"When the sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel. For this reason the readings from the Word of God, which give the Liturgy an element of the greatest importance, should be listened to by all with veneration.
In texts that are to be pronounced in a loud and clear voice, whether by the priest or by the deacon, or by the lector, or by all, the voice should respond to the nature of the respective text, whether it is a reading, prayer, monition, acclamation or hymn, as well as to the form of the celebration and the solemnity of the assembly.
In addition, the nature of the various languages and the nature of the peoples must be taken into account". These words from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal speak for themselves of the importance not only of listening to, but also of proclaiming the Word of God in liturgical celebrations. Both listening and reading are key to achieving an encounter with Christ, the Incarnate Word, with each of the faithful.
However, the experience of many of the faithful at Sunday or daily Masses, as well as at other celebrations, is far from this affirmation. Too often the readings are not prepared in advance, the texts are not known or are read with a monotonous or meaningless intonation, which makes it difficult for those listening to understand and reflect on them.
The repetition of this experience and the realization that this reality was more than widespread was what led Angel Manuel Perez, journalist and professional radio and television broadcaster, to prepare specific courses for those who read, regularly or sporadically, in the various liturgical celebrations.
"When I went to Mass, I found that I could not hear or understand what the laity read at the ambo, says the journalist. Specializing in voice-over in audiovisual media, Ángel did not hesitate to do his bit to try to improve, as far as possible, those public reading skills that many people, who are not communication professionals, do not have developed.
A personal service
"I decided to start offering this course in different parishes in the archdiocese of Madrid." Little by little, this initiative has been spreading throughout Spain and there are numerous parishes, brotherhoods, schools and youth groups in which Angel Manuel has taught the main tools to convey the Word of God in a clear way.
Among the main mistakes we tend to make when reading, for example, during a Eucharistic celebration are the following "go out to read the Word of God without having prepared the text by reading it beforehand. I always recommend reading it aloud twice". before the celebration, in order to ensure that "read something they understand. Readers have to understand what they read, so that the faithful will understand it"..
In this sense, as Perez also emphasizes, knowing and reading Sacred Scripture on a regular basis is another of the bases for being able to proclaim it correctly.
At present, the premise fides ex auditu is perhaps one of the most important realities in the Church, since many people only have contact with Sacred Scripture during liturgical celebrations. It is therefore important to know what we read because, as this professional points out, "the reader communicates the Word of God not only with the words pronounced correctly but also the conviction, the tone, the volume, the voice inflections according to the phrases, etc.".
Angel Manuel has been professionalizing this course in such a way that, in a short time, he prepares interested people, adults, young people or children to face a public reading, something that is often costly. His web page www.vozdemisa.com gives an example of this. In it, he collects some basic tips and shows the different reader's courses he has been giving since he started, in a completely personal way, this work.
At present, it teaches some 150 courses a year throughout Spain.
Liturgical lector course
The Mass Reader Course "It is an intensive course, lasting three and a half hours. It contains a first part of an hour and a half in which I loosen up and relax the participants. After a 15-minute break, the second part begins, in which I focus on helping them, one by one, to make themselves heard and understood. And they succeed"..
A basic premise is, obviously, to have a certain daily reading habit. A point that is increasingly difficult to find, and not only in young people. Moreover, this personal daily reading, as Angel Manuel points out, will be much more effective if everyone who reads on a regular basis, "read a few minutes out loud. I do it every day as a professional"..
Angel Manuel Perez, who has been working with the voice all his professional life, is clear that in many occasions at present "the management of the spoken voice is totally neglected.".
For his students, he provides examples and simple habits to help them improve beyond the three intensive hours of his Mass lector course. "Something very useful." notes "for readers is for them to imitate a professional."a radio or television announcer.
In addition, once the course is completed, "To all the groups I send the Sunday readings read by me via WhatsApp. In this way, with the text and listening to me, they have a sure way to improve. I have more than twenty WhatsApp groups to which I send these audios every week. In total, about 300 people and I have more and more groups".
A key participation of the laity
On January 23, Sunday of the Word, Pope Francis granted the ministry of lector and acolyte to women. An opening that "will increase the recognition, also through a liturgical act (institution), of the precious contribution that for a long time many lay people, including women, have been making to the life and mission of the Church". and which shows that care in the proclamation of the Word of God, as Angel Manuel Perez emphasizes "it is an essential task for the participation of the laity.".