A Rubrical Guide For Altar Servers
Mass for One Server
It is assumed that the one who serves Low Mass solo
is a Senior Acolyte and is therefore well
acquainted with both positions of Ac1 and Ac2 at Low Mass.
The differences for one server at Low Mass as
compared to that of
two servers are minor. Low Mass is performed as normal with these
- The Acolyte always kneels on the side of the
Foot opposite of the missal
. Hence when the missal is on
the Gospel side of the Altar, he kneels on the Epistle side of the Foot
and vice versa.
- When on the
Epistle side, the Acolyte kneels where Ac1 normally would, and on the
Gospel side where Ac2 would.
- The Acolyte does not genuflect at the center of
the Foot unless:
- He has to
cross the Sanctuary.
- He has to
leave the view of the Altar (i.e.,
to turn over the Communion Rail cloths).
In addition to the exceptions listed above, the
Acolyte must keep these two other items in mind:
- If there is only one Altar step (i.e.,
the Predella), the Acolyte always kneels in
plano except when he
would kneel on the Predella (e.g.,
during the Consecration and when receiving Communion).
- If the Acolyte is serving a public Mass, he
must take care that
the responses are made at a moderate pace, clearly and in an audible
PREPARATIONS BEFORE MASS
- The preparations are carried out in the same
manner as for two servers with one exception:
- The wine
cruet is placed on the right side of the cruet tray and the water cruet
on the left.
- Follows the same general rules as for two
servers with these differences:
- Upon reaching the Foot, the Acolyte steps off
to the left side to
allow C to reach the center .
- However, if C processes in wearing a
biretta, the Acolyte steps off to
C’s right, receives the biretta cum solita oscula,
genuflects in unison with C, and after assisting with the alb, then
takes the biretta to the Sedilia .
- Then the Acolyte returns to the Foot,
genuflects while crossing the
center, and goes to the left side of the center (Ac2’s Confiteor
position) and awaits C to descend from the
PREPARATORY PRAYERS AT THE FOOT
- The Acolyte kneels slightly behind and on
side of C during the Preparatory Prayers.
- After the Preparatory Prayers,
the Acolyte stands, and without genuflecting
, goes to and kneels at his Gospel side position on the 1st
- After saying Deo Gratias
to the Epistle ,
the Acolyte switches the missal to the Gospel side of the Altar in the
same manner as described for Ac2.
- During the reading of the Gospel,
after the Acolyte has bowed at the Holy Name (if mentioned), he turns
descends the Altar steps, proceeds per longiorem
to the center
of the Foot, genuflects and then takes his position standing and facing
the missal (Gospel) in front of his Epistle side
- Immediately after saying Laus
tibi, Christe, the Acolyte kneels.
- At the Offertory, when C
removes the chalice veil, the
Acolyte stands and proceeds to the Credence. He holds both cruets, the
wine cruet in his right hand and the water cruet in his left hand. He
then proceeds to the Epistle side of the Foot and immediately ascends
to the Altar while remaining within the edges of the Altar.
- When the
Acolyte approaches, he bows, kisses the wine cruet
first, presents it to C, then switches the water cruet to his right
hand, and kisses the water cruet .
- The Acolyte
receives the wine cruet back into his left hand,
presents the water cruet after the blessing and then switches the wine
cruet back to his right hand and kisses it.
- Then the Acolyte receives the water cruet in
his left hand, kisses it first,  then
bows to C, turns right and returns to the
- The Acolyte holds the various items for the Lavabo
as Ac2 would with this addition:
- The Acolyte places the finger towel neatly
over his left wrist
with the finger towel still folded
If there is a cross on the towel, it should be arranged so that it is
in the bottom corner and facing outwards (to the left of
- After the Lavabo ,
upon retrieving the bells at the
Credence, the Acolyte returns to his former position on the Epistle
side and kneels without making a genuflection at the Foot .
CONSUMPTION OF THE SACRED HOST
(returning the bells to the Credence)
- After the
Acolyte returns the bells to the Credence and picks up
the communion plate, he goes to the center of the Foot, genuflects and
then going to the Epistle side first, turns over the Communion Rail
cloths, genuflecting upon crossing the center.
- The Acolyte then returns to the center of
the Foot, genuflects and
then kneels towards the right side of the center of the Foot (i.e.,
off center to the right).
HOLDING THE COMMUNION PLATE
- When Ac1 is
holding the communion plate (in his right hand), he does not perform
actions with his hands (e.g.,
the sign of the Cross or the striking of the breast); however, he does
make the usual bows.
DISTRIBUTION OF HOLY COMMUNION
(upon returning to the foot with C)
- After the Distribution of Holy
Communion, upon returning
to the Foot with C, the Acolyte assists C with his alb, goes to the
center of the Foot, genuflects in unison with C and then returns to his
Epistle position .
- The Ablutions are
performed as Ac1 would, with these additions:
- The Acolyte also holds the
water cruet in his left hand by its handle.
- After pouring the first portion of wine
from the center of the
Predella, he switches the wine cruet into his
left hand momentarily,
picks up the plate and puts it in front of the Lavabo Altar
- During the second portion,
the Acolyte may switch the cruets to
pour with his right hand, or he pours
without switching hands.
- After performing the Ablutions,
the Acolyte switches the
wine cruet to his left hand again, and holding both cruets in his left
hand, picks up the plate with his right hand.
- During the Last Gospel,
after the Acolyte has signed
himself with the crosses, he goes to the center, genuflects and stands
at the Epistle side position, facing the Last Gospel Altar
- If a book or prayer card is needed for the Leonine
Prayers, the Acolyte may go to the Credence to retrieve it after
saying Deo gratias.
- During the Leonine Prayers,
the Acolyte kneels slightly behind and to the right of C.
- After the Leonine Prayers,
having assisted with the alb, the Acolyte returns the card to the
Credence (if used), and retrieves
the biretta (if used).
- If neither
item is used, the Acolyte simply remains at the Foot while C retrieves
- After C
retrieves the chalice, the Acolyte genuflects, turns inwards and
server once switched the missal to the Gospel side after the Post
Communion for the Last Gospel. The Last
Gospel Altar Card now replaces the missal, hence the server
is on the opposite side of the Card during the Last Gospel.
Technically, in sanctuaries where one must enter from a side door, as
opposed to the center aisle, C is supposed to process to the Foot
(which usually entails going around the Foot) behind the Acolyte in a
sweeping elliptical motion while the Acolyte steps off to the side to
allow C to reach the center of the Foot.
to the Credence according to the usual custom.
L. O’Connell, pg. 158, J.B. O’Connell by omission on pg. 357 in the
1962 edition, but explicitly on pg. 429 in the 1956 edition. The reason
for this is simple: the Acolyte is not considered to be leaving the
center of the Altar, nor is he crossing it.
he may slightly raise both cruets to the level of his lips, and kiss both
cruets at the same time, from right to left.
again he may kiss both cruets simultaneously.
The Acolyte may have to slightly pull back the hem of his surplice to
accomplish this. In any case, the towel should rest on his cassock and
not on his surplice.
It is also permissible to completely unfold the towel and lay this
either over one’s forearm, or to hold it between the bowl and one’s
left-hand palm. However, the method given above is the usual one
performed in the United States.
Credence is not considered to be outside the view of the Altar. L.
O’Connell, pg. 38.
This genuflection is performed because the Acolyte must cross the
center of the Altar after assisting C who is now on the Predella, while
the Acolyte is in plano.
Therefore the Acolyte is no
longer accompanying Our Lord, and is now required to perform a
reverence when crossing the center of the Altar. Cf.
Principles of Ceremonies: III. Various Conditions That Affect
Reverences; E. When Carrying Or Accompanying An Image Of Christ,
for further details.
2007. Louis J. Tofari. All rights reserved.