Lay Ministries in the Church have witnessed tremendous growth following the liturgical renewal of the Second Vatican Council. What was once a new and innovative paradigm shift in the way the Church thinks about and does ministry has now become accepted and commonplace in parish church communities on Long Island and around the world.
Yet the theology behind the raising up of lay ministers in the Church is actually nothing new because it is thoroughly Biblical and is rooted in our Christian Tradition. St. Paul’s teaching concerning the Body of Christ [Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:1-16] clearly outlines that all Baptized Christians are called to specific and mutually complementary ministries within the Church. In the Church there were to be no “spectators.” We are all called to serve.
In the early church and for several centuries afterwards it was a common practice to have the non-ordained distribute communion at the celebration of the Eucharist. They also served those who were not present by bringing the Eucharist to the sick or homebound.
Eucharistic ministers are called from the community as its representative. He/she is to be what they are. All are called to be the presence of Christ.
Eucharistic ministers have a variety of names: extraordinary or special ministers, auxiliary, or lay distributors. Technically, the Eucharistic minister is the "acolyte”. - The one who serves at the altar, preparing the altar table and the vessels and who gives communion to the faithful. Eucharistic ministers are not "almost priests'. The roots of their ministry are in the fact that they are Christian men and women. Baptism is our title to our ministry. By baptism and confirmation all Christians share in the priesthood of Christ and have the potential for taking significant responsibility for the public worship of our community.
The role of the Eucharistic Minister, like that of all liturgical ministries, is more than simply a practical function. The action of ministering the Eucharistic body and blood of Christ is, above all, a service of love performed in faith for the good of the community.
The minister's action is an invitation to share in the Eucharistic feast. We should be welcoming, open and affirming, each in our own way.
Lectors play a critical role in the celebration of the Mass by proclaiming (not reading or reciting) the Word of God. Since they proclaim not just any word, but the Word of God, it is essential that they develop the spirituality and skills required to communicate God's message competently.
In becoming a Lector, you are accepting the responsibility to do your best, to practice, to make frequent self-evaluations, to deepen your understanding of God's Word, to deepen your prayer life and to continually look for ways to improve your ability to proclaim. Through your own sacrifice of time, effort, preparation and prayer, God's Word continues to become alive again and again. It is a very humbling and rewarding ministry!
The readings of God's word must therefore be listened to by all with reverence; they make up a principal element of the liturgy.
In the biblical readings, God addresses all people of every era. Taken together with the homily, the readings help us find God's presence in our day-to-day lives.