Being an altar server… and all things in between

The Mass is not a duty but, instead, a calling for us, as sons and daughters of God, to participate in a heavenly realm in this sin-ridden world, a glimpse of the paradise Christ promised when dying on the Cross.

Nov 13, 2021

By Malcolm Francis  Solomon

When I was asked to write an 800- word article about myself from a spiritual perspective for the Ruminations section, I panicked because I did not know what I should write about. However, after spending time in silent reflection and contemplating on what God might want to say through me to you, the reader, I thought of my passion and indeed a privilege, to serve as an altar server.

I’ve been an altar server for five years and to date, it continues to be an unforgettable experience. Being an altar server can be difficult at times, especially when one must serve at both a vigil Mass and a morning Mass (at the crack of dawn). Nevertheless, the joy I receive while serving is exceptional.

Serving at the altar comes with many stories and provides material for further discernment about my life as a son, a brother and, most importantly, a servant of God. As the Book of Jeremiah reminds me, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

Of my many takeaways as an altar server, the phrase “Order is of God, Chaos is of the Devil” stands out. Often said by my parish priest and mentor, Fr Michael Chua, it is a phrase I will remember till the day I breathe my last. I believe this phrase changed my life and my perspective about God and the Liturgy. It tells me that, as soldiers of Christ in this temporary home, we must be of great discipline when we present ourselves before God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, at his court.

In his book The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, Scott Hahn expounds on Pope St John Paul II’s description of the Mass as Heaven on Earth and says that what we celebrate on Earth is a mysterious participation in the heavenly liturgy. This description blew my mind because, while growing up, I believed Mass was simply a duty we Catholics must fulfil every Sunday. However, this understanding was the biggest mistake I made.

The Mass is not a duty but, instead, a calling for us, as sons and daughters of God, to participate in a heavenly realm in this sin-ridden world, a glimpse of the paradise Christ promised when dying on the Cross.

During the Movement Control Order when public Masses in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur were suspended, I was broken – suddenly being physically distant from heaven on earth took a toll on me.

During this time, serving at the altar was not an option but thankfully, leading the Teen Ministry named after St John Paul II, the saint who made me discover the Mass as Heaven on Earth, helped a lot.

We met as a community on Zoom almost every day. We shared the love of Christ with each other, and especially with teenagers who think Christ is a distant God. Seeing them grow in their faith, discovering the mysteries of God, warmed my heart and helped me cope with the lockdown.

Looking back at all that happened, from attending Mass to serving at Mass, and suddenly being stripped of that sacred privilege because of COVID-19, to finding fulfilment in community, and then coming back to the banquet of the Lord, it is evident that God is a master planner. He brought me to the pits of despair for me to discover His voice, and He taught me how to search for Christ from the depths of my heart.

It is apparent that when we are attentive to the voice of God, and our prayers are for God to reveal His voice to us, He will reveal it to our longing hearts.

Being an altar server in times like these, when the noise of this world deafens the voice of God, can be challenging — it takes a lot of strength, not merely physical strength but more importantly, spiritual strength through the help of Mary the Queen of Heaven.

I am sure that through the depths of my despair, our blessed Mother was with me, helping by interceding for me to God, so I could be attentive to His sacred voice.

I believe that being an altar server can help one hear the sacred calling of Christ to serve Him, and in the long run, being in love with His divinity and one day, hopefully going down the path less travelled.

As my Spiritual Director always reminds me, “You cannot run away from God”. I’m praying for you dear reader as you align your path with the Glory of God through serving Him in many ways, in your parish.

--Malcolm Francis Solomon — son, brother, friend and a servant of God — is an altar server at the Church of Jesus Caritas, Kepong. He also leads the St John Paul II Teens Ministry of Jesus Caritas.

Total Comments:1

I love server mass