Male service at the altar

A friend and long-time internet colleague – once a member of the staff of the ancient Catholic Forum on Compuserve! – sent the following from a blog called Harvey Millican 2.0: Musings of a Trad Dad: “These Our Men“.

I once told a friend that the servers at Latin Mass, in particular, evoke a great sense of both pride and humility in me. Here we have – in some cases – boys as young as seven or eight serving a Latin Mass with the absolute greatest of integrity. They have diligently studied and memorized another language and intricate movements out of love for Our Lord. I well up when I see this. It is plain to me that the moment these lads pull the cassock over their heads and step into the sanctuary, they have at that moment become men. It doesn’t matter what youthful scraps they may find themselves in on the field, what emotional outbursts erupt as they develop physically and for which their hormones have not yet caught up. It doesn’t even matter their stage of physical development. Lacking the muscle mass, voice change, and facial hair that will one day belie their sex to the world; no, these boys could fight battles with the strength of soldiers once they ring the bell and Father hands off his biretta. There’s just something about that role and how seriously they take it. I think we know the reason. It is indeed a grace.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Not says:

    My son became an Altar server at school. The Brother who taught them for decades, taught them to serve with that military precision. The tradition continues to this day. My son is a very tall man and was as a teenager. I remember the day when he was serving a wonderful very elderly Priest, now deceased, and this Priest fell backwards at the altar into my son’s arms. We all gasped , my son stood Father up and he continued without skipping a beat
    By the way, Father would have to sit in a chair to distribute Holy Communion to about 100 people. No one complained.

  2. The Egyptian says:

    Therefor it must be repressed! Toxic masculinity and all that don’t ya know, we need liturgical dance!

  3. Danteewoo says:

    Years ago I saw a couple of six-tear-olds serving Mass at the FSSP parish in my town. And I served Mass a year and a half ago at age 70, sciatic nerve pain and all. The kind of thing an old guy never thought he would do again, a great blessing.

  4. maternalView says:

    That is a beautiful observation! I love to see thos e young boys so seriously serving. But it occurred to me this morning what a good & powerful example it is to them to serve along with men (who are often their dads!). It’s not just for ” kids”!

    [The father and son team is also a good model. But so is a cadre of boys, some older, who learn at an early age to mentor.]

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    We agree, what a wonderful thing it is to observe. We have had the privilege of seeing a young altar server go from a little boy at times tipping at times while trying to move the lectionary from one side to the other, fidgeting and probably forgetting he was up there, become the serious and confident teenager who now instructs a whole group of younger boys in the art, and beautifully. Now rather than the lone boy, there are about eight or so, learning to serve. It is heartwarming to observe their growth. There are two great men who serve as instructors, who have done this with such care, and they are now stepping back, and letting the boys (men in the making) step to the forefront and take on their role for the next generation. It is a real blessing to see all of it.

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    oops, sorry, “tipping over at times” was what I meant to say. We felt for him, and held our breath many times. But he mastered it.

  7. Mike says:

    I have never served at the altar of a VO Mass. I admire these young guys; it takes guts, piety, and love for the Church to do as they do.

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  9. BW says:

    My eldest lad has just started serving at Holy Mass over the past few months (aged 8, now 9). He’s assisted at both the NO and VO. When he was first at the VO, next to an experienced server, my heart was in my mouth as he began to rock back on his heels when kneeling during the consecration. Now? Back is ram-rod straight, he’s diligent, focused and knows exactly when to use the bells. The skills as an altar server benefits him so much in everyday life. He is in touch with the divine.

    Proud father, humbled dad.

  10. RichR says:

    Our diocesan priest has an elite altar server group of jr high and high school boys who do solemnities and Holy Week Masses. They are chosen by the PP, they have more rigorous training, they have fellowship dinners, they wear special lace surplices whenever they serve at any Mass (instead of plain surplices the younger altar boys & girls wear), they exchange a special Sign of Peace when serving at any Mass, they are led by peer MCs, Thurifers are only chosen from this group, and vocation directors give talks to this group to encourage priestly vocations. These boys show the same attentiveness, piety, and dedication the OP describes. I do not think we have to assume only the TLM can elicit such characteristics in young men.

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