In some Christian denominations, a reader or lector is the person responsible for reading aloud excerpts of scripture at a liturgy. In early Christian times the reader was of particular value due to the rarity of literacy.
In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the term lector or reader"means someone who in a particular liturgy is assigned to read a Biblical text other than the Gospel (reading the Gospel at Mass is reserved specifically to the deacon or, in his absence, to the priest). But it also has the more specific meaning of a person who has been "instituted" as a lector or reader, and is such even when not assigned to read in a specific liturgy.
The office was formerly classed as one of the four minor orders. However, since 1 January 1973, the apostolic letter Ministeria quaedam decreed instead that:
Canon 1035 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law requires candidates for diaconal ordination to have received and have exercised for an appropriate time the ministries of lector and acolyte and prescribes that institution in the second of these ministries must precede by at least six months ordination as a deacon.
Instituted lectors, either men or women (since the 2021 motu proprio spiritus domini ),are obliged, when proclaiming the readings at Mass, to wear an alb or an "other suitable attire that has been legitimately approved by the Conference of Bishops". such as cassock and surplice. Others who perform the function of lector, "may go to the ambo in ordinary attire, but this should be in keeping with the customs of the different regions."
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal speaks as follows of those who, without being lectors in the specific sense, carry out their functions at Mass: "In the absence of an instituted lector, other lay people may be deputed to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture, people who are truly suited to carrying out this function and carefully prepared, so that by their hearing the readings from the sacred texts the faithful may conceive in their hearts a sweet and living affection for Sacred Scripture."
In its sections the same document lists the lector's specific duties at Mass.
Traditionalist Catholic organizations such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney are authorized to use the pre-1973 rite for their members who receive the office of lector.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the Eastern Catholic Churches of Byzantine tradition, the reader (in Greek, ἈναγνώστηςAnagnostis; in Church Slavonic, Чтец Chtets) is the second highest of the minor orders of clergy. This order is higher than the Doorkeeper (now largely obsolete) and lower than the subdeacon.
Immediately before ordination as a reader, the candidate is tonsured as a sign of his submission and obedience upon entry into the clerical state. It is a separate act from ordination. The tonsure is performed only once, immediately prior to the actual ordination of a reader, which the ordination rite refers to as "the first degree of priesthood". However, it is not the means whereby a person becomes a reader. Readers, like subdeacons, are ordained by Cheirothesia - literally, "to place hands" - whereas Cheirotonia - "to stretch out the hands" - is practised at the ordination of the higher clergy: bishops, priests and deacons.
After being tonsured, the reader is vested in a short phelon,which he wears while reading the Epistle for the first time. This short phelon is then removed (and never worn thereafter) and replaced with a stikhar, which the reader wears thereafter whenever he performs his liturgical duties. This practice is not universal, however, and many bishops and priests will allow a reader to perform his function dressed only in a cassock or (if a monk) a riassa. Sometimes, a bishop will decree what vesting practice he wishes to be followed within his own diocese.
Byzantine icons often show readers and church singers wearing a stikhar-like garment (more loose and flowing than the modern stikhar) and a pointed hat with the brim pulled out to the sides.
In Eastern Thrace, during the Ottoman period and prior to the tragedy of 1922, some lay people were selected through symbolic tonsure and Cheirothesia to receive the ecclesiastical blessing and rank of ''Anagnostis''.
Minor orders were discontinued in the reformed Church of England. The modern office of reader was introduced in 1866 and is distinct from the traditional minor order of reader. It is the office of a licensed lay minister and, for this reason, a person holding the office is referred to as a "lay reader" in many parts of the Anglican Communion. After a period of theological training (often, in the case of the Church of England, three years of evening classes), a lay person is licensed to preach and lead public worship. A reader is not a member of the clergy and cannot preside at the Eucharist, officiate at marriages, absolve or bless.
A reader is licensed to lead non-sacramental worship (including, in some cases, funerals), may assist in the leadership of eucharistic worship and may preach. Anglican readers in some countries often wear a blue tippet with choir dress.
In the United Methodist Church in the United States, similar to the Anglican office, a certified lay minister is a certified lay servant, certified lay missioner (or equivalent as defined by his or her central conference), who is called and equipped to conduct public worship, care for the congregation, assist in program leadership, develop new and existing faith communities, preach the Word, lead small groups, or establish community outreach ministries as part of a ministry team with the supervision and support of an ordained minister.
The role of certified lay minister is intended for missional leadership in churches or other ministry settings as part of a team ministry under the supervision of clergy, and they are assigned to a local church by the district superintendent, unlike clergy who are appointed by a bishop.
In certain Christian denominations, holy orders are the ordained ministries of bishop, priest (presbyter), and deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament.
Clergy are formal leaders within established religions. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's doctrines and practices. Some of the terms used for individual clergy are clergyman, clergywoman, clergyperson, churchman, and cleric, while clerk in holy orders has a long history but is rarely used.
A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Churches, the Anglican Communion, and the Free Church of England, view the diaconate as an order of ministry.
Subdeacon is a minor order or ministry for men in various branches of Christianity. The subdeacon has a specific liturgical role and is placed between the acolyte and the deacon in the order of precedence.
An acolyte is an assistant or follower assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession. In many Christian denominations, an acolyte is anyone performing ceremonial duties such as lighting altar candles. In others, the term is used for one who has been inducted into a particular liturgical ministry, even when not performing those duties.
An altar server is a lay assistant to a member of the clergy during a Christian liturgy. An altar server attends to supporting tasks at the altar such as fetching and carrying, ringing the altar bell, helps bring up the gifts, brings up the book, among other things. If young, the server is commonly called an altar boy or altar girl. In some Christian denominations, altar servers are known as acolytes.
The stole is a liturgical vestment of various Christian denominations, which symbolizes priestly authority; in Protestant denominations which do not have priests but use stoles as a liturgical vestment, however, it symbolizes being a member of the ordained. It consists of a band of colored cloth, usually of silk, about seven and a half to nine feet long and three to four inches wide, whose ends may be straight or may broaden out in the shape of a spade or bell. The center of the stole is worn around the back of the neck and the two ends hang down parallel to each other in front, either attached to each other or hanging loose. The stole is almost always decorated in some way, usually with two crosses, or sometimes another significant religious design. It is often decorated with contrasting galloons and fringe is usually applied to the ends of the stole following Numbers 15:38–39. A piece of white linen or lace may be stitched onto the back of the collar as a sweat guard, which can be replaced more cheaply than the stole itself.
An ostiarius, a Latin word sometimes anglicized as ostiary but often literally translated as porter or doorman, originally was a servant or guard posted at the entrance of a building. See also gatekeeper.
Minor orders are ranks of church ministry. In the Catholic Church, the predominating Latin Church formerly distinguished between the major orders —priest, deacon and subdeacon—and four minor orders—acolyte, exorcist, lector, and porter. In 1972, the minor orders were renamed "ministries", with those of lector and acolyte being kept throughout the Latin Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the three minor orders in use are those of subdeacon, reader and chanter.
In Christianity, a minister is a person authorised by a church or other religious organization to perform functions such as teaching of beliefs; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or otherwise providing spiritual guidance to the community. The term is taken from Latin minister. In some church traditions the term is usually used for people who have ordained, but in other traditions it can also be used for non-ordained people who have a pastoral or liturgical ministry.
Choir dress is the traditional vesture of the clerics, seminarians and religious of Christian churches worn for public prayer and the administration of the sacraments except when celebrating or concelebrating the Eucharist. It differs from the vestments worn by the celebrants of the Eucharist, being normally made of fabrics such as wool, cotton or silk, as opposed to the fine brocades used in vestments. It may also be worn by lay assistants such as acolytes and choirs. It was abandoned by most of the Protestant churches that developed from the sixteenth-century Reformation.
Solemn Mass is the full ceremonial form of a Mass, predominantly associated with the Tridentine Mass where it is celebrated by a priest with a deacon and a subdeacon, requiring most of the parts of the Mass to be sung, and the use of incense. It is also called High Mass or Solemn High Mass.
In Anglicanism, a licensed lay minister (LLM) or lay reader is a person authorised by a bishop to lead certain services of worship, to preach and to carry out pastoral and teaching functions. They are formally trained and admitted to the office, but they remain part of the laity, not of the clergy.
The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishops, priests, and deacons, in decreasing order of rank, collectively comprising the clergy. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" means "set apart for a sacred purpose". The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.
The Anglican ministry is both the leadership and agency of Christian service in the Anglican Communion. "Ministry" commonly refers to the office of ordained clergy: the threefold order of bishops, priests and deacons. More accurately, Anglican ministry includes many laypeople who devote themselves to the ministry of the church, either individually or in lower/assisting offices such as lector, acolyte, sub-deacon, Eucharistic minister, cantor, musicians, parish secretary or assistant, warden, vestry member, etc. Ultimately, all baptized members of the church are considered to partake in the ministry of the Body of Christ.
Pontifical vestments, also referred to as episcopal vestments or pontificals, are the liturgical vestments worn by bishops in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutheran churches, in addition to the usual priestly vestments for the celebration of the mass, other sacraments, sacramentals, and canonical hours. The pontifical vestments are only worn when celebrating or presiding over liturgical functions. As such, the garments should not be confused with choir dress, which are worn when attending liturgical functions but not celebrating or presiding.
This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church. Some terms used in everyday English have a different meaning in the context of the Catholic faith, including brother, confession, confirmation, exemption, faithful, father, ordinary, religious, sister, venerable, and vow.
In the Catholic Church the term minister enjoys a variety of usages. It most commonly refers to the person, whether lay or ordained, who is commissioned to perform some act on behalf of the Catholic Church. It is not a particular office or rank of clergy, as is the case in some other Christian organisations; rather, minister may be used as a collective term for vocational or professional pastoral leaders including clergy and non-clergy. It is also used in reference to the canonical and liturgical administration of sacraments, as part of some offices, and with reference to the exercise of the lay apostolate.
Catholic laity are the ordinary members of the Catholic Church who are neither clergy nor recipients of Holy Orders or vowed to life in a religious order or congregation. Their mission, according to the Second Vatican Council, is to "sanctify the world".
Spiritus Domini is an apostolic letter in the form of a motu proprio by Pope Francis signed on 10 January 2021 and released the next day. It changed the 1983 Code of Canon Law to allow women to be admitted to the instituted ministries of acolyte and lector (reader), which had until then been exclusively available to men.