Thursday, April 26, 2012

WOMEN IN THE SANCTUARY

Let's be clear. Those who propose that women be ordained deacons, priests and bishops have an agenda that goes beyond just ordaining women deacons, priests and bishops. They wish to reconstruct sexual and marital morality according to a genderless pattern, neutered of the power of pro-creation and the symbolism of Jesus Christ as a Man who is also God and as such the Bridegroom of the Church which is called "she", "her", "Holy Mother", and the "Bride of Christ."

Let's also be clear that those who promote female ordination also promote same sex marriage and pro-choice politics. Let's also be clear that those who promote this want to deconstruct traditional Christianity of both the East and West and re-image it in a Post-Christian way.

By Post Christian I mean the following: "Pertaining to or derived from the moral, religious, and/or ethical teachings of Jesus, but retaining an openness to other moral, religious, and/or ethical teachings. 2. Heretical, not adhering to traditional Christian creeds; especially including the heresies of Unitarianism and universalism, which are still considered heterodox by most mainstream Christians. 3. Post-modern interpretations of Christianity. 4. Pluralistic and no longer dominated by Christianity, where Christianity formerly held sway; e.g., “a post-Christian society.” 5. Pertaining to one who tries to live according to Jesus’ teachings, but who chooses to distance himself/herself from institutional Christianity by refusing to be called “Christian.”"

Liberal, progressive "Catholics" either intentionally or unintentionally are a part of this post-Christian phenomenon. Some are quite intentional about it, others are so out of ignorance of what the historic Catholic Faith teaches having been seduced by current fad and trends within secularism and politics. In other words, they are gnostics who don't know any better.

Gnosticism can be defined as "Gnosis, the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of interior, intuitive means. Although Gnosticism thus rests on personal religious experience, it is a mistake to assume all such experience results in Gnostic recognitions. It is nearer the truth to say that Gnosticism expresses a specific religious experience, an experience that does not lend itself to the language of theology or philosophy, but which is instead closely affinitized to, and expresses itself through, the medium of myth."

However, there are very negative cultural attitudes towards women from the ancient period that have made their way into Christianity and remain with her in many places today. We CANNOT say that Jesus either in His public ministry or in His Risen Ministry to this very day embraced/embraces any negative attitudes about women even when in His public ministry and now in His Risen Ministry He does not choose women to be apostles or bishops, priests and deacons.

However, those attitudes that would be hostile toward women/girls being altar servers and lectors does have a cultural bias that is very negative toward women. Those who embrace this bias in fact undermine Christ's decision that only men be ordained deacons, priests and bishops, for it casts this truth into the realm of negativity that was present in antiquity both in Christianity and the broader culture of Jesus day which pre-dates the birth of Christ where women were considered inferior to men and the source of "sin."

We cannot say that Christ wills only men/boys to be altar servers and lectors and that only men can enter the sanctuary of the Church with the exception of women being allowed in during their marriage ceremony or to clean the sanctuary. This attitude undermines revealed truth as it concerns Holy Orders.

19 comments:

Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

Fr. McDonald, I believe there are more than two perspectives on the subject of females in the sanctuary. I have encountered both proponents you describe yet there is a third, one that I adhere to.

Given the priesthood is reserved for males exclusively then what is the point of having female altar servers? Especially in the adolescent years, boys resent having girls tell them what to do...they'll have to get used to it in married life.

There are many examples of parishes that went back to the old standard of male only altar servers and have been blessed with many vocations.

I suggest parishes create a new 'ministry' for girls: leading the Rosary prior to Mass.

Henry said...

"We cannot say that Christ wills that only men . . . ."

(Strawman alert!) Of course not. Who's ever heard anyone say this? It's a prudential rather than a doctrinal matter. Whereas the fact that women cannot be ordained is a doctrinal rather than a prudential matter.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

I tend to agree with Waterloo...especially given the crisis the Church faces from assaults by progressives. They will sieze upon any chink in the armor, any perceived weakness, any effort at negotiation or compromise as a weapon to be used ruthlessly and without regard to the Church's good intentions. Until we let this sink in, until we become viscerally aware and alert for it, we will never succeed against these people.

Does serving as an altar girl plant the seeds of dissent among some of the girls...probably.

Bill Meyer said...

Father, I also have reservations about girls as altar servers. Given the extreme shortage of vocations, I think that the role of altar server should be reserved to boys. It has been my understanding that where this is done, the parish enjoys an increase in vocations.

I have no issue with women in other roles, such as lector. I do have an issue with lectors who stand behind the ambo all proud of themselves, and smiling to those who know them. But that is simply another aspect of the too-casual celebration of the OF. Reverence is lacking.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Henry, I made a mistype in my blog concerning "cannot!" I have changed it now to MUST!

Joe Shlabotnick said...

Why give girls a taste of altar serving when we have to slam the door in their faces later? If serving at the altar builds vocations, why are we permitting girls to take up the spaces that could build potential vocations to the priesthood? The only logical conclusion is that those who push for altar girls (I won't say "altar servers", since that is the latest P.C. term to neuter a traditionally male role) are in fact pushing for women priests and this is their not-so-subtle foot in the door.

Female lectors? That's OK I suppose, but this whole lay lector thing seems like just a post-Vatican II fad designed to make the laity feel like they are participating more deeply. The priest or deacon can read for us too. So let's let them. Go ahead and call me negative. I call it common sense.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald,

I still do not understand this sentence:

We MUST say that Jesus either in His public ministry or in His Risen Ministry to this very day embraced/embraces any negative attitudes about women even when in His public ministry and now in His Risen Ministry He does not choose women to be apostles or bishops, priests and deacons.

Must we say that Jesus embraced negative attitudes about women?

Hope this helps to clarify things in an otherwise very thoughtful article.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Actually, Henry discombobulated me! I had it correct to begin with and I have now corrected it:

"We CANNOT say that Jesus either in His public ministry or in His Risen Ministry to this very day embraced/embraces any negative attitudes about women even when in His public ministry and now in His Risen Ministry He does not choose women to be apostles or bishops, priests and deacons."

In other words, Jesus in not choosing women to be apostles in his public ministry and now in His risen Ministry through the Church does not choose men exclusively becaue of any negativity toward women. Ordination is doctrinal and dogmatic, allowing women and girls to be readers and altar servers is not based upon any doctrine or dogma but in fact not allowing them today could well have roots in anti-women sentiments that Jesus himself would not have had, but others do have. I hope this clarifies it! :)

John said...

Most Americans just think altar girls are cute and if challenged, opine that it's "equality" with boys and no bigger agenda at stake.

Those who see them as vanguards for future ordination assume that the barrier is purely conventional/cultural and not theological/metaphysics...and they do so either out of sheer ignorance or shrewd realization that they've got no theological leg to stand on, so have to go the "but everyone wants it" route.

Now think for a second about 'but everyone wants it' as the premise on which any group ought to make doctrinal or moral changes.... doesn't it work 'both ways'? Yes, yes it does! Once nothing is held to be unchangeable, "God's will", but is good or bad depending on the changing times... any agitating group that modifies and changes 51% of any group's opinion is now in total control. Ethics de-linked from principle and everything devolves to raw assertion of power. Might = right.

The Church being a global institution, if priesthood or dogmas are de-linked from principles and anchored to whatever is hip and cool and politically expedient in any given place.... it doesn't take much thought to realize that this new way of discerning "the wave of the future" will mean a vast de-Christianization because in most places Catholics are minorities. But then most feminists don't think beyond their little parochial worlds and life times. They don't care about the repercussions globally, they just want what they want, consequences be damned.

There IS no theological argument for priestesses, and given the reality of Genesis' account of Adam's fall, there is no metaphysical premise for women to stand in persona Adam to make up for Adam's failure. His vocation was to defend the woman with his life from the Serpent. Failing that, men of all time have had to offer up bloody sacrifices of either animals or themselves. Priesthood is not some glory, it's a direct consequence of sin that needs to be expiated, paid for. As humanity didn't fall when Eve sinned, so humanity is not restored by priestesses but only by priests.

Templar said...

Alright, try looking at it this way. If Female Altar Servers are so great what are the positive tangible benefits of having them? How does it serve God? Please try to avoid a response that goes along the lines of inclusivity and touchy feely. Male Altar servers it is to be hoped will lead to Prestly vocations, that is clearly not a hope with female servers, so what benefit is there. It's one thing to say "it's permitted" or "it does no harm" it's another thing entirely to show benefit, which I can see none.

Carol H. said...

I agree with Joe.

Fr. Anthony Forte said...

There are two problems with women/girls serving in the sanctuary. The first is that serving in the sanctuary is ministerial and flows from the office of the priest. It is not a function of the gathered assembly. Thus there should be an identity between the priest and the ministers which is broken with female ministers.

The second problem is that it reenforces the false idea that there are no substantial differences between men and women. Contrary to the popular idea that "gender equality" is a form of liberation for women, it is actually an attack on the identity of women as women and a denial of the worth of motherhood. All the ills of modern sexual confusion flow from this misogynist androgyny. We would be ill advised to promote it in the liturgy.

If we wish to fight negative attitudes toward women we should value and promote their unique role as mothers and not erase the distinctions between men and women.

Bill Meyer said...

I think Joe has a point about lectors, in general. I have heard many times, a reading by someone who appears not to have pre-read the verses. Or who may have read them, but clearly did not make the effort to seek out commentaries, or otherwise increase their understanding.

If the alternative is to have the deacon handle the first two readings, I am in favor. I have also found, all too often, that the deacon in my parish is reading the Gospel, and delivering the homily. I think this should be the exception, not the rule.

Pater Ignotus said...

Fr. Forte, I have understood that service in the sanctuary is ministerial and flows from Christ, Where do you find the notion that it flows from the priest?

ytc said...

First of all, I don't think Christ wills anyone to be altar servers, boys or girls.

Fact: All male altar serving teams promote vocations.

Fact: Mixed teams force boys, most especially young ones, off the team.

Fact: It makes no sense for a boy to "job shadow" a nun, so why does it make sense for a girl to "job shadow" a priest?

Fact: Liberals will seize upon anything we give them to further their agenda, and this is part of it.

Pater, because if there were no altar servers, the priest would be doing the things that they do.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if someone (perhaps Father) could explain the position of women in the early Church and also discuss whether this might have any relevance to the issues currently under discussion. My thought is that this might have some relevance but I might welll be wrong about that. Many thanks.

ytc said...

Early Church, schmurly Church...

John Nolan said...

1. Female readers are not Lectors and cannot be instituted as such.

2. Women and girls are permitted to serve at the altar, but only in the OF and at the absolute discretion of the parish priest. Traditionally-inclined parishes usually don't have them.

3. Where they are used they should wear a plain alb and never a cassock and cotta. The latter is clerical choir dress and a woman cannot substitute for a cleric.

4. That being said, I have attended Masses where female servers were used, and although I don't like the practice I woudn't walk out. There are worse things - singing anything by Marty Haugen for example. Now that would have me running for the exit.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

ytc, "early Church schmurly Church..."ROTFLMAO."

John Nolan, re: Haugen tunes...you ain't gettin' to that door before me! I'll push you and ten others down to get away from that stuff! LOL! Somebody just fling some Holy Water at my coat tails and I'll cross myself on the way down the steps...