Spirituality First, Technique Second
In their book, Rebuilding Your Message, authors Fr. Michael
White and Tom Corcoran note how St. Paul knew that the
words he spoke were not where his message started.
It started with a demonstration of the Spirit; a wordless
revealing of the way God was working in his life.
In 1st Corinthians 12, Paul says: My message and my
proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power.
And how does this relate to us as lectors? Can this demonstration of the Spirit work for us in our short 1-2 minutes at the ambo?
Perhaps not the way it did with St. Paul, but enough for our listeners to see the difference between the presence, or lack of, the Spirit in us.
The question Fr. White and Corcoran say that we should ask ourselves as we approach the ambo and look out over the assembly is... What am I telling my fellow parishioners about myself before I even say a word?
Is it my goodness, my gentleness, my joy, my love, my peace? What fruits of the Holy Spirit are working in me and shining through? This may not be our primary message, say White & Corcoran, but it is our initial message.
As I pondered all of this, it gave me some things to question myself about and the impression I was giving to my fellow parishioners up on that ambo.
That "demonstration of Spirit" in our body language, demeanor and countenance can raise or lower our listeners' expectations of how well we're about to proclaim. And it starts the moment we leave our seat.
Approaching ambo too quickly can convey a "let's get it done" attitude; too slowly, an overdose of piousness or even a lack of interest, and too confidently, a hint of arrogance.
So here are three ways you can show your listeners more of your spiritual side:
- Leave your baggage in your car: your outside world, your problems, anxieties, plans for day, etc, etc, etc.
- Arrive for Mass 15-20 minutes early and set aside some spiritual warm-up time. Find a quiet spot to pray and ask the Lord to make you a worthy vessel for proclaiming his word.
- Better yet, say a short prayer with the presider and other liturgical ministers before processing to the altar. And if it's never been done in your parish before... ask and you just might receive.