Liturgy of the Word (Oct. 18)


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Theological Question

How does the Liturgy of the Word lead us to the table of the Eucharist?


The goal of this session is for students to learn what resources are available for forming lectors, shaping the homily, and catechizing on God’s Word.


Students will discuss the meanings and uses of “logos,” “word,” “Scripture,” “Bible,” “proclamation,” and “homily” in the context of liturgy.


Lector Training Resources
Lector-Homilist Faith Sharing Process


(after the class has been completed)

Idea starters

  • What are the three best things about the Liturgy of the Word in your parish?
  • What makes those elements strong?
  • What are the three things that most need improvement?
  • Write down a concrete next-action you can take to improve each item on your list.


  • Download this form, and evaluate the Liturgy of the Word in your parish.

Read (in preparation for Oct. 25)

 Posted by at 6:37 pm
  • Phan Nguyen

    Father Rey always uses his papers during the homilies. He carefully typed his essays on Sunday and and every day during the week. I once told him that I had to prepare 5 page essay for each ILM class. He told me he had to write 25 pages for each class in the seminary. This would scare all ILM students. No wonder a lot of people drop out from the seminary! We only have 11 seminarians in our diocese.

  • Phan Nguyen

    In last week class, we had a discussion about the flow of the Mass and when we can interrupt the flow in order to insert an important announcement. It is a hard decision because the Church tells us not to disrupt the flow of the Mass and yet we want the announcement to be heard by everyone, including those who tend to come late and leave a little early. So I think it is up to the priest and the parish ministers.

    At Queen of Apostles Church, we have three places we add extra announcements or some things not related to ritual language. First, the welcoming message happens after the procession of the priest, lectors and altar servers towards the sanctuary of the church. When the gathering song ends, the priest welcomes the assembly and especially visitors from outside of the parish. Visitors are asked to tell where they come from and they are reminded that our church is our home and also their home. We have had visitors coming from all over the world. The second place where non-liturgical language is inserted is after the reading of the Gospel and before the homily. Only the bishop’s messages are presented here. It could be a video clip or a letter to be read. If the message happens to be long, then the homily is shorten. The third place where extra messages are included is after the last prayer and before the final blessing. This is when the parish’s announcements are read, then follows by short messages from guest speakers.

    On the first Sunday of the month, the priest asks for those who celebrate birthday in that month to step forward, standing on the sanctuary facing the assembly. The priest stands with the congregation reads the prayer and gives the blessing to the birthday people. After the birthday blessing is the anniversary blessing. Couples who celebrate their anniversary during the month are asked to stand on the sanctuary facing the assembly to receive prayer and blessing. In both blessings, the congregation is asked to raise hands towards the receivers.

    We have been keeping this custom for many years, at least for 30 years during my stay at Queen of the Apostles parish.

  • Mariann

    Reading the textbooks and materials about introduction to the order of Mass, I enjoyed to reading the Liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist because it is two important parts of the Mass. After learning and discussion in class, I understand more the definition of a flow in the Liturgy. The liturgy of the World is God call us to faith when we listen to His Word. In spirit, God speaks to us and help us to prepare for second part, the Liturgy of Eucharist and the homily is connect between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but sometimes the homily serves weak for unrepaired or joke to distracted during the homily and cannot help us to remember the Gospel on that day. The homily is an integral part of the liturgy and a necessary source for our lives because the homily is the mysteries of the faith. The one who gives the good homily will help us to concentrate to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The purpose of the homily is to help us understand God’s word for our faith, and we practice what we hear to act in the world. I believe that when the homily gives well, we receive too many faithful in our lives and good relationship with God and others.
    Thank you for the Liturgy class, this class helps me understand what I learn and discuss in each class can help me pay attention when I participant in the entire celebration Mass, proclamation of the word, listen to the homily, and continue of the celebration. I went to daily mass in the morning and looked at it how everything flowed and ask myself if is really flows. I hope I make my life the witness of God present and daily mass as to deeper relationship with God , then go out to the world and tell the goodness of the Lord to the people.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Mike. You have done another fine job of summarizing our discussion. Thanks for giving us such a comprehensive overview. I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the class.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Phan. You have very clearly identified the places where non-liturgical language is usually inserted in Sunday liturgies. I would guess your description would fit most parishes. As I said below, some of this is necessary, and we have to use careful pastoral judgement about when to use non-liturgical language. Thanks for such a clear description.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Mariann. I’m glad to hear that you are paying attention to the flow of the Mass and asking yourself if the liturgy really flows. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this and on the purpose of the liturgy of the word.

  • Diana-Lynn Inderhees

    It is a joy to attend the classes and be exposed to the liturgy at a much deeper level than the task of making sure everything is in place for the liturgy. The class is over my head but what I have learned and will learn can only make me a better liturgy coordinator and will help me to participate more fully in the Mass. This week the definition of “Ordinary” was insightful. Since learning it means ” in order” it will change the way the environment will be done at my church during Ordinary time. Since my husband and children were Lectors as children, I am on the side of children being Lectors. You have to have a gift for being able to speak in front of people. My children were very good at Proclaiming the Word. They did attend Catholic Schools and were taught correctly. Children/youth do have to be trained. It is a way for youth to participate. They may not understand at times what they are reading but they do know it is the word of God.

  • Tim Logan

    A real lively discussion this night, again I have such excellent classmates who bring out things that spark my interest and enhance my learning experience. Of all the discussions we had the one that I think surprised many was what Nick brought up about the use of the Christmas Story of Luke and how many like to use this on the vigil or morning mass. It is a very pretty story of the birth of our Lord and I’m sure many see it as such. Nick reminded us, that it was also a story of the Word made flesh, to be eaten after his death. The manger is use to feed the sheep/lambs and the wrapping in swaddling is the wrapping in burial cloth. Very interesting, I myself have focused on the announcement of the shepherds in the field, this great heralding of the King of kings to people who were consider to be on the bottom of the social standards in Israel and they were the first (outside of Mary and Joseph) to be let on to this “secret” of the Christ being born in their back yard. Filled with the Holy Spirit and despite their fear, they when to the stable to give homage to the new born King. The richness of our Liturgy must be proclaimed, not hidden by trapping of worldly sparkle and glitter. In it’s depths we find the “food” of faith, that enriches us beyond any worldly gold and gives drive to a faith driven life constantly fulfilled in God’s love.

  • Lerma Simpson

    Every time I come to class, I get an “Ah ha” moment. The topics and discussions open my eyes to see the significance of parts of the liturgy that my thoughts say, “Yes; I see, but I have never given it much thought about it in that manner before!” The close relationship between the ambo and the altar brings this to mind. Jesus is present among us as the Word of God is proclaimed at the ambo. Jesus is alive, and we encounter him, each in our own personal way, as he speaks about the mystery of God’s love revealed in the Scriptures. Our personal encounter with Jesus continues at the altar as we become witness and take part in the preparation of his perfect sacrifice. He offers us and invites us, his disciples, to receive his Body and Blood. Through the living Word, Jesus nourishes our minds; through his Body and Blood, Jesus nourishes our souls. By doing so, we become Jesus to others in our thoughts and actions. We become the living Word in our lives by revealing Jesus to others, and we sacrifice our own bodies as we visit the sick, help the poor and the homeless, minister to those longing to know God, and in other ways in which we love and serve the Lord. I long to hear what Jesus has to say to me this Sunday at Mass and to receive his Body and Blood once again so that I can have the strength and courage to live out his mission in the days ahead.

  • Yolanda C Garcia

    The Word of God. Such small words in print, but what the Word of God brings to my life is beyond small. I have come to realize as I get older as to the reasons that I not only need but want to go to Mass each Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist, and during other days of the week when I’m off from work. I realize more than ever is I GET to go to Mass, rather than I have to. It’s the Word of God that I crave and, of course, participating in the Sacrament of Communion. I look forward to the proclamation of what God’s story is for me for the following week. What astounds me is that God is ever present in our liturgy and then He takes the ambo through our priest to give us some good news. God himself is speaking to us and Christ through the Gospel. I listen to the Word of God with reverence and stillness. Sometimes I don’t receive the entire message because of the way it was written, so then I look forward to listening to Father Tito explain in more detail about what God is trying to convey to me (his people). We just got a new ambo in our parish and it fits well near the Table of the Lord. It is slightly elevated and the readings and the Word of God is proclaimed very well from there. Getting back to the Homily; the Homily is important to the faithful so that the mysteries contained in the Word can be more thoroughly explained. We need to hear the explanation of the Word through the Homily so that we can live a more fully Christian life. My pastor, through his Homily, gives me some guiding principles and knowledge of The Word of God so that I can be a better Christian than I was yesterday, or the week before. The Word of God and the Homily that follows work together to give me a kind of nourishment for the coming week. The proclamation of The Word of God is essential every week for my spiritual survival and it keeps me alive in my Christian faith. Praise God Forever!

  • Annette Mo

    I just spent the last 2 weeks on a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and renewed my commitment to my faith by visiting places where Jesus walked during his time on earth. This was quite a humbling experience.

    The pilgrimage to me became like a 10-day celebration of the liturgy. We travelled from Jordan to Israel, reliving the stories of the old testament to the new testament, from the time of Moses to the ascension of Jesus Christ. We visited places like Mt. Nebo, where Moses stood to see the promised land that he never reached. We went to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, to Nazareth and Jerusalem where he grew up, preached and performed miracles. We witnessed the site where Jesus ascended to Heaven. The pilgrimage was like celebrating a mass. We sang praises to God in the different churches and locations we visited. We read the Word of God, we read/listened to the stories of old testament and the new testament. We experienced Jesus in our midst as we walked through the different sites, and placed those sites in the bible readings/stories. The culmination of the pilgrimage for me was the visit to the tomb of Jesus. A mixture of emotions came over me. The anticipation and excitement of being able to be where Jesus was entombed then rose from the dead. The fear of not being deserving of Christ’s goodness and redemption. The gratitude of being redeemed. The overwhelming realization of Jesus’ humanity and divinity. This to me was like celebrating the liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for me. We completed our ten day pilgrimage with a mass at the Church of St. Peter. A mass of thanksgiving for our experience and encounter with Christ. Thirty men and women pilgrims seeking to follow Jesus’ footsteps went as strangers, encountered Christ throughout the ten days, and came home as one family of God, ready to evangelize as new disciples of Jesus Christ.

  • Melby Sanchez

    This week we discussed the continuous flow in the Liturgy – both in the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist. The Mass has a beautiful flow and that everything that happens in the Mass is a relationship with Jesus. That the story of Jesus becomes clear to us.
    This past Sunday was the first family/children Mass in my Parish. Once a month, the children choir sings in the celebration of the Mass. ?It is always nice to see the Church filled with parishioners early. The children sang beautifully and lit up the whole community. Their music was so lively that it had it had allowed a nice flow of the Liturgy. The parents followed suit with a clear proclamation the Word of God. A seminarian gave the reflection after the reading of the Gospel. He invited the children to gather at the sanctuary facing the Assembly He started his reflection by asking what they thought about when going to Mass. The children answered actively. He also talked about how parents and everyone in the assembly should prepare themselves as they get ready to go to church on Sunday. He connected this preparation to the gospel. It was an effective illustration of how the Sunday’s gospel and the “homily” were connected to each other and to people’s lives. It really was a well prepared “homily”. As we learned about the flow in the liturgy of the Word, this week’s celebration was all in there– from the entrance rite, to the readings, to the homily. It has given me a deeper understanding of the word proclaimed in the Liturgy, the word made alive in people’s lives and the Word made flesh, Jesus the Son of God.

  • Carmen Macias

    Nick, last week you brought to our attention the birth of Jesus Christ. Which you pointed out a different view of this joyous and wonderful event. It was a revelation for me. Yes, the shepherds were the first to hear of this birth, they were the poorest of the poorest, and this was Jesus flock would attract to listen and follow him. Wrapped in swaddling clothes; this was a sign/symbol of what was to come, his death for when he died he was wrapped in linen cloth. The manger was an eating trough for the sheep, this was another symbol, which Jesus, was of the working class people. The shepherds and their flock of sheep where welcomed into the stable/home, and as in today’s society when there is a birth you want to share something with the family, the shepherds only gift to the family was themselves and their sheep; this was all they had to contribute, and they were accepted as they were. This is similar to our every day of living, where many people are craving for acknowledgement by today’s society.

  • Reina Hollero

    Last week during class, we talked about how we first encounter the Word of God in the beginning. We learned that it is always a living word that speaks to us to have a continuous, deep relationship with Him. Mass readings feel as if God is talking to us and telling a story; these words nourish our hunger. You are filled with His grace and feel ready to go out into the world with a strong faith. The Word of God is all that we need.
    After reading the assignment about the introduction to the order of Mass, and the insights and questions that were mentioned in class, it made me become more observant in the celebration of Mass in our parish. I now understand the significance of standing, sitting and kneeling, the design and use of Ambo, the Books that should be carried in procession, how the readings are chosen, and the sequence and all important resources needed to celebrate a mass. I learned a lot of information that I didn’t usually pay attention to before and now; I’m interested to learn more about this throughout the rest of this course.

  • Annabel Tomacder-Ruiz

    Reading the article, “Music In Catholic Worship,” had me thinking
    about the different choirs in my parish.
    The article mentioned how faith can either grow or diminish depending on
    how the mass is celebrated. To me, music
    helps me in increasing my faith; a phrase or a certain word to a song can give
    me the encouragement I need at that very moment. I find that the Holy Spirit
    moves me through song. Participating in
    the choir and going to choir practices have given me a glimpse into how the
    music director selects the songs each week.
    She chooses songs carefully to fit the readings and the gospel. Music adds a great dimension to the mass
    celebration. This past weekend, we had
    the children’s mass. It was nice to hear
    two young girls sing the responsorial psalm; they went up to the ambo with such
    confidence and sang their hearts out. Watching
    them made me want to sing along with them; it is a testimony to increasing my

  • Ken Louie

    To me at times Mass can be rythmic as poetry or as a gentle meandering stream. It starts with the processional entrance song such as All Are Welcome, which leads into they rhythmic stories of God’s salvation for us, and then finally an invitation to the the banquet of the Lord to share in his body and blood.

    Hymns and songs selection is wonderful.
    Songs and responses are projected instead of fumbling around looking in the missal and practically erveyone participates

    Flow. There is always motion, unless there is a pause for silence, a like a gentle stream from the procession to the readers to the ambo to the responsal hymn.

    Lectors proclaim the Word clearly.
    Lectors are provided the “Workbook for Lectors and Gospel Readers, and Proclaimers of the Word” which help them understand the reading in context and with pronunciation.

    For improvement, the Eucharistic Ministers can get to thier positions quicker as sometime there seems to be confusion on where to go due to last minute changes. Sometimes the gifts bringers don’t get the indication to start which cuases a delay and perhaps more training can be offered.

    Lastly the projected slides come up slowly and perhaps a new minstry of slide changer would help :)

  • Nick Wagner

    Thanks for your thoughts Tim. The beautiful and powerful thing about scripture is that it has a multitude of interlocking and overlapping meanings. I’m glad you pointed out another for us.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Lerma. This is a beautiful reflection. I resonate with your comment that you long to hear what Jesus has to say to you each Sunday. If we are celebrating the liturgy well, that longing should become evident in all of our parishioners. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Yolanda. It think it is interesting that both you and Lerma commented on the need and want (the longing) for the experience of Jesus we have in the Mass. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy speaks about the multiple presences of Christ. Like you, I think this is astounding. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. (PS If you can, please post a picture of your new ambo!)

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Annette. Wow, you really did walk through the liturgy! What a powerful experience. I imagine a trip like that would change the way you experience ordinary Sunday Mass. Thanks for bringing us into part of your journey.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Melby. This is a fine reflection on how the principles of the liturgy we have been discussing are applied in your parish. I’m glad you noticed the flow of the liturgy. If the liturgy is going well, most people *don’t* notice it because everything is going smoothly. If you can see how the flow is working well, that will help you make sure your parish continues to celebrate liturgy well in the future. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Brigitte Chenevier-Donkers

    This past Sunday liturgy was beautiful. It was nice to see the congregation involved in the signing and prayers. Before mass, there was practice of some of the songs and the worlds were projected on two sides during mass for better participation. Usually, there are more people at the 6pm Sunday mass but if you had closed your eyes you would not have know since many were very engaged. Father John celebrated the mass and he is not from the Holy Spirit parish. He gave plenty of time for silence for private reflection and his homily reflected life experience of the community. He related well with us. I welcome you to join me at Holy Spirit and experience the beautiful welcoming Catholic Christian community we have.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Carmen. This is a beautiful reflection on the nativity story. I really like how you connected it to every day life today. It’s a great story, full of lots of meaning and symbolism. Thanks for giving us more insight into it.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Reina. Wow, you are really gaining a lot of new insight. That’s terrific to hear. There is always so much more to the Mass than we are able to comprehend. I’m glad you are able to observe some of the deeper significance of the liturgy. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nick Wagner

    Hi Annabel. Music in Catholic Worship is a wonderful document. It has a lot of good teaching about the Mass, and not just for musicians. I’m glad it helped you think more about the different choirs in your parish. Thanks for giving us this reflection on your experience.

  • Tim Logan

    As I read my classmates comments, it comes to me that this is why we cycle through the Word in our Liturgy. As Lerma said that “Ah ha” moment when something clicked from the readings or for some something in the flow of the Liturgy or in our daily life or live it for 10 days or in our hunger for the gift of life in the Eucharist, or just the simple joy of hearing it from two little girls singing the responsorial psalm. Each one of my classmates experience a different facet of the Liturgy, which enriched all of us by their telling. This is the way of the Word, patience, waiting, loving for that moment when it opens our eyes to God’s great love.

  • Irene Dela Cruz

    The saying that “Ignorance is a bliss” can’t be any further
    from the truth the past few weeks since we began the Liturgy class. “Bliss” is
    getting a deeper understanding of the sacredness of the Mass. It is being
    emboldened by learning about the Ritual Language, this Ritual drama. It is being able to participate in a Mass and recognize what it is, understanding why the Word of God is not announced in only one way, and fully comprehending why the form or the language of the
    Liturgy must be respected, making us appreciate the celebration more than ever,
    which ultimately leads us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.
    Last Sunday’s Mass was a case in point. It has been said
    that the celebration of the Liturgy will not always stir the hearts of the
    participants with the same efficacy, but stir me, it did. The priest evidently
    spent time working on the homily, tying the First and Second Reading to the
    Gospel, to his own life and ultimately to the life of the community. He started by saying how as a young boy he has enjoyed playing jigsaw puzzle and that he was not able to make sense of a
    single puzzle without knowing what the bigger picture was. So much like the
    plan God has in the First Reading for his people, and the call for unwavering
    faith in the Second Reading, it all points to the bigger picture that God has
    for us. Following his thought processes, he said that the Gospel was not about
    the separation of the church and state, but rather it is Jesus telling us that
    everything belongs to God and that He uses whatever means to make His plans
    work for us. We may not understand what is going on with our lives, but we are asked to have faith in Him knowing that his plans are for good and not for evil. Our faith should be one of an expectant faith.

  • Frank Nguyen

    I think my parish has a wonderful Lector coordinator. She makes sure that the assigned lectors for the Sunday Masses have all information ahead of time, even when she is traveling. The lectors are teamed up and we take turn on monthly basis. She trains new lectors on a one-on-one basis, then we have refresher once a while. Within the team, we take turns to do either the first reading and intercessions or the second reading. It works out well for me at least. If the assigned lector can’t make it, he/she needs to find a substitute and since we all know each other, that normally has no problem. Rarely we have only one lector for all the readings. The ambo microphone is quite sensitive so it picks up well and the congregation can hear the readings and homilies clearly.

    Last June, our only part-time music coordinator/choir director had a new job offer and decided to leave us so until now we don’t have a replacement. We even sometimes struggle to find an accompanist for a particular choir. The song lyrics are projected to both screens for everyone to sing along. However, sometimes the songs are new so there is not so much participation. Last Sunday Mass, there was a typo on one of the projected slides caused many to be distracted. However, it was corrected afterwards.

    The 8AM Sunday Mass choir does not have many members and the two front hanging microphones were not sensitive so the choir is not heard well in the last few back rows. To improve the sound quality for the choir at 8AM Sunday Masses, I bring my personal mixer and add two more condenser microphones for the choir. I also add a little more sound effects so the sound is not too dry. The new digital mixer has its own WiFi, so I can control it from the pew when necessary.

    As I was baptized in 1992, I did not even know there was a different order of readings until I read the Introduction of the Lectionary For Mass. I wonder how the reading orders are different and am interested to see the 1962 Missale Romanum.

    As I often help with Mass for retreats, we don’t normally have an ambo to set up for the outdoor Masses. We normally just try to put a music stand for the readings. Knowing now the importance and dignity of the ambo, I surely pay more attention to have one in place for outdoor Masses.

  • Barb Villano

    As a Lector, what struck me from the readings for the class, was the teaching of Sacred Scriptures being of the “greatest” importance of the liturgy, #24 in the Constitution. Of course, I knew that, but reading it made me more aware of its status. I saw the ministry of Lector from a different perspective, one with more responsibility than just using good posture and speaking with a clear voice. From the placement of the ambo, to the effort put in to distinguish it as a special place, reserved for the readings, and for the rules governing how to show reverence for the book of Gospels, they make more sense when realizing the importance of the Scripture in the Liturgy of the Word. While the Lector coordinators in our parish have done a good job and made a difference the past couple of years with annual training sessions, these reading assignments were more revealing to me of the importance of the Liturgy of the Word in the Mass and the Lector’s contribution.