Friday, March 28, 2008


I've been lately reflecting on serving at the altar and doing some research in this regards.
A wise man once said "The two highest things you can do on earth is serve at the Altar and sing in choir", wise words. Our lives a filled with mundane things, we have Jobs; we have studies and have common mundane temporal works to do. These things produce something tangible, something we can see, and something we can use. The liturgy, has other effects, it is veiled, hidden. What effects the Mass has, along with prayer in general is frequently intangible, something we can't use in the ordinary sense. The priest, or the persons does not see in a physical manner the effects of his prayers, unless of coarse God grants him such a grace (i.e. sees the miracle, someone informs him). So is the work of the server or the chorister, there work, in the form of singing or duty is frequent veil, unseen.

These spiritual realities that we produce, the grace we receive and our prayers, are veiled and will be revealed to us in the beatific vision. This being said, such works, that have no visible effects, do happen. The server who servers Mass attentively, the Priest who offers Mass or the ordinary Mother who prayers her rosary, will reap a good fruit from their work. Like the carpenter who builds a table, they too produce something, unlike the table, it is of no worldly value, and rather it has value in the spiritual life.

The useful will be useless and the useless will be useful, at judgment day. All the money we earn, all the things we achieve, unless they are transformed by Christ, will be useless.

Although prayer and the Liturgy are the most perfect and primary means of worshipping God, in the economy of salvation we have the ability, of being a royal Priesthood, to offer up our ordinary to God. God takes this ordinary, mundane existence and transforms it. Like the priest taking the ordinary Bread and Wine and transforming it, into the Body and Blood of Christ. Everyone has this ability, we are a priestly people, but Christ gave us something more, the ministerial Priesthood.

The Priest unites his mundane with his spiritual. His ordinary works are on a higher plain. The greatest work of a Priest is the holy sacrifice of the Mass, which does mean the little things are of no importance. Our Lord told us “"if you can be trusted in little things, you can be trusted in great"” (I apologies if my bible quote is imperfect, my memory is a bit lacking here). So the little things that a priest does are by no means unimportant, the hospital visits, the counseling, the social justice work he does, they are important and necessary. A Priest told me that “the liturgy is only a small part of my day”, that is true, but it is the well spring of the priest’s life. All things flow from it, all things flow back to it.

The server, although not in the same way as a priest, receives such a high privilege of being able to serve the Priest, to assist at the liturgy. The priest makes the ultimate sacrifice to have such a life, it’s not all glamour, he lays down his life, the dies to himself and lives totally for others, due to his works having a great ripple effect then our mundane acts and even our participation in prayer and liturgy. The server, frequent has not cost for serving. He is given a free ride, he does not have to be as pious as the priest, as holy as a priest, he does not have to be celibate nor does he die to himself completely. It is sad; the church expects servers and everyone for that matter to foster a pious life. To be holy, the universal call to holiness. So it fills me with sorrow when ever I see a distracted server, one who gets a so called free ride. My idea of a server is someone who not only answers the universal call to holiness, but one who has the potential for the presbyterial call to holiness. A server who’s life is orientated to the liturgy. His whole life is an express of what happens at the Mass, the ordinary becoming the divine. The server should be a man of faith, to known to be pious. The server should not get a free ride, his participation in the liturgy, has a cost, a great cost then the universal call to holiness. He should be a man of prayer; he should not be attached to possessions or to women. He too on a small level makes the sacrifice of a priest, of levity.

To finish on a concluding note, there is one thing that would fill me with utter sorrow. For a girl, who I happen to quite fancy, to don on an alb and serve the Mass. There is no question as to whether she’d do a good job or not, but underlying spirituality and theology of it would be none existent, she’d get a free ride, she’d chalk something up to her many talents. The Liturgy has a spiritual reality, something that is not tangible, many people forget about this fact. They pounce around taking miles, altar girls, female lectors, “creative masses”, they are the ones who get the free ride, and they make no sacrifice. The gravity the liturgy has is neglected and trampled on. These are not empty ceremonies that the server participates in, this is the heavenly liturgy. How dare they say they are being discriminated, not being allowed to participate? The modern mentality is to have it all, to trample down the spiritual significant of serving, of the liturgy and of prayer. They man to tell God we can do better, they write there own liturgies, compose there own prayers (not evil in it’s self,)

The server, is given the chance of being allowed to participate in the liturgy, but he too, like the priest, must pay a cost. Are many of Today’s servers, paying this cost? God will judge them. When God gives a lot, he expects a lot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We live in a very much “me” orientated society. The world is filled with people who have to have their way only because the want to. If they don’t they, for example, accuse others of discrimination. Is that not the trait of a little spoilt brat!
Today people don’t seem to be aware of the words “sacrifice” or “self-denial”. They don’t seem to realise that some things are not to be touched. They should read about the arc of the covenant in the Old Testament – when someone would touch the arc they would die, even if it were out of a good intention. There was no messing around with the sacred.
To me girls serving takes away that sacredness and the solemnity (visually).
When servers act in the respectable manner, in the manner that is reserved for them, then the Mass takes on a completely different character. I remember when I went to my first Tridentine Mass and there were something like 9 servers. I truly thought I was in heaven. The servers were like angels, going at their own pace, as though the happenings of the world outside did not matter. I saw the Mass in its true light – it is the most important thing in the world! The sacrifice of God, the Unblemished Lamb, for the sins of the world is the most important thing in the world. I remember thinking that even if a war were going on outside it wouldn’t matter. What mattered was what was going on inside the church – the salvation of the world!