Items used at Mass and Liturgies
Contains the opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, prayer after
communion, and solemn blessings. Eucharistic prayers and prefaces
for all of the masses including most special occasions.
Contains the scripture readings for Mass. It is carried in the
procession by the lector and placed on the ambo.
Book of the Gospels
Contains only the Gospel readings. It is used on more solemn
occasions and is carried by the deacon if it is used.
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The large cup used at Mass used to hold the wine which becomes the
Blood of Christ.
A vessel used to hold the Hosts which will be used for communion.
They are also used to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the
A saucer-like disk which holds the bread which becomes the Body of
Small vessels that hold the water and wine (for
the chalice) used during Mass
Aspergill / Aspergillium
A rod with small holes in the end allowing the sprinkling of Holy
The aspersory is the portable vessel filled with Holy Water
The shrine or receptacle either round or rectangular that serves as a
place for the exclusive reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. It
should be of solid material, opaque, secure and inviolable, fitting the
architecture of the church in a preeminent place.
An oil lamp or wax candle that burns near the tabernacle. It is
always lit whenever the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in churches
or chapels as a sign of honor shown to the Lord.
A sacred vessel designed to expose the consecrated Host to the
congregation either for adoration in church of carrying in procession,
particularly on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Censor and Boat ( Thurible)
The Censor, also known as the Thurible, is used at solemn occasion
to incense the bread and wine after the offertory, the priest, and
congregation. The Boat holds the incense until it is place in the
censor by the celebrant.
Decanter or Flagon
The bottle or pitcher like vessel used to hold the wine which will be
consecrated at mass for the communion of the people. It is brought
forth with the gifts.
Lavabo Bowl / Ablution Cup
is a bowl over which the priest washes his hands during Mass
(water drips into this bowl.)
The Processional Cross is the large cross that is carried in by a
server at the beginning of Mass and is carried out at the end of Mass
The Gospel Candle is carried during the precession and reading the
Small container (Greek meaning 'box') that holds the consecrated
Host taken to the sick
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A white linen cloth on which are placed the vessels containing the
bread and wine during Mass which will become the Body and Blood
A white cloth use to cleanse the chalice. It resembles a napkin.
The stiff, square, white cover that is placed over the paten when it is
on the chalice.
A Finger Towel
is used by the priest to dry his hands after the hand washing.
Round (from the Latin 'moon') hinged case with glass from and back,
in the center of the Monstrance
The lunette is a circular case which fits in the luna and holds the
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A long white garment which can be used by all liturgical ministers. It
is a reminder of the baptismal garment worn when the new Christian
"Put on Christ."
A long black garment worn by Altar Servers under the Surplice. Also
worn by Diocesan Priests (Black), Monsignors (Rose), Bishops
(Violet), Cardinals (Red), and the Pope (White).
The sleeveless outer garment, slipped over the head, hanging down
from the shoulders covering the alb and stole of the priest. It is the
proper Mass vestment for the main celebrant and its color varies
according to the feast.
A cape-like garment which is put over the shoulders and hangs to
the ankles, it is open in the front and worn by a priest or deacon in
processions at Benediction and in other services.
A loose-fitting robe with open sides and wide sleeves worn by a
deacon on more solemn feasts. It takes its color from the liturgical
feast as listed above.
This is a wide-sleeved garment, slipped over the head, covering the
shoulders, and coming down below the hips. It is worn over the
A long cloth "scarf." According to the manner in which it
worn it is the mark of the Office of the priest or deacon.
A priest wears it around the neck, letting it hang down
A long cloth "scarf." According to the manner in
which it worn it is the mark of the Office of the priest
or deacon. A deacon wears it over his left shoulder,
fastening it at his right side.
Benediction / Humeral Veil
This is a long narrow shawl-like vestment used at Benediction.
A long cord used for fastening albs at the waist. It holds the loosefitting type of alb in place and is used to adjust it to proper length. It
is usually white, although the liturgical color of the day may be used.
HELPFUL DEFINITIONS ALTAR
SERVERS SHOULD KNOW
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Alb – The full white garment worn by the priest, deacon, and in some
cases the altar servers. The alb is symbolic of Baptism. The rope tied
around the waist is called a cincture.
Altar - The place where the Eucharistic Sacrifice takes place. The
altar is sacred and often contains relics of the saints.
Ablution Cup/ Lavabo Bowl - covered dish of water on the side of
the tabernacle which is used by the priest, deacon or extraordinary
ministers of the Eucharist to wash their fingers after distributing
Ambo - The platform, lectern or pulpit from which the reading and
homily are given.
Aspergillium - The holy water sprinkler.
Cassock - A long tunic-like garment which reaches from the neck to
the heels and is worn by some servers and clergy.
Chalice - A cup of precious metal that holds the wine which
becomes the Blood of Jesus after the consecration. All chalices
should be placed in their places after Mass. If the chalices were left
unpurified by the priest or deacon for some reason, they should be
left out on the presentation table for purification by the priest or
deacon. Never put an unpurified chalice away.
Chalice Veil (peplum) - A cloth covering used to hide the chalice
and paten up to the offertory and after Communion. It is selected by
the liturgical color for the service.
Ciborium - A large cup or container of precious metal with a cover of
the same material which will hold the Body of Jesus after the
consecration for distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful.
Corporal - A white linen cloth, usually with a cross in the center,
used to protect any particles of the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus
from falling to the altar cloth. It is always folded and unfolded so as
to protect any particles from being lost. The corporal is like the body
winding sheet used to hold the crucified body of Our Lord in the
Credence Table - The table in the sanctuary where the cruets,
chalices and ciborium are kept before and after the Consecration.
Cruets - The vessels containing the water and wine used at Mass.
Lectionary - The book of reading used for the Liturgy of the Word. It
usually contains all the biblical reading used for the three-year
Sunday cycle of reading and the two-year daily Mass readings.
Pall - A square piece of cardboard or plastic which is covered by
linen and used to cover the chalice.
Paten - A small saucer shaped plate of precious metal that holds the
Host. No lay person should ever touch the paten, so be very careful
when handling it in your official duties.
Purificator - A linen cloth used by the priest or deacon to dry the
chalice after washing and purifying it. Used purificators must always
be placed in the proper container for sacred cloths.
Sacramentary - The book containing the prayers said by the priest
during the Mass.
Sacrarium (piscina) - A sink with it drain going directly into the
ground usually fitted with a cover and lock which is used for the
disposal of the following: The sacred linen wash and rinse water,
used holy water, used baptismal water and blessed ashes. No other
use is permitted.
Stock - The metal containers used to hold the oil of the catechumen,
the oil of chrism and the oil for anointing the sick.
Stoup - The holy water fountains or bowls at the entrances of the
Surplice - A wide-sleeved linen worn over a cassock by clergy and
altar servers in some parishes.
Thurible - The special vessel which holds burning charcoal and into
which incense is placed. The device holding the incense is called the
Acolytes' Candles - These two candles are carried either side of the
cross in the entrance procession. They are then used to flank the
Gospel when it is proclaimed.
Alb - A long linen tunic, worn since the four century. The name
comes from the Latin word, 'albus', and meaning white.
Altar - The structure on which the Eucharist takes place.
Book of Gospels - Contains all the Gospel readings for the Church's
year. It is brought to the lectern during the Gospel acclamation. It
may be carried into church as part of the entrance procession or put
in a special place before the celebration begins.
Cassock - Full-length gown with sleeves worn by servers and
Chalice - The cup that contains the precious Blood of Christ.
Chapel of Reconciliation/Confessional Box - Here we meet with
the priest to confess our sins and, through the Sacrament of
Reconciliation or Penance, receive God's forgiveness in the prayer of
Ciborium - A container that holds the body of Christ.
Cincture - A rope belt that is tied around the waist.
Corporal - Its name comes from the Latin word 'corpus' meaning a
'body'. It is a square of white cloth, on which the chalice and paten
are placed during the Mass, to catch particles of the Blessed
Sacrament, should any fall from the vessels. The corporal is placed
on the altar either before Mass begins or during the preparation of
Credence table - The little wooden side table on which all the things
that are necessary for the Mass are placed.
Crozier - Carried by a Bishop. Looks like a shepherd's crook and
reminds us that the Bishop is chief shepherd of the flock of Christ in
any given area.
Crucifix - A cross on which is the figure of Jesus.
Cruet - Small jug that contains water or wine for the Mass.
Baptismal Font - This is a pool or vessel of water in which people
are baptised. It reminds us of our baptism, when we were washed
clean of sin and became a member of God's family.
Gospel Book - A large decorated book containing only Gospel
readings for the Mass. The deacon usually carries it.
Host - The consecrated Body of Christ.
Humeral veil - A long rectangular garment, held by a clasp at the
front, worn by a priest or deacon when carrying a Ciborium or
Monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament.
Incense - A substance that gives off clouds of sweet smelling smoke
when sprinkled onto burning charcoal.
Incense Boat - So called because it is usually shaped like a boat, it
contains the incense, which will be burned in the thurible.
Lavabo Bowl and Towel - At the preparation of the gifts the priest
washes his hands to signify the cleansing of the sins of those
gathered and to prepare himself for what he is about to do.
Lectern - The desk from which the readers, deacon and priest
proclaim the readings.
Lectionary - A book containing all the scripture readings for Mass.
It is placed on the lectern before Mass begins, or it may be carried in
the entrance procession.
Lunette - A crescent-shaped clip made of gold or of silver-gilt, which
is used for holding the Host in an upright position when, exposed in
Mitre - A tall pointed hat in two pieces as worn by a Bishop. It
reminds us of the tongues of fire that seemed to light upon the
apostles on the first day of Pentecost.
Monstrance - A metal container on a stand. It is used at expositions
and benedictions of the Blessed Sacrament. It may be plain or very
elaborate, but it always has a little glass window through which you
can see the host.
Pascal Candle - This speaks of our Lord's resurrection from the
dead. During the Easter season this paschal candle has its place in
the sanctuary. Thereafter it is placed next to the font for use during
Presidential chair - The chair on which the presider sits.
Processional Cross - This is carried into church at the head of a
procession, as a sign of our faith, and is the basic symbol of
Christianity. It reminds us that Jesus died for us.
Purification - A cloth that is used to wipe the chalice each time it is
Pyx - A small metal container, used to take Holy Communion to the
sick and Housebound.
Sacramentary - A book that the priest uses at his chair and at the
altar. It can also be called the Missal.
Sacristy - The room where the clergy and servers prepare
themselves for the service.
Sanctuary - Sacred part of the church where the Altar, Lectern and
presidential chair are located.
Sanctuary Lamp - The lamp that is kept burning on the sanctuary
to show that the Blessed Sacrament is present.
Stations of the Cross - These depict, usually in fourteen stages, the
journey of Jesus to Calvary , his crucifixion on the cross and his
laying in the tomb.
Stole - This important vestment, worn around the neck, shows that
the priest is celebrating one of the Sacraments. It also shows that
the priest has the duty to preach the Word of God.
Tabernacle - The cupboard where we keep the consecrated bread
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The Presider’s Chair is the chair on the right side of the sanctuary
that the priest uses to sit on when he presides (leads) at Mass during
the Liturgy of the Word and the concluding prayers of the Mass.
The Ambo is the stand at which the Word of God is read from the
lectionary. The homily is usually delivered from the ambo also.
The Altar is the holy table from which the priest presides over the
Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The Credence Table is the side table near the sanctuary where
items are kept when they are needed for Mass but are not currently
The Tabernacle is the large, decorated box or safe in which the
consecrated Eucharistic Bread is kept. It is located in the Blessed
The Baptismal Font is the large pool at the entrance to the church
where baptisms take place.
Liturgical Colors for Chasuble,
Dalmatic and Stoles
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- Worn during "Ordinary Time." Ordinary does not mean
ordinary in the sense of common or normal. Ordinary means
counting, as in the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Red - Worn on Passion (Palm) Sunday, Good Friday, Pentecost
Sunday, and on the Feast Days of Martyrs including the Apostles
Violet - Worn during Advent and Lent or at Masses for the dead.
White - Worn during the Christmas, Easter seasons and
celebrations of Mary, the Angels, Saints who were not martyrs, All
Saints, Birth of John the Baptist, Chair of Peter, Conversion of Paul,
St. John the Evangelist and is the preferred color for Masses for the
Rose / Pink - Worn on the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete
Sunday) and the 4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday).
- Was traditionally worn at Masses for the dead. Now the
preferred color is White or Violet.
Worn during "Ordinary Time." Ordinary does not
mean ordinary in the sense of common or normal.
Ordinary means counting, as in the 15th Sunday in
Worn on Passion (Palm) Sunday, Pentecost Sunday,
and on the Feast Days of Martyrs including the
Apostles and Envangelists.
Worn during the Christmas and Easter seasons and
celebrations of Mary, the Angels, the Saints who
were not martyrs, All Saints, Birth of John the
Baptist, Chair of Peter, and Conversion of Paul.
Worn during Advent and Lent.
Worn on the 3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)
and the 4th Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday).
Worn at Masses for the dead.
PARTS OF THE HOLY MASS
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We know that there are different parts of the Mass. As Altar servers,
we have different responsibilities in each phase. We must familiarize
ourselves with the parts of the Mass.
Liturgy of the word
1 st Reading
2 nd Reading
Profession of Faith
Prayer of the Faithful
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Preparation of the gifts
Sign of peace