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11th Sep 2016

10 Things only Altar Servers will be able to relate to

Altar serving was the best

Rebecca Keane

Altar serving was the shit!

When you’re in primary school, it can be hard to try and get a job. You’re not old enough to work in your local newsagent or supermarket but you still want to make a few euros or even get experience.

That’s where altar serving comes in. My time as an altar server served me extremely well as I was stacking money and missing classes left right and centre. It was a pretty sweet deal.

With the freedom and money altar-serving entitled you to, responsibility came too. It was hard, being in primary school and juggling the burden and rules of altar-serving you had to adhere to but from what I remember it was mostly a fun time.

Here are 10 things all fellow altar servers will remember:

1. The altar server uniform.

My vestments were composed of a red long robe with a white top over it, and it was a matter of life or death to wear black polished shoes.

After extensive research, I’ve found out that the red part is called a cassock (ooooh) and the white part is called a surplice.

altar1via Pinterest

If you were in anyway tall, this often meant the longer robe would be halfway up your shin as opposed to at your ankles. Nightmare.

2. Ringing the bell was the most important part of your LIFE.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Altar servers ring bells during the start of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle March 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. During the mass, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, washed the feet of 12 people, as Christ is said to have washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)I remember being shouted at because I got the timing of the bell ringing wrong.

It was three times that the bell had to be rang – the priest putting his hands over the bread, raising the cup of wine and saying a prayer.


3. The smell of incense never left your clothes.

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 06: Pope Francis blesses the alter with incense during the Epiphany Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on January 6, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. During his homily, the Pope Francis focused on the journey taken by the three wise men, which is celebrated today, and encouraged Catholics to keep a strong faith. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)The priest banging the big gold thurible at funerals and different Masses alike meant that the smoke from the incense spread everywhere, in your hair, clothes and sometimes left you coughing quite badly.

Boy did it smell good though.

4. Working at funerals meant earning serious cash MONEY.

SHIRLEY, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Ronnie Corbetts coffin departs his funeral on April 18, 2016 in Shirley, England. Ronnie Corbett best known for BBC comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, died aged 85. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)While funerals were extremely sad occasions, grieving families were always more than generous to me and other altar servers.

I remember getting 30 euro for serving a Mass for an hour which at the age of 13 was a HUGE deal.

5. Being made captain of your team made you feel seriously important.

leovia Giphy

If you were a dedicated altar server for long enough, you were made a Captain. Oh yes, that’s me – Captain Rebecca Keane, here to save the altar.

6. Training new altar servers in was a nightmare.

A Captain was to make sure all the other altar servers knew what they were doing and when to do it – all while looking after their own altarly duties.

Training new, shy altar servers in to fulfil their duties properly proved more than difficult at times.

7. Sitting on the altar meant you could check who was keeping up their Mass attendance.

margevia Giphy

Looking down from the altar meant you could see all the attendees and mentally check off who was making time for the big J.C.

I was judging you all.

8. Farting in church was a seriously tricky task.

fartvia Giphy

Sitting so near to the microphones on the altar meant letting one out might be picked up on the sound system.

Thankfully it never happened to me, but I’m sure there’s probably one unfortunate altar boy or girl that it happened to.

9. Remembering to kneel on the altar before and after the Mass meant serious scarlet moments.

altar1via YouTube

Training in new servers and getting them to kneel in unison was like a horror show.

10. The altar server’s party was the biggest social event of the year.

Working on the altar all year warranted a big party with all your mates, with bottles of Cadet and sweets available at the church hall.

There was a disco and I remember pestering my mum to get a new outfit especially for it. It was the party of my year.

Being an altar-server was truly a magical time and now as an adult, going to funerals I look at the altar servers with slight envy.

Maybe I need to get out more?