Scripture "digests" prior to proclaiming at Mass?


Hi everyone! I searched to see if this had been discussed in the past but couldn’t find anything. If it has, please point me to the thread on it if someone can locate it.

I have been to Mass a couple of times where the lector provided a “digest” of the readings prior to proclaiming (not in my parish). They were about 30 sec - 1 min of historical background and overview of the context of the reading to give the congregation some aid in understanding in what is being proclaimed. I’ve never seen this anywhere else, so I assume it to be a possible abuse!?

On one hand like the idea of it as I think it is very helpful for those who don’t study the Scriptures prior to Mass. On the other hand, if the lector is doing a good job of proclaiming it should be sufficient.

My question is whether or not this should be done or if there is clear teaching for/ against it in the rubrics?


Here’s what the GIRM says

  1. Likewise it is also for the Priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where this is laid down by the rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat so that they correspond to the capacity for understanding of those participating. However, the Priest should always take care to keep to the sense of the explanatory text given in the Missal and to express it in just a few words. It is also for the presiding Priest to regulate the Word of God and to impart the final blessing. He is permitted, furthermore, in a very few words, to give the faithful an introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and before the Penitential Act), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings)*, and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding comments regarding the entire sacred action before the Dismissal.

My take on this:
The priest is permitted to offer an introduction to the readings–that much is a given.
If such an introduction is done by a layperson, I don’t see it as a particular problem.

  • The underlining in the text is my own, the parentheses are in the original text.


Depending on the Lectionary they use, sometimes there are little digests printed in italics on top of the reading. Perhaps they are reading those aloud? I was told not to read those in lector training. :shrug: Just a possibility. ?


I think that’s just a matter of someone not being properly trained, or just getting confused at the moment. At my own parish, the readers at Mass in church never read them. When we have the occasional “traveling Mass” outside the building, and we use the paper missallettes, they tend to read those little introductions.

Since the OP said that they could go on for a full minute, I don’t think those are the topic at hand.


Thanks for the reponses! I’m not entirely sure where they got them. I’m sort of confused about your comment regarding the Lectionary and which one. I thought there was only one!? :shrug: In the one we use at our parish there are no comments at all written in it. It is simply the 2 readings, Psalm and Gospel for that week’s Mass.

The length of time could be no more than one minute but I didn’t time it. It’s fairly brief such as the ones provided on this website, which I find extremely helpful when I’m preparing to proclaim at Mass…


They are put out by different companies…yes there’s one. It is possible to have different size books or some little things like the blurbs different.


Sometimes the Lectionary, or sometimes the paper missallettes have just a quick literally 1 or 2 sentence “introduction.”

I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about, though.


The 1981 General Introduction to the Lectionary envisages lay ministers being able to introduce the readings, as commentator. It is the current edition and has (I have not included the footnotes, like “30”.):

“15. There may be concise introductions before the readings, especially the first. The style proper to such comments must be respected, that is, they must be simple, faithful to the text, brief, well prepared, and properly varied to suit the text they introduce.30”

“42. The one presiding is responsible for preparing the faithful for the liturgy of the word on occasion by means of introductions before the readings.70 These comments can help the gathered assembly toward a better hearing of the word of God, because they enliven the people’s faith and their desire for good. He may also carry out this responsibility through other persons, the deacon, for example, or a commentator.71”

“57. The commentator also fulfills a genuine liturgical ministry, which consists in presenting to the assembly of the faithful, from a suitable place, relevant explanations and comments that are clear, of marked simplicity, meticulously prepared, as a rule written out, and approved beforehand by the celebrant.95”

“33. It is better for the commentator, cantor, or director of singing, for example, not to use the lectern.63”

The 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) has:

“105. … b. The commentator, who, if appropriate, provides the faithful briefly with explanations and exhortations so as to direct their attention to the celebration and ensure that they are better disposed for understanding it. The commentator’s remarks should be thoroughly prepared and notable for their restraint. In performing this function the commentator stands in a suitable place within sight of the faithful, but not at the ambo.”

closed #9

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