Instructional Content/Task Analysis

Prerequisite/Entry Skills

Altar servers must be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Making the sign of the Cross
  • Performing duties of candle bearer
  • Receiving Holy Communion in the approved manner
  • Holding hands in the appropriate prayer position
  • Reverencing the tabernacle when crossing in front of it
    • Bowing
    • Genuflecting

Instructional Content/Task Analysis

Various tasks altar servers might be given:

  • Bell ringer
  • Book bearer
  • Candle bearer
  • Processional crucifix bearer
  • Master of ceremonies
  • Communion paten holder
  • Thurifer
    • Boat bearer
    • Thurible bearer

General

  • Follow movements of the priest
    • Standing
    • Sitting
    • Bowing

[Note:  in the training program, prayers in quotation marks will be added as a hot link e.g. for the Epiclesis and the consecration.]

Before Mass

  • Arrive at least fifteen minutes before Mass begins
  • Come wearing the correct attire
    • Black slacks
    • Black dress shoes
  • Put on the correctly-sized cassock and surplice, approximately ankle-length.
  • If the priest does not light the candles on the altar, the senior server lights them.
  • Senior server lights candles, removes them from their stands, and gives them to the candle bearers.
  • Senior server puts white gloves on and picks up processional crucifix.
  • Meet in the narthex for the entrance processional.
  • Line up during the reading of the announcements.

Introductory Rites

  • Maintain processional path up the center aisle, arranged with senior server/crucifix bearer first and candle bearers side-by-side a few steps back.
  • Candle bearers hold candles correctly, using two hands and keeping the candle level.
  • Senior server holds the processional crucifix in front of him with two hands, slightly elevated.
  • From the front of the center aisle, exit the choir door, hang the processional crucifix on the wall, blow out the candles with a cupped hand, and return the candles to their stands.
  • Return, move into position behind the priest and deacon’s chair, genuflect toward the tabernacle, and then stand.
  • Candle bearer #1 holds the Sacramentary for the priest for the opening prayer.
  • Following the opening prayer, move to the front pew on the choir side and take a seat.

Liturgy of the Word

  • Remain seated and attentive during the first reading, the responsorial psalm, and the second reading; stand for the Gospel.
  • Remain seated and attentive during the homily.

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Formal bow during the Creed, “…by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
  • Remain standing for Intercessory Prayer.
  • All servers leave the pew, led by the senior server, and exit by the choir door.  The senior server lights the candles and gives them to the candle bearers.
  • All servers return in formation, proceed to the foot of the sanctuary, and the senior server genuflects toward the Tabernacle.
  • The senior server moves in front of the ambo around and up the side steps to the credence table to assist the priest in preparing the altar.  He brings the covered chalice, paten, etc. to the altar for the priest.
  • The senior server waits behind the ambo for the priest to approach the gift bearers.
  • Meanwhile, the candle bearers proceed down the center aisle to prepare to escort the gifts.
  • Once the priest and senior server come down to the foot of the sanctuary, the candle bearers approach them, leading the gift bearers.
  • The gift bearers give the gifts to the senior server and/or Deacon and they return to the credence table.
  • The senior server proceeds to the credence table.  He takes the cruets of holy water and wine to the altar.
  • Once the priest prays, “Blessed be God forever,” the senior server gives the cruet of wine and the cruet of holy water to the priest.
  • Once the priest returns the cruets the senior server takes them back to the credence table.
  • The candle bearers exit by the choir door, extinguish the candles, and replace them on their stands.
  • The candle bearers return to the foot of the sanctuary and genuflect toward the Tabernacle.
  • The candle bearers move in front of the ambo, around, and up the steps to stand by the credence table.
  • The senior server gives the lavabo bowl to one candle bearer.  He then unfolds the finger towel and places it across the hands of the other candle bearer whose hands are in the prayer position.
  • When the priest raises the chalice to present the wine, the senior server brings the small pitcher of water and the candle bearers bring the  lavabo bowl and finger towel to the side of the altar.
  • One candle bearer holds the lavabo bowl with both hands while senior server pours the water over the priest’s hands.  The other candle bearer receives the finger towel again once the priest has dried his hands.
  • All servers bow to the priest when done and return to the credence table.
  • As the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) begins, move into position kneeling in front of the altar with hands in the prayer position.  The senior server should be positioned closest to the bells without repositioning them.
  • Look for the priest to move his hands to call down the Holy Spirit and ring the bells one time during the Epiclesis, “Make holy, therefore, these gifts we pray…”
  • Ring the bells three times during the consecration of bread into the Body of Christ, “…for this is my Body, which will be given up for you” and again three times during the consecration of the wine into the Blood of Christ, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Communion Rite

  • Stand with hands in the prayer position for the Lord’s prayer (“Our Father”).
  • After the prayer for peace, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you,” after responding, “And with your spirit,” move in front of the ambo to the kneeler.
  • At the end of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), kneel with hands in the prayer position.
  • When the priest has received the Precious Blood, the servers move to the credence table.
  • The senior server gives a communion paten to one candle bearer and takes another communion paten.
  • All servers stand between the credence table and the altar in formation to receive Holy Communion.
  • The senior server and candle bearer with communion patens follow the priest’s instructions for the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful.  The remaining candle bearer moves around the kneeler, past the ambo, and returns to the front pew on the choir side and kneels with hands in the prayer position.
  • After holy communion, the senior server brings the cruet of holy water to the altar for the purification of the vessels.  Once the priest or deacon is finished, the senior server takes the vessels and returns them to the credence table.
  • The senior server and one candle bearer move around the kneeler, in front of the ambo, and join the other candle bearer in front of the sanctuary and genuflects or bows toward the Tabernacle.  They then return to their original position behind the priest and deacon chairs.
  • A candle bearer holds the Sacramentary for the priest with correct posture during the closing prayer.
    • Tall servers hold the Sacramentary to their side
    • Shorter servers hold the Sacramentary in fronf of them.

Concluding Rites

  • During the St. Michael prayer, all servers exit by the choir door.  The senior server lights the candles and gives them to the candle bearers, puts on the white gloves, and gets the processional crucifix.
  • The senior server leads the candle bearers, moving into position at the front of the aisle with the candle bearers aligned side-by-side a few steps back, facing the altar.
  • When the priest genuflects, turn and recess out of the church using the correct path, spacing, and posture.

After Mass

  • Stand in formation while the priest reverences the crucifix.
  • The candle bearers extinguish the candles and return them to their stands.
  • The senior server returns the processional crucifix its hook on the wall and takes off the white gloves.
  • When changing clothing, leave vestments in a tidy fashion with great care.
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