Liturgy Preparation of the Altar

Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts

Beginning on Ash Wednesday of 2000 you may notice some changes in the taking up of the collection, as well as in the Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts. These changes will enable members of the assembly to see and understand the rite and thus to participate even more fully in the Eucharistic celebration. They will also bring our Mass into closer harmony with the rubrics, or official standards for the liturgy.

Immediately following the Intercessions, or after the Profession of Faith if catechumens and candidates have been dismissed, the collection begins. As the baskets reach the last pews, vocal music may begin and the altar is prepared. This allows us more reflective time, and frees us from picking up hymnals while we prepare our collection. Following the standard set by our bishops, music is to “accompany and celebrate the communal aspects of the procession.”

The altar cloth already in place, and servers place a corporal over the altar cloth. During Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, on special occasions and at school Masses, other members of the assembly perform this service. A corporal is a special cloth, in addition to the altar cloth, used to hold the Eucharistic elements. On the corporal, servers place the chalice, the purificator (cloth for purifying the vessels), and the missal (the large book that contains the Mass prayers).

After the altar is prepared, the priest who is the presider approaches the altar and the gift-bearers begin their procession. The presenters walk side-by-side, with wine bearer on the left and bread presenter on the right. The person carrying the collection basket walks directly behind them. Upon reaching the altar area, the wine presenter ascends the steps on the left (south) side of the altar, the bread presenter on the right (north) side. Both presenters face the center on reaching the altar. The presenter with the collection basket will place it on the top step before the altar and return to the pews. This makes it clear that all the gifts come from the people and are reverently presented by them.

The deacon, or the presider if no deacon is present, takes the bread from that presenter, then the wine from the other presenter. After the bread and wine are placed on the altar by the presider, the presenters return to their pews. If the presenters are not able to ascend the altar steps, the deacon or the presider comes to them. At this time in the Mass, the presider simply sets the gifts aside from their daily use and prepares them for our sacred purpose. The presider then washes his hands and calls us all to prayer.

As we become more active participants in this rite – through the giving of gifts, and the use of our sight, our hearing and our whole bodies – our belief that we ourselves are truly part of the Eucharist deepens and grows ever stronger.

St. Jude Catholic Church
2130 Pemberton Drive
Ft. Wayne, IN 46805
(260) 484-6609

St. Jude Catholic School
2110 Pemberton Drive
Ft. Wayne, IN 46805
(260) 484-4611

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(260) 484-6609