|Pope Francis | altar servers | AP, Vatican Radio|
Dear altar boys and altar girls, the closer you are to the altar, the more you will remember to speak with Jesus in daily prayer; the more you will be nourished by the Word and the Body of the Lord, the better able you will be to go out to others, bringing them the gift that you have received, giving in turn with enthusiasm the joy you have received.
Thank you for serving at the Lord’s altar and for making of this service a real school of learning the faith, and charity toward your neighbour. Thank you also for having begun to respond to the Lord, like the prophet Isaiah, “Here I am. Send me” (Is 6:8).
- informed homilies;
- including prayers in the Mass (i.e., during the Universal Prayer) for servers, for their increase, support and well being.
- parish bulletin articles that laud servers as exemplars of Christian witness;
- greeting families before and after Mass and inviting parents to contact the appropriate liturgical coordinator;
- enlisting current altar boys to invite other males to serve with them;
- forming server teams and appointing server-captains to coordinate and train less experienced members;
- providing real substance to which servers can commit and feel accomplishment—e.g., induct servers into a guild; teach servers proper posture, timing, movement, require appropriate attire; provide decent server vestments; pray with servers before and after Mass (Pre-&-Post Mass prayers—click HERE; Server's Vesting Prayers—click HERE)
- celebrating service as an altar boy by hosting "training receptions" (e.g., liturgical training session, pizza, video) with servers and their parents prior to major seasonal events—e.g., Holy Week; Christmas; patronal feast days; Corpus Christi procession; etc.;
- celebrating service and encouraging excellence by recommending outstanding servers for diocesan recognition;
- establishing scholarships or bursaries for those who have offered long and/or outstanding service;
- forming catechists to engage males in liturgical service;
- guiding parish councils to assist in the formation of families.
Isaiah was astonished to discover that it was God who made the first move; do not forget this! It is always God who makes the first move in our life. God is the one drawing close. He noticed that God’s actions were not impeded by his imperfections; it was God’s goodness alone that enabled him to take up the mission, transforming him into a totally new person and therefore one able to respond to the call of the Lord, saying, “Here I am! Send me” (Is 6:8).
You are more fortunate today than the prophet Isaiah. In the Eucharist and in the other sacraments, you experience the intimate closeness of Jesus, the sweetness and power of his presence. You do not encounter Jesus placed on an inaccessibly high throne, but in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. His word does not shake the doorposts, but rather caresses the strings of the heart. Like Isaiah, each of you sees that God, although making himself close to us in Jesus and bending down towards you with love, remains always immeasurably greater, beyond our ability to understand him in his deepest being. Like Isaiah, you too have experienced that it is always God who takes the lead, because it is he who created you and willed you into being. It is he who, in your baptism, has made you into a new creation; he is always patiently waiting for your response to his initiative, offering forgiveness to whoever asks him in humility.