How does one serve an OF Mass

What are the directions for a server serving in the Ordinary Form Mass? In other words how do you serve in the OF Mass?

From the GIRM:


  1. 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

  1. 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.

  2. Through the entire celebration, the acolyte is to approach the priest or the deacon, whenever necessary, in order to present the book to them and to assist them in any other way required. Thus it is appropriate, insofar as possible, that the acolyte occupy a place from which he can conveniently carry out his ministry either at the chair or at the altar.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

  1. If no deacon is present, after the Prayer of the Faithful is concluded and while the priest remains at the chair, the acolyte places the corporal, the purificator, the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar. Then, if necessary, the acolyte assists the priest in receiving the gifts of the people and, if appropriate, brings the bread and wine to the altar and hands them to the priest. If incense is used, the acolyte presents the thurible to the priest and assists him while he incenses the gifts, the cross, and the altar. Then the acolyte incenses the priest and the people.

  2. A duly instituted acolyte, as an extraordinary minister, may, if necessary, assist the priest in giving Communion to the people.100 If Communion is given under both kinds, when no deacon is present, the acolyte administers the chalice to the communicants or holds the chalice if Communion is given by intinction.

  3. Likewise, when the distribution of Communion is completed, a duly instituted acolyte helps the priest or deacon to purify and arrange the sacred vessels. When no deacon is present, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes, and arranges them in the usual way.

  4. After the celebration of Mass, the acolyte and other ministers return in procession to the sacristy, together with the deacon and the priest in the same way and order in which they entered.

  5. 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.85

I am going with the approach that you are completely new to all of this since I do not know what your background is, as well as for the benefit of all the other readers. You would not be an Instituted Acolyte, unless you are made one by the Bishop. You will be called simply a server. Now, usually, a server will almost never serve as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at the same time because there is also the rubric for distributing duties.

These are the rubrics as set out by the Church. All others are usually handled by the individual Parish. Each Priest is also allowed to have the servers do what he wish so long as they are in line with the rubrics. This means that you might do one thing for one Priest, and something different for another. In my experience, the biggest differences come in when and if you hold the Roman Missal for the Priest and how he wishes to do the Purification.

Hope this helps!


Ok, so I will attempt to state what a server usually does at a OF Mass. This is not always the case.

We will say that this is a normal Sunday Mass with 3 servers.

Either the servers set up the Sactuary or the Sacristan does. Usually, the servers light the candles.

Server 1 - Carries the processional cross. Servers 2 and 3 carry candles (they are supposed to be walking along side of the cross bearer, not behind as is usually the case). Usually, the Cross bearer goes off to one side with one candle bearer, and the other candle bearer goes off on the other side (all at the foot of the Sactuary) and the Priest (and other clerics) come up into a line with them and genuflect. The servers do a head bow since they are carrying things. The clerics go to the altar to reverence it while the servers proceed into the Sactuary. If there is a crucifix in the Sanctuary already the processional cross stays outside of the Sactuary.

Now the Mass begins. Server 1 brings up the Roman Missal (Sacramentary) to the Priest, usually when he says “Let us pray.” Then the Liturgy of the Word begins. After the Homily, the Priest returns to his chair. Then there is the Profession of Faith. Server 1 may then bring up a little book/folder for the General Intercessions.

Now is the Offertory. Sometimes some of a combination of the servers go back up the central aisle with candles and/or cross to escort the people bringing up the gifts.

During the Offertory, the Priest will sit down again. If there is a Deacon, he will assist at the altar (basically, if there is a Deacon, you hand everything that goes on the altar to him). Whenever crossing in front of, behind, or even between the altar and the tabernacle, you do a profound bow (a bow from the hip) to the altar unless carrying something, in which case you do a head bow. You place the Roman Missal on the left side of the altar, near the center (do not worry about opening it, unless you know whereit is supposed ot be opened to for the specific Priest). Then the servers (whomever is able) takes the Chalice to the altar and places it on the right side. If there is a Corporal on the altar already (there isn’t supposed to be!) do not place anything on it. The little water cruet is also then placed on the lower right corner of the altar. Do not carry anything else with the Chalice! (there is usually all of the other linens on top of the Chalice. Basically, carry as is). Then the Servers 2 and 3 go to the foot of the Sactuary with the Priest (and other clerics) to help receive the gifts (bread, wine, and sometimes the money. The money should be placed away from the altar!) Place the bread on the altar. The Priest will bless it. Server 1, holds the wine and water and the Priest takes them from him one at a time. The server then does a head bow to the priest. He usually returns it. Server 1 then bring the cruets back to the credence table. After the Priest has blessed the wine, Servers 2 and 3 go to him with the water cruet, lavabo bowl, and lavabo towel. Server 2 carries the bowl and water cruet, and Server 3 carries the towel (open). Then the washing of the hands take place. Then the servers do a head bow to the Priest and return to the credence tabel with the items.

Then everyone rises. the Priest says the Prayer over the Gifts, and the Preface. Then you kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer. Bells may be rung during certain parts of the Prayer by a server (that is for another post). Servers usually do not hold hands in the Sanctuary for the Lord’s Prayer. (I will explain hand positions for servers later.) When time to distribute Communion, the servers get the Communion patens (the ones with handles) and hold them for themselves to receive as well as for the rest of the faithful. They then bring the Communion patens to the altar for the Priest to purify along with the other vessels. Server 1 takes the Roman Missal and returns to his seat. Server 2 places brings the water cruet to the altar for the Priest to purify the vessels. Both Servers 2 and 3 clear the altar. They then either return to their seats, or go light their candles wherever they maybe if they have been extinguished. Server 1 brings the Roman Missal to the Priest again when he says “Let us pray.” Then there is the final blessing. Then the servers, with Cross and candles go back to their positions at the foot of the Sactuary. They then recess out the same way that they processed in.

There you go.

Now, when I MC at Masses or serve as the Lead Server, I make sure that all of the servers say the responses loudly and sing when appropriate. I am under the impression that the servers lead the faithful in the responses. Also, a note on hand positions. Here is just a basic guideline: When carrying practically anything, carry it with both hands! When standing and carrying nothing, place your hands together, in a praying gesture, above the waist. When sitting, place your hands flat on your legs. When you have something like the water cruet, or you have one thing in both hands, such as the water and wine, as soon as one hand is free, place it flat or in a fist against your heart.

I hope this has helped. Oh, and always dress appropriate. No sandals or tennis shoes. You are in the Sactuary.

Please, anyone, please feel free to question anything I’ve stated. If someone else would find the rubric for the bells, I’d appreciate it. I must be going soon to play in a soccer tournament!

God bless!

THANK YOU Very Helpful.

Learn Latin, and educate yourself on Catholic Liturgy from 50-500 (but not beyond) years ago.

approach your priest and state your willingness to serve. he should be able to train you, or point you to a person who can train you

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