in the Catholic Press, someone is always at hand anxious to attack and poke a little fun at the youthful altar server, commonly known as the " Altar boy." One signing himself "Festina Lente" has renewed the attack in your last issue. The pattern of such an offensive is always the same, viz. a general onslaught on Altar boys, followed by some mitigating reference to the fact that " of course this . . does not apply to all boy servers."
My experience with altar servers is that a boy will serve Mass as he has been trained to serve. If his training is had, his serving will be bad. If on the other hand care and attention are given to his training he will serve piously and well. It seems to me. therefore, that one should be slow to condemn youthful servers. Rather, one should encourage them by a sincere attempt to prepare and train them fittingly.
In particular one would stress the matter of the Latin responses. The prayers at the foot of the Altar for example, form a roost impressive preparation for the Infinite Sacrifice which follows. But these prayers can mean less than nothing if they are not correctly said. Recently I have said Holy Mass in a Church where the servers said not a single phrase which could possibly mean anything. On the other hand two very excellent boy servers recently complained that when They were serving on holiday they were unable to answer the Leen properly because they were not given time to do so!
There are, I fear, many sides to this question. all of which must be attended to if a solution is to be found. Altar boys can answer the ,Latin of the Mass magnificently, on condition that they have been magnificently trained. It is the Mass that matters, and this being so the training of our Altar Servers becomes a matter of paramount importance. But. please. do not let us blame the Altar boy for bad answering or serving. The blame lies elsewhere.
(Rev.) ADRIAN P. CHAPPLE.
Diocesan Director for Altar Servers. Plymouth Diocese,
SIR, -" Father of Four Servers " might consider this aspect. As a convert I had served but rarely, even resenting the fact somewhat that the privilege was confined so often to boys.
Then my parish priest asked me to do so once a week. His reason: The altar boys in his parish were difficult to hold when they neared the age of 14. They regarded dressing-up in a cotta and cassock as a sissy game fit only for young boys. The priest wanted to show them that it was not too sissy for grown menarid he is succeeding! In any case, on what ° authority ie Serving the " boys' ground " and how are we poaching on it?
For obvious reasons I sign myself, Yours truly. " MAN SERVER."