John Lilburne's journal about the role of instituted readers and "masters of ceremonies" at Chrism Mass in Melbourne.



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Instituted lectors




2023 L Tue 26 Mar 2002

Today I went to the Chrism Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia. At the Mass Archbishop Denis J. Hart blessed the holy oils that will be used throughout the archdiocese in the coming year.

The Gospel reading was Luke 4:16-21, which begins:

Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he ususally did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. ...

Would Jesus find it so easy in Melborne today? Page three of the Mass booklet had:

Ms Lenyce Willason
Mrs Kath Allison

Seminarians from Corpus Christi College

At least some of the seminarians were instituted lectors, instituted at the cathedral with me on 27 February 2000. They were available, in the sanctuary and wearing vestments. According to the 2000 Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, n. 101:

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

The instituted readers were not absent. Other lay people were used - women who cannot be instituted as readers. The publication of the new Roman Missal last week does not seem to have changed the practice at the cathedral on this.

I do not think it makes sense to give five people the job of Master of Ceremonies. According to the Ceremonial of Bishops:

Master of Ceremonies

34. For a liturgical celebration, especially a celebration presided over by the bishop, to be distinguished by grace, simplicity, and order, a master of ceremonies is needed to prepare and direct the celebration ...

But five "Masters of Ceremonies" were listed on page 3 of the booklet:

Rev David Cartwright
Rev Shane Hoctor P.P
Rev Gregory Pritchard P.P.
Rev John Walshe P.P.
Mr Michael Mahony

Part of the job description is: "He should seek to ensure an observance of liturgical laws ...". But the "Masters of Ceremonies" seem to think that the most obvious of liturgical laws like "all sit" for the homily and first two readings do not apply to them. Instead they stand for these. The General Instruction to Roman Missal has:

"The uniformity of posture to be observed by all taking part is a sign of unity of the members of the Christian community ...". (2000 IGMR, n. 42, 1975 GIRM, n. 20).

But this does not seem to be a priority. I was particularly amazed by what happened during the Archbishop's homily. Father Gregory Pritchard got about 15 people to stand up and walk to the back of the cathedral in preparation for the procession of the oils.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 25 March 2002.