For people involved in liturgical ministries

To all lectors, altar servers, cantors, choir members, EMHC, and all those who are involved with the flow of the Mass that have to be up on the Sanctuary or at least in front of the whole congregation, does anyone else get scared being in front of everyone? I altar serve and when I’m scheduled to serve, my stomach knots sometimes, and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE serving, but when I have to get in front of everyone, I get nervous/anxious/or scared. Does anyone else know how to calm down? Usually when I have to serve it’s the early Sunday morning Mass, and it seems like right when I wake up I’m the most nervous, maybe because I’m not fully awake or what, but it just scares me more in the morning hours because I feel like I’m not in control of myself. Any tips on how to calm down?

P.S. It’s worse when they have to come out and get me to serve when someone who’s on the schedule doesn’t show up. That makes me more nervous because I don’t have time to be nervous!

The more you do it, the easier it will become. One thing that helps is focus, focus, focus and taking a deep breath from time to time. There are breathing exercises you can do to relax and I’m sure you can find plenty of information with a quick web search.

Be sure to pray for the grace to execute your ministry in a manner worth of God. Also ask for your priest’s blessing before Mass begins. He’ll be quietly pleased someone asked.

You’ll do just fine.

I guess my first thought is try and determine “why” you are scared or nervous. Is it because you are afraid of making a mistake? What others are thinking? Etc.

Since I dont know exactly why you are feeling this way, my first suggestion would be concentrate on the Lord and serving Him and dont focus on the congregation etc.

But try and understand “why” first.

Blessings! :thumbsup:

(I should add–I am an EMHC and am wheelchair mobile so, visually speaking, my physical appearence is very noticable I therefore try extra hard not to focus on what others may be thinking…)

Yikes! :eek:

I guess I’m always terrified, too… but the church, those people? that’s all ‘family’ to me.:slight_smile:

For starters, be ready for EVERY Mass, just like you were going to serve, even when you are not scheduled. A couple of times, they will call you when not scheduled, and you’ll do so well that when you are scheduled, it’ll be a ‘piece of cake’ :wink:

Don’t worry about your ‘performance’. Rather, concentrate on the Mass. The more you are into Mass, the less you can think of yourself and what you do, or maybe don’t do.

And remember: this is family. No one you care to please is looking to see you make a mistake. If you are thinking of the Mass and what that means, the likelihood of any worthwhile mistakes are greatly reduced.

If you do make a mistake, drop something, say something, move when you shouldn’t, don’t curse where any one can hear you, laugh about it, and don’t do it next time! :smiley:

I’m a EMHC and I get nervous too! But the way I see it other people are in the same boat, and I never really look out into the congregation, never make eye contact with any of them. I simply focus on the altar, priest and ciboreum or chalice.

I don’t really know what to say. I was just the sort of person who was always up front. Alter serving, school choir starting in grade 3, band starting in grade 6. It’s a learned skill.

I do have 1 tip that I learned from band/choir: nobody knows when you screw up. There may be a few people who notice, but most people won’t.

I’m an altar server myself , and even though I’ get nervous while doing other things in front of a crowd, I never feel this way when I’m going to serve. Maybe a quick prayer to St John Berchmans , the patron saint of altar servers, will do the trick!

I’ve been cantoring since I was 16 and I used to be a bundle of nerves. It takes a lot of “practice” and as someone else mentioned, becomes a learned skill. One thing that has helped me is reminding myself that I’m there for God and that what I’m singing is my prayer to him. I remember that God gave me this gift and I should use it for Him.

In a way, although I’m very aware of them, I “ignore” the congregation, for lack of a better word. I never look at anyone directly when announcing a hymn number and title - just right above their heads. I hold my music up and look at my music - never at the congregation because to me, looking at the congregation feels like it becomes a “performance” and thus gives those “performance jitters”. I focus on the words of the hymn or psalm and the music to be as prayerful and spiritual as possible.

I guess the reason why I’m nervous about it is because I’m in front of people and I’m afraid of what they think, and if I make a mistake, if I embarrass myself somehow, etc.

I know it’s kind of silly to say, but it makes me think that when people are reading this, they’re thinking: “Well, if you don’t like getting in front of people, then why do you altar serve?” Well, I like to be involved, and I like serving.

I guess I just need to calm down, because I know I know what I’m doing. It’s just so annoying being nervous over this. Then, when Mass is over, I’ll be like: “What was I so worried about?”

I’ve been a reader for the last 26 years or so, 13 in my present parish but moving from parish to parish as a military wife several times in the previous 13 years.

It was always nerve-wracking when starting over in a new parish but now, after 13 years here, I’m so comfortable doing it that I’m never stressed about it – I guess it’s like Apryl said, they’re my family.

That said, because of the other things I’m involved in, I’ve been called to say Grace at a community dinner and to read at ecumenical services and at those my knees were shaking so badly that I was surprised I made it to the lectern. Even doing the General Intercessions in my birth parish at Dad’s funeral was stressful because I’d never been involved in Liturgy there before I left home and that community didn’t feel like family any more.

Trust me. It gets real easy with time. Until then, just breathe slowly and deeply when you are nervous. Do not worry about mistakes. Everyone makes them on occassion, except those who choose to do nothing. Almost no one will notice little mistakes or delays that you may agonize over. And finally, in the long run, Mass will go on.

Put it this way - I’ve been around long enough to see priests make mistakes (not just fluffing a word, but quite big and noticeable ones) numerous times. And most of them say Mass every SINGLE day, if anyone should be immune it should be they.

They still make mistakes though, it’s part of being human. You will, too. And we love them anyway and don’t think any the less of them for occasionally stuffing something up. I’m sure your fellow parishioners will love you too and not think any the less of you.

Perfectly normal. My first Mass serving was a weekday Mass so it wasn’t like having to perform in front of a huge congregation but I was still nervous. When I was comfortable with that (I served with my mentor too, I might add) then I was ready for the large congregations. As I am basically crowd-phobic, I learned to tell myself I was better off serving than sitting in the tight pews so that’s how I overcame the fear of serving. However I was never really able to overcome the fear of serving at the nun’s Mass; I knew I’d never hear the end of the criticism there. :slight_smile:

I’ve served in various capacities, and I can tell you that I still get nervous. But I ALWAYS ask the priest to pray for me before mass, and then I try to leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. The more I focus on what I’m supposed to be doing, the more likely I am to mess it up! If you think of what you’re doing as prayer, rather than performance, it may help you to calm down a bit. (I’m not suggesting that altar serving is a “performance” but rather you are concerned about YOUR performance, whether or not you get it all right.)

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