SERVING AT THE ALTAR OF THE LORD. GUIDE FOR ALTAR SERVERS (One Server) Old St. Joseph Church Philadelphia, Pa

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1 SERVING AT THE ALTAR OF THE LORD GUIDE FOR ALTAR SERVERS (One Server) Old St. Joseph Church Philadelphia, Pa

2 THE MINISTRY OF ALTAR SERVER Assistance at the altar by servers represents a long liturgical tradition. These servers enhance the quality of the celebration for the whole gathered assembly by taking part in processions and by ensuring that all items required for the celebration are available at the appropriate moments (Introduction to the Order of Mass, #22). It is important that [servers] have an enthusiasm for public prayer. The server is not someone who performs a function of two and then settles back to observe the rest. [Servers] listen, sing and pray with the entire assembly. G. Thomas Ryan. The above paragraphs highlight the ministry of the altar server. The Vatican Council expressed the importance of having a number of ministers, in addition to the priest, for the fullest celebration of the liturgy. In the spirit of the ongoing renewal that liturgy requires, a few Questions and Answers regarding the role of the altar server, follow. WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE A LTAR SERVERS AT MASS? Altar Servers are lay men and women, girls and boys, who are designated to assist the priest and the deacon at Mass. Ordinarily; they are responsible for the cross, the candles, the incense and the thurible. They hold the book for the priest at the chair, assist the priest during the preparation of the gifts, and they wash the hands of the priest. In general, they assist the priest and deacon when necessary. (General Instruction of the Roman Missal - GIMR #100) WHO MAY BE A LTAR SERVERS? Altar servers are baptized Catholics, women and men, boys and girls, who are mature enough to understand and carry out their liturgical function. They should have received their first Holy Communion and normally receive the Eucharist whenever they participate in the liturgy. WHAT FORMATION IS REQUIRED? Formation is both technical and spiritual. Altar servers need to know the individual parts of the Mass and their specific meaning, the various objects used in the liturgy and their proper names, and the differing functions of the altar server during Mass and other liturgical celebrations. They need to understand their functions as a generous service to God and God's people. Finally, they should be prepared to exercise their functions with reverence and proper decorum. This formation and training continues throughout the period of service. H OW DOES ONE BECOME AN ALTAR SERVER? If you would be interested in serving in the Liturgical ministry of Altar Server, contact Donna Soultoukis at (215) , 2

3 VESTMENTS AND DRESS CODE The vestments distinguish the offices of those who wear them. They also contribute to the beauty of the Mass. Sacred vesture helps establish an environment conducive to ceremony, so central to Catholic ritual. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal does not specify a preference regarding the vesture for an instituted acolyte. Altar servers are permitted to either wear an alb with cincture (symbol of the baptismal garment) or a cassock and surplice. It has been the practice at the 11:30 a.m. Mass for the altar servers to be vested in cassock and surplice. Other masses have servers in both an alb and cincture or in Sunday best. In order to promote cohesion and consistency of practice and reverence it is important that altar servers wear ritually appropriate vesture at all Sunday masses. This clarifies and communicates their specific role during the liturgy. Just as we are striving to promote consistency in ritual practice, thus we are also committed to consistency in vesture. Therefore, all altar servers will be instructed to either vest in an alb with cincture or cassock and surplice prior to serving at the altar for all liturgical celebrations. It will be the responsibility of the Office of Liturgy and Music to insure that there are a sufficient number of albs, cassocks, and surplices with enough sizes to accommodate the full roster of altar servers. The appropriate dress code for altar servers is a plain white dress shirt, dark dress pants, and black dress shoes for men. For women, we ask you to be dressed in a white blouse, dark skirt or dark dress slacks, and comfortable, flat, black dress shoes. (Please refrain from wearing high heels or pumps in the sanctuary). STEP-BY-STEP PROCEDURAL GUIDE Schedules are distributed via every two months. Should you misplace your schedule during this term, please request a replacement from, Donna Soultoukis, Coordinator for Altar Servers. By participating in this ministry you have made a commitment to the community. We ask that you approach your ministry with, respect, reverence, and responsibility. If you are not able to make your assigned date or time, we ask that you take the responsibility for securing a replacement. A list of altar servers with their phone numbers has been provided. Please contact Donna Soultoukis for a replacement, only after you have had difficulty in finding a replacement yourself. Please arrive in the sacristy no later than 15 minutes prior to your scheduled Mass. Please check with the presider or the Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Music, Norm Gouin to see if there are any ritual changes or special events planned for the Mass. Please participate fully in the Eucharistic Celebration. As a minister of the altar you model for the entire community your role as full, conscious, and active minister engaged in the act of worship. 3

4 CHECKLIST FOR ALTAR SERVERS LITURGICAL ITEMS TO BE IN PLACE IN THE SACRISTY 1) Vestment of the day 2) Two chalices 3) Two purificators 4) One corporal 5) Paten 6) Ciborium 7) Lavabo (Bowl) 8) Flagon of Wine 9) Cruet of Water 10) Sacramentary with ribbons appropriately placed for the feast of the day 11) Lectionary with ribbons placed at the readings of the day 12) Presider s binder (which includes the General Intercessions and Announcements) 13) Lector s folder (which includes intercessions and pre-mass announcements) 14) Wireless microphone for presider. 15) Thurible (11:30 Mass only, feast days) 16) Stand for Thurible placed in the sanctuary with boat of incense (11:30 Mass only) PREPARATION BEF ORE MASS 1) The altar is bare 2) The small table near the presider s chair rests between the chair and a chair for the Altar Server. (At the 11:30 Mass two chairs are set up for the MC and thurifer near the Sacred Heart Altar and two chairs set in place for the candle bearers and other servers.) 3) The Sacramentary (with ribbons in place for the Mass of the Day) and presider s binder are placed on the table with a glass of water. 4) If provided the presider s homily is placed on the Ambo. 5) The large paten with the large and small hosts along with the flagon of wine is placed on a small table in the Narthex directly in front of the Religious Freedom relief. 6) The Sacramentary stand, water cruet, towel, lavabo bowl, two chalices, purificators, corporal, and placed on the credence table. 7) All altar candle s are lit no later than 5 minutes before Mass begins. 8) Sound system is turned on. 9) Altar Server gathers with other ministers for prayer. C LEAN UP F OLLOWING MASS 1) Sacramentary and presider s binder are placed in the sacristy on the shelf. 4

5 2) Chalices, paten, corporal, and purificators are returned to the sacristy when they are purified in accordance with the Sacristy guidelines. 3) Lavabo, wine flagon, water cruet, and towel are returned to the sacristy. The towel along with the purificators and the corporal are placed in the dirty linen basket near the side table. The lavabo dish, flagons and cruets are rinsed out thoroughly and put away. 4) Candles are extinguished. 5) Vestments are properly folded and placed in the closet or appropriate drawers. 6) Sound system is turned off and lights are turned off including outdoor lights. (If during one of the evening liturgies) SERVICE AT THE ALTAR OF THE LORD ENTRANCE R ITE, I N T RODUCTORY R ITES, AND THE L ITURGY OF THE WORD The altar server rings the bell and, carrying the processional cross, leads the procession of ministers down the side aisle and up the main aisle to the center gate. The altar server carries the processional cross through the center gate and places it in the holder next to the Sacred Heart altar. The altar server then takes his or her place at the chair near the presider s chair and remains standing for the Introductory Rites. Following the Introduction to the Mass, the Penitential Rite, and the Gloria, the altar server opens the Sacramentary to the Opening Prayer and stands ready in his or her place. After the Opening Prayer, the server places the Sacramentary on the table between him or her and the presider s chair and is seated for the Liturgy of the Word. PREPARATION OF THE A LTAR AND GIFTS After the homily, when the presider has returned to the chair and stands for prayer, the server opens the presider s binder to the General Intercessions and stands ready for the presider to begin the introduction. Once the presider has finished praying the concluding prayer the server closes the binder and returns it to the small table. While the offertory collection is being taken up, the server proceeds to place the book stand (if needed) and Sacramentary just to the left of center on the altar. He or she then proceeds to the credence table. The corporal is brought to the altar first and carefully and reverently placed in the center of the altar. The server then proceeds to place the main chalice in the center of the altar, and places a purificator alongside the main chalice. A second chalice is placed on the right section of the corporal side on the altar with a purificator. Once this is completed the server waits, standing near the credence table, for the preisder to come forward to receive the gifts. When the presider walks to the center gate to receive the gifts, the server follows and stands ready to receive the gifts. The presider hands the flagon of wine and the paten to the server. The presider then places his hands on the collection of food and money in a gesture of reception and then both he 5

6 and the server proceed to the altar. The server meets the presider at the altar and hands him the paten for the blessing prayer. The server then places the flagon of wine to the side of the corporal and then proceeds to the credence table to retrieve the cruet of water. The server hands the cruet to the presider handle facing out. The presider places a small drop of water into the flagon of wine and then distributes the wine evenly into both chalices on the altar. The server then receives the empty flagon and water cruet from the presider and places them on the credence table. The server then take the lavabo bowl, towel, and water cruet and stands at floor level facing the altar. When the presider is ready the server approaches the presider and pours water over his hands and offers him the towel. When the presider returns the towel to the server, the server returns the lavabo bowl, towel, and water cruet to their places on the credence table. The server then goes to his or her chair near the Marian altar and stands ready. LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST The server remains standing throughout the Eucharistic Prayer with hands folded and eyes fixed on the action/prayer taking place at the altar. At the exchange of peace the server approaches the presider and exchanges a sign of peace. The server then returns to his or her chair on the Marian altar side. THE COMMUNION RITE Once the Lamb of God begins the altar server proceeds to the altar with the Eucharistic Ministers. The server is to stand closest to the wall to receive communion before returning to his or her chair. It is the responsibility of the altar server to remain attentive to the flow of the communion procession and to be available if the presider or other ministers should need assistance during the Communion Rite. After the presider and Eucharistic Minister has placed any remaining consecrated bread into the tabernacle and has left the altar, the server carefully removes the, paten, chalice, and corporal from the altar and places it on the credence table. The server then takes the Sacramentary from the altar and carries it to his or her chair near the Sacred Heart altar. When the preisder stands the server opens the Sacramentary to the Prayer after Communion, and holds out the book for the presider to pray the collect. B LESSING, AND DISMISSAL If there is a special final blessing the server opens the Sacramentary and holds the book out for the presider. After the final blessing and dismissal, the server retrieves the processional cross and exits through the center gate and stops approximately ¼ of the way down the main aisle and turns facing the altar. 6

7 He or she waits there for the lector and the presider to join the procession. When the presider comes to the head of the aisle and bows the altar, the server turns and leads the procession to the sacristy. After arriving in the sacristy the server returns the processional cross to its holder and begins clean up and breaks down. PRAYER AND REFLECTION FOR ALTAR SERVERS Yours is a share in the work of the Lord s Spirit who calls the whole church to the celebration of the liturgy, of the word and of charity. Yours is the task of preparing the Lord s table for the prayer of the assembly, for the communion of God s people. Let every prayer and word you speak from chair, ambo, and table be clear, strong and true. Let your every movement and gesture be strong, graceful and with purpose; the hurried step is distracting, the weak gesture insignificant. Let nothing be affected; let everything be done with reverence. Handle holy things with care. Let your ministry be emptied of self-interest. Let your eyes fall often on God s people as the eyes of a servant are on the hands of a master. Rejoice in the work the Lord has accomplished through you. 7

8 Be faithful in the work you do, for through the Lord saves his people. (prayer text taken from, Preparing for Liturgy by Austin Fleming, LTP, Chicago, 1989) 8

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