Saint Rose is very fortunate to have a skilled group of young men and women who are dedicated to serving God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Our altar servers start in 6th grade and continue through senior year of high school. Their roles during Mass are completely unnecessary. That’s right, the priest can still celebrate Mass without a single server. However, their roles are a vital part of each and every Mass.
As altar servers, the young men and women of our parish are leaders. Not just to their peers, but to everyone in the pews. While most people only notice when the server is actually up and assisting Father with the gifts, vessels, candles, or Missal, but they are actually “working” throughout the entire Mass. The entire Mass is a prayer, and the altar servers are there to help the priest in leading the people in this prayer.
Before the Mass even starts, the altar servers process into the church with the priest. This procession is a very real procession to Calvary, the same way Jesus made his way into Jerusalem before the Last Supper. The server who carries the processional cross into the church is not just walking in to start mass. He (or she) is not just carrying our Lord and Savior to Calvary, but is also carrying the cross each of us are called to carry and following Jesus. The servers who are carrying the candles forward are not just carrying sticks of beeswax. They carry to the altar the Light of Christ. This is the Light that each of us received at our Baptisms, and because of this they carry each of us to the altar as well.
During the Mass the primary role of the altar server is direct the people of the Church towards God. They do this through their body language. Everything from their posture to their slow, deliberate movements is designed to point to God. With their hands pressed together in prayer they point the way towards the altar. When the deacon comes forward to proclaim the Gospel, the candles are on either side as a reminder to us that in our Baptism we are called to bring light to the world. When the servers come down off the sanctuary with the priest and deacon to receive the gifts, they are not just receiving gifts of bread and wine, but are also receiving the offering of our prayers. The Offering does not just consist of the bread, wine, and money from the offering, but the guardian angel of each person brings forward the personal offering of each person in attendance and places them on the altar. Throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, the altar servers continue to point the Church to God through their hands, posture, and attention. As the Mass ends, the servers gather again with the cross and the candles and take the Light of Christ and the message of the Gospel, leading the people of God, and follow Jesus out into the world to spread His Word.
The role of the altar server is not just to carry the cross and candles, hold the missal, and place things on the altar. Their role is to bring God’s people to Calvary and to lead them out into the world.
With such an important role, we are always seeking new young men and women to join the ranks of those already serving during mass.