(LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS)
Felicio the Altar Boy
My biggest fear and concern was not to trip while climbing or getting down the steps to the altar. I was grateful that the senior server had trained me well, and that Padre Capelão (the Rev. Chaplain) had been very kind and understanding in teaching me the right pronunciation of the Latin words.
My great moment was yet to come and that would be when people would line up to receive Holy Communion. I accompanied the priest as he proceeded to the front pews as the village folks knelt to receive. Just then I noticed that my mother was standing in line in the centre aisle. Soon, I thought, she would be kneeling for her turn.
This was my moment of great and significant pride and joy as I held the shining gold-plated communion serving paten under my mother’s chin. I felt that this was my highest privilege and honour. I thought that perhaps my mother’s wish was granted that I had learned to serve the Holy Mass and officially become an ‘ajudante’ (Latin) or server. With a quick glance I was then surprised to see my relatives and neighbours in the queue as well. I could see that there were hints of sustained smiles on their faces. Perhaps, I thought, my mother must have requested them to attend the Mass in order to give me big surprise so that they could receive Holy Communion served by the ‘the new altar boy Tony (aka Felicio) always in a blue shirt’ from the village of Cumbiem Morod.
After the Mass, we had all walked home together. It had been the beginning of a great day indeed for me and for all the members of my family. My mother had prepared a special breakfast as well to commemorate the special day in my life.
The Latin Mass that I had first served in, continued for another few more years until 1969. It was then replaced by a New Order of the Mass when the priest faced the people. In a way, the new procedure must have been good. This way the priest could constantly keep an eye on his flock during the entire service, as opposed to the days of the Latin Mass when Padre Capelão along with his flock, the sacristan, the altar boys and the singers in the choir, had all stood facing in one direction – that is, towards the altar – lifting up their hearts! And saying: Sursum corda! (Latin) ~ Lift up your hearts!
Tony Felix (aka Felicio) Fernandes
Guirim, Cumbiem Morod,
Bardez, Goa, India.