In John 6:9, we find the Scriptural foundation for the altar boy: “There is a boy here that has five barley loaves, and two fishes.” The context for this statement is Our Lord asking His disciples from where they shall provide the food to feed the multitudes. It is Our Lord, the Eternal High Priest, who is asking for service, and the one who provides that service is indeed “a boy,” who has something to offer. We can safely interpret this passage as a liturgical act of a boy towards a priest, in this case, it is Jesus, the Eternal High Priest, who forms the sanctuary around Him wherever He goes. To confirm this interpretation, the boy’s act of service towards the High Priest takes place during the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, which is considered in the Catholic Tradition as a foretaste and forecast of the Holy Eucharist. And thus, the boy, as server, is found in Sacred Scripture, which is inspired by the Holy Ghost, Who sees the needs of all the epochs with Divine wisdom, until the end of time.
“Why should my son serve at the altar of Christ?”
The altar boy has the opportunity to exercise, among others, the virtues of obedience, discipline, and most importantly, the virtue of religion. The latter presents us with the purpose of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church. The virtue of religion is the proper worship due to God alone, as He has revealed to us through His Son, and consequently, through His Church in the living Tradition. In the Real Presence of Christ on the altar, the altar boy has the awesome privilege of assisting the priest in carrying out the sacred rites of the Church. And through this privilege, God often stirs the souls of our youth to serve Him as future priests in the Church, perpetuating His own true sacrifice to God the Father for the salvation of the world.
What is required of the altar boy?
Serving at the altar demands a commitment. The altar boy needs training in various areas to contribute worthily at the altar. He needs to grow in his knowledge of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in his knowledge of Latin prayers, and of the different rubrics involved in the ceremonies of the traditional Roman rite. This will come with time and the effort of many. The altar boy will be expected to attend practices regularly throughout the year, practice and memorize his Latin prayers, and work his way through the altar serving ranks. He will also be expected to attend Holy Mass every Sunday, and fulfill his role as per the schedule, which will be sent out every month.
Who will be providing the training?
We are blessed at the Vital Grandin Chaplaincy in Edmonton to be served by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), who give absolute priority to the august celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as well as the other sacraments. We also have experienced members at the Chaplaincy who will help provide training and instruction for the boys. Mr. Kamil Rachwal spent nearly four years in both the seminary and religious life, living and breathing the sacred liturgy on a daily basis. Under his guidance, and the help of the senior servers, they are eager to pass on their knowledge and experience to the next generation of altar boys.
Altar Serving: a Community for Boys
Although serving at the altar is the principal means of our service, we also want to provide a community for boys within the Chaplaincy, where they can learn together, share the Faith, and build meaningful friendships while developing the Christian virtues. We plan to have at least three outings during the year, playing sports, sharing food, and socializing together in a spirit of fraternal charity. This will bring about a greater cohesion to the group, which will have its impact on serving effectively in the sanctuary. We eventually want to form a serving Guild within the chaplaincy in order to obtain the highest standard of serving at the altar.
If you are interested in becoming an Altar Server or if you would like more information about it, contact the chaplain.