Whether you are a “newby” lector or a veteran of many years, you will certainly enjoy trying the preparation techniques in this book. Using any one of the 10 skills presented will make you a more dynamic proclaimer of the word -- which in turn will touch, transform, and indeed rouse the gathered assembly’s minds and hearts. Unlike any other lector training book, Stop Reading and Start Proclaiming! bases its approach on the art of acting. Actor, director, lector trainer, and workshop presenter Douglas Leal focuses each chapter on a concept such as voice or posture and includes practice exercises, sample readings, and extra fun stuff like “Tricks of the Trade,” “Traps,” and even a little theatre Trivia. Leal’s style is practical and lighthearted -- yet never loses sight of the importance of spiritual preparation and reverence in this ministry. As part of an ongoing lector formation process, practicing the methods in this book will transform “readers” into effective proclaimers of Scripture.
“[This] book reads most engagingly. It is well written, well organised and packed with insight, pastoral wisdom and practical examples which clearly illustrate the various points and clearly and easily draw the reader into an active exploration of the particular matters being discussed. Care has been taken in the presentation of the text to provoke the reader of the book from a relatively passive reading to a much more active engagement with what is presented. For example the ‘Take Note,’ ‘Traps,’ ‘Tricks of the Trade’ and ‘Trivia’ symbols effectively highlight sections. In addition each chapter ends with a summary section of ‘X important things to remember about ’: these are models of synthesis and clarity.” — Rev. Allen Morris, Liturgy Newsletter, Liturgy Office for England and Wales
Foreword by Gilbert Ostdiek, OFM
Be Passionate or Stay Home
— Working on Storytelling
It's All in the Text
— Working on Preparing the Text
Speak in a Loud, Clear Voice, and Try Not to Bump into the Altar
— Working on Voice
The Ambo Is Not a Radio
— Working on Physicalization
Everyone Has Their Own Isaiah
— Working on Intention
We're All Brothers and Sisters under the Skin
— Working on Emotion
Save the Ham for Dinner
— Working on Being Real
Nerves Are Your Body's Way of Showing You Care
— Working on Stage Fright and Other Annoyances
Practice, Practice, Practice - Then Get Out of the Way
— Putting It All Together
My Dear, You're Always On
— Living the Word with Your Life
One of the goals of the liturgical renewal has been to set a rich table of the word of God for worshipers. How can that word come alive and nourish the gathered assembly? Lectionary provision of biblical texts alone is insufficient to meet that goal. What is crucial is the role of effective proclaimers who can "speak to the weary a word that will rouse them" (Is 50:4). But how can they proclaim the word effectively if they are not well prepared for this ministry? And what should that preparation be? The Roman Catholic Lectionary for Mass: Introduction 55, for example, calls for preparation that is both spiritual and technical. In both of these areas a growing set of pastoral resources is becoming available for those who proclaim the word of God.
This volume is an excellent addition to these "guides for lectors" and ought to find a place on the shelves of everyone who proclaims the word. The particular perspective Douglas Leal brings to the technical aspect of lector preparation stems from his long experience as an actor, director, and lector. There are, his experience tells him, ten lessons proclaimers can learn from actors. In this book these lessons are cast in the form of practical techniques and exercises that can help a lector move beyond merely reading to truly proclaiming. The author guides the lector through a carefully designed progression of skill-building exercises and reflections. Each chapter leaves the reader with a useful summary of "important things to remember" and a sidebar of insightful "tricks of the trade."
Make no mistake. This is not a "quick fix" book for the faint-hearted. It lays out a demanding, long-term program that will help readers become more effective proclaimers of the word. Those who proclaim the word and those who prepare them for this ministry will be able to reap great benefits from Stop Reading and Start Proclaiming! Yet it is the assembly gathered to hear God's word proclaimed who will surely benefit the most. They deserve no less.
Gil Ostdiek, OFM
Professor of Liturgy, Catholic Theological Union
Chapter 1 (an excerpt)
Be Passionate or Stay Home
Working on Storytelling
Barry Levinson's film Avalon opens on a family gathered together for Thanksgiving dinner in 1948. Sam is telling his grandchildren and grandnieces and nephews the story of how he and his brothers immigrated to America. "I came to America in 1914," he begins. "It was the most beautiful place you've ever seen in your life." He tells how, as each brother arrived, he worked hard to make enough money to bring the next one over, until the entire family, including their father, was settled in America. He tells how they met the girls who would become their wives, how they married, lived, and, in some cases, died. In the midst of the story, his wife calls them in for dinner. "Sam," she says, "how many times do we have to hear this story. We know the story … we've heard it before." But Sam protests: "If you don't tell the children, they don't know. … If you stop remembering, you forget."
What Levinson has depicted so beautifully in this scene is, quite simply, liturgy. Like Sam's family, we gather together each Sunday around a table of thanksgiving. And before we share the meal, we listen to the story-our story-the story of our family: how we came to be, who our fathers and mothers were, how they lived, what they stood for, how they died. Our remembering them makes them present again. There's a Hebrew word for this, zikkaron, and this concept underpins not only the Eucharist but also most of the celebrations and liturgies in the Jewish calendar.
We make present again, especially in the Eucharist but also in the word, the Christ at the center of our community. The primary act of remembrance is, of course, the eucharistic meal. We follow Jesus' command to "do this in memory of me." But the meal we receive from the table of the word is a complement to the meal we receive from the table of the Eucharist. We gather together not only to celebrate a meal but to reconnect with who we are, and knowing who we are requires knowing where we come from, and knowing where we come from requires someone to tell our story.
The History of Our Story
The story we inherit stretches back to that day, many millennia ago, when someone rose up in the midst of their gathered tribe and began to tell the first story. Maybe the story told of the location of water, or food, or shelter. Maybe it warned of danger. In any case, it may have been the first instance of language moving beyond "I want" or "Do this" or "Run away" to telling about the past
Many stories were told and retold, but the ones that were kept the longest, the ones that really meant something, were the important stories: the stories of how things came to be the way they are, the stories of how people should act to preserve life and preserve the group, the stories of the ancestors who defined the group. Someone told the story of how the tribe came to be, what their identity was, what gave them their "us-ness" and what gave others their "them-ness."