Saturday, 22 May 2010

Society of St Tarcisius

The Latin Mass Society is sponsoring a new sodality for altar servers who serve the classical form of the Roman Rite: the Society of St Tarcisius. The aims are listed as follows:
1. To promote the dignified, devout, and accurate service of the altar in the traditional Roman rite.

2. To promote the spiritual formation of altar servers, in the spirit of St Tarcisius, who accepted death rather than allow the profanation of the most holy sacrament.

3. To disseminate information on the correct service of the altar, and arrange from time to time training events for servers.

4. To maintain a list of those who are willing and able to serve at the traditional liturgy, and provide this information to those organizing traditional events, where needed.
The website says that the Society is "specifically committed to the traditional Latin liturgy of the Catholic church, in a form no later than that current in 1962" which is a rather good way of putting it.

This is a very welcome initiative and I am sure that I will have a number of servers in my parish who will be eager to join. The entry requirement of being able to serve Low Mass will be an incentive for new servers to get on and learn to say the responses for Mass.

This morning, my servers were all away - some off on family outings in the lovely weather, and some over at Clapham Park where the Pentecost Vigil was celebrated (certainly "in a form no later than that current in 1962") and one has gone to join the Benedictines at Douai. When we have no servers, one of the ladies will answer the responses from the congregation but today an elderly gentleman saw that I had no server and came up to the altar. I started off a little slowly in case he found difficulty with the responses but his confident and speedy "ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam" let me know that he had not forgotten a thing.

It was quite moving to see him observe all the details of the ceremonies of Low Mass - standing by the altar at the beginning of the Gospel until the name of Jesus was mentioned, for example. I have had to learn all these things from scratch and take lessons from my discreet but highly competent MC, supporting him in gradually perfecting the serving of the boys from the parish. To experience an older server who has not served for some time effortlessly fall into all of these detailed customs spoke powerfully of continuity and the lack of any distraction of having to make things up as we go along or institute worthy (and legitimate) local improvements ad hoc as is the case with trying to "reform the reform".

For the Society of St Tarcisius, I am glad to see that there will be a medal:
It is planned to produce a medal of St Tarcisius, which will be worn on a royal blue ribbon by members of the Society at its events, and also when serving where no objection is raised by the MC or celebrant. If the medal of St Tarcisius is not available, a medal of the Sacred Heart may be substituted.
One little request: could this be arranged so that the ribbon (or perhaps a blue cord) be hung around the neck? Faffing around with a medal ribbon and a safety pin would be something we could do without in the case of small boys...
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