Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ah, Women!

The debate on female altar servers continue.  Some people are able to make their case very well without resorting to stereotypes and insults and others - well, let's just say they perpetuate the assertion some hold that the Catholic Church is rife with misogynists.

One priest said if female altar servers have been drawn to religious vocations, he's unaware of it.  Then there are the claims that the reason parents can't get their sons to serve is because they don't want to serve with girls.

I'm not going to re-hash the reasons why I permitted my daughter to serve at the Novus Ordo until this past year.  They had nothing to do with equality and everything to do with the boys in our parish not being willing to step forward.  We have, as we should, an all-male crew at the TLM.  Do you know how many parishioners have stepped forward to join them?  None.  Zippo.  Our servers all come from different parishes and the ones who are members became members AFTER they became servers.

To the credit of the priest who inadvertently started this latest firestorm, he did not merely seek to "get rid" of female servers.  He gave them an opportunity to serve the Lord as sacristans.  If a priest does not wish to have female servers, he should not have them, just as he should not feel forced to permit the optional exchange of peace when he celebrates Mass.

To be sure, there are women who believe they have a right to ordination and that serving at the altar is the first step toward that heresy.  But by and large, most of the young ladies I know who serve or have served come from faithful Catholic families and they do not have an agenda except love for the Lord and His Holy Church.

Unfortunately, I passed the copy on to a priest friend who does not want girls on the altar with him, but I saw an interesting letter in a recent copy of The Adoremus Bulletin.  An elderly priest, ordained sixty-something years ago, wrote to say that there were parishes he served that forbade girls at the altar that didn't have a single vocation to the priesthood, while the parish that did allow them had a substantial number of vocations to the religious life.

I couldn't care less whether girls are allowed to serve or not.  I'm just offering my two cents worth that not every little girl who serves has aspirations of crashing the seminary.  That's as ridiculous an assertion as the one forwarded by those women who believe they have a "right" to become priests.

“Ah! Poor women, how they are misunderstood! And yet they love God in much larger numbers than men do and during the Passion of Our Lord, women had more courage than the apostles since they braved the insults of the soldiers and dared to dry the adorable Face of Jesus. It is undoubtedly because of this that He allows misunderstanding to be their lot on earth, since He chose it for Himself. In heaven, He will show that His thoughts are not men’s thoughts, for then the last will be first”.  St. Therese of Lisieux


  1. For awhile I thought I'd prefer not to see altar girls, then a good priest told me they were allowed to fill that role. I accepted that and left it at that. I can't get excited about the issue - I try not to pay attention to the servers at Mass anyway.

  2. very sane post on women and the church. Love the quote at the end too. Well done you! I am going to attempt to link to this. Fingers crossed, as techno I am not haha!

  3. I've long been unsure on this subject. At OLP I knew only one other man who hadn't served at the altar before coming to seminary. We were somewhat unusual in that respect. So it would seem that there is some relation between alter serving and vocations to the priesthood. It's particularly influential if you have a seminarian serving at a parish. I know a man who came to seminary because he regularly served with a seminarian at his parish. He even got to spend a year in the same seminary as this man who inspired him, which I think was great for him. The men who serve at parishes sometimes have stories of boys who serve that come to them with questions about the seminary because they are interested.

    On the other hand, there are the examples that you give involving girls who serve. What exactly is going on here? Really I'm not sure. I suspect that what is more important than who serves is the holiness and orthodoxy of the parish. If you do have such a parish, then I suspect all male altar servers might be helpful, particularly if there's seminarians involved. Honestly I'm not sure. Time will tell what works best.

  4. What a cracker from St Therese! Thanks.

  5. St. Therese, I have always believed that!


  6. Terry, I'm with you, I just can't get worked up about it. Of course, I am oblivious to the reasons why girls were permitted in the first place.

    I have to be honest and tell all of you that there are times when I wonder if the arrival of girls in the sacristy in any way stemmed the flood of the sexual abuse of boys and other males who served the church or became close to priests. Please don't misunderstand - I'm not saying that those who oppose girls do so because they prefer boys for nefarious reasons. I am not saying that at all. I'm simply wondering out loud if there is any correlation between the two events.

    I just wish the acrimony could be laid aside.

    Susan and Grace, yes!

    Daniel, we need more priests, and if altar boys are the way to help foster a vocation, that's fine with me. I just think there are parents who may have planted the idea in their sons' heads that they don't want to serve with girls because THEY have a problem with it. Boys don't serve for the same reason so many Catholics can't be bothered to go to Mass on Sunday - too many other "more important" things to do.

    Ros, good luck with that! I'm in the same boat with you, technically speaking!

  7. Unless someone tells me there's a biblical reason for excluding girls from serviong as altar servers, then I'm for girls doing it. Just because someone cites tradition is idiotic and really simple minded. There is a biblical reason why priests must be male. I am completely against women becoming priests. As far as I know there is no biblical reason for girls helping. Goodness, other than priests most people who do church activity are women, and not by a close margin. If it weren't for women the Catholic church would crumble.


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