Sunday, 20 June 2010



The time has gone, for the present, when boys and young men learnt to serve the old Roman Rite by being taught by their elders as Sunday after Sunday and weekday after weekday they attended the old liturgy and the Liturgical Year unfolded before us in all its beauty.

I hope this booklet will in some part help to make good the loss.

The old Roman Rite is essentially a simple rite. Fr Adrian Fortescue in the Preface to The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described remarks that "the chief note of the Roman Rite has always been its -austere simplicity... It is surely worth while to preserve this note externally also, to repress any Byzantine tendencies in our ceremonies."

No attempt should be made to elaborate the ceremonies by additions to the rite or adding unnecessary personnel and finding things for them to do.

We live in unusual times and often when we go to a church for the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, we find that many of the things required for its celebration are not readily available. Try to make sure in advance that everything needed is to be found, or be ready to make do without.

Although the form of Missa Cantata which is common in England and Wales is based on that of High Mass, there is another form which can served by two servers only, who act much as they would at a Low Mass, except they generally stand for most of the Mass, rather than kneel, and they carry torch candles from the Sanctus until after Communion. They kneel when they are carrying their torch candles. There may be two, four or six torchbearers.

Prior to 1962 an indult, renewable at regular intervals, was required for the use of incense at Missa Cantata, but the rubrics of the 1962 Missal permit the use of incense at all sung Masses. The manner of serving which follows in this booklet is the usual form of Missa Cantata with incense.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Archconfraternity of St Stephen – a Poignant Anniversary

In March 1905, the Guild of St Stephen for Altar Servers was established by Fr Hamilton Macdonald at the Sacred Heart Convent in Hammersmith where he was chaplain. So 2005 is its hundredth anniversary year.

For two years, it was a guild of the Archdiocese of Westminster. In 1907, it was erected by Pope St Pius X into an archconfraternity, prima primaria. Now it could affiliate similar confraternities in the United Kingdom, which in those days included what is now the Republic of Eire. In 1934, Pope Pius XI extended the right of affiliation to the whole of the British Empire.

My own connection with the Guild began when it was revived after the Second World War in my parish of the Most Precious Blood and St Edmund at Edmonton, North London, in 1948. The enrolment ceremony in those days began with the singing, in Latin, of Psalm 83, Quam dilecta tabernacula tua. After three prayers and the blessing of medals, each server made the Guild Promise: "I offer myself to God Almighty, to Blessed Mary ever Virgin and to our Holy Patron, St Stephen, and I promise to do my best to serve reverently, intelligently and regularly, having the glory of God and my own eternal salvation as my object". After the investment with medals and a final prayer and blessing, the hymn to St Stephen, "Holy Stephen, Christ's dear martyr", was sung.

The Guild medal is made of latten, an alloy of copper and zinc, and has in the centre the Greek letters XP, the initial letters of the Greek "Χριςτός", i.e. "Christ", and around the edge the Latin motto, "Cui servíre regnare est" ("He who serves shall reign"). At the top of the medal is a crown and at the bottom the palms of martyrdom. It is worn on a red cord around the neck.

"A great religious privilege"

The object of the Archconfraternity is stated as being "the sanctification of the altar server by teaching him that serving in the sanctuary is a great religious privilege, by instructing him in the manner of observing the rites and ceremonies of the Church according to the rubrics and decrees of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and the interpretations of the most generally accepted authorities, and by encouraging him to understand the meaning and purpose of the ceremonies in which he takes part"; in other words to teach him to serve and understand what he is doing, and why.

We were responsible for serving daily Mass at 7 am and 7.30 am. A server would volunteer to serve one of the two Masses for a week, Monday to Saturday. More senior servers, who could not cover daily Masses because of work commitments, were responsible for the four Sunday Low Masses, and all of us were encouraged to serve the Sunday Missa Cantata. Such was the dedication of our Guild members that there was rarely a Mass which did not have its allotted server.

A much smaller number of Guild members turned up to serve weekday Benediction on Wednesdays, First Fridays, Saturdays and Holy Days of Obligation, before the days of evening Mass. Sunday's Rosary, Sermon and Benediction was much better attended, and the MC and his assistant were always present.

Honouring the Blessed Sacrament

There were processions of the Blessed Sacrament once a month and, of course, the Corpus Christi Procession on the Sunday within the Octave of the Feast. Then there was Holy Week culminating in the Easter Vigil service, in those days on Holy Saturday morning (my favourite, perhaps because, like Pope Benedict, I was born on Holy Saturday). We began at 6.30 am when it was dark outside, and Mass and the shortened form of Vespers which finished the service ended at about 10.30 am in blazing sunlight. As the rite had progressed, it had been a natural Lucenarium as dawn came up and the sun rose higher in the sky to flood the church with light. It was Easter, and Lent ended at midday.

It was a solemn, but also an exciting time, and for the four Sundays before the Great Week we had extra Guild meetings so we could practise the Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday services.

At Christmas, we had more Masses to cover as each of our three priests said three Masses. There was midnight Missa Cantata, and at the same time, one of our priests said Mass in the local convent chapel. On Christmas morning, there was Mass every half hour from 9.00 am to 12 noon, with a relay of servers taking over from each other as the priest ended one Mass and began his next without leaving the sanctuary. The last Mass was followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament which was served by the senior members of the Guild as it was followed by drinks with the clergy.

Again there was a relay of servers taking over from each other on All Souls Day when again, of course, each priest said three Masses beginning at 7.00 am.

For funerals, a number of boys would be allowed to go late for school, with a letter from the priest for those of us who attended the Jesuit College at Stamford Hill. Nuptial Masses meant half a crown for the boy who served, unless there was a server in the family of the bride or groom. I usually served these. When I did not serve, I usually pumped the organ for which the fee was a shilling.

Can the Guild revive?

Every year there was a rally of servers from all over the Archdiocese of Westminster in the Cathedral. The nave was filled with boys and men in cassock and cotta (and wearing their Guild medals) who all walked in the Blessed Sacrament procession around the cathedral. Our members from Edmonton would afterwards be entertained with tea and buns in the kitchen of the clergy house by the Sub-administrator, Mgr Gordon Wheeler, once a priest at Edmonton, later Bishop of Middlesbrough, then of Leeds.

Other activities outside the parish were a Day of Recollection at Hammersmith convent where the Guild had been founded. My memories of that are of the smell of beeswax polish, the sunlit garden and tea served by kindly sisters. Then there was the Guild outing when we went to the circus, or played ice hockey at Harringay Stadium.

We were proud of being in the Guild and proud of our medals, which indicated we were experienced servers, and an important part of the parish. In the 1950s, our then MC was awarded a silver medal to commemorate twenty-five years of serving, although I was sad to see that it was not actually silver; instead his latten medal had been chromed.

Few Guild medals are seen these days at Traditional Rite Masses, at least in London, partly I imagine because the Guild is organised on a parish basis and Traditional Rite servers do not usually have contact with their parishes, but also, I know, because some servers who would be, or actually are, members object to its admission of altar girls into its ranks; in every illustration in the present Guild handbook where there are two servers, one is always a girl. So much for the 'garden of vocations'!

The priest from whom I borrowed the current Guild handbook commented, "It is my ambition to found a Guild of St Stephen for boys"; he has no altar girls in his parish.

It was common knowledge (and re-emphasised by Pope John Paul II towards the end of his reign) that many vocations to the priesthood came from altar servers. The following prayer, taken from the Archconfraternity of St Stephen's Handbook but now partially redundant due to the invasion of girl altar servers, is one that should be said frequently for this intention.

Prayer to be a Priest

"O Lord Jesus Christ, the great High Priest who dost call chosen souls to offer Thee in sacrifice and to assist Thee in saving souls, I beseech Thee to grant me this high grace though I am most unworthy of it; make me carefully to prepare my heart to receive it and to keep myself pure and lowly that Thou mayest call me to serve Thee at Thine altar. Amen.
O Mary, Mother of God and my dear mother too, obtain for me this grace from the Sacred Heart of thy dear Son."

(Also published on the Latin Mass Society's November 2005 Newsletter)

The Forty Hours Prayer

The origin of the practice of publicly exposing the Blessed Sacrament for the veneration of the faithful is connected with the great outburst of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament in the thirteenth century, following controversies about the Real Presence. In the sixteenth century it became common practice to expose the Host on occasions of public distress and usually the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for forty hours in memory of the time Our Lord spent in the tomb. The Forty Hours devotion seems to have been introduced in about 1537 by a Capuchin friar, Padre Giuseppe da Ferna in Milan. He died in 1556. In the year of his death the Jesuits of Macerata exposed the Blessed Sacrament for forty hours to meet the danger of disorders prevalent at that time: the Emperor Charles V and the King of France, Francis I, were disputing for possession of the Duchy of Milan; the Turks were threatening Christendom and heresy was devastating the Church in Northern Europe. Saint Charles Borromeo, the Archbishop of Milan, adopted the devotion for the three days before Ash Wednesday to atone for the excesses of Carnival.

A great and efficacious appeal

Saint Philip Neri is reputed to have introduced the devotion to Rome in 1548. In 1592, Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) regulated the observance of the Prayer for the City of Rome. It is plain from the Papal Constitution, Graves et Diuturnae, that the object of the Forty Hours is not primarily the satisfaction of the devotion of the faithful towards the Blessed Sacrament, but the presentation of a great and efficacious appeal to Almighty God through his Divine Son to aid and defend the Church against the dangers which threaten her within and without. Pope Clement provided for the public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament so that the Forty Hours Prayer in one Roman church succeeded that in another to form a chain of perpetual adoration commencing on the first Sunday of Advent in the chapel of the Apostolic Palace. He granted indulgences to those who assist at the Prayer during the solemn exposition. His successor, Pope Paul V (1605-1621) confirmed all this on 10 May 1606.

“The Clementine Instruction”

Another Pope Clement, the XI (1700-1721), published directions for the observance of the Prayer in the churches of Rome on 21 January 1705. These were republished by yet another Pope Clement, the XII (1730-1740), on 1 September 1736. The document, originally written in Italian, is entitled, “The Clementine Instruction”. The devotion was strictly only of obligation in the Archdiocese of Rome, but the indulgences attached to it were later extended to the world and various decrees of the Congregation of Rites regulated the devotion outside Rome. In 1849, in his Lenten pastoral, Bishop Nicholas Wiseman, last Vicar Apostolic of the London District (later the first Archbishop of Westminster and a Cardinal), speaks of the devotion as being “as yet but little known in this country”. He directs that “throughout the whole of Lent the Most Blessed Sacrament shall remain exposed in one or other of the public churches or chapels of this metropolis”.

1962 rubrics

The 1962 Missal, for the first time, gives rubrics regulating the Forty Hours Prayer. On the first and last days of the devotion a votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist is sung (the expression used is “in cantu” – a new usage in 1962 which covers both High Mass and Missa cantata) as a votive Mass of the second class. A votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist or a votive Mass for a particular local need may be sung on the second day; formerly the “Clementine Instruction” required a votive Mass for peace to be sung on this day. No doubt, where peace is a special local need, the votive Mass pro pace can still be sung. The Code of Canon Law, can. 942, recommends that in churches and oratories which are allowed to reserve the Blessed Eucharist there is to be each year a solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for an appropriate time so that the local community may more attentively meditate on and adore the Eucharistic mystery.

Restoration of the Forty Hours?

The devotion has fallen into desuetude since the late 1960s, although the section of the reformed Roman Ritual which deals with devotion to the Blessed Sacrament mentions the Forty Hours Prayer, and in his letter “On the Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist”, published on 24 February 1980, Pope John Paul II writes: “Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love also finds expression in various forms of Eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, periods of exposition – short, prolonged and annual (40 hours) – Eucharistic benediction, Eucharistic processions, Eucharistic congresses...” Although His Holiness wrote that over two decades ago and associated it with the Second Vatican Council, (he went on to write: “All this therefore corresponds to the general principles and particular norms already in existence but newly formulated during or after the Second Vatican Council”), we are still waiting for the bishops and clergy of England and Wales – not to mention elsewhere – to restore the Forty Hours Prayer to our churches.

(Also published on the Latin Mass Society's August 2003 Newsletter)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Serving at Low Mass


Affectation, exaggerated bows or other movements are to be avoided when serving. All actions should be performed with care, deliberation and dignity, with neither undue haste nor excessive slowness.


§. Stand up straight; not stooped.


§. Walk gracefully, reverently and erect.

§. Never walk backwards, particularly when descending the altar steps.

§. Do not turn your back unnecessarily to the Blessed Sacrament or the altar.


§. Kneel upright. You should not normally bow when you are kneeling, except during Confiteor and Misereatur tibi.


§. Keep your hands joined on your breast, either with the palms laid against each other with your fingers extended and your thumbs crossed one over the other, or with your fingers clasped together. The first way is the better.

§. When you are holding something in one hand, the other should be laid flat on your breast.

§. When you hand anything to the Celebrant, it is proper always to use the right hand to give it to him. When you are handing the cruets to the Celebrant, you use your right hand, when you take the cruets back, use your left hand.


There are two types of genuflection: the single genuflection and the double genuflection.

§. A single genuflection is made by bending your right knee and lowering it to touch the ground close to your left heel. Your body should be kept upright and your hands be joined before your breast.

You do not bow while you are genuflecting, nor do you make the sign of the cross as you genuflect.

§. To make a double genuflection make a single genuflection and then bend your left knee and place it on your ground beside your right one (in other words: kneel), and, in this case, make a moderate bow before rising. Keep your hands joined on your breast while you perform these movements.


There are two types of bow: Simple and Deep.

§. A simple bow is more than a mere nod, and is made by bowing the head.

§. To make a deep bow bend your head and shoulders. Do not, however, bow from the waist.


§. Place the altar cards on the altar: the largest one in the centre, the Last Gospel card onthe left-hand side of the altar (as you look at the altar from the front); the Gospel side, and the card with Lavabo on it on the right-hand side; the Epistle side. Set the Missal-stand on the altar at the Epistle corner parallel with the front of the altar. Light two candles on the altar.

§. On the credence table, covered with a white, linen cloth place the communion plate, bell,¹ wine and water cruets and lavabo bowl and towel, if there is a piscina, these may beplaced there.

§. In the Sacristy; put on your cassock and cotta. If there is no sacristan to do so, prepare the priest's vestments: amice, alb, girdle, stole, maniple, chasuble and biretta.

§. There should be one server only for Low Mass.²

§. Assist the Celebrant to vest.


Take the Missal in with you and place it on the Missal stand with the spine to the left.³

Carry the closed Missal by placing the base of the spine in the crook of your left arm, and supporting it with your right hand.This enables you to release your right hand from theMissal to give the Celebrant holy water at the sacristy door, and to use your right hand to take the Celebrant's biretta when you reach the foot of the altar. If you were to grasp the Missal with two hands, you would have difficulty in easily performing these actions.

Give the Celebrant holy water by dipping your fingers into the holy water stoup and offering them to the Celebrant for him to take some of the water from your fingers. Make the sign of the cross on yourself.

On arrival at the altar, before the step, genuflect,on the Celebrant's right, then receive the biretta from the him. You should kiss first the Celebrant's hand then the biretta when you receive it. When you give the biretta to the Celebrant, either at the end of Mass, or if he goes to the pulpit to preach during Mass, kiss first the biretta, then, as you give it to him, his hand.

Put the biretta on the altar step for the moment, and ascend to the footpace of the altar. Place the unopened Missal on the stand, the spine towards the centre of the altar.

Descend by way of the side steps, coming down to the Epistle side in plano, and walk around to the front of the altar, pick up the biretta and place it on the credence table or the sedilia or other convenient place.

Cross before the altar, genuflecting at the middle, and await the Celebrant on the Gospel side. When the Celebrant joins you, kneel on the floor of the sanctuary as he genuflects or bows.

Preparatory Prayers

Make the sign of the cross with the Celebrant and make the responses to the Preparatory Prayers. Do not bow or strike your breast with the Celebrant when he recites the Confiteor. Bow slightly towards the Celebrant while saying the prayer Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus. Bow towards to altar when you say the Confiteor, remain bowing, but more moderately when the Celebrant says Misereatur vestri. When you say the words tibi pater and te pater in the Confiteor, partly turn towards the Celebrant. Strike your breast three times at mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

As the Celebrant ascends the steps to the altar, rise from the floor and kneel on the lowest step of the altar. This is the step on which you will kneel for the rest of the Mass.

Introit to Gradual

§. Make the sign of the cross with the Celebrant at the start of the Introit.

§. Make the responses to Kyrie eleison, and say Amen after the Collect.

§. At the end of the Epistle say Deo gratias. Then rise, go to the centre and genuflect, then go round to the Epistle corner of the altar.

§. Go round in plano and stand at the foot of the steps. Wait at the Epistle corner during the Gradual or Tract.


When the Celebrant goes to the centre, take the Missal on its stand, bow to the altar,¹o carry the Missal down to the floor in the middle, genuflect, and go direct, up to the altar on the Gospel side, Bow to the altar, and put the stand on the altar diagonally. Stand by the Missal. When the Celebrant comes to read the Gospel, answer the versicles at the beginning and make the sign of the cross with your thumb on your forehead, lips, and breast with the Celebrant. If the Holy Name occurs in the opening words of the Gospel, bow your head. Bow to the altar, and go down to the floor, and walk round to the Epistle side in plano, genuflecting at the centre as you pass before the altar,¹¹ and stand facing towards the place of the Gospel while it is read. If the Celebrant genuflects during the Gospel, genuflect also. At the end answer Laus tibi Christe. Kneel down.¹²


When the Celebrant has said Dóminus vobiscum and Orémus at the Offertory, go to the centre, genuflect to the altar and go to the credence table. Take the cruets, the wine cruet in your right hand, the water in your left. Stand at the end of the altar. When the Celebrant comes to you, bow to him and hand him the wine cruet ¹³ with your right hand, transfer the water cruet to that hand, and receive the wine cruet back with your left hand. Hold the water cruet towards the Celebrant for him to bless the water, then hand it to him with your right hand.

Bow to the altar, and return to the credence table. Put down the wine cruet there. Pick up the lavabo towel. The towel you may spread over your left arm, or lay it on the altar at the Epistle corner, preferably arranged in a small pyramid. With the water cruet in your right hand, take the lavabo bowl in your left. The Celebrant will come to wash his fingers. Bow to him. Hold the lavabo bowl under the Celebrant's hands and pour a little water from the cruet over his fingers. When he has dried his fingers, he will lay the towel over your left arm. Bow to him, and return to the credence table. Leave the cruet, bowl and towel on the credence. If the bell is on the table, take it with you. Go back to the middle before the altar, genuflect, then go to your place on the lowest step on the Epistle side, the side opposite the Missal.

When the Celebrant has said Orate fratres, wait until he has turned fully back to the altar, then respond Suscipiat Dóminus.... Respond to the versicles before the Preface. As the Celebrant said Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, ring the bell three times.


When the Celebrant spreads his hands over the chalice at Hanc igitur, ring the bell once. Rise from your place, genuflect at the centre, and, taking the bell with you, ascend to the footpace and kneel there on the right of the Celebrant and a little behind him. At each Elevation, as the Celebrant elevates, raise the end of the chasuble with your left hand.¹⁴

Ring, the bell three times at each elevation.¹⁵ After the Elevations, return to the centre in plano, genuflect, and return to your place on the bottom step on the Epistle side. Strike ,your breast when the Celebrant does so at Agnus Dei. At Dómine non sum dignus, ring the bell once each time the Celebrant says these words.


After the Celebrant has received from the chalice, if you are to receive Holy Communion, go to the centre, genuflect to the altar, and go to the credence to collect the communion plate. Return to the centre, genuflect, and go and kneel on the footpace towards the Epistle side. When you receive the Host, hold the communion plate under your chin. Otherwise, if there are communicants, go to the credence table as above, and kneel at the side facing across the sanctuary until the Celebrant has said Ecce Agnus Dei... and Dómine non sum dignus...¹ Then lead the Celebrant to the altar rails. As the Celebrant gives Holy Communion to each communicant, hold the communion plate under the communicant's chin. When all have received, hand the communion plate to the Celebrant. Kneel down where you are until the Celebrant has put away the Holy Eucharist. When he has done so rise, genuflect at the centre, and go to the credence table.


If only the Celebrant receives communion, go to the credence table as above, immediately. In either event, take the cruets and stand on the highest step below the footpace, holding the wine cruet in your right hand and the water cruet in your left. When the Celebrant holds the chalice towards you, draw near to him, bow to him, and pour wine into the chalice, the Celebrant will give you a sign when to stop. Bow again and return to where you were on the highest step. When the Celebrant has drunk the wine, he will come to where you are and rest the chalice on the altar, placing his fingers over it. With your right hand, pour a little wine over the Celebrant's fingers. Then pour water, the Celebrant will make a sign when enough has been poured. Bow to the Celebrant again, return to the credence table and put the cruets back there.

Go to the Gospel side, genuflecting at the centre as you pass. Take the Missal, on its stand, bow to the altar, carry the Missal down to the floor in the middle, genuflect, and go direct, up to the altar on the Epistle side, bow to the altar and place the Missal on its stand on the altar, square with the edge of the altar.¹⁷ Then go to kneel on the lowest step on the Gospel side, genuflecting, as always, when you pass the centre. Answer Amen at the end of the Postcommunion, Dóminus vobiscum, Ite missa est. (During the Easter Octave, the Celebrant will add two Alleluias to Ite missa est. Add them also to your response Deo gratias.) Make the sign of the cross at the blessing, answer Amen, then stand.

Last Gospel

The rule about always being on the side opposite the Missal no longer applies at this point. The Missal having been replaced by the Last Gospel card. Go to the centre, genuflect as you pass, and stand on the Epistle side at the place where you were kneeling previously. Face towards the place of the Gospel. Genuflect with the Celebrant at the verse Et Verbum caro factum est, and answer Deo gratias at the end of the Gospel.

On one day a year, it is possible there will be a special Last Gospel. On Palm Sunday, at a Mass which is not preceded by the Procession of Palms, the Celebrant will leave the Missal open when he goes to the centre after the Postcommunion. This is a sign that you must change the Missal over to the Gospel side. Precede as for the Gospel of the Mass. You may, if convenient, time your move so you are at the centre when the Celebrant gives the Blessing. In this case, kneel on the lowest step at the centre for the Blessing, then continue up to the altar to place the Missal there. Stay at the side to make the responses at the beginning of the Last Gospel. When you have made them, bow to the altar, and go to the Epistle side, genuflecting in the centre as always. Face towards the place of the Gospel (there is no genuflection during the Gospel).

At the end of the Last Gospel, wait for the Celebrant at the Epistle side. Take his maniple, an hand him the card for the Leonine Prayers. Kneel beside him on the lowest step during the prayers.

When the Celebrant ascends the steps to the altar to get the chalice, go to the altar also to bring the Missal away and get the biretta from the credence or wherever it is. You may find it more convenient to get the biretta earlier than this. Hand the biretta to the Celebrant with the solita oscula, genuflect when the Celebrant does so (or bows) and precede him to the sacristy. There bow to the sacristy crucifix with the Celebrant , bow to the Celebrant himself, lay down the Missal and assist the Celebrant to unvest.

Return to the sanctuary, extinguish the candles, and return the cruets to the sacristy.

Lastly, remove your cotta and cassock.


At Masses for the Dead omit the solita oscula. The psalm Iudica me is not said. If the Sequence Dies iræ is said, remain kneeling until the concluding verses before going to change the Missal. At the end of Mass, instead of Ite missa est the Celebrant says Requiescant in pace. To this answer Amen. The Blessing is not given.


¹ Or this may, be placed on the altar step next to where you will kneel on the Epistle side.

² A Low Mass with two servers is a very unsatisfactory practice. One of the servers is totally unnecessary, and unnecessary people should not be in the sanctuary. One of the two servers is surplus to requirements.

³ The rubrics of the Missal suppose that the server bring the Missal with him when the priest comes out to begin Mass, and that he take it back with him to the sacristy afterwards. Only at High Mass or Missa Cantata is it placed on the altar before Mass.

Even if the Celebrant only bows.

These kisses are called in Latin solita oscula.

The server at a Low Mass never opens the Missal or turns its pages, the Celebrant does this himself.

This is the point when the Mass actually begins, and this is the server's (and the Celebrant's) entrance which is to be followed by the entry chant, the Introit.

But always kneeling on the opposite side to the Missal.

If there is a Sequence, remain kneeling in your place until towards the last verse of this.

¹o The bow is usually made towards the crucifix, but is actually a salutation to the altar which represents the Body of Christ.

¹¹ When changing over the Missal, the server goes by the shortest route, direct from the altar, down the steps to the centre and after genuflecting there, direct up to the altar. Only when he is not carrying the Missal does he walk all the way round.

¹² The server kneels for the Creed - as strictly should the congregation at low Mass.

¹³ Do not kiss the cruets. As well as being inelegant, and unhygienic, a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites forbids the practice.

¹⁴Only as he elevates, not as he genuflects.

¹⁵ This is usually done by matching each ring to the action of the genuflections and the two Elevations.

¹ Do not say the Confiteor before Holy Communion, rubric 503 of the 1962 Missal instructs: "Quoties sancta Communio infra Missam distributur, celebrans, sumpto sacratissimo Sanguine, omissis confessione et absolutione, dictis tamen Ecce Agnus Dei et ter Dómine, non sum dignus, immediate ad distribtionem sanctæ Eucharistiæ procedit" "Whenever Holy Communion is given within Mass, the Celebrant, having taken the most Sacred Blood, the confession and absolution being ommited, says Dómine non sum dignus thrice, and immediately distributes the Holy Eucharist."

¹⁷ Do not transfer the chalice veil from one side of the altar to the other. Not only is it unnessary, but it is easier for the Celebrant to pick the veil up from his right hand side rather from his left.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The vestments of the traditional Roman rite

The vestments worn by the clergy of our rite are for the most part very ancient. Most of them derive from the normal wear of ancient Romans, and have acquired a symbolism over the centuries. In the tenth century Bishop Ratherius forbade any priest to celebrate Mass without wearing amice, alb, stole, maniple and chasuble.

The Amice
A rectangle of white linen with two tapes, one at each of its top corners. The priest places it on his head in commemoration of the fact that it originates as a headcovering. He then lowers it onto his shoulders and secures it by tying it around his waist with the tapes. Monks and friars wear, the monastic amice which is made in the shape of a hood. Its origins as a headcovering are recalled in the prayer the priest says as he puts it on, in which he refers to it as "the helmet of salvation".

The Alb

Originally the everyday garment of the ancient Romans. At first, it was sleeveless, but as it comes down to us, it has close sleeves. This linen garment the name of which comes from the Latin albus, white and it is now always that colour, although during the middle ages coloured silk or linen was sometimes worn, generally with the disapproval of the bishops. The alb is probably the vestment which has come nearest to keeping its ancient shape as a simple, linen tunic reaching to the ankles.

It is worn by the priest under his chasuble, by the deacon under his dalmatic and by the subdeacon under his tunicle. On feasts, the alb is customary trimmed with lace, but with black or violet vestments, plain linen alone is worn.
The Girdle
The girdle or cincture is a rope belt, with a tassel at each end, used to tie the alb into the waist. It is made of white linen thread, although may be of the same colour as the sacred vestments. The prayer the priest says when tying it around his waist asks for chastity.
The Stole

This is now a scarf like vestment of silk fabric and of the liturgical colour of the day. There is considerable uncertainty as to the origin of this vestment. One opinion is that, like the maniple it was at first a sort of handkerchief, its alternative name orarium suggests its purpose was to wipe the face. It is also suggested as being a neck cloth.

A further theory is that it was the decorated edge of the toga. The toga was a long, semi-circular garment which was worn falling down the front from the left shoulder, passed down the back of the wearer, the other end being brought under the right arm, and thrown back over the left shoulder to fall down the wearer's back. It was of obligation as the outdoor garment of all adult male Roman citizens, it was their distinguishing garment.

In the later Empire, it fell into disuse among the ordinary people, but remained the obligatory, formal garment of magistrates. It is suggested that, for convenience and comfort, the toga came to be made of thinner and lighter material with only its decorative border being of any weight. The thin material was then folded behind the border and eventually was dispensed with altogether.

The fact that eastern rite deacons wear their stoles in just the same manner the toga was worn, and that the stole became a symbol of authority, lends weight to this theory. Because it is a symbol of authority, popes down the ages have worn a stole at all times, bishops too wear it quite frequently, but priests wear it differently from bishops, crossed on the breast while bishops wear it straight down, and priests only wear it for Mass and when giving the sacraments.

Exceptionally, a priest who is preaching in the presence of a bishop wears a stole, indicating that he is exercising the bishop's teaching authority. Other preachers should not wear the stole.

Deacons also wear a stole, but again differently from other clerics. The diaconal stole is worn over the left shoulder, across the body, both in front and behind and being secured under the right arm. Eastern rite deacons wear it over their other vestments, again suggesting that it was originally the upper garment which was the toga.
The Maniple

This vestment, which is now shaped like a small stole, was in origin a simple napkin or handkerchief, carried in the hand by ancient Romans (who had no pockets). Perhaps because Consuls used to signal the start of the Games in stadia by waving their handkerchiefs, they became symbols of rank. In the seventh century the Pope gave the signal for the start of the Stational Mass in a similar manner.

Roman deacons carried a mappa (folded handkerchief) in their left hands. By the ninth century it had developed into the maniple. Stigand, the Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, at the coronation of King Harold, holding his maniple in his left hand. It later came to be worn, as now, on the left arm, below the elbow. Even as late as 1100, Ivo of Chartres mentioned the maniple as being used at Mass for wiping the eyes. Only gradually did it become stiffened and unusable for its original purpose. It began to be made of silk or velvet and decorated with gold and embroidery. Sometimes in the Middle Ages it was decorated with bells at the end.

Since the eleventh century, the Subdeacon has received the maniple as the insignia of his order. It is the distinguishing mark of those who have received major orders; accordingly when, in the absence of someone in major orders to act as subdeacon at Mass, a clerk in minor orders performs the office of subdeacon, he does not assume the maniple.
The origin of the maniple as a napkin for wiping the face is recalled in the prayers said by a priest as he is vesting for Mass: ''May I be worthy, Lord, to wear the maniple of tears and sorrow; that with joy, I may receive the reward of my labour''.

It is a vestment used exclusively for the Eucharistic liturgy. A Bishop receives the maniple at the end of the Preparatory Prayers. These precede, but are not actually a part of, the Mass. If any prayer or hymn is to follow Mass, eg: the Prayer for the Sovereign, the Sacred Ministers remove their maniples, the prayer not being part of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. They should also set aside their maniples during a sermon which is not considered a part of the old Mass, but an interruption of it.
Because of its connection with the celebration of the Sacrifice, the Deacons of Honour at a Pontifical Mass, although they wear dalmatics, do not wear either stole or maniple with them, nor do the Canons who may assist in choir at Pontifical Mass wearing chasubles. Exceptionally, the twelve priests who assist the Bishop at the blessing of Holy Oils at the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday do wear stole and maniple with their chasubles, because in earlier times they concelebrated the Mass with the Bishop.
The Chasuble
The most familiar of the vestments to the average Catholic in the pew has its origins in the great travelling cloak worn by the ancient Romans. In form it was a large circular piece of woollen material with a hole for the head in the middle of the circle. The cloak enveloped its wearer completely from shoulders to ankles. Because of its size it became known as the ''little house'', in Latin: casula, from this comes our word chasuble.
As a liturgical garment the travelling cloak was unwieldy and the deacon and subdeacon had to hold the garment back off of the celebrant's arms. For convenience, the sides of the vestment came to be cut away, until, by the Middle Ages, the chasuble had taken on the straight sided, fiddle front shape with which we are familiar today.

In the nineteenth century, the ''Gothic Revivalists'', notably Augustus Welbey Pugin, redesigned the chasuble which had come to be worn by some Anglican ministers, to make it conform to what they believed was the form worn in Mediaeval England. They widened the part which rests on the shoulders and cut the garment so it came to a point at the bottom.

When Pugin became a Catholic, he brought with him the ''Gothic'' style of chasuble. However, the Sacred Congregation of Rites forbade its use in Catholic churches. This did not, of course, stop the clergy from using them, but, in obedience to liturgical law and because they are the actual vestment of our rite, traditional Catholics ought to prefer the correct style of chasuble for use at our Masses.

The Cope

Another name for this vestment is pluviale or pluvial which gives a clue as to its origin. Pluvial means "relating to rain''. It was a mediaeval rain cloak to wear out of doors. For this reason it is worn in processions, which frequently go out into the rainy outdoors. Like the chasuble, it is now made of silk fabric and is of the liturgical colour of the day, except that it is usually white for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

It is worn for the Asperges ceremony before the main Mass on Sundays, at Solemn Vespers and
Lauds and funerals, processions and the like. If Benediction immediately follows Mass or Vespers, without the officiant leaving the sanctuary, the cope for Benediction may be of the colour of the vestments of the Mass, or the officiant of Vespers may retain the cope he has worn for that office.
It is forbidden for laymen to wear the cope, excepting only Auditors of the Holy Roman Rota walking in a Papal Procession, but I do not suppose they either walk in processions or wear the cope these days.


The square, black, stiff cap with three ridges on top worn by clerics. The biretta of a secular priest has a tassel in the centre of the top. Some religious have no tassel and nor do Cardinals have them on their scarlet birettas. Bishops wear a violet biretta with a violet tassel, while monsignori have a black biretta with variously crimson or violet tassels according to their rank.

The Surplice

This is a modification of the alb. During the middle ages when churches were cold and clergy sat or stood long hours in the churches singing the Divine Office, to keep warm they wore fur lining to their cassocks, but this meant their albs were too tight for them. These were then made fuller and given wider sleeves; giving the surplice, superpellicium meaning over fur. The shorter square necked form called the cotta is the more common form worn in Catholic churches.


A wide sleeved, loose tunic deriving from Dalmatia, a Greek province. In the later years of the Roman Empire it came to be worn in place of the toga. In Christian times it became the distinctive dress of deacons. Two bands of fabric, clavi, originally purple, run down each side. They are not decoration, but an integral part of the vestment. The dalmatic is also worn by a Bishop under his chasuble.


The tunicle is worn by the subdeacon as his outer garment. Originally, it was probably an undergarment. Although it is now frequently indistinguishable from the dalmatic. It is worn by a Bishop under the dalmatic. The dalmatic and tunicle worn by a bishop are usually made of very thin silk.

Humeral veil

A large oblong veil worn as the name suggests, around the shoulders (latin: humerus shoulder)by the subdeacon at High Mass to cover his hands in which he is holding the paten from the Offertory until the Pater noster. It is also worn by the officiating priest at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and during Blessed Sacrament processions to help support the monstrance while he is holding it. At Mass it is the same colour as the other sacred vestments and at Benediction is always white.

Chalice veil

A square veil, of the same material and colour as the rest of the vestments which covers the chalice when it is not in use.


A square stiffened purse to hold the corporal when it is not required on the altar. The Burse matches the other vestments in colour and fabric. At Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament a white Burse is used.