Mass for the Members of the Guild of St Stephen
Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne for the Members of the Guild of St Stephen on Friday 17 May 2013 at 7.30 pm
My Dear Young Friends,
Thank you for the service which you render to God and to his people as servers at the Altar. It is some sixty two years since I first served on the Altar. I remember as the years went by, and I served for eleven years, I became aware of the great mystery and wonder of the Mass, how Jesus teaches us in his Word, draws us together in prayer and then takes us beyond to the real mystery of what he did at the Last Supper and on the Cross. He gave us himself.
True Christian service illustrates itself in the way we always try to be there for others. Without any hesitation, if someone has a need, we try and fulfil it, as Mother Mary of the Cross, Foundress of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, said.
To be a server means to assist and build up God's people. It is not merely providing the various objects and ceremonies which are needed for the Mass. It is being a leader in prayer and allowing God to touch our mind and heart.
The best server is the one who knows his or her role, does it quietly and not in a show-off manner, and by that people are led to pray and to attend to the great action that Jesus gave us in the Mass. The wonder of ordinary bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ so that God would be near us, his people, is something which goes beyond words. To be associated closely with the priest at the Altar means that our prayers are highly valued and God's grace fills our heart and life.
Tonight we will receive new members into the Guild. They will commit themselves to serving punctually and regularly, with devotion and care. This of course is an indication of your love of God, of your readiness to say yes to Jesus in your life and of the strength of the faith in your family. While we are humble about ourselves, we are joyful if God has given us this special gift.
Tonight, like Saint Stephen who died praying for those who made him suffer, our role of prayer and service is something which goes beyond our individual lives and helps us to build up the Church.
Thank you for your service and thank you for your readiness to reach out to the Lord. I know that the Lord will bless you for your goodness and will always be strong in your life. Do not be afraid to do what he asks of you. Some young men the Lord may be asking to be priests. Some women and men he may be asking to be teachers in our schools or dedicated people in nursing and caring for others who are in the professions.
As you go along serving, ask the Lord to walk with you in what he wants of you. There you will find true happiness and lasting life. Congratulations to those who are being installed and thanks to you, to your parents and your priests for your goodness. May Jesus live in your hearts forever.
+ Denis J Hart
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE