Altar Guild Duties

The responsibilities of the Altar Guild

The duties of the altar guild are quite varied, as they include the care of not only altar linens but other liturgical items such as the eucharistic vessels, elements, vestments, candles and small furnishings for the altar.

The various seasonal colors are indicated by the Ordo Kalendar and include green for Trinytide, red for Martyrs, purple for both Lent and Advent and white for Confessors and Dominical Feast Days such as Transfiguration. Some churches also use pink for Latare and Gaudate Sundays.

The credence table is usually prepared first, but there is no exact order of setting up. Upon the credence table are placed the lavabo towel and bowl, the bread box with hosts, the cruets with water and wine. The priest receives these items from the acolyte during the Offertory, which is before the main Eucharistic Prayer in which the elements are consecrated.

The altar is prepared with the chalice, purificator, paten (with priest's host), pall, communion veil and/or Burse in that order. Placement of the corporal is at the discretion of the priest. It is either folded and placed in the Burse or underneath the chalice at the beginning of the service.

After the service the small linens should be washed immediately in the Sacristy. This helps to remove stubborn stains such as wine and lipstick. Water that has been blessed is emptied into a piscina if there is one available, or directly into the ground. The larger linens, the credence cover and fair linen, are washed when the altar guild determines it necessary. On high feast days such as Easter, however, the altar should be adorned with newly laundered cloths.

The chalice, ciborium and other metal items are washed in hot soapy water, then dried and stored for the next use.

At the end of their life, altar linens are burned and not merely discarded.

If a Sanctuary Lamp is present, the candle should be replaced once a week or whenever it has burned out.

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