Altar Server Directions:
Arrive at least 15 minutes before mass and vest. Put on a proper fitting cassock and surplice.
Five minutes before Mass is to begin, light the candles at the altar if the Hospitality Minister has not already done so. Make sure each of you have a missalette and hymnal at your seats for you to pray and sing during Mass. It is important that altar servers set a good example and lead the congregation by reciting prayers from their missalettes and singing songs from their hymnals.
A couple of minutes before Mass is to begin retrieve the procession candles from the Altar and wait behind the last pew for Mass to start. Keep the candles upright. If the candles are fueled by oil, the oil can spill out if the candle is tilted. If a candle goes out, relight it.
When it is time for Mass to start, move to the center of the aisle. Start slowly down the aisle when the words of the processional hymn begin.
The cross bearer (Server #1) is first, followed by the candle bearers (Servers #2 and #3). If there are two servers, one carries the cross while the other follows with their hands together in prayer. If there is one server, that server carries the cross. The cross is held securely and carried high to lead the procession.
As they approach the Altar, the cross bearer moves to the right all the way over to where the angle of the altar step begins. One candle bearer moves to the right and one to the left, leaving plenty of room in the middle for both Father and the lector. All are facing the Altar. Fr. Joseph will bow to venerate the altar. If you are carrying a candle, or the cross, do not bow. If you are not, bow as the priest does.
Allow Father to proceed in front of those on the right as he makes his way to the Altar. Then the servers carry the cross and candles to the right side of the sanctuary and put them in their places. There is a holder for the cross. The candles are placed on the floor on either side of the statue of Mary. Walk to the front of your chairs and stand. When you stand, always keep your hands joined in front of you in prayer. Server #1 should be beside the credence table with the Sacramentary.
As the Gloria is ending, the server nearest the Sacramentary picks it up. Father will say, "Let us pray." As he is saying this, the server with the Sacramentary moves in front of him with the book opened to the purple ribbon. If this is not in the correct place in the book Father will find the correct page. After the prayer the server closes the book, goes back to the servers’ chairs, puts the book down on the table, and sits down.
All servers should keep their hands joined in prayer as they walk, kneel or stand in the sanctuary. While seated, servers should keep their hands joined together in their lap or flat on their thighs. This helps keep servers from making unnecessary hand movements which can be distracting to the congregation. Altar servers should pay attention during the readings and look at the lector.
Also at the conclusion of the Gospel, Server #1 retrieves the bracket from the front of the Altar that held the Book of the Gospels. It is taken back to Server #1’s seat and placed on the floor.
Listen to the speakers. Look at the readers and at the priest as they speak. Pray the prayers. Sing the songs. You are a model for the congregation. In particular, all servers should recite the Creed from the missals placed under their seats. During the recitation of the Creed, Fr. Joseph and the people are to bow at the words “by the power of the Holy Spirit …… and became man”, as a sign of reverence to the wonder of the Incarnation. Remain bowed as long as the priest is bowed.
When the Prayer of the Faithful is completed, all sit and the Offertory begins.
All three servers stand. Server #1 (cross bearer) picks up the Sacramentary and places it on the left side of the Altar (as viewed from the back).
Servers #2 and #3 proceed to the credence table. One server takes Father’s chalice (with its purificator, paten, host, pall and corporal on top) from the credence table, carries it to the back of the altar, and places it on the right side (as viewed from the back). This will keep the center of the Altar clear so that Father can begin setting up for the consecration by removing the corporal, unfolding it, and placing it in the center of the Altar. The servers then take the other chalices and purificators from the credence table and place them on the right side of the Altar. Any extra vessels on the credence table containing bread that are not brought to the sanctuary in the procession of the gifts are then presented to Father.
Server #1 checks to make sure that the bracket that held the Book of the Gospels has been removed from the Altar. If not, Server #1 removes it at this time.
If there is a procession of the gifts, Servers #2 and #3 go with Father to the front of the sanctuary to receive the gifts. Father receives the gifts and hands them to the servers. One of the servers receives the wine and the other server receives the paten containing hosts. Immediately upon receiving the gifts from father, the altar servers go to the credence table side of the back of the Altar, and wait for Father to take the bread and the wine.
When Father takes the paten with the hosts, this altar server bows to Father, turns, and goes back to the credence table to bring the water cruet and present it to Father. Before any cruets from the credence table are presented to Father, their stoppers are removed and placed on the credence table. The cruets are presented to Father with their handles towards him so that he can easily take them.
If there is no procession of the gifts, the servers take the wine and water cruets from the credence table and present them to Father as described above. Father will pour the wine into the chalice(s) and return the cruet or pitcher to the server. Then he will take the water and pour a small amount into the chalice(s) and return the water cruet to the other server. At this point, the servers bow to Father together, turn, and return to the credence table. The wine pitcher or cruet is placed on the credence table. If a wine cruet is used, the stopper is put back in the cruet at this time.
The server with the water cruet also picks up the plate or basin. The other takes a towel and unfolds it. After the priest offers the wine saying “blessed are you…”, both servers approach the Altar together to wash Father’s hands. As Father extends his hands, one server pours water over them, holding the plate or basin under Father’s hands. The other server then presents Father with the towel. When Father returns the towel, both Servers bow together to Father and return their items to the credence table. The stopper is placed back in the water cruet. Servers #2 and #3 then remain in front of the credence table, turning towards Father with their hands folded in prayer.
Remember the three important items the servers provide Father at the Offertory. These are the bread, the wine, and the washing of Father’s hands, in that order.
After the singing of the "Holy, Holy," all Servers kneel in front of the bench.
The server nearest the bells gives a short bell ring at the invocation of the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis), when the priest extends his hands, palm down over the gifts and says :“Bless and approve … only Son our Lord”.
The bell is rung two more times, both during the consecration. It is given three rings when the priest elevates the Body of Christ, and three rings again when the priest elevates the Blood of Christ.
After ringing, the bells should not be put on the carpet immediately. This would cause the sound to stop abruptly. They should be held over the carpet until the sound fades away.
When Father invites us to share the sign of peace, all Servers go to the Altar first to share the sign of peace with the priest. Then the Servers can extend the sign of peace with each other. All Servers then go back to where they stood before in front of the credence table.
As the Extraordinarily Ministers of Holy Communion approach the Altar the servers should stand in front of the bench in preparation to receive Communion.
The priest will consume the Body and Blood of Christ. Then he will offer the Body of Christ to the Servers and the other ministers who have joined the Servers in the Sanctuary. The host should be consumed as soon as it is received. The deacon or one of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will offer you the Blood of Christ. Servers should remember to bow their heads just before receiving the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ. After Father and the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion go to the front of the sanctuary to distribute Holy Communion, all the Servers return to their seats. On the way, Server #1 removes the Sacramentary (Red Book) from the Altar and takes it back to the credence table next to Server #1’s chair.
When communion is over servers remain seated while Father purifies the sacred vessels at the credence table.
When Father stands up and says, “Let us pray”, Server #1 approaches Father with the Sacramentary and opens it to the purple ribbon and holds it for the priest to read.
After the final blessing, as the recessional hymn starts, the Servers retrieve the cross (Server #1) and candles (Server #2 & #3) and proceed immediately to the central aisle. The cross bearer should be at about the 3rd pew, while the candle bearers should be between the cross bearer and the Altar. All should turn and face the Altar. Father then venerates the altar from behind it. Afterwards, he walks to the central aisle, joining the other ministers, and turns towards the Altar. All bow to the Altar together. If something is being held, a simple nod of the head is made instead of a bow. Then all turn around and leave in procession down the center aisle, led by the cross bearer.
Back in the Sacristy, the candles are extinguished and then returned to there place at the altar.. The cassocks and surplices or albs are then placed neatly on their hangers, and hung in the closet with the longest garments on the left, shortest on the right. Each hanger should have both one cassock and a surplice of matching size on top of the cassock, or one alb. No garments are to be placed on the floor of the closet.
Notes to Servers:
Please remember that you have served God and our Catholic community by volunteering to be an Altar Server. Don't worry about mistakes. If you are trying to do your best, God and the Priest will be very pleased with your efforts.
You are an example for the whole congregation: help them worship by your posture and your reverent behavior in the Sanctuary. While standing, walking, or kneeling, keep your hands joined in prayer at all times. While sitting, keep your hands folded in your lap or flat on your thighs.
Use your missalettes and hymnals to recite the prayers and sing the songs.
Stop, turn, and bow when passing in front of or behind the Altar. If carrying something which would make bowing difficult, use a simple nod of the head instead of a bow. When in procession with the cross or candles, do not bow or nod to the Altar.
If moving with another Server in the sanctuary always move together, bow together.
All servers and ministers entering the sanctuary should be properly dressed to respect the sacred place. Please do not wear flip flops, crocs, or clothing that attracts unnecessary attention.
During the Summer months it gets warm in the Sanctuary. Wear light clothing under the cassock and surplice to avoid overheating.
Eat a healthy breakfast before serving morning Masses (at least an hour before receiving Communion) so you can be alert and avoid low blood sugar leading to lightheadedness.
Please do not chew gum. Keep your appearance neat. Be sure your hands are washed.
Fr. Joseph Kuzhpil (Pastor)
David Chapman (Altar Server Training & Coordination)