Become an Altar Server
The Qualities of an Altar Server
Every server first and foremost must have a sense of reverence and respect. When we are visitors in someone’s house, we ought to show respect and visiting the house of God’s is no different. We must remind ourselves that the real presence of Jesus dwells within the church, in the tabernacle. The rubrics of the church state that the ministers, which would include servers, genuflect to the Tabernacle, IF it is in the sanctuary, at the beginning and end of Mass, and bow to the altar during the course of the Mass. This is due to the fact that the Mass is an unfolding mystery of Christ, first His Word in the Scripture, then His Sacrifice on the Altar, His Communion with us, and finally His abiding Presence.
Outside of Mass, however, the normal tradition applies, we genuflect whenever we cross before the Lord. The very fact that genuflection at the beginning and end of Mass is obliged shows that the special rubrics, meant to sacramentally unfold the mystery of the Eucharist, apply only during the Mass.
So, as they set up the altar before Mass, the servers and others should continue to genuflect. The exception would be when impeded, such as carry chalices and the like, when there is danger of dropping them. They may bow in such a circumstance. Otherwise, at the Offertory and during the Mass generally, when approaching and departing the altar they bow.
If the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from it, but not during the celebration of Mass itself. Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession. Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.