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Paul Schlachter
lector preparation

Paul J. Schlachter has participated in the lector ministry for 50 years, and is very happy to share his lector preparation tips.  He lives in Miami, Florida.

Click the chevron banners to read his tips for this Sunday’s readings:

Job 38:1, 8-11

Central point: There are mysteries in our experience beyond our ability to grasp them.  In an age of ever-increasing discoveries we must keep in mind the primordial discovery of humanity – that the world we live in surpasses our ability to fully understand it.

Message for our assembly: God is the master.  We have become far better at dirtying and destroying all that we touch, including the oceans.  We need to recover some of the awe our ancestors felt in the presence of the creation.

I will challenge myself: To do justice to the ancient mythic story by echoing the timeless rhythm of the waves that is captured so well in the English translation.

  • Some of my more alert listeners will hear me say: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and recall the lines from The Da Vinci Code novel and the feature film based on it.  That is good, as long as I have said them in the decisive context that God spoke them to Job, that suffering man who demanded reasons.
  • God gives him no reasons.  The Lord addressed Job out of the storm.  In our very shortened version of God’s challenge to Job, we do not hear the opening words that evoke eternity and put mortals in their place: Who is this?  The sense of God’s intervention is this: who are we to question, who are we to challenge, the eternal designs?  I want to convey a taste of this unreachable realm to the congregation, just as the disciples of Jesus will wonder about their master in today’s Gospel after he calms the winds and the sea.
  • The book of Job contains the most stunning poetic images in all the Bible.  I hear a tiny part of them here and I will do them honors.  For example, the hissing of the waves is unmistakable in all those ‘s’ sounds: Who shut within doors the sea?  And their abrupt stop, in the command to come thus far but no farther.
  • We are hearing a mythic version of the birth of the sea, with the mention of womb and swaddling bands.  We also hear a kind of taming of a wild beast: shut within doors, set limits for it, fastened the bar.
  • I hear the finality of the last words: here shall your proud waves be stilled!  And I will lend the same finality to my own retelling.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Climax: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.

The message for our assembly: We absolutely do not have to know Jesus by personal acquaintance or by historical study; we have to encounter him as Christ in the church and in the Gospels that the church prepared for us.

I will challenge myself: To recover in my retelling some of that hunger the apostle felt as he sought the right words to capture the wonderful things that motivated his missionary activity.

  • With readings like this I am grateful for the regular opening Brothers and sisters, because it allows me to get my voice ready for the opening words, The love of Christ impels us.  For his part, the apostle meant them as his personal response to a series of salvation events involving us all: I must evangelize because of the wonderful things that have happened to us.  They can also stand alone, as they often do in sermons and spiritual books.  I think that I need to let them stand alone, or else my listeners will forget them.  I also think that I have to say them without finality, admitting the connection with the words that follow.
  • I hear another closely reasoned argument from the apostle, and I must take my time for the sake of the congregation.  I recall that these letters were dictated in an age of oral supremacy, when people did not erase or cross out or delete as they proceeded.  There is an air of an innovator thinking out loud as he speaks to his audience, re-phrasing and clarifying the meaning.  Listen: One died for all; therefore, all have died.  He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves.  An active search for the right phrasing—that is the way I would interpret this section.
  • I sympathize a lot with the scholarly writing that searches for a historical Jesus of Nazareth.  We are creatures of history and think in those terms.  But the best argument against the historical Jesus approach comes right here.  For the apostle it would be a most insufficient way to get to know Jesus.  Even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer.  Why?  Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.  This is the approach of the four Gospels, too: to appreciate Christ in the light of his resurrection.
  • Behold, new things have come.  So the passage ends.  How can I say it so that the congregation consciously adopts the awareness of a new creation and accordingly prepares for conversion once again?  My own conviction about the radical change in our lives may help them a great deal.
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Lisa St. Romaine

Lisa is a lector at her Catholic parish in Kansas. VIEW HER BIO

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Gregory Warnusz

Sunday Lector’s Notes

A website for the prepared lector (and listener) since 1999

Job 38:1, 8-11

The Book of Job tackles the age-old question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. The character Job and four friends debate it for 31 chapters. Then God speaks.


LITURGICAL SETTING: On a superficial level, this is about storms. It’s God talking from within a storm about how God harnesses nature’s power. It’s in the lectionary today because the gospel is also about a storm. But the Book of Job is too interesting for us to let it go at that. So …

LITERARY SETTING: This is a book of the Wisdom tradition, of uncertain provenance. Among its purposes is to vanquish one of the naive assumptions of all religions, that God always rewards the good. Here’s the setup: There was “a blameless and upright man named Job, who feared God and avoided evil.” But Satan makes a bet with the Lord, that Job can be made to curse God if Satan is permitted to take away the things that make Job happy. Seriously, that’s how the book starts.

You know much of the rest, how Job gradually loses all that is dear to him. A trio of friends visit and propose that Job must be guilty of a sin, not publicly known, that has caused him to lose favor with God. Job denies this, and a long, nuanced discussion follows. Each friend speaks three times, and Job responds to each speech. In every speech, a friend tries to convict Job, and then Job vindicates himself. After thirty-one chapters, the prosecutorial friends are silenced, and Job has honestly questioned the fairness of God. This prompts a fourth visitor, named Elihu, to enter the conversation. He is dismayed that the three others had not defeated Job in the argument, and angry that Job considered himself, not God, to be in the right. Elihu gives a great speech in defense of God’s righteousness. He describes God’s power manifest in nature, especially in storms.

If using the NAB (in the U.S.A.), note the “boughs” rhymes with “cows.” (How did you sing that line from the nursery rhyme, “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall”?) The other little-used word in this translation is “stunts,” so say “stunts tall trees” distinctly. Speech and singing teachers call those letters T “dentals.” When you practice, you should feel the tip of your tongue pop off the gum behind your upper front teeth. I emphasize this because unusual words, pronounced clearly, get peoples’ attention.

THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT: Thus the whole book is a powerful statement that God’s ways are not ours, that God does not simply reward all good behavior and punish all sin, that the mind of God is often unknown to us, and that human suffering is not all punishment due to sin. We could say that the book prepares the world for Isaiah, chapters 40-55, where the Suffering Servant poems make explicit the hope that good for others can come out the sufferings of an innocent person. That, in turn, prepares the world for the good news of Jesus.

PROCLAIMING IT: Now you have the original context of today’s first reading. To use it only to create an echo of the day’s gospel reading seems to trivialize it. The lector should be faithful to the text, even if that puts the lector on higher ground than the editors of the lectionary. In this proclamation, yours is the voice of the Lord, the Lord demonstrating transcendence over all human argumentation. You are the Lord, sarcastically asking your questioners, “Where were you when I founded the earth?” You are the Lord barking orders to the sea itself (to the ancients, the most mysterious and terrifying natural element), “Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!”

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Writing to a church and a city troubled by rivalries and quick judgments, Saint Paul calls them to much higher standards for very new reasons.


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: What we know about Paul’s relationship to the community in Corinth suggests we interpret this passage narrowly and personally. That is, it may be just about that relationship. On the other hand, Paul is the master of seeing the personal in terms of the divine, of addressing the particular from a cosmic point of view. Let’s see how he does that here.

Corinth was not an easy place to start a church. It was Greek and a seaport, a cosmopolitan place where multiple Greek philosophies and religions were current, and where seaport morals were common. Yet some had received the gospel enthusiastically from Paul, as the better known First Letter to the Corinthians shows. In this lively community some members were prone to be competitive and to judge each other harshly. Indeed some judged Paul himself harshly, particularly when he canceled a planned trip to Corinth in order to attend to matters he judged more pressing.

APPLYING PAUL’S THEOLOGY TO THE CURRENT HISTORY: Paul has already introduced his distinction between the flesh and the spirit. Here the flesh means more than the locus of sexual desires, but all the egoistic and egotistic tendencies by which people live as if they do not need God. Paul believes baptism changes all that. The formerly fleshly person has died to that way of life (baptism, remember, is a burial with Christ, and a rising with Him to new life, ceremoniously obvious if one is fully immersed in the waters of baptism, especially at Easter). This change in Christians changes:

  • their fundamental orientation, in that the baptized no longer live for themselves, but for Christ (who for their sake was first to die and be raised), and
  • their regard for others, in that they no longer think of each other as competitors, but as co-members of a new creation.

These are the reasons Paul can insist that the Corinthians stop living just for themselves, stop judging each other “according to the flesh.” (Even here, Paul inserts a personal note, acknowledging that he once knew Christ according to the flesh. Remember Paul originally thought Jesus an impostor and his followers dangerous apostates worthy of persecution.)

PROCLAIMING IT:  All that only takes you a short way toward making a clear proclamation. These are complicated sentences, with clauses dangling from clauses, and pronouns with uncertain antecedents. If you remember from your school days how to diagram sentences, you might try it on these. In any case, speak slowly, pause where the commas are (or should be), change your tone of voice clause by clause.

Gregory Warnusz

Hear and Read Sunday’s Scriptures Like a Leader

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Prayers of the Faithful

Association of Catholics in Ireland
Prayers are updated each Thursday for the following Sunday.
  • Prayer of the Faithful
    on Thursday, June 10, 2021

    Prayer of the Faithful - This Sunday The post Prayer of the Faithful appeared first on Association of Catholics in Ireland.

Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario

Sunday Prayers of the Faithful Links

Download links for .DOC files which can be adapted to meet your own needs. Each file contains Invitation to Prayer, Concluding Prayer, and two sets of petitions. The second set is especially appropriate where the spread of COVID virus is rampant and Church attendance is severely restricted.

Priests for Life

Resources for Sunday

Each week Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life, provides resources containing General Intercessions, a one-paragraph bulletin insert, and suggestions for drawing pro-life themes out of the Sunday readings for the homily.

Priests for Life is the largest Catholic-inspired Prolife Ministry and is highly regarded.