An Instructed Eucharist

(20 February 2011)

I. Introduction

Every service of Christian worship is a drama – a drama in which we enact, proclaim, and, as well, participate in the mighty acts of God. That’s what we are doing this morning; that’s what we do each time the Holy Communion – the Eucharist – is celebrated. Our drama today will be a little different, for we shall stop the action at certain points to explain its significance. We are doing this so that all of us may come to a deeper understanding of our worship and its meaning and, thereby, may participate with more enthusiasm, understanding, and joy – and ultimately with greater spiritual benefit.

Right now the stage is empty. The principal actors have not yet entered – though you and I are here and we are also actors in the drama. (Remember that. Never forget it. We too, are actors in the drama. We stand. We sit. We kneel. We speak and sing. We make various gestures which allow us to participate, enter into, and be involved in the drama of the Mass.) Soon, however, the principal players will arrive. They will make their entrance in procession as we sing a hymn.

There’s more to this entrance than just getting them in where they ought to be. It’s rather like the rising of a curtain as a play begins. The curtain begins to rise and we know that suddenly we shall be carried into another world, the world created by the play. The Entrance Hymn with its procession is just like that. It’s a sign. It signals to us that here in Church we are about to be swept into another reality – another world – not the ordinary world we live in day to day – but the extraordinary world of God, our world as He created and intended it to be.

II. After Entrance Hymn. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 323 – 325; Rite II, pp. 355-357

Ever since the Resurrection of our Lord, Christians have gathered together week by week, sometimes day by day, to perform one particular action – remembering His death and receiving His life with bread and wine and prayer. Many things in the Church have changed, but this one act has remained basically the same. It has been thought so essential that Christians have often risked their lives and sometimes lost their lives just to do this thing. It has been performed in innumerable different ways from the simplest gathering with bread and wine to the most complex and ornate ceremonial. It has been known by many names: the Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion, the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Essentially, however, the action is the same, and it’s not at all forcing a point to say that the observance of this act is one thing that has formed a bond of continuity over the many centuries of the Church’s existence and across the painful divisions that separate Christians. The various Churches may think differently about the Eucharist and many perform it in different ways, but most agree that it is necessary and fundamental and commanded by our Lord.

A priest cannot celebrate the Eucharist alone. The Church forbids this, for the Liturgy is not a private thing. The Eucharist is the Church’s Act, and it can only take place in a community, performed communally by a part of the whole Church. Again, it is a drama: many people participating together in one action. From earliest times it has been called the Liturgy, from leitourgia, a Greek word which roughly translated means “work,” specifically, public work, a work of the people. The Eucharist is the Church’s work par excellence. In it the Church does all those things which make the Church what it is: it hears the word of God in the Scriptures, praises God for His majesty and love, offers prayer for the necessities of life, and partakes of the Sacrament of bread and wine which the Lord has ordained. The Liturgy is the Church’s work, and in this work the Church becomes in a very real and obvious sense what it is: God’s people, the Body of Christ gathered to acknowledge His real and living presence in Word and Sacrament and to feed upon the grace and power which Christ gives us through Word and Sacrament.

If a priest occupies a prominent place in the celebration of the Liturgy, this is because the Church has singled out particular persons to be her instruments and preside in the carrying out of this particular action. This morning Father Wood is our presider, the celebrant, of the Liturgy. He performs this function in the name of our Bishop who is the normal presider at every act within his jurisdiction. We have symbolized this already by the Processional Cross which brings the principal ministers into the Church. The Cross here is said to be a sign of the Bishop. The Bishop leads his people into the Church and to the Altar where they will meet Christ.

The celebrant, then, is the Bishop’s deputy in the Liturgy and, as such, has a specific function, a particular role, in the liturgical drama. The ancient vestment which he wears, called a chasuble, indicates this role. Supporting parts in the drama are played by the Deacon and Sub-deacon, who also wear vestments which indicate their function as assisting ministers. They and others at the Altar may be conspicuous by their dress, but they are no more important than you and me in the congregation. Because . . . again . . . the Eucharist is the action of the whole Church. It is always together that the Eucharist is celebrated – by a body, by a community. The congregation’s participation in hymn, in response, in prayer is absolutely essential.

The procession has entered now. The stage, so to speak, is set and full. And we begin our work by blessing God. The ordinary world around us does not bless God. The every-day world largely ignores God. But in this other world, this extra-ordinary and essential world of the Liturgy, God is indeed blessed. This sets the tone. “Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” we say, “And blessed be His Kingdom, now and forever.” We then pray to God to prepare us for what is to come. We ask Him to send His Holy Spirit into our hearts – to make our intentions pure and to enable us to praise and love Him with all our being. Afterwards we acclaim and praise Him – merciful and glorious, glorious in His mercy and love for man. Depending on the season, one or the other or sometimes both of two very ancient hymns – dating from the fourth century – follow immediately. The Kyrie eleison (from the Greek for “Lord have mercy”) or the Gloria in excelsis (from the Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”). Both of these come from the East and have been a part of the Church’s worship from earliest times. The Kyrie has a double emphasis. It was originally a shout of praise directed towards God or even an earthly ruler. It is like the Biblical words “Alleluia” or “Hosanna”. It can be understood as the joyful cry “The Lord is merciful!” In another context it can be understood as a plea for mercy from God. The Gloria which often comes next is a wonderful and ecstatic hymn of praise to God acclaiming His splendor and His majesty in Christ. Its tone is one of jubilant celebration, so much so that during the more somber seasons of Advent and Lent we leave it out of the Liturgy – to return on the great feasts of Christmas and Easter.

The Kyrie and Gloria ended, the celebrant calls us to prayer and prays on our behalf the collect for the day. This is a short prayer which refers to the feastday we may be observing or to the lessons which will next be read. It collects together or summarizes the themes which will be the focus of the liturgy.

III. After The Epistle. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 325 – 326; Rite II, pp. 357-358

The action of the Eucharist consists of Word and Sacrament. Both are fundamental parts of the life and faith of every Christian. At this point we are engaged in the Service of the Word. We have just heard a reading from the Old Testament – those books which record the history and yearning of the Hebrew people and which look forward to Christ – and from the Epistles – letters of instruction written to members of the early Church. This first part of the Service, together with the sermon, has its origin in the worship of the ancient Jewish Synagogue. Like that it is primarily a service of teaching and instruction.

Here at The Church of the Advent and in most Churches lay people who are members of the congregation read the first two lessons. One particular reading, however, has by an early tradition always been reserved to the clergy: the solemn reading of the Gospel. Doubtless you’ve noticed that we read the Gospel lesson at Mass in a manner very different from the lessons. For instance, the singing of a hymn or a chant and a procession precede this reading. Much more solemnity, more ceremony is involved in the proclamation of the Gospel. Why is this? Again, because the structure of our Christian faith is two-fold, Word and Sacrament. This doesn’t simply describe what Christianity is from the outside, but from the inside: how it works as a religion. It means something important and profound: that we seek and find Christ’s presence in the Word and in the Sacrament. At the reading of the Gospel Christ makes Himself present to us in his Word just as surely as he was present with his disciples two thousand years ago. For this reason before and after the proclamation of the Gospel we hail and acknowledge not the reading, but Christ himself, the Word of God, who is mystically present in these words of Scripture. We stand at the reading of the Gospel and face the Book in order to be addressed and encountered by the One who comes to us in His Word. “Glory to You, Lord Christ,” we say. Because the reading or singing of the Gospel is such a special act, it is reserved for members of the ordained ministry – a priest, a bishop, or a deacon. The Gospel Book, itself a symbol of Christ, is brought in the procession to the midst of the Church to symbolize the coming of the good news of Christ to His people.

At a Solemn Eucharist, the book is censed. The use of incense is deeply rooted in the Scriptures and in the traditional practice of the Church. At this point in the service it is derived from the practice of the ancient Roman Empire in which incense was carried before important personages as a mark of their rank. And so, before the reading of the Gospel we greet our Lord, our King, with incense – a mark of the respect and homage which He deserves.

IV. After the Gospel. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 358-359; Rite II, pp. 358 – 359

The lessons have been read; the Gospel proclaimed. At this point in a normal service the sermon would be preached. Afterwards we respond to God’s Word to us in Scripture and sermon by declaring our common faith in the words of the Nicene Creed. This is an outline of belief which the Church adopted some 1600 years ago in a council at Nicaea, a town in present-day Turkey. It was chosen then to be and probably still is the best statement of what Christians believe – a summary of the meaning and hope of the Faith. In the Creed we affirm our belief in the mighty acts of God for our salvation – acts of power and love – the reason we are here today.

V. After the Creed. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 359-360,; Rite II, pp. 383-395

The Liturgy continues with prayer. Prayer, for the Church and for every Christian, is like the bloodstream and the blood. It joins everything together and it brings life. Without blood the body dies. Without prayer our faith becomes boring, sterile, and dead.

In the intercessions we present to God in prayer our own needs and necessities, and the particular needs of those close to us, family or friends, who may be sick or troubled, and the needs of the Church and the world. Then in prayer we confess our sins – those acts in our lives which have denied and stifled Christ’s working in us and have taken us away from Him.

Christ promised to the Church the power to bind and to lose, that is, the power to forgive sins in his name. The celebrant, then, on behalf of the Church pronounces over us the Absolution, a formal declaration of the forgiveness of our sins which Christ promises and gives to every Christian. And then, assured of Christ’s forgiveness, we greet one another in His name. It is sin that separates us one from another. It is sin that destroys the peace between us. In Christ our peace is restored.

VI. Before the Offertory.

In the early years of the Church’s life, if you had not yet been baptized, at this point in the Mass you would be made to leave the building. The Liturgy of the Sacrament, the second part of the Eucharist, was considered too sacred for the eyes of those who had not been initiated into the mystery of Christ’s Redemption. The unbaptized were expelled and in some places the doors to the Church were locked. It was with great seriousness and even awe that the early Christians regarded the miracle of the Mass.

The action of the Liturgy now moves from the pulpit and the lectern – the place of the Word – to the Altar – the locus of Christ’s sacramental presence, as bread and wine are brought forward in the Offertory and prepared.

We are accustomed to think of the Offertory as the Collection – the collection of our offerings of money which we return to God as stewards, in thanksgiving, for the support of His Church. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and the practice is to be encouraged! In the beginning, this was not the case. In the ancient Church money played no part in the Offertory. Rather the Offertory consisted of the gathering together and bringing to the Altar of bread and wine – bread and wine which often each person brought individually to the Church.

Bread and wine and the Offertory itself are powerful symbols. In the first place, bread and wine represent in microcosm the whole life of humanity – the life and work of men and women in the Creation, which God has entrusted to man’s care. The bread is not merely grain; the wine is not merely the juice of the grape. They are more than that. They go beyond simple nature. Rather, they are grain and grapes which have been transformed by human life and work. In the second place, we may see the Offertory as a symbol of the Christian life itself – these elements of bread and wine, like the life of the Christians, are given to up God to be received back infused and alive with the presence, and life, and grace of Christ. Members of the congregation – representatives of us all – bring forward the gifts which we shall receive back changed and transformed and which by the grace and power of Christ will transform us.

At a Solemn Eucharist incense is used at this point. Here the symbolism is very Biblical and Jewish, with its origin in the practice of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. The incense represents prayer ascending to heaven. The gifts of bread and wine, those serving at the altar, and the congregation are censed to signify that all of us together are being swept up into that movement of prayer and offering which is the Eucharist.

After the Offertory. Prayer Book: Rite I, pp. 333 – 338: Rite II, pp. 361-376

This last part of the Liturgy – its climax and conclusion – stems from the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. Strangely enough, we don’t know a great deal about the particulars of this meal, which has so often been repeated. The Gospels don’t tell us much. What we can say for certain is that Jesus commanded the Church to “Do this in remembrance of Me” and that Christians have remembered his command and repeated this meal over and over throughout the centuries. Their experience has always been this: that He was present with them when they obeyed His command.

This part of the Eucharist – the Liturgy of the Sacrament – begins with the celebrant’s exhortation to “Lift up your hearts.” “Be joyful,” the priest tells us, “Sursum corda!” “Lift up your hearts.” The key to the meaning of the Prayers to follow lies in what the celebrant says next: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” for the Eucharistic Prayer is primarily a giving thanks to God for His acts of power in creation and redemption. This is, after all, just what Jesus did at that Last Supper: “He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it . . . he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them.” This same action – the giving of thanks – is the celebrant’s and also our action in the consecration of the gifts of bread and wine. For this reason we call the consecratory prayer “The Great Thanksgiving.” In fact, this strange Greek word “Eucharist” which we’ve been using means exactly that – to give thanks.

We give thanks to God first by repeating in the Sanctus the hymn which Isaiah the prophet heard sung around the throne of God – “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.” Next, we praise the one who will soon come to us in the Sacrament of his body and blood, repeating the words of the crowd which greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday – “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” And in the prayer of consecration we give thanks to God for His mighty work in Jesus, the Christ. We pray that He will bless the gifts of bread and wine – that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ; that we, being made holy by the Spirit, may find our real food and real drink in His Body and Blood. This is the Christian sacrifice, the holy sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in which we recall thankfully the sacrifice of God in Christ. Here at The Church of the Advent the tower bell is rung at certain points during this prayer, namely at the Words of Institution: “This is my body. This is my blood.” The bells have their origin in the medieval Church. Their function was then and is now to alert us and focus our attention on the central mystery and miracle of the Liturgy – the coming of Christ to His people. The bells are rung and the celebrant lifts high the host and chalice for all to see.

In the Episcopal Church we believe that something really occurs to the bread and wine when they are consecrated by the priest and the Church. In this we are joined by the great and historic tradition of Christianity – by the Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, and several of the Reformed Churches. Some say that the Liturgy is only a kind of memorial: we eat bread and drink wine and remember Jesus when we do it. Certainly that’s true, but in the Anglican Communion we claim that there is more to it than that. We believe that when we gather together and give thanks over the bread and wine, Jesus Christ – as he promised – will make himself present to us, sacramentally, in the bread and wine. This is the faith of the Church. Moreover, and most important this has been the experience of the Church from the very beginning. The bread and wine become sacraments – instruments, signs effective in themselves – by which Christ Himself gives us his presence, and his power, and his life. God in Christ is always working to be near to us – to be close to us, and with us. He is, of course, continually present to us at every time and in every place, but in the Holy Communion He is as near to us as the food we eat and the wine we drink.

VIII. After the Communion. Prayer Book; Rite I, pp. 339: Rite II, pp. 365-366

We have received Christ’s Body and Blood. What else is there now to do, but again give thanks? We do so in a concluding prayer and the Liturgy ends as the celebrant blesses us and we are dismissed. We have celebrated the drama of God’s mighty acts; we have partaken of the Body and Blood of his Son; we have been swept into the extraordinary world of the Liturgy. We are dismissed to go out into the everyday world and take with us what we have received here, to spread abroad the love and power and presence of Christ. And what is our response to this? Once again – and how appropriate that these are the very last words spoken in the Mass! – “Thanks be to God.”

A Note about the term Transubstantiation

Many people equate the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist with the theory of Transubstantiation.  They are, in fact, not exactly the same thing.  The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts what the Church has believed, taught, and experienced since earliest times, i.e. that Christ is really and truly present to his people in the Sacrament of the Altar.  Transubstantiation is one theory among the many which seek to explain how Christ is present; to articulate the mechanics, so to speak, of His presence.  It was developed in the thirteenth century by St. Thomas Aquinas in order to combat rather crude theories of the Eucharist that gave rise to superstition.  St. Thomas’ explanation depended, as did his theology, on the philosophy and metaphysics of Aristotle.

By the time of the Reformation an intellectual reaction had taken place against St. Thomas’ thought, which had become the official teaching of the Roman Church, and also against the Aristotelianism upon which it is based.  Luther and the English Reformers protested that Aquinas’ doctrine of transubstantiation per se can nowhere be found in Scripture or the early teaching of the Church.  They were right;  it can’t.  It was, in their view, an illegitimate development which was a departure.  They never, however, denied the doctrine of the Real Presence;  indeed, they defended it.  It was not until the second generation of the Reformation came along that this fundamental and scripturally-based doctrine was questioned and by some denied.

Even if we regard the doctrine of Transubstantiation as simply one way of explaining the gift of Christ’s Real Presence in the Mass, there is still some value in continuing to use the word.  All accounts of how Christ is present – even those which the Continental and English Reformers came up with – attempt to make it clear and undoubted that a miracle is taking place in the bread and the wine.  For some in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, Transubstantiation – in a metaphorical rather than metaphysical sense – remains the best term to point to this miracle – the mystery of Jesus’ Real Presence with his people, veiled in bread and wine.

Be that as it may, a good way to end this discussion is to quote verses on the matter attributed to a very clever and crafty lady, Elizabeth I.

His was the word that spake it,
He took the bread and brake it;
And what that word doth make it,
That I believe and take it.

A Glossary of Churchly Terms

The list which follows is not arranged alphabetically. Neither is it arranged arbitrarily. We have attempted to gather together terms which are related one to another.

Scripture and Theology

The Faith and Practice of the Christian Life

The Church’s Worship

Liturgical Time: Liturgical Colors and the Church Year

Liturgical Furnishings, Hardware, Etc.

Dramatis Personae of the Mass


Terms Relating to Scripture and Theology

Canon of Scripture – The Bible did not always exist as we know it today. In fact it took the Church nearly 200 years to decide which books to include in the Bible. When it did make a decision which was generally accepted this was set and known as the canon, a term derived from a Greek word which means a standard.

The Old Testament – The Hebrew Scriptures. The story of creation and of the fall of humanity through disobedience. The record of God’s plan to undo the fall, specifically through his dealings with His chosen people – the Jews.

The New Testament – The Scriptures of the Christian Church. The record of God’s acts for man in His Son – Jesus, the Christ – and the record of the early Church’s response to these acts. The canon of the New Testament is composed of:

The four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.

The Acts of the Apostles – a history of the young Church and its missionary efforts.

The Epistles – letters of instruction and doctrine by Peter, Paul, John and others to the young churches.

The Revelation of John, or the Apocalypse – a visionary and symbolic writing.

The Apocrypha – Writings composed mainly in the period between the Old and New Testaments. Not included in Protestant Bibles but accepted in the Bibles of the Episcopal, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Accepted by Episcopalians not as a source of doctrine, but as instruction.

Revelation – From “reveal” – the revealing or disclosing of God and His acts to man.
general revelation – revelation accessible to all people, as the discerning of God’s presence in the beauty of nature.
special revelation – revelation accessible to humankind only through a special means, as the revelation through the Jews in the Old Testament, or the revelation in Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Historie and Geschichte – Two German terms which relate to the study of history and which provide a helpful distinction in considering the stories and events recorded in Holy Scripture.
Historie means the bare literal fact or, in the case of accounts in Scripture, that which is reported to be the bare literal fact.
Geschichte means the interpretation or the meaning of the fact, i.e., what it means to people, what it means to me. How are these peculiar terms useful? In the scriptures many of the accounts and records are mythological or are facts clearly overlaid with myth and legend. Are we to abandon these because they don’t make sense or we can’t believe them? Not necessarily. We may accept the Historie as myth and not in itself literal fact, but we may confess the Geschichte to be true and an inspired revelation of meaning about the world and mankind: for instance, the account of the Garden of Eden. There may well have never been an historical Adam and Eve; however, various meanings of the story are indisputable and revealed: innocence, temptation, disobedience, fall. This distinction in the interpretation and understanding of Scripture is not a new one; it goes back at least as far as St. Augustine.

Theology – Literally the “science of God” – the understanding of a system of religious faith – in Christianity theology is derived from the scriptures, the tradition of the Church, the worship and experience of the Church, the reason of man.

Doctrine – A belief or teaching of the Church. A body of instruction which expresses the Church’s faith.

Dogma – A particular interpretation of a doctrine. For example, the Church has always believed that our Lord is truly and really present in the Sacrament of the Altar. This is a doctrine. Transubstantiation, which is a explanation of how He is present, is a dogma.

Tradition – We confess that the Holy Spirit is always with the Church guiding it and guarding it. For that reason the Church may learn from its own history, its tradition and thought and prayer and experience, from its successes and from its failures. In the Episcopal Church, as in the other Catholic churches, we look back to the tradition to instruct us. For instance, we confess the Creeds, which are not in the scriptures but are the product of the Church’s reflection upon the scriptures. We believe in God’s nature as Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a doctrine which is indeed a Biblical one, but was elaborated and articulated more explicitly by the Church in years after the time of the Scriptures.

Creed – A statement or formula of Christian belief. There are three main creeds: the Apostles Creed (BCP, p. 52), the Nicene Creed (BCP, p. 326), and the Athanasian Creed (BCP, p. 864).

Ecumenical Council – The first five centuries of the Church were a period of intellectual controversy and stormy debate. At times general convocations of the Church were called to settle pressing questions of doctrine. Those councils which were universal and whose decisions were later accepted by the whole Church are called the Ecumenical Councils. Their decisions have in a sense become final and are now standards of right belief in the Church. Example – the Nicene Creed is a formula of the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

Heresy – Wrong belief or error in the understanding of the Faith.

Incarnation – the belief and doctrine of the Church that God assumed manhood in the person of Jesus of Nazareth the Christ; that Jesus is both God and man, completely and fully God, completely and fully man. (See the Chalcedonian definition, BCP, p. 864)

Fall of Man – The teaching of the scriptures and the belief of the Church that in some way man is not as he should be, not as he was intended to be by God in creation; that he has fallen from fellowship with God and is consequently sinful, hateful, and unhappy. This is not to be thought of as the condition of one person or of some people, but rather of all humanity, and for that reason it is sometimes called Original Sin. (Here, again, is a good example of the Historie/Geschichte distinction. We may not accept the Historie of the story of Adam and Eve, but we can accept the Geschichte , i.e., that man is fallen and in need of redemption.) It has been said that the Fall of Man and Original Sin are the only theological ideas which are empirically verifiable.Sin – The condition of Man apart from God. Any action of a human person in which he or she makes this condition of separation from the Person and Will of God real or actual.

Atonement – Literally, at – one – ment – the doctrine that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, man has been restored to fellowship with God. That man has been made at – one with God. The stranglehold of sin is broken and man is re-created as he should be – with God. The alienation of the Fall is overcome and man is raised to a new life with Christ in God.

Grace – The power of God. To understand what the church means by grace we must note that it is:

unearned – man is a creature and he cannot earn the grace of the infinite God.

undeserved – man has fallen away from God and he does not deserve the grace or power of God.

cooperative – God’s power – grace – acts with us as we allow it to become the principle of our lives. As we grow in grace, it grows in us making us holy, pure, and happy.

Grace – this word says to us that we don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love or receive his power. It is there – all has been done for us – not by us – in the atonement of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. In Baptism we receive the grace which brings us within the scope and power of the atonement In the Eucharist we receive the sacramental nourishment of grace to live the life of grace.

Sacrifice – From the Latin sacrum facere – to make holy. We usually think of sacrifice as meaning to give something up. Perhaps it does carry this meaning, but we must remember that the fuller meaning is to give something up in order to receive it back again. Jesus’ life was sacrificial: He gave up his life which was a human life – in order to receive human life back again, made holy, at-oned, with God. The Christian life is sacrificial: we give up our own lives to God in order to receive them back again made pure, holy, and happy. Christian worship is sacrificial – we give up our lives in worship, we give up the bread and wine in worship, and we find our life changed by worship, and the bread and wine made holy in worship to be food for our changed life.The Trinity – The Christian doctrine about the nature and inner life of God. That God is one God in Three Persons – One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (The Athanasian Creed will tell you more about this. B.C.P., p. 864)

Terms Relating to the Faith and Practice of the Christian Life

Word and Sacrament – The Christian Faith as the Episcopal Church understands it has a twofold structure – word and sacrament. In God’s Word – the Bible – we learn about God, what He has done for us, and how He wishes us to be. The Word, then, is intellectual and moral. In the sacraments we are brought into the life of the Church and are nourished by communion with God Himself. The sacraments, then are mystical and experiential.

Sacrament – According to the BCP a sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us; and a pledge to assure us thereof.” – a visible way in which God gives Himself and His power to us, as in the water of Baptism or the Bread and the Wine of the Holy Eucharist. In the Orthodox Church these are called Mysteries – the spiritual and supernatural way in which God uses the everyday things of the earth, and the occasions of human life. There are seven traditional sacraments: Holy Baptism, Confirmation, the Holy Eucharist (Mass), Penance, Holy Unction, Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony.

Holy Baptism – The sacrament by which a person becomes a member of the Christian Church.

Holy Eucharist – The sacrament by which one’s spiritual life is nourished by God in Christ. Other names for the Eucharist are The Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion, the Divine Liturgy, the Mass. Eucharist means “giving thanks”.

Holy Orders – The Church, like all human institutions, needs order and structure to enable it to operate efficiently and effectively. For that reason certain persons in the Church are singled out to be the leaders and organizers of its life and activity. Holy Orders is the sacrament whereby the Church is provided with individuals who give it order and organization.

Threefold ministry of the Church – Traditionally the Church has had three different types of orders. The Episcopal Church believes that these three traditional orders are the way the Church was intended to be structured by God. They are:

Bishop – The visible head of the Church in a specific location and the chief sacramental minister. The Bishop confirms and ordains; he is a symbol of the unity of the Church and he gives orders to the Church. He is bishop over a diocese.

Priest – The priest is an ordained leader of the Church in a specific parish. It is the priest’s office to preside in the name of the Bishop over the celebration of the Sacraments and the worship of the Church, to teach, to govern and lead, to be a pastor to his flock.

Deacon – The word deacon comes from a Greek word which means “minister” or “servant”. In the early Church it was the deacon’s duty to carry out the official charitable works of the Church, i.e., distributing food to the poor, visiting the sick, etc. Thus, the deacon embodied the Church’s role as a servant to the world. In the middle ages the role of the diaconate became little more than that of an apprentice to the priesthood, which is unfortunately where it stands today. The deacon assists the priest at the celebration of the Sacraments, but is not a full sacramental minister.

Minister – Every Christian is a minister! As Christians we minister Christ and His love to our fellow Christians and others around us. Some persons have special ministries – as bishops, priests, and deacons – but we are all ministers in one way or another.

Preacher – The person who preaches a sermon during the Church’s worship. Any person can be a preacher.

Apostolic Succession – The continuity of teaching, worship and order in the Church over the centuries. This is a doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church, as well as the other catholic churches. The apostolic succession is preserved by the bishops who stand in a continuous succession back to the Apostles themselves.

The Church – The Body of Christian believers. Those who profess Jesus, the Christ, to be their Lord and their Savior, who live by His grace, pray in His name, and follow His example. There are four marks of the Church: she is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. That is to say:
One – unity is her reality and her goal.
– holiness is the presence of Christ within her.
– universality in space and in time and universality as a communion of the living with the dead is her nature.
Apostolic – the teaching of the Apostles handed down through the centuries is her standard and tradition.

Anglican Communion – The worldwide body of Christians in communion with the See of Canterbury (the Archbishop of Canterbury); the Church of England, the Church of Canada, and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America are some of the members of the Anglican Communion. It is just as correct to say that you are an Anglican as to say that you are an Episcopalian.

Archbishop of Canterbury – The presiding bishop of the Church of England, and the titular head of the Anglican Communion.

Thomas Cranmer – The Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII who presided over the Church of England’s split away from the Church of Rome. Thomas Cranmer compiled and wrote most of the original Book of Common Prayer.

Book of Common Prayer – The book of worship of the Episcopal Church, the Prayer Book.

Terms Relating to the Church’s Worship

The Liturgy of the Word – The order for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is twofold and is a reflection of the basic pattern of Christian faith and practice: 1) the Word and 2) the Sacrament. In the first part of the service – The Liturgy of the Word – we hear the Word of God proclaimed from the Bible – in the Old Testament Lesson, the Epistle, and the Gospel. We listen to an interpretation of the Word in the Sermon. We respond to this Word by declaring the substance of our faith in the affirmations of the Creed. This first part of the Mass is also known as the pro-anaphora and the synaxis.

The Liturgy of the Sacrament – After we have heard the Word of God proclaimed and expounded in the first part of the celebration of the Eucharist, we move to the second part of the service which is the The Liturgy of the Sacrament. Here we obey the commandment of our Lord to “Do This in remembrance of Me” and partake of the mystery of His presence in the Sacrament of Bread and Wine. This part of the Mass is also known as the anaphora, and with regard specifically to the Eucharistic Prayer or Consecration as the Canon of the Mass.

Proper of the Mass – Those parts of the Mass, such as the Collect, the Lessons and Gospel, the Introit and Gradual, etc., which vary according to the season and the day.

Ordinary of the Mass – Those parts of the Mass which do not vary, such as the Canon and other prayers.

Low Mass – A Mass celebrated without music or singing and with simple ceremony. The Celebrant is assisted only by a server. Also known as Said Mass.

High Mass or Solemn High Mass – A Mass that is sung and accompanied by music. Incense is used and the ceremonial is elaborate and colorful. The Celebrant is assisted by a Deacon and a Sub-Deacon, who have specific roles and responsibilities in the liturgy.

Liturgical Furnishings, Hardware, Etc.

Chalice – The cup used for the wine at the Holy Eucharist.

Paten – The small plate used for the bread at the Holy Eucharist.

Host – The unleavened wafer-like bread used in the Holy Eucharist.

Sanctus Bell or Sacring Bell – A bell sometimes found in churches which is rung at various times during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Crotalus – A wood rattle-like object which makes a terrifying sound. It replaces the Sanctus Bell during certain Holy Week Masses when the ringing of bells is surpressed.

Baptismal Font – A large receptacle which holds the water for the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Paschal Candle – The large tall candlestick which is kept lighted during the fifty days of Easter and then placed next to the Baptismal font during the rest of the year. It is a symbol of the Resurrection of Christ – the Light of the World.

Thurible – Incense pot or censer.

Aspergillium – A wand-like object used for sprinkling Holy Water. Also known as an aspersorium or a hyssop. These names are derived from Psalm 51:7, Asperge me hyssopoet mundabor; lava me, et super nivem dealbabor. (Thou shalt purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; Thou shalt wash me and I shall me whiter than snow.), which is sometimes sung as the congregation is sprinkled at the beginning of Mass.

Monstrance – A remarkable object, often resembling a sunburst or a glory. A consecrated host is in placed in it to be the focus of meditation or adoration or to be carried in procession. Also called an ostentorium or ostensory.

Reserved Sacrament – Sometimes the sacramental bread from the Holy Eucharist is kept in the church to be available for any who may be sick or in grave danger of death and also to be a focus for prayer and adoration. When it is reserved, the sacrament is kept in a tabernacle – a box-like object which sits upon the altar as in the Lady Chapel at the Advent. Or it may be reserved in an aumbry or sacrament house, which is a more or less elaborate cupboard on the wall of the sanctuary near the altar. A light is always kept burning in front of the reserved sacrament signifying the presence of our Lord in the sacrament of His Body.

Dramatis Personae of the Mass

Sacred Ministers – The Celebrant and two assistants, Deacon and Sub-Deacon, at the celebration of Solemn High Mass.

Acolyte – Person who assists the priest at service.

Crucifer – Person who carries the cross in a procession.

Thurifer – Person who carries an incense pot.


Cassock – The long black (or red or purple or white!) robe worn by the clergy, the choir and the acolytes.

Surplice – The long white robe worn over the cassock.

Stole – The narrow colored scarf-like vestment worn by the ordained clergy. It is usually worn only at sacramental services and blessings. Its color varies with the season and the nature of the service being celebrated, as do the other vestments worn at the celebration of the Eucharist.

Maniple – A strip of cloth worn over the left arm by the Sacred Ministers during the Mass. It was originally a handkerchief or towel, with an obvious and practical purpose, which was part of normal dress in the Roman Empire. Later, it became associated with rank. In the Church it has always been understood as a sign of the nature of the ordained ministry – to be a servant of the servants of God.

Alb – A long white vestment with sleeves worn by the priest and deacon at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Amice – The fluffy white cloth worn around the neck of the priest at the Mass.

Chasuble – The colored poncho-type vestment worn by the priest at the Eucharist.

Dalmatic and Tunicle – Vestments worn by the Deacon and Sub-Deacon at Solemn High Mass.

Cope – The cape-like vestment worn by the clergy in processions and certain other services.

Biretta – A square black cap with a decorative pompom worn by the clergy as street dress and in some places also during Mass (during which it is removed at the mention of the Name of Jesus).

Humeral veil – a large oblong fabric, usually quite ornate, used at Benediction and for processions of the Blessed Sacrament, worn draped over the officiant’s arms and shoulders and covering the hands so that skin does not directly touch the monstrance bearing the Host.

Liturgical Colors and The Church Year

“Liturgical Time” is divided into seasons, each with a distinctive theme and appointed liturgical color. The liturgical colors are:

White (or gold): symbolizing purity, victory and joy, used at Christmas, Easter, and other Feasts of our Lord, the feasts of saints other than martyrs, and other festal occasions such as baptism or marriage.

Purple: symbolizing penitence and sorrow, worn during Lent and Advent, also worn by priests when hearing confessions.

Red: symbolizing the Holy Spirit and blood, worn at Pentecost, at ordinations, and on feasts of Apostles or martyred saints.

Green: symbolizing growth, worn during the “Ordinary” seasons – between Trinity Sunday and the First Sunday in Advent and between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday.

Black: the color of mourning; worn for Requiem Masses and on Good Friday.

Oxblood: a deep dark red, combining the symbolism of blood with the darkness of sin, worn during Holy Week.

Blue: the color associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary; in some places blue is worn during Advent.

Rose: worn on the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent, days of “refreshment” in the midst of seasons of preparation and penitence.

The Church Year begins with the First Sunday of Advent and ends with the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday after Pentecost. The first part of the year follows the life of Christ from His foretelling and Incarnation through His ministry, His death, resurrection, and ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. After Pentecost the Church Year enters an extended time of teaching. The seasons of the Church Year are as follows:

Advent – the four Sundays before Christmas, foretelling and anticipating the Incarnation; this season is more preparatory than penitential.

Christmas(tide) – the days from Christmas through Epiphany (January 6) inclusive, celebrating Christ’s birth and His manifestation to the Gentiles.

Ordinary Time after Epiphany – the weeks between the Sunday after Epiphany and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, one of the two periods in the church calendar (the other being Ordinary Time after Pentecost) in which the lessons focus on growth in Christian life rather than a particular period or event in the life of Christ.

Lent – from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, a period of penitence and self-discipline to prepare for the great feast of Easter; liturgical features include the omission of “Alleluia” and readings that emphasize man’s fallen nature.

Holy Week – from Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday, commemorating Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His Passion and Crucifixion.

The Triduum – the “Great Three Days” of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday:

Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and Christ’s washing of His disciples’ feet (the “Maundy”, from Latin mandatum, a commandment: “a new commandment I give to you, that ye love one another”).

Good Friday observes Christ’s Crucifixion, death and burial with solemn prayers, the Passion according to St. John, and the Veneration of the Cross.

Holy Saturday leads into the Easter Vigil, the great service in which the church scattered after the Crucifixion is gathered together and reconstituted, with the blessing of the New Fire, administration of Holy Baptism, and the first Mass of Easter.

Eastertide – the seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost, a sustained celebration of the Resurrection.

Ascension – the feast commemorating Christ’s Ascension into Heaven, 40 days after Easter and 10 days before Pentecost.

Pentecost – the feast celebrating the promised descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Although red vestments are worn, a traditional name for this feast day is Whitsunday – “White Sunday” – a name derived from the white robes given to persons baptized on this day.

Trinity Sunday – the Sunday after Pentecost, given over to a celebration of the mystery that is the Holy Trinity.

Corpus Christi – usually observed on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday; a celebration of the mystery of the Eucharist, traditionally including a procession with the Blessed Sacrament.

Ordinary Time after Pentecost – the period between Trinity Sunday and the first Sunday in Advent, an extended time of teaching and growth.

Verger’s Customary


Arrival by 6:30 a.m. Turn on all lights in church, including 2 switches in Lady Chapel on side wall across from organ console.

Vest in cassock:
Blue for Sundays in Advent, Easter Season after Easter Sunday, Ordinary Time, Feasts of Our Lady, and Evensong & Benediction. Weddings as well.
May wear crucifix for Ordinary Time; gold cross for all Sundays in Eastertide thru Corpus Christi.
Black for all of Lent from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday; All Souls Day; all funerals.
Red for all major feast days, Christmas and all Sundays of Christmastide; Feast of Epiphany; Easter Vigil; Easter Day; Ascension Day; Pentecost; Trinity Sunday; Corpus Christi. Gold cross.

8 a.m. Low Mass:
When vested: set up for Mass in Lady Chapel. Sacristan will have everything out:
Lavabo bowl & towel and cruets of wine & water. On first Sunday of month, oil and cotton bowl in another lavabo bowl.
Red lectionary notebooks are in labeled cabinet in the sofe. Note the current lectionary year (A, B, or C – the 1979 BCP lectionary, not the RCL). The lectionary is placed on the Lady Chapel lectern open to the propers of the day.
Light 2 Communion candles, Epistle (right) side first, then Gospel (left) side.
Remove blue dust cover – take each end to the center white knot, then same with next ends until it is neatly folded, then remove to side table.
The cruets and lavabo bowl with towel go to credence to right of altar. Bowl with oil for healing on gradine just to right of tabernacle.
Set Anglican Missal on missal stand and place on right (Epistle-side) horn of altar. The orange ribbon in the missal should be set to the appropriate Sunday propers. (Important note: during the season after Pentecost, the Missal observes the Sundays “after Trinity” so it will always be one number less than what is printed in the leaflet. So, if it’s the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, the Anglican Missal should be set to the 9th Sunday after Trinity.) Leave the Missal open to the proper Sunday (orange ribbon). Open the red prayer book (1979 BCP) to the traditional (Rite I) Collect of the Day and place it just to the left of the missal, marking the collect with a clip. Be sure to go over both first and second readings in advance as you will need to ask the celebrant or preacher which lesson they want.

High Altar:
Using one of the stick lighters, light all seven sanctuary lamps and the hanging lamp in the All Saints Chapel. In sacristy, take the single key for the Sacrament House from the priests’ closet, and from the sofe drawer labeled “veils” take the gold veil on rod. Put veil on rod in front of Sacrament House door, leaving veil “ajar.” There is a gilded wooden door, then a metal door; the key goes in the metal door. Using fingers, partially close both doors, so that it is easier for the clergy to open them easily when moving the Sacrament from the Lady Chapel to the High Altar.
Light the 6 office candles, starting from the inside out – right (Epistle) side first, then left (Gospel) side.

I I I † I I I
6 5 4 · 1 2 3

Then light the two carved standards on the steps.
Note: On a feast day, light the upper tier of candles first. The same order as the lower tier, using the very long candle lighter in the smoke sacristy. The box of wax tapers is in the cabinet in the smoke sacristy next to the door.
Hint: When lighting the high altar, bend wick down to get inside follower, especially for the upper tier and the standards.
After all candles are lit, remove blue dust cover from high altar, folding it in the same manner as the Lady Chapel dust cover. Put high altar dust cover in smoke sacristy. Leave the pull stick for the silver presence lamp on the altar step under the lamp.

The sacristan will leave the slip for attendance and wafer count with the ciborium and large glass-and-silver flagon on the sofe for the 9 a.m. Mass. Take those to the baptistry. The ciborium goes on the left, the wine on the right. Light the two candles in the baptistry. Put the slip on the reading-desk shelf in the vergers stall. The verger will count the congregation and all choir and chancel party and write that total on the slip for the Offertory. The slip will go on the Offertory plate so the clergy know how many wafers to consecrate.

In the cabinet next to the Moseley Hall door at the rear of the church are the bags for the Offertory processions for all three Masses. Take out all three (marked 8am, 9am, and 11:15am). On top of the cabinet is a white pouch containing coverlets for all the liturgical seasons; take out the appropriate one for the Sunday. Put the 9am and 11:15am bags in the ushers’ pew (rearmost on the right-hand side of the nave), and take one offering plate, the 8am bag, and the coverlet to the pew facing the Queen of Heaven shrine. There are three regulars at the 8am Mass who know what to do at the Offertory.

The verger will assist as acolyte during the 8am Mass, wearing the gray chimere over the cassock.
After the mass, return to the Lady Chapel and remove the Missal and stand from the altar, placing them on the Epistle-side chair. Return dust cover to altar (leaving the mass card on the fair linen) and extinguish the candles – Gospel-side (left) first, then Epistle-side (right). Use the small snuffer hanging on a hook to the right over the Lady Chapel credence.
Take the lectionary notebook to the lectern in the nave and set it to the first reading. Turn on the lectern light and the spotlight, for which the switch is on the pillar behind the lectern.
Return to Lady Chapel and if the Sacrament has already been moved to the High Altar Sacrament House, extinguish the presence lamp, then take the cruets and lavabo bowl and return them to the work sacristy, placing them by the sink. The 8am usher will put the bag in the safe and return the plate and coverlet to the back of the church for the 9am ushers.

9am Sung Mass:
Make sure there is a leaflet in the Rector’s stall if the Rector is not one of the Sacred Ministers. Same for preacher’s stall.
The order of procession on a normal Sunday is:
Cross & 2 Torches
Choir Clergy/Guest Preacher right behind verger if first time at the Advent. Need to rehearse and familiarize preacher how we do things, keep eye on him/her for anything needed.
In the procession, the Verger comes up the chancel steps, then turns right and stands on the crown-of-thorns tiles on the floor facing the High Altar. Optional bow as celebrant (or bishop) passes by. Genuflect when the MC signals the altar party, then go into vergers stall directly behind crown-of-thorns tiles and place the verge (the staff with cross) in its latched holder on the rood screen.
At the Gospel Procession, as the altar party is assembling, come out to center with preacher. Genuflect as the Gospel procession participants do, then lead preacher down steps toward pulpit and wait on right side, facing the Gospel party as the Gospel is read. After the reading, as soon as the Gospel book passes in procession, escort the preacher to the pulpit, removing cope if he/she is wearing one, laying it nicely open on the All Saints Chapel prie-dieux so that it will be easily put back on after the sermon. Sit in front pew to right of pulpit.
After the sermon, escort the preacher back to center of choir, genuflect, and peel off to return to seats for creed.
At the Offertory, take verge from holder and move to bottom of altar steps at the right. Thurifer comes out with 2 Torches. MC cues genuflection; thurifer goes to celebrant to have incense laid on, then returns to center and MC cues all to genuflect again. Order of procession to rear of church is: Thurifer, Torches, Verger. Verger brings along attendance slip with count of all in congregation, choir, and chancel. If ushers have not moved bread and wine from baptistry credence, verger will bring them to the table at the back of the church. When collection is ready, ushers place it in 9am bag and put on Offertory plate, draped with appropriate coverlet, then give it to reader of first lesson. The bread and wine are carried by ushers or a family selected from congregation, including children.
After anthem, the order of procession is: Thurifer, torches, verger, money, then bread and wine side-by-side, keeping two pews’ distance between each person or pair. In the chancel, verger peels off onto crown-of-thorns tiles facing altar while the rest of the procession goes up the chancel steps to the altar rail where the subdeacon receives the money, the deacon the wine and the celebrant the bread. Verger genuflects with all at MC’s signal then returns to verger’s stall, returning verge to holder.
At the Communion, the verger will assist any infirm people going up to or coming down from the steps to the altar rail. Also, if one side of rail is empty and no one is waiting, offer some from the other side to cross over – the object is to keep the line moving. Many won’t kneel in the middle; if young people are waiting, offer them the middle.
Once all have received, give celebrant a nod and remove kneeler from center if ushers have not already done so, and return to stall. After the final blessing and dismissal, get verge and go to crown-of-thorns tiles facing altar. Genuflect at MC’s signal, then turn left and bow when cross passes by. Once choir leaves, verger follows. The procession goes to the baptistry.

Summer Customary: There is no entering procession. The verger comes in through All Saints’ Chapel door and goes to stall, bowing to All Saints’ altar and genuflecting before High Altar. At the Offertory, verger alone goes to center, genuflects, and goes to back of church, getting bread and wine from baptistry and giving attendance slip (having counted the congregation during the psalm) to person carrying collection. Order of procession: Verger, money, bread & wine side by side. Turn off at the crown-of-thorns tile, genuflect with gift bearers, then return to stall. The rest of the Mass is the same. After the final blessing and dismissal, get staff, go to center of choir, genuflect with celebrant, then turn and lead altar party and choir ministers to baptistry for final prayer after hymn.

11:15 Solemn Mass:
The sacristan will set up the High Mass ciborium and large flagon with attendance slip. Bring them to baptistry credence, same as at 9am Mass – ciborium on left, flagon on right, slip between them (ushers will count congregation during the Psalm; verger will count choir and chancel party and add that to the count on the slip while preparing for Offertory procession). Verger follows thurifer and torches to back of church for Offertory procession. Once choir has finished anthem, tell thurifer to start down aisle. Order of procession: Thurifer, torches (either 2 or 4 depending on the day), verger, offertory plate, bread & wine together. Verger peels off to the right in front of verger’s stall, facing altar. Genuflect with rest of gift bearers and return to stall.
At Communion, go to center of choir at bottom of step to assist and direct communicants to keep altar rail full. Return to seat after all have received. After final blessing and dismissal, get verge and step out of stall, facing altar, and genuflect with rest of choir and chancel party, then turn to left. Follow behind choir and go to baptistry for Angelus with altar party.

Other duties include:
11:15 Solemn Mass Usher Rota. Verger is in charge of setting rota (John Boyd handles 9am Mass usher rota). Email 11:15 ushers with calendar dates (provided by Webmaster), usually three months at a time. Ask ushers to provide dates they cannot serve and schedule accordingly. Give ushers 10 days to respond, then set schedule, asking ushers to work out conflicts among themselves.
Tours: When I became verger, I offered to give tours of the church after the 9 and 11:15 Masses on the third Sunday of the month (usually, unless preempted by other events). This was a tradition of the Advent some 30 years ago, when a long-time parishioner offered it every Sunday after the Solemn Mass. It will be up to the next verger to decide whether to continue this.
The main purpose of the Verger is to be of service to the Rector and clergy in any task asked, and to be a welcoming presence to visiting clergy who may be guest preachers, walking them through the way we worship, escorting them to and from the pulpit, bringing them up for Communion, and assuring them that you will be of service to them for anything they should need. Finally, the verger is to be of service and welcoming to any visitors as well as the parish at all three masses.

Raymond B. Porter
Christ the King 2016

9am Acolytes

Acolytes travel in pairs and with the candles held at the same height, that is with the brass wax-catcher at forehead level or higher. If the two people are dramatically different in height, the two should work out the height in advance.


  • The Acolytes flank the Crucifer during a Procession. However, when moving down the narrow side-aisles the Acolytes precede the Crucifer. (Before electricity was used the candles lit the way.)
  • The Acolytes match the Crucifer’s pace, neither leading nor lingering, so that the three of them remain in a straight line. The Crucifer keeps at least two, preferably three pews behind the Thurifer. If the Thurifer is doing 360s, increase the distance even more!
  • At the top of the Chancel steps – the first three steps leading up to the choir – the Crucifer makes a slight pause which allows the Acolytes to move next to one another as they continue forward toward the altar.
  • After passing through the altar gate to the base of the altar steps, Acolytes turn away from one another and stand midway between the end of the altar and the large wooden pavement candles.



On the MC’s cue, all genuflect. At the end of the hymn as the SM ascend to the altar, Acolytes turn to the right, proceed to the credence and place candles in their stands. Acolytes remain standing in front of candle stands for opening prayers, Gloria or Kyrie, censing of the altar and Celebrant, and Collect for the Day.


Acolytes sit during Old Testament (OT) Lesson, Psalm, and New Testament (NT) lesson.

Gospel Procession:

At the end of the New Testament Lesson, immediately after “Thanks be to God,” Acolytes pick up candles and proceed to the foot of the altar steps, facing the altar and lining up in the center “sandwiching” the Thurifer between them. If the timing does not work out so that the Acolytes and Th do not meet in the center, Acolytes should line up with the “outside” altar candles.

Note the tighter formation; don’t spread out too far.

  • At the MC’s signal, all Genuflect and turn facing the Congregation. The MC starts down toward the center of the Church, with the Acolytes following the MC. Approximately halfway down the center aisle, near the heat register in the floor, the MC stops, turns, and signals the position for the Acolytes. The Acolytes turn and face one another with their backs almost touching the pew behind. Candles should be held up so that the metal wax catcher is forehead height or higher, matching partner’s level.
  • When returning to the altar after the Gospel, the Acolytes again follow the MC, who is now following the Sub Deacon. All take positions at the foot of the altar steps in a tighter lineup than for the procession out because the Sub Deacon is now standing by the sedilia, and the Deacon may be preaching .

MC gives the signal to genuflect. Acolytes return candles to holders and sit during the Sermon.


Acolytes stand at foot of altar steps facing across the steps. At the mention of the Incarnation, all genuflect with only the right knee touching the floor.

CONFESSION and ABSOLUTION: All kneel. Cushions are not used at this time unless knees are injured.

PEACE: Acolytes exchange peace with one another and MC, then with SMs when they return to the side.



  • When the Sacred Ministers stand and move to the foot of the altar steps and face the congregation, Acolytes stand in position in front of their candles facing the altar.
  • Note: If Acolytes are asked to double as TT, the only change is to act as TT during the Offertory through to the Agnus Dei. This means taking candles and moving quickly after the Peace to meet the Th at the gate as s/he comes in to have incense laid on. They genuflect with Th. Th has incense laid on. They genuflect again with the Thurifer and follow him/her down the south aisle to the back of the church for the procession. Upon returning to the Sanctuary they stay outside the altar rail, kneeling and raising their torches at the elevations. At the Agnus Dei they stand and genuflect with the Thurifer as s/he exits. After the Thurifer has exited, Acolytes turn toward one another, pass through the gate and return to their positions next to the Credence. For the remainder of the Mass they revert to being Acolytes.
  • While the altar and celebrant are censed Acolytes prepare the water and lavabo for the Cel’s hand washing. Generally the Acolyte on the East or “upper” side removes the water from the Credence (“A” on spout) and the other Acolyte drapes the purificator over his/her left arm and takes the lavabo in right hand. Note: MC does this if Acolytes are acting as TT.
  • At a signal from the MC, Acolytes ascend steps to two below the Cel. Lavabo is held under Cel’s outstretched hands and water is poured over fingers.
  • After Cel is finished, Acolytes turn and return items to original position on Credence.


  • Stand in position at foot of altar steps indicated by MC.
  • Right after the Benedictus, the MC gives the signal to kneel in position.

PRAYER OF CONSECRATION: Remain kneeling until Agnus Dei

AGNUS DEI: At the beginning of the Agnus Dei, the MC gives the signal to stand. Acolytes return to stand in front of their candles.

COMMUNION: (remain standing)

Acolytes stand in front of their candles as they receive communion, and then count Communicants. Acolytes divide up the counting using the green middle line as a divider. and do not count themselves or any servers.


At a signal from the MC, Acolytes ascend the steps at the end of the altar and receive vessels to be placed on the credence and table. Note: The large glass Flagon and the Ciborium (lidded chalice for wafers),which were brought to the altar during the Offertory, go on the table in front of the Credence. The remaining Chalices go back to where they were placed at the beginning of the Mass.



Immediately after the dismissal and response “Thanks be to God”, Acolytes remove candles from stands and go directly to meet the Crucifer down in the Choir area. Acolytes remember to meet at the space between the altar rail before proceeding in tandem down the steps.


  • The Acolytes & Cr stand facing the altar.
  • At a signal from the MC, the ministers and servers in the lineup genuflect and turn to face the congregation. Acolytes do not genuflect because they are accompanying the Cross.
  • As the lineup turns, the Cr and Acolytes also turn and lead the Recessional down the center aisle, turn left into the Baptistry and stand in front of the Font. The Crucifer sets a moderate and dignified pace which the Acolytes match.


  • When exiting from the Baptistry, Acolytes pause together for Genuflection at the Center Aisle, a Reverence (slight bow) at the side aisle (altar) then continue out the North Door to the Smoke Sacristy.
  • Candles are returned to rack; Cottas removed and placed on hooks.
  • All servers remove items from Sanctuary. (Communion vessels go to the Working Sacristy; Gospel Book, Altar Book, and Intercessions Notebook to Vesting Sacristy; Hymnals and Alms Bason to Smoke Sacristy. Alms are locked in safe.) Wafer Box is left on Credence for the next Mass. If wine is not used from V cruet, it remains also.
  • The Missal Stand is placed on the table in the Smoke Sacristy.
  • The MC is notified of the count of Communicants, if not done previously.
  • Cottas are taken upstairs to hang on the appropriate rack. Cassocks are removed and placed on the rack with others of the same length. Cinctures are replaced over the pegs provided for that purpose.

Master of Ceremonies

MC should be vested no later than 10:30am (half an hour before Mass for weekday evening Solemn Masses): black cassock and cincture; white squarenecked surplice with lace insets (laughably labeled S, M, and L, but realistically sized Large, Extra Large, and Absurdly Large).

[All Saints, High Altar, and footpace candles should already be lit from 9am Mass.] Check that candles are burning OK.

Fresh water glasses in pulpit and on retable (in front of innermost Epistle-side candle).

Lectionary open to Old Testament lesson on lectern (should already be there from 9am Mass but page may need to be reset).

Gospel Book & Altar Book in priests’ sacristy.

BCP and Intercessions book on stool by MC’s chair. Altar book (set to Collect and Proper Preface by MC) on table under credence.

Copy of Mass Leaflet on SD’s chair to follow Psalm.

To credence: 2 chalices, Aqua & Vino, lavabo bowl/towel; veiled chalice w/ 3 purificators.

If Cel and D are not vesting in sacristy by 10 minutes before Mass, MC must locate them. Acolytes must also be present & accounted for no later than 15 minutes before Mass. Any acolytes not present on time must be replaced.

If necessary, MC assigns Communion stations.

MC assigns TT to count High Altar and CR to count All Saints, and assigns cleanup duties as appropriate.

MC checks pulpit to be sure sermon is in place.

In Sacristy:
MC is responsible for maintaining silence both in sacristy and in hallway prior to Mass.

MC distributes cards for the Preparation.

MC must be cognizant of any changes in the Customary and instruct servers accordingly.

MC is last to leave sacristy and makes a final check.

MC precedes SMs. ALL enter in procession and take their places at altar steps.


MC cues ALL to genuflect after the Deacon places the Gospel Book and returns to his place, and the CEL is in his place.

As SMs ascend altar steps to footpace, AA, Th, and MC proceed single file to sedilia/credence.

Usually, altar is censed during Introit. MC cues Th to bring thurible to CEL on footpace.

MC puts Altar Book on Epistle horn of altar immediately following censing of CEL.

Acclamation, Collect For Purity, Kyrie Eleison:
MC stands in place near credence.

Gloria in Excelsis:
MC signals SD and D to go up to footpace on the words, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo/Glory be to God on High”.

See Appendix for seasonal variations to Opening Rite.

Salutation and Collect of the Day:
MC ascends to side step, and may point to the correct Collect with the right hand, while CEL intones Collect, and turns and descends with SMs after Collect is concluded.

First Lesson and Psalm:
ALL sit. MC sits next to D.

Second Lesson:
ALL sit.

As Th enters from smoke sacristy, MC signals AA to meet Th at centre. MC cues AA and TH to genuflect. After incense has been laid on and D has received blessing from CEL, MC follows D out to pavement before altar. ALL stand facing altar:


MC cues ALL to genuflect.

Gospel Procession:
MC leads Gospel Procession to the middle of the nave.

Order: MC AA Th SD D.

MC indicates place for SD to stand, then moves beside right-hand A.

After Gospel, SD takes Gospel Book back to CEL (usually at sedilia). MC follows, leading procession back. When Gospel Procession returns to pavement before altar, MC cues all to genuflect. MC, D, and AA retire to sedilia/credence.

MC receives Gospel Book from SD and puts it in bookstand, and gets intercessions book.

ALL sit.

Nicene Creed:
MC gives BCP and Intercessions book to D and cues ALL to stand. SMs go to pavement before altar. AA, MC and TT stand at bottom steps on either side.

Prayers of the People and Exhortation:
ALL remain standing.

General Confession and Absolution:
ALL kneel.

MC receives BCP and Intercessions book from D.

Offertory Anthem:
MC may have to prompt TH to enter with TT. TH has incense laid on and departs; D goes to prepare vessels on altar; CEL and AA sit. D returns and sits. MC should remain standing, and move toward altar rail to watch Offertory Procession.

When the Procession is ready, MC signals Choir to begin Offertory Sentence, and signals SMs to go to gate.

After the offerings have been received, MC cues TH, TT and Processors to genuflect.

SMs take offerings to altar. AAs receive bason and hand off water cruet to SD. (See AA notes.)

MC and Th go up to altar together, MC on Th’s left. MC removes Altar Book and goes down to stand on pavement near Aumbry during censing. MC returns Altar Book to altar as D begins to cense CEL. MC remains on Gospel side on pavement until sanctuary censing has been completed and TH goes down to choir.

MC returns to Epistle side, genuflecting at centre, and arranges cushions on bottom step for AA and TH. Order (from left to right): A A TH MC. If it is necessary to lay on more incense after TH returns from censing the congregation, this should be done discreetly during the Sursum Corda.

Salutation and Sursum Corda:
ALL remain standing.

At the words, “Therefore with Angels . . . ” MC signals SD and D to go up to footpace.

Sanctus and Benedictus:
ALL remain standing. Bow with SMs for the first couple of phrases of the Sanctus (watch SMs for cues).

MC signals all servers to kneel.

Lord’s Prayer, Fraction and Prayer of Humble Access:
ALL remain kneeling.

Agnus Dei:
As choir begins Agnus Dei, MC signals ALL to stand and TH and TT to genuflect before exiting. MC and AA retire to credence; “downstage” A brings chalices up to Altar.

Invitation to Communion and Communion:
ALL stand in their places.

During Communion, MC is watchful and prepared to give any kind of assistance needed.

Ablutions (Motet being sung):
MC brings water cruet up to altar and signals AA to stand at Epistle horn and receive cleansed vessels (ciborium and flagon and extra chalices). “Upstage” A receives veiled chalice from SD and places on credence.

Postcommunion Prayer:
MC ascends to side step while CEL reads Post-Communion Prayer. After CEL finishes the prayer, MC picks up missal stand and takes it down to credence table, then kneels for the Blessing and Dismissal.

Blessing and Dismissal:
ALL remain kneeling. After Dismissal, MC cues all to rise and AA to join CR. Others line up on pavement:


MC cues ALL to genuflect on first word of last hymn. Then ALL turn and face the people for Recessional.

Order: ACrA Choir Verger Choir Clergy Th TT MC SD D CEL.

Exeunt omnes, singing lustily, usually to baptistry.

After Mass Cleanup:
MC is responsible for supervising all sanctuary cleanup including lectionary, pulpit, All Saints, Lady Chapel, and High Altar. MC must be certain that sermon has been replaced on desk in sacristy, all water glasses removed, all candles extinguished, credence table is empty, and sanctuary is left in perfect order. MC gets counts of Communions from TT and CR and records in register along with attendance figure (on slip from offering bason). MC is responsible for counting Communions of servers.

Ite, missa est!

APPENDIX: Seasonal Variations

No Gloria; altar censed during Introit as usual.

Add to Preparation: chasuble [and maniples] laid over altar rail on Epistle side.

Remind CR to collect copes of choir clergy after Procession and to collect CEL’s cope at Offertory.

Enter in silence, short way from North door.

Line up at altar steps as usual; genuflect after D returns from placing Gospel Book on altar.

Th has incense laid on and goes to choir floor behind A CR A; D turns to bid procession, then turns back to face altar. MC cues ALL to genuflect as hymn play-through begins.

Altar censed during Gloria.

At Offertory, after CEL has blessed incense, MC assists SD to change CEL from cope to chasuble. CR should be ready to receive cope and remove it to the sacristy. If CR forgets, MC should put cope in Lady Chapel.

Additional Preparations as above for all Processions.

No Gloria.

Litany in Procession – start of Mass as for a Procession.

Cense altar during Kyrie.

No Intercessions or Confession – the Peace immediately follows the Creed.

Add to Preparation: set out holy water bucket on step near Epistle-side pavement candle, and chasuble [and maniples] over Epistle-side altar rail.

Entrance Procession is as usual.

Introit is Vidi Aquam: immediately after SMs genuflect, MC gives holy water bucket to CEL and CEL begins to asperge himself and servers.

MC, AA, Th, and TT remain in entrance lineup until SMs return from asperging congregation.

CEL returns bucket to MC; SMs go up to kiss altar while MC and others retire to places.

Cense altar during Gloria. CEL changes vestments at Offertory, as with a Procession.

Directions for the Altar Guild

Vestments – in drawer beneath vesting altar, label according to day and time:
— Chasuble, stole and maniple (if the set includes a maniple)
Vessels – in compartment in sofe, label according to day and time:
— Chalice, purificator, paten, priest’s Host, pall, veil, burse with corporal; bread box (for masses with expected attendance greater than 25 people or as requested by clergy), cruets with wine and water (fill to handle), lavabo bowl and towel

— In Subdeacon’s drawer – tunicle, maniple, cincture, alb (check size chart on lavatory door), amice
— In deacon’s drawer – dalmatic, maniple, stole, cincture, alb, amice
— In drawer beneath vesting altar, labeled with day and time – chasuble, maniple, and stole
— Extra stoles for choir clergy (on bar on end of sofe)
— Chalice, purificator, paten, priest’s Host, pall veil burse with corporal and two purificators
— Ciborium with people’s wafers (100 for 9 AM, 150 for 11AM)
— Large crystal flagon with wine (1.5 cups serves about 100 people)
— Twin chalices with small palls
— Cruets with “A”- water, and “V” – wine
— Lavabo bowl and towel
If there is an extra communion station:
— Chalice and ciborium from solemn mass set not in use
— Extra ciborium for second station at high altar

— Sexton will fill font with warm water just prior to the start of the service and raise the font cover
— Silver shell
— Chrism (from holy oil aumbry in All Saints’ Chapel)
— Aspergillum and aspersorium (for aspersing the people on the way back from the font)
— Baptismal ewer full of water (so that the celebrant may pour the water in front of the people)
— Baptismal candle (remove from wrapper)
— Crystal bowl with cotton balls (for celebrant to cleanse fingers after chrismation)
— Large cotton towel
— Prayer books for participants
— Black notebook with Rite I baptismal text ( for Rite I baptisms only)
— Hawk cruet for scooping water out of the font

— Cope and stole for officiant
— Stoles for assisting clergy
— Deacon and subdeacon (if present) in vestments as for mass
— monstrance throne (Large KJV Bible with portable communion set on top) covered with appropriate chalice veil and small corporal to accommodate monstrance
— Large corporal and burse on altar (spread corporal as at canon of the mass)
— Monstrance and veil on table below credence
— Consecrated Host in custodial with small veil (should be in Sacrament House)
— Card with Benediction service for officiant
— Carillon
— Humeral veil
— Benediction lights – Place on mensa of altar between outermost office lights
— Lectionary or Bible on lectern marked with beginning and conclusion of lessons.

Solemn or Low Mass set-up (verify color with clergy – either white, black, or purple)
Lectionary on lectern marked for appointed lessons. Gospel book Prayer books.
Paschal candle at head of coffin
If the body is present:
— Pall for coffin (either white or purple)
— Bier lights and coffin stand
If the body has been cremated:
— Two bier lights
— Table and extra chalice veil for container with ashes. If the color is white, cover with child’s pall.
Aspersorium with Holy water
Thurible with lighted coals (be sure sextons have turned off fire alarm)
Families often bring extra flowers. Be prepared to place them discreetly in visible places. Flower stands are behind reredos and in flower room.
Cloak, biretta, and container of earth at back of church if Cel is to accompany body to cemetery.

— Verify vestment requests with clergy and Flower Guild
— Solemn or Low Mass set-up as appropriate
— If not a Mass, officiant will wear stole and cope
— Table for register (office staff must provide register)
— Cushions for bride and groom to kneel (or may use usual altar rail cushion)
— Chapel chairs from crypt placed on nave floor in front of pews for wedding party
— If wedding party is to be seated in chancel for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, they sit in choir stalls or at prie-dieu set off to the side of the choir.
— Paten with small purificator and aspersorium to bless rings
— Lectionary or readings for lectern
— Prayer books for all participants

— Holy Oil stocks (fill with cotton ball soaked with holy oil)
— Crystal bowl with cotton balls for the celebrant to purify the hands after anointing

Roles and Responsibilities of the Acolyte Warden

The Warden is a member of the parish who is ultimately responsible for the staffing and direction of all liturgical services at the church. The Warden is responsible for the recruitment, training, development, scheduling, and supervision of the members of the Acolytes Guild.

The Warden serves as a member of the Liturgical Committee together with the Rector, other clergy, Parish Administrator, Sacristan, Liturgical Arts Director, and Choirmasters.

The Warden must have experience as a Master of Ceremonies; have a strong sense of the specifics of the liturgical life of the parish; be able to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing, detailed liturgical instructions; and have the ability to motivate the group to its highest level of performance.

The Warden must show evidence of personal maturity in faith so as to be able to maintain an atmosphere of devout yet joyous service.

The Warden must have previous experience in management or a leadership position. Teaching ability with all age groups is necessary. The Warden must have a basic understanding of church, parish, and liturgical history.

The Warden is appointed by and reports to the Rector. The Warden supervises members of the Acolytes Guild. He or she will communicate regularly with the Parish Administrator regarding special services such as weddings, funerals and baptisms, and will also make the Administrator aware of special needs involving the distribution of monthly schedules and associated material. The Warden works closely with the Sacristan to maintain smooth coordination of preparations for services.

The Warden will be evaluated at least annually by the Rector regarding his or her effectiveness in leading the group, based on the effectiveness of liturgical preparation, the functioning of the group as it relates to the spiritual development of its members, and to working relationships with other staff members and lay leaders.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Sacristan

The sacristan is a member of the parish who is ultimately responsible for the material preparations for all liturgical services at the church. The sacristan is responsible for the recruitment, training, development, scheduling and supervision of the members of the Altar Guild. The average weekly time commitment is eight to twelve hours per week.

The sacristan serves as a member of the Liturgical Planning Committee and as an adviser to the Gifts and Memorials Committee and Property Committee. The sacristan manages the Altar Guild budget.

The person must have experience on the Altar Guild preparing vessels, vestments, and candles; have a strong sense of the specifics of the liturgical life of the parish; and have the ability to motivate the group to its highest level of performance.

The sacristan must show evidence of personal maturity in faith as to be able to maintain an atmosphere of devout yet joyous service.

The sacristan must have previous experience in management or a leadership position. Teaching ability with all age groups is necessary. The sacristan must have basic understanding of church, parish, and liturgical history. Understanding of textiles and sewing is also important.

The sacristan is appointed by and reports to the rector. The sacristan supervises members of the Altar Guild. He or she will communicate regularly with the Parish Administrator regarding special services such as weddings, funerals and baptisms and will also make the Administrator aware of special needs involving the work of the sextons (cleaning, moving of furniture, fans, etc.) The sacristan will work closely with the director of the Flower Arranging Guild to coordinate flowers and devotional displays. The sacristan represents the parish to the diocesan altar guild. The sacristan also works closely with the Acolyte Warden to ensure smooth coordination of preparations for services.

The sacristan will be evaluated at least annually by the rector regarding his or her effectiveness in leading the group, based on the effectiveness of service preparation, the functioning of the group as it relates to the spiritual development of its members, and to working relationships with other staff members and lay leaders.

Liturgical Appurtenances

Special Attire:
The Celebrant wears a cope for any Feast which includes a Solemn Procession (see list under “Altar Hardware” below). Processions are also provided for those Sundays in Lent on which the Great Litany is sung.

On Advent Sunday only, all three Sacred Ministers wear copes for the Solemn Procession. Copes are removed in the sacristy at the conclusion of the procession and vestments in the proper liturgical color of Advent are worn for the remainder of the Mass.

Tunicle(s) are worn by the crucifer(s) only on Christmas Eve and Easter Day. At the discretion of the Rector, this provision may be extended to include Pentecost and Christ the King and other special celebrations, such as the Institution of a Rector. A second thurifer and crucifer may be used for the same. Note that a second thurifer is specified in the customary for Corpus Christi, Maundy Thursday, and Te Deum.

Altar Hardware (except where noted, Solemn Masses on these days normally include a Procession):

1. The Upper Tier of altar candles:
Advent Sunday (Feast of Dedication & Title)
Christmas Eve
New Year’s Eve (Lessons & Carols)
Easter Eve and Easter Day
Ascension Day (we have not in the past had a Procession on this day)
Trinity Sunday (Te Deum, no Procession)
Corpus Christi
Assumption (when it is celebrated with a Solemn Mass)
All Saints Day
The Feast of Christ the King (Procession and Te Deum)
Any other Feast day observed with a Solemn Mass
Other occasions of great importance, such as the Institution of a Rector.

1a. When the Bishop of the Diocese (the Ordinary) is present at Mass, a seventh candle is placed in the center of the gradine and lit. This provision applies only to Mass and not to any other service.

2a. The Crystal Crucifix – same as #1 above.

2b. The Festal Brass Cross :
any Sundays falling between Christmas and Epiphany
Sundays in Eastertide
other Feasts for which the Crystal Crucifix is not used (e.g., Thanksgiving Day).

2c. The Dominical Brass Cross:
all Sundays in Ordinary Time, including Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday
Sundays in Advent.

2d. The Plain Wooden Cross :
Ash Wednesday
all Sundays in Lent
Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday

3. The Brass-covered Gospel Book – same as for the Upper Tier and the Crystal Crucifix.

4. The Burning Bushes (Note that this list is not the same as #1, 2a, 3 above):
Feast of Title & Dedication
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
Sunday after Christmas
New Year’s Eve
Candlemas (when solemnized)
Easter Vigil and Easter Day
Ascension Day
Pentecost Sunday*
Trinity Sunday*
Corpus Christi
Feast of Christ the King*

* If any of these masses is celebrated with an Orchestra, the Burning Bushes will not be used, due to space considerations in the chancel.

5. The Jeweled Vessels:
Christmas Eve
Easter Vigil
Easter Day
Other occasions of great importance, such as the Institution of a Rector, that would warrant one of the Wardens being present to open the safe.

Liturgical Customary: Preparation and Cleanup

Preparation and clean-up, while not a liturgical action per se, do contribute to the atmosphere of prayer, both for servers and congregation. All the rules of liturgical etiquette and deportment are to be observed. The MC is responsible for checking all preparations and supervising the proceedings. Cassock and cincture are worn, and cotta or surplice should be left in smoke sacristy until needed. Hands are to be held joined at the breast. Walk with dignity, but not at a funereal pace. You may speak as duty requires, but speak softly out of respect for both Our Lord in the Reserved Sacrament, and the organist or other musicians who will be performing the prelude and postlude. When walking in pairs, or passing in opposite directions, genuflect together at center, even if you must wait a moment for the other person to meet you. This will convey a greater sense of calm to the congregation than if there is a lot of bobbing-up-and-down.

The vessels for Mass will be set out on the table in the smoke sacristy by the Altar Guild. There will be a chalice covered with ( in order) a purificator, paten, priest’s host, pall, veil, and a burse with corporal and two small purificators. There will be the twin chalices with a small pall over each, a lavabo bowl and towel, a bread box with extra people’s wafers (these may be needed if an extraordinarily large congregation appears) two silver cruets (A should have aqua/water, and V should have vino/wine). The ciborium with the people’s wafers and the flagon of wine to be carried up in the offertory procession as well as a slip listing the available amounts of wafers are left on the sofe in the priests’ sacristy. The verger is responsible for taking them to the baptistry, where he lights the candles there. But it is the responsibility of the MC to see that this is done. After the MC checks all the vessels, the acolytes may take them out and place them on the credence in their customary position. Please make sure that the veil on the chalice does not hang loosely – the bottom of the veil should touch the linen on the credence.

Anytime after the celebrant sets the Missal (labeled 11:00-RITE I), it may be placed on the Missal stand on the table below the credence. The Gospel Book should be set to the appropriate reading and left on sofe above the deacon’s drawer. The lectionary, open to the correct Old Testament lection – verify by consulting the Sunday bulletin – should be set out on the lectern. Check to make sure that the light on the lectern is plugged into the socket on the floor. There should be water glasses in the pulpit, and in front of the innermost epistle side candlestick on the altar gradine. This will not, then, be visible from the congregation. Two hymnals may be set out on the acolytes’ chairs, marked with programs, for the hymn following the Gospel. Two more hymnals, a program, the intercessions folder, and a large edition Prayer Book, marked at the Whole-State prayer, are placed at the stool beside the MC’s chair. The pillow on the table below the credence should be empty awaiting the Gospel Book after the proclamation of the Gospel. Torchbearers may place hymnals out on their chairs. The spine of the book should always face the congregation.

All Saints Chapel needs to be prepared for the distribution of communion by removing the dustcover from the altar after the candles have been lighted. The sextons are responsible for lighting the hanging lamps at the High Altar, the Presence lamp after the Sacrament has been transferred, and the All Saints Chapel sanctuary lamp. The MC should be place the veil over the door to the Sacrament House after the transfer from the Lady Chapel has taken place if the clergy person responsible has not done so. If the Lady Chapel will be used for Communion, then the dustcover there must removed and hidden from sight behind the server’s stall, and ONLY the two lights on the lower gradine lighted. The sexton will also turn off the fire alarm.

During Eastertide, the aspersorium with the aspergillum and a small amount of holy water should be placed on the step nearest the epistle side pavement light. In the event of a procession, the celebrant’s chasuble, together with all three maniples, should be laid over the altar rail; near the sedilia.

After Mass, in the baptistry, the servers give their communion counts to the MC, and servers not carrying cross or candles collect the vestments, which they will place on the chair in priests’ sacristy. Still vested, the subdeacon will walk down the Lady Chapel aisle, go through the Lady Chapel, enter the ambit of the altar at the opening near the sedilia (not center), go to the credence to retrieve veiled chalice, and exit to smoke sacristy. Then the servers appointed to remove the book and replace the dustcover may enter. After the servers appointed to extinguish the candles have entered, other servers may begin to clear vessels from the credence and books from the lectern. The bag in the alms basin goes in the safe in the smoke sacristy. The alms basin should be placed on the chair or the table in the smoke sacristy. Hymnals are returned to the shelf in smoke sacristy. The Missal and the Gospel Book go back in appropriately marked boxes in the sofe together with the lectionary and Prayer Book. When not in use in Mass, the Intercessions Book resides on the vesting altar in priests’ sacristy. The sermon text should be placed on the desk in the priests’ sacristy. Then, assist with cleaning of vessels, as needed. Remember, any vessel or linen that has come into contact with consecrated bread or wine must be rinsed in the piscina.


Candles will ordinarily be lighted and extinguished by two servers, both for gracefulness, speed, and the convenience of avoiding remembering which side has to be done first. To light candles, walk in together, genuflect at center above the altar rail, proceed to the top step (footpace/predella) as a pair, and light the candles closest to the cross and work OUTWARDS (that is, spread the light of Christ). Continue with the pavement lights. Meet at center, descend remaining altar steps, turn, genuflect above altar rail, and exit to smoke sacristy. On the great feasts, the upper tier of office lights is lighted. Because of the extra time and effort involved. these should be lighted first and extinguished last.

The function of the blue cloth (dustcover) is to protect the altar and fair linen from dust and wax, especially that which may fall from a lighted candlelighter. To remove the blue cloth, starting with the Gospel side, pick up each corner of the outside hem and bring it to center. Similarly, bring the fold to the center. Repeat for the Epistle side. Finally, fold the Epistle half onto the Gospel half and remove the cloth from the altar.

After Mass, the two servers appointed wait for the subdeacon to retrieve the chalice. Then, with the server on the left carrying the blue cloth, both go out together to center, genuflect, and ascend the altar steps to the footpace. The server on the right picks up the Missal stand (hold the Missal to prevent its falling), goes to center, genuflects, and exits. The server with the cloth aligns the cross on the cloth with the cross on the fair linen, takes hold of a hem, and pulls it gently along the Gospel side of the altar to spread the cloth. Repeat this action on the other side. Remove the water glass, make a simple bow, exit to the side, and genuflect on the pavement before exiting to the smoke sacristy.

The two servers extinguishing the candles enter, genuflect on the pavement (above the altar rail), split, and ascend to the third step, where they turn out and extinguish the pavement lights. They then ascend to the footpace and extinguish the candles outside to center. Try to stay approximately together, but this should not give appearance of being militarily precise or fussy. When done, make a simple bow to the cross and descend to the pavement, genuflect, and exit to smoke sacristy. One server should extinguish the candles in the All Saints’ Chapel (and the Lady Chapel if used for Communion) after the cloth is spread there.