Tuesday, May 8, 2012

IS THIS A LITURGICAL MORTAL SIN?

I know, so many of you don't want altar girls, but too bad!


(Saint Joseph's First Communion, with First Communicants kneeling to receive our Precious Lord and by way of intinction).

33 comments:

Bill Meyer said...

I certainly would prefer altar boys, but in the grand scheme of things, altar girls are not near the top of my list of issues. EMHCs are very near the top. Also banishment of banal post-Conciliar supposedly liturgical music. And elimination of dissidents as sources for use in RCIA classes.

It would be great to have so many boys wanting to serve that (if they were given preference on the premise of possible vocations) no girls were needed. I'm sure that is not the case now, in most parishes. Also, a girl who seriously desires to serve should trump a boy who isn't committed to it, or who doesn't apply himself.

However, of all the post-V2 changes, this one is pretty benign.

Anonymous said...

Father, your attitude is what is "too bad."

-Christopher H.
Rockford, IL

Joseph Johnson said...

I suppose because I grew up with it--I still prefer to see altar boys wear the cassock (preferably a black one) and surplice. Up until our previous pastor (about 2007) changed back to the white albs (which we had back in the 80's) our servers were wearing red cassocks and white surplices.

However, if we're going to have girl servers (which, by the way, as we know, are optional), I still have misgivings about the girls wearing the cassock/surplice combination. Maybe it's because the cassock is a clerical garment (originally intended for an all-male clergy) and the alb (though also worn by priests), is a reminder of the baptismal garment, which is applicable to both genders. This is, by the way, the exact justification that "libs" give for not wanting to servers to wear the cassock.

I went to one parish in Myrtle Beach, SC a few years ago and saw what could be an alternative on this sartorial question. The boy servers wore the black cassock/white surplice combination and the girl servers wore the white albs.

Personally, I used to like wearing the black cassock with its tailored look, buttons, and standing "military" style collar. Though it is a type of robe, it still has a very masculine look which boys (and men) usually don't mind wearing. Despite its universal symbolism as a baptismal garment, I can't say the same for the simple white alb and cincture. Girls like "fashion" while boys, if they like clothes, usually appreciate "cool" uniforms, like a Canadian Mountie or U.S. Marine dress blue uniform. I would put clerical cassocks in the same category.

In terms of importance in the "reform of the reform" the question of whether or not to allow girl altar servers is much lower on the list than the far more significant matters of implementing ad orientem celebration, eliminating Communion in the hand, etc., restoring the use of altar rails, and improving music at Mass (hopefully with chant!).

R. León said...

Father, I think you are cool and all but sometimes you make posts that make me facepalm, like this one.

I won't argue about the use of female altar servers, but as Joseph pointed out, should females be wearing cassocks?

Vonito said...

Now- does Pope Benedict approve of the girls altar server? I heard some priests said that he doesn't, some says that it doesn't matter, what do you think?

Dan Z. said...

I agree that Altar Girls should wear the one piece alb, and Altar Boys should wear the cassock & surplice. A simple thing like that would make Altar Girls much more acceptable to traditionalists.

prairiecatholic88 said...

I also agree with Joseph Johnson about the cassock and surplice. The former associate pastor at my parish (a very faithful, conservative young priest in his early thirties) told me the exact same thing when the parish purchased new cassocks and surplices a few years ago. He said that it is inappropriate for girls to wear them, as it is clerical garb. Get the girls white albs and cinctures instead (that's what we did).

ytc said...

Father, can you make a good argument for the use of female altar servers? There are many good arguments for male only altar service, but from what I've seen, the only argument at all for female service is the "equality" card.

So can you please elucidate?

Anonymous said...

Father, this hurts.

It doesn't hurt that you want altar girls. That's your option. What hurts is the attitude this post conveys. "Too bad"? Really Father? TOO BAD?

I think some very cogent points against the use of Altar Girls have been made in the friendly debates on this blog. The atmosphere has been one where we feel safe and know it's O.K. to disagree. That is, it was until now.

"Too Bad"?

Too bad, indeed. And too sad.

Anonymous said...

Whats up with the attitude Father? "too bad"? Lets all not forget, having altar girls is an indult and i wish it will be revoke sooner than later. Brick by brick as Fr. Z would say.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Is this a liturgical mortal sin? My title was tongue in cheek for progressives would say that kneeling to receive Holy Communion on the tongue with intinction is the mortal sin while traditionalists would say that altar girls are a mortal sin (I'm using mortal sin in a pejorative way). As for altar girls, my clairvoyance says they are here to stay. In terms of the black cassock for either girls or boys, neither of them are clerics and there are some who say they should all wear white albs, symbolizing the white garment of all the baptized. However, even in times past girls and women wore the cassock and surplice to sing in choir and no one blinked an eye. In terms of recruitment for the priesthood, as I have mentioned in the past, at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta, my previous parish, we have had since the 1980's 12 men ordained for the priesthood, mostly for the diocese but two as Jesuits and one as a Domincan. It all hinges on the spirituality and liturgical practice of the congregation and the families who promote vocations. Altar serving helps, but at Most Holy Trinity, as a traditional parish with traditional parishioners, none of the altar girls wanted to be priests, but many considered religious life or service to the Church in other ways when they became adults. We don't need to be turning away women from ministries that are not ordained ministries.

Anonymous said...

I like your sense of humor!

~SL

Supertradmum said...

Umm, I thought intinction was not allowed at all. Clarify, please...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Intinction only by the minister giving Holy Communion is permissible and is clearly stated as such an option in the GIRM of the new Roman Missal. However self-intinction is forbidden.

Pater Ignotus said...

The physicist Richard Feynman used to make a joke about "a posteriori" conclusions, as they are called. 'You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight,' he would say. 'I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!'

His point, of course, was that it is easy to make any banal situation seem extraordinary of you treat it as fateful.

Having girls serve on the altar is not the 'fateful' event some need it to be.

And anyone who is not a cleric, including altar boys, should be wearing clerical attire.

Templar said...

ytc makes the only comment that matters here.

They are permitted, by indult, and no rational person disputes it. However, what are the pros and cons of the practice? Do the pros outweigh the cons? That's the debate that needs to happen. But can we have it later on down the road after we've sorted out important things like communion standing and in the hand, and EHMCs?

Tancred said...

See, girls are just as good as boys!

YAY!

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Ignotus, what did your last sentence mean? I remember you criticizing Fr. for typos. Just what in the Hell are you talking about?

Joseph Johnson said...

Pater Ignotus,
I presume you meant to say that "anyone who is not a cleric, including altar boys, should NOT be wearing clerical attire."

I would also be curious to know if you own a cassock, if you actually wear it, and in what situations.

ytc said...

Again, why have female altar servers at all? What positive argument can be used for having them? Is there anything at all?

ghp95134 said...

Father McDonald,

If girl altar servers are to be used, why not dress them as Sisters? .... Same with women/girls in choirs; then, there'd be no mistaking their vocational path.

--Guy Power

Anonymous said...

I think older teenage Altar girls should wear nun-kinis, like Kate Upton wore in the new Three Stooges reboot movie.

Pater Ignotus said...

Oops. Anyone who is not a cleric should not be wearing clerical attire, boys or girls.

I own a cassock and I wear it when appropriate. A cassock is "house dress," not liturgical attire. When worn in any liturgy, a cassock is properly covered with a surplice or alb.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Anonymous, you are going to Hell...LOL!!

Joseph Johnson said...

See, Pater, I KNEW what you meant to say! That is, "Anyone who is not a cleric should NOT be wearing clerical attire, boys or girls."

I would have a lot more respect for your viewpoint on this sartorial matter if the clerics would actually be seen in typical parish settings wearing their cassocks!

In my own experience, (and as I stated in another post), until our current pastor and a recently deceased brother priest of yours started using the cassock again at our parish (all of this post 2000 to current), I had not seen a cassocked priest here since the early 1980's. When you haven't seen something in almost thirty years then your argument seems more theoretical than real.

Yes, I know the Pope, with rare exception, wears one and bishops are required by protocol to wear them at times but I am talking about what people see of this distinctive garment of the Universal Church on a parish level. Because they haven't seen them being worn in such a long time, many probably now think that a priest who wears one is engaging in a "pre-Vatican II practice."

As I'm sure you too can recall, it used to be de riguer for a priest to at least wear his cassock around the church (I'm not saying that the black suit doesn't have its place--usually around town, outside parish grounds). As you know, a priest would hear confessions in a cassock (with stole), wear one with surplice and stole for Stations of the Cross and baptisms performed outside of Mass, etc. They were also often worn, again, with surplice and stole to accompany the deceased to the grave after a requiem Mass. They were also worn to teach classes and at parish events, such as dinners, etc.

I know it's not truly a liturgical garment but it is a distinctive garment of the Catholic Church, a part of Catholic identity, if you will. It reminds US of who you are (and the respect you deserve as a priest). Better than a black business suit,(even with the clerical shirt and collar, the suit being a concession to practicality and the modern pluralistic secular world), the cassock reminds YOU of who you are!

ytc said...

Clerical suits are a disgraceful and disgusting excuse for clerical vesture, in my opinion.

Anyway, there is such a thing as a Mass cassock. Bishops and cardinals wear them all the time; they are respectively amaranth and scarlet.

But to get back to the conversation, anyone want to put forth a good argument for retaining/maintaining female altar service? Third time I've asked.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

ytc...They're cute???

Pater Ignotus said...

Joe Johnson - No, I don't recall priests wearing cassocks around the Church. (I am 54). Msgr. Bourke lived in retirement in my home parish (Blessed Sacrament, Savannah) and I do not recall his ever wearing a cassock save for when he was vested for sacraments. Msgr. (later Bishop) McDonald wore his cassock at mass times, putting on a surplice to help distribute communion. The associate pastors who came out at recess to play with the school kids in Daffin Park never wore a cassock outside the church.

A priest wearing a cassock and stole while hearing confession is not appropriate, not matter how common it was. The surplice is required to "cover" the cassock which is "street" or "house" dress.

Yes, the cassock can be a lovely garment, if it is 1) not a cheap, off-the-rack rag, 2) if it is worn properly (top neck button CLOSED), and 3) if it is maintained properly.

If you have greater respect for a priest who wears a cassock, understand that that comes from within you, not from the cassock.

I know of two priests, one a seminary classmate, who regularly wore cassocks all over the towns in whch they served. Both are now long-gone from ministry because, as they say, the cassock does not make the priest.

I am just as aware of my priesthood when I wear a clerical suit as I am when I wear a cassock. The cassock is not a "garment of the Catholic Church." It is a secular style of dress for males that was borrowed for use by the Church. Yes, it was common to see priests in cassocks 50 or more years ago. It was also common to see women wearing gloves, men wearing hats, and little boys dressed in girl's clothing with their hair styled in curly locks.

Styles change.

ytc - There is no such thing as a "mass cassock." A priest may wear his house cassock under his alb if he chooses. The regulations require an "ankle length garment" to be worn under the alb. Pants work well.

ytc said...

There is such a thing as a Mass cassock. It is a woolen garment, amaranth for bishops and scarlet for cardinals, and both have scarlet silk lower sleeves. And the Pope's is white. This is not the caped thing.

Pater Ignotus said...

The cassock without a cape is a house cassock. "Mass cassock" is a marketing term, similar to "bonus room," meaning the finished space above the garage or "Palmetto Bug" meaning cockroach.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I like water bug, not to be confused with what-a-burger

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

So, let's see...It was a dark and stormy night. Fr. MacDonald was sitting in the rectory bonus room, wearing his house cassock, when a roach crawled in from the garage. He smushed it with a with a copy of Luther's "95 Faeces" and returned to his reading of "The Godfather."

Anonymous said...

"Too Bad"...Well there are other points which are often not discussed. I once saw during an OF Mass 12 servers. 8 girls, 4 boys, all wearing Cassocks. During Mass one of the boys and one of the girls were obviously infatuated with each other. It could not be hidden. Smiles and gestures while heads bowed. Later to learn they became "boyfiend and girlfriend". At such a young age doesn't matter anymore. The point being did this brew in the Sanctuary? What kind of thoughts were going through their heads? A first kiss perhaps? Hardly appropriate thoughts during Mass and all encouraged, albeit indirectly, by serving on the Altar. Impurity in some ways invaded what should be at all times the most Sacred of enclosures and places. I would prefer these attractions develop in other places besides Mass and on an Altar. And what happens when it is over? The break-up? The boy wants to leave? Boys tend to do this, leave or dart when feeling uncomfortable or pressured. So the Church loses an Altar boy or girl, but they lose one, that is the point. Relationship troubles have no place here. Sure parents can insist this is absolutely inappropriate and intolerable in the Sanctuary. But you can not stop these "first crushes, etc., from happening when putting boys and girls in such close quarters. After this I began to re-think my position, abandoning my "I don't think it matters much, girl servers", to "Maybe this should just be avoided altogether". It just doesn't work out well overall. Boys and girls today have become sexualized at such an early age that it is not the same as putting girls and boys together in decades past. It just isn't.