Entrusted to proclaim the word of God.
1. Engaged in parish life
If your son becomes an altar server, it is much more likely that he will become more engaged with parish life. This will teach him, early on, the important lesson that to be a member of the parish means to serve that parish (in whatever way that may be).
2. Experiencing Fraternity
Becoming an altar server will mean your son will make new friends with the other altar servers. Now, altar servers are no angels (believe me!), but having a sense of brotherhood is a positive thing, and I suppose your kids could be hanging out with a worse crowd?
3. Best seats in the house!
Altar servers always have a really good view of the “action” at Mass. If he joins, your son will see first hand the priest washing feet on Maundy Thursday because he will be collecting the towels. At the elevation of the host and chalice your son will be kneeling a few feet in front of the Blessed Sacrament, swinging the incenser.
For most young boys, passively watching stuff happen at a distance isn’t that exciting. In fact, it’s kinda boring. However, being physically involved with what’s happening is much more interesting and is far more likely keep their attention. This close proximity provides a wonderful opportunity to engage with the liturgy.
Not only will the liturgy hold their attention, if the altar servers are trained well they should be among the best liturgically-formed members of the parish. After our parish priest of many years left, all the altar servers were retrained by the new pastor, during which he took us through the liturgy explaining what happens and, more importantly, why things happen and what they mean.
4. Learning discipline
To be an altar server requires discipline, remembering sequences and following instructions. These are good skills for any young man to develop.
5. It’s always fun when there’s fire and smoke
I’ve always considered it to be a great sign of faith that the Church has altar servers. After all, you’re taking teenage boys, dressing them in long, flowing gowns and then giving them naked flames. Altar servers are in charge of the fire (candles) and smoke (thurible) at Mass and that’s, well, quite frankly, awesome.
6. Proximity to the sacred
When you’re an altar server, you typically attend initial training days and often turn up early on certain feasts, such as Easter, to run through the more complicated liturgies. Therefore, to be an altar server means that your son will spend more time in the presence of the sacred, which has to be a good thing.
It is quite typical for the altar servers to receive chocolate at Easter and Christmas, as well as on some other major feasts. At my first parish we also had occasional group trips to the seaside. These were some pretty sweet perks!
8. Words of encouragement
Your son will occasionally receive words of encouragement from other parishioners which will encourage him to take pride and care in his parish ministry.
9. Dignity & Disaster
If you are an altar server, things will go wrong from time to time. Occasionally cassocks will be set of fire, vessels will be knocked over and accoutrements will be left in the wrong place etc. Your son will quickly learn the importance of remaining calm and dignified in a time of crisis.
10. Proximity to priestly ministry
Altar servers get to see more of priestly ministry than the typical parishioner. They see the preparations prior to the liturgy and will most likely pray with the priest before Mass begins. Through this, your son will get further insight into the life of a priest and this could possibly stir a vocation within him. I personally believe that if we can get the altar server guild thriving, vocations to the priesthood will follow.
Sure, swinging the censer (the smelly incense thing) is kind of fun but why is it that we do it? By becoming an altar server you begin to learn these things and it makes all the symbols of the Mass so much more understandable and interesting.