Altar servers take the place of angels in heaven who praise and glorify God continuously. It is a great privilege to serve at the Altar of our God and therefore servers are chosen from those who display a desire for a more intimate union with our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. Our loving Saviour becomes present on the Altar, just as He was at the Last Supper and Calvary. Accordingly, Servers have a solemn responsibility to do their assigned duties with dignity and reverence.
Our Cathedral parish has Altar Servers (boys and girls), who start after their first communion and continue for as long as we can keep them. All people of good faith are welcome. All that is required is a desire to serve at the Altar of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Dress Code for All Altar Servers
Shoes – Dress shoes, preferably black or brown shoes for boys and brown, black or white for girls.
Hair – Hair shall be neat and trimmed, appropriate for boys and girls. Girls shall have their hair tied back so that it is not in their face.
Jewellery – Do not wear anything that will make noise and/or will be distracting, or that will cause you to have problems serving.
Vestments: Alb, Cincture and Surplice
Altar Server Rules
Attend Altar Sever Training Classes
- Altar Servers should not leave the sanctuary (madbaha) after the start of the Holy Qurbana for any reason except bathroom emergencies, illness, or when directed to do so by the priest
- Serve at every Holy Qurbana that you scheduled for, or make arrangements to have someone cover the Qurbana
- Arrive at least 10 minutes before the Holy Qurbana starts to get dressed and make sure that the duties are assigned
- Perform the duties assigned during the Qurbana in the prescribed orderly manner
- Maintain a prayerful posture during all times. Be quiet and respectful when in the sanctuary. Remember, you are role models
- Make sure that your alb, cincture and surplice are returned the way you found them
Altar Servers’ Step-By-Step Guide
Before the Holy Qurbana
Arrive and be dressed 10 minutes before the Holy Qurbana begins. Make sure the alb is the RIGHT SIZE, the bottom should be right above the tops of the shoes. Make sure you talk to the other servers to determine who will carry the cross, the candles, read prayers, assist at the preparation of gifts, etc.
After prayer, the altar servers will line up in the following order:
Censer and incense (if any), Cross bearer, candle bearers on both sides of the Cross bearer, shortest to tallest Altar servers in two lines. Position of hands during procession: Folded in prayer.
Once the choir has begun to sing, the altar servers will begin to proceed to the sanctuary at a normal speed. Once the procession has reached in front of the bema, the servers spread to both sides and line up at the foot of the sanctuary and give way at the centre for the priest to approach the altar. Then all bow together. Those who bear the cross and the candles proceed to put the cross on the altar and candles on the bema. The servers go to their assigned seats and stay standing
Eight Parts in the Holy Qurbana
- Introductory Part: from the beginning to the Uthana geetham (sarvathipanam karthave..)
As the Uthana geetham begins, all turn to the altar. At namikunnu, all bow down. Again at pukazhthunnu, bow down. Then turn to the previous posture
- Liturgy of the Word: from trisagion (sabdamuyarthi ..) upto the readings
During the first and second readings, all sit. After the second reading, two servers take the candles from the bema and follow the priest on both sides to the altar and come back with him and stand on both sides of the bema holding the candles as to pay respect to the gospel. Put back the candles on the bema after the gospel reading. Then, while two servers proclaim the karosoosa, one minister helps the priest in preparing the offerings by giving the decanter (small jar of wine) and cruet (small jar of water). One sever brings the bowl of water for washing the hands and another the towel to the main celebrant priest.
- Offertory: upto the grand entrance after the Creed
- Anaphora: from njangalude karthavaya daivame.. upto Epiclesis (eppozhum eppozhum ennekum)
One server each from both sides (preferably the first one in the row) comes forward to receive the peace from the priest and gives to the first person on each bench. The server keeps his/her hands folded while giving peace. The bell is rung (1) after the prayer ente ormakayi cheyuvin, (2) at the elevation (….. nithyam jeevikukayum cheyyum)
- Reconciliation: preparation for Holy Communion
- Breaking of the Host
One server brings the extra ciboriums (the bowls to put the consecrated hosts), if there are, after the breaking of the Host
- The Lord’s Prayer & Communion
Servers receive the Holy Communion from the priest and sit prayerfully
- Concluding Prayers
After the Holy Qurbana, the servers spread to both sides and line up at the foot of the sanctuary and wait for the priest to come down and stand in the middle. Then all bow together. Go back to the sacristy in two lines, priest at the end of the line. Do not take candles or cross while returning.
Once all servers reach the sacristy, stand with bowed head to receive the blessing of the priest. Then, the servers say the following thanksgiving prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to serve you during the Holy Qurbana. May your Spirit always guide me so I may grow in your love by the grace of the Heavenly Father. Amen.
- When you are standing or sitting, and not doing anything, keep your hands folded. Do not play with your cincture or do anything else
- You shall respond to the prayers and dialogues of the priest along with the congregation. you also join in singing the hymns and other chants of the liturgy and do the gestures like bowing and assume the postures like kneeling, standing and sitting
- Whenever the priest blesses the congregation (both with his hands and with the gospel), draw the sign of the cross on yourselves
Fr. Varghese Vavolil
St John Berchmans (1599 – 1621)
Patron Saint of Altar Servers
Altar Server’s Prayer
Loving Father, Creator of the universe, you call your people to worship, to be with you and each other at the Holy Qurbana. Help me, for you have called me also. Keep me prayerful and alert. Help me to help others in prayer. Thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me. Keep me true to that trust. I make my prayer to you in Jesus’ name, who is with us in the Holy Spirit. Amen.