Saturday, 9 August 2014

Highlight: Pope Francis Speaks to Altar Servers in Germany!

Hello Everyone.

I was browsing my Facebook news feed and came across a posting from one of my Catholic groups: Our Lady's Knights of the Altar. This group is a modern re-working/return of a classic program that was used by many parishes pre-Vatican II (and sadly sacked post Vatican II in the wake of the Novus Ordo), and within the last 2 years the group has existed, they already have 8 Chapters! Please see their program at if you are thinking about a formal structure for your Novus Ordo or Extraordinary Form altar serving. It even has a special rank built in for those who can do the EF, above the normal serving of the OF!

Today, they linked to this article from the National Catholic Register (affiliated with EWTN and receives articles from Catholic Answers affiliated apologists and authors), where the Pope spoke to ~50K altar servers in Germany. One may see the video of his speech at Radio Vaticana's website: . There is also the summary report here on News.Va, the Vatican`s News reporting website. As for the full context of the speech, it`s too soon for the English translation, but one will find it here eventually: .

Since News.VA has a more detailed summary, I`ll post some of its juicier tidbits here and let my commentary be in Marian blue (or close to it) ink.:

“Through this concrete man by the name of Jesus, we can understand what God really meant. He wants to free human beings, so that they might always feel protected as children of a good father.” 

That's right, through JESUS, not just through God/Allah, etc. Not to mention he is un-heretical by acknowledging Jesus' human nature here as well, vs. the heresies of early Church history. Syncretism or lukewarmness here? I think not! 

But, the Pope said, to realize this plan, God needs a human person, “a woman, a mother, who brings the Son into the world. She is the Virgin Mary, whom we honor in this evening's celebration. Mary was totally free. In her freedom she said ‘yes.’ She always did good. So she served God and human beings. Let us imitate her example, if we want to know what God expects of us as His children.”

So, doctrinally, we have here acknowledgement of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her "fiat" as it were, as well as indirectly, though not initially, her freedom from Original Sin, as well as that she had a human free will. Might I remind you, that her freedom from sin IS the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, pronounced Ex Cathedra in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, in Ineffiablis Deus?

Here, in the example of Mary, is some of how the Pope is trying to provide for a model for altar servers. That in Mary's fiat, she said, Yes, "servo" to God in His desire to have her be the Theotokos, the Christ-bearer. Likewise, we servers, should too, say yes, to serving, whenever we can to our Lord, barring utter necessary duties. What a great example for Pope Francis to give us altar servers to emulate in our practice.  

.... He said the world “needs people who will testify to others that God loves us, that He is our Father.” Young people have a special role to play in this mission, the Pope said: “You are called to speak of Jesus to your contemporaries, not only those within your parishes or associations, but especially to those outside....

Here, responding to the call of the New Evangelization, I love what the Pope is saying here. First, I love that he is acknowledging the role that young people, even youth altar serving, can play a role in the New Evangelization. It is tying in with our Baptismal role that we have as members of the Body of Christ, that we all play a role in bringing about the Gospel to our world, and the salvation of souls. It's not just for the priests, or the choirmasters, or the teachers. No, we young people, too, without credentials, or Holy Orders, can be apostles for Christ! 

Further, he wants us to take what we do as servers, and our Faith, outside of the Church! Now, I am going to go on a bit of a stretch here, but I hope would hope it would agree with what the Holy Father has said and preached. In my journeys as an altar server, one thing I have sadly witnessed, is that people tend to simply remain inward with our faith, and huddle in our little traditionalist/Novus Ordo, etc. communities, all the while giving into the temptation to be ... "querulous and disillusioned pessimists, "sourpusses." (85, Evangelii Gaudium). This would include both generally, and in the serving parts somewhat, things such as only remaining with the "ultra-trad" communities and not all trad communities, keeping a firmly rigid traditionalist (or liberal) view on things, and going about as a Catholic without a joy of the Gospel, or not being involved in both forms of the Roman Rite. This would also include comments that are anywhere from passive-aggressive, to possibly disparaging against Vatican II, the Novus Ordo, Ecumenism, etc. It is almost like rebellion against Holy Mother Church and makes you wonder why should one bother being a Catholic when it is so "damaged?:  

Now, does sticking to the EF alone make you a sourpuss? No. However, when done in part and parcel with a certain "fortress" mentality and just staying put without spreading the Faith, we altar servers are not spreading the Joy of the Gospel. We might be serving on the altar, or praying our Latin, but our actions become reduced to clockwork-like mechanics on display, vs. inspiring our fellow laity to more reverence. Our dispositions and words become ``grey`` and uninviting to those who are seeking spiritual nourishment or considering EF serving. I particularly think about the contradictions I've seen in my few years between servers with a ``joy`` in serving, vs. others who have an all ``holy`` mentality. The joyful ones, were those who showed when they served on, and acted outside of the altar, a positive influence in what they do and a happiness about serving the Lord, one that, were I not so Traditionally minded, would make me want to come back to the EF if I was lukewarm or just ``trying it out.`` Even our youngest servers, can express this joy, as I witnessed at the Sacred Heart 2014 Mass I served with St. Patrick`s Gregorian Choir. 

To me, Pope Francis is saying (as he has repeatedly,) we have to stop being closed minded upon ourselves, only remaining in our little elitist communities whereby anyone who is "not Trad" or "not-uber Catholic" (that is not blatantly trying to dissent from the Church willfully), is not worth speaking to, and we need to start being more happy about our Faith and the joys it offers, all the while NOT giving into the errors of our more radical brethren. Further, let's not just be an example to our fellow Trad Catholics, how about our non-EF Catholics too, and even our Non-Catholic friends too as servers! Let our Joy and our service be our basis for our Evangelization! He`s doing a Missionary calling for us! Time to take our serving (and our Glad Trad or Happy Ordo) minds and hearts outside the Sacristy, and into our lives!

Finally, to me, or what I want to focus on, he said about commitments in a young person`s life:

`` ... he understood the difficulties many young people experience in balancing their commitment to serving at church with various other activities “necessary for human and cultural growth.” ... among the many demands in one’s daily routine, the Pope said, one of our priorities must be remembering our Creator, Who gives us life, Who loves us, and Who accompanies us on our journey.

He realizes that young people`s attentions are constantly being competed for, whether by their own interests, teachers who think piling homework on kids is the best way for them to learn, or eager parents who want their children`s lives to be fully ``enriched,`` be it to have what they did not, to not be bored, or to prepare junior to become the world`s next Bill Gates or Sidney Crosby. These interests do compete and clash with ``Holy`` activities, as these primarily happen 1) usually on school weeknights in the case of practices (e.g. choirs), or 2) on weeeknds whereby most sports activities and practices often tail into music classes, or occur in the mornings contradicting Holy Mass, even on Saturday evenings. In otherwords, as I`ve hinted at in my introductory serving posts, you gotta make this your #1 activity! Christ! God! Best thing since sliced bread over your other activities! While I wish Pope Francis would have been more gutsy and told the youth that should conflict occur to toss those things aside for Christ as the ``Pearl of Great Price``, Making God #1 isn't too bad. 

So there. What a good find! H/T to Our Lady's Knights of the Altar. Pax, Julian. 

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