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Ordo Missae of the 1962 Missale Romanum

A Rubrical Guide For Altar Servers

By Louis J. Tofari

 Master of Ceremonies II At High Mass (Missa Cantata)

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The pontifical ceremonies assume the use of an MC2 to coordinate the sacred (other than C) and inferior ministers. It is customary in England to employ an MC2 at Solemn High Mass, so Fortescue describes MC2’s duties for the various seasonal ceremonies. The same can be done with minor adaptation for High Mass to aid MC1 with the more complex ceremonies or to add solemnity to a festive occasion [1].

The method laid out below is the adaptation of MC2’s duties during a Solemn High Mass (in turn adapted from his duties during a Pontifical High Mass) for a Missa Cantata.


  • MC2 is usually on the left, while MC1 is on the right.


  • MC2 has general charge of the servers, while MC1 conducts C. For this reason, MC2 [2] must have a perfect knowledge of the other server’s duties in addition to his own.
  • MC2’s main duty is to coordinate the servers and ensure that they carry out their various duties correctly. In certain cases, MC2 may also have to coordinate or prompt the clergy who are in choir. In both cases this must be done discretely without causing distraction.
  • MC2 assumes one of the duties that the assistant priest would perform at a Solemn High Mass [3]; namely, moving the missal during each incensation of the altar.
  • MC2 also has charge of the various processions that take place during Mass, namely the:
    • Processional
    • Gospel action
    • Various times that the Tbs are led in and out of the sanctuary
    • Recessional


  • If Th is carrying the thurible with blessed incense: MC2 follows behind Th at a distance of four pews.
  • If Th is not carrying the thurible [4]: MC2 processes at the head of the ministers with Th behind him (or if there is no Boatbearer, Th may be on MC2’s left).
  • Upon reaching the foot, MC2 genuflects, goes to the Gospel-side of the foot and faces across the sanctuary awaiting the arrival of C.
  • When MC1 arrives at the foot, he also turns to face across the sanctuary, and when C arrives at the foot, MC2 genuflects again upon MC1’s signal [5].


  • MC2 remains at his normal position [6] (Gospel-corner of the foot), and leads the bow (towards the altar) for the Gloria Patri.
  • After the Asperges is finished, MC2 turns inwards with MC1 and then shoulder-to-shoulder with MC1 leads C to the sedilia, where MC2 takes his place on the left-hand side of C while he vests.
  • When C has finished vesting, MC2 shoulder-to-shoulder with MC1 leads C back to the foot, pairing off with MC1 to leave space for C. There MC2 kneels on MC1’s signal for the Preparatory Prayers.


  • MC2 acts as Ac2 at Low Mass during the Preparatory Prayers. When finished assisting with C’s alb, MC2 meets MC1 at the center of the foot, genuflects, turns inward and goes with MC1 shoulder to shoulder to the Epistle-side to remove the missal for the First Incensation.


  • MC2 removes the missal at the appropriate moment [7] in conjunction with the server who retrieves the boat (either Ac2 or Bb).


After returning the missal to the altar, MC2 goes to the foot, genuflects in unison with the (last) genuflection made by ministers still at the altar, and goes to his normal position: the Gospel-corner of the foot (opposite of MC1’s usual foot position). During Mass, MC2 leads the turns and bows towards the altar for the servers.


  • Towards the end of the Gloria said by C at the altar, after bowing for "Suscipe deprecationem nostram," MC2 meets MC1 at the center of the foot. MC2 remains there until the cross is signed during "cum Sancto Spiritu," then he genuflects in unison with C and MC1, turns inwards with MC1 and goes to the sedilia.

WHENEVER C SITS AT THE SEDILIA (during the Gloria, Gradual, Credo, etc.)

  • Whenever C goes to sit at the sedilia, MC2 accompanies C and MC1 there [8].
  • C, MC1 and MC2 genuflect, turn inward, and MC2 meets MC1 shoulder to shoulder, and then both lead C to the sedilia.
  • Upon arriving at the sedilia, both allow C to pass through to sit, while simultaneously they assist him with his chasuble. Both then face each other on either side of C (MC1 faces the nave, while MC2 faces the rear sanctuary wall).
  • Both bow to C and towards the tabernacle as usual for those times prescribed.
  • When C returns to the foot, MC2 again goes shoulder to shoulder with MC1, genuflects at the foot, and then returns to his normal position.


  • when MC1 and Th ascend to have incense imposed, MC2 gfs at the foot, and goes to the credence and takes his position at the front right-hand position of the box formation.
  • when all is ready, MC2 conducts Th and the Acolytes to the foot for the Gospel, leaving room in the center for MC1.
  • when MC1 descends with the missal, MC2 signals a gf, then all go to their Gospel positions [9].
  • during the Gospel reading, MC2 performs all of the actions that would normally be allotted to MC1.
  • when the Gospel is completed, MC2 moves the missal to the Canon position, bows in unison with C to the altar cross [10], turns inwards, descends to the foot with C, turns inwards again and gfs on MC1’s signal. Then all return to their normal positions.


  • If there is a Sermon, MC2 takes his normal position at the sedilia. He should face across the sanctuary though.


  • MC2 removes the missal for the Offertory incensation and then returns to his normal position, where he is incensed with one double.
  • Then MC2 meets Th and Cb at the Foot, signals a genuflection, and goes to the chancel with Th and Cb.
  • MC2 ensures that the Tbs line up correctly, and when all is ready, signals a genuflection, and then leads the Tbs out of the sanctuary with Th on his left.


  • MC2 leads the Tbs in with Th on his left at the Sanctus, ensures they line up correctly, signals all to genuflect, then the Tbs to kneel, and then returns to MC1’s normal position at the foot on the Epistle-side [11]. From there he ensures that the servers perform their duties, intervening discretely if necessary.


  • After the bell is rung for the Hanc Igitur, MC2 imposes one spoonful of incense into the thurible, and takes position on the first altar step on the epistle side, with Th on his left.
  • MC2 may perform the incensations during the Elevations [12].
  • After the Consecration, MC2 signals all to rise, and resumes his former Epistle-corner, foot position.


MC2 turns and bows with MC1 towards the altar center while C consumes the Sacred Host, after which MC2 ensures that the servers line up at the foot for Communion (while the Acolytes turn over the Communion Cloth). MC2 then takes position to the far right of the formation; these are the recta linea positions at Foot:

MC1 Ac2 [Cb] Ac1 [Bb] Th MC2


  • After receiving Holy Communion, MC2 signals all of the actions for descending in plano from the predella and then resumes his normal position and signals all to kneel (MC2 kneels on first altar step).


  • MC2 meets Th and Cb at the foot, signals a genuflection, and ensures that the Tbs are lined up correctly and leads them in and out as before.
  • Upon arriving back in the sanctuary, MC2 resumes his normal position.


  • After signing himself, MC2 ensures that the servers are lined up correctly for the Recessional.
  • When this has been done, MC2 takes position in the formation as he did for the Processional.

[1] This is in fact the very reason for the Missa Cantata; when a Solemn High Mass cannot be had, an adapted version of it (i.e., the application of the ceremonies and positions to what otherwise would be a Low Mass), may be executed in its stead.

[2] For those chapels that have the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen, a certified MC must execute this position.

[3]When sanctioned by the rubrics; e.g., for the first three Masses of a newly-ordained priest.

[4] Either Th has his hands folded, or is accompanying C with MC1 for the Asperges in holding the aspersory and holding the cope’s orphrey.

[5] Following the principle of cum ratione accommodationis.

[6] At a Solemn High Mass, MC2 accompanies MC1 (to MC1’s left) in leading the sacred ministers down the nave, etc. Upon reaching the rear of the nave, MC1 and MC2 step off to the sides of the main aisle, and facing each other, allow the sacred ministers to pass, then close rank, face the altar, genuflect on MC1’s signal and then lead the ministers back to the sanctuary, returning to their normal positions.

[7] Cf. Acolytes at a Missa Cantata sheets.

[8] Should ever C and MC1 go per breviorem ( e.g., for the Kyrie or Gradual, etc.), MC2 genuflects at the center of the foot alone, and meets them at the sedilia.

[9] After replacing the missal, MC1 goes per breviorem to his Epistle position at the foot for the reading of the Gospel, facing the missal.

[10] Following the principle of cum ratione accommodationis. Technically, this bow is not required by the general principles nor the rubrics; nevertheless, many priests perform it so MC2 ought to as well if C does.

[11] While technically, MC2’s position is on the Gospel-side of the sanctuary, it is often necessary for the coordination of the servers to position MC2 in MC1’s normal position as MC1 is involved with assisting C during the Canon.

[12] Or he may defer this to Th to perform as usual.

Copyright © 2007. Louis J. Tofari. All rights reserved.
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