The role of the Book Bearer is to provide the priest with the various prayers that he will need to say from the Presidential Chair. In a normal Sunday Mass you will be required on four occasions:
- At the beginning of Mass, immediately after Sign of the Cross and Greeting for the introduction.
- Immediately after the Gloria (if it is said), or after the Penitential Rite (if the Gloria is not said as during Advent and Lent) for the Opening Prayer.
- Immediately after the Creed for the Bidding Prayers or Prayers of the Faithful.
- After Holy Communion for the Post-Communion Prayer and the Solemn Blessing if one is used.
Occasionally you will be needed to hold he book at other times, for example when the Advent wreath is blessed or during the blessing of ashes on Ash Wednesday. The Master of Ceremonies will tell you if this will happen and will guide you where to stand.
Holding the Book.
There are two ‘positions’ for holding the book. The first raised ‘in use’ position when the priest is saying the prayer, and a second lower ‘at rest’ position at all other times or when you are walking with the book.
- When the priest needs to read from the book hold it so that your hands are roughly level with your eyes and the book rests on the top your head. This will keep it steady and make it easier for the priest to read the prayers. It also makes it less tiring on your arms if you have to hold the book for a long time.
- At all other times hold the book in front of you with your elbows at right angles so that the top of the book is resting against your chin.
During the Mass.
Shortly before you will be needed the Master of Ceremonies will give you the book open at the page required. Take this in both hands and hold it in the ‘at rest’ position and keep an eye on the Master of Ceremonies– he will give you the signal when to move. On the MC’s signal walk in a graceful and dignified way and stand on the first step immediately in front of the priest. Raise the book to the ‘in use’ position. Stay there while the prayer is said – the priest will touch the book when it is finished. Turn and return to your place handing the book back to the Master of Ceremonies.
Sometimes Deacon Michael will lead the Penitential Rite when we say ‘sorry’ to God for our sins. You will be told before Mass starts if this will happen. If it does, immediately after Father Paul finishes his introduction, go and stand in front of Deacon Michael holding the book up as usual. He will then say the Penitential Rite. When this is finished he will turn the page to the Opening Prayer of the Mass. If, as in Advent or Lent, the Gloria is not said, immediately return to Father Paul so that he can say the Opening Prayer. If the Gloria is said go and stand next to the Master of Ceremonies and move back to stand in front of Father Paul when it is finished.
Bidding Prayers, also known as the Prayers of the Faithful.
The Bidding Prayers are a bit more complicated. Take the book from the Master of Ceremonies and go to the chair in the usual way lifting the book into the ‘in use’ position when you get there. Father will then say a short prayer of introduction. When the reader starts the prayers from the lectern you can lower the book to the ‘at rest’ position but stay standing in front of the priest. The bidding prayers always finish with the ‘Hail Mary’. When this has finished lift the book to the ‘in use’ position for Father to say the final prayer. When this has finished return to your place.
Prayer after Holy Communion and Solemn Blessings.
On some feast days and important seasons – such as Easter – Father may give a Solemn Blessing. The Master of Ceremonies will let you know if there will be one. If there is remain at the chair after the prayer after Holy Communion until Father has finished the blessing.