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Ordo Missae of the 1962 Missale Romanum

Handbook for Altar Servers

by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen

  Preparing for Low Mass

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1. Arrive in good time.
2. If you have to pass through the church, kneel down, pray to Our Lord and say your Guild Prayers before Serving.
3. If you enter by the sacristy, vest first, and then go into church or a side-chapel and say your prayers.
4. Always walk slowly and reverently. Genuflect to the ground, keeping your body upright, and facing forward.
5. Prepare the cruets; light the candles beginning by the one at the Epistle side; prepare your book if you use one. Help the priest to vest.
6. If you are not serving at the Blessed Sacrament Altar, tell the priest if you or other people want Holy Communion, stating the number. If you forget this, you can still present altar-breads to the priest up till the Offertory, or even any time before the Elevation.
7. Never talk or play in the sacristy.
8. When the priest is ready for Mass, take the Missal if this is the custom, bow to the Cross, and precede the priest, offering him Holy Water with your right hand and then making the sign of the Cross yourself. Ring the sacristy bell if this is the custom. If you are carrying the Missal, lean it on your left arm to do all these actions.
9. On reaching the Altar, be at the priest's right: receive the biretta if he is wearing it, kissing first his hand, then biretta (NOTE A, p.29), and genuflect, even if the priest only bows (NOTE B, p.29). Put the biretta on the step or the credence table, and if you have to put the Missal on the stand, go round by the side.
10. Then if necessary, close the sanctuary gates, genuflect and go to the foot of the steps at the Gospel side so as to be on the priest's left. Have your book open and ready.
11. When the priest comes down and bows or genuflects, kneel directly on the floor.


Behavior. All servers should take pride in punctuality, personal cleanliness and good behavior, and while serving strictly avoid staring about them. The service in which they assist is no common service but sacred and solemn, and the place is most holy, therefore must the server constantly remind himself of the presence of God and His holy angels if he would serve well.
The Sacristy is the antechamber of the sanctuary and within the precincts of God's house; therefore the server will regulate his conduct and behave well there, after the example of the Holy Child and His saints. As a member of the Guild of St. Stephen he will place himself under the protection of that faithful deacon and brave martyr, invoke his intercession and follow his example.


The first thing that every server at Low Mass should be concerned about is the correct pronunciation of the Latin. Those servers who have never learnt Latin, and they are the majority, should invariably use a book or card when serving. It is so easy to make mistakes without realizing it, and these mistakes tend to increase until in the course of time the answers will no longer be Latin at all but merely a succession of sounds somewhat resembling that language.
He should follow the Mass. His duty is SERVE the priest. He must, therefore, attend to what the priest is saying and doing, so as to be ready to answer at the correct time, and be rather beforehand than behindhand with his ministrations. It is for the priest and not the server to set the pace. The following "DON'TS" will remind servers in a short but arresting way of some of the common faults to be avoided in serving at Low Mass.

1. DON'T look round when anyone passes in front of or near the altar. The Server should be either following the Mass in his Missal or watching the priest.
2. DON'T stand during the "Credo," kneel as soon as you have answered "Laus tibi, Christe."
3. DON'T ever put the cruets on the altar without the lavabo cloth under them, and, at the Offertory, don't leave them on the altar for the priest to take: hand each cruet to the priest with the right hand.
4. DON'T kiss the chasuble before or after the Elevation, and hold it up only when the priest raises his arms.
5. DON'T kneel at the side to receive Holy Communion, always move to the front facing the altar on the Epistle side, after the priest has said "Indulgentiam."
6. DON'T carry the chalice veil to the Gospel side; either unfold it on the Epistle side and leave it there, or do not touch it.
7. DON'T come to the center for the priest's blessing, remain at the Gospel side until the priest has begun the last Gospel.

N.B. This edition of The Altar Server’s Handbook, originally published by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen a century ago, contains in its pages  directives which do not necessarily correspond to the 1962 Missale Romanum or the serving tutorial on the Sancta Missa website. The handbook is intended as a possible aid for parishes or individuals interested in implementing a similar guild.
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