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Is the ambo for liturgical readings only?

Q. Our pastor has just taken the step of allowing lay parishioners called "commentators" to make announcements from the ambo prior to the start of Mass. Previously, these commentators always used the microphone of the choir to welcome parishioners and introduce visitors.

I was under the impression that the ambo could be used only for the scriptural readings, homily and the petitions during the prayer of the faithful. May the ambo be used for announcements before Mass begins? (Wichita, Kan.)

A. First, some definitions. The word "ambo" denotes a reading stand and is often used interchangeably with the word "lectern." The "pulpit" is elevated and generally reserved for preaching and the Gospel reading.

And technically, you are correct: No. 309 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal notes that "from the ambo only the readings, the responsorial psalm and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; likewise it may be used for giving the homily and for announcing the intentions of the universal prayer."

The reality, though, is that some churches are small and sparsely furnished, with only one logical place for both the scriptural readings and the announcements. And, as somebody who has been in the trenches for a long time, can I make an appeal? If your pastor is like most parish priests today, he's got more work than he can handle; the last thing he needs to worry about is where the commentator stands.

Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019