Beginning in Lent, Fr. Jon and I will be introducing small changes in our Masses and we wanted to explain two changes that will be more noticeable. The changes have to do with where the altar servers stand as they pray the Our Father and the increased use of bells. Mass is already celebrated beautifully here at Holy Family and we want to make it even more so! The Mass is a gift from God that is designed in all of its parts to help train us to pray. Everything we do at Mass, from sitting, kneeling, standing, singing, how we receive communion, etc., helps teach us to pray. While certain parts of the Mass are changeable, the Church also gives some guidelines for celebrating the Mass. The Church gives instructions for the Mass in a document called the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (abbr. GIRM). Anyone interested in learning more can find the GIRM for free online, or can easily find a copy to buy.
The change I want to discuss this week is where the altar servers stand as they pray the Our Father. Currently at weekend Masses the altar servers come into the sanctuary and stand on either side of the priest as he prays the Our Father. We are going to shift our practice so that the altar servers remain at their pew and pray there instead of coming forward to the altar. We have three reasons for doing so. First, when Fr. Jon and I (and any other priest) celebrate Mass, we are doing so in the person of Christ – such that it is Christ acting through us to make His sacrifice present on the altar. Consequently, we do not want to do anything that shifts attention from Christ acting at the altar. Since the GIRM does not ask for servers to come forward at this time, we will have them remain in their places. Second, having the altar servers remain at their place helps them be in better unity with the rest of the congregation. The GIRM calls for unity among the congregation, and states, “This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and bodily postures observed together by the faithful.” Having the servers remain at their places maintains their unity with the rest of the congregation as they pray. Third, our change with the altar servers will bring uniformity amongst all the Masses, since our adult servers at daily Masses and funeral Masses already remain at their place instead of coming up to stand by the altar. This will be one small change you may notice as we be begin Lent. May God help all of us to worship Him better, especially at Mass!