July 23rd, 2018
This essay from me was printed in the parish bulletin of St. Rita Church in Racine, Wisconsin, on July 22nd.
“I have served as a lector for twenty-six years, so I think I am getting the hang of it. I have only proclaimed the Scriptures at St. Rita during the last year, and usually only at the 10:30 Mass. So, many people don’t know me yet. Some of the people who do know me say that I read well. I appreciate their comments, but it’s not really me who is speaking.
I pray before I go up to the ambo. I ask God to speak through me. I am only a conduit, a channel for God’s Word. When I do my job correctly, I am only a voice. Nobody should hear Frank speaking. The members of the congregation should hear Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or Paul. They should never hear me. My goal is to disappear when I proclaim the Word.
This may sound strange, but sometimes when I read, the words that come from me are not my words. I feel an intense rush of emotion, and it is not unusual that I feel drained when I sit back down in the pew. When I read from the lectionary, Scripture suddenly becomes very personal and very real. It can be a scary thing to get that close to God.
The Word can be a powerful thing. However, it is only of value if it affects people enough to change their lives once they leave the church. I am never sure how I affect the people at Mass. I don’t need to know. I do know that I am affected. My ministry as a lector changes how I live outside of St. Rita. My ministry gives me the courage to escort undocumented immigrants to court appearances. It gives me the compassion to visit veterans at the psych. ward of the VA hospital. It gives me the patience to tutor Syrian refugee kids.
My ministry makes me Catholic.”