Monday, 12 September 2011
Running to Church
Father Ignatius was often encouraged at the level of participation in church activities by the parishioners at St Vincent. There was a daily babies and toddlers group for mothers and their young ones, a youth club for those aged twelve to sixteen met weekly in the hall, as well as the cub scouts, girl guides and other groups for the young ones in his congregation. Even the not so young met in the Senior Citizens Group and the Seniors Bridge Club. The Choir always attracted new members, Sunday Catechism classes were well attended and no end of boys volunteered as Altar servers during Mass.
He had worked hard over the years encouraging the many groups to be set up and run on a voluntary basis and attracting active participation. He prayed that it would remain always so.
Early one morning he was at his desk when he saw out of the window four young boys come running from the park opposite towards the church. He got up and made his way to church in time for morning Mass.
As he entered the Sacristy he heard the four boys shouting and arguing with each other.
“You’re a cheat …” screamed one of them, “I came first …”
“What is going on here?” asked Father Ignatius in his calm yet masterly voice.
“Henry is a cheat Father!” said a youngster, “we raced from the park and I came first. Peter was second. Joe and Henry came last.”
“No I didn’t …” shouted Henry. “I was first in the Sacristy …”
“All right … calm down now,” said Father Ignatius, “I saw you running from the park. It’s dangerous crossing the road like that. In future I want you to stop and use the proper crossing by the traffic lights. Is that understood?”
“Yes …” they said in unison.
“Now, what was all this running about?”
“We agreed that the first two to get to church will be the Altar servers today.”
The priest was silently impressed. To think that these eight year olds were rushing to church to serve at Mass. They were certainly a credit to their parents. To wake up early every day and compete to serve at the Altar denotes seeds planted in good fertile ground. There’s hope for the future.
“I’ll tell you what we’ll do …” said Father Ignatius, “any two of you who can recite the Lord’s Prayer will serve with me at Mass today ...”
“Easy …” interrupted Mark.
“In Latin …” continued the priest.
“That’s also easy …” said Peter, “Pater Noster …”
And to his pleasure and surprise all four recited the Lord’s Prayer in Latin word perfect. He tried them with the Hail Mary also in Latin and they performed admirably.
“All right … all right … you win” declared Father Ignatius, “I have decided that from now on we will have four Altar servers at daily Mass. Now go and get ready!”
As he left the Sacristy Father Ignatius heard one of the boys say: “When I’m a priest I will have one hundred Altar servers at Mass each day.”
Father Ignatius smiled and prayed to God that indeed it may be so.