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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two Thumbs Up to Fr. Michael Taylor of Corpus Christi Mission

The Les Femmes Autumn newsletter is going to the Post Office today, and we generally don't post it on the website for several weeks. But in view of the current debate over altar girls in Arlington, I'm making an exception and putting it on the blog. The entire Autumn newsletter will go up on the website later, but for now we join the debate and thank those priests who have restored the age-old practice of boys only at the altar. Two thumbs up to Fr. Michael Taylor and his confreres who sustain the practice of using boys as "little clerics" at the altar.

 Back to the Future: Revisiting Girl Altar Boys
When Bishop Paul Loverde approved girl altar boys in 2006, he ensured that the fight over maintaining
the Church's long-term practice of male servers would be a perpetual one, at least in Arlington. Call to Action (CTA), a notorious dissent group demanding women's ordination, anything-goes sexual ethics, and other heretical positions, led the original fight in the mid 1990s with their "Let the lasses serve at Masses" mantra. Today, the issue is simmering again. A handful of disgruntled parishioners and ex-parishioners from Corpus Christi Mission in South Riding, VA, whose administrator, Fr. Michael Taylor, is phasing out altar girls, organized a letter campaign and a November 20th vigil at the chancery demanding "equity" for the girls. Not surprisingly, the issue is closely tied to dissent, as CTA joined the fray and sent out a press release advertising the chancery protest.1
Before discussing the current controversy, however, a recap of the history puts the issue in perspective. The previous bishop of Arlington, John Keating, was one of only two in the United States (Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE being the other) to opt for boys-only when the Vatican first permitted girls to serve in 1994. Keating called the altar boys his "farm team" for the priesthood and, under his leadership and that of Vocations Director Fr. James Gould, Arlington was the envy of most dioceses in the country. Between 1993 and 1998, the year of Keating's death, while many dioceses ordained at most one or two men a year (sometimes none), Arlington welcomed at least 35 new priests.


The move to girl altar boys actually preceded Vatican approval when a number of disobedient bishops adopted the practice in their dioceses. Like Communion in the hand, which also grew out of disobedience, these bishops pressured the Holy See for change based on the fact it was a de facto practice. In 1992 the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts ruled that canon 230§2 in the Code of Canon Law allowed girl servers. However, the ruling also stated that the Latin term possunt in the code permitted girls to assist, but did not mandate them. The Vatican, based on the council's interpretation, allowed girls to serve beginning in 1994 promulgating the decision in March with a letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship to the presidents of bishops' councils. The Congregation wrote that, "The Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations. Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue."2 The letter also clarified the roles of lector and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist saying, "It must also be clearly understood, "that the liturgical services mentioned above are carried out by lay people ex temporanea deputatione, according to the judgment of the Bishop, without lay people, be they men or women, having any right to exercise them."

In 2001, an unnamed bishop, who most believe was Bishop Loverde, asked the Holy See whether priests could be required to use altar girls. The answer came in a July 2001 letter that reiterated a bishop's right to either allow or disallow girl servers. It stated, "In accord with the above cited instructions of the Holy See [the 1994 letter] such an authorization may not, in any way, exclude men or, in particular, boys from service at the altar, nor require that priests of the diocese would make use of female altar servers." In other words, the bishop does not have the authority to force a priest to use girls at the altar.3 To sum up, the Vatican stressed 1) that the historical tradition of altar boys is one worth preserving, 2) girls may serve but no priest can be forced to use them, and 3) in the Tridentine form, girls may not serve period.

Knowing that many of the priests in Arlington agreed with Bishop Keating's assessment of the relationship between vocations to the priesthood and boys serving at the altar, Bishop Loverde delayed implementing the change which, according to the grapevine, he wanted to do since his installation in 1999. In 2006, in a shrewd move that minimized criticism, he approved the Tridentine Mass in two parishes and lifted the diocesan ban on girl altar boys at the same time. While liberal parishes immediately filled the sanctuary with girls, many others maintained the tradition of all-male servers. Today, fewer than half the parishes in the Arlington diocese have girl altar boys.

The latest controversy arose at Corpus Christi Mission in South Riding last year when Bishop Loverde assigned Fr. Michael Taylor to the parish replacing a more liberal priest. Fr. Taylor decided to phase out altar girls allowing those currently serving to finish their terms but not training any new ones. That caused one angry mom, Jennifer Zickel, mother of two little girls, to spearhead a protest movement with a blog, a Facebook page, a letter-writing campaign, and a vigil at the chancery. She also got her 15 minutes of fame with an article in the Washington Post on November 19th which was promptly linked to Facebook and her blog. The article, accompanied by a woeful picture of Zickel with 7-year-old Natalie leaning on her shoulder peering sadly at the camera and 4-year-old Emily sitting on her lap sucking her thumb, is instructive. The Post writes that when Zickel read in the weekly bulletin that Corpus Christi would no longer train girls to be altar servers, she "burst into tears and ran to the bathroom, 'I knew right then that our family couldn't stay at this church anymore,' Zickel said, her voice breaking. 'I'm a mama bear, and they're going after my girls.'‟4

This is a puzzling statement coming from a mother whose daughters are too young to even think about being altar girls for several years. Are these little children really clamoring for equal rights with the boys or is this all about Mom's agenda? I went searching for answers on Zickel's blog and Facebook page and found some interesting information. First, there are numerous links to dissent groups. On April 25, 2011 Zickel posted an invitation to the May 1st meeting of the local CTA chapter5 which also put out a press release November 16th advertising the upcoming chancery protest.6 On October 3rd she blogged about "Two new articles you must read" from the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the dissenters' mouthpiece, and America, the Jesuits' magazine well-known for challenging Church doctrine. Clearly, Zickel approves of the feminist claptrap in these articles. So let's take a closer look at them.

In NCR, Kate Childs Graham, writes For Altar Girls: A Modest Proposal, a feeble attempt at satire which comes across as a feminist screed. A taste of her purple prose will be sufficient (emphasis mine): "There is no need to spend time developing leadership that, according to the hierarchy, can never be. Surely, it's better to be consistent -- best not to make false promises, plant false hope in girls who aren’t supposed to have a vocation to the priesthood, and couldn’t fulfill that vocation even if they were called, at least in the institutional church. My question is: Why stop there? Perhaps girls shouldn't receive communion, be confirmed, take reconciliation or be baptized. After all, you really wouldn't want a bunch of girls running around thinking they are priestly people. Perhaps it's best for girls to just stay home on Sundays, darning socks or fixing supper. Maybe the church should be a male-only space. There's no use giving women a sliver of room, when men could easily take up the whole thing."7
 Ah yes, the familiar feminist accusation that an institutional Church that won't ordain women (but canonizes female founders, mystics, and names women Doctors of the Church) is really a misogynist brute. One is tempted to laugh and send this silly woman to a Catholic encyclopedia of the saints for a reality check. The America editorial, while not as blatantly ridiculous, also implies that the mean old Church is treating women unfairly "welcome to tidy up the sacristy, arrange flowers and clean linens but not to set the gifts at the altar or hold the sacramentary or censer."8 The authors show their true colors when they call ordaining women to the diaconate an "open question" while disingenuously saying the altar girl issue is not really about women's ordination. Of course not, it's just an odd coincidence that femaile ordination always accompanies the altar girl discussion.

 While there have been a number of arguments against girls serving at the altar, Fr. Brian Harrison writing in The Roman Theological Forum presents a most compelling one. Calling the 1994 decision to allow female servers the "most radical single liturgical change ever officially permitted by the Church's supreme authority,"9 Father goes on to describe the historical ban against women approaching the altar because of the profound connection between the priesthood, the Eucharistic celebration, and the altar. "Right from ancient times, in convents of cloistered nuns situated far off in the desert where priests and deacons seldom visited, the Church allowed the Mother Superior to take the Eucharistic Body of Christ from the tabernacle in order to give Holy Communion to the other sisters; however she was not allowed to make use of the altar in doing so."10 He goes on to quote a French liturgical scholar, writing, "Martimort's study helps us to understand the patristic perspective on this point. After citing a good number of ancient texts and canons against female altar service, he observes: "It seems that the true motivation for this constant practice of excluding women from the altar ... is the link which was understood to unite the lesser ministries to the priesthood itself, to the point where they had become the normal stages leading to the priesthood. This link is already present in the perspective of St. Cyprian [he died as a martyr in 258].‟ Fr. Harrison goes on, "Thus, the Church's bimillennial rejection of female service in the sanctuary has clearly been linked to the fact that such service is very closely related, symbolically and often causally, to the ministerial priesthood itself. And this can never possibly be conferred upon women."11

 Ironically, Fr. Harrison's interpretation gains credibility from the very people, like Jennifer Zickel, who agitate for girl altar boys. They, like Fr. Harrison, see the close link between service at the altar and women's ordination. The fact that they argue for altar girls based on non-discrimination and equality shows exactly where they are headed. If it's a question of equality, becoming an altar girl is simply a wedge issue toward female ordination, the BIG equality issue. Catholic feminists, either through ignorance or malice, have little or no understanding of the Fatherhood of God, the priest as alter Christus, and the true dignity of women. They will never be satisfied until the Catholic Church is a carbon copy of the Unitarian with no dogma, no tradition, no sin, and ultimately no God. They do not speak with an authentic Catholic voice and they do not reason with an authentically Catholic mind. One sees the female priest connection in Zickel's material. On 8/23 she posted a Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) press release on her blog, Women's Ordination Conference Decries Ban on Altar Girls in Phoenix Diocese. She introduced it with the message to "Please consider contacting me so that we all can stand up to the siege that is placed on Vatican II." The release illustrates that the controversy is not just about girl altar boys, but about women's ordination. Note this quote from a spokesman: "The Vatican's stance on the ordination of women is based on arguments that have been refuted time and again. In 1976, the Vatican's own Pontifical Biblical Commission determined that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit women's ordination. Jesus included women as full and equal partners in his ministry, and the hierarchy would do well to follow suit."12

One need not address the accuracy of WOC's claim to see that they conveniently omit the fact that the Commission is not a teaching authority and that the doctrine of the Church relies, not solely on Scripture, but on Sacred Tradition as well. There isn't a word in Scripture about Mary's Assumption into heaven, but Catholics must believe it as dogma. WOC's statement is simply irrelevant.

Oddly, in all of Zickel's many blog posts and Facebook updates, there is no mention, not one, of Mary the Mother of God and the authentic role of women in the Church. Perhaps she is so focused on "equality" with the boys that the particular giftedness of women flies beneath her radar screen. In his letter to women, Blessed John Paul II wrote, "When we consider the 'iconic' complementarity of male and female roles, two of the church's essential dimensions are seen in a clearer light: the Marian principle and the Apostolic-Petrine principle."13 Men and women have different roles in the Church, and the dignity of women, her "genius" as the pope describes it, lies in her modeling of the Blessed Mother, "our tainted nature's solitary boast."14 That genius is in no way damaged by reserving altar service to boys.

Zickel's crusade is encouraging in one respect as it reveals how far the pendulum has swung back in the last fifteen years. When Les Femmes started in 1996 after CTA-Virginia invaded our parishes, we faced a group with a website and some active, hardcore dissenters. After being ousted from our churches, they began to meet in Protestant locales more in line with their beliefs. Today, while there is a D.C. Metro group listed on the CTA-USA website, it has no link. Other than Zickel's single Facebook entry about a meeting last May, CTA is invisible. Chances are they morphed into the local Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) chapter, and, in fact, some of the old CTA crowd, e.g., Ellen Radday and Rea Howarth, belong to VOTF which has among its goals to "support priests of integrity," i.e., those who support their dissenting agenda, and to "shape structural change within the Catholic Church," whatever that means. The local VOTF group also advertised Zickel's chancery protest.

According to Zickel's "research" we also know that over half the parishes in the diocese do not have altar girls. And, while she urges people to "Join us in asking Bishop Paul Loverde to show leadership and consistency by requiring Arlington Diocese priests to allow girls to serve alongside boys at the altar," it's good to know her efforts are useless. Bishop Loverde lacks the authority to "require" any priest to use girls as altar boys. The Vatican has spoken on that issue. No priest can be forced to call girls to assist him at the altar.

It is also gratifying to see other priests in the country returning to the time-honored practice of altar boys. The rector of the Phoenix Cathedral recently announced he would have an all boy altar corps.15 Girls are invited to train as sacristans instead. This is not a new development. In Madison, WI in 2008 four priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, who serve a cluster of parishes, did the same thing.16 I suspect many other priests around the country only use altar boys and quietly go about their business with little notice. Personally, I know several in other dioceses. Hopefully, their numbers will increase as priests see their peers returning to a practice that served the church well for almost 2,000 years.

Thankfully, priests, like Fr. Taylor at Corpus Christi, see the value of restoring what's been lost and are willing to take the heat to set things right. He deserves the thanks and support, not only of his own parishioners, but of all those who love Holy Mother Church. His actions fit well with the liturgical reforms instituted by Pope Benedict and reflected in the more accurate translation of the Mass that began on the first Sunday of Advent. I urge readers to pray for Fr. Taylor as well as for misguided women like Jennifer Zickel who are endangering the faith of their daughters so unnecessarily. Please pray also that many of Fr. Taylor‟ brother priests have the courage to follow his bold example.

1 CTA Press Release: Altar Girls Banned; Catholic Families Vigil, November 16, 2011, http://cta-usa.org/media/.
 2 Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Letter to presidents of Episcopal conferences allowing altar girls, March 15, 1994, online at http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdwcomm.htm.


3 Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, On possible admission of girls, women, and women religious to serve alongside boys as servers in the liturgy, Notitiae - 421-422 Vol 37 (2001) Num/ 8-9 - pp 397-399, available at http://www.adoremus.org/CDW-AltarServers.html.


4 Michelle Boorstein, Protests of VA parish’s move away from altar girls reflects wider Catholic debate, Washington Post, online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/protests-of-va-parishs-move-away-from-altar-girls-reflects-wider-catholic-debate/2011/11/17/gIQAnbRLcN_story.html


5Let Them Serve Facebook page, April 25, 2011, 12:43 p.m., captured on November 20, 2011.

6 CTA Press Release.
 7 Kate Childs Graham, For Altar Girls: A Modest Proposal, National Catholic Reporter, September 22, 2011, online at http://ncronline.org/node/26716.


8
Editors, Save the Altar Girls, America Magazine, October 10, 2011 online at http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13056
9
Rev. Brian W. Harrison, "Altar Girls": Feminist Ideology and the Roman Liturgy, Living Tradition No. 88, July 2000, online at http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt88.html.
10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Let Them Serve blog, entry for August 22, 2011, online at
http://web.me.com/zickel/Site_71/Let_them_serve/Entries/2011/8/23.html, screen captured on November 20, 2011.
13 Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women, June 29, 1995, St. Paul Books and Media, Boston, p. 22.

14
William Wordsworth, The Virgin, Ecclesiastical Sonnets, online at http://maryourmother.net/Wordsworth.html.
15
Joyce Coronel, Cathedral’s Policy Change on Altar Servers Ignites Discussion, The Catholic Sun, August 23, 2011, online at http://www.catholicsun.org/2011/august/23/cathedral-altar-servers.html.
16
Pat Schneider, Mazomanie Church Nixes Altar Girls, Capitol Times, June 25, 2008, online at http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2008/05_06/2008_06_25_Schneider_MazomanieChurch.htm.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marvelous analysis, Mary Ann. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Taylor was one of the chaplains at Bishop O'Connell H.S. while I was a Guidance Counselor there (1994-2004). He helped me on a couple of projects: getting rid of the library's providing copies of the National Catholic Reporter to the students; and changing the name of a senior-level theology course from "Great Religions of the World" to "Major Religions of the World".

Anonymous said...

I love my church. 20 altar boys at last Sunday’s Mass. That’s a new record. LOL!

j

Anonymous said...

I am a mid thirties cradle Catholic so obviously have never lived in a pre Vatican 2 Church. I graduated Catholic university and am married in and raising my children in the church. But lately I feel less and less at home in the church. My husband feels the same way and we discuss it at length. I have to say that if our Bishop were to tell my daughters that they could not continue serving at the altar, I would be hard pressed to give them a good reason why. The priest shortage started WAY before girls at the altar. Call me confused and upset. It is an awful feeling to feel like your church is wrong. Loving God and each other are the only really important things.

Ray Schneider said...

The priest shortage didn't exist pre-Vatican II. As a young man I was in a boys choir in our church at St. Ann's in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. We had at least 30 boys in the choir and we had numerous alter servers. Of course it was a lot tougher being an altar server in those days. You had to know all the responses in Latin not just carry a few things on and off the altar.

I think it is true that it isn't just altar girls that has put a dent in priestly vocations, although I think that is a factor. It is also the loss of the sense of solemnity and service to God that the Tridentine Mass offered. We have trivialized the mass and made it more of a human institution than a Divine institution and that can't help vocations. I've heard priests talk about their vocation as a job so even the priests have been affected. You can't drain the quality out of something and expect it to receive the same respect it used to command. The Protestantisation of the Mass to try to attract non-Catholics was just plain stupid. The kind of unrealistic modernist trivializing thinkers that brought us this should be rooted out and we should restore the Mass to the dignity and solemnity that it once commanded.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I can hear your frustration, Anon 10:15. What is it that makes you feel not at home in Church? Jesus is always there. Do you ever sit alone and empty your heart to Him? Do you have a conflict with one or more of the doctrines? Is your Church large and impersonal?

The first parish my husband and I belonged to had 2500 families. We had to look for connections. It was hard. It wasn't until we had children in the parish school that we began to feel a part of such a huge parish. And then we began to join some of the apostolates. That helped a lot to make the praish smaller.

As for altar girls, the feminists certainly believe there is a connection between them and the priesthood because they constantly make the connection in their writings. The literal translation of altar boy in Italian is "little cleric." The translation for altar girl is "little female cleric." But that is an impossibility. Words do mean something.

It is jarring to see girls dressed like little seminarians in cassock and surplice. When I used to go to Mass at the Poor Clare monastery, even those holy nuns do not serve the Mass. The sacristan set up the altar and there were no servers.

I really recommend you read the article by Fr. Brian Harrison that is footnoted in the post. It gives some of the history. You can find it at http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt88.html

I'll pray my rosary tomorrow for your family.

Anonymous said...

Extremely poor catechesis leaves lots of room for the whims of our culture to invade right reason and affect one's faith (if it even exists). We love attending the unchanging Trid Mass which reflects Truth which does not change - that which is fundamentally Catholic.

Anonymous said...

I think there are two things that need to be cleared up in the postings whether or not one agrees with "altar girls" or not.
the first is that allowing girls to serve mass is not a matter of dissent--it is perfectly acceptable practice authorized by the Holy See. People may lke it or not, pastors may permit it or not, but girls serving Mass is not a matter of dissent. Moreover, the Holy See did not give permission for girls to serve Mass in 1994. In 1994 they said that there is nothing in the then current legislation of the Church to prohibit it. It was "legal" at least since the 1983 Code of Canon Law and probably earlier when other and more significant ministries--readers and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist were opened to women. When the greater is permitted, then so is hte lesser is an ancient principle of the law.
Secondly, to refer to the Novus Ordo as a "Protestantization" of the Liturgy is a matter of dissent and implies, in fact more than implies, that the authorize revision of the Rites after Vatican II is not orthodox and somehow or other waters down Catholic Doctrine. This means that the Pope has not been faithful to his duties and has led the Church into error. Ray Schnieder needs to reexamine himself as to his fidelity to the magisterium. one may prefer the Traditional Mass to the current Rite, but it is an attack on Church authority to denigrate it in any way. I am surprised, Mrs, Krietzer, that you have permitted his remark to stand uncorrected

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Thank you for your comment, Anon. I agree that having altar girls is permitted. That is not to say the decision was wise or doesn't have unintended consequences - like boys dropping out. Everything the Holy See does is not without error or mistake. While allowing altar girls is not a question of dissent, the fact remains that it attracts dissenters like flies to honey. Interesting, no?

As for what Ray said about the Protestantizing of the Mass, he's accurate. Michael Davies (I know he was an SSPX supporter) called it "Cranmer's Mass." Davies was an apologist for traditionalism and a supporter of Bishop Lefevbre. At his death in 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, said of him:
"I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church. He knew that the Lord founded His Church on the rock of St Peter and that the Faith can find its fullness and maturity only in union with the successor of St Peter. Therefore we can be confident that the Lord opened wide for him the gates of heaven. We commend his soul to the Lord’s mercy."

Ah...the cardinal especially appreciated Davies' "important publications" especially those on the "Sacred Liturgy" which critiqued -- the protestantization of the Mass. So Ray is in good company with a man praised for his voluminous work defending the traditional Mass and criticizing the new as, yes, "watered down." Since Ray attends the Novus Ordo (I do as well), he can hardly be called disobedient to the magisterium or a dissenter.

The fact that the liturgy is now being "reformed" speaks volumes about what we were given in the name of Vatican II.

And why, one asks, didn't they just translate the Mass from Latin into the vernacular. I could still be using my old Roman missal.

Dymphna said...

We had a priest who stopped the altar girl wave by simply saying that he had enough to deal with and didn't need the added drama of the girls and boys flirting and giggling all through Mass. That shut everybody up.

Donnelly Sr said...

Great Article: Altar Girls is jusrt another attempt to put a foot in the door for women's ordination and the vehement demand fore such validates my belief. Many Americans want every institution to be forced to a democratic rule and this includes our Church which is headed by the Vicar of Christ and it will never change in that way. The demands of feminists are demands to rule by vote - ludicrous.

dolorosa said...

A good article to read on this subject is:
http://www.catholicplanet.com/RCC/altar-girls.htm

Anonymous said...

I am also confused. I didn't realize that there were parishes that did not allow girls to be altar servers. 17 years of marriage and 9 parishes moving around the country and we have not encountered one that did not have female altar servers. I agree with the previous poster - it is an authorized practice and I am surprised that priests get to even make this choice. That sure sounds like dissent to me. What other "choices" about the Mass are up to individual priests?

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

How can you call it dissent? The documents stress that no layman has any "right" to serve. The laity are permitted to serve at the request of the priest. The document also stresses the value of maintaining the almost 2000 year tradition of male altar servers. Did you read the article, Anonymous and the footnotes? To consider an innovation that has existed for less than 25 years to overturn 2000 years is mind-boggling.

I encourage my children not to allow their daughters to serve at the altar. Do I think girls are inferior to boys? Of course not. We have different roles. I am a Lay Extraordinary Minister to the sick, but when I accepted that duty it was with the understanding that I would not give Communion at Mass.

Just because something is allowed doesn't mean it is either holy or prudent to do it.

Anonymous said...

What about common sense? Altar servers are in that awkward stage when most boys and girls are more comfortable being around kids of their own gender. The more girls on the altar, the less likely that boys will want to be there.

Colleen said...

We go to a huge parish (too big in many ways, really) and have over 200 altar servers, boys and girls. Our system includes a Master of Ceremonies, which is always a high school boy. Only boys may serve as MCs and they "supervise" the altar servers (usually 3 per Mass). I think that most kids, in fifth grade, have no real thoughts on vocations. We would be in a huge shortage if we didn't allow girls - it is difficult to fill 9 weekend Masses with servers even with our great numbers (I know because I help with the scheduling). However, if in 9th or 10th grade, a boy shows interest in investigating more about a vocation, he can sign up for MC training. Those kids work directly with the priests and several have gone on to seriously consider the priesthood.

Working with the servers, I can tell you that there is no awkwardness or illness at ease. These kids are trained to have the correct decorum about their service. And everyone looks the same in an alb! It is a great experience for the boys and the girls and has encouraged friendships between kids who attend different schools. It would be a shame, truly, to not have the girls. The arguments put forth seem very weak to me.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting debate. I think it is most interesting because many of us did not realize that it even is a debate. I can not remember a time when there were not female altar servers, have absolutely no desire to ever attend a Mass that is in Latin, think that priests should be allowed to marry, but understand why the financial applications of such a thing would make it next to impossible for the Church, and wish that we were more progressive in helping the poor, praying for the children that are already alive and in need instead of those who might be aborted, and that the church had a much more practical, hands-on approach to just about everything. And yes, I consider myself a good Catholic. It is fascinating to read the opinions of those who are so different than myself but members of the same worldly congregation. Bring on the debate!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I'm curious what you mean about being "more progressive in helping the poor." Our small parish has no altar boys, has some of the responses in Latin, and operates one of the largest private charities in our county with a hotline for assistance. And, yes, we care deeply about unborn children who are, as a matter of fact, every bit as alive as children already born.

It's true that individual Catholics are very different and wouldn't the world be boring if we were all the same. There are dozens of devotions in the Church to meet peoples' prayer preferences. No one person could do them all.

I think it was St. Augustine who said, "In necessary things unity, in doubtful things liberty, in all things charity." The Church is big enough to embrace the Tridentine, the Novus Ordo, the Byzantine, the Melkite, the Marianite, etc. But we all need to embrace the "necessary things," i.e., the doctrine of Holy Mother Church.

Anonymous said...

My dear Mrs. Kreitzer, you obviously do not know what the terms “Protestantization” or “Cramner’s Mass” mean if you think that a faithful Catholic can use these terms in referring to the official Liturgy of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has never referred to “The Protestantization of the Mass” and while he was an acquaintance of the late Michael Davies he certainly would not have agreed with Davies assessment of the Novus Ordo as “Cramner’s Mass” if he was even aware that Davies had called it that. To say that the Novus Ordo is “Cramner’s Mass” or to call it “Protestantized” is to say that the Mass in its current rite has been stripped of its sacrificial character and would therefore be not only heretical but invalid. Archbishop Cramner’s 1549 and 1552 revised rites were deliberately and explicitly stripped of any reference to Sacrifice, as had been Luther’s 1524 rite, as the reformers universally denied the sacrificial character of the Mass. That is what is meant by “Protestantization.” Luther did very little else to “change” the Mass other than to eliminate the notion of sacrifice. Even Cranmer, particularly in the 1549 but even in the more radical 1552 made very few changes other than making sure that there was no notion of Sacrifice remaining. That was there once single concern. Neither Luther nor Cranmer would allow for any trace of Sacrifice to remain in their “reformed” rites. If Cardinal Ratzinger believed the 1970 Rite to be in anyway lacking in its sacrificial nature, he would have not only been obligated to never celebrate this rite but to have insisted to the Pope that the rite be abolished and to have stepped down from his position at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith if it were not. In fact Cardinal Ratzinger has always defended the 1970 rite despite his dislike for certain features of it. If as Pope Benedict XVI he has any questions about rite having been “Protestantized” or being “Cramner’s Mass,” he would be bound in conscience to suppress it.
This is not to say that the Rite does not have its defects. I am not sure that any Rite, however orthodox, does not have some defect. There were defects in the translation we just abandoned. There are several glaring defects in the “new translation” of the current Rite. There were/are several defects in the “Tridentine” Rite which is why the Council Fathers mandated a revision and not a mere translation as you wondered. None of these defects reached the point of heresy and invalidity however that are meant when one says that the Mass has been “Protestantized” or reflects the Eucharistic theology of Archbishop Cramner.
When I contacted your diocese about this matter they told me that “Mrs Kreitzer and Les Femmes is not recognized by our diocese as a reliable source of Catholic teaching and speaks only in her own name and her own opinions” Speaking with the chancery I could understand your estrangement from official Church authority. I realize that this is not a matter of ill will or deliberate rebellion but simply a lack of theological and historical knowledge that comes from the poor catechesis being offered the laity today.

Anonymous said...

We have a granddaughter who is mentally retarded--she functions at the level of a six year old. From the first time her parents brought her to mass she wanted to be an altar server. She would ask the priest every Sunday if she could serve mass. Her parish did not allow girls to serve mass but Beth never seemed to notice this. Like the unjust judge in the gospels, the pastor finally was so worn down that he gave in. He said she could only serve saturday morning mass as he not only had reservations about a girl serving but did not think that given her arrested development Beth would be able to serve at all. But she took to serving like a duck to water and served so well that after a month, he allowed her to serve on Sundays too. Beth's serving Mass is something that has brought life and energy to our parish as people see what a developmentally handicapped child can do. My wife and I are so proud of her that now we usually go to her parish for Mass. The pastor now lets other girls serve as well and has said that letting Beth serve was the best decision he ever made. It reminds him, he said, that Jesus came among the sick and healed them. So my vote is let the girls serve, let all the children come to Him.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I don't recall claiming to speak for the diocese or for the Church, Anonymous 12:06. God forbid! I've never claimed any authority either. And obviously everything I post is my own opinion, I hope based on right reason.

But I'm not aware that you have any authority either. And whether or not you are correct in your statements, I can't say. I seriously doubt that you are a canon lawyer able to determine that my statements are unfaithful.

But thank you for linking yourself with some of your other vitriolic anonymous posts. I can't believe there are many people calling the chancery about me. LOL! I have my suspicions about your identify, which don't include a mitre, except perhaps in your own mind.

As for the Mass as sacrifice, one of the criticisms of Archbishop Lefevbre was exactly what you talk about -- the replacement of the idea of sacrifice with the banquet table of the Lord. And the change in focus from God to the assembly.
Everything I've read about the changes indicates they were made with a major goal of making the Mass more ecumenically acceptable to Protestants. The original Novus Ordo is certainly far closer to Cranmer's Mass than the Mass of the ages.

Finally, if anything I've written violates the teachings of the Church, I repudiate it; not however on your assessment which I have no reason to accept as either accurate or authoritative.

Ray Schneider said...

I would not worry too much about the blathering of the self-important critics. My own reading of Anonymous's post was that he or she was largely making your points about Protestantization and Cranmer's Mass.

The Novus Ordo liturgy clearly is designed to minimize the sacrificial nature of the mass. We use the term "table of the Lord" where the people are "fed" and if I've heard about the people leaving because they have not been fed once I've heard it a hundred times. When you destroy the symbolism you water down the doctrine and make it more unintelligible especially to a faithful which is no longer well taught.

Most Catholics no longer know their faith. I remember being asked by a nun if I had a degree in theology or some such thing when I had the audacity in her hearing to affirm the doctrine of the real presence. Apparently she didn't think it an important doctrine. Odd that, since Jesus obviously thought rather highly of it based on the sixth chapter of John.

There are always those who will defend the less effective decisions of the church. The whole history of Vatican II is one of trying to draw the Protestants, the separated brethren, back and it doesn't work. Making the church more accessible to Protestants by switching to the vernacular, turning the altar around, getting all the people in the pews to jump up and down and making a bad English translation of the Mass when you had a perfectly good one in the missals everyone used, is part and parcel of the problem. When you show everyone that the Mass is mutable when you've made such a point of its being a sign of unity and water down all the theology why should you be surprised when you lose more Catholics than you gain Protestants?

The Vatican II changes proved to be disastrous for the Church. It's not a matter of opinion but a matter of hard fact. All you need are the statistics to see the huge shift and check the timing.

In the meantime don't take criticism by anonymous people to heart. There is a reason why Ecclesiastes 1:15 in the Vulgate reads the way it does.