Altar Server Handbook Appendix
Excerpt from address by Pope John Paul II to Altar Servers
1 August 2001, St. Peters Square
Dear Altar Servers!
... Your commitment to the altar is not only a duty but a great honor, a true holy service. Regarding this service, I would like to suggest some points for your reflection.
The vestments worn by altar servers are very special. They recall a garment that everyone puts on when he is welcomed, in Jesus Christ, into the community. I am referring to the baptismal garment whose deep meaning is explained by St. Paul: "For
as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3, 27).
Even if you no longer fit into your baptismal garment, dear altar servers, you have put
on that of an altar server. Yes, Baptism is the starling point of your "authentic liturgical
service", which puts you beside your Bishops, priests and deacons.
The altar server has a privileged place in liturgical celebrations. Those who serve at
Mass present themselves to a community. They experience from close hand that Jesus
is present and active in every liturgy. Jesus is present whenever the community gathers
to pray and give praise to God. Jesus is present in the words of Sacred Scripture. Jesus is present above all in the Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine. He acts through the priest who celebrates Holy Mass and administers the sacraments in
persona Christi [in the person of Christ].
Therefore in the liturgy, you are far more than mere "helpers of the parish priest."
Above all, you are servants of Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest. Thus you altar servers
especially are called to be young friends of Jesus. Strive to deepen and foster this
friendship with him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life.
The altar server offen holds a candle in his hand. How can we not think of what Jesus
said in the Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world" (Mt 5, 14). Your
service cannot be restricted to the inside of a church. It must shine out in your every
day life: at school, in the family and in the different social contexts, for those who want
to serve Jesus Christ in a church must be his witnesses everywhere.
Dear young people, your contemporaries are awaiting the true "light of the world." (cf. John 1,9). Do not hold your candlestick only inside the church but take the light of the Gospel
to all who live in darkness and are going through difficult times in their lives.
I have spoken of friendship with Jesus. How happy I would be if something more
sprang from this friendship! How beautiful it would be if some of you could discover a
vocation to the priesthood! Jesus Christ urgently needs young people who generously
make themselves available to him without reserve. Furthermore, might not the Lord
also be calling some of you girls to embrace the consecrated life in order to serve the
Church and the brethren? Also for those who would like to be united in marriage, an
altar server's service teaches that an authentic union must always include readiness for
reciprocal and gratuitous service.