How to Altar Serve at a Funeral

by Lindsey Robinson Sanchez

Altar servers are expected to assist and serve the priest at Mass with dignity and reverence. Nowhere is this more important than at a funeral Mass, where emotions are at their highest and mourners need to feel a sense of peace. There are usually three servers assisting, each with special responsibilities to ensure that the funeral runs smoothly.

Walk to the altar and assemble on one side of the casket. You will be holding either a cross, a candle, a bowl of holy water, a censer or nothing at all. If you are not carrying anything, fold your hands in front of you at hip level.

Hold the funeral book for the priest. Only one of the servers will perform this step.

Light the charcoal for the incense at the sacristy. Some churches light the charcoal at the homily, or final sermon of Mass, while others light it at the beginning of the funeral service. One of the servers performs this step.

Bring the items for the Eucharist to the altar. This will include the sacramentary and stand; communion wine, chalice and corporal; communion cup; ciborium; and purificators.

Remove the top from the wine and bring it to the priest. One server performs this step and then all of the altar servers will line up for communion.

Move the Eucharist items to the credence table after everyone has received communion.

Bring the sacramentary to the priest for the final prayer. The sacramentary should be open to the correct page for the priest to read.

Give the priest the censer, if you are the server carrying the censer. Wait as the priest anoints the casket with incense. Return the sacramentary to the credence table.

Follow the priest outside of the church before the casket.

Tip

  • When you are not actively serving, stand with your hands folded in front of you, eyes forward.

About the Author

Lindsey Robinson Sanchez, from Bessemer, Ala., has written for the "Troy Messenger," "The Alabama Baptist" and "The Gainesville Times," where her work was featured on the AP wire. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida. She writes style, beauty, fitness, travel and culture.

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