Liturgical Q & A - 13th July 2014

Reading the Gospel at a Lay Led Liturgy

Q. I refer to the “Liturgy Lines” article in the Catholic Leader on 4th May 2014. You stated that a woman can read the gospel at a lay led liturgy. The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum says:

“Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is the high point of the Liturgy of the Word, is reserved by the Church’s tradition to an ordained minister. Thus it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass.” (# 63)

I would be interested to know why you contradicted this rule, especially since there have been occasions in our parish where the matter has arisen.

A. My article referred to a lay-led liturgy, that is, one that was conducted without a priest being present. When there is no ordained person available to proclaim the gospel, a layperson reads it, otherwise there could be no reading from the gospel. A layman is no more qualified to take on this role than a laywoman. A male always reads the gospel at Mass because he is ordained, not because of his gender.

The document you quote from, Redemptionis Sacramentum, is subtitled “On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist”.

The rules in it refer to Mass.

The passage you quote quite clearly says that a “layperson” cannot read the Gospel at Mass.

In a lay-led liturgy, a laywoman or layman presides, a laywoman or layman reads the gospel, and a laywoman or layman preaches. With regard the latter, the official Australian Catholic Bishops Conference policy on Sunday Celebrations of the Word and Communion (lay-led liturgies) states:

“Preaching, or giving a reflection on the scripture, is integral to the community’s hearing of God’s Word, to the sanctification of Sunday, and to their baptismal call to evangelisation and mission. Liturgical preaching or giving a reflection on the scriptures is carried out by women and men formed and delegated for this ministry by their bishop.”[13]

Prayer of the Faithful for a particular day

Q. Where can I find the prayers of the faithful for St Boniface please? We are having a school Mass to celebrate his feast day and I cannot find them anywhere.

A. You will not find Prayers of the Faithful for St Boniface anywhere - you need to write them!

The Prayers of the Faithful are not set down for any Mass. The only time they are given in the Missal is the Solemn Intercessions for the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday.

The intercessions need to be prepared by the local community for the local community so that they encompass local concerns and current issues.

Resources like LabOra Worship do include suggested Prayer of the Faithful petitions for every Sunday of the three year cycle, but it would be impossible and inappropriate to write them for every day of the liturgical calendar. The ones that are there can be used as models.

The key to doing it well is to have no more than six petitions, make sure they are addresses to the people and not to God, keep them brief, and have a pause after each so that the assembly can pray.


Elizabeth Harrington