Europe’s Altar Servers Gift Pope ‘Happy Heart’


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(04 Aug 10 - RV) They are future of the Church in Europe. From Germany, France, Austria, Poland, Luxembourg, Switzerland and even Georgia, they travelled by night and day across the continent by bus, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Coetus Ministrantium Internationalis (ICD), the International Movement of Altar servers, together in St Peter's Square.

On Wednesday, from early morning they filled the square to capacity, with banners unfurled and in song, making it in the words of Pope Benedict XVI "happier place" and gifting him "a happier heart".

In fact, the Wednesday audience - the first since the summer break - was entirely dedicated to the estimated 55 thousand young boys and girls who serve the altars of Europe. In his address delivered mainly in German, the Pope recalled that he too had once been an altar boy and in a gesture that was greeted by rousing applause donned a scarf gifted him by the Archdiocese of Basil.

"Serve Jesus generously in the Eucharist" - he told them, - It 's an important task, which allows you to be particularly close to the Lord and to grow as his true friends."

A large bronze statue of St. Tarcisius, the young Roman who was martyred in 257 AD for having defended the Blessed Sacrament stood on the steps to the basilica. It had reached Rome at the end of a journey throughout central Europe and at the close of the pilgrimage will be place before the catacomb of St. Callistus where the martyr and patron saint of altar servers, is buried.

Reflecting on this ‘young and brave man's' devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Pope Benedict recalled that the Eucharist is "the greatest gift Jesus left us, support and strength for our daily journey".

He called on the altar servers to "communicate the gift of this friendship to their peers, with joy, enthusiasm, without fear."

The Pope added that "probably martyrdom will not be demanded of us", but instead Jesus asks us for "fidelity to the little things, our daily tasks, to witnessing his love."

Pope Benedict's concluding words to the crowd of young boys and girls were that the witness of St. Tarcisius, "shows us the great love we must have towards the Eucharist", a "immeasurable treasure", "an open road to eternal life". "You are lucky to live near this great mystery, carry out your task with love and devotion. Prepare yourselves well for Holy Mass ", helping priests, you can become closer to Jesus," He will not fail to reward you, giving you true joy, and complete happiness".