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{{vm.product.SpProduct.Article}} Beyond Reading
Advanced Training for Proclaimers of the Word of God

Douglas Leal

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Assemblies recognize the difference between a lector who simply reads and one who truly proclaims the Word of God. They perk up and take special notice when they sense that the lector has worked to get inside the text, to express the meaning authentically, and to draw them into the story. Douglas Leal has spent decades as a lector, lector trainer, actor, and director. He knows how to coach lectors beyond reading so they can become proclaimers of the Word. The conversational, spirited style of the book recreates the sense of a live training session with the author. In a magazine format, with running text surrounded by boxes that focus on a particular subjects and techniques, a tool from the actor’s toolbox, or an encouraging story from the world of acting, the book presents a wealth of wisdom and practical instruction that can carry a lector far beyond basic training. Chapter by chapter, Leal guides lectors to

  • Understand their role as sacred storytellers
  • Learn how to study the text closely: understand its style; notice its literary devices; consider its context in the Bible, the liturgical year, and the lectionary; use Scripture resources to arrive at its meaning; practice the text; and pray it
  • Work with their voice: articulation, tempo, rhythm, pauses, volume, and inflection
  • Develop comfort with nonverbal skills: eye contact, posture, and facial expression
  • Choose an intention appropriate to the text and responsive to the needs of the community
  • Understanding and expressing the true emotional content of the text
  • Staying focused on the text, cultivating authenticity and humility, and seeking feedback
  • Overcoming nervousness, mistakes, colds, and other unexpected problems
  • Developing a plan for practice and preparation
  • For years I have sought a practical guide to help lectors, deacons, and priests proclaim God’s Word. Douglas Leal’s Beyond Reading, Advanced Training for Proclaimers of the Word is exactly the book I have been waiting for. Grounded in an understanding of oral communication and in years of practice as an actor-teacher, the author presents ten topics that anyone proclaiming the Scriptures needs to consider, from preparing the text, to working on aspects of voice and physical presence, to recognizing difficulties in effective proclamation (such as stage fright), to developing a spirituality of living and communicating God’s Word. Each chapter ends with a helpful summary of central insights that become the basis for a checklist for assessing the effectiveness of a proclamation (found in the book’s appendix}. Filled with helpful anecdotes and focused exercises, it even provides an encouraging chapter addressed to those who train lectors. I hope Beyond Reading will become a standard reference in parishes and other worshiping communities as well as in lay, diaconal, and priestly programs of formation. It has my highest recommendation!

    —Fr. Jan Michael Joncas, artist in residence and research fellow in Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas

    This is the best book I know for helping readers understand the dynamics of public proclamation. The author’s sincere faith and theatrical expertise contribute to a unique book that will help all readers improve something about their ministry, deepen their spiritual lives, and become better persons.

    —Fr. Paul Turner, pastor, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Kansas City MO

    Director of the Office of Divine Worship, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

    Accessible, inviting, and theologically coherent, this book provides effective techniques for enabling lectors to convey to the faithful the life already present in the Scriptures. Douglas Leal’s clear, engaging prose conveys his conviction, rooted in long experience, that the resources of the acting profession can help turn ordinary readers into proclaimers of the Word. Good stories and particularly fitting examples from Scripture illumine his well-organized and helpful ideas and exercises.

    —Fr. Charles Gordon, CSC, Co-Director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture, University of Portland

    The Bible records the great stories of our faith tradition, originally told aloud with a passion that made them memorable. Yet strangely, when reading these stories to others, we often become reserved, even wooden—perhaps afraid of making a fool of ourselves. Can you imagine Christianity having taken root had St. Paul and his fellow evangelists delivered their message in monotones? Douglas Leal has crafted this guide using his experience as an actor to help bring life to our proclamations, clarifying that sometimes fine line between ‘hamming it up’ and a yawn-inducing drone. Experienced readers and novices alike will find inspiring insights and useful techniques. This guide could enliven any congregation’s lector training and improvement program.

    —Richard Wellerton, lector, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Vancouver, Washington

    Douglas Leal does a wonderful job of presenting theatre techniques that can help lectors proclaim the Word of God effectively. For each lector, it’s not so much about acting as about reacting to the powerful words of Scripture and giving voice to them in such a way that people can hear that power. This book will be a welcome addition to the formation of lectors.

    —Maripat Grant, coordinator, Office of Worship, Diocese of Erie; liturgy director, St. Mark the Evangelist Parish, Erie, PA

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