Dear Friends, Reflecting on our lives as Catholic Christians, I have come to the conclusion that during our liturgies we are a people who are always moving toward someone or someplace with enthusiasm and joy. The use of parades for civic occasions and of processions for religious motives is common to all peoples. The Hebrew Testament and the Christian Testament provide biblical bases for the Judaeo-Christian practice of processions. The Christian procession is tied closely to the idea of pilgrimage. Life for us is a journey from one place to another. A journey becomes a pilgrimage when it is undertaken for God and seeks God as its ultimate goal. The great example of all this is, the pilgrimage of the People of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt through the desert to the promised land.
What does this insight have to do with altar servers? Are the altar servers involved in processions? Absolutely! At each liturgy, our altar servers are involved in both functional and special processions. The functional processions include the entrance and closing processions, procession of the gifts, the Gospel Procession, minor processions to the altar to bring up the chalice, the Sacramentary, communion cups, purificators and bread plates. And of course the Communion Procession which is the ritual expression of our identity as fellow pilgrims on a journey together to the heavenly banquet, singing as we walk.
Servers serve the prayer life of the assembly. They remind us of our journey toward the Lord. They know how to walk in the sacred space. They know the direction and they have a sense of purpose. They do not call attention to themselves. They facilitate worship with focus, moving from one place to another, making it happen easily with care and grace. By their actions they point to what is important and they lead the processions by example.
Altar servers are the youthful members of our community, they energize us and remind us of our journeying toward the Lord. They lead us silently, providing focus as to what is important in our liturgies.