Jesus said, "Whoever receives you, receives me, and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me" (Matthew 10:40).
A person's willingness to serve God in the capacity as an usher reflects their committment to Christ. The willingness to commit to a monthly schedule; to arrive on time and to be a friendly and welcoming presence to those coming to worship here at St. John's is a further reflection of a commitment to serve this Parish. By assuring a welcoming presence and orderly seating at all Masses offered in this Parish, Ushers enhance the beauty of the Liturgy and become an instrument through whom God may be present to those in worship.
History of Ushers in the Catholic Church
The ministry of ushers is the oldest lay ministry in the Catholic Church. In the Old Testament ushers were called "gatekeepers." Their ministry was so important that they were given living quarters in the temple. According to I Chronicles 9, their duties included opening the temple every morning, providing care and protection for all the precious vessels, preparing certain food items used in ritual sacrifices, and guarding the temple. By the time of Christ, these gatekeepers had become known as the "Temple Guard." They were ordered to arrest Jesus, but according to John 7 they instead became interested in Jesus' message. By the third century A.D., a clerical order known as "porters" (overseers of the doors) was instituted. During those times, it was the duty of the porters, or ushers, to guard the door of the church against any intruders who might disturb the service. The porters' duties were so important that they came to be included in the rite of ordination, where they were to ring the bells, open the church, and to open the book for the pastor. In 1972 Pope Paul VI abolished the order of porter and this important task was given over to the laity. While today's ushers don’t ring the bells or open the church, their primary duties and responsibilities include greeting and welcoming parishioners as they enter the church, helping them to find seats and taking up the collection
THE MINISTRY OF HOSPITALITY
The usher is a person chosen to reflect the warmth and welcome of Christ himself. Always conscious of Christ’s words "For I was…a stranger and you welcomed me," (Matthew 25:35) the usher serves not only as a Minister of Hospitality, but also as a Liturgical Minister and a Minister of Evangelism.
Ushers as Ministers of Hospitality
Ushers are usually the first official representative of the church that people meet when they arrive. The ushers' dress, attitude, words, demeanor, body language all speak a message to the worshipper. As God's servants to his people, ushers should take care that nothing interferes with the awesome character of this encounter between God and his people at this time and place.
Ushers as Liturgical Ministers
Ushers are leaders. As such, they reflect the devotion, reverence and joy of encountering God in our worship service. Ushers should not be physically or emotionally absent from worship. They must be mindful that they are there to assist those who are preparing to worship God by creating a quiet and reverent atmosphere within the church.
Ushers as Ministers of Evangelism
There are some who may be wary of coming to a church and it would take very little to make this visit their last. If they feel genuinely welcomed and helped by the usher, then the usher has assisted in bringing the Gospel to these people.