The book used by the priest during the mass is called the Sacramentary. It contains all of the prayes for all of the seasons of the church. It is this book that the book bearer will usually hold for the celebrant. The Sacramentary is usually a red leather bound book which has the cross embossed on it with the Symbol for the greek letters Alpha (Α) and the Omega (Ω).
When the Sacramentary is used?
There are three main times that the Sacramentary is needed by the celebrant. These are:
- The begining of mass
- Liturgy of the Eucharist
- The end of the mass
Begining of mass
During the opening pray where father welcomes everyone to the celebration. At this time the altar server will hold the book for the priest so that his hands can be extended in a blessing to the congregation.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
The book is placed on a book stand on the altar by the deacon, acolyte or altar server. The priest will use it at the altar. No one is required to hold the book during this part of the mass.
End of mass
At the end of the mass the priest will pray over the people and give them all his blessings. During this time the altar server is required to hold the book for the celebrant so he can extend his hands in a gesture of blessing.
Actions of the book bearer
The book bearer should carry the book open resting against his or her chest (for balance). The altar server should stand directly in front of the priest. When he or she gets there they should bow to the celebrant. N.B. It is important that the altar server stands as close to the front as possible. This allows the priest to face the congregation while saying the blessing instead of being side on.
Once the priest has completed the blessing the altar server should return to their spot making sure to bow before leaving.
If the altar server is a little younger they can always hold the book up and rest it against their forehead so that the book is at the correct height for the priest to read.