The Archdiocese of Birmingham - The Parish of the Immaculate Conception

How to do the basics

TIME KEEPING - Please make sure that you are in the sacristy with your alb on 15 minutes before the start of Mass. This will allow whoever is in charge to give any last minute instructions and for us to pray together.

DRESS – Please try to dress smartly. You are taking part in and helping at something very important, the Mass where you will meet someone important, Jesus Himself who is present at every Mass.

IN THE CHURCH – Any church is a holy place where God is worshipped. Please remember to keep quiet in the sacristy – no talking about what you did at school, saw on television etc. Say “good morning” or “good evening” to the priest/Deacon Michael when he comes in.

BEFORE MASS – Spend a few quiet minutes thinking about what you are going to take part in. As an altar server you will have the privilege to help at the wonderful gift from God called the Mass.

STANDING – Always stand up straight with both feet firmly on the ground about six inches apart. Your hands should be clasped in front of your chest well above your waist.

KNEELING – When you kneel your body should be upright with your knees at right angles with your hands in front of your chest well above your waist. Do not sit back on your heels.

SITTING – Sit up tall and do not slouch. Your hands should be on your knees with the palms down.

HANDS – Standing or Kneeling - Unless you are carrying something keep your hands joined together in front of your chest – not hanging by your side or behind your back.

EYES – At the start always look at the where the action of that part of the Mass is taking place: the altar, the chair or the ambo (lectern) – usually at the person speaking. Do not stare into the church and try and spot family and friends. When you are given a job, also watch the Master of Ceremonies (head altar server) who will tell you what to do and when to do it.

WALKING – Walk smoothly with your head held high. Never run anywhere in the church. Unless you are carrying something your hands should be in front of your chest. Never hurry.

BOWING – Bow of the Head – This bow is a slow nod of the head, made when:

The name of Jesus is mentioned

Leaving the priest after an action (i.e. water and wine etc)

Bow of the Body – This bow is made from the waist with hands folded. It should be made slowly and reverently when:

Before the altar if the Blessed Sacrament is not present

At the Creed at the words “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.”

When you bow to someone or something during the Mass this should be a smooth movement forward of your head and shoulders. Never walk and bow at the same time. Always stop first.

GENUFLECTING – When you genuflect, keep your hands in front of you while you go down on your right knee. This should touch the floor by your left heel. Keep your body straight and you’re your hands in front of your chest. Be careful not to trip over your alb.

GENERAL BEHAVIOUR – Being an altar server is a very important job – you help the priest to say Mass well. Always show the greatest respect for where you are and for those around you. Do not draw attention to yourself when you are on the sanctuary. If you are not doing something do not move but pay attention to what is happening around you. A good altar server should be invisible until he/she is needed. By being an altar server you are part of a team. Always try to learn more about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

PRAYER – Before and after Mass remember to thank God for allowing you to serve, ask Him that you may serve well and remember the priest and the other altar servers.

Take the time to learn the prayers and responses of the Mass – these are on a separate sheet - so that you can take part fully in what is going on.

APPEARANCE – Always try to be neat and tidy – you are doing an important job.