HOW TO SERVE AND PRAY AT LOW MASS
1. Arrive in good time.
2. If you have to pass through the church, kneel down, pray to Our Lord and say your Guild Prayers before Serving.
3. If you enter by the sacristy, vest first, and then go into church or a side-chapel and say your prayers.
4. Always walk slowly and reverently. Genuflect to the ground, keeping your body upright, and facing forward.
5. Prepare the cruets; light the candles beginning by the one at the
Epistle side; prepare your book if you use one. Help the priest to vest.
6. If you are not serving at the Blessed Sacrament Altar, tell the
priest if you or other people want Holy Communion, stating the number.
If you forget this, you can still present altar-breads to the priest up
till the Offertory, or even any time before the Elevation.
7. Never talk or play in the sacristy.
8. When the priest is ready for Mass, take the Missal if this is the
custom, bow to the Cross, and precede the priest, offering him Holy
Water with your right hand and then making the sign of the Cross
yourself. Ring the sacristy bell if this is the custom. If you are
carrying the Missal, lean it on your left arm to do all these actions.
9. On reaching the Altar, be at the priest's right: receive the biretta
if he is wearing it, kissing first his hand, then biretta (NOTE A,
p.29), and genuflect, even if the priest only bows (NOTE B, p.29). Put
the biretta on the step or the credence table, and if you have to put
the Missal on the stand, go round by the side.
10. Then if necessary, close the sanctuary gates, genuflect and go to
the foot of the steps at the Gospel side so as to be on the priest's
left. Have your book open and ready.
11. When the priest comes down and bows or genuflects, kneel directly on the floor.
THE SERVER IN THE SACRISTY
servers should take pride in punctuality, personal cleanliness and
good behavior, and while serving strictly avoid staring about them. The
service in which they assist is no common service but sacred and
solemn, and the place is most holy, therefore must the server
constantly remind himself of the presence of God and His holy angels if
he would serve well.
The Sacristy is the antechamber of the sanctuary and within the
precincts of God's house; therefore the server will regulate his
conduct and behave well there, after the example of the Holy Child and
His saints. As a member of the Guild of St. Stephen he will place
himself under the protection of that faithful deacon and brave martyr,
invoke his intercession and follow his example.
THE SERVER AT THE ALTAR
The first thing that every server at Low Mass should be concerned about
is the correct pronunciation of the Latin. Those servers who have never
learnt Latin, and they are the majority, should invariably use a book
or card when serving. It is so easy to make mistakes without realizing
it, and these mistakes tend to increase until in the course of time the
answers will no longer be Latin at all but merely a succession of
sounds somewhat resembling that language.
He should follow the Mass. His duty is SERVE the priest. He must,
therefore, attend to what the priest is saying and doing, so as to be
ready to answer at the correct time, and be rather beforehand than
behindhand with his ministrations. It is for the priest and not the
server to set the pace. The following "DON'TS" will remind servers in a
short but arresting way of some of the common faults to be avoided in
serving at Low Mass.
1. DON'T look round when anyone passes in front of or near the altar.
The Server should be either following the Mass in his Missal or
watching the priest.
2. DON'T stand during the "Credo," kneel as soon as you have answered "Laus tibi, Christe."
3. DON'T ever put the cruets on the altar without the lavabo cloth
under them, and, at the Offertory, don't leave them on the altar for
the priest to take: hand each cruet to the priest with the right hand.
4. DON'T kiss the chasuble before or after the Elevation, and hold it up only when the priest raises his arms.
5. DON'T kneel at the side to receive Holy Communion, always move to
the front facing the altar on the Epistle side, after the priest has
6. DON'T carry the chalice veil to the Gospel side; either unfold it on the Epistle side and leave it there, or do not touch it.
7. DON'T come to the center for the priest's blessing, remain at the Gospel side until the priest has begun the last Gospel.
N.B. This edition of The Altar Server’s Handbook,
originally published by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen a century
ago, contains in its pages directives which do not necessarily
correspond to the 1962 Missale Romanum
or the serving tutorial on the Sancta Missa website. The handbook is
intended as a possible aid for parishes or individuals interested in
implementing a similar guild.