Serving God as an altar server is a wonderful way for a child to grow in faith as well as in responsibility, friendship, and other virtues.
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I’m convinced of the importance of transmitting the faith to our children starting when they are small. If someone asks me how, I would say that faith is transmitted by spending time in God’s company and in His service through small daily actions. Many factors play a role, but there is a precious activity that is within the reach of all children and which combines these aspects: the role of an altar server.
It’s worth noting that all of us who have been altar servers in our childhood treasure that period of our life with great pleasure and gratitude. As the Lord said, “Let the little children come to me” (Mark 10:14).
The fact is, there’s nothing more satisfying for a soul, even for that of a child, than to serve without expecting anything in return. And our joy grows even greater when it’s a matter of serving God himself at the altar, as do the angels in heaven!
St. Tarcisius, patron saint of altar servers, was an 11-year-old assistant to priests of 3rd-century Rome, and an example in life and in his death of service and self-giving. He was martyred on the Appian Way when pagans discovered him carrying Holy Communion to imprisoned Christians. They stoned him to death, but he refused to give them the container bearing Holy Communion, which they tried to pry from his hands and would likely have profaned.
Why should we encourage our children to be altar servers?
“It is an important task that enables you to be particularly close to the Lord and to grow in true and profound friendship with him. Guard this friendship in your hearts jealously, like St Tarcisius, ready to commit yourselves, to fight and to give your lives so that Jesus may reach all peoples.” (Benedict XVI, August 4, 2010).
For us parents, the task of educating our children is often arduous and requires great patience and perseverance. Perhaps few parents have ever really stopped to reflect on the virtues that their children can acquire through being an altar server.
We might be surprised if we analyze the benefits it brings to their personal, spiritual and cultural formation. Have you considered what they are?
Benefits of being an altar server
- Being an altar server instructs children in order, care and poise. They learn to serve with love and to perform the smallest details beautifully.
- Serving at the altar teaches children to be responsible and punctual. From an early age, they acquire good sense, and commitment to the Holy Mass.
- Every altar server becomes skillful and efficient. If something fails or is missing during the liturgy, they’re the ones in charge of solving it with skill and speed.
- Being an altar server fosters companionship among the children. They learn to share and distribute tasks. The older ones teach and guide the younger altar servers.
- Serving at the altar instructs the children in the liturgy and the rich culture of the Church.
- Serving at Mass server helps them grow in piety (participation in prayer) and fortitude (physical and spiritual dedication).
- Being an altar server teaches children from a young age to love, revere and praise God.
If your children become altar servers, help them to feel proud of what they do, and pray for them. Help them to learn little by little to turn their actions into prayers and to grow in their faith journey.
I’d like to speak for a moment directly to any altar servers reading this: Be joyful to serve at the altar, to be closer to Jesus! And give thanks for this magnificent role which, at your young age, allows you to serve in the Greatest Miracle, where something extraordinary happens, and you have a front row seat.