Prayer before Serving
Father in heaven,
Your Son, Jesus Christ,
Showed his love for you
By serving his needy
brothers and sisters.
I now ask you to give me your
Help as I serve you and your people.
Open my mouth to praise you in word and song.
Open my ears to hear your Word.
Open my hands to do your work well.
Take from my heart all evil and distracting thoughts.
Help me to know what I should do and to do it well.
Help me to serve reverently at your holy altar,
And so give you praise and glory, now and forever. Amen
Prayer after Serving
Lord Jesus Christ,
You are the eternal High Priest.
You lead all your saints in heaven.
And your people on earth
In praising God, our Father.
Thank you, Lord Jesus,
For letting mc come before your altar,
So that, with your help,
I can praise my Father in heaven as his server.
Help me find joy in serving at your altar.
Help me find gladness
In knowing and doing your will in all things.
Glory to you, Lord Jesus,
And to the Father and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now
And will be forever,
MESSAGE FROM FR. PAT THOMPSON
Dear Altar Server and Family,
This little booklet is the work of a number of people who want you to be a very good acolyte and to be eager and proud to serve the Lord. It is quite complete, and you will have to read it very carefully, part by part. Parents and family should be ready to help beginning altar servers to learn all the things they are expected to do. It takes some home study.
Thank God for the privilege you have received. We thank you for your readiness to take on the wonderful duty of altar server. Please take this obligation seriously, and stay with your altar serving through the years of your growing up. I started serving in the fourth grade, through high school, in college, and then went on to the seminary. I enjoyed every single year.
You have to read this booklet very slowly and carefully in order to understand exactly what is being said. God bless you in doing it.
The Catholic Church places a serious obligation on all its members to participate in the Mass each Sunday, as well as on every holy day, because it is a celebration of all that we consider to be the heart and soul of our religion. We come together to worship our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to reenact the Last Supper, where Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me.” The bread and wine used in the service becomes the body and blood of Jesus, just as Jesus has told us it would.
Sacrifice to God is an essential element of the Mass. The concept of sacrifice is also at the very heart of our religion. It is mentioned in the Bible time and again; Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, offered sacrifices to God. Abraham (referred to in the liturgy as “our father in faith”) was prepared to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, to God, and Jesus offered himself to his Father in sacrifice, promising us all that if we “eat this bread and drink this cup.” it would continue his great sacrifice until he comes again.
The Mass also serves as a memorial, helping us keep the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in our minds and hearts. Through the readings, we are reminded of the many other great deeds God has done for His people.
The sacred meal we share during the Mass (“the bread of life and cup of eternal salvation”) is called the Eucharist (from the Greek word eucharistia, which means “thanksgiving”). Each time we participate in the holy meal, we are expressing anew our thankfulness for all that God us given us.
The liturgical seasons are there to help us change, grow, and become more mature as followers of Jesus Christ. One of the clearest signs of these seasons is the changing liturgical color. With each change of seasons, the Church changes the color of vestments as a visible sign of our need to change and grow. The colors used are:
WHITE— Used in Masses of the Easter and Christmas seasons; on feasts and memorials of the Lord Jesus, other than on the Passion; on feasts and memorials of Mary, the angels, saints who are not martyrs. All Saints (November 1), John the Baptist (June 24), John the Apostle (December 27), Chair of Peter (February 22), and Conversion of Paul (January 25). White is used on festive occasions (such as marriage and baptism) and may he used for Masses of the dead. White is a sign of joy.
RED — Used on Passion Sunday arid Good Friday, Pentecost, Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebration of the Passion, birthday feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists, and feasts of martyrs. Red symbolizes both the blood of Christ and martyrs and the Holy Spirit.
GREEN — Used on the Sundays and weekdays of ordinary time. This color symbolizes growth and hope.
PURPLE/VIOLET — Used in Advent and I Lent. It may be used in Masses of the Dead. It is a symbol of penance. BLACK — May he used in Masses of the Dead, though it is no longer common.
PINK/ROSE —A color indicating joy. It may be used on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).
GOLD — Substitutes for other colors and may be used on special feats and occasions.
On days when Votive Masses are permitted a color suited to the Mass itself or to the color of the day or season may be used. Masses for various occasions use color of the day or season.
PRAYERS TO KNOW
Over the years, you’ve become familiar with most of the prayers included in the Mass. Now, as an altar server, you will be saying those prayers each time you assist with the Mass. Although there is no need for you to speak loudly when saying the prayers, you should recite them clearly, in a conversational tone.
Some of the longer prayers are said during the Mass are printed below. Please take the lime to learn them so that you will be fully prepared to assist at the Mass.
I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault (Servers strike breast with closed right hand) in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what 1 have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
The “Gloria” is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent and on solemnities and feasts. The servers should sing or say the “Gloria” in a firm voice matching their cadence to that of the cantor or priest.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father; receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
PROFESSION OF FAITH
On Sundays and solemnities the Creed (Profession of Faith) is recited or sung.
We believe in one God, the Father. The Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made one in being with the Father. Through him all things are made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: (all bow during next two lines) by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary. and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures, he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified, he has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the Forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Know what you are to do while serving Mass and when you are to do it. Look as though you CAN do it. Don’t look as if serving Mass is the worst punishment or the most unpleasant thing you can think of. Don’t be afraid to smile as you serve Mass. An ancient prayer in this Bible says, “I will go to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth” (Ps. 42:4, Vulgate).
As you do what you are supposed to be doing be aware of what you need to do next. This will eliminate undesirable and awkward gaps during the liturgy.
Don’t fidget nervously or slither around the sanctuary. Be relaxed and comfortable. Be yourself. Remember to listen, sing, and pray with the other people who have gathered to worship God. Remember what an important service you are giving to God and God’s People. And do your best at all times.
THE IMPORTANCE OF POSTURE
1. Posture contributes to an environment, which fosters prayer and express the spiritual attitude of those taking part.
2. Posture allows us to pray with our entire body.
1. 3, Our uniformity in standing, kneeling, or sitting is a sign of community and the unity of those assembled.
1. Uniformity of posture is a sign that we are no longer individuals but have become the gathered Body of Christ, so when we come together to worship, those who are physically able arc expected to put aside their personal preference and conform to the posture of the community.
POSTURE AT MASS
A posture” is how you are using the parts of your body at a particular time. A server has to carry out a number of different actions at Mass, and SO there are a number of different postures.
We do a lot of walking every day, and sometimes we get sloppy as we do it. Don’t walk down the aisle or around the sanctuary stiffly like a tin soldier, but don’t lumber around like a grizzly bear either. Walk with your back straight and your head held high.
When you bow to someone or something at Mass, it should he smooth, forward inclining of your head and shoulders. When you bow to the altar, bow deeply at the waist and bring yourself slowly to your full height. When you bow to the priest, bow your head slowly and gracefully. Don’t walk and bow at the same time, stop before bowing.
When you genuflect, keep your hands in front of your chest while you go down on your right knee. Keep your body upright. Don’t wobble back and forth, or you may look like a newborn lamb trying to walk. Be sure that you’re alb isn’t going to trip you on the way down or up.
When you kneel, your body should be upright and your hands should be in front of your chest.
Always stand up straight with both feet firmly on the floor about six to eight inches apart. This will give you balance and comfort at the same time. Don’t lean against the furniture or against the walls.
Sit down on your chair carefully and gracefully. And once you are seated, sit tall and don’t slouch. Place your hands in your lap in a relaxed manner. Watch how the priest holds his hands, and do as he does.
Unless you are sitting down or carrying something your hands should he kept Joined in front of your chest, whether locked together, palm-to-palm, fingers pointing upward. Hold your hands the way the priest does. Keep your hands high up on your chest. l you arc carrying something in one hand, hold the other hand flat on your chest.
During Mass, always look towards the place where the action is happening: the celebrant’s chair, the lectern, or the altar. When the reader is reading the Scriptures, you should he looking at the reader. When you talk to someone, you want that person to look at you, right? The same is true at Mass. Look at the priest and the other ministers as they speak and act in the sanctuary, and even look at the people in the pews. This tells the other people in church that you know they are there.
To Parents and Altar Servers
Your help is always needed in the Altar Server Ministry. If all parents would help their own child with positive reinforcement of what they do well on the altar and gentle notations of what they
may have missed or done incorrectly, this would help the priests and sacristans so much! Please save and review these guidelines with your child:
1. ARRIVE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE MASS.
2. Be well groomed: Clean hair (long hair clipped or tied back); clean Sunday-best clothing (the albs are a bit see-thru) and clean, solid color shoes if possible. NO SANDALS. Hands and face washed!
3. Keep your eyes and ears open to the priest at all times.
4. NO “VISITING” or laughing during Mass with the other servers. Help each other out, hut no socializing.
5. Use the bathroom before Mass. Servers may not pass through the doors unless the Priest asks them to.
6. PARTICIPATE in the Mass by saying all the congregations’ responses and prayers. Stand and sit STRAIGHT. Hold hands in a folded and prayerful position at all times!
7. Hang up robes after Mass. Don’t leave any on the floor.
8. Review all schedules given to you and transfer all dates you are scheduled to serve to the Family’s main calendar. Teach responsibility!
9. ALWAYS find a sub if they cannot serve their scheduled Mass.
10. When you attend Mass, ALWAYS check in the Sacristy to see if a server is needed.
11. Above all, instill in each other the awesomeness of the presence of God at Mass, in our hearts and in our lives.
ALTAR SERVER DUTIES
SATURDAY EVENING/SUNDAY MORNING
What to do before Mass starts
Note: (The Sacristan will do this, but remember you must always check to make sure each item listed below has been done).
Fill one cruet with water and fill part of the pitcher with wine. Put the wine pitcher, and one ciboriurn with hosts on the small table in the middle of the church. Place the following on the Credence table by the sacristy door, cruet with water, bowl, finger towel, bells, chalice (with paten, pall, corporal, purificator and tabernacle key), and the rest of the empty ciboriums, as many as needed for the Mass. Put the Sacramentary where Altar Servers sit. The Lectionary will be carried into Church by the lector/Deacon. Light the candles about 3-5 minutes before Mass begins.
THE ORDER OF THE MASS
(Welcome to the Holy Dinner)
Entrance - is made from the rear of the church. (1) Altar server carries the Cross, and (2) altar servers carry candles. The cross- bearer leads the procession. When carrying the cross keep it up high and straight. The cross should not weave back and forth as you are walking. Make sure the corpus (figure of Christ) is facing outward. When you arrive at the Altar do not genuflect, bow and then put the cross in its stand by the Ambo and stand in front of your seat. The candle bearers bow at the Altar, then put candles by the Sacristy door, and stand in front of your seats.
Greeting - Done by the celebrant.
Penitential Rite - Remain standing
Gloria - Remain standing and recite it.
Opening Prayer - (Cross-bearer) takes the Priest the Sacramentary and holds it for him
Usually, the Priest will nod his head for you to bring the book, but if he doesn’t, bring it to him when he says, “Let us pray”. Remember every time you pass the Altar, you must stop, face the Altar, bow, and then proceed.
Liturgy of the Word
(Preparation prayers before Dinner)
First Reading - Read by the lector, usually from the Old Testament.
Responsorial Psalm - Usually led by the cantor but may be recited. It is never omitted.
Second Reading - Also read by the lector,
Gospel - Altar Servers pick up their candles, and stand on each side of the priest. Remember to face the same direction as the Priest. Bow with the priest. Altar server closes to the Ambo walks to the far side of the Ambo and turns toward the Ambo, Priest stands at Ambo, remaining altar server faces the Ambo and stands directly across from other altar server. Any altar servers remaining should stand and face the priest while he reads the gospel.
Homily - (Explains the gospel scriptures) done by a Priest or Deacon. Altar servers sit during the homily.
Profession of Faith - Said by everyone in the church
General Intercessions - Prayers of the Faithful read by a Lector, deacon or priest.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Sitting of the table)
Preparation of the Gifts - This was once called the offertory. Listed below is what altar servers do during the preparation of the gifts.
While the ushers are collecting the offerings, (1) altar server puts the Sacramentary on the altar. Another altar server places the chalice with the pall, paten, corporal and purilicator on the altar. The Cross-bearer altar server takes the cross to meet the people carrying gifts to the altar. Altar servers left on the altar joins the priest at the bottom step to receive the gifts. One server shall stand on each side of the priest. The priest will give each server the wine and hosts that arc then placed on the altar by the servers. (1) Altar server brings the cruet of water to the priest; remember to face the handle toward the priest. The altar server returns to the credence table with the cruet and gets the bowl while another server picks the towel. The two altar servers return to the priest so he can wash dry his hands. Then return items to the credence table.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Preparing the Food)
The priest consecrates the host and wine, changing them into the body and blood of Christ. After he says, “This is my Body which will be given up for you”, and he raises the host, (1) altar server rings the bells. Then the priest raises his chalice and says, “This is my blood which will be given up for you” and another altar server rings the bells again. After each time the bells are rung all altar servers bow.
The Great Amen - sung or said by everyone.
Our Father - Altar Servers join the Priest by joining hands and everyone says the Our Father.
After the Our Father is finished and everyone does the sign of peace by shaking hands the Cross-bearer picks up the cross and walks to the center of the church to meet the people and then leads them back to the altar.
While the cross-bearer is bringing up the people the altar servers left bring up the remaining ciboriurns and cups and place them on the altar in their proper places. Remember the sacramentary must be placed on the altar if it is not already there.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Eating of the Holy Dinner)
Communion —Altar Servers return to stand in Front of their seats and wait to receive communion with the Eucharistic Ministers. Everyone remains standing until Communion is over.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Cleaning up after Dinner
Altar servers sit down after Communion and wait until the Priest finishes cleaning of the altar. Items are placed on the corner of the altar then the priest returns to his seat. While the priest returns to his seat all altar servers rise and remove everything off the altar and return them to the credence table. Don’t forget to put the sacramentary where the altar servers sit. This book is used again for the closing prayer.
(Time to go out and share God’s words
that we heard today with everyone)
Post Comnutnion Prayer - Made by the Priest
Announcements - are made now by the priest.
Final blessing - The priest will say “Let us Pray” cross-bearer altar server brings the book up the same way as at the beginning of Mass.
Dismissal — Priest will stand before the Altar. Altar Servers pick up the cross and candles and go down to the bottom step and stand in front of the altar the same directions as the priest. All scrvers bow with the priest and turn the same direction as he does and then proceed out of the church. Remember to carry the cross high and straight.
What to do after Mass finishes
As soon as you leave the church blow out your candles and return them to the Sacristy. Bring all items from the credence table into the sacristy. Make sure all trash is picked up on the altar as well as in the sacristy, remove your robes, and HANG THEM UP. Make sure you have signed in. After this is done then you may leave the Sacristy.
Always be neat and clean. Wear pants or skirt, which would be acceptable for school. Wear dressy shoes NO SANDALS. Please do not wear makeup, it gets on the robes and is very hard to get clean.
Sitting/standing — make sure your body is erect and your posture straight; don’t slouch. Your hands should always be folded in your lap when they are not in use.
Silence — Except when making the proper responses, you will be silent at all times. You do not want to distract the priest or the congregation by whispering to other servers. Silence is an essential part of the liturgy. At the penitential rite and after the invitation to pray at the prayers, you should join your thoughts to the priest’s in silence.
Participate — in the Mass by saying all the congregations’ responses and prayers. No “Visiting” or laughing during Mass. Remember to help each other, this can be done quietly and most times with gestures..
ALTAR SERVER DUTIES
What do before Mass starts
Note: (The sacristan will do this, but remember you must always check to make sure each item listed below has been done).
Fill one cruet with water and fill part of the pitcher with wine. Put the wine pitcher, and ciborium with hosts on the Credence table by the sacristy door. Also placed on the credence table are the bells, linger towel, chalice (with paten, pall, corporal, purifIcator and tabernacle key), and the rest of the ciboriums and glasses needed for the Mass. Put the sacramentaty on the altar. Light the large candles already on the altar about 3-5 minutes before mass begins.
The Order of the Mass
(Welcome to the Holy Dinner)
Entrance - is made from the sacristy into the church. Altar Servers walk in, in single file. The Priest follows. Everyone goes to the front of the altar and bows or genuflects. (Note: Be sure you ask the Priest before Mass starts as to which one he will do). You are to stand on each side of the priest and bow/genuflect altogether, then go stand in front of your seat.
Greeting - Done by the celebrant
Opening Prayer - The Priest reads it from the Sacramentary on the altar.
Liturgy of the Word
(Preparation prayers before Dinner)
First Reading - Read by lector, usually from the Old Testament.
Responsorial Psalm - Usually led by the cantor but may be recited. It is never omitted.
Gospel - The priest stands and walks over to the Ambo. Altar servers stand and face the priest.
homily - Done by a Priest or Deacon, explaining the scriptures. Altar servers sit during the homily.
General Intercessions - Prayer ofthe faithful, (Note: Depends on how the priest decides to handle it)
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Setting of the table)
Preparation of the Gifts — Listed below is what altar servers do during the preparation of the gifts. Altar servers bring to the altar the chalice with the pall, paten, corporal, hosts, and pitcher of wine. (1) Altar server brings the cruet of water to the priest. Remember to face the handle toward the priest. The altar server returns to the credence table with the cruet and gets the bowl while another server picks up the towel. The two altar servers return to the priest so he can wash/dry his hands. Then return items to the credence table.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Preparing the Food)
Eucharistic Prayer — The priest consecrates the host and wine, changing them into the Body and Blood of Christ. After he says, “This is my Body which will be given up for you”, and as he raises the host (1) altar server rings the bell. Priest kneels at this time, altar server bows. Then the priest says again “This is my Blood which will be given up for you”, and raises his Chalice, Another altar server rings the bell again. Priest kneels and altar servers how.
The Great Amen — sung or said by everyone.
Our Father — Altar servers and Priest join hands during the Our Father. After it is finished the servers are to bring up all ciboriums and glasses left on the credence table and put them on the altar in their proper places. Remember the sacramentary must he placed on the altar if it is not already there.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Eating of the Holy Dinner)
Communion — Altar servers return to stand in front of their seats and wait to receive communion with the Eucharistic Ministers. Remain standing until communion is. After Communion (1) altar server brings the cruet with water to the priest who pours some into his chalice so he can clean it.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Cleaning up after Dinner)
Altar servers sit down after Communion and wait until the Priest finishes cleaning vessels at the altar. Items are placed on the corner of the altar then the priest returns to his seat. While the priest returns to his seat all altar servers rise and remove everything off the altar and return them to the credence table. Don’t forget to leave the sacramentary on the altar. This book is used again by the priest for the closing prayer.
(Time to go out and share God’s words that was heard today with everyone)
Announcements - May be made by the Priest.
Final Blessing - Altar Servers remain standing.
Dismissal - Priest will stand before the Altar, Altar Servers join the priest one on each side of him. All bow or genuflect together and then exit Altar thru the Sacristy door.
What do after Mass finishes
Everything is done the same as at the Sunday mass, except the candles on the altar need to be put out.
Special Note: The terms relating to having dinner used to explain what to do when serving a mass are to help the servers understand the order of the Mass. If you keep in mind when you ask people over to your house for a party you ask them into your home, you socialize with them, you get ready to have dinner and then you eat, then all guests go home it should help you remember the order in which to bring the priest what he needs for to complete the Mass you are serving.
ALTAR SERVER’S GLOSSARY
Ablution: The cleaning of the chalice and paten after Communion. Also, the cleansing of the celebrant’s fingers to remove any particles from the consecrated hosts. Some parishes do this in the sacristy after Mass.
Advent Wreath: A Festive wreath of greens arranged to hold four candles. The candles are lighted on the Sunday of Advent. Sometimes a center candle is lighted at Christmas. The candles stand for the light of Christ, which gets brighter as we approach Christmas.
Alb: A long, white garment, which covers the entire body. This is always worn by the celebrant. In some parishes, the servers also wear albs. This was the ancient garb of a Roman citizen.
Altar: The place where the sacrifice of Jesus is offered to the Father and made present to us. The Lord’s Table, where the Eucharist is celebrated. It is treated with respect. It also represents Christ, who is the center of our parish life. Servers show respect to the altar by bowing when passing in front of it.
Altar Cloth: The long white that covers the top of the altar and hangs over the ends. It is like a tablecloth on a dinning room table.
Arubo: A stand or lectern where the readings are done. A church may have one or two of them.
Ambry: A special box in the wall of the church where the holy oils are kept safe.
Antependium: A large, decorative cloth that is sometimes hung in front of the altar.
Benediction: A service of special devotion to the Eucharist. This is different from a Mass.
Boat: A small container that holds the incense, this is usually carried by the server in the right hand.
Cassock: A long robe that reaches from shoulders to ankles, it is usually black. Many parishes have the servers wear a cassock with a surplice over it.
Celebrant’s Chair: The central chair, which is used by the celebrant during Mass. It is usually just in back of the altar. Servers often sit on both sides of this chair. It can also be called the Presidential Chair.
Chalice: The cup used by the celebrant when he consecrates the wine into the Blood of Christ. It is usually made of god or silver, but can be made of other materials.
Chalice Veil: A cloth covering that goes over the chalice while it is on the credence table. It is white or matches the color of the chasuble.
Chasuble: A long, flowing robe that goes over the celebrant’s head. This is the vestment that people see; it is the color of the year.
Ciboriurn: A covered container used to hold the consecrated host during the Mass. The ciborium may also be kept in the tabernacle.
Cincture: A knotted rope, tied around the waist over the aib. When a parish uses albs for the servers, a cincture is also worn.
Concelebration: The celebration of one Mass by many priests. This usually happens during Holy Week, at Confirmation and on other special occasions.
Cope: A long cape that is worn by the celebrant during some ceremonies. It is open in the front, and held together by a clasp. It is often the color of the Church season.
Corporal: A square piece of white cloth, which is spread over the altar cloth. It is put on the altar where the celebrant will say Mass. The chalice and paten are placed on it.
Credence Table: A side table in the sanctuary where all objects used for Mass is put before and after they are used.
Cruets: Covered, bottle-like containers that hold the waler and wine. They often have a small dish or plate under them.
Dalmatic: A coat-like vestment worn by the deacon. It is usually open at the sides, but is the same color as the chasuble. A deacon may wear this or just an aib and stole.
Genuflect: To briefly touch the right knee to the floor. This is done by a server whenever passing in front of the tabernacle, as a sign of respect for the Eucharist.
Host: The round piece of bread made without yeast used for Mass. The celebrant uses a larger host so that everyone in church will he able to see it.
Humeral Veil: A long cloth, usually white, which goes over the celebrant’s shoulders and covers his arms. This is attached by a clasp in the front. It is used during Benediction or processions with the Blessed Sacrament.
Incense: A mixture of resins, bark and other natural material, which give off, a sweet-smelling smoke when burned. This smoke rises and represents our prayers rising to God. The use of incense is always optional in a parish, the celebrant will tell the servers when it will be used.
Lavabo: The washing of the celebrant’s hands before the Eucharistic Prayer. The servers bring a bowl, the water cruet, and a towel while the celebrant prays for forgiveness.
Lectern: A stand used to hold the Lectionary while the reader is proclaiming the passages from the Bible (See Ambo).
Monstrance: A large metal container to display or show the host. 11 is often gold or silver-colored. Benediction is the ceremony when the monstrance is most often used.
Oils: the Bishop and the priests of the diocese bless the holy oils during Holy Week. One is called “Oil of the Sick”, used for the sacrament called the Anointing of the sick. Another is called “Oil of Catechurnents”, used in Baptism. The last one is called “Chrism” used in Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.
Pall: A large white cloth, which is spread over the casket at a funeral. It represents the white garment given by the celebrant to a baby at Baptism. In some parishes, it is also a cloth-covered square that fits over the chalice.
Paschal Candle: A large wax candle in a floor candlestick to symbolize the light of the Risen Christ. It is blessed at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. It stays in the sanctuary until the end of Pentecost, and is lighted during every ceremony. After Pentecost, it is placed near the baptismal font, and used during Baptisms and funerals.
Paten: A round metal plate, which holds the host used by the celebrant during Mass. It is also the plate sometimes used by the celebrant during Mass.
Presidential Chair: The central chair, used by the celebrant during Mass. It is usually directly behind the altar. It can also be called the Celebrant’s Chair.
Purificator: A small white cloth used to clean the chalice and paten after Communion.
Pyx: A small container used to bring Communion to the sick and housebound. It is sometimes kept in the sacristy.
Sacramentary: The large hook which contains all the prayers said by the celebrant during Mass. The server at the beginning and end of Mass often holds this book. It is placed on the altar for the Eucharistic prayer.
Sacrarium: A special sink in the sacristy where the water goes directly into the ground. It usually has a metal cover. The cloths and vessels used for Mass are washed here.
Sacristy: The room in the church where the celebrant prepares for Mass. Most of the objects used for Mass are kept in this room. The servers prepare in a special sacristy of their own.
Sanctuary: The area around the altar.
Sanctuary Candle: There is always a single candle burning by the tabernacle to show the presence of the Eucharist. This shows the presence of Christ, the light of the world, in the church. It also represents our watchfulness before Christ.
Stole: Along band of cloth worn during ceremonies by a Bishop, by priests and by deacons. This is a symbol of the sacrament of holy orders. It is usually of the color of Church season, or special day. A deacon wears a stole over the left shoulder. Priests and Bishops wear their stoles over both shoulders.
Surplice: A white garment that is half the length of a cassock. It is worn over the cassock in parishes that use it.
Tabernacle: The place where the Eucharist is kept during the week. Many churches have a special chapel or shrine on the side for the tabernacle. Some churches have it behind the altar. As a sign of reverence, a server genuflects whenever passing in front of the tabernacle.
Thurible: The metal container that holds the hot charcoal for the incense. This is carried by the server in the left hand. It can also be called the censer.
SPECIAL DIRECTIONS FOR SERVING FUNERALS
Usually two servers are needed for a funeral Mass. They are needed to do the things that are part of every Mass, and there are special tasks at the beginning and end of the funeral Mass. Each parish has a customary way of serving the funeral Mass; so listen carefully to any special instructions that the priest gives you before Mass. Do everything you can to make the funeral mass a beautiful one.
In addition to the usual preparations for Mass, the Easter candle may he placed in its stand where the casket will rest in front of the church. (Ask the priest exactly where the stand should be placed.) Light the Easter candle when the altar candles are lit.
The holy water container and sprinkler should he ready for use. Check to be sure that there is enough holy water in the container; carry it carefully so that it won’t splash out on you. One server will carry the container with the sprinkler in it during the entrance procession.
The censer (the container that holds the lighted charcoal) should also he prepared before Mass. A piece of charcoal should he placed in the opened censer and lit after the prayer of the faithful, so that it will be burning well by the time it is needed. The incense boat (the bowl contained the incense) should be full of incense and should have a small spoon in it. Do not put incense on the charcoal unless the priest tells you to do so.
The special funeral pall (a large cloth used to cover the casket) should be ready for use. One server may carry the pall to the back of the church in the entrance procession, or the pall may be placed in the back of the church before Mass begins.
BEGINNING OF MASS
The servers lead the priest down the main aisle to where the people are waiting with the casket.
The priest sprinkles the casket with holy water. Then one of the funeral attendants and some family members spread the pall over the casket. When the priest finished the prayers, he turns toward the altar; the servers turn also and slowly process to the altar.
The servers bow to the altar or genuflect when the priest does, and then go to their places in the sanctuary. When the casket has arrived at the front of the church and the people are in their places, the priest says the opening prayer. A server should hold the book for the priest as usual, however, at a funeral the book may not be the Missal but the Order of Christian Funerals. Check with the priest who might be holding this book already. After this prayer, Mass continues in the usual way.
END OF MASS
When the priest finishes the prayer after Communion, the servers go with him to the front of the sanctuary and stand, one on each side of the priest, facing the people. If one server is the cross bearer you go down into the center aisle and face the altar standing 4 steps behind the casket.
The priest usually incenses the casket at this time; if so, be ready to present the censer and incense boat. One server will have light the charcoal while the bread and wine were being brought to the altar (after the prayer of the faithful).
When the priest has finished the prayers, the two servers lead the priest around the casket, down the main aisle to the church doors. (Walk slowly and check by looking behind you).
Line up alongside the priest at the church door and wait quietly for the casket to be taken out. A funeral attendant will remove the pall and may give it to one of the servers. When the casket has been taken outside the church, quietly return to the sacristy by using a side aisle.
SPECIAL DIRECTIONS FOR
A wedding Mass usually begins with a procession of the bride and her attendants; perhaps the groom and his attendants may be part of the procession and maybe the couple’s parents as well. The priest and servers also may be part of the procession. If so, you should line up in front of the priest and lead him down the main aisle. One of you may carry the processional cross and lead the procession to the sanctuary.
A wedding Mass is much like any other mass, except a Rite of Marriage book may take the place of the usual missal. After the entrance procession, Mass continues as usual. Your seats may be in a different place in the sanctuary, so before Mass begins, check to see where you will be sitting. Listen carefully to the prayers, readings and homily. The wedding ceremony takes place after the homily so be ready to help the priest as he ends his homily.
TIlE WEDDING CEREMONY
One server joins the priest as he stands facing the bride and groom. In some parishes, it is customary for a server to hold the container of holy water with the sprinkler in it. The priest may also ask a server to hold a small tray on which the wedding rings will be placed while they are blessed.
When the priest finishes the marriage ceremony, help him receive the gifts of bread and wine as usual. Then prepare to wash the priest’s hands. After that the Mass continues as usual.
AFTER THE LORD’S PRAYER
When everyone has finished saying the Lord’s Prayer, there is a special blessing for the bride and groom. The priest may hand you the Rite and ask you to hold it open for him during this blessing. Stand near him and hold this book so that he can reach it and read from it easily.
The bride and groom will usually receive Communion first, and they may receive the Blood of Christ from the chalice. The priest may ask you to assist him at this time.
After Communion, the mass continues as usual. Hold the Rite or Missal for the priest during the prayer after communion. At the end of Mass lead the priest down the aisle, or lead him to the sacristy if he will not be joining the exit procession of the bridge and groom.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
SPEAKS TO ALTAR SERVERS
On August 12, 2001 Pope John Paul II spoke to more than two thousand young men and women altar servers gathered in Rome. His remarks have been slightly edited for use here.
Dear altar servers! Yesterday you crossed St. Peter’s square in a long procession to be near the basilica’s altar of Confession (over the tomb of St. Peter). By so doing, you prolonged in some way the path that the youth of the world began in the Holy Year. The motto of your pilgrimage to the Eternal City, “Toward a New World”, is a sign of your willingness to take your Christian vocation seriously.
I greet you affectionately, dear young people, and I am happy that this meeting has taken place.
Your commitment to the altar is not only a duty, but also a great honor, a genuine holy service. In connection with this service, I wish to propose some reflections to you.
The altar server’s clothing is a very special. It recalls the garment that each one puts on when he is welcomed in .Jesus Christ in the community. I am referring to the baptismal gown, where
with profound meaning St. Paul clarifies: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27)
Even if you, dear altar servers, can no longer fit into your baptismal gown, you have put on (the clothing) of altar servers. Yes, baptism is the point of departure of your “authentic liturgical service,” which places you next to your bishops, priests and deacons.
The altar server occupies a privileged place in the liturgical celebration. The altar server presents himself to a community and experiences firsthand that Jesus Christ is present and active in every liturgical act. Jesus is present when the community comes together to pray and render praise to God. Jesus is present in the Word of Sacred Scripture. Jesus is present above all in the Eucharist under the signs of bread and wine. He acts through the priest who, in the person of Christ, celebrates the holy Mass and administers the sacraments.
Therefore, in the liturgy, you are much more than a simple “helper of the parish priest.” Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Thus, you, altar servers are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus. Be determined to go deeper and to cultivate this friendship with him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life.
The altar server often has a candlestick in his hand. How can one not think of that which Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14). Your service cannot he limited to the inside of a church. It must shine in everyday life; in school, in the family and in different realms of society. Because, whoever wishes to serve Jesus Christ inside a church must be his witness everywhere.
Dear young people! Your contemporaries wait for the real “light of the world” (see John 1:9). Do not hold your candlestick only inside a church, but carry the light of the Gospel to all those who are in darkness and are living through a difficult time in their life.
I have spoken of friendship with Jesus. How happy I would he if something more sprang from this friendship! How beautiful it would be if some of you were to discover a vocation to the priesthood! Jesus Christ has urgent need of youths who will be at his disposition with generosity and no reservations. Moreover, might not the Lord also call one or two of you girls to embrace the consecrated life to serve the Church and the brothers and sisters? Even for those who wish to be united in marriage, the service of altar servers teaches that a real union must always include readiness for reciprocal and free service.