"What I tell my altar servers…"

A few thoughtful words from Fr. Dwight Longenecker…


You’re not really employed to be useful. You’re employed to help lead the worship. As long as you understand that, everything else that we teach you will follow. You see, all of us work together to lead the people of God in the worship of God — it’s not just the priest and deacons. I rely on you not just to do those particular jobs. Instead, I rely on you for something far greater and nobler and more beautiful and more true.

Our worship on earth reflects the worship in heaven. What we do here at the holy sacrifice of the Mass is a kind of distant echo of what goes on in heaven. There, the Lamb of God is offered in one timeless and eternal sacrifice. There the saints and angels worship around the throne of the Lamb. In that city there is no sun, moon, or stars, for the Lamb Himself is the light of that city. This altar you see here is a reflection of the altar in heaven. This chalice is a sign of the eternal Precious Blood of the Lamb. This host is, on earth, the sign of the Eternal Bread of heaven. The priest is an icon of Christ the Lord — and who are you? You represent and reflect on earth the heavenly host.

That’s right. I want you to represent the saints and angels.

That’s why we have children serve the Mass if we can, because you children remind us adults of what the Lord Jesus said: “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” So just by being children you remind us what we must be like to become like the saints and angels.

Therefore, since you represent the heavenly host of saints and angels, I want you to behave as such. Of course, I know that you are not yet saints, and I know you are not angels. You fight with your brothers and sisters. Some of you are bullies and others are cowards. You lie and cheat and have bad thoughts. You disobey your parents and are selfish and unkind. Nevertheless, you have a role to play in the Divine Liturgy, because despite all that, you are called to reflect something greater. You are called from what you are not to become all that you shall be; and if you are struck with a sense of awe at what I am expecting of you, think how I feel, for I am a sinner just like you are, and I am called to represent Christ Himself to the people.

Read it all. It’s terrific.

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