Called for Service at the Altar in the Acolyte Ministry

“You will have a special role in the Church’s ministry. The summit and source of the Church’s life is the Eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow. It is your responsibility to assist Priests and Deacons in carrying out their ministries and as a special minister to give Holy Communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick.

Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be moulded more perfectly in its likeness. You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do so that you may offer yourself daily to God, a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ.

In performing your ministry, bear in mind that as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ’s mystical body, God’s holy people and especially for the weak and the sick. Be obedient to the commandment, which the Lord gave to his apostles at the last supper, “Love one another as I have loved you.””

These were the words addressed to William Henry as he was instituted to the ministry of acolyte by Rev Msgr Henry Rajoo on the Memorial of Our Lady of Rosary. The ceremony took place during the morning Mass con-celebrated by Rev Fr Dominic Santhiyagu and Rev Fr Konstend Gnanapragasam, at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Rite of Institution to the Ministry of Acolyte began after the Liturgy of the Word, with Fr Dominic reading the Bishop’s letter of admission. This was followed by the calling of the candidate, after which Msgr Henry delivered his homily, a reflection about words.

Words mould, sanctify, transform us

“Words are very powerful. They can break and build. They also bind us to something,” said Msgr Henry. The power of words can be seen in creation, where God spoke, and the world was created (John 1:1). In marriage, the vows are said with words, binding two people together. Words like “I love you” and “I do” have committing and binding effects that we don’t just throw around meaninglessly.

Msgr Henry proceeded to elaborate on the consequences of Mary’s words, “Be it done to me according to Thy Word” (Luke 1:38), which were heard in the day’s Gospel. With these words, Mary invited God to enter and transform her. We see here that in welcoming God’s Word into our lives, we dispose ourselves to letting the Word work in us.

This calls for docility; the quality of being easily formed or teachable, like a clay in the hands of the potter. It is difficult to be docile and let God take control as we all have our own plans for life. However, we are called, like Mary to be docile to the Spirit of God and to allow the Word to form us. By saying the words of her fiat, the Blessed Mother was formed to become who she is called to be. Similarly, the words we speak in the vows that we make, when kept faithfully, form us in the Sacrament that we receive. It continues to mould and sanctify us, transforming us into the people God desires for us to be.

Msgr Henry concluded by saying that William, too, will say a few words during his institution to the acolyte ministry. With faithfulness to this ministry, these words will continue to mould and sanctify him, and by this he will be a blessing to others.

The Rite continued with an invitation to pray for blessing and strength for William. This was followed by the presentation of the vessels with bread and wine, after which the Liturgy of the Eucharist began.  

Experiencing God through service at the altar

At the end of the Mass, William delivered a speech of thanksgiving to God for choosing him for the acolyte ministry. He recalled how he began serving at the altar as a young boy and encouraged parents to send their children to be altar servers. “Send your children to be another Simeon who helps Jesus, so that they too may experience the presence of God in a special way in the Eucharist,” he urged.

Fr Dom expressed his gratitude to William for saying yes to serving at the altar. He described William as a simple and faithful man who is always willing to assist and makes an effort to learn and prepare himself for the liturgy. Fr Dom added that William will enhance the altar server ministry by guiding and journeying with the young boys and girls who serve.

After presenting William with the certificate of acolyte, Msgr Henry remarked that when serving at the altar one tends to ‘behave’. It is not a service performed in any ordinary place but rather in the presence of God, and this helps one to advance in holiness. Those who serve at the altar are challenged to renew themselves daily and to let go of everything that is unfit for the ministry.

All praise and glory to God for the gift of this new ministry for our parish. Click here to learn more about the ministry of acolyte. – KA

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