A friend gave this to me the other day. It is a liturgical device that has fallen on sad times as of late. Can you imagine taking something so fun and getting rid of it from the liturgy??? Getting rid of this device from the liturgy to an alter server would be equivalent to getting rid of roller coasters at the amusement park.
What young server in his right mind wouldn't give his eye tooth to create a racket in church that would surely cause someone to look both shocked and perturbed while being the envy over everyone under the age of 16? We bring in drums and banjos, but we ban this amazing little creature.
It is called a crotalus. You may recognize it from its close cousin that often makes appearances at New Year's Eve parties. The handle is connected to a ridged sprocket around which a weighted tongue is spun making a terribly delightful noise.
It has a some other close relatives such as seesaw device that has a wooden hammer on it or another that looks strangely like a castanet. These were (are) used during the sacred Triduum. As the bells are (supposed to be) silenced from the Gloria on Maundy Thursday until the Gloria of the Easter Vigil, these unpleasant, racket making devices were used to take their place. At the least it certainly let one know that this Mass was unlike any other of the year. And it made sure there was at least one server who was excited about serving that day.
To not use it anymore just seems mean like taking the beach away from the ocean.