Who may pick up items and return them to sacristy after Mass


I am a lector. Attendance varies greatly at daily mass.

If I am the only volunteer then I will pick up all vessels and books and return them to the sacristy.

Sometimes we have enough liturgy volunteers/ and non-volunteers (members-parishioners) and they go up and get the Lectionary, Missal, mics, etc. I do not see anything wrong with wanting to help.

I was pulled aside after mass by one of the extraordinary ministers of holy communion when I was getting items to return to the sacristy. He said “if you serve during mass then you can go up and get items. If you do not serve at the mass then wait at the bottom of the two steps going up to the sanctuary and someone will bring an item for you to carry back to the sacristy.”

What is the proper procedure?

Is there a place on the internet where I can find the answers to my liturgy questions?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to reply.:confused:


Dear Gilbert,
I would as the priest or the director of liturgy about this practice, if it really the proper procedure for this parish. However this sounds a more like a control issue from this EMHC.
There is nothing I know of that says the only people allowed to enter the sanctuary to assist in the clean up and put up are ministers that served in the mass. I am more than happy when anyone wants to give their service by helping after mass.
Deacon Frank


There is no rule about this. Holy Mother Church doesn’t bother with writing something so particular.

That having been said, sometimes individual parishes have customs that are followed. Ask your pastor about these.

An excellent source for questions regarding liturgy is Zenit’s Liturgy Section, which has a Q&A answered by Fr. McNamara.

Does that answer your question? Is there anything else I can elaborate on?


Thank you Deacon Frank for your reply.


I will look at Zenit. Thank you for your advice L Marshall.


I think you will find that it is more to do with protecting the sacred Body & Blood of our Dear lord.

The duty of a good server is to protect all consecrated items and vessels from being
(accidently or deliberately) defiled or secreted away.

Those serving are to deal with The Blood and the Hosts (and remnants of)
in a particular way. It is a part of their service to ensure these things be done in the proper manner.

You may well know how and what to do in these areas but it is the duty of the server to do these things. This is not someone playing a power game, it is someone protecting you from accidently committing an error towards Our Lord. I have served in Mass were other alter boys were at the Mass but not as servers, after the Mass all of them helped but none of them went beyond the second step.

The servers may also have certain instructions from the Priest for after Mass, that the lay person in not aware of. one incident in my parish was that the disposal of the remaining consecrated wine could not be done as normal as there was a problem with the sacrarium.
The priest was to take it to his church and use the sacrarium there.

No one is saying that you or anyone else is going to deliberately do the wrong thing.
But if one layman is allowed to go beyond the second step at this point then others will also do this and the chances for accidental error increase.

Don’t take such things to heart, a correction by this person to you was not meant to denigrate but to educate. Next time you see this person just gently ask them to explain the reasons to you. You will find that He spoke up out of Love for you and for Our Lord.
So pray for him tonight, that he be blessed for doing his duty in the Lords house.
How would you feel if it were Saint Michael the Archangel that pulled you aside and said what was said.
You would feel honoured would you not?

Identical sentiment from the man as from the saint.
Taking such things for what they are, acts of love, is for you an act of humility.

You must also remember that to attend Mass is to serve God.
but to serve at the Altar carries more duties and responsibilities.
Helping from the second step is a more holy way to help,
for it shows the Lord that you are helping with reverence and respect
when near the Holy Tabernacle.

Hope this helps.



There shouldn’t be any Precious Blood left at the end of Mass, as the vessels should be purified by then. Still less should the Precious Blood be poured down the sacrarium!

Likewise, how can t be that consecrated Hosts are left about for the altar servers to deal with? They should have been placed in the Tabernacle.


Absolutely correct paperweight66,
I meant the remnants of.
In the case of the Priest taking it to his church to use the sacrarium there,
This was mid 1960’s,
Our church was having works done on it and the priest
diluted the remnants of the Precious Blood with the water
and poured it back into the glass vessel. I assumed, at the time
that something had found its way in there.
This was what was taken with him to the other church.
I said remnants at the start but made direct reference
to consecrated Hosts and the Precious Blood without repeating remnants of.
My mistake. sorry for the confusion.


What remnants of consecrated Hosts? If there is no Tabernacle, then any consecrated Hosts are to be consumed by the priest. If you are talking about any broken pieces left in the bottom of the ciborium, those, too, are consumed.

I’m sorry, there’s something not right here.


Correct again, but this time the thing that is not right here is
that you have read too much into what I said.

I did not state that we did this with the consecrated Host.
I was talking of a situation where such a thing might occur,
and these things DO happen (hopefully very, very rarely).
In which case what I described is valid.

Here are two examples I found to point this out.

Throwing Away the Consecrated Species
It’s one thing to pour water into the sacrarium, even if that water has been used to dissolve the consecrated species. In that case, the appearances of bread and wine no longer remain, and so the Real Presence does not remain, either. It is another thing entirely to use it to throw away the consecrated species themselves.

The Proper Response in Handling a Fallen Host
by Fr. William P. Saunders
… In this case, the person — preferably the priest or eucharistic minister — should retrieve it at once, making sure no visible particles are left on the floor. (If there are visible particles, then a linen should be placed over the area where the Host fell, and then the area should be cleaned with water after Mass.) The priest or eucharistic minister may then consume the Sacred Host directly, or isolate it and then after Communion rinse it down the sacrarium (a special sink in the sacristy which empties directly into the ground, not the sewer system). (See General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 239.) Oftentimes, the recipient who dropped the Sacred Host picks it up and consumes it immediately; here again the priest, eucharistic minister and recipient should be conscious of any remaining particles.

I did not pull this out of thin air, it was told to me way back when I was an altar boy and
although many things from back then are a little fuzzy in my memory, that information
stuck with me.

Sorry about the delay in answering you buy we are in different time zones.


It’s possible that the ciboria or side chalices are being returned to the credence table, with the intent to purify them after Mass. In that case, it’s reasonable that there’s the desire to maintain custody of these vessels until the priest (or deacon) can purify them. :shrug:


Every parish is different.

At my parish, any left over contents of the cup are consumed by the ministers first before they place their cups on a special table. The 2 extra ministers who distribute hosts, 1 takes the large chalice, the other the empty plates for the host distribution to the same table - the priest will hand one the plates, the other his chalice. The priest will take some water then rinse and consume from the cups then return to his seat for the post Communion prayer. Our pastoral admin returns any left hosts in a covered cibrorium to the tabernacle.

After Mass, a few of the ministers (mainly bread ones do this but cup ones are welcome to help) take the host plates and cups to wash them then return the cups with new napkins and plates plus the refilled holy water container, towel, & bowl for the lavabo back to the table for the next Mass.


How did this turn into a discussion of what to do with the chalice or ciborium when the OP asked about

Sometimes we have enough liturgy volunteers/ and non-volunteers (members-parishioners) and they go up and get the Lectionary, Missal, mics, etc. I do not see anything wrong with wanting to help.


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