‘Instruments in forming the faithful’

Three new lectors were instituted by Archbishop Cushley on 12th April. Below, you can read his homily and see some photos from the Mass.

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On Thursday 12th April 2018, Archbishop Leo Cushley of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh instituted three new lectors at the Pontifical Scots College. Joshua Moir, Kevin Rennie and Edward Toner are in their third year of formation at the College; in their ministry, they will be called to read at Mass and catechise the faithful.

During the Mass, each lector was gifted a Bible from the College community, emphasising the central role the Word of God should have in their lives.

‘Instruments in forming the faithful’

Archbishop Cushley presided at the Mass, at which Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow concelebrated alongside the formation staff and Fr Paul Denney, an alumnus of the College who was ordained in December 2017.

Below is a copy of Archbishop Cushley’s homily.

My dear sons, Edward, Kevin, Josh,IMG_1368

This evening you are to complete a small but significant step in your training, as you are raised to the dignity of reader.

Now, if you were listening, I just talked of you taking a new “step”, of being “raised” and of “dignity”. This is a kind of language that we don’t use much anymore, and that sounds to our modern ears a little old-fashioned, even a little pompous or proud. And yet, in the real world, when people get a better job, or start making more money, we talk of them getting a “promotion”, we talk of them “going up in the world”, or of their “upward mobility”. And in the ancient world, where the Church gets this kind of language, they too talked of “moving forward” or “moving up”. Having said that, though, in the Roman world, not even Julius Caesar could go straight to being Consul: everyone had to start somewhere, and everyone had to start on the first step. And, standing on that step for a while, and learning about it, and practising it, you could then present yourself for the next office, and then go up another step; and if elected or chosen to proceed, you moved up to a more senior office again, in other words, as if you were taking another step up a stairway.

The Church still employs this cursus, this process, in instituting you to the ministries of reader and acolyte and in promoting you in due course to Holy Orders. So, tonight is a step in a well-thought-out set of steps, that leads to the top of the stairs, that is to the ministerial priesthood. But getting there is done gradually, and that means, literally, step by step, slowly, deliberately, over time and with time, so that you learn the task at hand, gain experience and build upon it, and so that the step after that can be taken more confidently.

This gradual, measured way of doing things, the Church imports from the ancient world. What the Church does not import however, is the worldly pride that goes with these “promotions”. If she talks of your “promotion”, she means that you are moving on to ever greater service, not command of others. If she talks of your “dignity”, she means you standing on that step and learning of the duty, of the responsibility that you have, at that level, on that step, so that you fulfill, soberly and to the best of your ability, the task at hand. Dignity isn’t about what people think about you, never mind what you think about yourself. Dignity is about understanding your duty and about fulfilling energetically and with a clear conscience the task entrusted to you by the Church, and always in a spirit of service.

All the ministries you will receive before being ordained to the sacred priesthood contain an essential component of what it is to be a dedicated and effective priest, your final goal. Thus, as a reader, your task will be to proclaim the Word in the liturgical assembly and to catechize the faithful. You must also learn about the centrality of the Word of God, for you, for the Church, and for your brothers and sisters.

The Word of God is full of power. It is the means by which God formed Israel into His own People. As they journeyed through the wilderness, they listened to God’s Word. On their way to the promised land, the People of God became a people, because they were drawn together and formed by the Word. That formative role of the Word is seen again, and is real and effective every day, in our liturgical assembly. And it will happen again, as you proclaim God’s Word to your brothers and sisters. Thus, as readers, you will stand in the midst of the assembly, and you will proclaim the Word which forms them into the People of God.

Later, as deacons, you will proclaim the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ; and as priests you will offer the Word made flesh in sacrifice to the Father in the Eucharist. But, even now, consider how essential is the task of proclaiming God’s Word in the Eucharistic assembly. Consider how essential the place of a reader is, and the dignity, or step, upon which the Church now places you. We here all understand that this is only the first step, but it will let you see, understand and practise a role essential to the Holy Orders to which you ultimately aspire.

From now on, therefore, in your proclamation of the Word in the Assembly, be an instrument in forming the faithful into God’s Holy People; understand the essential dignity of what is now demanded of you by God’s Church; and fulfill the ministry of reader with dignity and competence, so that, one day, you will be worthy to mount the step which finally brings you to God’s service in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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