About John Lilburne



Catholicism for Dummies

I bought Catholicism for Dummies on 12 August 2003. I see it as an important book, because of its style and publisher. I think it will be  the most likely book about the teachings of the Catholic Church to appear in Australian bookshops. 

I am disappointed with the lack of attention to instituted lectors. In describing the Code of Canon Law it has:

"... People who are baptized but not ordained ....
230 May be given the temporary assignment as an extraordinary minister of the Word (sometimes called a lector or reader) or as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist when the need warrants and with the consent of the pastor. ..." (page 173)

I think it gives a misleading impression that priests are the ordinary minister to do the readings and lay people are extraordinary ministers. Here is what Canon 230 actually says:

"230.1 Lay men whose age and talents meet the requirements prescribed by decree of the Bishops' Conference, can be given the stable ministry of lector and of acolyte, through the prescribed liturgical rite. This conferral of ministry does not, however, given them a right to sustenance or remuneration from the Church.

2. Lay people can receive a temporary assignment to the role of lector in liturgical actions. Likewise, all lay people can exercise the roles of commentator, cantor or other such, in accordance with the law.

3. When the needs of the Church require and ministers are not available, lay people, even though they are not lectors or acolytes, can supply certain of their functions, that is, exercise the ministry of the word, preside over liturgical prayers, confer baptism and distribute holy communion, in accordance with the provisions of the law.."

That instituted lectors are the ordinary minister to do the first reading is clear from the General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n 51:

"The reader's ministry, which is conferred through a liturgical rite, must be held in respect. When there are instituted readers available, they are to carry out their office at least on Sundays and major feasts, especially at the principal Mass of the day."

Further evidence of Catholicism for Dummies neglecting instituted lectors is the description of the entrance procession. The reader is in it, but only the "priest, deacon and servers go to their respective seats in the sanctuary" (p. 138). This  ignores the instructions of the 2002 Roman Missal, n. 195: "Then the lector takes his own place in the sanctuary with the other ministers."

The 2002 Roman Missal makes it clear that "In the absence of an instituted lector, other lay persons" may do the readings (n. 101). But this is not indicated by Catholicism for Dummies: "Any qualified lector, a lay person trained for the task of reading at Mass, can read the Old and New Testament."(p. 140).

By J.R. Lilburne, 18 August 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain. Canon Law translation is from The Code of Canon Law (1997) HaperCollins.

Other sites:

Catholicism for Dummies at amazon.com