One of God’s greatest gifts to us, his creation, was the gift of song. In words and music, our ancestors in faith-Moses, David, Deborah, Paul, St. Gregory-have taught us how to revel in God’s infinite love, proclaim His glory, give thanks for His abounding generosity, and plead for mercy and forgiveness. The renewal of the Church during the Second Vatican Council called us to full, active, and conscious participation in the Liturgy through its sung elements. The Council said that sacred music “is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” Our Parish Choirs are under the patronage of St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians. Saint Cecilia is said to have heard heavenly music inside her heart when she was forced to marry the pagan, Valerian. According to legend, Cecilia was a young Christian of high rank betrothed to a Roman named Valerian. Through her influence Valerian was converted, and was martyred along with his brother. The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church. Since the time of the Renaissance she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.
Open to any members of the parish (aged 18+) the Adult Choir practices weekly and sings at various weekend Masses, special Parish Masses, Confirmation, First Communion, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter. The Choir also presents an annual Service of Lessons and Carols during the season of Advent.
Open to any member of the parish (Grades 3+), the Children’s Choir is an instructional choir that teaches the children the basics of church music and choir singing. They sing at the Monthly Family 11:15AM Mass, the Family Christmas Vigil Mass and special Masses during the Religious Education Year.
St. Julian is the patron saint of hospitality and ushers. Known as Julian the Poor, his Feast day is on February 12. Julian was a noble layman; friend and counselor to the king, he was married to a wealthy widow. A stag he was hunting predicted he would kill his own parents. Julian moved far away to avoid his parents, but they found him, and came to make a surprise visit. His wife gave them her and Julian’s bed; Julian killed them, thinking they were his wife and another man.As penance, he and his wife traveled to Rome as pilgrims seeking absolution. On his way home, to continue his penance, he built a hospice beside a river, cared for the poor and sick, and rowed travelers across the river for free. Once, after having helped many, many travelers, Julian gave his own bed to a pilgrim leper who had nearly frozen to death. When they had him safely settled, the man suddenly revealed himself to be an angel. The visitor announced that Christ had accepted Julian’s penance; the angel then disappeared. Julian is often represented as carrying a leper through a river.
Ushers play a very important role in the Mass here at St. Ambrose Parish. Men and women are welcomed to join this ministry that is responsible for greeting parishioners to make them feel welcome, provide assistance for parishioners in need and make sure the Church is prepared for the celebration of the Holy Mass. All parishioners of St. Ambrose are invited to join this ministry of hospitality.
The role of server is integral to the normal celebration of the Mass. Servers carry the cross, the processional candles, hold the book for the priest celebrant when he is not at the altar, carry the incense and censer, present the bread, wine, and water to the priest during the preparation of the gifts or assist him when he receives the gifts from the people, wash the hands of the priest, assist the priest celebrant and deacon as necessary. Servers respond to the prayers and dialogues of the priest along with the congregation. They also join in singing the hymns and other chants of the liturgy. At St. Ambrose Church, altar serving is open to children in the 3rd Grade and up who serve Mass at all Weekend Masses, Weddings, Christmas, Holy Week, Easter and Special Parish Masses throughout the year. Each year a new class is recruited and properly trained and installed for service during the Season of Advent. Senior Altar Servers are those in parishioners in high school who serve as Masters/Mistresses of Ceremonies at all Masses. Adult Altar Servers help at daily Masses and Funeral Masses during the week.
It is a great honor and privilege to serve at Mass. It is your most important activity of the week, for at Mass you come to spend time with God and receive Jesus in Holy Communion. As Servers, you have a special place close to the Altar. Servers must always come to Mass prepared to meet Jesus. We prepare our bodies by fasting (not eating or drinking anything except water and medicine) one hour before receiving Communion. We also go to confession regularly to prepare our souls to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. We come to Mass dressed modestly so as to give a good example to others. We act, dress, and talk in a way that is fitting for the church, which is God’s house.
Serving Mass is a very important responsibility. When we are scheduled to serve, the priest and the people are counting on us to be there. We must always be prompt for Mass. Servers need to arrive with enough time (15 minutes) before Mass to help the priest set up. Servers need to be responsible for coming to serve when they are scheduled, or for finding a replacement and calling the Rectory Office to notify us. Servers should only miss serving Mass for a very good reason. Servers are to be examples to others at Mass. So, we should always know the responses to the prayers and join in singing the hymns. Servers have an important role in the Mass, and so we need to take that responsibility very seriously and always do our best to serve Mass well. Proper dress for servers does not include sneakers, tank tops or other inappropriate clothing for church.
The patron of altar servers is Saint John Berchmans. His feast day is November 26. The eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant (Belgium).. John Berchmans was born on March 13, 1599 in Belgium. He was the son of a shoemaker, and one of five children. He was kind, gentle, and affectionate towards his parents and others. And, what distinguished him from most of his friends was his piety. When he was not even seven years old, he was accustomed to rising very early in the morning and serving two or three Masses with great dedication and enthusiasm. He always sought to learn more about his faith, listened to Sunday sermons with great attention, and liked to pray the Rosary. He felt a distinct call to the Society of Jesus, and, thus, entered a Jesuit novitiate in 1619, deciding to become a Jesuit after reading about the life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga. But, he did not live to be ordained. He died on August 12, 1621. St. John Berchmans was noted for his holiness. Although he did not found religious orders or churches and did not work miracles, St. John Berchmans made kindness, courtesy, and his faith a very important part of his life. In working to live a life of holiness and love for Jesus, St. John Berchmans often said, “If I do not become a saint when I am young, then I shall never become one.”
If you are interested in becoming an altar server please contact the rectory.
Jesus liked to stay at the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany, when he was in Judea. On one occasion Martha, dutifully prepared for the visit and kept busy serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Without in any way reproaching Martha, Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Jesus and contemplating Him. From St. Martha one basic lesson learned is that there is both active and contemplative work. At St. Ambrose Church, this active work of the St. Martha Society includes the cleaning of the Church, the polishing of sacred vessels, preparing altar linens, and the general up keep of the sacristy and church. This active work helps the contemplative work of praise and worship at Mass. Their dedication and hard work in preparing for the Lord’s visit at Sunday Mass is under the patronage of St. Martha.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the St. Martha Society, please contact the rectory.
St. Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. Hence they were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners” (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. “And he got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9b).
At St. Ambrose Church the Society of St. Matthew serves the crucial role of counting the weekly collection that funds the parish operations. Each week a different small group of parishioners helps count the collection and prepare it for deposit in the bank. This important role is vital to the financial stability and vitality of the parish. Their work counting “the taxes” freely given to God by the faithful is under the patronage of St. Matthew the Tax Collector.