In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Thank you for your ministry to the Church with this blog.  I have a question regarding the “procession” for a typical Sunday mass here in the US.  Sometimes we have a priest and deacon, sometimes a priest, deacon, and acolyte, and sometimes we have a priest, deacon, acolyte, and one or more servers.

So the question is, for the entrance procession should we ALWAYS have the processional cross lead the procession in?  If so, should this be carried by the acolyte or the server?  Or if we have two servers, should we have two candles be in the procession without the cross?

Depending on the location, some say the cross is the most important.  Others say that candles take precedence over the cross.  I just want to know what the liturgical instructions actually are, and I couldn’t find it specifcally in the GIRM (I may have overlooked it though).

I just want to be sure we follow the instructions appropriately.  I guess in short, does the processional cross always take precedence over candles, regardless of the number of acolytes or servers in the procession? 

Thanks and God bless.


A: The main places describing the procession are Order of Mass 1 in the Roman Missal, and 120 of the GIRM. Neither of them really addresses your question.

The Order of Mass describes a priest and ministers in procession, and the GIRM describes a cross between two candles. The same paragraph allows that incense may not be used, but it doesn’t say the same about cross and candles.

Yet in practice, many a Mass begins without sufficient ministers to carry cross and candles.

Absent any more specific directive, I think you’re free to make a choice. If you have only one server and want him or her to carry the cross, fine. If you have two servers and want them to carry candles, fine.