servers are chosen from among the faithful who display a desire to participate in a more intimate way during the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass. It is an extreme privilege to kneel so close to the altar as our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, becomes truly present,
body, blood, soul and divinity. A server is uniquely joined
in the Heavenly Supper of the Lamb and serves in the company of myriads of angles eternally singing “Holy, Holy, Holy,
is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” In
the presence of Our King and in the presence of His Heavenly Hosts it is both wise and necessary for a server to perform all
assigned duties with attention, dignity and reverence. As
Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant . . .” servers should set aside their own preferences and
attend to every action of the Divine Liturgy as a team, all rehearsing the Divine Celebration in the same manner and style
as their companion servers. The server, participating as
instructed, will enter into a fuller participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass while assisting the priests and deacons
as the mysteries of the Upper Room and Calvary are represented. All actions of the server are woven from signs and symbols
whose meaning is rooted in the works of creation and in human culture, specified by events in the Old Testament and fully
revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is imperative that all servers do their assigned tasks in the
prescribed form and manner.
IISpecific requirements for servers
1 Who may serve. A server can be any person who has
received first confession and Holy Communion. Each bishop and each parish may have additional requirements but basically there
are no other universal Church restriction about age or sex. The server leader should discern the reasons a candidate wants
to serve and be reasonably certain that the candidate, and not parental pressures, are the main motivation. A reluctant or
disinterested server is a distraction during the Mass and will have a negative effect on parish faith.
2Servers basic knowledge of the Mass A server candidate
is required to know the principal prayers of the Mass: The Gloria, Our Father, Nicene Creed, Lamb of God, Lord, I am not worthy
and Holy, Holy, Holy to demonstrate they have sufficient interest in being a server. Not knowing these prayers usually results
in a server who just stands in ignorance of what to do during these prayers and becomes a distraction to the parish. In
addition have servers memorize three passages from scripture to help them appreciate the Sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.
These are the ones I use but there are many others which can be used to start a discussion about why we have the Sacrifice
of the Mass. Exodus 12:21-24. “Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, "Select lambs for
yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is
in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out
of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood
on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses
to slay you. You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever. “ John 6: 51-59 “I AM the living bread which came down from heaven; if any
one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. The
Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat? So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly,
I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh
and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is
drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live
because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such
as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever. This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.”
1 Corinthians 11:26-31
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever,
therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood
of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without
discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But
if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged.”
3What else should a server know All
candidates should know the definitions of the liturgical items and their purposes. See the end of this manual. a)
All candidates must demonstrate their ability to make use of the “tools of the trade” such as matches,
candle lighters, books and candles, processional cross, preparation of credence table, chalice, mass colors, etc. b)
All server candidates must be able to demonstrate their ability to genuflect (bow in the Eastern Rites), make the sign of
the cross proper to their Rite and show an understanding that their genuflecting (bowing) is in reverence for the presence
of Jesus Christ and should only be done to Him in the tabernacle not to altars, crosses, pictures or crucifixes. Catholics
do not worship (latria) anyone but the ONE TRIUNE GOD, Father Son and Holy Spirit. c)
The server must know the proper way to make the sign of the cross, kneel, stand and sit during Mass.
4What do servers do A server is not a wall decoration
they are primarily there to assist the priest and to discern their vocation if they have one. Here is a short list of server
duties. a) The servers duty is to set up for mass not the
priest’s or deacon’s. The server must be willing to get to Church early, usually 15 minutes, to perform the appropriate
setup for their parish. b) The Server must also stay after
Mass to return the Church to its non service condition. c)
Servers should not handle any consecrated bread or wine unless specifically directed by the priest or deacon in an emergency
situation. If the server suspects any consecrated fragments or wine remain on the sacred vessels they must inform the priest
or deacon immediately. d) Servers must remain in the sanctuary
during the entire Mass and are not to leave the sanctuary during Mass for any reason other than Illness or the direction of
the priest or deacon. Altar servers are on duty from the time they enter the sanctuary at the start of Mass until the priest
exits at the end of Mass. Thirst is not a bodily necessity and is never an excuse for leaving the sanctuary before Mass is
over. e) Servers have three primary positions when not performing
a specific duty. These are standing, sitting and kneeling. In any of these positions they should maintain a straight formal
posture. ♦In the standing position hands
should be held in the praying position as seen in most Christian artwork. Never hold hands in any position which would be
more appropriate at a bus stop. ♦In the
kneeling position hands should be held as in the standing position. You must kneel upright, not slouching or sitting on your
heals. ♦When sitting the hands should be
held on the lap or at the sides. Never slouch. Never play with your cinctures, pick your nose or otherwise cause a public
reason to take notice of you. You are not on stage; your are serving at the altar of Our God. Remember
holding hands in the prayer position was a medieval sign of submission to a manner lord and its very appropriate to signify
submission to our Divine Lord. Old servers like myself can, due to arthritis, clasp hands to avoid pain. Remember, you are
seen by all the parishioners and how you conduct yourself is important to their understanding of the eternal Lamb’s
Supper and His Sacrificial Act being represented for us in time. f)
Every altar server must attend every Mass they are scheduled for. When a server cannot be present, that server must arrange
for a replacement. 5Proper Dress At home the server should dress in the
proper clothes and footwear for Mass. If albs are your liturgical uniform remember what you wear underneath an alb will show
through. For this reason, the server should be sure to avoid bold stripes and designs of any kind which may show thru their
alb. It is recommended that you wear solid colors, but white would be the most appropriate choice of shirts and blouses. Likewise
pants, dresses and skirts should also be of some solid color. Dress
shoes should be worn. Sneakers, no matter how expensive, are for casual dress and sporting events and have no place at the
Altar of Our God. Servers must show respect for the Mass they attend at. Here in the U.S.A., old and tattered footwear is
not appropriate in most instances for the altar server while on duty.
6Genuflecting and Bowing In the Roman Rite, genuflecting
to the tabernacle is required and bowing is not an option to genuflecting in the Latin Rite. Latin Rite Catholics genuflect
to Our Lord alone. In all Catholic churches and Rites once the consecration of the bread and wine take place the actual substance,
that which makes Jesus the God-Man Jesus is transposed with the substance which had made the bread and wine bread and wine.
While the appearance of the bread and wine remain it is actually the true Body and Blood of the Risen Lord, Jesus. While His
presence is within the Scriptures and whenever two or more are gathered in His Name, that presence is subordinate to the actual
and real presence in the consecrated Eucharist. Catholics never genuflect to the bible or to a group of people meeting in
the Name of Jesus be we do to the Person Jesus present in the Eucharist. All Catholics should be aware of whenever He
is present on the altar (after the Consecration or during Eucharistic Adoration) or is reserved in the tabernacle. Everyone,
servers included, should genuflect whenever crossing in front of the tabernacle, or entering the Church (usually as they enter
a pew). The Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church requires a profound bow but that is not applicable than the Roman Rite. Consult
with your training leader for more information. In the Roman Rite, bowing is done for a priest, the altar or the cross.
Catholics never genuflect to the priest, altar or cross. When the tabernacle is not centrally aligned to the altar, one should
bow to the altar when passing in front of it. If entering the sanctuary in procession and all genuflect be sure you realize
what you are doing. You are genuflecting to the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle not the altar you may be facing.
I have noticed many people are starting to genuflecting to the altar or crucifix when the tabernacle is removed to a side
altar - this is not appropriate and should never be done. Catholics as well as all other Christians should only kneel or genuflect
to God. When He is reserved in the tabernacle He is just as present as when present on the Altar in the monstrance. The church
sanctuary light will indicate when Jesus is reserved in the tabernacle. When it is not lit, the tabernacle is empty as on
Good Friday and Holy Saturday. When should a server genuflect?
Whenever entering a Catholic Church (usually when entering a pew) or crosses in front of the tabernacle. “O come,
let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!” and “At the name of Jesus, every
knee shall bend.” Servers should remember that
there is an exception to this. Whenever they are carrying things like crosses, sacred vessels, books or candles do not genuflect.
There are two prescribed methods of genuflection. ∙When
the tabernacle is closed and Jesus is not present on the Altar after the consecration or exposed for Eucharistic Adoration,
genuflect in this manner: stop, then turn and face the tabernacle. Genuflect on the right knee so the right knee touches the
floor. Pause with the knee on the floor and bow your head to Jesus. Rise from the floor, still facing the tabernacle. Turn
and continue in the direction you were heading. ∙When
the Body of Jesus is present on the Altar or Jesus is exposed in the monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration and a server
(or anyone is entering or leaving the church) double genuflect in this manner: stop and face Jesus. Double genuflect with
both knees touching the floor, the right knee first. Pause with knees on the floor and bow your head to Jesus. Rise from the
floor, still facing the tabernacle. Turn and continue in the direction you were heading. Every action of the server has
an effect on the parishioners’ faith. What would someone think if they saw an altar server genuflecting to a cross or
statue? Would they think us wood worshiper? Or would we just be written off as idiots?
Acolytes' Candles - These two candles are carried either side of the cross in the entrance procession.
They are then used to flank the Gospel when it is proclaimed. Alb - A long linen tunic, worn since the four century.
The name comes from the Latin word, 'albus', meaning white. Altar - The structure on which the Eucharist takes
place. Altar Missal - See sacrementary. Ambo - See lectern Amice - An oblong, white cloth
with two tapes which the priest sometimes wears around his shoulders, underneath the alb.
Bell - May be used to signify the most solemn moments of the Mass, such as the consecration,
and to invite people to communion. Boat - The container inside which the incense is kept. Book of Gospels
- Contains all the Gospel readings for the Church's year. It is brought to the lectern during the Gospel acclamation. It may
be carried into church as part of the entrance procession or put in a special place before the celebration begins.
Candlestick - The holder into which is placed the lighted candles. Cassock -
Full length gown with sleeves worn by servers and priests. Chalice - The cup that contains the precious Blood
of Christ. Chapel of Reconciliation/Confessional Box - Here we meet with the priest to confess our sins and, through
the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance, receive God's forgiveness in the prayer of absolution. Chasuable -
The word literally means 'little house'. Worn at Mass, it covers all the other vestments and its colour changes according
to the season of the Church's year. This was originally a coat; it now symbolises the garment of Christ who is the true celebrant
of every Eucharist. Ciborium - A container that holds the body of Christ. Cincture - A rope belt that
is tied around the waist. Cope - A large, full length cape, held by a clasp at the front, worn for Benediction
of the Blessed Sacrement and on other solemn occasions. Corporal - Its name comes from the Latin word 'corpus'
meaning a 'body'. It is a square of white cloth, on which the chalice and paten are placed during the Mass, to catch particles
of the Blessed Sacrament, should any fall from the vessels. The corporal is placed on the altar either before Mass begins
or during the preparation of the gifts. Credence table - The little wooden side table on which all the things that
are necessary for the Mass are placed. Crozier - Carried by a Bishop. Looks like a shepherd's crook and reminds
us that the Bishop is chief shepherd of the flock of Christ in any given area. Crucifix - A cross on which is the
figure of Jesus. Cruet - Small jug that contains water or wine for the Mass. Custodia - Used to
contain the Host for safe keeping.
Delmatic - A sleeved top garment worn by a deacon.
Font - This is a pool or vessel of water in which people are baptised. It reminds us of our
baptism, when we were washed clean of sin and became a member of God's family. Flagon - Large container that holds
the water and wine that is carried in the offertory procession.
Gospel Book - A large decorated book containing only Gospel readings for the Mass. The deacon
usually carries it.
Host - The consecrated Body of Christ. Hummeral veil - A long rectangular garment,
held by a clasp at the front, worn by a priest or deacon when carrying a Ciborium or Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.
Incense - A substance that gives off clouds of sweet smelling smoke when sprinkled onto burning
charcoal. Incense Boat - So called because it is usually shaped like a boat, it contains the incense, which will
be burned in the thurible.
Lavabo Bowl and Towel - At the preparation of the gifts the priest washes his hands to signify
the cleansing of the sins of those gathered and to prepare himself for what he is about to do. Lectern - The desk
from which the readers, deacon and priest proclaim the readings. Lectionary - A book containing all the scripture
readings for Mass. It is placed on the lectern before Mass begins, or it may be carried in the entrance procession. Lunette
- A crescent-shaped clip made of gold or of silver-gilt, which is used for holding the Host in an upright position when, exposed
in the monstrance.
Mitre - A tall pointed hat in two pieces as worn by a Bishop. It reminds us of the tongues of
fire that seemed to light upon the apostles on the first day of Pentecost. Monstrance - A metal container on a
stand. It is used at expositions and benedictions of the blessed Sacrament. It may be plain or very elaborate, but it always
has a little glass window through which you can see the host.
Pascal Candle - This speaks of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. During the Easter season
this paschal candle has its place in the sanctuary. Thereafter it is placed next to the font for use during baptisms. Paten
- A plate from which the communion is served. Presidential chair - The chair on which the presider sits. Processional
Cross - This is carried into church at the head of a procession, as a sign of our faith, and is the basic symbol of Christianity.
It reminds us that Jesus died for us. Purificator - A cloth that is used to wipe the chalice each time it is used.
Pyx: A small metal container, used to take Holy Communion to the sick and housebound.
Sacramentary - A book which the priest uses at his chair and at the altar. It can also be called
the Missal. Sacristy - The room where the clergy and servers prepare themselves for the service. Sanctuary
- Sacred part of the church where the Altar, Lectern and presidential chair are. Sanctuary Lamp - The lamp that
is kept burning on the sanctuary to show that the blessed sacrament is present. Stations of the Cross - These depict,
usually in fourteen stages, the journey of Jesus to Calvary, his crucifixion on the cross and his laying in the tomb. Stole
- This important vestment, worn around the neck, shows that the priest is celebrating one of the Sacraments. It
also shows that the priest has the duty to preach the Word of God.
Tabernacle - The cupboard where we keep the consecrated bread. Thurible - The container
inside which charcoal is burned, it is suspended from chains and is also swung during parts of the service. This contains
the burning charcoal on to which grains of incense are placed. Incense has been used since early times to honour people and
things. For this reason during our worship we incense the people and priest, the altar, the Book of Gospels and the Blessed
Votive candles - These are burned at shrines and in front of statues to represent the prayers
and petitions of those who have prayed there.