Altar servers are called to familiarize themselves with the liturgical tradition of the Church and to bring reverence and beauty to our celebration of the liturgy, gaining an appreciation for its significance to our faith life.
They serve at weekend Masses as well as feasts and solemnities. The ministry is open to boys and to girls (up to age 16) who are at least in 4th grade and have received their first Holy Communion, as well as to men 18 and older.
It is the Parents responsibility to bring their children to Mass on time on the days they are scheduled.
VIRTUS and fingerprinting are required for adults.
GUIDELINES FOR ALTAR SERVERS
Attire and Footwear
Attire: Clothing should be clean, neat and appropriate for Mass. No T-Shirts, sweatshirts,sweatpants, halter tops, jeans, jean shorts or other athletic wear. Clothing should be modest and non revealing.
Shoes: Dark color dress shoes or dressy casual shoes are required. No open toe shoes, sandals, sneakers or any kind of beach or water shoes. No Flip Flops. Servers are free to bring shoes to change for use in Mass.
Hair Style and Color
Hair Style: Hair must be neat and groomed. For safety reasons, servers with long hair should pull their hair back in a ponytail or some other fashion. Bright hair dyes are not allowed.
Makeup and Jewelry
Makeup: Makeup should be kept to an absolute minimum. If worn, makeup should be modest and light.
Jewelry: Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Necklaces should not be visible. Bracelets are discouraged. Any earrings worn must be small and non distracting. Dangling earrings and large hoop earrings are strictly forbidden.
To serve the altar is one of the highest privileges for a young boy or girl, teen, or adult. You represent the faithful, and take part in the rich treasures of the Church’s liturgy. This sacred ceremony shall be carried out with love and devotion. It is not about entertaining people, but about worshipping God through your service.
Things you will find in the Sacristy
- The Crucifix. The priest and servers bow to the Crucifix before and after Mass.
- The Sacrarium is a small sink that is used to receive water used to wash sacred vessels or linens that come into contact with vessels. The water goes directly into the ground.
- The closets where albs and vestments are kept.
- Cabinet is the place where the sacred vessels are kept.
- Thurible or censer is a vessel of brass or silver hung on chains with a top. It is used to burn charcoal on which incense is placed.
- Incense Boat is the metal container that holds the incense. It has a small spoon to place incense in thurible.
- Incense is a mixture of sweet smelling resins mixed with other materials that give fragrance. It signifies Christian prayer that rises up to the Lord.
- The candle lighter is used to light torches and altar candles.
- Holy Water Bucket and Sprinkler: A container made of metal where holy water is placed to be used in the aspersion rites and for certain blessings. The sprinkler or aspergillium is a metal ball with holes and a handle used to sprinkle the people or things with holy water.
Sacred vessels and cloths used at Mass
Chalice: A cup of gold or silver used to hold wine for consecration at Mass.
Purificator: A white piece of linen with a cross in the middle and folded in three, used by the priest to wipe the chalice.
Paten: A small round gold plate used to hold the host for consecration.
Pall: A small, square piece of linen used to cover the chalice
Corporal: A larger piece of linen with a cross in the center. It is folded three ways in both directions. The chalice and paten rest on the corporal at Mass.
Ciborium: A round bowl or cup that contains either the unconsecrated hosts or the Blessed Sacrament.
Monstrance: This is used for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It is decorated and sits on the altar during Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Vestments of the priest and deacon
Alb: A long white linen robe. Signifies the purity of life required of a priest.
Cincture: A rope or cord, usually white, but sometimes the color of the vestments. It is a symbol of purity.
Stole: A long strip of material worn around the neck by the priest, signifiying the dignity of the priesthood. The deacon wears a stole over his left shoulder and across the chest.
Chasuble: A sleeveless outer garment proper to the priest celebrant that is worn over the alb and stole. Like the stole, it is normally of the liturgical color of the Mass being celebrated (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 37).
Dalmatic: A wide-sleeved loose vestment worn by the deacon during the celebration of Mass. Like the chasuble, it is normally of the liturgical color of the Mass being celebrated.
White: Used on feasts of Christ, the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, the Angels, Saints, Confessors and Virgins. Also used from Christmas to Epiphany and during Eastertime, except on feasts of Martyrs.
Red: Used for Pentecost, feasts of the suffering and cross of Christ, feasts of the Apostles (except St. John) and of the Martyrs.
Green: Used during Ordinary Time.
Violet: Used from the First Sunday of Advent to Christmas and from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday.
Rose: Used on Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) and Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent).
Things that can be found in the Sanctuary
The Tabernacle is the beautiful gold box at the center of the sanctuary behind the altar. This is where the Blessed Sacrament is kept (or reserved) at all times. We pay special attention to its location, and show our respect by bowing or genuflecting when we enter the church and whenever we cross in front of it. While serving Mass, we bow to the tabernacle when we cross in front of it.
The Altar symbolizes Christ, Who offers Himself to God through the hands of the priest. It will be covered with an altar cloth. Candles, a crucifix and the Book of the Gospels may be placed on it. Reverence the altar by bowing when you cross in front of it during Mass.
The Ambo is the lectern where the lectors and the priest proclaim God’s word during Mass. There will be a Lectionary or binder, usually of the appropriate liturgical color, on the ambo for the lectors. The ambo’s origin dates back to biblical times when the rabbis read Scriptures to the people from an elevated platform.
The Presider’s Chair is reserved for the priest. The chair on the right of it is for the deacon. On the left there is a small table on which there will be a binder similar to the one on the ambo, or the Roman Missal. The chair is a symbol of the celebrant’s authority.
The Processional Crucifix and Torches: The Crucifix will be in its stand at the back of the church, and will be brought forward during the entrance procession and placed in the stand behind the ambo. The torches are kept in the sacristy until the procession starts. Once the procession gets to the altar, the torches are placed in the walkway behind the altar until it is time to light them for the recessional.
Things to find on the credence table
Water cruet for the preparation of the chalice. If there is no offertory procession, the wine cruet will be there as well.
Finger basin and towel (for Lavabo)
Ablution cup and towel for Communion Ministers
On the lower shelf you will find the Roman Missal and stand, which will be brought to the altar at the offertory.
Underneath the table will be the bells and the cushions for kneeling.
Basic position: Hold your hands together, palms together and fingers extended and flat. Right thumb over your left thumb. Keep you hands close to your chest/heart. You should have your hands in this position at all times unless you are sitting, or if you are holding, receiving or giving an object to the priest or anyone else.
Sitting position: When sitting, your hands should sit flat on your knees at all times.
Heart position: When using only one hand to pass something or receive something, keep the unused hand flat against your chest/heart. Return to the Basic position when both hands are free.
Head bow: Standing straight, looking forward, drop your chin to your chest and raise it back up. When used: Whenever the name of “Jesus” or “Mary” is said. Whenever you give or receive an object to another server or the priest.
Low bow: Standing straight, looking forward, drop your head and body until you are facing the floor. Remain standing. Return up to standing position. When used: During the Creed at the words, “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man”.
Genuflect: Standing straight, looking forward, kneel on the right knee and rise again to standing position. When you approach the altar unless you are carrying the Processional Cross or the torches.