Rubrical Guide For Altar Servers By Louis J.
of Ceremonies I At High Mass (Missa Cantata)
BEING THE MC
The Master of Ceremonies (MC) is exactly what his
However, the MC (especially if you are a layman) must realize his own
unworthiness before God upon the Altar and his lowliness of rank before
the dignity of the Priest celebrating the Holy Mass. It is an immense
privilege for a layman who serves this position to be at the Altar at
C’s side for the greater part of the Mass and to be even standing
in front of Our Lord on
the Altar from the Consecration until C’s
Domine non sum dignus.
AND EXPECTATIONS OF AN MC
As an MC, you must
thoroughly know how to serve
the other lower
positions correctly so that you may direct and coordinate them well
during Mass. Nothing is more conducive to the sacred ceremonies than
the good coordination of the servers. You must also generally know the
rubrics that concern your own position and the general ones for the
Celebrant (C). The more you know about the ceremonies of a High Mass,
the better you can fulfill your position.
must also know how to correct a necessary
situation with tact and discretion. This is especially true when
concerning C at Mass. For instance, if C were to forget to say the Kyrie
and proceed straight to the Gloria,
the MC should phrase the correction in the form of a question like,
"The Kyrie, Father?"
In dealing with the servers, any corrections made, especially from a
distance, should be as unnoticeable as possible, and at times and
depending on the gravity of the incident, it is even better to let it
pass. The MC can then make the correction after Mass in the Sacristy.
CONCERNING THE ORGANIZATION OF THE
PREPARATIONS BEFORE MASS
The MC must
oversee all of the preparations that
before the beginning of Mass. You must ensure they are done correctly
and on time so that Mass may start as scheduled. As MC, you should
remain in the Sacristy as much as possible, directing the preparations
from there (there should be a permanent duties checklist in the
Sacristy assigning each server a specific duty to complete before
Mass). In this way, you can ensure the servers are silent in
the Sacristy, are organized and that any last minute details can be
taken care of easily (such as replacing late servers). Whenever
possible, delegate any additional duties to the
handle, so your own hands are kept free. The MC must sometime before
Mass begins check the Sanctuary to ensure all tasks have been
AND THE LIGHTING OF THE
Golden Rule Carved In
Ten minutes before
Mass, the MC leads all of the
servers into the Sanctuary for the Prayers Before
Mass. All line up recta linea
at the Foot, MC signals a genuflection and then all kneel. All servers
respond together at a moderate pace according to the directions on the
Card. After having said the prayers, MC signals all to rise, then
signals a genuflection and all return to the Sacristy.
Upon returning to the Sacristy, Ac1 immediately
lights the High Mass
candles. In this way, if there are any problems in candle lighting, the
saying of the Guild prayers will not be neglected, and Mass can also
start on time.
GENERAL RULES FOR THE MC DURING
HIGH MASS AND
Signaling is done to coordinate C and the servers
when to genuflect, kneel, stand and even sometimes to sit.
Signaling is done in three types of volume
- For C (when MC is next
to him); loud enough
(very soft) so that only C may hear it.
servers: loud enough so that only those in
the Sanctuary can hear it.
- For the
congregation: loud enough so that all
in the Nave of the church can hear it (if music like the Te
Deum is being played at the same time, it will have to be
especially loud so that it can be heard above the
- A one-clap
signal is used for: performing a
(occasionally as on Good Friday to perform a moderate bow in place of a
genuflection), standing or sitting.
- A two-clap
signal is used for: kneeling or
performing a double-knee
genuflection (two claps, then kneel, make a moderate bow and then rise
without signaling again).
is done in two ways:
- Clapping the
tips of your folded hands
together (this method allows you to control the volume of the clap).
- Clapping the extended index and middle fingers
against the open palm of the opposite hand.
Never snap your fingers
(this is quite distasteful), and do not clap your
hands as you would at a concert (you are in a Sanctuary).
Solita oscula in Latin
means: With the customary kisses.
These are given to certain objects and C’s right hand as
reverence. At times the rubrics call for most of them to be omitted
(the only truly necessary ones are during a Solemn Mass when the Deacon
presents the prepared Chalice to C at the Offertory
and when the Deacon presents the Paten to C after the Pater
during a Requiem Mass, Mass with the Blessed Sacrament Exposed, and
The manner of giving the solita
is as follows:
- When Giving: Object
first, then C’s
hand (if C is a Bishop, you kiss his ring in all cases instead).
- When Receiving: C’s hand first, then
The only objects and what
parts you kiss during a
High Mass are as follows:
kiss the side of the Biretta, not the
pompom or fins.
- Aspergilium (sprinkler): kiss
the back portion
of the handle .
- Incense Spoon: kiss the back
portion of the
- Thurible: kiss the disk (where
all of the
chains join at the top).
two exceptions to the receiving rule
Candle when receiving from C (on Candlemass
Day): kiss the candle first and then
- Palm when receiving from C (on Palm
same as for candle.
presenting anything else, no solita
oscula are given.
Whenever the MC gives the Thurible to
C, he does
so not only with the solita oscula
in their proper order, but also in this fashion: Holding the disk in
the right hand, and the middle part of the chain in the left, give the
Thurible to C with your right hand over your left hand
(in other words, give the disk first, then the chain). This motion will
be assumed throughout these instructions.
Many times during Mass, the
MC will need to
indicate the proper text
that C will read; this is a part of the MC’s duty, and he
look at the texts slightly ahead of pointing them out so that he may do
so correctly. When indicating a text, the MC does so by laying his
right hand (palm upwards with fingers touching and extended) for a
brief moment above the text that C is supposed to read.
All three types of
bows are employed during High
Mass by the MC
Th). Simple and moderate bows are performed as when you would during a
Low Mass. The difference is, when standing, you pivot on your feet and
face the Tabernacle to make the appropriate bow, and then turn back to
your former position. The profound bow (made low enough so your
fingers could touch your knees) is only made before and after incensing
- At the Sedilia: Whenever C sits
Sedilia, the MC must signal
C when he should remove his Biretta and bow. The MC does this by bowing
to C slightly before the word arrives at which a reverence must be
made, and then by making a right turn, facing the Tabernacle and making
a simple bow. Finally he turns back in the opposite direction (i.e
., left) to face the Nave again. These
occasions occur namely:
- During the Gloria (for
all of the words that require a bow as at Low Mass).
- During the Gradual/Alleluia
(or if the Alleluia is
substituted with a Tract, or
added to with a Greater Alleluia, and/or Sequence
) (cf. below).
- During the Credo (cf.
below for the MC’s position
during the Credo).
- During the Gradual,
etc.: If the choir sings the Gradual and etc. in
the full Gregorian Chant, instead of Psalm-toning it, the MC must refer
to the Liber Usualis
before Mass to know the proper word to use as the cue for signaling C
to return to the Altar. This word should be on the fourth line from the
bottom of the last text to be sung. However, during a Sequence,
the MC should use a word from about the tenth line, since a Sequence
is generally sung at a quicker pace.
Genuflections are made
as usual, with the
exception of the rules of cum ratione accommodationis
and in coram Sanctissimum which both occur during
a High Mass for the MC.
accommodationis: This means in Latin, To
and this describes a condition when an inferior minister breaks the
normal rule that applies to him to be in unison with a Sacred
Minister’s action. This rule has its effect on the MC during
of the Mass regarding only the genuflections (not the liturgical
gestures). While inferior ministers are not allowed to genuflect on the
Predella, the MC (and Th) does so at these times:
- During each incensation of the Altar in
conjunction with C.
- During the Canon,
the Consecration, when C does so.
Also in both cases listed above, the MC puts his
inside hand under C’s elbow each time C genuflects.
In coram Sanctissimum: This
means in Latin, In the presence
of the Blessed Sacrament, and this
phrase describes those times when the Blessed Sacrament is considered
exposed. During High Mass, this takes place for the MC only
when he is on the Predella , from the Consecration
until C’s Domine non sum
dignus. Thusly, when the MC leaves the Predella before C’s
Communion, he must make a genuflection in
plano due to this condition. This
condition also occurs for everyone else during the Distribution
of Holy Communion.
The MC is to make all of the responses as he
would if he were
serving a Low Mass, except that where required, the MC should sing them
in a moderate voice.
Within these instructions, it is assumed that the
perfectly knows from having served Low Mass when and for what he ought
to bow and when he assists C with his Alb while ascending steps.
Therefore, these items will not be mentioned
generally in the instructions.
Arrival in the
The MC must arrive in the Sacristy no
thirty minutes before
the start of Mass. This is so the MC can have his duties
completed before the first server arrives (i.e.,
Thurifer at twenty
minutes before Mass), so the MC may be able to supervise the
servers. The MC must also be prepared to make any special preparations
or arrangements that might be particular to a ceremony. It is
ultimately up to the MC to ensure that everything that is needed for a
smooth ceremony is properly prepared.
having vested, the MC must perform these
- Consult the Ordo
proper Mass and for any special rubrics.
Consult the Missal and ensure that it is set
up properly; this is ultimately the MC's duty, not the
- Consult the Liber
the proper cue as mentioned above for the Gradual,
etc. (this is only necessary if the choir sings both of these Propers;
however, this is almost always necessary if there is a Sequence).
- Ensure that the Chalice ,
the Altar and the vestments (both in the Sacristy and in the Sanctuary)
are properly prepared; again, this is ultimately the MC’s
PREPARATIONS IF THERE IS AN ASPERGES
- Before every
High Mass on Sunday, the Asperges ceremony is
performed to remind us of our baptismal promises which we renew on the
Easter Vigil and in commemoration of Our Lord’s Resurrection
victory over death. During the Paschal time, the Asperges
chant and text is replaced with the longer chant of Vidi
aquam and Alleluia is added to the Versicle
that follows the sprinkling. This sprinkling with holy water is
actually a completely separate rite from that of the Mass, and in its
full form (which now is only performed on the Easter Vigil) the actual
blessing of the water takes place. The Asperges
is also supposed to substitute for taking holy water at the font.
- Because the Asperges is
not part of the rite of Mass, the Maniple and Chasuble are not worn,
but rather are set up in vesting order on the Sedilia . However, all of the other
vestments (i.e .,
Alb, Amice, Stole and Cincture) are worn as usual, with the addition of
Cope, which is also the proper color of the Mass like the other
The Aspersory should be prepared in the
Sacristy for Th.
- The Asperges
Card should be on the second Altar
step  where the MC will stand during
the Asperges. Or the card can be placed on the
Credence and Ac1 can bring it over when needed.
After saying the Prayers Before Mass
, the MC lines
servers up in the Sacristy in their proper order and gives any final
instructions if necessary. The MC should also ensure that all of the
servers have their medals and cords with tassels on correctly and
When C arrives in the Sacristy, the MC assists him in vesting as Ac1
does at Low Mass.
- If customary,
incense may then be imposed. MC
receives the Boat, and presents the Spoon to C with solita
oscula as described above, and then says, "Benedicite,
Pater reverende." MC then ensures that C says, "Ab
illo …etc." and that C blesses the
incense in the Thurible. MC then receives Spoon with solita
oscula from C, and returns the Boat (from here on, all solita
oscula's will be assumed regarding the Spoon).
MC then turns towards the Processional Cross, signals a clap for all to turn
and bow towards it, and then says, "Procedamus in
pace," to which all, including C, reply, "In nomine, Christi, Amen."
The Processional now
- The MC should ensure that the various
servers do not
process out too closely together; there should be at least four pews
between each pair.
The Processional Formation
The Processional formation
should be as follows:
(with or without the Thurible) leads
(if there is a Boatbearer, he is to Th’s left).
- Acolytes with their candles and the
Crossbearer follow shoulder to shoulder; they act as one unit.
- Torchbearers (with their hands folded) then
follow in pairs.
- Any extra servers in pairs
are then next.
- If there are any laymen in
- Clergy in pairs.
Upon Reaching the Foot (if there is an Asperges cf.
- Upon reaching
the Foot the MC goes slightly to
the right of the Foot, awaits the arrival of C, receives his Biretta
with solita oscula and gives it to Ac1, signals a
genuflection, genuflects with C  and then signals all of the
servers to kneel.
- The MC, kneeling slightly
behind C, then leads
the servers’ responses for the Preparatory Prayers
with the other servers following his pace and volume. The responses
must be made at a moderate pace with the proper pauses, however, and
during a High Mass they are made in a rather subdued voice, so that the
choir is not drowned out.
- After C ascends to
the Predella, the MC
signals all to stand, and then he goes to the Epistle side of the Foot,
meets Th there on his left  and
receives the Boat.
Incensation of the
- The MC
and Th then immediately ascend to the
and the MC stands near the front edge of the Predella facing the Altar,
while Th stands nearest the front edge of the Altar facing C. The MC
presents the Spoon, says, "Benedicite, Pater reverende," ensures that C
blesses the incense, and then holds out the Boat for the
appropriate server to retrieve.
MC presents the Thurible to C as described
above in the section "Giving The Thurible."
The MC then goes to C’s right, while
goes to C’s left. C, the MC
and Th should turn, genuflect and walk as one unit. There should not be
a gap between any of these ministers. The MC does not signal any of the
genuflections during any of the Incensations of the Altar.
- All genuflect towards the Tabernacle, and then
incenses the Altar
(and reliquaries if any) as prescribed by the Missal and rubricians.
Every time C genuflects, the MC puts his left hand under C’s
C is wearing a "gothic" style Chasuble, both MC and Th should hold back
the edges so that C is not impeded while incensing.
When C turns to face the reliquaries so he may incense them, the MC and
Th turn with him. It may be necessary to point out the reliquaries to a
priest unfamiliar with your Altar.
reaching the Epistle side of the Altar, the MC must step back to
the corner of the Predella, so as not to impede C when he incenses the
side of the Altar.
Upon reaching the Gospel side of the Altar,
MC remains to C’s
right until he begins to return to the center of the Predella.
- When C incenses the front of the Epistle side
the Altar again, the MC descends to the second
Altar step, turns to the right and receives the Thurible from C with solita
- MC then descends to the
right side of Th (Th
stands to the left
of MC as usual), remaining outside the edge of the Altar, and then
incenses C with three doubles, making a profound bow with Th before and
- The MC then
returns the Thurible to Th,
to the second Altar step, standing inside the edge of
the Altar, and directly next to and facing the Missal; this is the
MC’s normal Missal position on the Epistle side.
- The MC then points out the Introit
and turns and bows towards the Tabernacle in unison with C for the Gloria
- When C begins
the MC turns towards the Acolytes to signal them to make the responses
with the MC. When the Kyrie is completed, and if
there is a Gloria, the MC then turns left
(towards C), and goes to the Foot, standing in line with the Epistle
edge of the Altar; this is the MC’s normal Epistle
position in plano.
- When C intones
"Gloria in excelsis Deo," the MC
bows towards the Tabernacle. After the intonation however, the MC
should simply bow straight ahead while C recites the remainder of the Gloria
When C makes the sign of the Cross, MC does
he does not genuflect when C does to leave the Predella, but simply
goes immediately to the Sedilia.
Upon arrival at the Sedilia, the MC
picks up the
Biretta by the right fin, and steps back to allow C to sit. If
necessary, MC assists C with the back of his Chasuble so that he does
not sit on it. The MC then presents the Biretta to C with solita
oscula and faces the Nave with eyes slightly downcast.
- Slightly before each word or phrase that
a bow, the MC
turns to C, bows to him to remove his Biretta, and then turns towards
Tabernacle and bows for the duration of the sung word or phrase. The MC then turns back to
face the Nave.
- During the phrase, "Cum Sancto
Spiritu…" the MC
makes the sign of the Cross, receives the Biretta with solita
oscula, places it back on the Sedilia, and then leads C to
the Foot, stepping back for him when he arrives.
MC signals a genuflection and then returns to
Epistle Missal position.
Oratio (or Collect)
- When C returns to the
Missal after saying,
vobiscum," the MC indicates the Oratio,
turns towards the Tabernacle and bows for "Oremus," and then
remains facing the Missal. The MC turns and bows for the Holy
Name if mentioned during the Oratio or during the
conclusion. If the name of Our Lady or of a Saint (s) is sung, a simple
bow is made facing the Missal.
- The MC then
turns slightly towards the
and signals them with a slight bow to sit during the reading of the Epistle.
- When C has finished reading the Epistle,
the MC answers "Deo gratias."
If the Gradual
Are Sung in the Full Gregorian Chant
- After C has read the text of the Gradual
and whatever else
follows, and if the choir is rendering the texts in Gregorian Chant,
the MC turns in unison with C, bows to the Tabernacle  and then leads C to the
Sedilia per breviorem  and
performs the same functions as
at the Gloria.
- If during
any of these texts a word or phrase
is sung that requires a bow, the MC acts as for such texts found in the
- When the proper
word for the cue is sung, the
slightly in front of C, signals him to stand with a bow, and returns to
the Foot as for the Gloria.
If the Gradual
Sung in the Full Gregorian Chant
After saying, "Deo gratias"
and having indicated the Gradual or turned the
page and/or switched the ribbon, the MC descends immediately in
plano, and meets Th for
the Gospel Imposition of Incense.
Imposition of Incense
Then, exactly like the First
actions are repeated. The MC meets Th and ascends to the Predella,
incense is imposed and blessed, and then the MC gives the Boat to Th. 
MC then picks up the Missal, turns towards
the Tabernacle (left) and descends per breviorem
to the center of the Foot, meeting Th shoulder to shoulder on his
MC genuflects in unison with Gospel
on Th’s signal (because MC cannot) and then ascends per
breviorem to the Gospel edge of the Altar and puts the
Missal in the Low Mass Gospel reading position.
- The MC then descends in plano,
receives the Thurible from Th , and then re-ascends to the
Predella, going to C’s right side.
- When C
signs himself for the Praeconium,
the MC does not, because he is holding the
- The MC then presents the Thurible to
and bows moderately in unison with C before and after he incenses the Gospel.
- The MC then receives the Thurible with solita
oscula from C, and if the Holy Name is mentioned within the
first five seconds, the MC remains on the Predella , bows towards the Gospel
and then returns to Th’s right
side in plano, returning the
Thurible to him. 
When C reaches the conclusion of the Gospel (he
drops the pitch), the MC receives the
Thurible from Th, and responds with the servers, "Laus tibi,
Christe" before C has kissed the Praeconium.
- When C turns towards the MC, the MC and Th
profound bow and incense C as usual.
- The MC
then returns the Thurible to Th,
to the Predella,
and moves the Missal to the Canon position (near the Tabernacle and at
about a forty-five degree angle, but not touching the Corporal).
If There Is a Sermon
- The MC then assists C with removing his
(if assistance is necessary).
- The MC then bows
in unison with C towards the
Tabernacle , and cutting in front of C,
descends per breviorem to the right side of the
Foot (while turning inwards, i.e.,
room in the center for C.
- When C is ready, the
MC signals a
turns inwards and
leads C to the Pulpit, and remains there standing to the left side of
it for the duration of the Sermon  .
- When the Sermon is
concluded, the MC leads C back to the Foot, signals a genuflection and
then goes to his Epistle position in plano.
If There Is Not a Sermon
- The Celebrant
remains in the center of the
Predella, and immediately begins the Credo (if
there is one). Meanwhile, the MC after having moved the Missal to the Canon
position, descends per breviorem
to the right side of the center of the Foot, signals a genuflection for
the Gospel formation, and then returns to his Epistle in
If there is a Credo, the
goes to his Epistle in plano position, turns and
bows for "Credo in unum Deum," and then bows straight ahead for the
other bows. The MC and other
servers genuflect when C does so while saying the Credo;
the MC may signal for this if necessary.
C is finished reciting the Credo the MC and
make the sign of the Cross in unison with him, and then the MC goes to
the right side of the center of the Foot, standing about a foot away. C
then descends to the Foot.
- When "Descendit de
is sung by the choir, the MC signals loudly for all in the church to
kneel, and then bows at "Et homo factus est ."
- When "Crucifixus etiam pro nobis"
is sung by the choir, the
MC signals loudly for all in the church to stand, then softly signals a
genuflection for himself and C, turns inwards and leads C to the
Sedilia, where the normal actions are performed.
The MC signals C to bow for "simul
- During the phrase "Et vitam venturi
saeculi," the MC makes
the sign of the Cross, receives the Biretta as usual, leads C to the
Foot, signals C to genuflect, and then the MC returns to his Epistle
position in plano.
- After turning and bowing for "Oremus,"
the MC then ascends to the Predella, receives the Chalice Veil,
tri-folds it lengthwise , places it to the
left of the Epistle Altar Card, turns towards the
Tabernacle (left), descends to his Epistle position in plano
and then turns right.
- The MC remains at this
position until the
Acolytes have ascended to
the Altar to present the cruets. Then the MC meets Th on his left
side, and receives the Boat.
Offertory Incensation of
the Acolytes have returned to the
both the MC and Th
go to the Epistle side of the Foot and await C to make the arc motion
for the Veni sanctificator prayer. When he does,
both immediately ascend to the Predella as usual.
When C blesses the incense, the MC should
that C uses the Offertory formula for blessing
the incense: "Per intercessionem Michaelem…" which
is often found on the center
Altar card. 
Then without genuflecting, C incenses the Oblations first, then the
Altar and reliquaries (if there are any), followed by the MC incensing
C as usual.
- The MC then returns the Thurible
to Th, turns
inwards with him (if
room provides), and then walks shoulder to shoulder to the center of
- The MC signals a genuflection,
breviorem to the Canon
Missal position, turns right towards Th, bows to him in return and
receives one double from Th. The MC then returns the bow to Th and
turns back to face the Missal at about a forty-five degree angle. This
normal Canon Missal position.
- The MC then finds the Secret
in the Propers.
- When C returns from the Lavabo,
he will first say the Suscipe, sancta Trinitas
prayer, and then turn around to say, "Orate, fratres"
to which the MC and servers respond with the Suscipiat.
Then the MC indicates the Secret to C. The MC
does not bow when C bows for the conclusion, if the Holy Name is
mentioned, since he is not reading the text aloud.
- After C has read the conclusion to the Secret,
the MC switches the pages to the Preface. The MC
sings the responses and bows in unison
with C when he says, "Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro."
The MC may recite the Sanctus
with C, slightly bowing his head, and making the sign of the Cross with
Canon From this point forward,
the MC does not perform any of the gestures or bows with C, as he is
not reciting the text aloud. During the Canon,
the MC switches the pages with the tabs as required.
- During the Memento pro
the MC turns to his right,
takes a step or two back (do not walk backwards) and then turns to face
the Tabernacle again. The MC bows when the Celebrant does during the Memento.
When C reaches the Qui pridie,
the MC goes to the edge of
the Predella, slightly to the left and behind of C. When all of the
servers are in their proper positions, and C has wiped his forefingers
and thumbs on the Corporal, the MC signals all to kneel, and then
kneels in this position, but at a forty-five degree angle facing C.
- During the Consecration,
the MC acts as Ac2 at Low Mass, making a moderate bow when C genuflects
and raising the Chasuble with both hands during
each Elevation. When C has made the last
genuflection, the MC signals all to stand, and then he returns to his
normal Canon position, turning the page
immediately if the layout of the Missal demands this.
The MC steps back and performs the various
actions for the Memento pro defunctis as for the
- The MC does
not strike his breast at "Nobis
quoque peccatoribus." 
From this point forward, whenever C
genuflects, the MC does so
too, while supporting C’s elbow with his right hand. C will
every time he removes the Pall and after placing it on the Chalice.
- The MC bows at "Oremus"
the introduction of the Pater Noster and sings
- The MC may recite the Agnus
with C. The MC also bows and strikes his breast in unison with C.
- There are three prayers that follow the Agnus
Dei; depending on the layout of your Missal, the actions of
the MC will be slightly different:
- THE PAGE
DOES NOT HAVE TO
BE TURNED AFTER PANEM CAELESTEM ACCIPIAM IS SAID:
- In this case, the MC may descend from the
Predella sometime immediately after the Agnus Dei.
Upon descending via
the Gospel side of the Altar steps (not the front), the MC turns right
to face the Altar, and then genuflects as he left the Predella under
the conditions of in coram Sanctissimum.
- THE PAGE DOES HAVE
TURNED AFTER PANEM CAELESTEM ACCIPIAM IS SAID:
- In this case, the MC must remain on the Predella,
until C has said
this prayer, then the MC genuflects with him, turns the page, descends via
the Gospel side of the Altar steps (not the
front), turns right to face the Altar and then genuflects. 
- In either case A or B, the MC then goes to the
Foot, standing in line with the Gospel edge of the Altar.
When C bends over to consume the Sacred Host, the
MC turns towards
the Tabernacle and makes a moderate bow. Afterwards, the MC should
ensure that the servers line up properly at the Foot (while the
Acolytes turn over the Communion Rail Cloth) in this order:
MC Ac2 CB Ac1 TH 
of Holy Communion
Once all are lined up, the MC signals a
genuflection, and then all
kneel. When C consumes the Precious Blood, all make a simple bow.
- When C has placed the Chalice back on the Altar,
the MC makes a moderate bow with the servers and then all recite the second
the MC’s pace.
- After C gives the Indulgentiam,
the MC signals all to stand, then to genuflect , and all ascend to the
Predella, where the MC signals all to kneel again.
After the MC has received Communion while holding
Plate, he rises by himself (the others remain kneeling), and leads C
with the Blessed Sacrament to the Epistle side of the Communion Rail.
The MC assists with the Plate as usual.
the Distribution is
completed, the MC gives the Plate
to C, and then accompanies C to the Foot. The MC remains at the center
of the Foot, genuflects in unison with C , and then goes to kneel on
the Epistle side of the Sanctuary (somewhere out of the way of the
- When the
Tabernacle door has been closed, the MC
signals all to
stand. The MC should ensure that the various servers are performing
their duties correctly and on time, while yet remaining on the Epistle
side of the Sanctuary and out of their way.
The Switching of the Missal and the Chalice Veil
- When the Acolytes have changed the Missal and the
Veil, the MC ascends via
the steps on the Epistle side (not the front) to the Predella and
switches the pages back to the Propers and then resumes his position at
the Missal on Epistle side.
Communion and Postcommunion
When C returns to the Missal (after having
reassembled the Chalice), the MC indicates the Communion,
which C reads.
- After C has said, "Dominus
and has returned to the Missal, the MC indicates the Postcommunion,
and bows where required as for the Oratio.
When C has finished the Postcommunion
and stepped away from the Missal, the MC ascends to the Predella,
closes the Missal, turns right and descends via
the Epistle side (not the front) in plano
and then goes immediately to his Epistle in
Ite, Missa Est to
the Last Gospel
MC remains there until C has chanted, "Ite,
Then in unison with C turning back to face the Altar, the MC turns,
proceeds to the center of the Foot, genuflects and goes immediately to
the Gospel side of the Altar in plano, standing
inside the edge of the Altar.
- As soon as the choir
finishes singing "Deo
gratias," the MC loudly signals the entire
church to kneel, then he kneels on the first
Altar step, bows
at "Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus …" signs
himself, and then signals loudly for all
- The MC then immediately ascends to the
second Altar step and picks up the Last
Gospel Altar Card, and holds it during the reading of the Last
During this time, the MC does not sign himself with the Cross (because
he is holding something), nor does he make any type of reverence at all
at the words, "Et Verbum caro factum est," as he
is holding an image of Christ in the form of the text of the Last
- When the Last Gospel
completed, the MC and the servers reply as usual, then the MC replaces
the Card on the mensa, and per longiorem 
to the center of the Foot.
one of the servers has brought over the
Biretta from the
Sedilia, the MC genuflects in the center, goes to the Sedilia and
returns to the Foot with the Biretta.
- The MC ensures that all are lined up correctly
and are ready,
signals a genuflection (loud enough so that the servers may hear the
signal clearly over the music), gives the Biretta with the
solita oscula, turns towards C and then recesses out four
pews behind the last group.
Arrival in the Sacristy and the Servers' Blessing
the servers’ arrival in the
Sacristy, all return to their positions prior to the Processional, and remain at attention, as the Recessional
does not end until all have bowed to the Cross
- Upon the arrival
of C and the MC, the MC signals
a bow towards the Cross ,
and then similarly to C. Then except for the Acolytes and Crossbearer,
all kneel and receive C’s blessing. During the blessing, all
who are carrying items do not make the sign of the Cross.
After Mass Prayers and After Mass Duties
- The MC
then immediately leads all of the servers
back into the Sanctuary recta linea to say their After
After having done so, according to the rules on the card, all of the
servers go to the Sacristy, where if necessary, corrections are made,
and then the servers perform their various assigned duties. The MC
supervises the entire time, and if necessary delegates extra tasks to
- Once the
Sacristy is in good order the MC may
then dismiss the servers.
If There Is an Asperges Before the Mass
MC should then ensure that all of the
necessary preparations have been done as described above.
line up for the Processional
as described above, except
that Th carries both the Aspersory and Aspergilium in his right hand
rather than the Thurible and Boat. He may either process in at the left
of C holding the orphrey in his right hand or he may process at the head
of the Processional formation as usual.
- The MC however processes in on C’s
right-hand side, holding the
orphrey in his left hand. While holding the orphrey, he does not assist with
alb when ascending steps.
reaching the Foot, the MC goes to the right
of the center of
the Foot, waits for C to arrive, receives the Biretta from C with solita
oscula and gives it to Ac1, and then signals a genuflection
for himself, C and Th.
the MC receives the Aspersory from Th, and
signals all to
kneel (he may do this by slightly tapping the side of the Aspersory).
- The MC then presents the Aspergilium
to C with solita
oscula. C then intones the Asperges (or
the Vidi aquam
if in Paschal time), sprinkles the front of the Altar center, right and
left, then signs his forehead with the Aspergilium with the Cross and
stands. C then sprinkles the MC, Th and other servers on the Epistle
side. The MC does not sign himself with the Cross when he is sprinkled since
he is holding the Aspersory.
MC then signals all to stand, then a
genuflection for himself,
C and Th. Then the MC, C and Th turn inwards, and the MC and Th switch
sides in front of C. The MC passes on the inside (closest to C), and Th
passes on the outside (furthest from C). The MC then holds the orphrey
of the Cope in his left hand, while with his right he holds the
Aspersory, making it available to C when required.
While proceeding down the center aisle of the
Nave, C should sprinkle those on the Gospel side first.
Just moments before the Gloria Patri
is sung, the MC should
indicate to C that it is time to face the Altar. The MC should release
the orphrey just before turning to face the Altar. All bow during the
first half of the Gloria Patri, and then the MC
and Th resume holding the orphreys and turn back to finish sprinkling
reaching the rear of the Nave (i.e., where the
Narthax is), all turn and face the Altar, the MC releases the orphrey,
signals all to genuflect, and switches sides with Th as mentioned
- Then the MC holds
the orphrey again, and C
sprinkles those on the Epistle side of the Nave.
When C has finished sprinkling everyone, he will
return the Aspergilium to the MC, who receives it with solita
oscula. The MC then gives the Aspersory and Aspergilium to
Th behind C’s back while walking and holding the orphrey.
Upon reaching the Foot, the MC signals a
genuflection and picks up the Asperges Card as he
genuflects. The MC and Th both hold the card in front of C while he
chants the Versicles and Oratio.
The MC bows for "Oremus."
- When the Oratio is
completed, the MC allows Th to take the
Card, then the MC signals a genuflection, all turn inwards, and then
the MC leads C to the Sedilia.
the Sedilia, the MC steps back for C to stand
directly in front
of it. Then the MC stands behind C, and assists in removing the Cope.
The MC then gives the Cope to Ac1 to return to the Sacristy, by
draping it lengthwise over Ac1’s outstretched arms.
The MC then assists C in vesting with the Maniple
and Chasuble as
usual. Before leaving the Sedilia, the MC should ensure that the
Biretta is suitably arranged on C’s stool (i.e.,
the right fin should be facing the front of the stool, so that the MC
may be able to take hold of it quickly).
- When C is ready, the MC turns inwards and leads C
to the Foot for the Preparatory Prayers.
 For those in
(on the floor), the Blessed Sacrament is not considered exposed when It
is on the mensa. However, if they were to ascend to the Predella for
some reason, the inferior minister would have to genuflect in
plano first, then ascend and then upon
descending, genuflect again in plano.
O’Connell, pg. 38, ff. 18, d; and SRC
Which should be set up on the Altar as at Low Mass: the Corporal
unfolded, the Burse against the gradine, and the Chalice on the
 Strictly speaking, both of these
vestment pieces are Mass vestments,
and so they should not be worn outside of Mass. However, it is
customary to only remove the Maniple for the Sermon, though some
liturgical authors recommend removing the Chasuble as well.
 Practical tip: Putting the card
on the second step rather than on the first will
enable the MC to pick up the card more easily.
 Rubricians say that three
spoonfuls of incense should be imposed though more may be used.
 Or the Sacristy Cross if there is
not a Crossbearer.
 Except the Crossbearer and the
Acolytes who are carrying and accompanying an image of Christ.
 The MC does not genuflect until
C arrives at the Foot.
While normally according to the rules of precedence, Th would be on the
MC’s right, this is done out of practicality so that the MC and
Th do not
have to switch sides on the Predella before the imposition of incense.
 A bow should not
be made in plano before
ascending to the Predella to impose incense. This is not prescribed in any
of the rubric books, whether in English or in
Latin, and therefore this
bow, which is practiced in some chapels, should be omitted. As L.
O’Connell says on page 43, in Special Notes On
Reverences, #9, "Bows should not be made unless
they are required by the rubrics."
 This should be Ac2 who in
conjunction with Ac1 retrieving the Missal, ascends to the Predella
(not to the second Altar step only), turns
inwards with Ac1 and then returns the Boat to the Credence. Otherwise,
the Boatbearer does this.
It is assumed that the MC learned these rubrics when he was a Thurifer,
so they are not mentioned in these instructions. However, these can be
found in the front of every 1962 edition of the Missale
 These edges are released every
time C genuflects, so that the MC and Th may support his elbows, and
then are held again.
This is assuming that the Altar being incensed is fixed against the
wall instead of being a free-standing Altar, which is the more correct
form. If the Altar is free-standing, then the MC simply remains to the
right of C while walking around the entire Altar. N.B. A genuflection
is not made while crossing behind
the Tabernacle; this is only done when crossing the front
of the Tabernacle, just as one does not genuflect when crossing past
the side of the Tabernacle.
 Or if room on the Predella does
not allow, he may descend one stepwise.
 Or the Predella, if it is wide
enough on the sides.
This is a practical measure, since it is often difficult to hear C
above the choir, and therefore it is difficult to coordinate the turns
and bows towards the Tabernacle while C is reciting the Gloria
or the Credo.
 Since the MC is not next to C
when he genuflects, this would not follow the rule of cum
ratione accommodationis, and thereby there is no reason for
the MC to make a genuflection.
If it is polyphonic Mass, and a certain word or phrase is telescoped
(that is repeated by the various groups of singers one after another),
one is only required to make a bow for the first
word or phrase mentioned.
 Here the MC performs a bow that
he would not normally perform because of the rule cum ratione
 That is, in a direct or the
shortest path from the Missal to the Sedilia.
 Or to the Boatbearer if there
If necessary the MC should wait until Th is already there before
descending, so that the Gospel procession movement of Th and the
Acolytes is not impeded.
 This action should not be
performed by the MC reaching down from the Predella or an Altar step to
plano; this looks
very sloppy and undignified.
 If the Holy Name is not
mentioned within the first five seconds, the MC
does not bow at all, but simply descends to his position.
 All of the rubricians agree
that Th should be holding the Thurible for the duration of the Gospel,
as this is his duty to bear the Thurible and
not the MC's.
 This follows the rule of cum
ratione accommodationis again.
 In some places, it is the
custom to have the MC sit during the Sermon.
If this is the case, he should sit at a stool near the Sedilia, but not
at the Sedilia, as this is reserved for the Sacred Ministers. This
stool can be removed by an Acolyte after the Sermon.
In some cases, due to a lack of space on the mensa, it may be necessary
to tri-fold the Veil again widthwise. In either case, the emblem should
be facing upwards.
While it is assumed that C has this blessing memorized, it may happen
that he does not. If this formula is not on the center Altar Card, the
Missal should not be removed by Ac1 until C has said the blessing and
the prayers while incensing the Oblations and Altar in their entirety.
However, a better solution to this problem would be to make a small
laminated card with these formulas printed on them, so in this way the
Missal can be removed as usual.
This follows the concession made for the Deacon at a Solemn High Mass,
who normally would not bow at all when C does during the Canon.
 L. O’Connell, pg. 212
on directions for the Deacon at Solemn High Mass.
 The first genuflection
performed by the MC in conjunction with C cannot
be used for the genuflection for leaving the Predella in
coram Sanctissimum. This first genuflection is only being
made to meet the rule of cum ratione accommodationis,
whereas the genuflection in plano
fulfills the rule for inferior ministers under the conditions of in
If there is a Boatbearer, he kneels to Th’s left. It is
the Torchbearers are kneeling in the Chancel. Otherwise they would
kneel behind this formation of servers, or on each side of the Altar.
 This is because of the rule in
 Though the MC is accompanying
Our Lord, he still must cross the center of the Altar after
he leaves the Ciborium.
 I.e.: By
the long way. In this case, by going around the Gospel side
of the Foot.
 Except for the Crossbearer and
© 2007. Louis J. Tofari. All rights reserved.