Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Girls: To Server or Not To Serve...

In a recent blog, I saw one of the original quotes from the Vatican when the permission for girls to be servers came out. The word "obligation" was used in reference to boys being the preferred altar servers, but girls being allowed according to the bishop's decision. The Vatican clearly sees a connection between being an altar server and recognizing a call to the priesthood. It is clear that a 'behind the scenes' look at the Mass, as witnessed by altar servers, would lead to boys considering the vocation. Therefore, when girls enter the ranks of servers, there may be a similar effect on them - a desire to 'have the power' to consecrate bread and wine into Jesus's Body and Blood. Really, it is only natural. 

However, correct and thorough teaching of the True Faith can overcome this problem. It can also overcome the issues mentioned above such as finding Mass 'boring' if not serving, not knowing Liturgical terms, not understanding what happens during Mass, etc. All it takes is for parents to take their responsibility and obligation to heart and to REALLY teach their children the Faith. Whether your children attend Catholic schools or go to CCD, they still need to be immersed in the Faith at home. Too often parents let teachers (whether at school or CCD) and the single weekly Mass be the only exposition their children have to their Faith. There is no way over 2000 years of Catholicism can be learned in that little bit of exposure - even if all the teachers and priests were top-notch apologists (which sadly they aren't... Please pray for priests and religion teachers!). Even if they were top-notch apologists, 'book-learning' is not even 1/2 of the battle. You must LIVE your Faith in order to succeed in it. In order to live it, you must know it. To know it you must learn about it at a steady rate.  

*Study the Catechism with your children. 
*Go through the Liturgical items after Mass with them. 
*Invite Father over after Mass or on a weeknight to discuss Mass and what happens during Mass. 
*Discuss Liturgical seasons and how they differ from the secular seasons we see. 
*Read Scripture together to learn where all our wonderful Traditions began. 
*Learn about various saints and their lives to see which fits each member of your family best. 
*Identify areas of your lives that could be improved by studying the cardinal virtues and vices. 

Really LIVE the Faith. Through this more than any amount of altar serving will make our children devout and life-long Catholics - even if they turn away for a while. Once they know the why and how, they will return, even if it takes them the rest of their lives. All things are possible with God.

My daughter is 5 and wants to be an altar server. However, she will be guided into a different area of serving our parish. Her brother is almost 7 and will be an altar server. They both already know the entire Consecration just from attending Sunday Masses with one daily Mass every week or so. They're young, but already know many of the items used during the Liturgy, the Liturgical seasons, many saints, the basics of the Catechism, many Bible stories, countless hymns, sung Mass parts (Gloria, Holy, etc) and songs for Mass. We have been our parish's 'choir' since they were infants in the womb. That is one of our 'services' to the parish. 

Not everyone needs to serve in the same way - not everyone has to 'serve' in a public or physical way at all. Participation in Mass is not about physically 'doing' something at Mass. Participating in the Mass is simply being there at witnessing The unbloody Sacrifice of Jesus on the altar. That is what Mass is about. Mass is NOT about how we feel about it or what we do. It is about Christ's Sacrifice for us. Too often we get caught up in trying to 'do' something instead of worshiping God in the Mass. We go to Mass for God, not for ourselves. If all we can think of during Mass is ourselves and whether we're doing enough, or entertained enough, or 'participating' enough, then we're not really participating at all. We should go to Mass to be in awe of our Almighty God who created us, forgives our sins, died for us, and nourishes us with His very Own Body and Blood. We should go to Mass knowing that the angels do not even get to be this intimate with God - we consume Him! That is what Mass is about. The Mass is the most perfect prayer we have and just being in the church while Mass is being said - even if you can't understand a word of it - with a reverent and prayerful heart is the best prayer we can offer God. 

So, don't get caught up in trying to find a 'service' to perform at Mass - your service may simply be to pray the Mass. Outside of Mass just raise your children with knowledge of the Faith - don't expect others or their 'service' do it for you.

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