About John Lilburne


Yesterday's journal "Acolytes and altar servers"


2022 K Fri 2 Aug 2002

I have thought more about what I wrote yesterday on the USA Guidelines for Altar Servers and have modified it.

I think the new sentence about vestments is impressive:

6. Acolytes, altar servers, readers, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate or dignified clothing.

It makes two excellent points:

1. There is no excuse for not using an altar server because you do not have a spare alb or because people are unwilling to wear it. If lay people can read without albs, they can be altar servers without albs.

2. There is no excuse for stopping readers from wearing albs, if albs are available and the readers want to wear them. If lay people can be altar servers with albs, they can be readers with albs.

In the case of an instituted lector (i.e. a man instituted as a reader by a bishop in a ceremony) are they are required to wear vestments in the USA? Perhaps. According to the specific instruction in the 1981 Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n. 54:

"... 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..."

But the US Bishops have received approval for an adaptation to the 2002 GIRM 339, so I think it will read something like:

339. Acolytes, readers and other lay ministers wear the alb or other vestment (clothing???) that is lawfully approved in each region by the Conference of Bishops. In the dioceses of the United States of America, acolytes, altar servers, readers, and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.

I believe vestments, like the alb, would be more appropriate and dignified. Where possible they should be worn. But the lack of an alb should not be a justification for saying: "The instituted lector cannnot read without an alb, so someone else must do it." Another lay person should only read when an instituted reader is not available, following the 2002 GIRM 101.

Posted by J.R. Lilburne 2 August 2002.

Other sites:

Guidelines for Altar Servers