On reaching the Altar, be at the priest's right: receive the biretta if he is wearing it, kissing first his hand, then biretta (...).—Handbook for Altar Servers by the Archconfraternity of St. Stephen.
- Kissing the Altar
- Kissing the Hand of the Celebrant (while passing cruets, Biretta, thurible)
- Kissing the Book of the Gospels
- Kissing the Paten
The most solemn part of the Mass is now near. The Preface leads to the Canon which may be translated as meaning “the rule.” It is used for this part of the Mass to show that the prayers said during it are never changed. All is still now. The Angels have come down from Heaven and are waiting to adore their God when He comes to earth at the words of the priest.
“Graciously grant peace in our days, through the help of Thy bountiful mercies.”
Blessing. The celebrant places his joined hands on the altar and says in a low voice the prayer Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas for himself and those for whom he has offered Mass. Then he kisses the altar and, turning towards the congregation, blesses them "in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti", making over them the sign of the cross.
Typically, there are 3 kisses: upon the altar at beginning, upon the Book of the Gospels at the conclusion of the Gospel reading, and upon the altar at the end of Mass.
A closing word on the "Kiss of Peace". This is one instant where the Ordinary Form becomes a kissing fest. The Sign of Peace or Rite of Peace during which time people often share a kiss as a sign of Christ's peace among the congregation is, unfortunately, too often an occasion when people miss the significance of the Sign. Regrettably, the Rite of Peace in the Ordinary Form Mass is too often an occasion for people to engage in behaviour that makes others uncomfortable and that detracts from the focus of the Mass. By contrast, when the priest in the Ordinariate Mass, for example, turns to face the congregation and intones "The peace of the Lord be with you always...", he does so as he steps to the left ("stage right") side of the altar revealing the consecrated Host (the Body of Christ) on the paten and the chalice filled with the Precious Blood, making clear that the peace of Christ really does come from Jesus Christ Who is really present on the altar. Recall that the priest in the Ordinariate and EF Masses celebrates Mass ad orientem, i.e., facing the liturgical East in the same direction as the people. By turning toward the people and moving out of the way, so-to-speak, so that the people can see the Body and Blood of Christ, the understanding is much clearer than in the Ordinary Form that the peace we share originates not with us but with Christ.