"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"
Tridentine Community News (June 15, 2014):
Altar Server Roles
Newcomers to the Traditional Latin Mass often comment on the precise movements of the altar servers. The servers have defined roles and duties:
The Acolytes are the two principal servers. The one on the right as you are facing the altar is called Acolyte 1; it is his responsibility to ring the Sanctus Bell. The one on the left is Acolyte 2; he moves the Missal before the Gospel and after Holy Communion. Historically, these servers were called Acolytes because their roles were filled by men who had received at least the minor order of Acolyte. Current Extraordinary Form regulations allow laymen to fulfill this role, thus one needs to distinguish the Order of Acolyte from the use of the same term to designate a server role. These same rules permit laymen servers to wear the cassock (black robe) and surplice (white outergarment), which are traditionally reserved for clerics.
At a Low Mass, the priest is assisted by one or two Acolytes. If there is only one Acolyte, his position is on the opposite side of the altar from where the Missal rests. Thus his position, like the Missal’s, changes during the Mass. A sung Mass, or Missa Cantata, may also be celebrated with one or two Acolytes, though two are strongly preferred.
If there is to be incense, another server is the Thurifer, or bearer of the censer. The Thurifer can work alone, or may be assisted by a Boat Bearer, who carries the container of incense. For processions, such as on Corpus Christi, a second Thurifer may be employed, to ensure that the Blessed Sacrament is continually incensed.
Two to six additional servers fulfill the roles of Torch Bearers. A torch is a candle contained within a glass or plastic enclosure. In practice, regular processional or altar candles are often used when true torches are not available. Torch Bearers kneel in front of the altar from the Sanctus until after Holy Communion, sentinels in front of our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. When there are insufficient servers present to provide for torches, a Sanctus Candle may be placed on the altar during this portion of the Mass, to serve as an alternate symbol of Christ present on the altar.
The Crucifer, or Cross Bearer, carries the Crucifix in procession.
One server may take the optional role of Master of Ceremonies, to assist the celebrant. Newer celebrants in particular benefit from the guidance of an MC. Arguably this server’s most important and symbolic duty is to turn the pages of the Missal: The priest holds the thumb and index finger of each hand together from the Consecration until after Communion and is not supposed to touch any profane object while there may be particles of the Host on his hands. Unlike the other servers, the MC’s role is rather loosely defined in the rubrics, allowing for some freedom of movement in the sanctuary to assist in whatever manner may be appropriate. If incense is called for but no Thurifer is available, the MC is permitted to fulfill the role of Thurifer as a secondary duty. For more elaborate Masses, such as Solemn High and Pontifical Masses, a Second MC may direct the servers, while the First MC directs the sacred ministers.
Other roles particular to a specific church, such as closing and opening the Communion Rail gates, flipping over the Communion Rail cloth, and ringing the tower bell at the Consecration, may be handled by certain servers. These are considered elements of local custom and are not dictated by rubrics.
Serving at the altar is a great privilege which provides an opportunity to learn more about the Sacred Liturgy from a close vantage point. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are often inspired in those who serve the Extraordinary Form. Men and boys who have received their First Holy Communion are invited to join our altar server team. Training will be provided. Please see one of the servers after Mass if you or one of your sons are interested.
St. Leo to Host Tridentine Mass on June 27
Detroit’s historic St. Leo Church is the next to host its first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form in over 40 years. On Friday, June 27 at 7:00 PM, Juventútem Michigan will hold its monthly Last Friday Mass at the Sacred Heart Side Altar at St. Leo’s, in honor of that day being the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Though there has been some reorganizing of ecclesiastical furnishings within the church, St. Leo retains many of its original architectural elements, including a High Altar, Communion Rail, and Side Altars. Several years ago it was reported that the parish retained a notable collection of historic vestments and altar cards. Former long-time pastor Bishop Thomas Gumbleton is mostly known for his social activism, however a fact not as well known is that he served as an Episcopal Advisor to the Latin Liturgy Association for many years.
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
- Mon. 06/16 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Joseph (Feria [Mass of First Sunday After Pentecost])
- Tue. 06/17: No Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor – Mass will resume next Tuesday, June 24 at 7:00 PM
- Sat. 06/21 8:00 AM: Low Mass at Our Lady of the Scapular, Wyandotte (St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Confessor)
- Sun. 06/22 2:00 PM: Solemn High Mass at St. Benedict/Assumption-Windsor (External Solemnity of Corpus Christi)
- First Solemn High Mass of soon-to-be Fr. Joe Tuskiewicz
- Knights of Columbus Colour Guard will be present
- Procession with the Blessed Sacrament follows Mass, outdoors if weather permits
- Mass will be filmed for EWTN’s Extraordinary Faith program
- Reception after Mass