Rossweisse
RIP Rossweisse, HellHost and long-time Shipmate.
Please see the thread in All Saints remembering her.

Altar Servers

EvangelineEvangeline Shipmate Posts: 27
At Sunday School in an Anglo-Catholic church a child was trying to describe the Acolytes and crucifer, she said 'the people who stand around the Priests when they're talking'. Growing up and educated in Sydney, I have a lot of sympathy for the description.

Anybody have resources or explanations on Altar 'serving'. I am a bit stuck-I can describe what a crucifer and acolyte does and I appreciate the liturgy but ...I am struggling a bit to explain the role of the people who serve at the Altar in RC/Anglican high church contexts. Anyone? Anyone?
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Comments

  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    At the Rite of election in our cathedral last Sunday one of the catechumens described the various clerics and lay people accompanying the archbishop at the Solemn Mass as the 'archbishop and his chums'.
    Altar servers have important duties to perform,including,
    a ) bringing the sacred vessels to the altar from the credence (side) table
    b) bringing wine and water to the altar
    c) bringing water and towel for the priest to wash his hands
    d) ringing the sacring bells at appropriate times

    other possibles
    e)holding the book for the priest
    f) holding candles to enhance the solemnity of the proclamation of the Gospel
    g)leading the offertory procession
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    Why not get in touch with the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary (GSS) and ask if they produce anything for young servers?
  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    In broad terms, surely they are there to do things that need doing, but for which the priest doesn't have enough hands.

    To me, two things follow from that:

    - who says that these things need doing? and
    - we've had threads here before that note how various pragmatic short term solutions get raised (sometimes in very short order) to essential parts of worship. Is this the case here as well?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    At St Sanity, in addition to some of the tasks which Forthview sets out, servers also bring the chalices, ciboria, wine, water, pyx, bowl and lavabo towel and patens from the vestry to the credence table before the service. The server rostered to that table will also prepare the chalices with water and wine, and make sure there are slightly more than enough wafers in the ciboria. This is done during the Peace and the following hymn. As that is done, the corporal and purificators are handed to the lay assistant rostered to set the table; as the chalices and ciboria are prepared they are handed to the same assistant. Finally they hold the bowl and towel, then pour water over the hands of those distributing the host. After communion, that server does the ablutions etc and gets the credence table neat and tidy. Finally that server acts as a torchbearer. After the service, there's a proper washing of the chalices in hot and soapy water. A busy, full and important role. At least there are no bells.

    Lay assistants have a much easier task, each taking a chalice as communion is administered. Otherwise they need to look decorative.
  • BabyWombatBabyWombat Shipmate
    All that others have said, plus they ensure that the responses to priestly bits are made appropriately. When I was a lad that meant learning the Latin for it, not having much of a clue as to what it really was we mumbled. But servers or assistants of some kind do provide a congregation of sorts to make the responses. (At my old shack a former Senior Warden sat in the front row for the 8 o'clock Eucharist. Many Sundays he'd be the only one there and quite iterally 'he never said a mumbling word". Servers also run errands for the priest who left his eye glasses on the vesting table!

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    edited March 3
    Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    In broad terms, surely they are there to do things that need doing, but for which the priest doesn't have enough hands.

    To me, two things follow from that:

    - who says that these things need doing? and
    - we've had threads here before that note how various pragmatic short term solutions get raised (sometimes in very short order) to essential parts of worship. Is this the case here as well?

    Much of the time I find one assistant useful, and two a flipping nuisance. Mind you, I am not very tolerant of the endless elaboration that some folks seem to want in public worship. We usually have three definite 'jobs' at the sung communion service - sides man, server, and reader, but they often get combined usually with one person acting as server and another as reader and sides man. Keeping it simple has the advantage that no-one seems to get in anyone else's way.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    They are there largely for the "look."
    At ours weekday Mass is frequently/normally celebrated with no servers - sometimes Sunday Mass too. Sunday Mass is in fact easier for the priest because the chalice etc are brought up by members of the congregation and given to him, all he needs to do is to have the lavabo apparatus on the side of the altar. He is perfectly capable of holding his own book. Lay Eucharistic ministers assist at communion and take the metalwork away for the holy washing up.
    We are a very unfussy RC parish.
  • Hookers_TrickHookers_Trick 8th Day Host, Admin Emeritus
    The Dean of Exeter had this to say recently:

    "We can of course celebrate the Eucharist without altar servers, and do so most
    days of the week at our 8.20am Eucharist in the Lady Chapel. Servers, though,
    are vitally important at bigger celebrations. That is true practically - ensuring
    that the right equipment (vessels, books, microphones, etc.) is in the right
    place at the right time. It is true dramatically. The Cathedral is a vast space,
    which requires a liturgical choreography to give proper weight and dignity to
    the celebration. And it is true symbolically. The celebration of the Eucharist is
    not an exclusively priestly act: this is the work of the whole people of God, as
    the word liturgy reminds us, finding its roots in the Greek words for people’s
    work. Having lay people and clergy alongside each other at the front of the
    Cathedral is a visual illustration of this reality."

    The rest of his observations are here.
  • BabyWombatBabyWombat Shipmate
    Bravo Mr. Dean! Yes, the whole people of God at work. (and thank you, @Hookers_Trick for posting the Deans words)
  • EvangelineEvangeline Shipmate Posts: 27
    Thanks all, lots of helpful thoughts-the Dean of Exeter's observations probably come closest to the situation of said AC church, the drama and aesthetics of the Sunday mass and high holy days rely on servers. It sounds bad to say servers are there for the look of the thing-doesn't it????

    I'm pondering the issue about the symbolism of servers demonstrating that the liturgy is the work of the people, perhaps its my Prot. education but servers, in their robes, with their neutral expressions reinforce the separation of Priests and the laity in the pews-Servers appear as an in between layer reinforcing a separation between the Clergy and the laity. I suppose it's a subjective impression one way or the other, probably dependent on how one views the Priestly role.

    Beginning to think that thinking too much on this issue will lead to madness, the whole needless elaboration versus irreverent informality can become circular.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Alan29 - in that scenario, who prepares the chalice, ie makes sure there's enough wine and water in it but not too much, etc? And counts out the hosts into a ciborium?
  • LaudableLaudable Shipmate
    At our church the sacristan sets up everything on the credence table before the mass.

    The servers act as:

    thurifer

    crucifer

    taperers for the procession in and out, and for the Gospel procession
    (The crucifer holds the Gospels for the deacon, as we rarely have a subdeacon.)

    Both servers bring the paten, chalices (and flagon if needed), and ciborium to the deacon.
    (The sacristan will have put a basic number of wafers into the ciborium (varied according to the time of day) which is adjusted by one of the servers to match to the count provided by the ushers: that server also states the number to the deacon in presenting the ciborium.)

    Server A presents the wine and water to the deacon.

    Server B receives the offerings in the alms dish and, having presented them, places them on the credence table.

    Server A manages the lavabo.

    Server B rings the sanctus bell (ours is an actual bell hung in a side chapel).

    Server A assists the deacon with the ablutions.

    Server B returns to the aumbry any remaining consecrated elements.

    The sacristan and the servers assist with all clearing away after the organist has finished the postlude.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Alan29 - in that scenario, who prepares the chalice, ie makes sure there's enough wine and water in it but not too much, etc? And counts out the hosts into a ciborium?

    The priest prepares the chalice when there are no servers. On weekdays it is on the side of the altar and on Sundays everything is brought forward in the Offertory procession and he takes it to the altar and prepares it.
    Mass attendance is pretty stable, a couple of dozen on weekdays and 150 at the Sunday Mass I attend so any counting out is done in the sacristy before Mass and any "left-overs" are added to the ciborium in the tabernacle. It is all very simple and unfussy.
    Yes I agree with the point about servers looking like the clericalisation of the laity, and yes Eucharist is an act of the whole community.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thank you.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Generally we have no servers for the weekday Masses which will normally have between 20 and 40 participants. We are lucky to have a deacon or else the sacristans will prepare the chalice with burse and pall and purificator.The bread and wine is put on a table in the middle of the church and brought to the altar at the appropriate time by two representatives of the community ,often those who have requested the celebration of the Mass.

    However on a Sunday there are a large number of servers who are mainly young boys and girls. This is a good way of involving the young people more deeply in the celebration. We equally have a good music group which uses the talents of many young people in the direct liturgical service of the Lord.

    Until the recent prohibition (for the moment)of distributing to the faithful the Precious Blood five chalices were placed on the altar and it was good to see the young people helping with this.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    A key question with liturgical procedure is whether it is essential - in your belief system you've got to do it, otherwise the ceremony will not work - or an optional add on. Clearly what the Dean of Exeter is describing is the latter. There's no suggestion that he, or, I hope, anyone else, believes that at the weekday Eucharist the bread and wine only become the body of Christ in some lesser sense than at the more choreographed Eucharist on a Sunday.

    I've long suspected that whether one is inspired by lots of liturgical ceremonial or regards it as flummery that gets in the way is a matter of temperament. I think the same goes for whether symbols work for you or not.

    As @Evangeline and @Alan29 have said, ceremonial that the Dean thinks symbolises the involvement of the whole people of God can just as easily convey the exact opposite message. Clearly a symbol only works if it conveys the intended symbolism rather than a different one.

    For me, as long as things are done decently and in good order, I tend more to the flummery that gets in the way take on this, but that's me. It's not necessarily so for other people. There does come a point, though, where I'd say that lack of decency and good order does start to infringe on the 'procedure that is essential'. For a Eucharist, I think that would be if the person celebrating doesn't appear to respect that what he or she is doing is a sacred moment, and possibly if they appear to be completely blasé about what the disciplines of their particular household of faith requires of them. Perhaps that is 'not discerning the body' as applied to celebrants.

  • AngusAngus Shipmate Posts: 23
    edited March 4
    My daughters, 13 and 10, are both servers. They describe their most vital functions as stopping the Priest setting his robes on fire and ensuring that he has his glasses or holding liturgy books at the correct viewing distance...
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »

    I've long suspected that whether one is inspired by lots of liturgical ceremonial or regards it as flummery that gets in the way is a matter of temperament. I think the same goes for whether symbols work for you or not.

    That's obviously true I think. But whether or not the ceremonial appears as 'flummery' can depend to a large extent on the context. A tiny sanctuary in a small mission church, with a congregation of 20 or less, would look ridiculous crowded with servers and other supernumeraries. But, as the Dean of Exeter suggests, a solemn eucharist in a vast cathedral wouldn't seem right if the only robed figure were the officiating priest. While I take the point that robed servers can appear to be on the 'them' side of the laity/clergy divide, to focus all attention on a single figure seems more clericalist to my mind. Liturgy is drama, after all, and while the sacramental reality is the same however elaborate or not its presentation, concern for choreography and dramatic effect is not necessarily mere flummery.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Angus wrote: »
    My daughters, 13 and 10, are both servers. They describe their most vital functions as stopping the Priest setting his robes on fire and ensuring that he has his glasses or holding liturgy books at the correct viewing distance...

    Teehee. And a critical role, too.
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Alan29

    Mass attendance is pretty stable, a couple of dozen on weekdays and 150 at the Sunday Mass I attend so any counting out is done in the sacristy before Mass and any "left-overs" are added to the ciborium in the tabernacle. It is all very simple and unfussy.
    Yes I agree with the point about servers looking like the clericalisation of the laity, and yes Eucharist is an act of the whole community.

    In our setting to the ciborium is set up in the sacristy for the large Sunday Mass (usually in the 40-60). The more precise answer is at present I am the person who usually does it; the sacristan or vicar doing it on other occasions. I look at how many partook last week and decide what is a reasonable number from that. No, I am neither priest nor server; indeed I am not even an attendee at the Mass it is set up for. For smaller masses, we do not use a ciborium and the priest decides although he may consult the server when there is one.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Angus wrote: »
    My daughters, 13 and 10, are both servers. They describe their most vital functions as stopping the Priest setting his robes on fire and ensuring that he has his glasses or holding liturgy books at the correct viewing distance...

    That's good of them, but surely not proper practice. Those are tasks for the sub-deacon.
  • AngusAngus Shipmate Posts: 23
    Gee D wrote: »
    Angus wrote: »
    My daughters, 13 and 10, are both servers. They describe their most vital functions as stopping the Priest setting his robes on fire and ensuring that he has his glasses or holding liturgy books at the correct viewing distance...

    That's good of them, but surely not proper practice. Those are tasks for the sub-deacon.

    Ah. Haven’t got one of those. Or any flavours of deacons for that matter !
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    I wish I had a server. Two would be nice to add to the dignity of the ceremonial, especially the censing of the church, but in truth I'd be grateful for just the one to help me with the lights, to prepare and maintain the censer, to hold things that need to be held, and to hand me stuff when I need it.

    Our services at the moment consist almost entirely of the Divine Office and, as we have no choir, I am both officiant and cantor. Juggling books, handing out candles, lighting charcoal while chanting the long responsory, and lighting the lamps while leading the singing of the Phos Hilaron in time to high-tail it to the ambo with the Gospel* can be a little trying sometimes with no assistance.

    I recognise that we are a mission, and a fairly new one at that, but I sometimes wish I had at least one reader, one server, and one person who could lead the music, so I could just get on with the business of carrying the people in prayer.

    You see, in addition to all of the things mentioned above, servers allow the clergy to pray, and I think the importance of this cannot be underestimated.

    *Because we have no priest, we have our bishop's blessing to insert the readings from the Divine Liturgy, as well as a homily, into Vespers.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I wish I had a server. Two would be nice to add to the dignity of the ceremonial, especially the censing of the church, but in truth I'd be grateful for just the one to help me with the lights, to prepare and maintain the censer, to hold things that need to be held, and to hand me stuff when I need it.[/i]

    Three, as we and many others do, is even better - a crucifer and 2 torchbearers. That gives a proper Gospel procession.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Angus wrote: »
    My daughters, 13 and 10, are both servers. They describe their most vital functions as stopping the Priest setting his robes on fire and ensuring that he has his glasses or holding liturgy books at the correct viewing distance...

    That's good of them, but surely not proper practice. Those are tasks for the sub-deacon.

    Are you talking about lay folk dressed up, priests dressed down or the real McCoy?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited March 5
    Most of the time, they will be lay people vested as a deacon would be. Few parish churches would have the resources for one salaried deacon, let alone 2. So there can be services at which I'm a server; at others a lay assistant, a deacon or a sub-deacon. Or a member of the congregation, although that's pretty rare.
  • AngusAngus Shipmate Posts: 23
    Occasionally here it’s a complete family affair, my daughters are servers, wife is the crucifer and I am given charge of the fiery handbag.....
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Most of the time, they will be lay people vested as a deacon would be. Few parish churches would have the resources for one salaried deacon, let alone 2. So there can be services at which I'm a server; at others a lay assistant, a deacon or a sub-deacon. Or a member of the congregation, although that's pretty rare.

    Holy orders? Do they matter?
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I wish I had a server. Two would be nice to add to the dignity of the ceremonial, especially the censing of the church, but in truth I'd be grateful for just the one to help me with the lights, to prepare and maintain the censer, to hold things that need to be held, and to hand me stuff when I need it.[/i]

    Three, as we and many others do, is even better - a crucifer and 2 torchbearers. That gives a proper Gospel procession.

    We’re a bit luxurious at My Place, then. Celebrant, deacon, subdeacon, MC, crucifer,
    thurifer , and two torches is our standard Sunday group. All are utilized throughout the service, with the torches having the least duties incumbent on them.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Sorry, the crucifer and torchbearers are followed by the subdeacon and the deacon. I was only talking about the servers.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Most of the time, they will be lay people vested as a deacon would be. Few parish churches would have the resources for one salaried deacon, let alone 2. So there can be services at which I'm a server; at others a lay assistant, a deacon or a sub-deacon. Or a member of the congregation, although that's pretty rare.

    Holy orders? Do they matter?

    Yes, they do, but not many have the luxury of ordained deacons and sub-deacons? Sometimes the assistant priest is available to be deacon, but often he's needed elsewhere. The laity in those roles are of course volunteers.
  • PendragonPendragon Shipmate
    We have had Fr Duckling for less than a year, before that it only the longer-standing members of the St Quack's congregation can remember having a Deacon. We normally have two priests on a Sunday as there is also Fr Mandarin, and Fr Swan before him, although ill health keeps him in the congregation these days, and they're both in the concelebration camp.

    Sundays is normally Thurifer, Crucifer, two Acolytes, and an MC on the serving team. If we have less than that we drop the Crucifer/Acolytes depending on numbers. Weekday masses don't normally have a server as such, unless it's a special service, when as a minimum we'd start with a Thurifer and possibly an MC, depending on who is there. I personally think that having a thurible without having someone dedicated to look after it is not the best idea as they definitely require two hands.

    There is definitely an 'A team' when it comes to certain roles and things running slickly/managing annual special liturgies.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    If we were going all out here 'third man in the conga line' would be a Reader acting as the Epistoller (sub-deacon). Not sure whether that would be considered dressing up; dressing down, or simply wrong uniform, but Readers are the closest thing we have to sub-deacons.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited March 6
    If a priest is dressing down and is there anyway, why would they not just concelebrate as a priest?
    I am genuinely flummoxed by this need for people pretending to be what they are not whether it is lay folk apeing clergy or priests dropping a grade or two.
    Just why?
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    If a priest is dressing down and is there anyway, why would they not just concelebrate as a priest?
    I am genuinely flummoxed by this need for people pretending to be what they are not whether it is lay folk apeing clergy or priests dropping a grade or two.
    Just why?

    Priests don't pretend to be deacons, surely? They are deacons. Holy orders are like Russian dolls, aren't they?
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »
    If a priest is dressing down and is there anyway, why would they not just concelebrate as a priest?
    I am genuinely flummoxed by this need for people pretending to be what they are not whether it is lay folk apeing clergy or priests dropping a grade or two.
    Just why?

    Priests don't pretend to be deacons, surely? They are deacons. Holy orders are like Russian dolls, aren't they?

    Agreed. What about lay folk dressing up as though they were in holy orders?
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    Alan29 wrote: »
    If a priest is dressing down and is there anyway, why would they not just concelebrate as a priest?
    I am genuinely flummoxed by this need for people pretending to be what they are not whether it is lay folk apeing clergy or priests dropping a grade or two.
    Just why?

    Priests don't pretend to be deacons, surely? They are deacons. Holy orders are like Russian dolls, aren't they?

    Agreed. What about lay folk dressing up as though they were in holy orders?

    Given that subdeacons don't exist any more in the western church and when they were abolished in the RCC their functions were explicitly assigned to readers and acolytes (neither in holy orders) I don't really see the problem.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited March 6
    Alan29 wrote: »
    Alan29 wrote: »
    If a priest is dressing down and is there anyway, why would they not just concelebrate as a priest?
    I am genuinely flummoxed by this need for people pretending to be what they are not whether it is lay folk apeing clergy or priests dropping a grade or two.
    Just why?

    Priests don't pretend to be deacons, surely? They are deacons. Holy orders are like Russian dolls, aren't they?

    Agreed. What about lay folk dressing up as though they were in holy orders?

    Given that subdeacons don't exist any more in the western church and when they were abolished in the RCC their functions were explicitly assigned to readers and acolytes (neither in holy orders) I don't really see the problem.

    Deacons? And it still doesn't answer my question of "just why?"
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I wish I had a server. Two would be nice to add to the dignity of the ceremonial, especially the censing of the church, but in truth I'd be grateful for just the one to help me with the lights, to prepare and maintain the censer, to hold things that need to be held, and to hand me stuff when I need it.[/i]

    Three, as we and many others do, is even better - a crucifer and 2 torchbearers. That gives a proper Gospel procession.

    I was going by what would be ideal in our little mission as things stand, in order to allow things to run smoothly. If we were an established parish with all of the resources, the full ceremonial for a Gospel procession would involve two servers to carry the lights, one for the censer, and two for the fans. In our rite, we don't really have anyone carrying the Cross apart from during the entrance procession.
    Given that subdeacons don't exist any more in the western church and when they were abolished in the RCC their functions were explicitly assigned to readers and acolytes (neither in holy orders) I don't really see the problem.

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "the western church".
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "the western church".
    As far as I'm aware, they haven't existed in the part of it I belong to since sometime between 1529 and 1560.

    I've no idea whether they did before and am not really all that interested to find out. If they did, it was probably a convenient way of avoiding some parts of the criminal law.


  • Cyprian wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I wish I had a server. Two would be nice to add to the dignity of the ceremonial, especially the censing of the church, but in truth I'd be grateful for just the one to help me with the lights, to prepare and maintain the censer, to hold things that need to be held, and to hand me stuff when I need it.[/i]

    Three, as we and many others do, is even better - a crucifer and 2 torchbearers. That gives a proper Gospel procession.

    I was going by what would be ideal in our little mission as things stand, in order to allow things to run smoothly. If we were an established parish with all of the resources, the full ceremonial for a Gospel procession would involve two servers to carry the lights, one for the censer, and two for the fans. In our rite, we don't really have anyone carrying the Cross apart from during the entrance procession.
    Given that subdeacons don't exist any more in the western church and when they were abolished in the RCC their functions were explicitly assigned to readers and acolytes (neither in holy orders) I don't really see the problem.

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "the western church".

    Those bits that trace their ancestry through the western side of the Great Schism rather than one of the Orthodox traditions, but excluding the Eastern Rite Catholics as I understand they retain the subdiaconate.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Some people who are Anglicans may or may not know that in that part of the 'Western church' often known as the Catholic Church, clergy no longer 'dress down' Granted that a man in priest's orders will have been a deacon, he is considered to be a priest and does not function in a deacon's role. There isn't really anything known as 'High Mass' any longer, though a celebration of the eucharist may be solemnised with the assistance of a deacon or even two deacons, but these will be men in the ecclesiastical order of deacon , either permanent or transitional. Even in the past few ordinary Catholic parishes would have celebrated ,except maybe on the greatest of feasts ,a High Mass with deacon and subdeacon.
    In our parish we are extremely lucky to have the services of a permanent deacon who will normally carry out the diaconal service of Proclamation of the Gospel, Preparation of the altar and dismissal rite. He also does marriages and funerals when no Mass has been requested and also baptisms,so he is a busy man.
    Apart from that all the altar servers are children.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "the western church".
    As far as I'm aware, they haven't existed in the part of it I belong to since sometime between 1529 and 1560.

    I've no idea whether they did before and am not really all that interested to find out. If they did, it was probably a convenient way of avoiding some parts of the criminal law.


    I believe that in the Church of England minor orders were suppressed in 1547, were restored by Mary, and were finally abolished in 1559. However, sub-deacons have occasionally popped up in Anglican circles. The diocese of Arizona had them in the 1960s (which odd given that the place was usually snake-belly Low) and also South Africa.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    Some people who are Anglicans may or may not know that in that part of the 'Western church' often known as the Catholic Church, clergy no longer 'dress down' Granted that a man in priest's orders will have been a deacon, he is considered to be a priest and does not function in a deacon's role. There isn't really anything known as 'High Mass' any longer, though a celebration of the eucharist may be solemnised with the assistance of a deacon or even two deacons, but these will be men in the ecclesiastical order of deacon , either permanent or transitional. Even in the past few ordinary Catholic parishes would have celebrated ,except maybe on the greatest of feasts ,a High Mass with deacon and subdeacon.
    In our parish we are extremely lucky to have the services of a permanent deacon who will normally carry out the diaconal service of Proclamation of the Gospel, Preparation of the altar and dismissal rite. He also does marriages and funerals when no Mass has been requested and also baptisms,so he is a busy man.
    Apart from that all the altar servers are children.

    This.
    And even when at a diocesan celebration there is a number of deacons, only one will assist at the altar in full garb, the rest will sit in choir in surplice and stole. More than one deacon when there are several concelebrating priests at the altar is just too many people cluttering up the place.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Many Anglicans have taken on board the post-Vatican 2 practice, and will prefer concelebration over a priest taking the deacon's role. It seems neat and tidy, but I am less and less convinced about the theology. A priest isn't just a former deacon: ordination to the priesthood does not eradicate the diaconate IMHO. Any more than any clergy person ceases to be a member of the Laos or people of God. And just as it doesn't make sense to have a multitude of deacons swanning around the sanctuary, it doesn't make much sense either to have more than one vested priest. The whole congregation are 'concelebrants'; the role of the priest is to focus their offering by presiding over the whole celebration, and you can only have one president at a time.
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    PDR wrote: »
    I believe that in the Church of England minor orders were suppressed in 1547, were restored by Mary, and were finally abolished in 1559. However, sub-deacons have occasionally popped up in Anglican circles. The diocese of Arizona had them in the 1960s (which odd given that the place was usually snake-belly Low) and also South Africa.

    In my Chicago A-C parish, I serve as a subdeacon (necessary for anything "solemn"), but I make a point of not saying I am a subdeacon. It's just another liturgical role done by me and others. Mainly it's to assist the celebrant: hold the cope, point the book, sing the epistle, administer a chalice.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    In a concelebrated liturgy there will be only one 'president , or principal celebrant.
    I agree with Enoch that to me it is often 'tidier' to have just one priest at the altar, however the original idea of bishops, priests and deacons and one celebration on a Sunday brought together the bishop surrounded by his elders/presbyters/priests as well as those in the diaconate. In the western church, as also in the eastern church ,the presbyters often had to go and celebrate elsewhere for the growing Christian communities leading to the formation of parishes smaller than dioceses.
    In the eastern church it is common for several priests to celebrate the liturgy, a practice which was lost in the western church until the changes brought about by Vatican 2.
    For centuries, and presumably this was the case in the Anglican liturgy, that the only concelebration was on the day of priestly ordination when the bishop would invite the newly ordained presbyters to concelebrate with him the eucharist.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Angus wrote: »
    My daughters, 13 and 10, are both servers. They describe their most vital functions as stopping the Priest setting his robes on fire and ensuring that he has his glasses or holding liturgy books at the correct viewing distance...

    That's good of them, but surely not proper practice. Those are tasks for the sub-deacon.

    The deacon's role if the celebrant be a bishop, but in my experience I have found that the roles of acolyte and subdeacon can flow together rather easily.

    At Our Lady Joy of All Who Procrastinate the server is usually in cotta/surplice and cassock, but I have been drafted in wearing my civvies at low masses, owing to years of keeping one sort of minister (of the Crown) from going off the rails, evidently I can do it for the other sort.

    Over the years I have seen the acolyte both cassocked and not, and whether or not it clericalizes and ossifies the clergy/laity divide really depends on the luggage the observer brings into the room.

    Fans of the subdiaconate might be interested in knowing that there is at least one subdeacon wandering around the Church of Ireland when I last heard, having been ordered as such in the former Rhodesia, and never having proceeded further in the ordination route.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    I might have added earlier for Enoch that in the Presbyterian church of Scotland at the Lord's Supper, the parish minister will take the role of the bishop surrounded by the ordained elders/presbyters who will often form a semi circle round the Holy Table/altar and at the appropriate time bring the communion elements to the faithful.
    My understanding is that this is the traditional way for communion to be celebrated and to my mind it is exactly the same as the traditional bishop surrounded by his priests.
    The vocabulary may be different but the practice is the same.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Oblatus wrote: »
    PDR wrote: »
    I believe that in the Church of England minor orders were suppressed in 1547, were restored by Mary, and were finally abolished in 1559. However, sub-deacons have occasionally popped up in Anglican circles. The diocese of Arizona had them in the 1960s (which odd given that the place was usually snake-belly Low) and also South Africa.

    In my Chicago A-C parish, I serve as a subdeacon (necessary for anything "solemn"), but I make a point of not saying I am a subdeacon. It's just another liturgical role done by me and others. Mainly it's to assist the celebrant: hold the cope, point the book, sing the epistle, administer a chalice.

    This is true for My Place as well. Subdeacons do all these things and then also serve on the liturgy commission. Here, it’s just a liturgical role that also signifies one is highly involved in the life of the congregation. Subdeacons seem to only exist in AC parishes in cities now.
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