From a reader…
Recently I have just read regarding the minor order of Lector (I know it has been abolished). It is said that the lector can bless bread and fruit. My questions are:
- Is the blessings reserved only to bread and fruit or can it be extended to food in general?
- In traditional orders where they still confer minor orders, can their lector still perform these blessings?
My apologies for any gramatical error as English is not my first language.
Sadly, those provisions formerly given to men ordained to the minor orders of acolyte and lector (done away with by Paul VI with Ministeria quaedam) do not seem to apply to those currently installed in the ministries of acolyte and lector.
Of course, installed acolytes and lectors, like just about anybody else, can probably use the “blessings” contained in the dreadful Book of Blessings, over bread, fruits, etc., but since those blessings don’t actually bless anything…. That’s another bento box and I’m being snarky.
Regarding those who are in traditional groups who receive the lectorate and blessings, I’m afraid the jury is out, that is, I don’t think it is easy to make a decision about them.
Keep in mind that Ministeria quaedam was superseded by the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It is helpful, but in a limited way.
There was a wonderful spirituality connected to the minor orders. It was a mistake to sweep them aside in the way they were.
Before, I said that it is hard to make a decision about traditional Lectors. While we know that they are not clerics now, as they were before, we also have to admit that when bishops bestow this office on men they aren’t just pretending. I have to conclude that they are being ordained to the lectorate and the Rite of ordination describes what they do. The things that are described are not out of keeping with the needs of the Church today.
Here is the the Rite for the bestowing of the minor order of Lector and its office:
The Call. The bishop, with his miter on, sits on the faldstool before the middle of the altar. The archdeacon bids the candidates come forward; the notary reads their names:
Let those come forward who are to be ordained to the office of reader: N.N., etc.
Each one answers, adsum, goes before the altar and kneels, holding the burning candle in his right hand.
The Instruction. When all are assembled, the bishop address them as follows:
Dearly beloved sons, chose to be readers in the house of our God, know your office and fulfill it; for God is powerful to give you in increasing measure the grace of everlasting perfection.
The reader’s duty is to read what he preaches (or: to read the Scripture text for the preacher), to sing the lessons, to bless bread and all new fruits. Endeavor, therefore, to read the word of God, that is, the sacred lessons, distinctly and intelligibly, without any mistake or falsification, so that the faithful may understand and be edified, and that the truth of the divine lessons be not through your carelessness lost for the instruction of the hearers.
But what you read with your lips, you must believe in your hearts and practice in your works; so that you may be able to teach your hearers by word and example.
Therefore, when you read, stand in a high place of the church, so that you may be heard and seen by all. This your bodily position is to signify that your life ought to move on a high plane of virtue, so that you may give the example of a heavenly life to all those by whom you are heard and seen. May God by His grace accomplish this in you.
Here the candles are laid aside.
The Bestowal of the Office. The bishop now presents to the candidates the book containing the lessons, that is, a missal, breviary, or bible. The ordinands touch it with the right hand, while he says:
Receive, and be readers of the word of God. If you fulfill your office faithfully and profitably, yours will be the reward of those who have duly administered the word of God from the beginning.
Prayer. The bishop rises and prays:
Let us beseech, beloved brethren, God, the Father Almighty, graciously to bless these servants whom He deigns to assume into the order of reader. May they intelligibly read what is to be read in the Church of God, and carry it out in works. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, who lives and reigns with Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
The bishop, with miter off, turns to the altar and says:
Let Us Pray
Let us bend our knees. R. Amen.
Turning again to the candidates kneeling before him, the bishop prays:
Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, vouchsafe to + bless these Thy servants for the office of reader. May they by constant application to reading acquire knowledge and proficiency, read aloud what must be done and practice what thy have read, so that by the example of their virtue in both respects they may give support to holy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. R. Amen.
I would add that, more important that blessing bread and fruit, the Lector or aspiring Lector should pay more attention to the ritual words:
…your life ought to move on a high plane of virtue, so that you may give the example of a heavenly life to all those by whom you are heard and seen…