Altar Servers at St. Maximus the Confessor Orthodox Church assist the clergy in most services during the week. Boys begin serving in the altar between the ages of 7 and 9, and continue throughout their life. Men serve in the altar as well at St. Maximus. Altar Servers include Subdeacons, Readers, and laymen. Anyone interested in serving in the altar at St. Maximus should speak to Fr. Justin.
Guidelines for Altar Servers at St. Maximus are as follows:
For Altar Servers, Acolytes
Serving in the altar is a privilege, not a right!
1. Arrive at least ten (10) minutes before the service begins. If you arrive after the service begins, or at the very last moment, you will not normally be permitted to serve. The Priest may, however, at his discretion and need, permit it.
2. Enter the altar through the sacristy. Cross and bow (or prostrate if not Sunday morning or Great Feast of the Lord) three times. Then go into the sacristy, get your robe (stikhar), fold it, and come to priest and ask him for his blessing to serve. Once you have your blessing, put on the stikhar, and go stand quietly in your appointed place.
3. During the service, stand quietly. Do not lean against the wall. Do not put your hands in your pockets. Do not pull your arms inside the stikhar. You should stand straight and still without talking.
4. Do not distract the priest or talk to him during the service except at great need.
5. Do what you are told promptly, without argument. Even if the priest is wrong, humble obedience is better than argument.
6. You must always be on your best behavior, both in the altar and out during an entrance. You must avoid doing anything that attracts attention to yourself. Don’t look out at the people, don’t make eye contact with worshippers from the altar or during entrances.
7. Dress neatly. Laces should be tied. No tennis shoes or jeans. Wear socks and a collared shirt.
8. If you behave in any way that is inappropriate to serving in the altar, you will be asked to leave and to go stand with your parents. If you are asked to leave, you must do so promptly without argument. Get the blessing to unvest, hang your stikhar on the rack, and go out through the sacristy door. If you argue, complain, or otherwise display unseemly behavior when asked to leave, you will not be permitted to serve for a time until the priest deems you are ready to try again.
9. If you do not accept these conditions for service, you should not serve.
10. To serve, you normally should be ready to commune. Make sure you’ve been to Confession.
11. Your goal in serving is to allow the priest to concentrate on prayer without distraction. Anticipate what he is going to do just enough so that he doesn’t have to break concentration to wonder where the censer or the zeon is. Learn the cues, pay attention, keep your eyes on the priest in case he needs to signal you for something. Learn his hand signals.