Mediator Dei 200

Bishops and pastors are advised to be “selective” in the matter of altar boys. But it is not intended as an office for the elite:

200. To attain this purpose, it will greatly help to select carefully good and upright young boys from all classes of citizens who will come generously and spontaneously to serve at the altar with careful zeal and exactness. Parents of higher social standing and culture should greatly esteem this office for their children. If these youths, under the watchful guidance of the priests, are properly trained and encouraged to fulfill the task committed to them punctually, reverently and constantly, then from their number will readily come fresh candidates for the priesthood. The clergy will not then complain – as, alas, sometimes happens even in Catholic places – that in the celebration of the august sacrifice they find no one to answer or serve them.

The connection between being an altar server and becoming a priest is a bit more vague today. It’s a hopeful situation, to be sure. An opportunity to give good example, certainly. But those serving at the altar in this “office” today should be encouraged to go beyond the actions of service, and embrace a fuller call of baptism. Baptism precedes ordination, though in some few poor examples, one can wonder …

Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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