I was an altar server back in the late 1950’s. This was pre-Vatican II, so all the Mass responses were in Latin. To be honest I was not completely fluent in the responses. I had the simple responses down… “Dominus Vobiscum (the Lord be with you)… responding, Et Cum Spiri Tu Tuo” (and with your spirit).
Where I got into trouble was with the “Confiteor”. ( I confess to almighty God) I knew the first line and then “mumble, mumble, mumble”, followed by a few mea culpas, “mumble, mumble, mumble”, and a loud “Amen”. Sometimes I was able to finesse it by having a coughing fit at appropriate times.
I think our principal, Sister Igor, saw through my poor Latin and usually put me with a few other “underperformers” to serve the early, slightly attended masses, like the 7am masses during Christmas vacation. Yep, Lennie Corso and I had the 7am mass during Christmas, my one week to sleep in. Well, Lennie and I were not complete dummies. We had a clandestine meeting and decided that we would split up… he takes Monday, I take Tuesday, he takes Wednesday…. I think you get the gist of this plan. Well it worked pretty well until vacation was over and Lennie and I were publicly flogged for our little plan……hmmmmmm.
Fortunately Jimmy Leutkemeyer took the pressure off of us. Jimmy was a step or two below Lennie and myself in serving skills, yet somehow was asked to serve the 11am mass for the school. Well, Jimmy was thrilled and when our class was finally coming up for communion, Jimmy couldn’t contain himself and started waving and saying hello to his classmates with a big smile on his face. We all knew this was going to be bad. The last we saw of Jimmy, was Fr. Frieberger chasing him thru the sacristy. I never got a chance to thank Jimmy. In spite of these few setbacks, I really loved to serve Mass. At one point I was actually considering becoming a priest.
The late ‘50‘s were actually pretty traumatic times for me, with my father’s death in ’56, moving to a new city and school, and my mother having a lot of difficulties adjusting. While somewhat confused, I do remember asking the Lord to help me and I know he did. I thought of this today as I read Psalm 34 from Mass.
“When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:17-19)
So, when we find ourselves in trouble, let’s remember to cry out to the Lord and know that the Lord is near to us and will save us. And that is very good news.
P.S. For you former servers from the ‘50’s, who still need to master the Confiteor: Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, et vobis fratres,
quia peccavi nimis , cogitatione, verbo, opere et omissione:
mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem,
omnes Angelos et Sanctos, et vos, fratres,
orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.