Monday, October 17, 2011

Called to Serve...Differently

For Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nearly 12 years ago, my son was baptized the day after Christmas. A most dynamic priest, Father Bob Vaillancourt, conducted the Mass and made the service an incredibly beautiful ceremony. To this day, members of the congregation speak of the way in which Father Bob carried 4 week old Paul to the altar and around the church. For his part, Paul cooperated by remaining a precious angel.

As Paul grew, we continued to take him to weekly Mass where he learned to sit respectfully with the congregation. As he got a little older he would join others in a short childrens’ liturgy each week, happily running to join the parade of preschoolers who would march downstairs for a brief discussion catered to the little ones. Paul went to weekly religious education classes, made his sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation in the second grade, and the sacrament of Reconciliation too. In the third grade he was old enough to become an altar server. Following his two older sisters who also served, Paul assisted the priest at Sunday Mass when he was scheduled to do so, and sat with the rest of us in the choir on his off weeks.

I thought of all this today as I watched Paul serve on the altar for the last time. Now in the sixth grade, Paul has grown anxious and self conscious. He has begun feeling ill in anticipation of his scheduled Sundays and after much discussion we made the decision to allow Paul to end his service as an alter server. As parents we must choose our battles carefully. I knew that I could insist that he continue, for he is an obedient child, but after praying over this situation I know that it is more important that we help Paul continue to strengthen his faith without that weekly anxiety. We’ll encourage him to find a new way to serve at church. Maybe he can work at the food pantry or perhaps his participation with the middle school youth group will guide him to other charity work. He will find his way. "You are never in the wrong place to serve God. Even if no one acknowledges your efforts, God sees and knows. Bloom where you are planted."

Watching Paul serve on the altar for the past few years has been touching; not a single Sunday has passed without my imagining him as that infant on the altar at his baptism. But my baby is growing up. As I watched him carry the cross to the back of the church at the end of today’s Mass, I offered up a prayer to God, asking Him to continue watching over my baby boy, my precious angel. He may not be found on the altar anymore, but I hope he'll continue to be a faithful servant.

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