THE AIM OF A KNIGHT OF THE ALTAR, and all indeed persons, is to go heaven and be with God our Father - in other words, to become a Saint. However, God wants us to be saints not only after our life, but rather precisely here on earthly life, but rather precisely here on earth, by doing ordinary activities in the best way that we can doing our ordinary activities in the best way that we can. For a Knight, "ordinary activities" include, among others, prayers, study, work recreation, relationship with our family and friends, and services are done in the church as a member of a Knight of the Altar Organization.

MOTTO: Called to serve!

The Knights of the Altar motto takes inspiration from Christ Himself who became a man like of us, chose to suffer and die, ready “to serve and not to be served.”

HISTORY: God’s chosen people, and we find “servers” in the pages of the Old Testament. Before the great temple was built by King Solomon, boys were dedicated to the service of God in certain holy places. In 1Samuel 2:3, we read a boy Samuel who served God in sanctuary of Shiloh. Later, when the Temple was built in at Jerusalem, the men of the family of Levi, the Levites, assisted their priest in their duties of sacrifice, praise and blessing.

Altar servers also go all the way back to Last Supper where in the Gospels Jesus tells his apostles to secure this particular upper room and prepare it for them to celebrate the Passover meal. The first Masses were celebrated in homes for families, their relatives and intimate friends. The acolytes, or altar servers, who helped the celebrant were very likely the children of the host, or persons who were within the small circle of believers.

The early Church continuing the tradition of men and boys assisting public worship. From the underground Church, persecuted in Rome, we have the story of Saint Tarcisius, a young Christian given the dangerous mission secretly taking the Blessed Eucharist to the prisons. He was caught and tortured, but he did not reveal the sacred Gift he was carrying.

In the fourth century, the Church gave official status to those assisting the clergy in worship. These assistants were called “acolytes”, which comes from the Greek word for “followers” and “attendants”. Acolytes were ordained to this office, a “minor order” as distinct from the major orders: bishop, priest, deacon. Gradually, the order of acolyte lost its distinct rule and became only one of the steps towards to priesthood. In recent years the ministry of acolyte has been broadened. No longer it seen in terms of a step towards priestly ordination but in terms of service (ministry) within the Church community. The ministry has now been restored to the laity who exercised it in the early Church. Servers really developed from ministry of acolyte. First there were not enough deacons to assist the bishop or priest in the ceremonies of the Mass. Their role was deputed to acolytes and other clerics. But as the Church grew, there were many places where the only ordained man was the local priest, so the assistant role of acolyte was deputed to men and boys, the altar servers. As the ceremonies of the Church developed so were the various form of ritual required many assistants, especially for solemn celebrations.

Here and abroad, Mass servers are often called “Knights Of the Altar”, a thoroughly anachronistic title. There are two groups, one was organized by the Salesians, and the other which is diocesan. Knights of the Salesians are categorized as “Adelpos”, “Christophoros”, and other impressive Greek words. On other hand, the Knights of diocesan parishes use medieval classifications: Junior Knight, Senior Knight and Grand Knight. In the Archdiocese of Manila and other parishes, the functions of the acolyte are deputed to the Ministry of Altar Servers (for the youth and young boys).

The Church is giving Altar Server a serious responsibility – to take on the sacred role of chosen men. This is a great honor. Pope John Paul II says, “…you are far more than ‘helpers of the parish priest’. Above all, you are servants of Jesus Christ the eternal High Priest. Thus, you are especially called to be young friends of Jesus1 and “…you will be little apostles who obtain the graces of the Lord for so many souls, and prepare for yourselves a great and precious treasure in heaven.2

1 John Paul II, Message to Altar Servers, 1 August 2001
2 John Paul II, Message to Altar Servers,28 February 1987
References: Serving at the Altar by Anscar Chupungco, OSB, Ministry of Altar Servers; and Norms of Piety for Knights of the Altar, Gregory Gaston, Theogical Centrum