The publishing arm of the SSPX has reprinted a 1952 work by Fr. David E. Rosage, Letters to an Altar Boy (reprint 2011).
The thin book begins with a quote from Rev. Thomas O’Donnell, CSC (Director of the Knights of the Altar):
Any lad who read this book is bound to be better and to have a better understanding of the great privilege that is his.
The book is laid out well and there are recent color photos which nevertheless could have been from 1952.
The idea of the book is clear: give boys a sense of the importance of what they are called to do, the honor there is in being able to do it, and then to conform their lives to that as an identity. It stresses things that boys resonate with: belonging to a group, doing clearly spelled out tasks, doing something important, making sacrifices, being loyal, advancing to new duties, etc.
Along the pages many important issues are addressed, such as being of good character and reliable, tidy, pure in heart, avoiding filthy language. There are practical points, such as making sure your hands are clean, your shoes are shined. There is even a short list of the four brushes: scrub brush, shoe brush, hair brush, tooth brush!
There are practical pointers about what to do with your hands when you serve, making a thanksgiving after Mass, keeping silent, seeing Mary as the mother of altar boys…
I found this book charming. I actually have a touch of envy for boys and men who grew up in the culture that could still produce such a book. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it was a bit more connected to what really matters. And one of the best things about this book is that it acknowledges time and time again that you may not be a perfect boy, but you can always try to be the very best at what you do, and be virtuous and faithful as you grew up, taking those same lessons into manhood and, perhaps, the seminary if that is your calling.
In the last few decades there has been such a horrible war on boys.
Finally, it must be said that this book has nothing to do with altar girls. No-thing.
Parents. Have boys? Go to the other form of Mass? Are some of them servers?