Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Surprise Altar Boys Love the "Latin mass"

Father Z has a great post at “As Father Higgins says, he wants an army of servers”: Boston Herald on TLM altar boys . I can see how young boys would really flock to it.

But what happens if you not have the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy? Are your young boys, and nephews and Grand kids out of luck? Will they not be drawn to serve.

Not really. The extraordinary form of the Mass has a lot that young boys would like. It is in Latin, It is cool, they have real important added Responsibility!!!. They are a crucial part of the Mass. Further it is a way for young boys (not the most emotionally adventurous at that age to express and live their Spirituality)

When I read this article it brought to mind Fr Dwight Longenecker and a post he did on the subject. He is a priest and Chaplin to both a Catholic Church an School in South Carolina. I am talking the real Protestant northern part of South Carolina like Bob Jones Country. Which means a bunch of South Carolina Catholic redneck funloving boys like- well the ones in the Diocese of Shreveport where I live. Sort of how I was raised and am.

I notice he has a new entry on his altar servers here at Servers at St Joseph's (with pics check out the gallery. Yes that too can be our Parish :) ). He is does a very reverent Mass in the Ordinary form.

His past post is informative and the pictures there tell the whole story at Reform of the Formless . Now Father and another Priest that is at the same Church make two comments in the comment section of this that I think hit it right on.
Fr Jay Scott Newman said in part:
......One other introductory point needs to be made: the Holy See has made clear that the option for girls to assist at the altar is permitted, not required. This means that even when the local bishop allows the practice in his diocese, the parish priest has liberty to decide what will happen in his parish.

Now to the point.We must stipulate up front that girls are generally much better servers than boys. In most cases, their attention to detail and their grace in executing the celebration far exceed those of their brothers, who are often clumsy and sloppy in the way that only teen boys can be.
But in my experience there are two problems with girls serving the altar:

1. Where the girls excel, the boys will recede. This is a simple function of human nature, and no amount of sermonizing from the parish priest or the mothers of servers will change it. The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are separate groups for many profound reasons, and we flaunt these facts of nature at our peril. Most parishes with large numbers of altar girls usually find that it is difficult to recruit equal numbers of altar boys and those boys that do come forward (not to put too fine a point upon it) are often not the most masculine examples of young manhood. For everyone in the congregation, this simply reinforces the common perception that religion is the work of women and delicate men.

2. Even if the number of young men at the altar is sufficient for the celebration of Mass, when girls stand beside them, the connection between serving the altar and considering the priesthood is simply and visibly broken....except, of course, for those hoping that the Church will one day ordain women.This is not the only reason the number of seminarians has plummeted out of sight in our day, but it is surely one of them. Imagine trying to recruit baseball players for the Major League if no high schools permitted single sex baseball teams. In one generation, the sport would disappear or be morphed into something else entirely.For all of these reasons, I do not permit young women to serve at the altar at St. Mary's, and this absolutely nothing to do with sexism or misogyny. And the result of our general approach to this service is that we need to build a larger chancel to accommodate the horde of young men who want to participate. Some years will be needed to reveal what influence this will have on the number of priests who come forward from our young men, but the early signs are very strong and very good.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker said.then
I agree with Fr Newman's position and reasoning.

In my experience here at St Joseph's Catholic School the students themselves are not desperate to have everything co-ed. When I asked the girls if they wanted to serve at the altar they said, "No, we don't want to do everything with the boys all the time. We like having our own girl stuff to do."
Therefore at St Joseph's Catholic School we have two altar guilds: one for boys and one for girls.The boys help move furniture (we have to transform our all purpose room into a chapel each Friday for Mass) and serve at the altar. The girls assist with linens, preparing ciboria for Mass, dressing the altar etc.
At Mass they serve as ushers and special Eucharistic ministers, and they are the lectors at Mass.We therefore have equal, but different roles for the boys and girls.The students themselves approve of this, and the only grumble I have had was from a feminist grandmother of one of our students.Like Fr Newman, I have no trouble recruiting male altar servers. Instead, I don't have enough room in the sanctuary for all of them.
So it is a combination. Reverence , responsibility, and I think the all male aspect of it is important. As the Older affects the newer in Liturgy, which I think is Pope Benedict's aim, hopefully we shall see the effects on the ordinary form


Anonymous said...

ok, let me work this out: girls make better altar servers, but we should not allow them to be altar servers, because then the boys won't want to be altar servers, which is bad because only boy altar servers are eligible to eventually become priests.

Back in 1968, they would not let me be an altar server because "altar serving is the royal road to the priesthood". I can guarantee you that the boys I knew who were altar servers were definitely not priest material, unless we want social delinquents to be our priests.

I don't see why we can't in fact let women be ordained priests; as it is, we now have married, non-celibate priests (namely, all the Episcopalian priests with wives and families who came over when the Episcopalians began ordaining women). And if we want all of our priests to be celibate, then why not have celibate men and women?

Ok, that's my two cents for today!


James H said...

I have to admit I have always liked boy only altar server. Plus what those priest alks about in their comments I have seen played out

However as to Priests I do think those have to be men the more I study it

THe celibate thing of course can alwasy be ptional since we have had eastern rite married Catholic spIreist forever.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you: I'm not so sure that we need the TLM in order to attract boys to serve.

(Let me be clear - I'm not knocking the old usage of our current rite. I am glad that Pope Benedict 16th liberated the TLM. And I wish more people would appreciate its reverence.)

Fr. Neil McNeill, my pastor at Our Lady Queen of All Saints, does a swell N.O. liturgy, complete with "smells and bells" and Latin. (I'd bet money that pretty soon he'll celebrate the N.O. ad orientum.)

For Easter vigil, for example we had 10 or 12 MALE altar servers, who all had a role to perform. They served with precision, and it was beautiful. The 2-1/2 hours we spent in Mass flew by.


I'd just like to offer that there is a very good reason that the Church does not ordain women as priests: It cannot; it does not have Christ's authority to do so.

As James rightly pointed out, a celibate priesthood is a DISCIPLINE, not a dogma. Disciplines can - and do sometimes - change. Dogma cannot.

For a very good understanding on this point, please see Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the apostolic letter from Pope John Paul II on this very topic.

It is a very clear letter, and quite succinct. Let me quote a key passage:

"Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

Servant of God Pope JPII's letter drew from an earlier Church document, Inter Insigniores, which offers the theological and historical reasons for this teaching.

May God bless us and keep us in His peace.

Nicholas Jagneaux

Anonymous said...

Do not fear, I am not going to go try to get my female self ordained; I would only submit that the example of the priest in any given liturgy is more of an example of vocation than anything else. (While no one ever wishes to grow up to be an Altar Server, there are plenty of those who sat in the pews wanting to be the Priest.)


Anonymous said...

(While no one ever wishes to grow up to be an Altar Server, there are plenty of those who sat in the pews wanting to be the Priest.)

Very insightful. I know a lot of people who think they could do the job better than Fr. So-and-so. They're very quick to criticize; not so quick to thank him for his vocation.


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