Few Altar Serving Questions

Okay, so when altar serving, you know when you go down to receive the gifts (bread and wine) from the people carrying it up to the altar and then you go up to the altar to hand Father the gifts when he needs them? Okay, so in my church, Father usually takes the wine first from my experience. So, when I have the wine, which goes first, should I wait for him to take the bread from the other person and then when he’s done with him/her go back to get the water bowl to wash his hands or should I go back immediately after he takes the wine glass and gives it back to me? Should I not wait for the other person? I thought you were supposed to go back immediately after he gives you the wine back, but I get told otherwise. What is the correct form?

Short answer: it differs from parish to parish because what you described does not match what happens at our parish.

Since the practice varies from place to place, the best person to ask is the Altar Server Coordinator, or if there is no such person, simply ask the priest himself, what his preference is.

The bread should be handed to the priest first, not the wine.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :

“141. At the altar the priest accepts the paten with the bread. With both hands he holds it
slightly raised above the altar and says quietly, Benedictus es, Domine (Blessed are you, Lord).
Then he places the paten with the bread on the corporal.
142. After this, as the minister presents the cruets, the priest stands at the side of the altar and
pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly, Per huius aquae (By the mystery of
this water)
. He returns to the middle of the altar, takes the chalice with both hands, raises it a
little, and says quietly, Benedictus es, Domine (Blessed are you, Lord). Then he places the chalice
on the corporal and covers it with a pall, as appropriate. …
145. After the prayer In spiritu humilitatis *(Lord God, we ask you to receive us) *or after the
incensation, the priest washes his hands standing at the side of the altar and, as the minister
pours the water, says quietly, Lava me, Domine (Lord, wash away my iniquity).”

The instructions do not specify when the altar server should return the items to the side table. But it seems better to me to do so immediately, rather than waiting. Then the altar server is prepared to do his next task. Also standing and waiting for the other altar server means one is likely to get in the way and be distracting.

I’m the head altar server at my parish. You should wait for the other server. It provides a cleaner, more organized look during Mass. But really, ask the altar server servant leader, or the priest himself. It’s up to them.

Thank you for serving!

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