Acolyte or altar server


#1

At my local parish my priest has young men, myself included, hold the book for him in the beg. and in the end. We also flip pages while on the altar. Some of the older (collage age) acolytes, as we are called, distribute communion as well. Is this permissable? Should we be termed “Acolyte” or “Altar Server”? And what we do–is it permissable?


#2

Acolyte is a Minor Order.
Therefore there is some sort of ordaination(not Holy Orders) to the minor order by receiving a candle from a bishop IIRC.

It is a last step some goes through before becoming a Subdeacon or Deacon.

Women are not allowed be become Acoyltes.

newadvent.org/cathen/01106a.htm


#3

Flipping pages of the Sacramentary is reserved for instituted Acolytes on their way towards ordination.

In regards to being an EMHC, if they follow all of the norms in the GIRM and from the USCCB I don’t think that there is a direct conflict, yet it seems odd to do that and I don’t ever recall ever seeing it being done.


#4

So is this a liturgical abuse? And if it is how would you explain this abuse to your priest who is a really good friend?


#5

Jacob, this sounds fishy. You don’t say if you ever were made part of a minor order (acolyte)…I presume you weren’t, or your question would be moot. I was under the impression that only Eucharistic ministers (extraordinary) could dist. commumion (other than the priest or a deacon.) And they go through some sort of ceremony before they become e.m.s (I think).

Are you in the Pittsburgh diocese? I’m just curious, as I see you are in Kittaning.


#6

[quote=Mjohn1453]Flipping pages of the Sacramentary is reserved for instituted Acolytes on their way towards ordination.

In regards to being an EMHC, if they follow all of the norms in the GIRM and from the USCCB I don’t think that there is a direct conflict, yet it seems odd to do that and I don’t ever recall ever seeing it being done.
[/quote]

It would seem that an altar server could also act as the master of ceremonies for a Mass. Therefore an altar sever could flip the pages of the Sacramentary once it was placed on the altar.


#7

[quote=Jacob]At my local parish my priest has young men, myself included, hold the book for him in the beg. and in the end. We also flip pages while on the altar. Some of the older (collage age) acolytes, as we are called, distribute communion as well. Is this permissable? Should we be termed “Acolyte” or “Altar Server”? And what we do–is it permissable?
[/quote]

It’s unlikely these “acolytes” are actually acolytes – they are likely altar servers. Much like readers who are referred to as lectors, altar servers are often referred to as acolytes.

That said, NO, they are not allowed to serve as altar servers AND EMHC unless there is a serious shortage of people.


#8

No, I was never made a part of a minor order, and only older “acolytes” are allowed to dist. Communion. I would just like to submit that the “acolytes” wear red robes with white cassoks(spelling mistake?)
No, my diocese is that of Greensburg.


#9

[quote=Jacob]No, I was never made a part of a minor order, and only older “acolytes” are allowed to dist. Communion. I would just like to submit that the “acolytes” wear red robes with white cassoks(spelling mistake?)
No, my diocese is that of Greensburg.
[/quote]

I seen Acolytes wear black cassocks, white surplice and a roman collar during Mass.


#10

An Altar Server is temporarly commissioned to act in that capacity. An Acolyte is Installed into the ministry of Acolyte.

Generaly it is the Bishop of a diocese who deternines the minmum age for a person to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. In this diocese it is suposed to be 18.


#11

[quote=Iohannes]Acolyte is a Minor Order.
Therefore there is some sort of ordaination(not Holy Orders) to the minor order by receiving a candle from a bishop IIRC.

It is a last step some goes through before becoming a Subdeacon or Deacon.

Women are not allowed be become Acoyltes.

newadvent.org/cathen/01106a.htm
[/quote]

The definition of Acolyte has changed since the Catholic encyclopedia was published (1914?). It is not a Minor Order.
For example, in CHRISTIFIDELES LAICI: "23. … In the course of Synod work the Fathers devoted much attention to the Lectorate and the Acolytate. While in the past these ministries existed in the Latin Church only as spiritual steps on route to the ordained ministry, with the motu proprio of Paul VI, Ministeria Quaedam (15 August 1972), they assumed an autonomy and stability, as well as a possibility of their being given to the lay faithful, albeit, only to men. … "
( see makeashorterlink.com/?V15712E88)

Another example, in the Code of Canon Law (vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__PV.HTM) :
Can. 230 ?1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

You can find the term Acolyte in several places in the GIRM as well. Those interested can search the sites www.usccb.org and www.vatican.va for more on the ministries of Acolyte and Lector.


Altar Server?
#12

[quote=Iohannes]Acolyte is a Minor Order.
Therefore there is some sort of ordaination(not Holy Orders) to the minor order by receiving a candle from a bishop IIRC.

It is a last step some goes through before becoming a Subdeacon or Deacon.

Women are not allowed be become Acoyltes.

newadvent.org/cathen/01106a.htm
[/quote]

No one is ordained as a subdeacon any longer in the Catholic Church.


#13

Installed Acolyte is the ministry held by a seminarian immediately before being ordained to the diaconate. He is officially installed by the Church on a permanent basis in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest [at] the altar Ministeriam Quaedam VI, Pope Paul VI, August 15 1972]. When necessity requires he may assist as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

It seems their duties are many (The following is from one church - no copyright applies and is in accordance with the current post-Vatican II Mass) Hope this helps answer your questions.

**Responsibilities of the Acolyte **

I. Outline of Duties

A. Before Mass

[list]
*]Set up chalice; check for proper number of ciboria and make sure that they are at least half full; put the Tabernacle key into the Tabernacle lock; set processional cross stand by the lectern if it is the wooden stand.
*]Set up the ribbons in Sacramentary (ask celebrant which Eucharistic Prayer) and be prepared to turn pages in it for the priest.
*]Make sure the altar servers’ “duties before Mass” are completed (candles lit - 5 minutes before Mass, water, wine, dish, and towel are out, torch glasses are clean, etc.)
*]Remind servers to let crossbearer lead, then follow slightly behind, but not too closely, to avoid “torching” the acolyte.
*]Turn on all lights for Mass. Make sure all East Nave lights are on. It’s best to literally go out and look. Please do the following in order:
*]20 minutes before Mass - turn on the main Nave lights (2nd set of breakers, there are 12 breakers in the panel.)
*]15 minutes before Mass - turn on the East Nave lights (2nd set of breakers from the bottom, there are 4 breakers in the panel.)
*]10 minutes before Mass - turn on the rest of the lights in the panel (top set of breakers, there are 6 breakers in the panel.)
*]5 minutes before Mass - turn on all the Sanctuary lights (the six white boxes by the Sanctuary door, slides all the way to the top and rockers to the right AND the two light switches to the right of the Sanctuary door IN the Sanctuary.)
[/list]
B. Entrance Procession

[list]
]Carrying the processional, cross, walk solemnly at a medium-slow pace. (Walking too fast spoils the dignity of a processional entrance.)
]When you reach the sanctuary, move several feet to the left to clear the way for servers; face the altar and bow with the others; turn toward the Tabernacle and bow while others genuflect.
[/list]

C. During Mass**

Assist the priest:

[list]
*]Turn pages in Sacramentary.
*]Prepare the altar for the “Presentation of the Gifts” and stand and wait until the priest stands up to start the prayers for the Presentation of Gifts.
*]Please answer the prayers with the congregation, not ahead of them.
*]Kneel at the Bestowal of the Spirit and stand after the second elevation.
*]When you receive Holy Communion, please stand to the far northwest corner of the main altar.
*]Please help to distribute Holy Communion when there are not enough priests available. The priest will signal you before Mass or just when the congregation stands for the Gospel verse before the Gospel. It just will be a “flick of a priestly wrist.”
*]After Communion if a server “dumps” the water from the cruet into the ciborium or chalice, encourage him to pour the water instead.
[/list]
D. Recessional

[list]
*]When the closing song begins, take the processional cross to the middle, and wait with the altar servers.
[/list]
E. After Mass

[list]
*]Do not be in a hurry to put the Church in darkness. Never turn off lights while the organ is playing.
*]Take chalice to the sacristy. Be sure all sacred vessels and Tabernacle key are in the safe. Also, there may be other duties verbally expressed by the priest before Mass.
*]Be sure the lids are on the water and wine cruets before you leave.
*]Straighten the servers’ blue song books in the sanctuary.
*]If there is debris on the sanctuary floor, please remove it.
*]Leave countertops in sacristy tidy and clean.
*]Do not turn off lights until after the organ postlude and/or your duties are done.
*]Check on servers to be sure they have prepared water, wine, and finger towel for next Mass; make sure they hung up their albs
[/list]


#14

[quote=catholiclady]Installed Acolyte is the ministry held by a seminarian immediately before being ordained to the diaconate. He is officially installed by the Church on a permanent basis in order to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest [at] the altar Ministeriam Quaedam VI, Pope Paul VI, August 15 1972]. When necessity requires he may assist as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

It seems their duties are many (The following is from one church - no copyright applies and is in accordance with the current post-Vatican II Mass) Hope this helps answer your questions.

**Responsibilities of the Acolyte **
[/quote]

catholiclady,
The duties you quote are indeed those of acolytes (the list is from www.stmarylincoln.org )
However … the part though about “Installed Acolyte is the ministry held by a seminarian immediately before being ordained to the diaconate.” is a little bit out of context. I think the text it came described the process of becoming a deacon and more.

Such a seminarian does become an acolyte along the way, but most acolytes are not seminarians. Most are lay men who are not on the way to being a deacon or any ministry more than an acolyte.


#15

One of our forum members wrote me that this list I posted of Acolyte duties actually originated at his Parish and on a web site that he maintains.

I had it in my files but don’t know where I got it orginally and so now that he has written me I would like to credit his Parish and Pastor (who he said wrote it) from St. Mary’s in Lincoln Nebraska according to the web site he referenced.

Good job to both the webmaster and the pastor:)


#16

I think I came across that statement while trying to find out a definition of what an “installed acolyte” was and how this took place. I think you can probably answser that. I do know that when Church documents refer to Acolytes, they mean installed acolytes and not altar servers.


#17

We have a married man in our parish who holds the title of “sacristan”. He seems to do many of the things in the above list of “acolyte” duties but I don’t think we have actual acolytes in our diocese. For better or for worse he is the “chief altar boy”, if there’s anything “interesting” to do on the altar he is the one to do it. Sadly this leaves the younger altar boys with nothing to do but stand up and sit down.


#18

If you would like to see some “busy” altar boys, attend a Tridentine Mass sometime.:slight_smile: These kids have to memorize a lot of responses - and in Latin as well.

I noticed you used the term “altar boys” and not “altar servers” - does this mean your parish chooses not to use female altar servers?
I know it is not mandatory that females be used but many cave in to “momma” pressure to do so. I know personally a couple of priests (not in this Diocese) who will not use them. I suppose this should be a new subject.

:amen:


#19

I noticed you used the term “altar boys” and not “altar servers” - does this mean your parish chooses not to use female altar servers?

With very few exceptions, our servers all seem to be high school age or older. I think I saw one grade-school age girl once. But there aren’t many grade-school age boys serving either. I guess I really don’t understand why. I will have to ask about it.


#20

Interestingly enough, the USCCB issued a directive on how to cover the Mass for media covering Mass, and in it, it has a glossary of terms. The document, which can be found here, defines acolyte as “See altar server. Seminarians preparing for priesthood are formally instituted as acolytes during their theology studies, before they are ordained deacons. Other lay men, but not women, may also be formally instituted as acolytes under church law. The practice of formally instituting lay men other than seminarians as acolytes is not widespread in the United States.”

It defines altar server as “A lay person who assists the priest at the altar, also called an acolyte. Among altar servers may be people with specific functions in the opening procession or during other parts of the Mass, such as the cross bearer, candle bearers and the thurifer (thurible bearer or censer bearer).”


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