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Dear brothers and sisters, and the viewers of this web site Barkur.com, I am Fr. Joseph Anthony Andrade better  known as Fr. Tony Andrade. I was born and brought up in Barkur. My primary education was in Barkur. In 1980 I joined the seminary to become priest and was ordained to the Holy Order of priesthood on the 19th of December, 1992. I served a short period of time in Bangalore (India) and then went to the USA to serve in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota. Presently I am the parish priest of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church located in St. Paul, Minnesota (visit our web site:- www.stthomasap.org).

I Hope and pray this column "Spiritual Corner" will inspire many viewers of our Barkur.com web site. As all of us know the need of spirituality in our daily life. We walk our faith journey trusting in God our creator and we are certain one day we will meet our creator God in Heaven. Meanwhile here on earth we need good insights to enlighten our minds and hearts in our spiritual life. in this column I will write articles which will be short and precise that may help our interested viewers to reflect on their own spirituality. I welcome others also to share their articles and reflections. This column is open to all the faith denominations. What is important is that we inspire each other on our own spiritual journey.

My sincere thanks to Kishoo de Barkur, the designer of this beautiful web site, and for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts and reflection on our Barkur.com web site.

Fr. Joseph Anthony Andrade


ALTAR BOYS AT ST. PETERíS CHURCH IN BARKUR

Every year when I go home to visit my beloved family in Barkur (in the southern part of India), I celebrate Holy Eucharist in my home parish of St. Peter the Apostle. There the daily mass is celebrated at 6:35 a.m. and the Sunday masses are at 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.  At daily mass two altar boys come to assist the priest at the altar, while at Sunday masses there are six altar boys. They look nice with their altar serverís robes on and lined up to process towards the altar. This year my nephew, Patrick Anthony Andrade, is also an altar boy; his parents, beloved grandma, and I are very proud of him.  Here in our parish at St. Thomas the Apostle, we have both boys and girls as altar servers and they do a marvellous job. As I did some thinking and reflecting on the role of the altar servers in our Catholic church, I decided to write an article with some history of altar servers as well as comments about Godís graces received from altar serving.

Brief history:  An altar server is a lay assistant to the priest during the Mass or to other members of the clergy in other religious functions, including Benediction and Eucharistic Adoration.  An altar server is not to be confused with an acolyte.  Before the Second Vatican Council, the acolyte was the highest of the minor orders, having duties including the lighting of the altar candles, carrying the candles in procession, assisting the subdeacon and deacon, and the ministering of water and wine to the priest at Mass.  Acolytes wore either the alb or the surplice over a cassock.  The order of acolyte was conferred on a seminarian at a minor ordination.  After the reforms of the minor orders in 1972, the acolyte survived but became one of two lay ministries (along with that of lector) instead of an order.  Today, Indult Catholic societies such as the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter are still permitted to ordain seminarians to all the minor orders, including the acolytes. Therefore, the acolyte is not to be confused with the altar server, even though the altar server can do the already mentioned duties of the acolyte. Traditionally, the role of altar server has always been reserved to males and rightfully so. By having males at the altar, a young man is better able to discern the priestly vocation since he is involved with the sacred liturgy. But having both female and male candidates helps them to discern their own vocations.

Godís Grace: To serve at the altar as an altar server is one of the greatest sources of grace.  The altar server assists the priest at the Sacred Liturgy; he is privileged to walk into the sanctuary. 

Fr.Tony with Patrick, his nephew, an Altar Boy at Barkur

Remember, the Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary.  It is not a memorial but rather the Mass truly is the Sacrifice of Calvary.  For that reason, all altar servers must display the utmost respect and reverence. For example, each and every single time that the server walks past the Tabernacle, he is to genuflect on his right knee to our Lord who is truly present in the Eucharist.

All altar servers must listen attentively during the Mass and should remain in a state of prayer with their hands in a prayer position.

Talking amongst each other is absolutely forbidden.  An altar server must also learn the proper names of all of the items used during the Liturgy.  Altar servers must ensure that no particle of Our Lord's Body or Blood falls to the ground.  With the use of the paten, altar servers perform an extremely important sacred ministry.  They must ensure that no particle of the Eucharist is desecrated accidentally at any portion during the Mass.  Furthermore, altar servers must know

the basic prayers of the Mass, at least in the vernacular language.  The altar server must have a basic understanding of the Catholic Faith and understand the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.

To all altar servers, please take these suggestions to heart. Remember, as an altar server, you stand next to the priest who stands at the Cross of Calvary. At the Consecration, you stand near the altar on which the Bread and Wine becomes Jesus Christ.  You should humble yourself and bow your head before the power of God.  You are assisting at the Holy of Holies.  Display reverence and worship our God.  Undoubtedly, altar servers receive countless blessings from Almighty God from serving devoutly at Mass.  Even attending Holy Mass is the source of numerous graces.  It is certainly more grace-filled for altar servers.

How to Begin:

1.  Sign up. Contact the person in charge of altar servers and ask to be part of the next training session.

2.  Attend the training sessions and work with an experienced altar server.

3.  Learn how to genuflect and bow correctly and how to hold the sacramentary (the prayer book used at Mass) properly.

4.  Learn the names of the vessels, furniture, and books that are used at Mass: chalice, cruet, lavabo bowl, purificator, corporal, thurible, incense boat, paschal candle, baptismal font, tabernacle, sanctu¨ary lamp, pall, sacramentary, and lectionary.

5.  Understand how to set the table and what tasks need doing before the Mass starts.

6.  Be sure you know how to process in, where you are to sit, and when you are to do what.

7.  Watch carefully what the best altar servers do and how they do it. Observe the priest, too.

8. Learn the congregationís parts of the Mass: when to sit, stand, kneel, sing, and say the Creed and the Lord's Prayer.

9.  Ask your parent(s) and parish priest for help in understanding the Mass: the order, what it means, and what you are to do.

10.  Be patient with yourself. It takes time for you to learn all the steps needed.

When you become am altar server:

11.  Look carefully at the parish Altar Serversí Schedule for your own name.  Make sure you and your parent(s) know when you are to serve.

12.  Come to every Mass you are scheduled to serve, if you possibly can.

13.  Call for a substitute if you can not make your scheduled Mass.  If you will be away for any reason, always let the person who makes up the schedule know as soon as possible.

14.  Make a habit of returning phone calls from the person who makes out the schedule as soon as possible, and check with your parent(s) before saving "yes" to any request for a special liturgy.

15.  Arrive at least fifteen minutes early whenever you are serving Mass.

16.  Dress appropriately: clothes neat, shoes shined-no sneakers.

17.  Look neat (hair combed, hands clean, etc.).

-Fr. Tony  Andrade

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