Tuesday, May 8, 2012
How to Altar Serve a Traditional Latin Mass: Comprehensive Resource List

As an altar server myself, I have long wanted to put together a Comprehensive List of Resources for young men wishing to serve the Tridentine Latin Mass.  And here is my attempt at such a list.  Please leave additional suggestions in the comment box.

This list, importantly, includes cards, DVDs, and books.  Thus, it is meant to provide a comprehensive list of resources for all learners.

1. How to Serve Low Mass and Benediction by Rev. William A. O'Brien

Personally, this is the resource I used to learn to serve.  It is inexpensive and easy to use.  In fact, I kept it with me to study when I had downtime.  Highly recommended.

Assist at the Sacred Mysteries with precision. Pictures of the sacristy, sanctuary, sacred vessels, and vestments. Teaches the necessary Latin (with pronunciation guide) and the movements and responses for serving Low Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, Requiem Mass, Mass in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, Low Mass with 2 servers, and Benediction.

2. Instructional DVD on How to Serve the Traditional Latin Mass

While I don't have details on this item, I have seen this item recommended before.  See above link for more information.

3. Letters to an Altar Boy by Fr. David E. Rosage

This is a book of letters for all altar boys who, from the smallest one up, are the most important people in their parishes. God's Minutemen is what the author affectionately calls them, for he knows that they are always ready for duty as altar boys, no matter what the personal cost. The author writes this book with the hope that in these letters all acolytes may find encouragement to continue being loyal and faithful in their service of our Lord. Father Rosage shows them that while serving Mass is the greatest honor and the biggest job in the parish, it does demand sacrifice. He knows that being on call for duty isn't always easy, and he aims at convincing the boys who have to get up on cold winter mornings to serve early Mass of the great privilege that is theirs.

Written in an easy flowing style intelligible to even the very young boys, the book is full of helpful pointers about the correct manner of serving, the necessity of being on time, and many other details on which a boy may slip. It offers inspiration and high motivation for living up to the ideals that a Mass server is committed to follow. An extremely practical book, it leaves not one phase of the altar boy's life untouched. . .120 pp. Softcover. Color photographs.

4. How To Serve - In Simple, Solemn and Pontifical Functions by Dom Matthew Britt 

Every altar server of the Traditional Latin Mass needs a well-worn copy of HOW TO SERVE by Dom Matthew Britt. This classic handbook by a master teacher presents a wealth of practical instruction on what to do in the sanctuary and how to do it well. Dom Britt was probably the greatest authority on serving Mass, and this book, though originally published in 1934, is still the best book of its kind.

This edition has been re-typeset in a beautiful user-friendly format featuring new photos taken at St. John Cantius parish in Chicago. In 18 chapters the author walks the server step by step through Low Mass with one or two servers, Nuptial Low Mass, High Mass (Missa Cantata), Solemn High Mass, Requiem High Mass, Pontifical High Mass, Benediction and Vespers of varying levels of solemnity. He tells how many servers should be in the sanctuary, which servers (acolytes, thurifer, book-bearer, etc.), what those servers should do and when they should do it.

Dom Britt cover vesture, postures, positions, genuflections, bows, steps, bells, candles, cruets, books, the thurible, the censer and more, also explaining the details of assisting the various ministers of the altar priests, deacons, bishop. Photos illustrate specific actions, and diagrams show the sanctuary positions of acolytes, thurifer, master of ceremonies, etc. Also included are the Latin responses at Mass. Plus, the author shares the sources of his immense knowledge in extremely interesting footnotes.

HOW TO SERVE will become an indispensable resource for priests and for all Latin Mass servers as they carry out the sacred functions of the sanctuary.

5. Romanitas Press Altar Server Card

In the past I have mentioned Romanitas Press, and I wish to again mention their products.  The company offers a highly practical SERVERS' MASS RESPONSE CARD which is explained below 

AN EASY-TO-USE training guide for teaching the proper liturgical pronunciation of the Latin responses made by the altar server at Mass.

The card's exterior partitions contain the Latin responses with their corresponding English phonetic renderings per the more romano (like the Romans) liturgical pronunciation as endorsed by Popes St. Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI.

Also included are expanded rubrical instructions for the liturgical gestures and reverences made in connection with the responses, and the responses made when serving for a bishop. The layout of the exterior partitions was carefully arranged to allow card’s use at the altar if necessary.

The card’s inside partitions contain helpful explanations and basic rules about making the responses, more romano pronunciation, a list of common pronunciation mistakes made by English-speakers, and even several informative and authoritative footnotes.
Red and black text was printed on heavy matte paper stock (to keep the card stiff when being held), then coated with a matte varnish to increase the anti-glare property and protect the card from moisture and frequent use.

Measures folded at 11 14/16" x 4¼" (folds out completely to 17” wide).

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