We Are More Than Meets the Earby George Miller on 06/25/12
Ask the average Catholic what the most important part of the Mass is and the response will usually be the Liturgy of the Eucharist. But should this be all there is? What about the Liturgy of the Word?
The General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass explains how both these parts of the Mass carry the presence of the risen Christ and form one single act of divine worship; and how the church is nourished spiritually at the twofold table of God's word and of the Eucharist. But to get our listeners to embrace this takes a lot more showing than simply telling.
Karen Sue Smith, Editorial Director for America National Catholic Weekly, said in a 1991 Church magazine article, A Spirituality for Lectors, "At the hands of weak lectors the parish may regard the liturgy of the word as a kind of prelude to the Eucharist; not a separate, equally important part, leading us back to the preconciliar (before Vatican II) practice that the Mass didn't really begin until the offertory."
But at the hands of great lectors, listeners can experience the same kind of anxiety and desire to digest the word of God as they experience when they approach the Eucharist. The more effectively the lector proclaims God's word to them, the more they'll feel the presence of Christ in those spoken words.
Dr. Edward Sri, in his newly published work, A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, capsulized it all saying, "Sitting attentively at only one of these tables simply will not do. We need both the inspired word of God in Scripture and the Incarnate Word of God present in the Blessed Sacrament."
So we truly can be more than meets the ear. The words we speak can become spirit and life; not because it's us speaking, but Jesus re-speaking the words through our voices and preparing the hearts of his children to receive him even more deeply in the Holy Eucharist.
Praise God for granting us the awesome privilege to make this happen.