"I am the wheat of God. I must become the bread of Christ." -St. Ignatius of Antioch

Altar Servers

Would you like to be an altar server? Wondering what they do?

Duties at Mass

  • Servers hold liturgical books for the priest when he is not at the altar and is proclaiming the presidential prayers with outstretched hands. They bring and hold such things as books, thuribles, the lavabo water and towel, vessels to hold the consecrated bread, and microphones.
  • Entrance: The entrance procession is led by a thurifer with burning incense (if incense is used at the Mass) and a cross-bearer carrying a processional cross, who is flanked on either side by another server bearing a lighted candle.
  • Proclamation of the Gospel: If incense is used, a server presents to the priest at the Alleluia or other pre-Gospel chant the thurible and the incense that he puts in the thurible and blesses, and servers, who may carry the thurible and lighted candles, precede to the ambo the deacon or priest who proclaims the Gospel there.
  • Preparation of the Gifts: One or more servers assist in arranging the corporal, the purificator(s), the chalice(s), the pall(s), and the Missal on the altar, leaving it to the deacon to take care of the sacred vessels. (At a concelebrated Mass without participation by a deacon, a concelebrating priest carries out the functions assigned to the deacon. If, as is appropriate, the bread and wine for the Mass are presented by the faithful, servers assist the priest or deacon who receives these and perhaps other gifts and carry the bread and wine to the priest, placing other gifts in a place distinct from the altar. They present the cruets of wine and water for the priest or deacon to pour some into the chalice. If incense is used, a server presents the thurible and incense to the priest, who incenses the offerings, the cross and the altar, after which the deacon or a server incenses the priest and the people. When the priest then washes his hands standing at the side of the altar, a server pours the water over them.
  • Consecration: An altar server rings a bell shortly before the consecration, generally at the epiclesis (when the priest extends his hands above the gifts). In accordance with local custom, a server also rings the bell when, after the consecrations of the bread and wine, the priest shows the Host and then the Chalice. If incense is used, a server incenses the consecrated host and the chalice while these are being shown to the people.
  • Sign of Peace: The priest or deacon may give the sign of peace to servers, while remaining within the sanctuary.
  • Distribution of Holy Communion: In some places it is customary for servers to assist at the distribution of Holy Communion by holding a communion-plate for communicants. Whether it is to be held by communicants or by a server, a communion-plate is placed on the credence table before Mass. Its use (held by the communicants) is prescribed when Holy Communion is given by intinction.
  • Recessional: The servers lead the priest and any other clergy as at the entrance procession, except that a server who acted as thurifer at the entrance now follows the cross-bearer.

If you are interested in more information, email Carolina Jantac at server@ignatius.net.