They came from all over Europe to meet with the Pope. More than 9,000 altar servers got to see Pope Francis make his way around St. Peter's Square in the popemobile. After greeting the crowds, things turned somber as the Pope led the Vespers prayer, under Rome's intense summer heat.
Strengthening their relationship with God, he said, is based first and foremost in prayer.
"Knowing Him in the Eucharist, your service at the altar, enables you to open yourselves to others, to journey together, to set demanding goals and to find the strength to achieve them.”
Reflecting on the day's readings on Isaiah, where God reveals Himself, but Isaiah decides to keep his distance, the Pope said faith shouldn't be something that's set aside or protected in an underground bunker. Rather, it's a force that should be shared with others and lived out with joy.
"How beautiful it is to realize that faith brings us out of ourselves, out of our isolation. Precisely because we are filled with the joy of being friends with Jesus Christ, faith draws us towards others, making us natural missionaries.”
God, said the Pope, is not up in an unreachable high throne. Through the Eucharist, He makes Himself present offering strength, mercy and forgiveness.
"It's a source of real joy to recognize that we are small and weak, all the while knowing that with Jesus' help we can be strengthened and take up the challenge of life's great journey in His company.”
This gathering with thousands of altar severs from throughout Europe, but mostly from Germany, takes place every five years in the Vatican.