Altar boy rubrics?

Is there a rubrics or a “how to” for alter boys when it comes to the OF? I know there is for the priest and deacon, but what about the other servers? thank you

No. The best thing to do is to listen to the training you get. The person who trains the altar servers will explain everything in detail. Once you serve Mass a couple of times, you get used to the routine and what you have to do.

Here are some online manuals:

Remember, duties vary from parish to parish, so whoever trains the altar servers would be the right person to get information from. Also ask older servers or the sacristan before Mass if you have any questions.

For example, I know some parishes have servers set up everything for the credence table: (pour the wine and water in the cruets, set up the chalices and everything), while at my parish, the sacristan does all that. It’s really not that hard to learn. You get used to it very quickly.

I completely concur with CatholicZ09. Unlike the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the rubrics are not 100% spelled out for the Novus Ordo Mass. Part of this is due to the many different options available to the priests. A lot also seems to depend on the number of servers at the Mass. That makes a big difference as to what an individual server’s role entails.

Lol thank you for the great info, but I already did my 10 years of service as an altar boy, I was just curious because there seems be lack of uniformity at our parish with our altar servers. Maybe it’s time for the old guys to go back to serving at the altar to show the right way;)


I hear you. I’ve even considered volunteering to work with/train the altar servers myself.
I’m not sure but I think that one of our deacons does it now and he is likely overworked as it is. My bet is they would take an offer of help seriously.


Hahaha I was thinking about whether you were a current server or not. I have to word myself right sometimes.

I have 2-3 pamplets regarding serving at mass.They are geared to the Novus Ordos mass.
They are lacking in detail.
I also have " How to serve Low mass & Benediction" by Rev. William O’Brien from Angelus Press 1-800-966-7337 a book that teaches you the Latin responses of the acolyte and directs you in your movements and positions when serving Low Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. Excellent book

There are lots of instructions for altar servers. From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from :
“100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte, lay ministers may be deputed to serve at the altar and assist the priest and the deacon; they may carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water, and they may also be deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers.”

187. The duties that the acolyte may carry out are of various kinds and several may coincide. Hence, it is desirable that these duties be suitably distributed among several acolytes. If, however, only one acolyte is present, he should perform the more important duties while the rest are to be distributed among several ministers.
The Introductory Rites
188. In the procession to the altar, the acolyte may carry the cross, walking between two ministers with lighted candles. Upon reaching the altar, the acolyte places the cross upright near the altar so that it may serve as the altar cross; otherwise, he puts it in a worthy place. Then he takes his place in the sanctuary. …”

This section continues to 193.

The index of the GIRM lists the following paragraphs as including “acolyte”: 98, 100, 116, 120, 139, 140, 162, 178, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 247, 249, 279, 284, 339.

Another thing you could do is tape a few sessions of EWTN daily Mass.

Thanks, John. The duties of someone serving the OF Masses are indeed well spelled out. At least as well as they are for EF Masses.

I think one of the biggest problems is the lack of training. In my parish servers receive one hour of training and possibly another hour every other year. The results are abysmal. At a neighboring parish new servers receive 8 hours of training and at least another hour/quarter for as long as they serve. The difference between the two groups is stunning.

Guess what! i was asked to serve a low-mass two days ago for the students of pre-cofirmation. It’s been since '03, but it felt great being up there. Truly I appreciate more what it means to serve at the altar.

When I started we got close to 12 hours of training or atleast 2 months prior to the first service,

That’s awesome. I help train some servers for solemn Masses and we give them close to 12 hours.

Otherwise the training in my parish for servers is abysmal.

How altar servers serve has a lot to do with the priest who’s celebrating.

The functions of the acolyte are quite simple but some priests like to make it more complicated.

When my daughter was serving, the pastor trained the kids himself. There always had to be even numbers of servers and never did one move alone even if only one actually had something to do. Often they met in front of the altar, bowed, and then went on to whatever… It was like watching a dance and I found it more than a little distracting.

In my present parish, the more altar servers are present the less each has to do but there is no excessive movement for the sake of movement.

Interesting. In my case I’m just the opposite. I would not find such reverence as cming to the center and bowing etc. to be distracting at all.

Our servers, bless their hearts, don’t seem to be sufficienly trained, and rehearsed to even know what each ones duty is. At our parish, the servers bring the necessary items to the Altar during the offering and it seems that all want to grab the Chalice(s) or the (sorry - don’t know the proper name,) bowl with the unconsecrated hosts. More than once I’ve seen them forget to take over the Missal.
Father is always gratious about it but in my heart I find it terrible. I wish I could offer my services to help train these young people. Unfortunately at present I cannot.


Unfortunately, there is really no good book out there to help with this issue. The GIRM only describes the altar boys’ functions in generic terms–it doesn’t get into specifics. Some things not mentioned in the GIRM can be important. For example “at the offertory, always have the wine on the altar side” or “go for the book when you hear ‘Holy Spirit’ at the end of the Gloria” Little details like that which make a big difference but just aren’t described in the GIRM.

The booklets I have seen for the Ordinary Form are about useless. In my experience, they’re more about saying how special the kids are (in politically correct terms of course), rather than actually describing what they should be doing. Positive encouragement is a good thing, but there is still a lack of any good source on the actual specifics of what the altar boys should be doing and precisely how they should do it.

It comes down to having someone do the training who knows the Mass well, and is going to give priority to explaining things in detail. I’ve seen too many places where the “altar servers” seem to be there simply for the sake of being-seen-to-be-there.

A good start (and only a start) is to get an altar boy guide for the Extraordinary Form, and read through it. Some of the specifics will apply, some won’t, but the principles will still apply, and will give one a good understanding of what they should be doing in the OF.

That’s something that has always puzzled me. My priest friend tells me that in his parish it’s not unusual to have 40 altar servers at a single celebration – WHY??? Why have 35 vested altar servers who do nothing? What is wrong with those children sitting with their families when they are not actually needed to ‘serve’?

I couldn’t tell ya…

I think sometimes it might be appropriate, such as Corpus Christi processions or Holy Thursday, etc. But 40? That’s just plain silly. I get frustrated when there’s only 2 and they don’t know anything about what they’re supposed to be doing–since that happens when I’m away from my own parish (I know my altar boys know what to do), it’s a good indication to me that their only purpose is to be seen sitting up there. I understand when they might not know words like “sacramentary” but when I say “the big red book” and they respond with a blank stare, it’s rather difficult because, to be quite frank, they’re in the way more than anything else.

i have been playing for five years and progressing no where NEAR to where a five year player should be. Any of you know the system where a guita player is supposed to follow like RCM requirements or Suzuki method books. Except for guitar. I would like to be able to improvise with scales. So far, i have been only able to do so in a pentatonic A minor. Nothing else. Help please
Flex Factor

What? Are you a troll?:rolleyes:

Personally I think every parish should be using a comprehensive guide like Elliot’s (a Fortescue for the OF).

As pointed out, they are substituting for acolytes, and therefore those rubrics are a good start. However there are rubrics elsewhere (eg the Ceremonial for bishops) that pertain to those serving the Mass as well. Elliot condenses them quite handily.

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