SERVING AT MASS
In our days this office has devolved on mere boys or pious youths, though the greatest monarchs of the world are not worthy of such an honour. St Bonaventure tells us that this is the office of angels because during the Divine Mysteries many angels are serving God in this sacred function.
THE OFFICE OF ANGELS
This is confirmed by St Nilus, who saw hosts of angels assisting the ministers when St John Chrysostom celebrated. The glorious St Mechthilde saw the soul of a lay brother after his death crowned with ineffable glory, because he had always evinced extraordinary diligence and devotion whilst serving at Mass.
CROWNED WITH INEFFABLE GLORY
Saint Thomas Aquinas, the “Angel of the Schools,” justly appreciating the hidden treasure contained in this office, would not be content, if, after offering the Sacred Mysteries, he were not allowed to serve another Mass.
FAMOUS ALTAR SERVERS: ST THOMAS AQUINAS AND ST THOMAS MORE
Blessed Thomas More, Chancellor of England, took the greatest delight in this holy work, so much so, that on one occasion, when taunted by a minister of state, who said that the king would be offended if he learned that the Chancellor had so humbled his dignity, he replied: “My lord, the king cannot be offended with me for the service I render to his Lord, nay, to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.”
THE SERVICE TO THE LORD OF LORDS
Some persons are often reluctant to perform this holy Office, so much so, that they must be almost compelled to serve Mass. This is a great folly; for instead of being forced to serve at the altar, they ought to desire ardently the honour of performing a service so holy, which the angels themselves, and the blessed in heaven, could envy.
Great vigilance, however, should be employed in instructing those who are permitted to serve at Mass. They must be taught to keep their eyes modestly cast down, and to observe that strict decorum, so necessary in the presence of that awful majesty of God Who is on the altar during the Adorable Sacrifice. Hence their whole exterior ought to exhibit the greatest reverence and compunction. They must, however, be taught to pronounce the words distinctly, slowly, and in such a tone as to be heard by the Priest, but not so high or loud as to distract those who are celebrating at other altars. Special care should be taken to exclude boys who cannot understand the dread function they are performing, and who may be a subject of annoyance and distraction to the celebrant and people.
MODESTY AND HUMILITY OF AN ANGEL
My earnest prayer to God is, that He will inspire men of good will to give edification to the people, by performing an office so praiseworthy and so holy; and that, like St Wenceslas, King of Bohemia, they will not only assist at several Masses every day, but also serve the Priest, as he did, with the modesty and humility of an angel.
– St Leonard of Port Maurice, O. F. M.; from: St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916