Altar Servers and the Orans Position


I am an altar server at my parish. My parish is wonderful, the priests are orthodox and all is well. Only issue is that I feel liturgical liberties are taken. For example, during the Our Father when I and the other server were kneeling in front of the altar, I had my hands in the prayer position as I think this is most reverent. The other server, in fact most servers I have served with have the orans position during the Our Father.

If you want to hold hands or do the orans as a member of the congregation then that is fine if it helps you grow in faith and feel closer to the Lord, but doing it while serving is very unprofessional. I also am the only server I know of who has used the prayer hands position.

Shall I inform someone about this? I do feel it is unprofessional. At the same time I feel it isn’t really my place to tell any priest or the altar servers coordinator what I think, as I am not even of driving age for another couple of months!

God Bless.

Nope. Pray in the manner you want. The priest can speak to other servers if he wants them to fold their hands.

Not your job to police, but to pray.

Deacon Christopher


Thank you for your advice, Deacon Christopher. I do think that the prayer hands position is very reverent but I also acknowledge that it is not up to me to tell people how to have the correct posture when serving.


You are most welcome, and your profile icon of Christ is beautiful!

Pray hard, serve well, and listen to Jesus; perhaps He will call you to the priesthood as you study His Word and serve at His Holy Table.

God bless,
Deacon Christopher


Your profile image is also simple but inspiring.

Thank you very much.

I agree that an altar server should have joined hands for the Our Father.

As it has in Ceremonial of Bishops:

“159 After the doxology of the eucharistic prayer, the bishop, with hands joined, introduces the Lord’s Prayer, which all then sing or say; the bishop and the concelebrants hold their hands outstretched.”

So altar servers having hands outstretched is making them look like the Priest concelebrants.

This book also describes “hands joined” in footnote 80:

““Hands joined” means: “Holding the psalms sideward and together before the breast, with the right thumb crossed over the left” (Caeremoniale Episcoporum, ed. 1886, I, XIX, 1).”

The 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum has:

“[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.”

The full document is at .

Kneeling for the Lord’s Prayer seems to be the wrong posture, I would expect you to be standing. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 43 has “Where it is the practice for the people to remain kneeling after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion when the Priest says Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God), it is laudable for this practice to be retained.” But it does not envisage extending the kneeling to the Lord’s Prayer, or the Sign of Peace.

[Excerpts from the English translation of Ceremonial of Bishops © 1989 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Missal, © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.]


The idea of members of the congregation using the orans position is an abuse which crept in during the 1970s. Certain gestures and words are the preserve of the celebrating priest. In its various interdicts, the Vatican has shied away from banning the practice altogether although deacons and non-concelebrating priests are not allowed to use it. For all of the prayers of the Mass, altar servers should have their hands joined - unless their sanctuary duties require otherwise. However, it’s the role of the Parish Priest to ensure appropriate behaviour.
Just remember, there are two rules for altar serving:
#1 The celebrant is always right.
#2 When he’s wrong refer to rule #1.


Speak with Father.

“If you want to hold hands or do the Orans as a member of the congregation then that is fine if it helps you grow in faith and feel closer to the Lord”

No one should use the Orans position of their hands during Mass except Father. Our Priest spoke about it from the ambo and also put a notice about it in the bulletin. I’d keep my hands in the prayer position if I were you.

Just talk to Father.


I was also in a parish in which the altar servers were instructed to do only what is in the rubrics and not to add any of the popular elements that people add. The idea was that the altar servers should model what is necessary and only what is necessary, so the faithful will feel lead to do that and will be comfortable doing that, rather than picking up what is popular but not in the rubrics. The trainers did not imply that the altar servers ought to be correcting their parents if their parents did things differently.


Can. 907 In the eucharistic celebration deacons and lay persons are not permitted to offer prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, or to perform actions which are proper to the celebrating priest.

USCCB – Chapter II The Structure of the Mass, Its Elements and Its Parts

II. The Different Elements of the Mass

Gestures and Bodily Posture

  1. For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to what is laid down in the Missal.
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Serving on the altar is not a profession.

The servers ought to follow the directions of their pastor.

I think my parish priest has no quarrel with it.

I understand this, just looking for the right word. Perhaps I should have said ‘not very reverent’.

I understand what you are saying, @CajunJoy65. Many of the families at my parish are immigrants from the Philippines, South India and Pacific Island countries such as Samoa and Tongo. The charismatic movement is very big in those places and so I would say it has influenced them.

I personally would never use the Orans position, as I feel it is un-reverent but I do think that it is not my place to tell other people in the congregation not to do so. I should have explained my view better, sorry. I disapprove of anyone except the priest using the Orans but although I disapprove, if they want to do it then I feel that is their problem and not mine.

I always use the prayer hands position at Mass, no matter how many stares it affords me! :grinning:

God Bless

I understand and I agree it’s not our place as laity but Father’s place as Priest to speak up about it. As an altar server in front of the altar I think your posture with hands in the prayer position is right. Thank you for serving at the altar of Our Lord.

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I think your right, only problem is that as wonderful Father is, I feel he doesn’t have an issue with altar servers using the Orans position. Even if I told him he would probably not do anything.

Yes, I will keep using the prayer hands position.

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