Monday, March 08, 2004

Lector Workshop We're getting a good turnout for the parish's lector sessions this week. As far as I can count, I seem to be the sixth parish liturgist who has trained lectors, and over the years, some particulars have been dealt with differently. Our lector steering team has tried to devise a parish standard for old lectors to check themselves against and new lectors to be held to. One of our parishioners, a retired professor of speech and literature, has been giving insightful tips on vocal production and a technical approach to speaking. I've learned a lot there. My contribution has been to introduce a form of Lectio Divina as a means of spiritual preparation. One failing I see in many people who prepare Scripture for proclamation (and I have done it myself) is to engage the intellect too early in the process. By this I mean to consult commentaries and notes before letting the text itself settle into one's personal prayer. My method involves: - Prepare about a week in advance of the liturgy with the Lectionary passge to be proclaimed, a pen and notebook or journal, and about 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted time. - Pray silently for about a minute of two, asking for God's grace and wisdom. - Read the passage aloud and return to silence, writing down a word, phrase, or idea that struck you. - Read the passage aloud a second time, this time asking, "What might God be saying to me in this?" Write down a sentence or two, even if there's nothing and you have to write, "I have no earthly idea." - Read the passage aloud a third time, with the question: What message is there here for my parish? Write down another sentence or two, even if you can only repeat the other sentence. - Only now, consult the note in the Lector Workbook or Biblical commentary. Construct an oral presentation of this Scripture passage so that it can be clear where the core message is to be heard. - Continue daily prayer through the coming week. Important considerations: 1. Read aloud because the lector will be communicating (or attempting to do so) through sound, and not by sight. Get used to the sound of your voice and to the difference in perception from silent reading. 2. Get in the habit of writing down reflections. Lots of things can be lost in the direct eye to brain connection, and it is a helpful discipline to write down spiritual matters when the opportunity is present. 3. Only after you have engaged in the spiritual disciplines of listening, silence, writing, and interpretation, are you ready to examine what other commentators have said about your passage. Don't permit your first impressions to be colored by "professionals." Take your own insights to the experience of the Church. During the week before your lector assignment, bring your passage to daily prayer. Use this as a springboard for planning your technical presentation of the reading at liturgy.

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