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Fr Richard P. McBrien

Father Richard P. McBrien's essays appear in National Catholic Reporter.

I think his Thanksgiving essay of 18 November 2002 is particularly good.

He writes about the problems of poor liturgy and the need for structural reform.

To an extent there is the feeling of solidarity and mutual support from the worshiping community. At least some people are there. But unfortunately I feel little of this: most do not bow their head at the name of Jesus, little is done to implement the changes of the 2002 Roman Missal and the ministry of instituted lector is not respected.

What will happen for the Christmas Midnight Mass at the Vatican? Will the first two readings be read by an instituted lector? I expect it will be the same as last year, other lay people will read. If so there will be a failure to follow the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal:

" ...101. In the absence of an instituted reader, other lay people may be designated to proclaim the readings from the Sacred Scriptures. ..."

If there is an instituted lector, will he wear vestments? If he does not there will be a failure to follow another liturgical book:

"... an instituted reader must wear the distinctive vestment of their office when they go to the lectern to read the word of God. Those who carry out the ministry of reader just for the occasion or even regularly but without institution may go to the lectern in ordinary attire..." General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n 54.

On 3 July 2002 Cindy Wooden reported the approach of Bishop Piero Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies:

"... The Vatican does make a request of readers who are seminarians but not yet ordained to the diaconate. While North American College takes very seriously the papal request that seminarians wear clerical dress in Rome, when they read at a papal Mass they are told to wear a suit and tie.

"At a liturgy, everyone must fulfill his or her role," Bishop Marini said. "The readings are read by lay people. Individual seminaries have rules on how their seminarians are to dress, but in liturgy those who have not yet been ordained to the diaconate are laymen, and they are to dress as laymen. ..."

Will people get a feeling of solidarity or mutual support from this? That can hardly happen with the official books saying one thing and the practice being another.

Hopefully there will be a change to an approach consistent with the liturgical books.

By J.R. Lilburne, 20 December 2002. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:

Fr Richard P. McBrien's photo, CV, books, essays

Thanksgiving Essay

Cindy Wooden 3 July 2002