So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Trouble in the Sacristy?

Sacristy of Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome

Is your parish sacristy an oasis of peace or is it just another forum for gossip and distraction?
He who goes about gossiping reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who speaks foolishly.—Proverbs 20:19
Is there a reverent silence observed as the preparations begin for Mass?
A practical reason for silence in the sacristy is that it gives the celebrant the opportunity to collect himself, to review his thoughts for the homily and to prepare himself to enter into the profound Mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The silence of the sacristy helps protect the celebrant from unnecessary distractions.
The silence of the sacristy gives priest and servers the opportunity to discuss the Mass about to be celebrated. Together, they can refine their preparations by focussing their thoughts on the exact procedures required by the rubrics and review the timing of ritual gestures to help ensure a beautiful, reverent and seamless liturgical action that points to Christ acting in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
A great performance of a symphony begins in the practice room and in rehearsal. Musicians study the score as individuals who then bring the fruit of their practice to rehearsal with their colleagues under the baton of the conductor who has also made a habit of preparing thoroughly for rehearsal. The combined efforts of the conductor and musicians to faithfully realize the score results in the performance. The Holy Sacrifice Mass, like great works of art, requires thorough preparation that begins with full respect for the text and ritual gestures and culminates in the prayerful rendering of the Divine Liturgy.
The silence of the sacristy helps to evoke a sense of the frequently under appreciated transcendent dimension of the Mass.
Silence all cell phones and other electronic devices. Emergencies excepted, there is no reason a cell phone should be active. If you cannot go an hour-and-a-half or two hours without texting or being connected to the internet, you may want to admit to a smartphone addiction and take steps to overcome a bad habit. Institute a daily 'cell phone siesta' to give yourself some healthy down time.
Are vesting prayers posted for priests and servers in your sacristy?

Is your pastor and are your servers aware that there are prayers that may accompany the donning of vestments?
The preparatory prayers are rich in meaning and allude to or quote Scripture. Consider, for example, the prayer when donning the chasuble (St. Matthew 11:30):
O Lord, Who said: 'My yoke is easy and My burden light': grant that I may bear it well and follow after You with thanksgiving. Amen.
Do priest and servers pray together before leaving the sacristy?
Almighty God and Father, help us to celebrate Your sacred mysteries with dignity, in truth and in spirit, so that by our example we may lead others to Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Almighty Father, we give You thanks for the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Help us to serve well and always do everything to Your greater glory for the good of Your people. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
How about the prayers after the Mass?

There are some beautiful prayers that may be prayed (and are prayed, for example, in the Extraordinary Form) after the servers and priest have returned to the sacristy.

Urge decorum in the sacristy! Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy! Enjoy the Sabbath rest. Let a sense of the sacred saturate your sacristy, a sense of the sacred that spreads from the sacristy to the sanctuary to the nave and beyond!


  1. Are women and girls allowed the Sacristy at all?

  2. Hello Anonymous. Your question requires a twofold response.

    1. In a traditional parish, for example an FSSP or Anglican Ordinariate parish, you will certainly not find females present as altar servers in the sacristy or, of course, the sanctuary. A female sacristan would be permitted. Female members of an altar guild, for example, which is a typical occurrence at most parishes traditional or otherwise, are permitted. Otherwise, how would they carry out their ministry?

    The same considerations would apply to Eastern Rite Churches that hold to their customs.

    2. In any other parish, your typically Ordinary Form parish, for example, that permits female altar servers, then yes, female servers would be permitted in the sacristy. Of course, it is preferable that only males be admitted as altar servers so that those boys and men might have the opportunity to discern a call to the priesthood in a liturgical environment that is freer of natural distractions and true to the sanctuary of the Upper Room when/where Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist and conferred the Holy Priesthood on His (male only) disciples, the apostles.

    Refer also to:

    Barring an emergency, all non-essential personnel should avoid populating the sacristy immediately before, during and immediately after Mass for the reasons stated in the article.

    Pax et bonum!


"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

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