The boat bearer always accompanies the thurifer – so be prepared to follow him/her around (most of the time). It is your job to hand the boat to Deacon Michael or to the Master of Ceremonies so that rhe priest can put incense in the thurible at various points during the Mass. You can either hold it in one hand or in two. If you do hold it in only one hand remember to keep the other hand flat on your chest. It looks neater.
Make sure that there is some incense in the boat. There is no need to fill it right to the top. About a half full is enough. If it is too full the incense will spill out when the priest tries to take some. Also make sure that the spoon is in the boat.
In the church porch just before the start of Mass approach the priest and open the lid of the boat. Hold it ‘spoon-end’ away from you so that the priest can easily put incense in the thurible. When he has done this and blessed the thurible by silently making the sign of the cross over it close the lid of the boat and go with the thurifer to the head of the procession. Stand to the left of the thurifer and wait for the signal to move into the church.
When you reach the sanctuary steps, because you are carrying something, there is no need to genuflect. Just bow to the altar and go and stand by the credence table. After the altar has been incensed leave the sanctuary with the thurifer turning to bow to the altar as you do. In the sacristy put the boat on the stand and return to the sanctuary by the side steps.
At the start of the readings come back into the sacristy, pick up the boat and wait until the Gospel acclamation. This is the signal for you both to come back into the church – bow to the altar when you come back on to the sanctuary.
When you do go straight to Deacon Michael and hand him the boat. Wait while The priest puts incense in and blesses the thurible. Deacon Michael will then hand the boat back to you – go and stand next to the credence table. This is the one time that you do not accompany the thurifer. Wait there while the thurifer, acolytes, Master of Ceremonies and Deacon Michael process to the ambo and the Gospel is proclaimed.
When you hand the boat to someone always hold it by the ‘spoon-end’ so that the person you are giving it to can take it easily by its handle.
At the end of the Gospel, join Deacon Michael (if he is not preaching), the thurifer, acolytes and Master of Ceremonies in front of the altar. Stand between the thurifer and Master of Ceremonies, together bow to the altar, turn and go into the sacristy. While the thurifer is lighting the third charcoal check if the incense needs topping up.
THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST.
As soon as you see the priest receives the gifts and return to the sanctuary with the thurifer bowing to the altar as you come back on. Wait while Deacon Michael prepares the chalices and rhe priest offers the bread and wine. When he has done this hand the boat to Deacon Michael and again wait while the priest puts incense in and blesses the thurible. Deacon Michael will then hand the boat back to you. After this you can put the boat down – you will not be needed until after the Our Father. Stand or kneel with the other servers.
At the end of the Our Father pick up the boat and leave the sanctuary with the thurifer bowing to the altar as you do so. Leave the boat in the sacristy and come back to the sanctuary.
If Deacon Michael is away what you do does not change. Hand the boat the Master of Ceremonies instead.