ON THESE SHEETS:
- ( ); the round
parentheses, for the most part, enclose rubrical information.
- [ ]; the square parentheses enclose
recommendations that are not
necessarily rubrics, but rather practical tips.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF THE ROMAN RITE
The general principles of the Roman Rite
ceremonies are expounded in
detail in the General Principles
sheets provided by the Guild. To have a complete understanding of how
and why the various actions of the servers should be performed, one
should consult those sheets, as for the most part, the in-depth
knowledge of those items is assumed within these Low Mass sheets.
Where thought to be necessary, the authoritative
authors will be cited to show the validity of the serving method
described on these sheets, which fulfills the second
part of the threefold object of the Guild, "by
instructing him in the manner of observing the rites and ceremonies
of the Church according to the rubrics and to the decrees of the Sacred
Congregation of Rites and the interpretations of the most generally
- Ac1 is usually on the right (Epistle side), and
Ac2 is usually on the
left (Gospel side).
- Ac1 is the senior server and
Ac2 should follow his lead and pace in all of the responses and
MAKING THE LATIN RESPONSES 
Responding must be done:
- at a moderate pace,
audibly (i.e., loud enough to be
heard by people).
When serving a
Dialogue Mass, the Acolytes lead the pace and should be heard slightly
above the people.
GENERAL RULES CONCERNING THE
VARIOUS ACTIONS MADE BY THE SERVERS
should be done:
- With a sense of
- with diligence and deliberate purpose,
- but yet in a natural and unaffected
It should be remembered that every action has a
meaning, and is therefore a tiny prayer or offering in itself.
There are only two types of
bows used by the servers during Low Mass, the:
- Simple bow
This is made by bowing the
head only. All bows when kneeling are simple unless otherwise
- Moderate bow
This is made by bowing the head and
shoulder together at about a sixty degree angle. A moderate bow is
never made by
bowing one’s head all the way to the floor, as a profound bow is never
made by one kneeling .
When you genuflect you must:
- Keep your head and body erect.
- Not bow your head.
- Not sign yourself with a
cross when genuflecting (these actions symbolize two different things).
- Not touch your knees with your hands.
- Keep your hands folded in front of your breast
- Never genuflect hastily, but always solemnly,
with purpose and in
unison with C or another Acolyte.
- Always walk erect, with
dignity and at a moderate pace.
When walking with another server, always do so shoulder to shoulder.
Pay special attention when going around corners to give the server on
the outside a chance to keep up.
- When two servers are
together they always turn towards each other (this is called an inward
alone on the Predella, always turn in the direction of the
Tabernacle, so as not to turn your back on Our Lord (this follows the
rule of proximity).
- whenever you have to turn to
proceed from one place to another,
always turn completely in that direction, and then proceed; do not
sidestep your way there.
- whenever you have to
turn a corner or go around an object, do so in
a natural, curving fashion, and not in a military precision turn .
HOLDING THE CRUETS
In all cases, the Acolytes
- Hold the cruets at the same
height (about the level of one’s sternum, but not against
it, otherwise the surplice could become stained),
- And in their right hand.
presenting cruets for C to take, hold the cruet in your right-hand palm
by the bottom, with the handle facing straight
towards C. Never kiss the lip of the cruet , rather kiss the side or its
At the Lavabo
pouring, the cruet should be held by its handle in the right hand. Be
careful not to spill any water or wine onto the Altar cloths or floor.
Keep the lip of the cruet about three inches above the C’s fingers
the chalice. Tilt the cruet slightly upwards at the end of each pouring
to catch the last drop from dripping onto the Altar cloth .
When you are not using your hands, keep them
folded over your sternum like this:
- Hold your hands palm to palm with fingers held
together and extended,
- keep the right thumb over the left thumb (in
the shape of a cross ),
have your folded hands resting just in front of your chest, though not
actually against your surplice , at about a twenty degree
When you are not using one of
your hands (usually the left one), always place that hand with its palm
flat over your sternum.
Striking the breast
The breast is struck three times at both Confiteor
’s, the Agnus Dei, and at the Faithful’s
Domine non sum dignus,
though the method
for each event is slightly different.
- Place your left hand flat over your sternum.
- With the right hand, hold your fingers together
and extended, but
slightly cup them in a curve and extend your arm straight in front of
- Keep your elbow close to your body
while doing this.
- Strike your breast silently
with the tips of your fingers in this fashion:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At each mea
Dei . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At each miserere
non sum dignus . . . . For the duration of each
the Cassock when standing and kneeling
kneeling or rising from a kneeling position, lift up the side
of your cassock slightly with your left hand. This will prevent you
from tripping, or from kneeling on your cassock in an uncomfortable
manner. This can also be used as a visual cue for Ac1 to Ac2, to signal
when both should stand and kneel in unison. However do not lift your
cassock while genuflecting. While kneeling, ensure that the cassock
slightly covers the back of your shoes.
Handling of the Bells
In all cases, excess
rings should be avoided either when carrying
the bells, when picking up or putting down the bells, or even when
ringing them, as extra rings are distracting to C and the congregation.
The secret to accomplishing this is to keep the bells level and
slightly away from one’s body, while paying close attention to what one
Ringing the bells
The bells should be rung in an up-down  fashion and not side-to-side
. The bells are rung as such:
- Grasp firmly the handle of the bell,
- raise it almost to the level of your waist,
raise and immediately lower it with a slight flick of the
wrist in an inverse arc (not straight up and down), without going above
the level of your shoulders, and returning
it just slightly
behind your waist with a small flick of the wrist, so as to sound two
clear and distinct
It is not necessary to ring the bells hard or in a
violent manner to
accomplish this. Rather they should be rung in a graceful and almost
lightsome manner . This wrist and shoulder
motion often takes some practice.
the bells, do not put them down immediately, but allow
the sound to die out a little first, and then put them down carefully
Carrying and holding the bells
When moving the bells, always pick them up by the
balancing them with your index finger only .
Both in carrying and in holding the bells, keep
them at about
the level of your waist and slightly in front of your body.
In these sheets, helpful
cues have been provided to assist the
server to realize when he should pick up the bells in anticipation of
actually ringing them. Otherwise the server will have to rush in
picking up the bells, which often causes excess rings, and which can
contribute to the server not ringing the bells well. The cues are
marked with <B>
and are then followed with the cue.
Carrying the communion plate 
Whenever one is carrying the communion plate he
- Hold the plate in his right hand by the handle.
- Hold the plate away from one’s chest,
especially taking care not to hit
the plate against one’s medal.
- Hold the plate
side facing upwards (and not to the side, etc.).
During the distribution of Holy Communion, one
tilt the plate as Sacred Particles may have fallen on it.
- Keep the plate under the chin of the
- Not allow chapel veils or other objects to
brush the top of the plate.
- Not strike the plate against the ciborium.
When one is holding the plate, one does not
perform any gestures with
PREPARATIONS PRIOR TO LOW MASS
If a Sacristan is not available, then the servers
arrive at least twenty minutes before Mass begins for preparations.
Otherwise, the servers should arrive in the Sacristy no
later than fifteen minutes before Mass begins. The Acolytes should say
the designated prayers while vesting in their cassock and
surplice, and kiss their medal before putting it on.
Ac1 should ensure that the following
items on the Altar are prepared correctly:
- The Altar mensa is uncovered and the Altar
cards are set up correctly .
correct color antependium and conopaeum are on the Altar and Tabernacle
Missal has its ribbons set for the proper Mass. The Missal is placed closed
with the opening facing left on its stand on
the Epistle side
of the Altar, with the stand facing straight.
- (If Holy Communion will be distributed during
the Mass) The Tabernacle
key is already in the Tabernacle .
Altar candles are lighted.
Ac2 should ensure that the
following items on the Credence are prepared correctly:
- The water and wine cruets should be set up on a
cruet tray  in the center of the
Credence, close to the front edge. For two servers the wine should be
on the left side and the water on the right.
The cruet handles should face towards the back of the Credence.
- The Lavabo bowl should be
behind the cruet tray
and the finger towel should be placed lengthwise over the bowl .
bells  should be to the left-hand
side of the cruets, so Ac1 may have easy access to them.
- The communion plate (inside its cover ) should be positioned where
it is convenient to reach it, usually to the right side of the cruets.
- Any books or cards containing prayers should be
placed under the plate .
LIGHTING AND EXTINGUISHING THE ALTAR CANDLES
one time these actions were considered part of the Mass,
and so to this day, the method of lighting and extinguishing the Altar
candles still remains quasi-ceremonial.
Lighting the Candles
The Epistle side candle is
always lighted first, followed by the Gospel side candle .
lighting the candles:
- Ac1 must pass
the candlelighter around the Altar, and not over
the Altar cloths, to avoid dripping wax or sparks onto the linens .
must also descend in planum, genuflect in the
of the Foot and then re-ascend to the Predella before lighting the
Gospel side candle. He may not genuflect on the Predella, as this
privilege is reserved to Sacred Ministers .
descending from the Predella, Ac1 must take care to turn towards the
Tabernacle and not away from it.
Extinguishing the Candles
In extinguishing the
candles, the same procedure is observed, only
in reverse order, with the Gospel side candle being extinguished first,
followed by the Epistle side candle.
Prayers Before Mass
The Acolytes must
take care to say the prescribed Guild prayers
before Mass following the instructions printed on the cards (there is
an ordinary and a seasonal prayer card). It is recommended that they
say these prayers ten minutes before Mass and before lighting the Altar
candles. The Acolytes should say these prayers at the Foot, kneeling on
the first Altar step.
SERVING LOW MASS
Processing to the Foot of the Altar
- After assisting C with his vestments, the
Acolytes bow to the Sacristy
cross with C.
[If C says at the same time "Procedamus in pace,"
(Let us proceed in peace) the Acolytes respond with "In nomine Christe,
Amen." (In the name of Christ, Amen)]
- Before entering the Sanctuary, Ac1 dips his
right hand in the holy
water font and passes it to Ac2’s right hand, who then passes it on to
C’s right hand and then all sign themselves. Then Ac1 gently rings the
Sacristy bell twice.
- Ac1 & Ac2 process
in front of C at a moderate pace, walking
shoulder to shoulder, with Ac1 on the right and Ac2 on the left.
At the Foot of the Altar
- When Ac1 & Ac2 reach the Foot, they
pair off, leaving room in
the middle for C. 
- If C
is wearing a biretta, Ac1 takes it from him by the fin on the
right hand side, kissing his hand first and then the biretta.
- C and Acolytes then genuflect together ,
and while C ascends to the Predella, they assist him with his alb. They
remain standing while C unfolds the corporal and opens the missal.
- During this time Ac1 takes the biretta to the
Sedilia, and returns
to the Foot without genuflecting. When C is finished, he will then
descend back to the center of the Foot.
Preparatory Prayers at the Foot of the
me; Psalm 42)
- While C
genuflects, the Acolytes kneel in plano.
- The Acolytes then make the sign of the Cross
unison with C.
- They make the proper responses
- When C says the Gloria Patri,
the Acolytes make a simple bow.
- When they say
the Misereatur, they make a moderate bow at an
angle towards C.
- Then the Acolytes make a
moderate bow  while reciting the Confiteor,
turning towards C at et tibi, Pater and et
te, Pater; and striking their breasts at
each mea culpa.
- The Acolytes
make a simple bow during these three responses: Et plebs
tua laetabitur…, Et salutare tuum…,
Et clamor meus….
- When C says Dominus
vobiscum, the Acolytes raise their heads, but remain kneeling
and assist C with his alb while he ascends the steps to the Altar.
- The Acolytes then stand and without
genuflecting, turn immediately
and go to their normal positions, which is kneeling: Ac1 on the Epistle
side of the first Altar step, and Ac1 on the
Gospel side of the first Altar step .
Introit to the Epistle
- The Acolytes sign themselves in unison with C
the Introit. They make the appropriate simple bows  during the Introit,
Gloria and Collect .
- They make the proper response(s) to the Collect(s),
bowing if the name of the Saint(s) of the day is(are) mentioned during
the Collect and also if the Holy Name is
mentioned either during the Collect or at its
- They make the proper response to the Epistle.
Ember days, there
are often several Lessons interspersed with Collects.
The Acolytes make the usual responses to the Lesson: Deo
gratias, and to the Collects: Amen. One exception is
the Lesson: Benedictus es, Domine
for Ember Saturday of Advent, as there is no response to its
At the end of the Epistle
to the end of the Gospel
- Once Ac1 & Ac2 have responded
gratias, they should immediately stand.
it is an Ember
day, the Acolytes remain kneeling until the last Lesson or
Epistle has been said. The last Lesson
is always proceeded by Dominus
After this, Ac2 may perform his duty as usual.
- Ac1 remains where he is standing, while Ac2
goes to the center,
genuflects and then proceeds to the Epistle side of the Altar steps
going behind Ac1 . Ac2 then waits in
of the first step, standing in line with C,
with his back to the congregation.
- Once C has
moved away from the missal, Ac2 immediately turns to his
left, ascends the Epistle side steps and firmly takes hold of the
missal stand by the sides [not by the front]. He then turns by his
left, and descends per breviorem to the center of
the Foot in plano, turns by his right to face the
Altar, genuflects, ascends per breviorem to
the Gospel side of the Predella and puts the Missal down carefully on
the Gospel corner of the Altar, at about a forty-five degree angle.
setting the Missal on the Altar, Ac2 steps down to the second
Altar step, standing within the edges of
the Altar. Ac1 turns at an
angle and faces C at the Missal. Both Acolytes sign themselves in
unison with C.
- If the Holy Name is said at the
beginning of the Gospel
reading, Ac2 bows straight ahead (if the Holy Name does not appear
within the first few seconds, he does not bow at all), and then turning
by his right descends in planum, returns per
longiorem to his normal position, and remains standing
facing C straight during the reading.
- When C has
finished the reading, the Acolytes do not wait for him to kiss the
missal first, but say Laus tibi, Christe
Credo to Offertory
- During the Credo, the
make a simple bow at the proper words (but they make a moderate bow
when C genuflects at Et incarnatus est…).
- If there is a Sermon, both
Acolytes come together at the center of the Foot, genuflect,
turn inwards and then proceed shoulder to shoulder to their seats .
The Acolytes do not bow to each other or anything else before sitting
[When sitting take care to sit straight, with your Surplice draped
neatly over your lap; do not stretch your
Surplice; the bottom
hem of it should just barely touch your knees. Place your hands flat
down in front of your knees, with the tips of yours fingers inside the
- When the Sermon is
finished, both stand and coming together
in front of their seats, both Acolytes then proceed shoulder to
shoulder to the center of Foot, genuflect, return to their normal
positions and then kneel.
- They make a simple bow
at Oremus and make the proper response
for the Offertory antiphon. If the name of the
Saint(s) of the day is(are) mentioned, they make a bow for this also.
- As soon as C has removed the chalice veil from
the chalice, the
Acolytes immediately rise, come together in the center, genuflect, turn
in towards each other, meeting shoulder to shoulder, and then proceed
to the Credence (Ac1 will momentarily be on the left, while Ac2 is on
the right. When both make an inward turn to present the cruets, they
will then be in the correct position again.).
- The Acolytes remove the stoppers [if possible,
the stoppers should
be placed on the tray to prevent the staining of the Credence linen].
Ac1 takes the wine cruet and Ac2 takes the water cruet. The Acolytes
turn inwards, and proceed to stand in front of the Epistle side steps, within
the edges of the Altar, and ascend immediately to the second
- When C is in front of
the Acolytes, they in unison make a simple
bow to him, both raise and kiss their cruets by the side. Then Ac1
presents his cruet first, folding his hands, and receives his cruet
back. Next Ac2 presents his cruet, C blesses the water, and upon Ac2
receiving his cruet back, both raise their cruets to their lips and
kiss them simultaneously. Both then lower their cruets and bow to C,
and turning inwards, return to the Credence.
takes the finger towel and holds it taut between his thumbs
and index fingers of both hands, fully opened, with the longer sides of
the towel on the top and bottom. If there is a cross on the finger
towel, Ac1 should hold it so that the cross is on the left-hand bottom
- Meanwhile, Ac2 retains the water cruet
in his right hand, and picks up the dish in his left hand, holding it
in his palm.
- Both then turn inwards and proceed
again to stand just in front of the Epistle side steps, but this time
stand outside the edge of the Altar. They then
immediately ascend to the second Altar step.
- When C comes to the Acolytes, both make a
simple bow to C in
unison, then Ac2 carefully pours water over C’s fingers, making sure
not to spill any water on the floor, and stops when C motions. Then Ac1
presents the finger towel to C [if C does not take it, but just wipes
his hands on it, Ac1 should not let go of the towel], and folds his
- When C gives the towel back, Ac1 should
take it with his thumbs and index fingers, not by
laying it over his folded hands .
Acolytes then bow to C, turn inwards and descend to the
Credence. There they put their items down, put the stoppers back on the
cruets [the stoppers should be placed on rather loosely, so they can be
removed easily at the Ablutions], and Ac1 picks up
the bells. Both turn inwards and proceed to the Foot shoulder to
- When they arrive at the Foot, they
both genuflect, return to their
normal positions, and kneel. Ac1 puts the bells in front of him on the
second Altar step.
- After C has said, Orate,
fratres, and has turned around to face the Altar, without
the Acolytes respond with the Suscipiat.
make a simple bow during the Preface, when C
says, Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
- <B> Ac1
should pick up the
bells when C says angeli during the Preface
to prepare for the Sanctus.
- At the Sanctus ,
the bells are rung by Ac1 three times (in all
cases each time is a double ring; hence three double rings).
- During the Canon ,
the Acolytes do not make any of the bows
or signs of the Cross in unison with C, because he is saying these
prayers in an inaudible voice .
- <B> When Ac1
sees C bow towards the missal (for the name of
the Blessed Virgin Mary) and then to the Tabernacle (for the Holy
Name), Ac1 should pick up the bells, as the Hanc Igitur
will be approaching quickly.
the Hanc Igitur (when C extends his hands together
flat over chalice and host) the bells are rung once.
Immediately afterwards, when Ac1 has allowed the sound to die out, and
has put the bells down, Ac1 picks up the bells again by his index
finger, both Acolytes rise and without genuflecting ascend to the
Predella per breviorem. There they kneel on
either side of C slightly behind him and about a foot away from his
At Consecration and Elevations
- <B> Ac1
should pick up the bells when C wipes his fingers on corporal.
- When C bows over the host to
consecrate, do not bow, but stay erect . When C genuflects , the Acolytes make a
moderate bow in unison, while Ac1 rings the bell once [ring
the bell when his knee touches the Predella].
- When C elevates the Sacred Host, the Acolytes
hold up the
Chasuble slightly like an arc
by the outside bottom edges (do not let the underside of chasuble show
when raising it; this action symbolizes the grace flowing from the
Blessed Sacrament). At the same time Ac1 rings the bells once
 as soon as C elevates the
Sacred Host above his forehead .
- The Acolytes lower the chasuble in unison with
as he lowers the
Sacred Host. When the Sacred Host has been replaced on the paten, they
release the chasuble.
C genuflects again, both Acolytes make a moderate bow, and Ac1 rings
the bells once again.[Ac1 does not put the bells
down, but holds them at waist level during this time.]
- When C bows over the chalice, the Acolytes
erect again. When
C genuflects, the Acolytes make a moderate bow, while Ac1 rings the
bells once .
C elevates the chalice containing the Precious Blood, the
Acolytes hold up the chasuble as before, while Ac1 rings the bells once
They again lower the chasuble in unison as C lowers the chalice, and
release the chasuble when the chalice is replaced on the Altar.
- When C genuflects, the Acolytes make a
moderate bow again, while Ac1 rings the bells once.
- Ac1 allows the sound to
die out first, puts the bells down, picks
them back up by his index finger, and then both Acolytes stand, and facing
each other (so as not to turn their backs on the Blessed
Sacrament exposed now to those on the Predella), they descend per
to the Foot, genuflect (because the Blessed Sacrament was exposed to
them while on the Predella), go to their positions and then kneel .
The Acolytes do
not strike their breasts at the Nobis
peccatoribus. C only says this aloud so the faithful will
know where he is at in the Mass.
During the Agnus
Dei, both Acolytes make a simple bow and strike their
breasts with their right hand three times at each
miserere nobis. The Acolytes resume
hands after the last miserere.
At C’s Domine
- <B> Ac1
should pick up the bells as C
genuflects before this action: This is the next
genuflection after the Agnus Dei.
- Ac1 rings the bells once
each time after C says Domine,
dignus (three times total) .
At C’s Communion
C bows and receives the Sacred Host, the Acolytes make a
simple bow [this is the very reason for the Mass, and hence it is one
the most important and sacred moments of the Mass: The Consummation of
the Sacrifice, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself].
Turning of the
Communion Rail Cloth 
- As soon as C has consumed the Sacred
Host (i.e., when he stands
immediately picks up the bells, then both Acolytes rise, and without
genuflecting, Ac1 returns the bells to the
Credence, while at
the same time retrieving the communion plate.
- Meanwhile Ac2 moves to the center of the Foot
and waits for
- Ac1 then proceeds to
the center of the Foot, where both Acolytes genuflect , turn inwards and proceed to
their respective outside corners of the rail (farthest from the gate):
- And Ac2 on the Gospel side.
- They then turn the cloth over the rail, working
their way to the
center, and then proceed back to the Foot, genuflect and then kneel on
the first Altar step.
- While C consumes the Precious Blood, the
Acolytes make a
- When C has
placed the chalice back onto the Altar, both Acolytes make a moderate
bow and recite the Confiteor together, but only
Ac2 strikes his breast, because Ac1 is holding the Plate. They remain
bowed until C says the Misereatur, then they
raise themselves erect. Ac2 alone signs himself at the Indulgentiam,
then both immediately stand, genuflect , ascend to the Predella, and
the Faithful’s Domine non sum dignus and Communion
- When C turns
to face the people holding the Blessed Sacrament, the Acolytes should
look at the Sacred Host .
- During the Faithful’s Domine non sum
Ac2 strikes his breast in the same manner as for the Agnus
Dei, but this time, he keeps the tips of his fingers on his
breast for each whole phrase .
- When receiving Communion, the Acolytes hold
the plate for
themselves under their chins.
Ac2 has received Communion, he stands, takes a step back,
allows C to go between him and Ac1 (still kneeling) and accompanies C
to the Communion Rail.
Ac1 remains kneeling on the Predella, until both
C and Ac2 have fully
descended the steps. Then Ac1 stands, turns slightly by his left, and
without turning his back to the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar , he descends to the center
of the Foot in plano,
genuflects, returns to his normal position, and then kneels.
- Ac2 remains on C’s right-hand side
during the distribution of Holy Communion.
- When C is finished distributing Holy
Communion, Ac2 carefully
the communion plate to him, and then accompanies him to the Foot, where
he assists C with his alb while he ascends any steps.
- Then Ac2 returns to his normal position on the
Gospel side and without genuflecting , kneels in his normal
- When C closes the Tabernacle door, both
Acolytes rise, come
center, genuflect, turn inwards and then proceed to the Credence
shoulder to shoulder.
the Credence, both remove their stoppers, and Ac1 takes the wine
cruet and Ac2 takes the water cruet. They turn inwards, proceed to
stand in front of the Epistle side steps, standing outside
the edge of the Altar and immediately ascend to the second
C tilts chalice towards the Acolytes, Ac1 goes to C’s right-hand side
on the Predella, while Ac2 remains on the 2 nd
- There Ac1 first
bows to C, and then pours some wine into the
chalice, being careful not to touch the chalice with the cruet. When C
signals, Ac1 stops pouring, bows to C, turns right, retrieves the
communion plate and returns to the second
step on the right-hand side of Ac2.
Acolytes then turn right towards the Altar, then
move to stand inside the edges
of the Altar, where Ac1 puts the plate with the handle facing Ac1 just
in front of the Epistle Altar Card, leaving sufficient room for the
chalice on the front portion of the Altar.
- When C approaches the Acolytes, both bow to
him, Ac1 slowly pours the remainder of the wine
(or until C signals him to
C’s fingers (Ac1 must be careful not to spill any wine onto the Altar
cloths), then Ac2 pours the remainder of the water in the same manner.
Both then bow to C, then Ac1 picks up the Plate , both turn inwards and
descend to the Credence.
Acolytes put the stoppers back on the cruets, cover the plate,
turn inwards and then immediately proceed shoulder to shoulder to the
center of the Foot.
of the Missal and Chalice Veil
reaching the center, the Acolytes immediately genuflect, and
pair off to their respective sides (Ac1 to the Epistle side, Ac2 to the
Gospel side) and proceed per longiorem around the
Foot to ascend the side Altar steps to the Predella.
- There Ac2 picks up the missal, and Ac1 picks up
chalice veil (by
the top corners with the emblem facing the congregation), they turn
inwards towards the Tabernacle, descend per breviorem
center of the Foot, genuflect (Ac1 turns chalice veil around at the
same time so that the emblem faces the congregation), Ac1 allows Ac2
with the missal to proceed first  while both re-ascend the
steps per breviorem to the opposite sides of the
Predella (Ac1 to the Gospel side, Ac2 to the Epistle side).
- Ac2 puts the missal on the Epistle
corner of the Altar (facing straight), and Ac1 puts the chalice veil flat
(not folded) on the Altar next to C .
- Both Acolytes immediately turn outwards (Ac1
turns to his
turns to his right; this is turning towards the Tabernacle), and both
descend the side steps, proceed to the center of the Foot per
longiorem , genuflect, turn inwards and then proceed to
their respective corners of the communion rail.
the Communion Rail Cloth
turn over the cloths from the top of the rail, meeting at the
center as before, proceed to the Foot, where they genuflect, switch
sides (Ac2 moving back for Ac1) and immediately go to their normal
positions and kneel .
and Ita, missa est :
The Acolytes make the proper responses and bows
during the Communion, Post Communion
and the Ite,
The Last Blessing and Last
- At the Last
Blessing, the Acolytes make a simple bow at the word Benedicat
vos omnipotens Deus, then sign
themselves and say Amen at the end of the
- As soon as the
Acolytes have responded Amen, they stand.
turns at an angle towards C standing in front of the Last
Gospel Altar Card, while Ac2 remains facing straight.
- Both Acolytes make the proper
responses and sign themselves in unison with C as he says, Initium
sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
- The Acolytes genuflect in unison with C at the
Verbum caro factum est,
make the proper response at the end and then come together at the
center of the Foot, leaving enough room between them for C .
Leonine Prayers After Mass
and Exit from the
- C then
descends from the Predella to the Foot, and the Acolytes kneel in
unison with him. The Acolytes should kneel in plano
and slightly behind C .
- The Acolytes lead the proper responses made by
- Both assist C with his alb as he ascends the
steps to the
- When the
prayers are finished both Acolytes immediately stand, and
Ac1 goes to the Sedilia for the biretta (if C wore one). Ac1 picks the
biretta up by the right-hand side fin, and presents the middle fin to
C, kissing the biretta first, and C’s hand last.
- The Acolytes then genuflect together with C,
each other shoulder to shoulder in front of C and proceed to exit the
Sanctuary in the proper direction. They then proceed to the Sacristy.
- Upon arrival in the Sacristy, both
Acolytes allow C to approach the
vesting table, as Ac1 one goes to the right and Ac2 to the left of C.
- All make a simple bow to the Sacristy
Cross, and then C turns and
bows to the Acolytes, who bow back to him. Then both Acolytes kneel in
front of him and sign themselves while receiving his blessing.
After Mass Prayers
after receiving C’s blessing, the Acolytes should go to the Foot and
kneeling on the first Altar step say the Guild
after Mass prayers.
After Mass Duties
After the Acolytes have said their Guild prayers,
they need to perform the duties described below:
- Extinguishes the candles
as described previously.
- Removes the missal and Altar cards .
- Returns the Tabernacle key to the Sacristy.
- Covers the Altar neatly with the vesperum
- Cleans the cruets , tray, and bowl, drying them
spot free and putting them properly away.
- Ensures that the Lavabo towel
enough to be used for another Mass; otherwise he replaces it.
Acolytes then may divest, hanging their cassocks and surplices
carefully and in order.
 "All the words should
be spoken audibly, each syllable articulated, every sentence
reverently pronounced." Guild Handbook,
Pg. 8. "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
the language." Ibid., The Server at the Altar, pg. 11. This
especially important, as the server is praying to Almighty God when
making these responses, and not just rambling off a memorization
the Latin Pronunciation Response Card issued by
the Guild for details concerning the correct ecclesiastical
pronunciation of the responses at Mass. They are not given on this
sheet so as to save room.
 J. B. O’Connell gives an
excellent description of this on pg. 182 in his book, The
Celebration of Mass (1962 edition); Chapter II: Liturgical
 SRC 41791
and L. O’Connell in The Book of Ceremonies
(1956), pg. 37. Whenever profound bows are prescribed for Sacred
Ministers, it is when they are standing.
When leaving the Foot, one is not turning his back to the Altar while
turning inwards. Actually, by turning inward both servers are turning towards
the Altar, even though Ac1 almost makes a
also communicates visibly the unity of the Acolytes and the act of the
procession to the Credence, etc.
at a ninety degree right angle.
 Rubricians cite this for sanitary
same action a waiter makes when pouring coffee.
 Missale Romanun;
Rit. Cel. III, 1: . . . et
dextero super sinistrum posito in modum crucis . . . ; cf.
J.B. O’Connell, pg. 186.
This is done out of imitation of C in regards to the chasuble. The
hands are not rested against the fabric so as not to soil it nor wear
it through by constant rubbing of the hands against the material.
 This is the method given in the
Guild’s Handbook (General Directions;
pgs. 9-10), and this is actually the universal manner and more correct
method of ringing the bells. This method is not only dignified and in
keeping with the solemnity of the Mass, but it also imitates the way in
which bells are rung in a tower, which the hand bells now replace.
This method is quite undignified and often sounds similar to a
telephone or alarm bell ring, which is quite inappropriate for the
Altar. Also, if the bells are constructed correctly according to the
wishes of the SRC it is quite impossible to ring the bells in the
side-to-side fashion. ( "The correct kind is a simple hand
bell, in sliver or bronze, with one tongue." J. B.
O’Connell, The Bell, pg.
160. "A single hand bell with one tongue conforms perfectly
to the rubrics." L. O’Connell, Altar Bells,
pg. 18. Fortescue’s The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite
Described, also confirms this on page 37. "…b)
Instead of the type of bell described above (i.e.,
a single hand bell),
the following may also be used, though less in conformity with the
rubrics: a small single-tongue bell attached to the wall and rung by
means of a cord; a cluster of small single-tongue bells to be rung by
hand; a cluster of single-tongue bells attached to the wall and rung by
means of a cord (S.L.: III, QU. 93 AD 1, 2; EPH.
LIT.: LIV, P. 104), SRC rescript quoted in Matters
Liturgical (1956 edition), The Altar Bell,
pgs. 268-269). Unfortunately, most bells produced in the USA are
constructed incorrectly with three or more tongues, and so it is often
necessary to remove the extra tongues or even modify the hanger.
you are making triple rings, this is due either to lifting the bells
too sharply, too quickly, or not flicking one’s wrist correctly.
The function of ringing the bells is not to make sheer noise, but
rather to signal that an action (of grace) is taking place. Otherwise,
one disrupts the spirit of prayer that ought to be permeating the Mass
with the noise and chaos that is of the world.
 This is properly called a plate
and not a paten. It is important that one refer
to items in
the Sanctuary precisely to avoid confusion.
The side Altar cards should be
facing straight and not at an angle.
 Church law and tradition
prescribes both items and every rubrical author cites this rule found
in the Missale Romanum, the Caeremoniale
the SRC and the ancient usage of the Church. Suffice it to say, the
antependium is the vesture for the Altar, which mystically represents
the body of Our Lord.
The practice of C carrying the tabernacle key on the burse is frowned
upon by rubricists for these two reasons: They consider that nothing
should actually be on the burse when C is carrying the Chalice in, and
because there is the danger that the key and its chain could damage the
fabric on the burse.
 The cruet tray should not
double as the Lavabo bowl, as it is there to
prevent the Credence linen from becoming stained or wet through
 This allows Ac1 to pick up the
towel in a more efficient manner.
It is not correct to have the bells perpetually positioned on the Altar
steps when not in use. The Roman method is, if the item is not being
used, then it should be out of the way. This is confirmed by Fortescue
on page 37, "It (the bell) is placed on
the credence before Mass and taken away afterwards," by J.
B. O’Connell, On the Credence, pg. 159, "…
the rubrics direct that in a niche, or on a small table,86
a little bell … be prepared,"
and L. O’Connell, X. Credence Table , pg. 17, "On
it are … the bell."
The Communion Plate should always be covered when not in use to prevent
the plate from gathering dust; moreover, just like
the chalice and ciborium, it is used for a sacred purpose.
 Again these should not be
placed on the Altar steps for the same reason given for the bells.
The Epistle side represents the Israelites, the Gospel side the
Gentiles: Christ came first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles. In
extinguishing the candles, the symbolism shows that when Our Lord
returns, the Jews will finally convert and recognize Him as the
The method of passing the candlelighter over the Tabernacle is not
allowed for the same reason and also because it does not conform with
the ceremonial principles.
 The same is true for Ac1 when
he is preparing the Altar for Mass. Cf. The General
Principles sheets for further details on the matter.
room allows, the Acolytes and C should process to the Foot in an
ellipsis around the Altar steps with C approaching the Foot behind the
Acolytes and then coming up between them in front of the Foot. However,
if there is a lack of room in your Sanctuary to accommodate this
motion, depending on from which side of the Sanctuary the Acolytes
in, one of the Acolytes backs up to let C through to the center. If
your Sanctuary has two doorways on either side, the Acolytes should
enter from the Gospel side, and exit from the Epistle side (L.
O’Connell, pg. 30).
 If serving at an Altar without
the Blessed Sacrament, C only bows, but the servers always genuflect.
Again, this bow is not performed by bowing one’s body and head to the
floor, but only by bending the head and shoulders at a sixty degree
Usually the Acolytes kneel in line with the edges of the Altar;
if you have a rather wide placer carpet covering your Altar steps, they
may kneel there as well. When there is only one Altar step (i.e.,
the Predella), the Acolytes kneel in
the Sanctuary floor), as they are always one level below C. The use of
small cushions for the Altar servers is not appropriate, as only a
bishop has the express right to the use of a cushion in the Sanctuary.
It also does not assist in toughening the younger servers.
 These bows should be made
straight ahead towards the Altar, rather than at an angle.
 This is a principle of
precedence: a server of higher rank does not back up for one of lower
 The rubrics direct C to say a
prayer while kissing the missal, that is listed after the servers’
The Acolytes should not sit on the Sedilia, as this is a privilege
reserved for the Sacred Ministers. The servers should rather sit on
separate stools away from the Sedilia.
 Folded hands represent
 All of the accepted authorities
agree upon this.
 J.B. O’Connell, pg. 354, ff.
This bow is not made by C out of reverence, but rather out of
practicality, so that he may speak the words of consecration as close
as possible to the oblation. This is especially important, when there
are extra hosts near the corporal that C does not
intend to consecrate for some reason or another.
 The method given here of making
a bow at each genuflection during the Consecration,
is the method found in L. O’Connell, pg. 161, and in the
Archconfraternity Handbook, pg. 21.
 According to the SRC there
should be only three rings total for Consecration
action. This can be distributed in two ways: all three rings at the Elevations,
or a single ring for each genuflection and Elevation.
It is the usual method in the United States to ring the
bells as described above.
L. O’Connell, pg. 168; they genuflect after leaving the Predella,
because the Blessed Sacrament is now exposed on the Altar; this is the
rule for inferior ministers.
 The Acolytes do not strike
their breasts, as this prayer is just for C, not for the faithful.
 The communion rail cloth is
still prescribed by law in addition to the
communion plate (which was introduced in the 1920’s). Cf.
Matters Liturgical, The
Communion-Cloth, §143, pg.
234-235 on the matter of legislation.
 L.O’Connell, pg. 161, ff. 45: "This
genuflection is required because you are going out of sight of the
altar (cf. p. 39, n.2.)."
 This genuflection is required
because the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the mensa. Cf. L.
O’Connell, pg. 162.
 At this point C is saying, "Ecce,
Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi" : "
Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes
away the sins of the world!"
 The bells should not be rung
for the Faithful’s Domine non sum dignus. There
is no reason for this. The reason for ringing the bells for C’s,
is to notify the people that C is about to receive Holy Communion and
that they should pray for him since the
Consummation of the Sacrifice is at hand. It also serves as a reminder
to prepare themselves for Communion.
 This is accomplished by almost
side-stepping while descending.
There is no need for Ac2 to genuflect in unison with C for the
following reasons: 1. Ac2
was accompanying the Blessed Sacrament, so he is not considered to be
returning within view of the Altar. 2. Ac2 does not have to cross the
center to return to his position.
The plate should not be held by Ac1 beforehand, as it could be
accidentally bumped against the chalice while pouring or his medal
could scrap against the top of the plate during this action.
 Because the missal is of higher
dignity then the veil.
 Due to the depth of the Altar,
it may be necessary to have the veil partially hang over the front edge
of the Altar.
 If C says Dominus
during this time, the Acolytes can simply respond from their present
location. It is not necessary for them to rush to their kneeling
positions so that they can make this response while kneeling.
 If a card is necessary for the Leonine
Prayers, it should be
retrieved by Ac1
now and not during the Last Gospel. The abuse of
retrieving a card or changing the communion cloth during the Last
Gospel is irreverent towards what the Gospel
represents: the Word of God. Full attention and reverence should be
given during this period of time.
If C kneels on the second
Altar Step or the edge of the Predella, the
kneel on the first
Altar step. At Low Mass, the Acolytes are always one level below and
slightly behind C, as this follows the rule of precedence.
 During these prayers, the
Acolytes do not strike their breasts during the Salve Regina
at O clemens, O pia... (there is no
this whatsoever), nor for the triple response of Miserere
nobis (unless C does so. The striking of the breast is not
prescribed for the ejaculation, Cor Jesu sacratissimum.
However, this is allowed by local custom). Neither do the Acolytes bow
at customary words of Oremus,
etc., as C does not bow while kneeling (there are two exceptions to
rule for Sacred Ministers and they are during the sung Credo
at a sung Mass, and during Benediction for veneremur
The Altar cards should not remain on the Altar, as the Altar is not a
glorified storage table; the Altar is the most sacred object in the
world, excepting the Blessed Sacrament. The Roman method is to remove
all of the items on the Altar (except the Cross and candles), including
the Altar linens. However, the Altar linens are generally not removed
after Mass in the dioceses outside of Rome.
 The cruet holding the blessed
water should be washed out in the piscina, which
drains into the sacrarium. Leftover wine may be
returned to the wine bottle.
2007. Louis J. Tofari.
All rights reserved.