Thursday, January 13, 2011

Altar servers: Teaching what 'service' really means

Photo courtesy Bob Musselman

Off camera, there’s a gun pointed squarely at their heads.

The picture I’m talking about is of my four sons serving Christmas Mass in 2007. It’s one of the few times they all donned the server garb and helped out at Mass together.

The metaphoric gun was required because they all weren’t so enamored with the spectacle of four Musselman boys in the sanctuary. Bobby the eldest at 16, didn’t really see himself as a server anymore. In fact, he wasn’t technically even scheduled on Sundays. Even the 13-year-old, John, was not excited about being there.

My kids are no different than other kids who serve. Often, they don’t want to do it. Mass is too early, or too late, or inconvenient. They don’t want to wear good shoes and long pants to every Mass, in case they’re needed. They’re embarrassed to be seen by their flip flop-shod buddies.

But serving is an excellent opportunity to teach kids about what “service” really means. And it’s an opportunity for parents to, well, act like parents. Kids do not come out of the womb as selfless, hard working, humble saints.

I try to stress at our annual server parent meeting that we all have battles to fight with our kids, and we have to pick them carefully, looking for the “hill that’s worth dying for.”

To me, the lessons learned from altar serving—humility, service, reverence and teamwork—are well worth the effort. Even if it requires a little extra prodding early Sunday morning.

– Bob Musselman

Altar servers: Trying and being reverent
Altar servers of 2010, a photo review

Bob Musselman directs the altar server ministry at St. Raphael Catholic Church. He wrote this article especially for the Saint Raphael Messenger.

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