Category Archives: Principles of Liturgy

The Acolyte & Altar Server

THE ACOLYTE AND ALTAR SERVER

(The Pastoral Companion — A Canon Law Handbook of Catholic Ministry, pp86-87) Franciscan Press, 1995: John M. Huels, O.S.M., J.C.D.

The acolyte is instituted by the local ordinary (i.e. bishop) to serve at the altar and to assist the bishop, priest and deacon.  In particular it is for him to prepare the altar and the vessels and, as a special minister of the Eucharist, to give Communion to the faithful (General Instruction Roman Missal, 65).  This norm pertains to the stable ministry of acolyte, not to be confused with the temporary ministry of altar server.  Like the stable ministry of reader,

the ministry of acolyte is conferred only for seminarians preparing for the priesthood and candidates for the permanent diaconate.

NORMS FOR THE CELEBRATION AND RECEPTION OF COMMUNION

Vatican II, THE HOLY AND LIVING SACRIFICE

(The Liturgy Documents—A Parish Resource, p261) Liturgy Training Publications, Third Edition, 1991

29. In every celebration of the Eucharist there should always be a sufficient number of ministers for the distribution of Communion. Priority is always given to ordinary ministers (bishops, priests, deacons) and auxiliary ministers (instituted acolytes). When there are large numbers of the faithful present and there are insufficient ordinary and auxiliary ministers at hand, special or extraordinary ministers properly appointed beforehand should assist in the distribution of Communion.

GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL

Duties and Ministries in The Mass

(Renewed by Decree of Vatican II, Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI and Revised at the direction of Pope John Paul II) Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011

100. In the absence of an instituted acolyte [by the local ordinary], there may be deputed lay ministers to serve at the altar and assist the Priest and the Deacon;

these carry the cross, the candles, the thurible, the bread, the wine, and the water, or who are even deputed to distribute Holy Communion as extraordinary ministers.

110. If at Mass with the people only one minister is present, that minister may exercise several different functions.

111. There should be harmony and diligence among all those involved in the effective preparation of each liturgical celebration in accordance with the Missal and other liturgical books, both as regards the rites and as regards the pastoral and musical aspects. This should take place under the direction of the rector [pastor] of the church and after consultation with the faithful in things that directly pertain to them. However, the Priest who presides at the celebration always retains the right of arranging those things that pertain to him.

 

Non-Integration of Mass Ministries

NON-INTEGRATION OF MASS MINISTRIES

(Sacred Mysteries-Sacramental Principles & Liturgical Practice, p169) Paulist Press, 1995: Dennis C. Smolarski, S.J.

The proper celebration of liturgical rites assumes the presence of several ministers in addition to the one presiding. At the minimum, a typical celebration includes a reader, a cantor and a server. This is in stark contrast to the Tridentine missal and the 1614 A.D. Ritual, which presumed the presence only of a server and which also required the priest to repeat quietly texts sung by the choir or proclaimed by the deacon and sub-deacon.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy encourages the distribution of tasks during liturgical services and cautions that ministers “should carry out all and only those parts” that pertain to their ministry.

Such advice is repeated in the liturgical books themselves, for example, when the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that the presiding priest should not proclaim the gospel if a deacon or another priest is present.

Integration and coordination of ministries presupposes several things. It presupposes the existence of qualified ministers. It presumes that all ministers know what is proper to their own ministry and what is proper to other ministers. It also assumes that the presiding minister actually permits and encourages other ministers to do all that their ministry requires.

It may be difficult to recruit and train enough ministers to fill all the liturgical needs of a community. But such difficulty is no excuse for certain ministers regularly to usurp the roles of others. God has given the members of the assembly various gifts and talents, and they should not be overlooked. Gifted individuals need to be identified and their talents cultivated for the benefit of the community.

We should no more consider certain ministries optional than we should consider vesture or vessels optional. A reader at mass, for example, whether on Sunday or during the week, is not a nice addition when one is present. In most cases, the participation of a reader should be considered a necessity if the celebration is to be considered authentic. Without bread and wine, we cannot celebrate the mystery of the Eucharist. We should also think twice about the advisability of celebrating any liturgical mystery without the assistance of appropriate ministers.

NORMS DRAWN FROM THE NATURE OF THE LITURGY

Vatican II, CONSTITUTION ON THE SACRED LITURGY

(The Liturgy Documents—A Parish Resource, pp15-16) Liturgy Training Publications, Third Edition, 1991

22. §1. Regulation of the liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, accordingly as the law determines, on the bishop.

§2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops lawfully established.

§3. Therefore, no other person, not even if he is a priest, may on his own add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy.

28. In liturgical celebrations each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy.

32. The liturgy makes distinctions between persons according to their liturgical function and sacred orders and there are liturgical laws providing for due honors to be given to civil authorities. Apart from these instances,

NO SPECIAL HONORS ARE TO BE PAID IN THE LITURGY TO ANY PRIVATE PERSONS OR CLASSES OF PERSONS, WHETHER IN THE CEREMONIES OR BY EXTERNAL DISPLAY.