Brother Bede Instituted as Reader

On 6th January Abbot Dominic instituted Brother Bede as a Reader in the Church. This ceremony is part of the preparation for ordination by all priests and deacons. The institution as Reader is a short and simple ceremony but a significant one.

What is a Reader?

In the Catholic Church ‘Reader’ is a ministry or service to the Church. A Reader is appointed to read the word of God in the liturgical assembly. Before 1972, Reader was one of the ‘minor orders’ on the path to priesthood. Pope Paul VI reformed the formation process, removing minor orders and replacing two of them, Reader and Acolyte, with ministries. These ministries are now open to lay people as well as candidates for the priesthood; since 2021, they have also been open to women.

What is the Ceremony for the Institution of Readers?

The institution of a Reader is a simple ceremony that can be carried out either within Mass or at another celebration of the word of God. For monks, the person presiding at the ceremony is the Abbot; in parish churches it would be the bishop. (Groups such as Franciscans, Dominicans, or Carmelites, would be enrolled by their provincial superior.)

After the readings and homily the candidate sits in front of the Abbot, who then speaks about the duties of the Reader. Then there are some prayers, and the Abbot gives the reader a bible.

When Pope Paul VI brought in the ministry of Reader he said the reader ‘is to meditate assiduously on sacred Scripture.’ This, of course, is something that monks always do anyway.

The Mass then carries on as normal.

What Happened to Minor Orders?

The minor orders were Porter, Reader, Exorcist, and Acolyte. Originally, they were open to most members of the Church but over time they were restricted to those on the path to the priesthood. After minor orders the person would usually progress to the major orders of Subdeacon, Deacon, and Priest. Now Reader and Acolyte are again open to most members of the Church, while Porter is no longer an official title, and Exorcist is included in the functions of the ordained clergy.

At the same time as minor orders were replaced, the major order of Subdeacon was also merged into the order of Deacon.

You can read more about the minor orders here. This is taken from the Catholic Encyclopaedia of the early 20th century.