Altar Server Ministry
The Meaning of Ministry
Ministry is not only for the ordained (the priest and deacons) but the call to all members of the church received through our baptism.
Ministers are not a special group with special honors but above all else are active participants and members of the worshiping assembly.
Ministry finds its role in assistance to the prayer and worship of all of the assembly.
Ministry is not just a job or a performed function, but is a response in faith to God’s gracious goodness through our Baptism.
Ministers are called to service. Ministry can never be a matter of status, priviledge or a way of seeking self-satisfaction or self-worth.
Ministry presupposes competence. It is not simply a matter of good intentions.
Ministry is not self-seeking and always involves teamwork.
Ministry is not a permanent position. It is a calling from God through the church.
The altar server is an important part of the normal celebration of the Mass and assists the priest and deacon throughout the celebration the Mass and other liturgical celebrations.
Servers carry the cross, the processional candles, hold the book for the priest celebrant when he is not at the altar, carry the incense and censer, present the bread, wine, and water to the priest during the preparation of the gifts or assist him when he receives the gifts from the people, wash the hands of the priest, assist the priest celebrant and deacon as necessary.
Servers respond to the prayers and dialogues of the priest along with the congregation. They also join in singing the hymns and other chants of the liturgy. (USCCB - Guidelines for Altar Servers #7)
What are the Qualities of an Altar Servers
Humility – It is an honor to be a minister of the altar. However, we should never use this office to be self-righteous. As Christ humbled himself and washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper, so too are we called to humble ourselves and be of service to others. The focus of our Ministry is service to the altar, the priests and the deacons during the Liturgy. The focus should never be on us.
Hospitality – As altar servers, we have two roles. We are not only called to serve at the altar but called to welcome anyone who approaches the Lord’s Table. Remember that a posture that is attentive and relaxed, a warm smile, eye contact and a tone that is reverent and friendly all convey hospitality.
Gratitude – The word Eucharist is the Greek word for “thanks”. The giving of thanks and praise in the Eucharist is the central and essential action of the Church. We are thankful first and foremost for Christ; in whom are things are created equal and redeemed. We are grateful for our “salvation history” – stories of how God has walked with us in good times as well as bad and of how He has been active in our lives. We must tell our stories and listen to the stories of others.
Reverence – An attitude of prayer and reverence must always be maintained on the altar. The posture and movements of an altar server should never be a distraction to others. Standing and sitting up straight is the norm slouching or lounging is never appropriate. Altar servers generally move slowly and calmly always knowing their task and why they are doing it.
Team Player - Altar servers work as a team assisting one another in completely the task at hand. Recognizing that we are all a part of the body of Christ we do our part in the Church, our homes and our communities.
Prayerful - Prayer is a conversation with God. It is important to maintain a prayerful lifestyle on and off the altar. Jesus always set aside time for prayer with His Father. We too must make ourselves available in prayer to maintain our relationship with God.