Some lay ministry guidelines from a workshop at St Theresas Church, Plimmerton, in June 2016: The workshop by Fr James Lyons and Fr Pat Bridgeman was for readers and extraordinary ministers of communion and was attended by nearly 200 parishioners from around the Archdiocese. This guide was produced afterwards taking into account feedback and questions from those who attended.
Proclaimers of the Word
TO LOVE AND TO SERVE
[Fr James Lyons]
Yours is a share in the work of the Spirit, of all that is holy, for in who you are and in what you do is found the most powerful experience of the sacred… Yours is the kingdom community whose very assembling is sacrament of God’s presence in the world. [Fr Austin Fleming, Theologian]
The Eucharist lies at the heart of every Catholic community. Together we love and serve: in our greeting of one another and in the welcome we extend to visitors; in the prayer we offer, as we proclaim the Word, and share with each other the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. From our own prayer and reflection flow reverence and service - not for our own glory or satisfaction but for the good of all.
Within the Eucharist you are Proclaimers of the Word, privileged stewards of God’s greatest gifts to the parish – the people you serve. It is vital that you keep yourselves in readiness for this service, not only by personally preparing for your individual commitment, but by supporting those who share ministry with you.
The Word of God is something alive and active....[Hebrews, 4:12] When you proclaim our sacred scriptures to the people, you do much more than recite a text. You release the power of God into the hearts of those listening! You speak a Living Word into lives often broken with worry, struggling to cope, hurting or tormented, or perhaps indifferent and tired. Your proclamation carries peace, comfort and challenge – a privileged responsibility.
Those who proclaim or serve the Word of God are sacred vessels, made holy by the Word they carry. Preparation for this sacred privilege must be given the highest priority.
[1 John, 1:1]
SOME DO’S AND DON’T’S IN MINISTRY
1. DO treat your particular ministry as an extension of yourself
2. DO make a conscious preparation for each time you serve
3. DO pray for humility, for faithfulness and in thanksgiving for your ministry
4. DO pray for others involved with you as ministers
5. DO pray for those you serve
6. DO appreciate the other ministries that are part of the Liturgy in which you serve
7. DO arrive in plenty of time to check for changes in the schedule and to pray with all involved in the leadership of the Liturgy
1. DON’T excuse yourself from your turn to serve for anything but the most serious of reasons
2. DON’T assume it won’t matter if you’re not there; that there’ll always be someone to take your place. There rarely is!
3. DON’T take your role for granted. In your ministry you are not doing anyone a favour; you are responding to a call to use your gift for the good of the whole community
4. DON’T forget that in serving you are yourself being served
5. DON’T miss the opportunity your time of service gives you, to see the face of Jesus in those you serve
6. DON’T worry that you may not be perfect in your ministry; you are not expected to be perfect, only faithful
7. DON’T get discouraged by criticism – some will be misplaced and negative, the rest will be very positive. We can all learn.
8. DON’T stop wondering at the goodness of God in creating such a variety of gifts
WORD – PRESENCE
We say that The Blessed Trinity, in the person of Jesus, is present when the scriptures are proclaimed. We name the scriptures as THE WORD OF GOD.
Yet many of the readings, particularly for weekdays, tell of the disasters and tragedies humankind brings on itself. The apostasy of the Israelites, the deviations and manipulations of Saul and David, the graphic description of Deborah’s ruthlessness, the jealousy and greed of Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, and so much more, may find us questioning whether God is or could be, or would even want to be present!
The same can be said of the Christian scriptures. There is cruelty, betrayal, jealousy, pride, adultery – no commandment is spared – in the telling of the Gospel story. The early Christian communities fiercely defended their independence and faced scandals from within and without. Paul’s ministry was a constant struggle; families were split; religious factions fought for supremacy. The Christian Church did not begin life with everyone loving one another!
And we say Jesus is present when the scriptures are proclaimed.
THE TRUTH WE NEED TO REALISE is that God’s presence is not dependent on our worthiness. It’s precisely because of our Unworthiness that God sent His only Son. God loved the world so much – that, in human terms, he could not stand by and watch us destroy creation. God stepped into the mess we’d made and started the clean-up.
God gave us Jesus as Redeemer; Jesus gives the Holy Spirit as helper and guide. They are given to work alongside us – not to make us do the right thing, or to punish our failures, but to encourage us, to help us live up to our role as partners in the work of building up creation and in reaching perfection.
THE PROCLAIMER OF THE WORD reveals the presence of Jesus in the midst of our messiness, and has the privileged task of opening listening ears to really HEAR the message that there is a way out. As Proclaimer you can rekindle hope in a troubled heart; you can bring new to strength to the wavering flame and reassurance to the broken reed that feels about to be crushed.
PROCLAIMING THE WORD
A Reader’s Prayer
Today I will speak your word, O God,
to my sisters and brothers, your family.
Through the Readings assigned to this holy day
I will announce your presence
in your message of hope and peace and mercy.
May I be attentive to your voice speaking through mine.
May my readiness to serve, carry your word
with dignity and purpose,
that you might enter the hearts
of those gathered and waiting
to reassure, to heal, to inspire, to challenge.
Humbly aware of this great privilege I bow
in thanksgiving and adoration. Amen
Prayer for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Prayer for Extraordinary
Ministers of Holy Communion
You call me to minister your presence this day;
your body and blood.
In those who approach your Altar before which I will stand,
may I recognise you alive
as I gaze upon hands outstretched.
As I share the cup of your life blood
may I recognise our common need of your refreshment.
Fed, by you, we become who you are
The Body of Christ
Life for the World! Amen