So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, August 14, 2015

A parish discovers the beauty of trained altar servers.

Praise and thanksgiving to God for Father Roger Gustafson and the parish of St. Hilary for their budding commitment to beautiful liturgy.
Helping altar servers master their craft (August 12, 2015) by Lidia Wasowicz (Catholic San Francisco)

St. Hilary Parish in Tiburon has introduced a ministry to help altar servers master their craft and worshippers mind the Mass.

Seated to the right of the altar in a cassock and surplice (Improve the ars celebrandi one cassock at a time! Gentle, incremental change—excellent!), an adult master of ceremonies assists, guides and, when necessary, steps in for school age acolytes to promote a seamless rite.

“My hope is that every Sunday liturgy will be as beautiful and well orchestrated as possible so the people of God may worship without distractions,” said parochial vicar Father Roger Gustafson (bio: click HERE), who implemented the program in January, six months after his arrival at St. Hilary as a newly ordained priest.

His idea of extending the role of a master of ceremonies – typically reserved (?) for more solemn liturgies – germinated last October during a visit to his childhood hometown of Atlanta.

Wowed by the “military precision” (decorum, skilled pacing, solemn gestures, heartfelt service...) of the five altar servers at the 6 p.m. Sunday Mass, Father Gustafson sought the secret to their perfect performance.

He found it in the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, who spends every weekend attending every Mass to instruct, inform and inspire the servers.
Read more @ Catholic San Francisco: click HERE.

Let's get those altar servers properly attired for Holy Mass! Cassocks and surplices!

The decorum of well trained, mindful servers tends to rub off on a congregation. When a server's intention is truly one of attentive service to God and neighbour, and his gestures are made in a manner consistent with his inner disposition, he becomes an icon of loving service. A true icon is a window to the invisible, a window to God.

When servers are well trained, they become invisible, so-to-speak. They blend into the background even while moving into and out of the foreground. Good servers become part of the architecture of both the Mass and the well appointed sanctuary. The liturgical movement of well trained servers, which typically involves several "crossings", leads the imagination to be brought closer to the mystery of the Cross. The "stillness" demonstrated by servers helps reinforce the silence of the Mass, those particular moments prescribed by the rubrics which are the appropriate times when we listen for and are mindful of the Truth of the Gospel and the Presence of God in the Mass.

The proper attitude of the server is encapsulated by the proper hand position of the server. In fact, the server's entire posture is given direction by the proper hand position.
The hand position servers typically observe (palms held lightly together at the centre of the chest near the heart, right thumb crossed over left) reminds one of a flame indicating the heart, directed heavenward, is on fire for God.—from Living Liturgically (July 2, 2014).
The server's hands continually point people to God. The crossed thumbs remind one that the server's hands are hands of service. The crossed thumbs held close to the heart reminds us that our hearts should be "crossed", i.e., that all sinful desire is crucified, and that a love of the Cross (and acceptance of our crosses) occupies our hearts. Our sufferings find ultimate meaning when the Sacrifice of Calvary becomes present on the altar. Our hearts find a mirror into which we can look and witness the redemption of our souls.

The heart is made pure by the grace that flows from Christ's Cross, the grace profoundly encountered in the Sacrament of Penance. A pure heart sees God (St. Matthew 5:8).

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