Altar Servers should dress with respect for the celebration of the Mass. Shoes should be clean and quiet. It is recommended that servers wear shirts and other tops that do not show through the white albs they wear at Mass.
Altar Servers should show the greatest reverence during the Mass by their demeanor, their attire, and the manner in which they serve the priest during the Mass. They also should fully participate in the singing of hymns and saying the prayers (Gloria, Creed, Our Father) and prayer responses.
Preparation Before Mass:
1. Arrive at least 20 minutes before Mass is to begin.
2. Dress in a white alb in the sacristy (bottom of the alb should be at the ankle)
3. Check if altar candles need to be lit.
4. Decide on what tasks each altar server will do during Mass, (cross bearer, candle bearer, book bearer, preparation of altar, washing of priest’s hands, bringing patens to altar at Communion).
5. Check with priest/celebrant before Mass to find out if any additional rites will be included with the regular Mass, (baptism, healing).
1. Order of Entrance:
Cross bearer #1
Servers #2 and #3 (with candles)
Server #4 (holder of priest’s book)
Lector (with Book of the Gospels)
2. Entrance Procession:
a) Cross bearer #1 leads procession down main aisle to the front altar steps, turns right and moves to the end of the front altar steps, stops and faces the altar.
b) Servers #2 and #3 (with candles) follow the Cross bearer down the main aisle to the bottom of the front altar steps of the sanctuary and stop, leaving space between them for the lector carrying the Book to pass and the priest/celebrant to stand.
Lector carrying the Book follows servers and passes between servers and places Book on the altar, (there is no lector in the procession at the week day children’s Mass)
Priest/celebrant, when arriving at the bottom of the altar steps, goes between the servers, stops and bows to the altar (visiting priest may genuflect).
c) All servers (cross bearer, other servers) make slight bow when priest bows (or genuflects).
d) Cross bearer #1 then continues to the right and places the cross in the stand near the end of the altar rail and goes to his/her place in the first full pew near the credence table.
e) Servers #2 and #3 with candles move to credence table; put out and place their candles near the credence table, then go to their place in the first full pew near the credence table. (If servers are not carrying candles, they go directly into their pew.)
Note: Book bearer (server holding Sacramentary book for priest) should be at the end of the pew.
f) Servers stand in the pew for the entrance hymn, greeting, penitential rite, sprinkling rite, Gloria and opening prayer.
3. Opening prayer:
a) Book bearer #4, as soon as the priest says, “Let us Pray”, moves immediately to the priest at his chair in the sanctuary for the opening prayer. Both before and after the prayer, the server makes a slight head bow to the priest. After the prayer, the server returns to his/her place in first full pew and places the book on the seat of the front pew.
b) Servers in pew wait for server of the Book to return to the pew. Then, all sit for the readings.
Liturgy of the Word:
- Servers sit for the first Reading, Responsorial Psalm and, on Sunday, the second Reading.
- Servers stand for the Gospel and then sit for the Homily.
- Servers stand for the Creed and the Prayer of the Faithful.
Liturgy of the Eucharist:
1. Preparation of Altar:
a) Cross bearer #1 takes the processional cross to the back of the Church.
b) Book bearer#4 places the Book (Sacramentary/Missal) on the left side of the altar, then returns to his/her place in first full pew and sits.
c) Server #2 goes to the credence table and gets the chalice (covered with the corporal) and the purificator and arranges them on the altar, (If there is a deacon, the server hands the chalice, corporal and purificator to the deacon.)
d) Server #3 brings the cups (usually four) filled with wine and the purificators to the right (choir) side of the altar.
e) Servers #2 and #3 stand ready at the credence table to assist the priest with receiving the gifts.
2. Preparation of Gifts:
a) Cross bearer #1, when the priest moves to the bottom of the front altar steps, leads the gift bearers down the main aisle to the area at the front of the altar steps, continues to the right and places the cross in the stand near the end of the altar rail. Cross bearer then returns to his/her place in the first full pew and stands.
b) Servers #2 and #3 move to each side of the priest in the main aisle when the priest moves to the bottom of the front altar steps to receive the gifts.
c) Servers #2 and #3 receive the gifts from the priest (one the paten with hosts; the other the holder with small wine and water cruets), move to the front bottom step and bow to the altar with the priest. They then move up the steps and stand at the left (priest chair) side of the altar. Servers do not place gifts on the altar.
d) Server hands the paten with hosts to the priest who places it on the altar. Server bows to the priest and returns to the credence table to help with the washing of the priest’s hands.
e) Server with cruet holder presents them to the priest who prepares the main chalice by pouring wine from the cruet into it, then adds water from the cruet into the wine in the chalice. Server then bows and returns to the credence table and places the cruet holder on it, and prepares to help with the washing of the priest’s hands.
f) Servers #2 and #3 helping with the washing of the priest’s hands at the credence table, pick up the pitcher of water, bowl and hand towel and move to the bottom of the sanctuary steps.
g) Servers #2 and #3 move into the sanctuary after the priest has offered up the gifts. They stop at the end of the left side of the altar. Servers bow before and after washing. After washing the priest’s hands, return to the credence table and place the pitcher, bowl, and towel on it and then return to their places in the first full pew and stand.
3. Eucharist Prayer:
a) Servers stand for the Preface and Sanctus.
b) Servers kneel for the institution narrative, consecration, and final doxology.
c) Servers stand for the Lord’s Prayer and Rite of Peace.
4. Communion Rite:
a) Book Bearer ##4, during the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), moves to the altar and picks up the Sacramentary Book and returns to his/her place in the first full pew and places it on the seat of the pew.
b) Servers #2 and #3 go to the credence table and bring the empty patens to the altar and place them on the right side of the altar, then return to their places in the first full pew.
c) Servers kneel after returning to their places in the first full pew.
d) Servers move to the front steps of the sanctuary before the altar when the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion move into the sanctuary. Servers leave space for the priest and Extraordinary Ministers to give them Communion. Servers, after receiving Holy Communion, return to their places in the first full pew and may stand, sit or kneel.
e) Server #2 during Communion puts the small water cruet on the altar near the main Chalice.
f) Servers #2 and #3, when the Communion Procession is ending, move to the sanctuary to receive the patens used for Communion from the Extraordinary Ministers. Servers bring the patens to the altar but do not place them on the altar. They hand them to the priest who will place them on the altar.
g) Extraordinary Ministers will bring their cups and place them on the tray on the credence table.
h) Servers #2 and #3 go to altar and receive the main chalice from the Priest, the water cruet and patens, and place these on the credence table.
i) Server #2, after all patens and cups are placed on the tray at the credence table, covers them with a corporeal (white cloth).
j) Servers return to their place in the first full pew after all cups and patens have been removed from the altar. Book bearer is at the end of pew.
k) Servers stand and face tabernacle if priest needs to take Hosts left over in the ciborium to the tabernacle. Servers bow with priest then remain standing until priest goes to his chair and all sit.
5. Post-Communion Prayer:
a) Book bearer #4 with Sacramentary, as soon as the priest stands and says, “Let us Pray”, moves immediately to the priest at his chair in the sanctuary for the post-communion prayer. Book bearer bows before and after the prayer. Book bearer, after the prayer, returns to his/her place in first full pew.
After Priest gives the Blessing and Dismissal:
a) Cross bearer #1 gets the cross and moves to the area in front of the altar, faces the altar, leaving space for the priest and servers at the bottom altar step.
b) Servers #2, #3 and #4 line up at the bottom of the altar steps; leaving space for the priest.
c) Servers bow with the priest, then process out behind the Cross.