A seminarian needs help from WDTPRSers for older Mass

I got a very nice note from a new seminarian at the North American College in Rome.  He had listened to the newest PODCAzT in which I have an audio bit of the wonderful exchange between Pope Benedict and the new men who have arrived for their studies.

This seminarian needs some help, and I think the readers here might be helpful. 

Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

I am one of the new men at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and a daily reader of your blog.  Thank you for all that you do and mentioning us during your most recent podcast.  Hearing again the words of the Holy Father to us reminded me of the primary reason that I am here to study:  Peter. [I would have said "Jesus", but… we all know that being in Rome and being near Peter is what he means!  o{];¬)  ] Yesterday we were greeted by his successor and tomorrow I will have the privilege to go on the Scavi Tour of St. Peter’s. 

Father, I came across your blog during the media buildup in anticipation of the motu proprio while looking for a Catholic response.  Thank you again for your work.  In reading your blog, I became aware of the SanctaMissa.org site that offers training for priests to say the Missal of John XXIII.  Do you know of any such resource to learn how to serve the Mass?  A priest from my diocese, is coming to Rome to celebrate the Motu Proprio going into effect by saying the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite in St. Peter’s.  He has asked me to serve.  I have been practicing the responses but have not been able to find help in learning what to do while serving.  Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Also, if it is not too much to ask, if you are ever available, I would love to meet you and, providing I learn how to, serve Mass for you.  I will be in Rome for the next four years.  Father, I can not thank you enough for your blog and work.  It is an inspiration to me and a supplement to my formation.  The NAC has a new Director of Liturgy, so I look forward to see what he will do in terms of the Motu Proprio and the extraordinary form of the Mass.  With best wishes.

Folks, let’s help this young man.  We need online resources for how to serve Mass, probably low Mass.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr Greg Rowles OFM Cap says:

    How to Serve the Latin Mass

    Correct Mass-Serving Made Easy
    by Rev. H.E. Calnan, D.D.

    Fifth Edition by Widdowson’s, 1948


  2. Fr Greg Rowles OFM Cap says:


    How to Serve the Latin Mass

    Correct Mass-Serving Made Easy
    by Rev. H.E. Calnan, D.D.

  3. Thomas says:

    In fact, the whole http://Latin-mass-society.org/ site is a great resource, by the way.

    Like this:

  4. Father Bartoloma says:

    I would recommend that someone fax him the Fortescue pages on serving Mass and then if he attends Low Mass whenever he can and watches the server(s) that should be sufficient to be able to serve Mass in a few weeks. As far as online help, just type “latin Mass” into TouTube and watch the servers

  5. Norman says:

    If said seminarian would provide me his mailing address, I’d be more than happy to make a copy of the “Serving Low Mass” chapter in Fortescue and post it to him.

  6. I have a guide from the FSSP on serving Low Mass. It includes diagrams and detailed instructions. Also included are guides for the various server roles in Sung and Solemn Masses. Just email bennett89479@hotmail.com if anyone is interested.

  7. Fr. Paul McDonald says:

    Just a word of caution to seminarians: apart I suppose from the NAC, various seminaries have *not* given up their fear and loathing of the old Latin Mass. Perhaps they can’t make it the explicit reason why Jones was kicked out, but, there is more than one way to skin a cat. I would counsel prudence, is all.

  8. Christopher says:

    The FSSP Church in Rome (San Gregorio dei Muratori) has a number of resources on hand to help people learn how to serve Mass in the Extraordinary form. In fact, we would even be able to give personal instruction, and our little chapel is a perfect place to practice. Directions to the Church and contact information can be found at the website:


    Feel free to contact me at piuslad@yahoo.com

  9. Christopher says:

    The FSSP Church in Rome (San Gregorio dei Muratori) has a number of resources on hand to help people learn how to serve Mass in the Extraordinary form. In fact, we would even be able to give personal instruction, and our little chapel is a perfect place to practice. Directions to the Church and contact information can be found at the website:


    Feel free to contact me at piuslad@yahoo.com

  10. Eric says:

    Dear new seminarian,

    Do be cautious about advertising your Tridentine affinities around the NAC. As of June the men who run the place were largely hostile to the traditional Mass.

    And welcome to Rome! Hope to see you at S. Gregorio some day!

  11. All you need are the famous Latin Mass Society server cards:


    I’ve used these to train altar boys from scratch to do a picture perfect job of serving Holy Mass. Preferably print them in red and black (“do the red, say the black) and laminate them for use while serving. Nothing else needed.

  12. Zach says:

    A good resource to use is a little booklet called “How to serve Low Mass and benidiction.” It’s published by Angelus Press and is very cheap. I’m sure he wouldn’t have a problem ordering this from them and having it sent to Rome.

  13. Irish says:

    While in Italy, perhaps the seminarian can take a short trip to Gricigliano, outside Florence, to visit the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King. They may be able to provide a crash course in serving/offering Tridentine Mass. The Institute’s website: http://www.institute-christ-king.org/

  14. Romulus says:

    I’ would not neglect to go here.

    This excellent web site provides a very hightly detailed, step-by-step presentation of Low Mass. You can view it either via the photo gallery or (if you have a fast internet connection) the full-motion video. This should help you gain a feel for the rhythm of the Mass — how all the moving parts should “click” together seamlessly.

  15. David Nelson says:

    Also, the following site is great–cited above but to the drilled down level. The overall site has great resources for him to explore.

  16. Fr Justin says:

    I’ve been looking at the St Joseph’s site referred to in some of these comments; I don’t think it’s very reliable: ‘why new bishops are not true bishops’ is one link, and ‘Pius XII,the last good pope’ is another.
    It was I who originally typed out and edited the Calnan servers’ guide, and I see that St Joseph’s have simply pirated and edited it to their own taste, without acknowledgment. You’ll find the original (1962) version on the Latin Mass Society resources page, as in the comment above. I don’t think there is any need to encourage the schismatic sedevacantist chapels.

  17. Angelo Panzica says:

    The young Roman seminarian raise an important issue:
    previously, in the discussions on the motu proprio,
    the focus was on the offering the Sacrifice. Now,
    there is a new development focusing on the altar
    server. A good resource for altar servers is the
    Guild of St Stephen. The Guild was founded in
    Hammersmith in 1901 in the Archdiocese of Westminster
    and in 1906 it was raised to the rank of Arch-
    confraternity by Pope St Pius X. The Guild teaches
    that serving Mass is more than making the Latin
    responses and ringing the bells. More than anything,
    the server prays by listening; by being attentive
    by understanding why & what he is doing. The goal
    of the Guild is to provide a high standard of serving
    at the altar. The Guild medal is inscribed with the
    motto: “Cui servire regnare est” indicating that the fundamental
    of the Guild is the SANTIFICATION OF THE ALTAR

  18. Brian says:


    All of the altar servers at my parish (http://www.phoenixlatinmass.org)were enrolled in the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen before Mass this past Sunday, it was beautiful.

  19. Dennis DeVito says:

    this is a good site for serving high mass from the Mater Dei Latin Mass Communityhttp://web2.airmail.net/~carlsch/MaterDei/ServingMass/index.html

  20. RBrown says:

    Do be cautious about advertising your Tridentine affinities around the NAC. As of June the men who run the place were largely hostile to the traditional Mass.
    Comment by Eric

    1. I would encourage the new NAC seminarian not to be in a hurry but rather concentrate now on absorbing the magnificent Roman experience. As the years go on, students tend to know each other, including their liturgical inclinations.

    2. I would think that the HAC administration doesn’t want waves made, either by themselves or seminarians. On the other hand, not only is NAC in Rome but it is also within a 15 minute walk of the offices of Ecclesia Dei, which makes it highly unlikely that there will be any hostility to SP by those who run NAC.

    3. Of course, the real question after the Motu Proprio is: Where do we go from here? Will seminaries begin to make sure their men can celebrate it?

  21. Mark says:


    Let’s survey them! ;-)

    (That’s not such a joke as it sounds; maybe someone ought to ask them all and keep a tally…)


  22. Paul Fournier says:

    Very good recommendations by those making comments.

    He might want to visit:


    Paul F.

  23. RBrown says:

    Let’s survey them! ;-)
    (That’s not such a joke as it sounds; maybe someone ought to ask them all and keep a tally…)

    Those things have to come from the top.

  24. I have a friend and fellow server who himself has just started at the NAC. If he would email me at willcubbedge@gmail.com, I would tell him who my friend is.


  25. Michael says:

    I hate to splash cold water on this subject, and the advice for resources on serving posted here is good, but learning to serve at Mass for the first time as an adult is tough. It is a lot like dancing where if you are thinking about your next step, you likely will miss your cue.

    The best way to learn is to find a TLM where he can serve as Acolyte 2 to get a feel for how it goes. Besides that it just takes practice until you become familiar with the ritual. And the big piece of advice is don’t get nervous. If you make a mistake just go on. Most likely nobody even noticed it.

  26. Romulus says:

    One of the acolytes under my supervision has called my attention to a web site for those needing help with Latin pronunciation, including both slow and regular speed examples of most of the responses at Mass.

    Michael: if men can learn to celebrate Mass as adults, they can certainly learn to serve. Our parish recently put out a call for interested men, and I imagine others will be doing the same. All it takes is humility and a conscientious attitude. The rest comes with experience.

  27. Michael says:

    I never anywhere claimed that men cannot or should not learn to serve Mass. I have done so myself and I speak from experience. What I said is that it is not easy, and simply reading a cue card a few times is not going to prepare one to serve adequately. It takes the familiarity that comes from practice.

    Now, I may be particularly slow or just not very adept at learning these sorts of things but I thought it appropriate to express a caution. On the other hand, if the new server forgets to ring the bell at the Hanc Igitur or is out of position when it is time to grab the Chalice veil, it is not the end of the world.

  28. Mark says:

    Michael (and everyone else),

    Have you ever encountered resistance towards adult servers? There is a parish I know of, where the Priest does not allow Adult servers, saying “it looks stupid if one is an Adult and the other Children”. A poor excuse if you ask me, but I was not willing to argue the point with him.

    Am I alone in witnessing something this incredulous?


  29. Romulus says:

    Mark, at our parish, the standing rule is no children — in practice, no small boys, since we don’t use girls — unless the father also is serving. We have a few young men (not quite 18), but most altar service is performed by adult men who’re either married or else discerning a vocation. It’s a sober, healthy environment and encourages everyone concerned to see liturgical service — ordained or otherwise — as serious business, deserving a man’s attention and befitting his dignity.

  30. Michael says:


    Our Priest only allows adults if there are no children who can serve available. The practical effect of that policy is to make it more difficult to become proficient since the opportunities to serve are irregular. One gets rusty if one goes a length of time without serving. Well at least I and some others I know do.

  31. joe says:

    Bishop Fulton Sheen’s “This Is The Mass” is an excellent illustrated resource.

  32. Madkins says:

    I found a book on amazon.com called “How to Serve Low Mass & Benediction” by Rev. William O’Brien. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/How-Serve-Low-Mass-Benediction/dp/093595242X/ref=sr_1_1/002-1939937-9160811?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188530172&sr=8-1

  33. Angelo says:

    For starters, you can learn the order for lighting the candles for
    a High Mass and a Low Mass. Here are the instructions, in Italian,
    and being a student in Rome, I assume that you are fluent in
    Padova | Pordenone | Treviso | Trieste | Udine | Verona | Vicenza | Vittorio Veneto

    L’accensione delle candele dell’altare

    Molti sacerdoti e cristiani laici sono interessati a conoscere il rito romano antico del Messale Romano di san Pio V, non di rado con l’intenzione di imparare, rispettivamente, a celebrare la messa tridentina e a servirla correttamente. È quanto mai opportuno, pertanto, richiamare l’attenzione sulle norme liturgiche da applicare e sui modi da seguire: riproduciamo il testo, con traduzione italiana, dal decreto della Congregazione dei Riti contenente la regola per l’accensione e lo spegnimento delle candele dell’altare. Esse vanno accese e spente seguendo un certo ordine. Qui come nelle cerimonie della messa e delle altre funzioni liturgiche è l’ordine che deve essere osservato, tutto deve essere compiuto con esattezza, evitando confusione improprietà pressapochismo che rendono le cerimonie stesse inintelligibili e prive di educazione. Questo potrebbe sembrare un caso meno importante, ma è proprio esso che mostra il vero spirito del servizio dell’altare, evidentemente carente in chi accende le candele a caso, quando sa, invece, come si deve procedere..

    Le immagini con i numeri, poste in calce alla pagina, indicano la successione: prevedono due ordini di candelieri (dieci), ma valgono comunque, anche quando ve ne sono sei o quattro, o anche due, perché allora si saltano quelli mancanti sull’altare.

    S. Rituum Congregatio, Decr. 1 Febr. 1907

    IX. Cum Caeremoniale Episcoporum (l. II, cap. XXII, n. 11) praescribat, ut in exstinguendis ad Matutinum Tenebrarum cereis alternatim, incipiatur a cornu Evangelii; quaenam norma tenenda est in accendendis et exstinguendis Altaris cereis, pro alia quavis occasione?

    Ad IX. Altaris cerei ita sunt accendendi, ut incipiatur ab illo, qui Cruci proximius reperitur, in cornu Epistolae, postea, servato ordine, reliqui duo in eodem cornu exsistentes; ac deinde accenduntur reliqui cerei in cornu Evangelii exstantes, incipiendo item ab eo, qui Cruci propior est, usque ad ultimum in eodem cornu oppositum. In exstinguendis autem iisdem cereis, ordo invertitur, atque incipitur in corni Evangelii, a cereo, qui a Cruce remotior est, ad illum qui propior; dein vero a parte Epistolae, eadem regula eodemque servato ordine.

    Sacra Congregazione dei Riti, Decreto 1° febbraio 1907

    IX. Il Cerimoniale dei Vescovi (Libro II, cap. XXII, n. 11) prescrive che al Mattutino delle Tenebre, nello spegnere in modo alternato le candele, si inizi dalla parte del Vangelo; quale regola è da seguire accendendo e spegnendo le candele dell’Altare, in tutti gli altri casi?

    Risposta al IX. Le candele dell’altare devono essere accese in modo da cominciare da quella che si trova più vicina alla Croce, al lato dell’Epistola, poi, rispettando l’ordine, le altre due che si trovano dallo stesso lato; e poi si accendono le altre candele al lato del Vangelo, iniziando sempre da quella che è più vicina alla Croce, fino all’ultima dalla parte opposta dello stesso lato. Nello spegnere le stesse candele si inverte l’ordine, e si inizia dalla parte del Vangelo dalla candela più lontana dalla Croce fino alla più vicina; poi dalla parte dell’Epistola si segue la stessa regola nello stesso ordine.

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