2. There will always be at least two candles on or beside the altar in the front and, at St. Mark’s, there are also 6 candles in the back, as well as a Paschal candle (free-standing to the left, if you are standing in the Nave) and the Vigil candle (on the wall to the right near the vesting room.)

3. Facing the altar from the nave, light the front altar candles, starting at the right (Epistle), then going over to the left (Gospel). 

4. In the back, start at the cross, going to the right, lighting from the inside out.  THEN go to the left, and light from the inside out, reaching the Gospel candle last.

To extinguish, use the reverse order, starting with the Gospel candle at the front altar

PASCHAL CANDLE:  This is the large white, ornate candle in the freestanding holder, placed next to the Sacristy.  It is lit ONLY during the 40 days of Easter, through the day of Pentecost and at special services, such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.  When lit, it is typically extinguished at the end of a service EXCEPT for the 8:00 AM on Sunday at St. Mark’s because we go right into a 9:15 service. If it isn’t lit, and you think it should be, please ask Fr. Rick or Deacon Gail.

Sanctus Lights are never extinguished while the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is in the Tabernacle, because they remind us of God’s continued presence.



Once the second reading is finished, it’s time for the gospel.  The priest or deacon, plus an acolyte rise and steps down.  Both bow, then the acolyte picks up the Gospel book, leave the altar and, with the gospel book raised just enough to the congregation can see, the acolyte walks down, using the boat on the ceiling at St. Mark’s as a marker. Stop at the end of the boat, turn and hand it to the priest or deacon who will find the page and hand it back to the acolyte who will then hold it up for them to read. Make sure it’s a good height so they can see it well; some acolytes use their noses, foreheads or even top of their heads as a guide for holding it. 

NOTE: Everyone has different sight requirements, so let the priest or deacon decide how high the book should be held, not the acolyte.

At the end of the reading, the acolyte brings the book back to the altar and places in on the left side.


At the end of the announcements, when the priest says “walk in love….,” the acolyte brings the plates to the front of the altar to hand to the ushers.  Then he/she goes back to her seat.

During that time, the priest prepares for the Eucharist.  At the end of the preparation, ending with the hand washing, the priest will cue, either nodding his or her head to the ushers. (When the choir is present, the cue will be the end of the offertory music.)

At that point, the acolyte steps down again to collect the plates and the usher will give the number of congregants. 

The acolyte holds the plates up for the priest to bless and brings the full plates to the back, making sure to give the priest the count for the number of congregants (important to know for the celebration of the Eucharist.)


The left hand is used for handing off; the right hand for receiving.

That said, standing by the credence table, the acolyte first hands the priest or deacon the bread.  Then, the acolyte hands the bread (please be sure there are also gluten-free wafers), wine, with the cruet stopper removed and the handles facing the priest or deacon so they can take it easily.  The priest pours it into the chalice and hands back the empty carafe which acolytes receive with the right hand.

Then, in the same manner, acolytes hand and receive the water.

Lastly, pick up the lavabo with your left hand and drape the towel over your left arm.  With your right hand, pour some water over the priest’s or deacon’s fingers—they’ll tell you when it’s time to stop—and sort of push out your left arm so they can reach the towel easily.

NOTE:  That’s when they’ll also cue for the ushers to come back with the full plates.



The Eucharist is the most sacred part of the service and bell-ringing, which dates back at least 8 centuries, are rung for two reasons:  One, to make a joyful sound to the Lord; two, to try to keep people’s attention focused, especially during this important time.

 While the priest says the Eucharistic prayer, an acolyte will ring the bell at least three times.

 1. Bell Ringing:

The first time you ring is during the first part of the Eucharistic prayer when the priest calls down the Holy Spirit; when you hear the words “Holy, Holy, Holy” you’ll ring each time the word “Holy” is said.

The second time you ring is during the consecration; when the priest holds up the host, ring; when he/she lowers the host, ring; when he/she kneels, ring.  Then do it again with the wine.

Lastly, ring at the very end of the prayer, at “Amen,” just before the congregation says the Our Father.

By the way, there’s usually a BOCP, with the places marked, on the bench at the Epistle Side, but you might want to know it yourself, so you won’t panic if the book suddenly turns up missing.

2.  Breaking of the Bread:

When the priest says, “The gifts of God for the people of God,” all those who are at the altar stand and receive.

3.  Celebrating the Eucharist:

Once the priest serves the bread, the acolyte who is also the chalice bearer, serves the wine, with the words, “This is the blood of Jesus, the cup of salvation.”  Some people will dip their bread into the chalice, while others will drink.  Be sure you have a towel with you so if someone drinks; you WIPE and TURN for the next person.


When the priest leaves the altar and gives his/her dismissal, get up right away to extinguish the candles (in the opposite direction of lighting).  People actually won’t exit the church until the candles are out.


Advent Candles: Four candles burned during Advent. One candle is lighted for each Sunday of Advent. If a Rose-colored candle is used, it is lighted on the 3rd Sunday. The larger white candle in the center, the Christ Candle, is lighted first on Christmas Eve. The wreath is used through The Epiphany. NEXT PAGE