Tuesday, June 2, 2015

KOTA - Knights of the Altar

The new KOTA aspirants, newly commissioned last March 1, 2015
(on Benjo's 12th birthday, to him a birthday gift in itself) by Father Albert
When some boys are out playing on the streets or at home on their computer or maybe still asleep in their beds, some boys choose to be in church, serving beside the priest.  They are called the "Knights of the Altar", with the acronym of KOTA.  A very dignified title, a knight that guards and protects the royalty and their castle, as in the middle ages.  These knights are guarding not just any royalty though, but the King of Kings, Christ the King, who comes in the form of bread and wine on the sacrificial Holy Altar.

First actual Mass service, still as a trainee

At a young age, Benjo seems to have found his calling, or at least part of it.  He has a dedication that I don't remember I even had at the young age of 12.  He loves serving what he calls "straight" Saturday morning masses which starts with the 5:30am mass and goes on to the 6:30am and 7:30am masses.  In between the 5:30am and 6:30am mass there is a holy devotion, which they also participate in, assisting the presiding priest with the frankincense, the book or prayers, the bells and white cloth.  In between the 6:30am and 7:30am masses there is a procession around and inside the church while the holy rosary is recited.  The KOTA members, depending on their number, take turns in holding the candle holders and cross.  On the last Saturday procession, there were only a few of them and Benjo ended up carrying the cross for the whole procession, which he told me afterwards made his hands and arms shake.
The first service that Benjo took part it,
not yet a member but a trainee, the procession during
the Christ the King feast in November 2014
During the commissioning ceremony; blessing of the sutanas
to be worn by the new KOTA aspirants.
These young men are proud to be wearing  "long dresses"

But when he is called by family or friends partly in jest: "Father Benjo", he tells me privately, "hindi Mom, ayoko maging pare" ("No Mom, I don't want to become a priest").  And though I'm sure many of these young men who "work" side-by-side the priests will also follow the same vocation, there are some who may just choose to serve Him in different capacities.  But it's too early to tell and at this stage, he's just enjoying being a knight, and a special knight at that.

I write this not only as a witness to my own son's experience, but as a witness to the other boys and young men in this brotherhood they call KOTA.  I'm not sure what is said in their Sunday afternoon meeting that made my son come back and keep coming back, but it is an inspiration to see how these young men of God devotedly serve at Mass, during processions and other church activities and events. Losing sleep, walking miles, even getting a sermon or two for not doing the job right doesn't encourage them, but makes them want to do it again, hopefully even better.  Small sacrifices they've learned to make for the sake of their service to God.


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