Altar Server

A youth in the fourth grade or above who desires to be an Altar Server must have received their first communion and be receiving communion on a regular basis. In addition, the youth must be able to commit to the following:

  • Serving weekend Mass as scheduled (normally, once every 2-3 weeks).
  • Serving Mass on weekdays and Holy Days of Obligation on a rotation basis (school schedule permitting).
  • Serving at Holy Day Masses, weddings, funerals as needed and when available.
  • Obtaining a substitute when unable to fulfill a Mass assignment.
  • Attending scheduled Altar Server meetings and training classes.

To inquire about serving, and to sign up for altar server training, please contact OCCatholicDeaf@rcbo.org

Altar Server Manual

Serving is not for everyone. It is a call from God to a special ministry in the Church. As an Altar Server, your child is a Liturgical Minister with an important role during the Mass or during other liturgical services, such as Stations of the Cross or Benediction.

The privilege and honor of serving at the altar has been a longstanding tradition in the Catholic Church. This service requires commitment, diligence, and cooperation on the part of the Altar Server so that the Holy Mass may be offered in a suitable way giving honor to God and leading hearts of the congregation to prayer.

It is his/her privilege to assist the priest at the Altar and his behavior should be exemplary at all times. This not only applies to time spent in church, but also to your child's behavior and conduct at home and in school.

It is also important for you as parents to realize that you play an important role in the ministry as well. This is especially true for parents of younger Altar Servers: You support your son/daughter in his/her service by helping to ensure that he/she is prepared, properly dressed, arrive for his/her assignments on time and taken home thereafter. Parents should also assist in finding a substitute if their son/daughter is unable to fulfill his/her assigned service.

Finally, we ask you to pray that your son/daughter and his/her fellow servers, who will draw close to God's altar, may develop in their own souls an abiding love for God … the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Servire in Humilitate is Latin for
“Service in Humility”

Our Core Values are in CHRIST:

Commitment… to the service of God
Humility…in all that we say and do
Reverence…to the Holy Trinity
Integrity…uncompromising in truth
Steadfastness…unwavering in spirit
Togetherness…a holy brotherhood

Open my mouth, O Lord, to bless your Holy Name.
Cleanse my heart from all evil and distracting thoughts.
Enlighten my understanding and inflame my will
that I may serve more worthily at your holy altar.
O Mary, Mother of Christ the High Priest, obtain for me
the most important grace of knowing my vocation in life.
Grant me a true spirit of faith and humble obedience
so that I may ever behold the priest as a representative of God and
willingly follow him in the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Christ.

Altar Servers should dress in a manner that is appropriate for the celebration of the Eucharist. Servers should dress in collared shirts/blouses and dark dress pants (optionally, girls may wear a black skirt, knee length or longer). Blue jeans, shorts, gym clothes, and T-shirts are never to be worn at Mass. Such clothing is not appropriate dress for serving at the altar.

SHOES – Dress shoes (preferably black or brown shoes) should be worn. No tennis shoes, sandals, flip-flops, or high heels (to prevent tripping on stairs).

HAIR – Hair should be neatly cut and trimmed, appropriate for boys/girls serving at the Holy Altar. 

JEWELRY – Do not wear anything that will make noise and/or will be distracting, or that will cause you to have problems serving. 

VESTMENTS – Servers should wear an appropriately sized black/red cassock, which should come to the top of their shoes. Servers should also wear an appropriately sized white surplice on top the black/red cassock.

  1. Be holy
  • Pray and participate at Mass every Sunday and holy day (required)--and other days if you can.  You may bring your missal if you are in 5th grade or above.
  • You are required to learn your faith in religion class in Catholic school or parish catechesis.
  • Participate in some if not all of the spiritual activities of servers.
  • Visit the adoration chapel.


  1. Serve (within and outside of Mass)
  • You are required to serve your assigned Mass, or if there is an unavoidable conflict, to get a substitute.
  • Arrive no later than 15 minutes before your assigned Mass, and sign your name, and the name of any person for whom you are substituting, in the book in the sacristy.
  • Participate in some if not all of the service opportunities for servers.
  • Serve your family at home.


  1. Help each other
  • Praise each other when serving well.  
  • Help each other serve well on your team.  
  • Be willing to substitute when called upon.
  • Even when you are not scheduled, check the list at 10 minutes before Mass to see if you are needed.
  • Listen to the priest or deacon and your captain or co-captain.
  • Be helpful around the house.


Other Masses and Services

Other than Sunday Masses, servers will be given the chance to sign up to serve at other liturgies or para-liturgies such as holy day Masses, weekday Masses, weddings, funerals, Divine Mercy devotions.


Point System

For determining many of the awards, we will look at points earned by servers.  Servers will be given one point for every Mass or service at which they serve, even if they are substituting, zero points if they got a substitute, and minus five points for not serving nor getting a substitute for an assigned Mass.


Exceptions to this are that servers will be awarded five points for serving at Christmas midnight Mass, at a Christmas day (not vigil) Mass or at the Holy Thursday Mass (7:00 pm), the Good Friday Liturgy (3:00 pm) or at the Easter Vigil Mass (8:00 pm on Holy Saturday).


All who were altar servers prior to October of 2016 are awarded 25 points for every year they served prior to October 2016.


Parental help

We need your help, parents!  Please let us know if you can help as a chaperone or fundraising coordinator or in any way!  We will also be sending signup links through email for you to volunteer!

Although the duties of the altar server are many and varied, the most important responsibility of the altar server during Mass is to pray!

  • Attend all Altar Sever Training Sessions and Altar Server Meetings.
  • Servers are divided into teams. Each team will be led by a Junior Master of Ceremonies (JMC) or a Captain.
  • Servers are assigned to Masses on a regular rotation basis and will receive an assigned schedule. Servers are expected to refer to their assignment schedules often so that they will have enough time to find substitutes whenever a conflict arises.
  • An altar server must attend every Mass they are scheduled for. If for some reason the server cannot attend the assigned Mass, it is the server's responsibility to find a replacement.
  • Altar Servers are encouraged to serve at many Masses as possible, even if they are not scheduled to serve or assigned to a particular Mass. 
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before the Mass starts to get vested (cassock and surplice) in the altar server sacristy.
  • Make sure that you are in the main sacristy at least 10 minutes before Mass begins. Assist the priest/deacon with lighting the altar candles and setting up the sacred vessels for Mass.
  • Perform the duties assigned during the mass in the prescribed orderly manner.
  • Maintain a prayerful posture during all times in the sanctuary (if you are not doing something your hands should be folded in your lap).
  • Altar Servers should not leave the sanctuary after the start of Mass for any reason except in cases of illness, or when directed to do so by the priest.
  • Altar 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.
  • After the mass, return to the sacristy to pray together.
  • Be quiet and respectful when in the sanctuary, you are role models for the Christian people.
  • Be attentive and respond immediately when the priest or deacon asks for help.
  • Make sure that your cassock and surplice are returned to the racks the way you found them.
  • And always remember, please PAY ATTENTION!
Required Basic Knowledge of Mass

A server is required to know the principal prayers of the Mass: The Gloria, Our Father, Nicene Creed, Lamb of God, Lord, I am not worthy, the Holy, Holy, Holy, etc. If a server cannot take the time to memorize these basic prayers, he 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 with our most sacred act of worship.

In addition, all servers should familiarize themselves with the following passages from Scripture to help them appreciate the Sacrificial nature of the Eucharist:

  • Exodus 12:21-24. Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, "Select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you. You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons forever.”
  • John 1:36Behold the Lamb of God.
  • John 6: 51-59 I AM the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat? So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever. This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.” Remember it was Judas Iscariot who Jesus referred to at the end of this chapter.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:26-31 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged.

All servers should know and be able to recite the basic flow of the mass. They must learn this so as to later perform their tasks at the proper times. Servers will 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.

  1. All altar servers must demonstrate their ability to make use of the “tools of the trade” such as matches, candle lighters, books and candles, processional cross, preparation of credence table, chalice, mass colors, etc. New servers should not be allowed to be alone without the guidance of experienced servers for several masses.
  2. All altar servers must be able to demonstrate their ability to genuflect, bow and make the sign of the cross.
  3. Servers must understand genuflecting is reserved for and to the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ whether 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.
  4. Servers will bow in respect to the altar as it is where Jesus offers His Body to the Father for the propitiation of our sins.
  5. All servers will show the proper way to genuflect, bow, kneel, stand, hold and care for the Communion paten and sit during Mass. Servers will be required to demonstrate sufficient form and dexterity in the these motions before being commissioned as servers.
  • Genuflexion to tabernacle only (1) outside of Mass, (2) at end of entrance procession, (3) at reposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle by the deacon after Communion, and (4) at beginning of final procession.  Genuflect only when not holding anything.
  • Deep bow only in center of sanctuary, to altar, when not holding anything, when crossing the center.
  • Head bow only before receiving Communion.
  • In processions, stop, turn, then walk.  Don’t walk while turning.
  • Use three lanes to get to the altar from server seats, one to get to and from the altar, one to get to and from the chair, and one (behind the wall) to get to and from the credence table, which is now in front of the wall.
  • When walking from credence table to altar, never cross in front of the celebrant’s chair.
  • When reaching the back of church after the final procession, stop, turn around and face the priest, who will have some words for you.  Then proceed to the sacristy.
  • There are five positions: Cross bearer, two candle bearers, two extras.


Cross bearer will  take care of the cross, the book, and the binder:

  • Carry the cross in entrance procession, offertory procession, and final procession
  • Bring the book to the priest for Collect and Prayer after Communion, having book in hands or lap beforehand
  • Bring the binder to the priest at the words “I believe in the Holy Spirit . . .” in the creed. 
  • Bring the book to the deacon at the altar after intercessions; then go get the cross and walk along the wall of church to the back for offertory procession.
  • Take the book from the altar after receiving Communion, deep-bowing to the altar before getting it, return book to server’s seat, then return to the sanctuary behind the celebrant’s chair in line with other servers.
  • Genuflect to Tabernacle at reposition. 


Candle bearers (2) will take care of the candles and the water::

  • Light candles before Mass, using long lighter, held with wick pointing up when lit so that wax doesn’t drip on floor..  Don’t pull wick back into lighter.
  • Carry the candles in the entrance procession and final procession.
  • Carry the candles in Gospel procession around the altar with the deacon to the ambo. Candle bearer leading the procession crosses in front of the ambo.  Candle bearers will be on opposite sides of the altar when they put their candles back after Gospel.  They deep-bow in front of the altar before and after gospel (before getting candles, and after putting them back)
  • One of them will bring the water cruet (with top off) to the right side of the altar at the offertory. then go in front of altar (in center) and wait for extras.  When the priest goes down to receive the gifts, the other candle bearer will go around to the steps in front of the altar and wait to help receive the gifts
  • The first candle bearer bows when extras arrive and goes to help receive the gifts. They place bread on left and wine on right on the altar without waiting, or give it to the deacon.
  • The one on the wine side of the altar, waits to receive the decanter and water cruet back when the Deacon is finished, and then they both go to the credence table to get the lavabo and towel.
  • They bring lavabo and towel (unfolded and held up) right up to the side of the altar and wash priest’s hands using a lot of water, then deep-bow to him, but not too deep to spill water.  
  • One of them will bring the water cruet (with top off) to the right side of the altar after receiving Communion and bring it back when the priest finishes with it.
  • After Communion, both wait in line behind the celebrant’s chair. Genuflect to Tabernacle at reposition.
  • Extinguish candles after Mass using long lighter.


Extras (2) will help set altar and clear altar, and ring bells:

  • At the the beginning of the family prayer, go behind the wall and wait until it is over.
  • After family prayer, bring priest’s chalice assembly to the altar, standing to the right of the chalice by the credence table, and carefully placing left hand on top and right hand grabbing chalice stem, carefully carrying it with the cross on the chalice veil facing the people, to the altar, where it is place in the middle of the altar, but to the right somewhat.
  • After bringing the priest’s chalice, bring ciboria and any pyxes and either give them to the deacon or place them on the left side of the altar, bowing to the middle of the altar afterward when crossing.
  • After bringing the ciboria and any pyxes, bring people’s chalices and place them in two rows parallel to the main aisle, about 16 inches apart, on the corporal on the right side of the altar.
  • Bring purificators and place them in between the people’s chalices.
  • Ring bells (once at epiclesis (priest’s hands outstretched over gifts), three times each at elevation of Sacred Body and of Precious Blood. (A quick up and down flick of wrist.)
  • After Communion, go to altar and bring back to the credence table whatever the priest places on the side, in particular the chalice assembly and any other purificators.  Arrange chalice veil in a triangle facing the people.  Wait in line with other servers behind the celebrant’s chair.
  • Genuflect to Tabernacle at reposition. 
Postures at Mass

Posture is how you are using your body at a particular time. An altar server has to carry out a number of different actions at Mass, and so there are a number of different postures.


  1. When should an altar server genuflect? Whenever he is entering or leaving a Catholic Church (usually when entering a pew) or any time he crosses in front of the tabernacle. “O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker!” and “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend.
  2. Genuflecting to the tabernacle is required; bowing is not an option to genuflecting.
  3. Altar servers genuflect upon entering or leaving the sanctuary in procession. Altar Servers do not genuflect if they are holding a liturgical item such as the processional cross or candles. In such instances, a slight bow of the head is required. 
  4. There are two prescribed methods of genuflection:
  1. When the tabernacle is closed or when Jesus is not present on the Altar after the consecration or exposed for Eucharistic Adoration, genuflect in this manner:
  1. Stop, then turn and face the tabernacle.
  2. Genuflect on the right knee so the right knee touches the floor.
  3. Pause with the right knee on the floor and bow your head to Jesus while making the Sign of the Cross.
  4. Rise from the floor, still facing the tabernacle.
  5. Turn and continue in the direction you were heading.
  1. When the Body of Jesus is present on the Altar or Jesus is exposed in the monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration, the server double genuflects in this manner:
  1. Stop and face Jesus.
  2. Double genuflect by placing both knees on the floor, the right knee first.
  3. Pause with knees on the floor and bow your head to Jesus.
  4. Rise from the floor, still facing the Eucharist.
  5. Turn and continue in the direction you were heading.
  1. An exception to this requirement is when you are carrying any liturgical object or book. There your job requires you to carry that in a dignified manner and not endanger yourself or the object by losing your balance.


  1. When you bow to someone or something at Mass, it should be a smooth forward inclining of your head and shoulders. There are two types of bowing, the bowing of the head and the bowing of the body as described below:
    • Bow – This bow is a slow nod of the head when:
      • The name of Jesus is mentioned
      • Leaving a priest after an action
    • Profound Bow – This bow is made with the waist with hands folded. It should be made slowly and reverently when:
      • Crossing the altar if the Blessed Sacrament is nor present
      • At the moment of elevation during the consecration
      • During the Creed, at the words: “by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
  2. During Mass, altar servers bow to the altar because it is the table of the Christ’s saving Sacrifice as the Lamb of God. 
  3. Servers also bow to the priest because he offers the Body and Blood of Our Savior to the Father in the Person of Jesus and therefore should shown honor.


  1. In the standing position hands should be held in the praying position as seen in most Christian artwork. 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. 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.
  1. In the kneeling position hands should be held as in the standing position. You must kneel upright, not slouching or sitting on your heals.
  2. When sitting the hands should be held on the lap or at the sides.
  3. 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.


  1. Always walk with your back straight and your head held straight and high. The pace should not be rushed but deliberate.
  2. The Cross-bearer always sets the pace in processions.
  3. When walking in pairs, act in unison.


  1. Always stand up straight with both feet firmly on the floor six to eight inches apart. This will give you balance and comfort at the same time.
  2. Do not lean against the furniture or against the walls.


  1. Sit down on your chair carefully and gracefully. Once you are seated sit tall and do not slouch. Place both feet firmly on the floor with your hands in your lap.


  1. During Mass, always towards the place where the action is happening: the celebrant’s chair, the ambo, or the altar.
  2. When the lector is reading the Scriptures, you should be looking at the reader.
  3. Keep your attention on the priest, in case he needs your assistance.
Explanation of Vestments

By God's command the Jewish priests wore a distinctive garb when they ministered in the Temple. The Bible tells us they were vested in violet and purple, scarlet twice dyed, and fine linen. Gold and precious stones were also used to give the person of the priest that dignity demanded by his exalted office.
No special dress was at first prescribed for the Christian priesthood. During the early days the garments worn at the Holy Sacrifice were not dissimilar in form to the clothing of civilians. They were distinguished, however, from profane apparel in richness and beauty of decorations; and of course, their use was restricted to Divine worship.
Secular fashion changed, but the Church clung to the old style. Thus it was that garments once common to all, presently became the privileged dress of the clergy. Faith then saw in each particular vestment a symbol relating to the Passion of Our Lord, and a reminder of some Christian duty.

The priest's vestments may be considered now:
(a) According to their present use.
(b) According to their historical origin.
(c) According to their symbolism.


The amice is a piece of fine linen in the form of an oblong. The priest places it for a moment on his head, and then allows it to rest upon his shoulders. As he does so he prays: "Place, O Lord, on my head the helmet of salvation, that so I may resist the assaults of the devil."

Historical Origin:
A covering for the head and neck worn like a hood. When indoors it was lowered and thrown over the shoulders.

Symbolic Reference:
(a) The linen cloth that the soldiers put over Our Lord's head; when thus blindfolded He was mockingly asked who struck Him.
(b) The helmet of Salvation. Cf. Ephes. vi, 17.


A wide linen robe reaching to the feet and covering the whole body. The word "Alb" is derived from the Latin, alba (vestis understood), or white vestment. The vesting prayer is: "Make me white, O Lord, and cleanse my heart; that being made white in the Blood of the Lamb I may deserve an eternal reward."

Historical Origin:
The alb, or tunic, was worn in ancient times by all who enjoyed any dignity. The lace alb is a 17th century development.

Symbolic Reference:
(a) The garment with which Herod clothed Our Lord.
(b) Signifies the purity of conscience demanded of God's priest.


The cincture, or girdle, is a cord of linen fastened about the waist to confine the alb. The vesting prayer is: "Gird me, O Lord, with the cincture of purity, and quench in my heart the fire of concupiscence, that the virtue of continence and chastity may abide in me."

Historical Origin:
Walking and active exertion made it necessary for one to gird up a long garment like the alb. Hence the cincture was an essential article of dress.

Symbolic Reference:
(a) The cord that bound Our Lord to the pillar when He was being scourged.
(b) Symbolizes modesty, and also readiness for hard work in God's service.


A long band of silk. It is worn around the neck and may be crossed on the breast. The vesting prayer is: "Restore to me, O Lord, the state of immortality which I lost through the sin of my first parents and, although unworthy to approach Thy Sacred Mysteries, may I deserve nevertheless eternal joy."

Historical Origin:
A kind of neck-piece or kerchief; a part of the dress of the upper classes. It gradually became the distinctive mark of spiritual authority in the higher clerics, viz., the priest and deacon.

Symbolic Reference:
(a) The cords with which Jesus was tied. Worn as it is over the shoulders, it reminds us, too, of the Cross Our Lord carried.
(b) A reminder of the Yoke of Christ. The priest's burden is a heavy one, which Christ nevertheless makes sweet and light.


The chasuble is the outer and chief vestment of the priest. It is essentially the Mass vestment and is now exclusively reserved to the priest. The vestment is familiar to all by reason of the Cross usually embroidered on it. The word "chasuble" is derived from the Latin, casula, a little house. The ancient vestment completely enveloped the priest, and was somewhat like a tent. The vesting prayer is: "O Lord, Who hast said, 'My yoke is sweet and My burden light,' grant that I may so carry it as to merit Thy grace."

Historical Origin:
Imagine a large circular cloth with a hole cut in the center for the head. This will help one to visualize the ancient chasuble, which was an immense cloak, without opening in front, and without sleeves. It was put on over the head and completely enveloped the body. When it was necessary to use the hands, the garment had to be folded up on each side over the arms. Because of its inconvenience (for two assistants were needed to manipulate it), the vestment was gradually cut and altered until it now has its present shape.

Symbolic Reference:
(a) The purple cloak worn by Our Lord when He stood before Pilate.
(b) An emblem of love. When the vesting clergyman gives it to the new priest, he says: "Receive the priestly garment, for the Lord is powerful to increase in you love and perfection."

The Chalice: is a cup made of gold or silver, but if of silver, the interior must be gold-plated. It holds the wine for the Holy Sacrifice, and is a striking figure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Paten: is a plate of gold or silver upon which the large bread for consecration rests until the offertory. If it is of silver, the upper side, at least, must be gold-plated. Of old it was necessarily larger than now, for it held all the breads to be consecrated.

"To seal an alliance the ancients at the end of the banquet caused to be passed from one to another of the guests a cup to which each touched his lips. Our Lord followed this custom at the last supper. The chalice used at the altar is made upon the model of the one from which Jesus Christ drank on the eve of His death. While the chalice receives the blood of Jesus Christ, the paten is reserved for His Divine body. It is a large plate, of gold or silver like the chalice, but always golden in that portion which comes in contact with the holy species. Like the chalice, before it is used in the sacred mysteries it is consecrated by chrism and special prayers said by the bishop. Let us receive from the gold, the holy chrism, and the particular benediction of the prelate given to those vessels upon which the Holy of holies rests but an instant, the lesson which the Church teaches us. In Communion our hearts become living chalices; our tongue is another paten upon which the priest lays Jesus Christ. May Our Lord always find our tongue and heart bright with the gold of charity; let us consecrate this mystical chalice and paten with the unction of Christian sweetness and the perfume of prayer.”

The Pall: A square pocket-shaped piece of linen with a cardboard inserted in order to stiffen it. It is placed over the chalice to prevent dust or other matter falling into it.

The Purificator: A linen cloth used for wiping the chalice, and the fingers and mouth of the celebrant after Communion.

It is spread over the cup of the chalice at the beginning and end of Mass.

The Corporal: A square piece of linen. In size and appearance it resembles a small napkin. It is spread out on the altar, and the chalice is placed upon it. During the Mass the Sacred Host rests for a time on the Corporal.

The Burse: is a square container for the Corporal. It is made of the same material and color as the vestments.

The Chalice Veil: is the cloth which covers the chalice until the Offertory, and again after the Communion. It also is made of the same material and color as the vestments.


  • Alb – The full white garment worn by the priest and deacon. The alb is symbolic of Baptism. The rope tied around the waist is called a cincture.
  • Altar - The place where the Eucharistic Sacrifice takes place. The altar is sacred and often contains relics of the saints. Nothing should be placed on the altar except the sacred vessels.
  • Ablution Cup - covered dish of water on the side of the tabernacle or on the credence table which is used by the priest, deacon or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to wash their fingers after distributing Communion.
  • Ambo - The platform, lectern or pulpit from which the reading and homily are given.
  • Aspergillium - The holy water sprinkler.
  • Burse - A square container for holding the corporal. It is selected for the liturgical color of the day.
  • Cassock - A long tunic-like garment which reaches from the neck to the heels and is worn by some servers and clergy.
  • Chalice - A cup of precious metal that holds the wine which becomes the Blood of Jesus after the consecration. All chalices should be placed in their places after Mass. The Chalice may only be purified by a priest, deacon, or an instituted acolyte.
  • Chalice Veil (peplum) - A cloth covering used to hide the chalice and paten up to the offertory and after Communion. It is selected by the liturgical color for the service.
  • Ciborium - A large cup or container of precious metal with a cover of the same material which will hold the Body of Jesus after the consecration for distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful.
  • Corporal - A white linen cloth, usually with a cross in the center, used to protect any particles of the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus from falling to the altar cloth. It is always folded and unfolded so as to protect any particles from being lost. The corporal is like the body winding sheet used to hold the crucified body of Our Lord in the tomb.
  • Credence Table - The table in the sanctuary where the cruets, chalices and ciborium are kept before and after the Consecration.
  • Cruets - The vessels containing the water and wine used at Mass.
  • Lavabo - The pitcher of water used when the priest washes his hands at the end of the offertory and before the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
  • Lectionary - The book of reading used for the Liturgy of the Word. It usually contains all the biblical reading used for the three-year Sunday cycle of reading and the two-year daily Mass readings.
  • Pall - A square piece of cardboard or plastic which is covered by linen and used to cover the chalice.
  • Paten - A small saucer shaped plate of precious metal that holds the Host. No lay person should ever touch the paten, so be very careful when handling it in your official duties.
  • Purificator - A linen cloth used by the priest or deacon to dry the chalice after washing and purifying it. Used purificators must always be placed in the proper container for sacred cloths.
  • Roman Missal - The book containing the prayers said by the priest during the Mass.
  • Sacrarium (piscina) - A sink with it drain going directly into the ground usually fitted with a cover and lock which is used for the disposal of the following: The sacred linen wash and rinse water, used holy water, used baptismal water and blessed ashes. No other use is permitted.
  • Stock - The metal containers used to hold the oil of the catechumen, the oil of chrism and the oil for anointing the sick.
  • Stoup - The holy water fountains or bowls at the entrances of the church.
  • Surplice - A wide-sleeved linen worn over a cassock by clergy and altar servers.
  • Thurible - The special vessel which holds burning charcoal and into which incense is placed. The device holding the incense is called the "boat."

Pope to altar servers: “Offer your hands, thoughts and time to Jesus”


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