I typically declined, as I have continued to do when attending the OF, with one more recent exception (some nuns at a monastery I was staying made me do it!), but I have to admit that I've never been able to articulate my reasons for not wanting to act as a lector very clearly.
But I came across a blog post (thanks to The Pulp.It) this morning that nicely articulates at least some of the reasons why I think those attending the Ordinary Form should be encouraging the priest (or deacon if present) to do the readings rather than agreeing to act as lector themselves.
The bad reasons!
Some traditionalists, of course, take a fundamentalist view of St Paul's injunctions on women speaking in Church, and laud the more restricted role of the laity in general, and women in particular, in the EF Mass on this basis.
But in my view that doesn't cut any ice.
In the case of women in the EF there are strong precedents set by what nuns are permitted to do in their own chapels.
There are the permissions for women to sing in the choir (and congregation).
There are the permissions for the dialogue Mass.
Moreover, the 1917 Code of Canon Law explicitly permitted a woman to say the server's responses from the pews if no one else is available to say them (on the basis that it really is supposed to be a dialogue, and Mass without anyone but the priest present was reserved for cases of emergency only, such as the need to consecrate in order to give Viaticum).
And in the case of the laity in general, many EF Sunday Masses around this country actually involve far more laity in the liturgical action - in the form of the elaborate liturgical dance rubrics prescribed for the crowd of servers, not to mention the song of the choir - than the typical OF Mass!
The unity of word and sacrament
So why are the readings a particular problem so far as the lay engagement is concerned?
In a post on the problem of lay 'homilies' Fr Mullady OP has written a piece for EWTN that I think sets out nicely the reasons why lay lectors are problematic. His argument is actually about why lay homilies are not generally permitted.
Essentially, he points out that there is supposed to be an intrinsic unity between the Word of God in the readings, the homily, and the consecration of the Eucharist. Having layperson give the homily, he argues, breaks that intrinsic unity. He doesn't say so (for obvious reasons), but his argument applies equally, I think, to the permitted option in the OF (but not requirement) of the laity doing the first and second readings:
"...the necessary relation between the liturgy of the Word, and the liturgy of the Eucharist. There are some people in the Church who consider this relationship to be accidental. This impression might have been created by the fact that the laity are permitted, in the ordinary form, to be lectors at Mass, and to participate in an action that is central to the celebration of Mass, something which does not take place in the extraordinary form. As the homily is, in a certain sense, the culmination of the liturgy of the Word, it could be construed by some that it does not matter who gives it as long as they are competent.
In fact, Vatican II is clear that there is an intense relationship between Word and Sacrament at the sacrament of all sacraments, the Mass. “The Eucharist appears as the source and the summit of all preaching of the gospel” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5). The explanation of the faith is central as a preparation to the actual carrying out of the action of the whole Church by which the paschal event is made present to the faithful. Both word and sacrament must be intimately connected, as are knowledge and love. As such, the homily is meant to bridge that gap, and stands at the culmination of the word, and the beginning of the action of love itself. In principle, only the ministers who directly participate in the act of transubstantiation—namely: bishop, priest or deacon—have the right and faculty to preach. This is made clear in the canon mentioned in the question which clearly states: “The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself, and is reserved to a priest or deacon” (Canon 767)...."
Reductionist views of the priesthood
We live in a time where reductionist views of the ministerial priesthood have become the norm.
Where many would reduce the role of the priest to those parts of the Mass that only he can do, at the expense both of his broader role in the Mass and the sacraments more generally, not to mention his much broader pastoral responsibilities. It is a disease that has infected even some EF priests.
We need to take all opportunities open to us to fight this pernicious infection.