With this VIRTUES for ALTAR SERVERS, the author has complemented his two other booklets for Altar Servers, one entitled RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION GUIDEBOOK, and the other, NORMS OF PIETY (Christian Devotions). They provide a well-rounded exposition of the three important aspects of our spiritual life (doctrine, prayers and good works). All these, when truly lived, will surely affect the Server's relationship with others, making him love and serve them more, and bringing them closer to God.
I entrust our Altar Servers, and all those who, in one way or another, are involved in their formation, to the care of Mary, Help of Christians and Mother of Priests.
+ JAIME L. CARDINAL SIN
Archbishop of Manila
Pontificio Collegio Filippino
Rome, 4 November 1993
Feast of St. Charles Borromeo
Virtues are not something abstract, separated from one's everyday existence. It affects precisely his life, his outlook, his actions and his relationship with others, so much so that one not only "lives and acts in a virtuous way", but rather one "is a virtuous person."
Like most other things in life, the virtues have to be learned. God may give them to us as gifts, but we should also cooperate with His grace and do our part. When we know more about the virtues, we begin to love them more, and we realize the good that they bring about. Little by little, we discover that it becomes easier for us to fulfil our duty of being good examples to others - good examples of ordinary persons in the middle of the world, just like everybody else, who live their Christian vocation fully, in the most natural way, so that others could see that the Christian life is a life full of joy, inspite of all the difficulties that man encounters in this world.
For an Altar Server all these may seem a difficult task, but for those who trust in God's grace, nothing is impossible. When the Holy Spirit reminded us in the Second Vatican Council of our duty to seek holiness - a duty of all Christians - He was not presenting to us an unreachable ideal. Instead, He wants us to realize that we can live the fullness of our Christian vocation without looking for the impossible, and without even searching for extraordinary moments to live it.
Lastly, by living these virtues very well, the Altar Server prepares himself to receive many graces from God - and among these graces, for a great number of the Servers, is the gift of vocation to the priesthood. This is one of the greatest graces that he can ever receive, and aside from thanking God, he should also do his best to nurture it until the time comes for him to formally undergo the necessary formation to become a priest.
a) What is thankfulness?
- Thankfulness (or gratitude) is the virtue by which a person acknowledges, interiorly and exteriorly, gifts received and seeks to give at least something in return for the favor.
- We should be thankful above all to God for the wonderful gifts that He has given us - for our life, our family and friends, the things that we have, and for teaching us how to become good Christians. This leads us to be thankful to others for their help, especially to those close to us. Oftentimes a simple "thank you" to God or to others means a lot. And aside from this, we could pray especially for those who, in one way or another, do us a favor.
b) Why is it important for us to be thankful?
- To be thankful also means to admit that the person who has given us gifts or has helped us really cares for us, and has made a sacrifice on his part in order to make us feel good. By being thankful we also try to make him happy, even just through our words or any other small act.
- When others notice that we are very thankful, they become glad and encouraged to help others more. This is very important, and besides, they would realize that they should also be very thankful to God and to their fellowmen, without whom we cannot do anything.