be a bad role model, but if they make an exception for you, then they have to make exceptions for other people who very well could be. The general rule is there for a good reason and they need to respect the rule, even if there are some cases where it wouldn’t seem to matter as much. Does that make sense? (Sometimes I veer off into being convoluted. :o)

God bless!

Thanks for your replies!

I wanted to add that I am not offended or put out that I cannot be a reader; I just wanted to understand the rationale behind it. Your posts have been helpful.

DebChris, you do not have to accept the teachings of Calvin to accept communion in a Presbyterian church (though it varies from church to church). You just have to believe in Jesus and the Good News.

Welcome Mickey.

Someone will eventually come along and quote the proper documents…

What I will tell you is that the Catholic Church believes that being a reader at Mass is a ministerial role. The Catholic Church recognizes the “priesthood of the people” as a call to serve shared by all Christians by reason of their baptisms. But the Catholic Church also sees that there are liturgical ministries. The reader speaks on behalf of the Catholic Church and as such it is most proper that such a person *be *a Catholic (even though it is not fundamentally required that such a person be a Catholic).

In the case of weddings and funerals, it is sometimes (and in some places almost a given) the case that a family member will be asked to deliver one of the readings. This is for pastoral reasons. Ideally this family member would be Catholic but the invitation is sometimes extended to non-Catholic Christians. I believe this requires the permission of the bishop but in some diocese the bishop has already given blanket permission for such circumstances.

I understand that simply accepting the Good News is what the Presbyterian church teaches regarding communion. However, my statement is based on a Catholic perspective.
One of the things I learned from my son-in-law is that when Calvin spoke of pre-destination he was referring to the Good News that we are all heirs to the kingdom, not the misinterpretation that pervades common understanding.

First, here’s the rule regarding that:
133. The reading of Scripture during a Eucharistic celebration in the Catholic Church is to be done by members of that Church. On exceptional occasions and for a just cause, the Bishop of the diocese may permit a member of another Church or ecclesial Community to take on the task of reader. (Directory of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism)
The reason is because liturgical ministries in the Church are meant for those who are members of the Church. Liturgical participation should be a sign of ecclesial communion.

There was a thread on this topic a month ago (here), but from the point of view of a non-Catholic who was asked to do a reading by someone who assumed he was Catholic, did it to be helpful, and afterward wondered whether it was right.

Because a Lay Reader is a Liturgical Minister of the Catholic Church.

Reading Scripture at any Liturgy is reserved to a practicing Catholic, another person might be permitted to read Scripture at a Funeral Rite or Marriage Rite outside of Mass.

It’s tough to say, because we don’t know what the “lovely lay reader” asked Fr. ___. I guess it’s possible she said, “Hey, do you remember MickeyJ, who asked to consult you last winter and gave you all the details of her religious experience? Well, it sounds like she’s more interested in getting involved with the church.” But it’s also possible that she asked him, “Father, I heard that Protestants generally can’t read at Mass, is that true?” And obviously you would know the situation better, but I think you might be stretching the formality of the process to suppose that you were “under consideration to be a reader” in some sort of ecclesiastical sense. I’d guess that this reader just had the idea and asked you about it, not that your name is on the agenda at parish council meetings or something.

Also possible is that this priest just isn’t very forward or pushy about trying to get people to convert. Most Catholics aren’t, really. We love it when people come to us, but we generally won’t give you the hard sell just because you show your face at Mass. I know that can be surprising to many Protestants, because in plenty of Protestant churches they’re asking to baptize you and “get you saved” right then and there – for us, I mean, we’ll be happy to take your enrollment form for a couple of months of RCIA. :slight_smile: So it’s a bit different, and the priest may just have thought that you’d asked him for an appointment before, then canceled but continued coming to Mass, and that when you were ready you’d ask to speak with him again.

I would chalk it up to Catholics not being very good at evangelization. Pope Benedict is expected to announce (or just has? I forget) the creation of a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, with a focus on bringing the Gospel back to Western countries. So maybe we’ll get some corporate training on what to do the next time we come upon someone in your position!

I think it’s great that you were interested in enquiring about your position to become a lector…As a newly baptised catholic last Easter Vigil I too have felt this calling to become part of the lay ministry in the way of a scripture lector…I am going to a meeting tommorrow night with two fathers…and the rest of the lay ministers…Hopefully because I am new to the faith doesn’t mean I can’t participate in bringing the scripture to our parishiners…Normally I am a quiet shy person but going through RCIA bringing my journey through to the Catholic Faith has changed me in many ways…Loving it totally…

With the Catholic faith please be patient with…as others have said…we don’t push our preaching to others…we let others approach us… It took me 10 months of weekly teachings and Sunday Masses to finally become a Catholic and I have never looked back…It is a beautiful faith to be involved in…Do continue to learn from our masses, enrol in an RCIA class as an enquirer…my journey has just began I feel…I have yearned so long to be part of it and the week can not go quick enough for me to yet again participate in the holy eucharist…I have even been going on a weekday once a week aswell…Gee do I feel great after going…gets me through the rest of the week :slight_smile:

Ever wondered why it is so hard to become a Catholic and what a lengthy process it takes???Believe me it all has reason…once you take it in and learn it all you’ll never go back into another religious church.

God bless you, I pray that you do get someone who takes notice of you and helps you through…

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