ALTAR SERVERS ASSOCIATION BENDUR
Altar Servers Association of Bendur was formed shortly after the Bendur Parish was formed. It has grown up steadily, thereafter, with the encouragement and guidance of the Parish clergy, time to time.
The Altar Servers Association meets in the church, every Sunday at 3.00 pm. The Assistant Priest conducts the meetings which includes regular prayers from the hand book, reading of a passage from the Bible, followed by a message. Regular camps are being conducted at the Parish level and diocesan level for the Altar servers.
Every year the Altar Servers day is celebrated in the Parish on the feast of St John Barchmans. The day begins with a thanksgiving Eucharistic Service. In the evening the members display their talents in the variety entertainment program, presented to the parishioners.
About Altar Servers
The term altar server, has almost completely replaced altar boy, because, with the permission of the diocesan bishop, girls may now be allowed to serve in this capacity; besides, an increasing number of adults serve at the altar, especially at solemn services in cathedrals or basilicas. Another term that was used more in the past than now is acolyte, a Greek word which means “attendant”.
The primary role of the altar server is to assist the priest in the celebration of the liturgy during Mass. This is done through specific actions and by setting an example to the congregation by active participation in the liturgy by their actions, singing of hymns, responses of the people, looking alert and sitting or standing at the appropriate times.
Altar servers are chosen from among the faithful who display a desire to participate in an intimate way during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is an extreme privilege to kneel so close to the altar as our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, becomes truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity upon the altar.
A server can be any person who has received first confession and Holy Communion. Each bishop and each parish may have additional requirements but basically there are no other universal restrictions about age or sex.
The leader of the server training should determine the reasons why a candidate wishes to serve and be reasonably certain that the candidate, and not parental pressures, are the main motivation. A reluctant or disinterested server is a distraction to the priest, parishioners and fellow servers. A poor attitude can have a negative effect on the overall parish faithful. It is not uncommon for a parent to want a child to be a server but the child has no desire and this is a disaster.
A server is uniquely joined in the Heavenly Supper of the Lamb of God and serves in the company of myriads of angles eternally singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
When Serving in the presence of Our Savior and surrounded by His Heavenly Host it is both wise and necessary for a server to perform all assigned duties with attention, dignity and reverence. Just as Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant . . .” servers should set aside their own preferences and attend to every action of the Divine Liturgy as a team, all rehearsing the Divine Celebration in the same manner and style as directed by the parish priest and performed by their companion servers.
The server, participating as instructed, will enter into a fuller participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass while assisting the priests and deacons as the mysteries of the Upper Room and Calvary are represented to God’s people. All actions of the server are woven from signs and symbols whose meaning is rooted in the works of creation and in human culture, specified by events in the Old Testament and fully revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is imperative that all servers do their assigned tasks in the prescribed form and manner.
The Sanctuary is holy, and access to it is restricted to a very few men. Do not abuse the privilege you have been given to enter the sanctuary for service by being disrespectful or entering the holy place unnecessarily
• Servers will be required to vest in either cassock with surplice or alb and cincture as directed by the parish priest.
• Clothes worn under an alb should be such that they so not have patterns, pictures, stripes, checks or any other design which will show through the alb.
• Dress shoes and appropriate socks or stockings must be worn.
A server candidate is required to know the principal prayers of the Mass: The Gloria, Our Father, Nicene Creed, Lamb of God, Lord, I am not worthy and Holy, Holy, Holy. If they cannot take the time to memorize these basic prayers they may be demonstrating a lack of sufficient interest in being a good server. Not knowing these prayers usually results in a server who just stands there looking out of touch and in ignorance of our most sacred act of worship.
All candidates should know and recite the basic flow of the mass. They must learn this so as to later perform their tasks at the proper times. They should be taught the use of all the liturgical items they will be handling and the purpose of each item. See the end of this manual for definitions.
All server candidates must be able to demonstrate their ability to genuflect, bow and make the sign of the cross. They must understand genuflecting is reserved for and to the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ whether on exposed on the altar or reserved in the tabernacle. Genuflecting is a form of worship of our God and should only be done to Him alone. It would be a grave mistake to genuflect to any altar, cross, picture or crucifix. Catholics do not worship (latria) anyone but the ONE TRIUNE GOD, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Praise be God forever.
Servers should be shown how to bow in respect to the altar as it is where Jesus offers his Body to the Father for the propitiation of our sins.
Servers are not a wall decorations, they are primarily there to assist the priest and to discern their vocation if they have one. Here is a short list of server duties.
The servers first duty is to prepare for the Mass. The server should arrive at the Church early, usually 15 to 20 minutes before Mass, to perform the appropriate setup for their parish.
The Server must also stay after Mass to return the Church to its non service condition.
Servers should not handle any consecrated bread or wine unless specifically directed by the priest or deacon in an emergency situation. If the server suspects any consecrated fragments or wine remain on the sacred vessels they must inform the priest or deacon immediately.
Servers must remain in the sanctuary during the entire Mass and are not to leave the sanctuary during Mass for any reason other than Illness or the direction of the priest or deacon. Altar servers are on duty from the time they enter the sanctuary at the start of Mass until the priest exits at the end of Mass. Thirst, itches, and the like are not a bodily necessities and therefore are never an excuse for leaving the sanctuary before the final procession.
Servers have many specific duties depending on the parish priest. These duties include serving the wine and water to the priest or deacon, washing the priest’s hands, ringing bells, using the patten at communion time, standing, sitting and kneeling. Depending on the parish they may also be required to prepare the ciboria, chalice, and credence table and cleaning up after Mass. In any of these positions they should maintain a straight formal posture. If you have never seen a formal posture look to the military for an example of how to sit, stand and kneel. If you have a free hand while holding some object you should place the other hand in the military attention position or place it across your heart. Pastor’s choice.
In the standing position hands should be held in the praying position as seen in most Christian artwork. Never hold hands in any position which would be more appropriate at a bus stop or on a corner.
In the kneeling position hands should be held as in the standing position. You must kneel upright, not slouching or sitting on your heals.
When sitting the hands should be held on the lap or at the sides. Never slouch. Never play with your cinctures, pick your nose or otherwise cause a public reason to take notice of you. You are not on stage; you are serving at the altar of Our God. Note: Holding hands in the prayer position was a medieval sign of submission to a manner lord and it is very appropriate to signify submission to our Divine Lord. Clasping hands and kneeling may be difficult due to arthritis or other physical limitations should be the only reason to excuse these activities. Remember, you are seen by all the parishioners and how you conduct yourself is important to their understanding of the eternal Lamb’s Supper and His Sacrificial Act being represented for us in time.
When assisting the priest with the Communion patten during Holy Communion the server must always hold the patten level from the time it is picked up from its storage place until it is returned to the priest or deacon after all have received. It must never be tilted or turned so as to spill any fragments of the Body of Jesus which may have been caught by it. It is the responsibility of the server holding the patten to protect the Body of Jesus from falling on the floor. A new server should practice using the patten with another server till proficiency is obtained. They must be instructed in how to hold a patten properly during communion in order to catch any fragment of the Host that may fall. This should be practiced until there is no hesitation even when people receive in the hand.
Every altar server must attend every Mass they are scheduled for. When a server cannot be present, that server must arrange for a replacement.
ALTAR SERVER’S PRAYER
Loving Father, Creator of the universe, You call Your people to worship, to be with You and each other at Mass. Help me, for You have called me also. Keep me prayerful and alert. Help me to help others in prayer. Thank you for the trust You’ve placed in me. Keep me true to that trust. I make my prayer in Jesus’ name, who is with us in the Holy Spirit. Amen.