Pope Francis has reminded altar servers to be “holy” and to be “original” in a message the pontiff sent to the 25th National Pilgrimage of altar servers in Fatima, Portugal.
The pope urged the young men and women to “put the enthusiasm of their age into the encounter of Jesus.”
He asked them to be particularly careful when serving at Mass and to always behave in a way that “is fitting in the service of holy things.”
“You have been taught — and it is true — that at holy Mass, that small piece of bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine in the chalice becomes the blood of Christ,” said Pope Francis.
He told altar servers in his message that when serving at the altar, “your eyes do not see Jesus, but your heart and your lips adore him.”
“It is true,” the pope wrote, “Jesus is there as real and perfectly as he is in heaven; and, seeing you, he must recognize an angel.”
“Offer Jesus your hands, your thoughts and your time, and he will not fail to reward you, granting you true joy and making you feel where the most complete happiness is found.”
The pope sent his message to the gather of altar servers on May 1 through the president of the Portuguese Bishops’ Commission for Liturgy and Spirituality.
Recalling his message in the 2019 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, the pope reminded the altar servers that they “will not become holy and find fulfillment by copying others.”
He said the testimonies of the saints are useful for motivating us towards holiness, yet imitating the saints does not mean copying their way of being and living holiness because that could “lead us astray from the unique and specific path the Lord has in mind for us.”
“You have to discover who you are and develop your own way of being holy, whatever others may say or think,” said the pope.
“Becoming a saint means becoming more fully yourself, becoming what the Lord wished to dream and create, and not a photocopy,” he added.
Recalling the words of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the pope said: “All are born as originals, but many die as photocopies.”
“Please, dear acolyte, don’t let yourself fall into mediocrity,” said the pope. “Don’t follow negative people, but keep radiating around you the light and hope that come from God.”