Sitting in Mass early this morning, which is rare (the early part, not the Mass part), I listened with pride to the sound of the bells being rung at the far right edge of the sanctuary. They sounded so perfect to me. Why did the sound matter so much to me today? Every Sunday I hear that same sound at certain points within the Mass, a sound that can only be heard through the skilful wrist movements of a young man or young woman we know as Alter Servers.
This morning’s beautiful sound came courtesy of Olivia Frances, one of the very few remaining female Alter Servers in our parish. As a sophomore in high school, she continues to serve in this ministry and I am most grateful. I am also most grateful that she has mastered the bells.
I can remember the first time I was there when she was assigned responsibility for the bells, years ago I guess. She had actually been avoiding them I do believe, which is why finally seeing her in the “bell position” brought a slight amount of panic to me. It wasn’t real or serious panic, it was that type of moment where you glance over to your husband and you both know what the other is thinking. Honestly, I don’t remember how the bells sounded that day. I’m sure they were exactly as expected for any alter server executing a responsibility for the first time, or with little experience.
But…I do know how they sounded this morning. They were, as I shared earlier, perfect to me. Of course, it’s not Olivia’s ability to ring the bells that incites such pride in me, but in the truth of my 15 year old daughter’s continued service to the Lord in this way. I’ve watched her grow not only in her skills as a server, but in her reverence, and in her leadership, teaching new young servers exactly what they need to know and do to become competent, reverent alter servers.
My dear Olivia, thank you for your many years of service to our parish community. The bells of pride were ringing loudly this morning and live on in my heart.