Friday, August 26, 2011



Folks, stop being so darn rigid about this. Flexibility is a gift from God and Italian flexibility when it comes to law is a great blessing.

Train these darn servers, whether male or female to do a great job, choreographed well and who know not only the liturgy but the faith, and you'll have vocations and boys will be altar boys along with the girls.

Those of us who like the example of this pope in his reform of the reform continues to show us the way even when we might want to do our own thing when it comes to altar girls. Let's not be like the progressives. Let's be ultramontane!


GE said...

And those of us who are against altar girls repeat: The Holy Father is rigidly against altar girls in his own diocese!

That ought to be an indicator that something is not quite right about the practice.

I also repeat that it is an offense against the sensibilities of the Eastern Orthodox and an obstacle to unity with them.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I have seen girls serve orthodox Divine Liturgy! It is not as rigid there either. The Diocese of Rome has altar girls, the pope is the Bishop of Rome not just of the Vatican and yes, there have been girls serving at altar Masses at the Vatican. Let's not make this an ecumenical incident or anything else, there is no doctrinal reason or reason of discipline for it to be only boys apart from vocation recruitment and that decline has other more serious reasons behind it than altar girls.

Templar said...

Father, I respect your perogative as Pastor to do as you please within the limits of Canon Law, and you are CLEARLY within those limits to have Altar Girls. I would never, on my own, bring this subject to you for discussion. However, if you wish to solict opinion via the Blog please do not take offense if I do not agree with it. My own personal opinion is that Altar Girls do a diservice to the Laity in ANY Parish for the reason I have stated in the previous threads. I am obliged to accept your actions whether I agree with them or not in this case, but I find your justification insufficient and maintain the practice has more cons than pros.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm not taking offense, but as a traditionally minded priest/Catholic, I do think we have to be in union with the Church even when she allows things we don't want. How many don't want the EF Mass and would like to see it go away? That is certainly their right and they can voice that, but the Holy Father allows it now, so why be a party pooper? Same with altar girls. If a parish priest decides not to have them, I think that could create unnecessary division, the same for parishes that don't have girls and no one is complaining about it,for the priest to impose them on the parish would be a bad move in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Cafeteria Catholics come in all stripes.


Jenny said...

An excellent article by Colin Donovan:

As in all matters NOT of faith but of Church discipline, the local Bishop is given full authority to decide whether pastoral circumstances in his diocese necessitate the authorization of altar girls. But, even if a bishop permits altar girls in his diocese, priests are not required to use them.

Templar said...

The complaints of the laity, for or against, if based upon how it makes them feel, or some false appeal to equality, are (in my humble opinion) irrelevent. I do not find the subject of grave enough importance to get too worked up about (like say Communion distribution) I just think that when given the option, a Pastor opts poorly if he opts for the choice that moves away from Tradition instead of towards it becasue it sows confusion among the laity.

But there are other grave matters that need attention; in fact, addressing those matters (Coummunion and Ad Orientem) would in my opinion create an environment that would lead to the elimination of Altar Girls in due time. As with everything in the Catholic Faith, I have found that nothing stands alone. Everything is inter related.

Jenny said...

Having quoted that pontifical decision as I just did, I must say that I find it divisive and NOT in keeping with a mind-frame union of the whole Church.
Father, I would love to know where you saw altar girls serving at a Divine Liturgy? I've been to a lot of 'em, and never saw this. Thanks and blessings!

Henry Edwards said...

Especially at liturgies planned by local officials subject to local pressures and pastoral considerations, with the details hammered out in give-and-take negotiations, the Pope finds it necessary to tolerate all manner of practices that his writings and his own liturgies make it plain he does not favor. These include altar girls, EMHCs, communion while standing, inappropriate music, even aboriginal dancers (as at Sydney WYD), and others. Neither the pope nor anyone else can go to the wall on everything, every day, every place, even for the right and true.

So there surely is hardly a more suspect argument in favor of any of these abusive or suspect practices than to point to the necessity of our suffering "servant of servants" being subjected to them. Are we to infer that it's ok for us to pile on because "everyone's doing it". Of course, this is precisely the basis on which these questionable practices have been sanctioned, however reluctantly.

The only worse argument I can imagine would be that we have no right (or even moral duty) to question any practice that the Church allows, when one would hardly know where to start in listing the disastrous decisions the Church has made in recent decades, and which cumulatively have brought us to where we are now.

A more forthright position, to which I would accord more personal respect, for anyone who favors any one of these practices would be to honestly state positive reasons for his support. In any given pastoral situation there may well be solid reasons for a departure from long accepted practice---and the use of altar girls is far from the worst example---but I do think that in these situations "honesty is the best policy".

Gene said...

In San Francisco, they would like to use "alter-girls." Sorry. I could not resist...

Robert Kumpel said...

Well, you can call me rigid, but my rigidity is simply that I disagree with the practice of using altar girls. I have never confronted a priest about it, I have never written a letter to a priest or bishop objecting to it and I tolerate it politely and silently when I see it being done, in spite of my disagreement. I tolerate it because that is what the Church allows at the present time. The same holds true for receiving Holy Communion in the hand. And, like Holy Commnion in the hand, this was eventually allowed because disobedience to previous rules was already taking place, so the Church chose to amend the law instead of enforcing it.

But take note that there is no law saying that I have to like it. If that's rigid, so be it.

However, take this warning from a "rigid" Catholic: As long as we continue to permit this, we are going to have ongoing problems with women demanding ordination and the phony ordinations of "wymynpriest" groups. Keep leading them on and their frustrations will erupt. Hell hath no fury...

TLW said...

I am the mother of a young lady who was an altar server at the Novus Ordo from the time she was 8 until this past year. Our only interest in letting her serve was that none of the boys in the parish would come forward (despite what some think, it wasn't because they had to serve with girls because we had none at the time). We got tired of hearing our pastor plead for servers, and he was pleased to have her, but when our current pastor arrived, I sensed he did not want girls. He was very kind about it, but clear. That is his prerogative, so the plan was that my daughter would gracefully bow out as soon as some boys would finally step forward. Fortunately, two of them did and they were very well trained - by my daughter, who treated them more like a mother hen with chicks than a bossy female.

One day, she asked me why people are so venomously against having girls serve. I told her they are worried girls will grow up wanting to be priests. "That's ridiculous" she said. The thought never once crossed her mind.

More than one person has remarked that they think she has a vocation to the religious life. Whether it was her service at the altar that fostered this or not, who's to say?

Due to a birth defect, my daughter has a reconstructed hip and has been on cardiac medication from the time she was two. She offered God all that she had. When I hear the derogatory comments made about female servers by those who assume they're all FemiNazis in the making, I am tempted to think and say things that are equally unChristian.

BTW, we both have a preference for the Extraordinary Form and it wouldn't occur to her to try to barge her way into in all-male traditional crew.

I don't offer this comment to argue with anyone, but simply to offer a different perspective about why this issue is not necessarily the outrage some think it is.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

thank you "Little Way" for your perspective!

Fr. Patrick Bonaventure de la Cruz said...

Father Allan,

Since you passionately plead for the cause of altar girls on the basis on the Holy Father's supposed example of tolerating and approving them in his own diocese, why not also be perfectly settled and at peace with other things he tolerates: Mass facing the people, Communion in the hand, drums and stupid music at Mass, silly church architecture, etc. -- things which I find you are not also in agreement with.

Yes, it is one thing to be tolerant about what the Church allows. But it is another thing to promote and even to plead for these things. I for one, as a priest, do not criticize or caricature in any negative light any altar girl who comes to serve at my Mass. But it is another thing to say that I prefer them, much less even promote them. If only I had a choice, I would ask the Holy Father to rescind these "altar girl" permission... and so with all other "permissions" that seem wrong from the very beginning: Mass facing the people, Communion in the Hand, horrible music, etc. etc.

Fr. Patrick Bonaventure de la Cruz said...

Don't get me wrong: disagreement with altar girls is never about value judgments about their capability for Mass service, even about their spiritual qualities. What I am saying is that a tradition so closely associated with the offering of the Sacrifice of the altar should never have been tampered with... And for good reasons did the Church never changed it, East or West. What we have now was permitted due to ABUSES and not for sound theological or sacramental reasons.

And Father, please also don't cite incidences as norm. For if that were true, why not also allow divorce, contraception, wymynpriestess (mind you Pope Gelasius was condemning some fringe groups in Spain in the fifth century for allowing "women presiders" of the Eucharist) -- things which were against the norm and would never be the norm just because people do it. And even if the Church allows it, take note that the permission from the Vatican to allow altar girls carried with it a strong discouragement due to the reasons from Tradition. The same also is true with Mass facing the people and Communion in the hand. Just like this

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Dear Fr. B, I'm not passionate about altar girls, I just don't agree that you can't encouarage boys to become altar boys and then priests if girls are also serving. In my current and last parishes, we had a few more boys than girls for serving and both are trained very well. We begin traning 5th graders in the Winter semester of school but 6th graders actually begin serving. With both boys and girls they usually remain as servers until they graduate from High School and some continuing serving even in college if they stay in town for college. In my previous parish we've had over 12 men ordained priests in the last 20 years! We've had three women enter religious life.

In both my current and last parishes we also had the ministry of Adult Server and this was exclusively for men and still is. The adult holds the Missal for the priest, sits next to him, wears an alb, prepares the altar (acts as a bit of an mc for the servers) and helps in the Distribution of Holy Communion. Those boys in 12th grade who are exemplary in their server and faithfulness to serving and seem to have some interest in the priesthood are invited to be adult servers in the 12th grade, but this is an honor not an automatic.
While I do not like much of modern music or instrumentation, I'm not opposed to it either. I'm not opposed to ad orientem and hope that in the future it will be the norm, but facing the people as the rarer option but I'm not opposed to facing the people outright and I think Pope Benedict's solution with the crucifix dead center on the altar facing the priest is a good solution. In other words, if the Pope is flexible enough to allow for certain things when he visits his parishes in the Diocese of Rome and in other international events, why can't we? He is or model, no?

Robert Kumpel said...

I'll also add that although I disagree with female altar servers, that does not necessarily mean that I condemn the young girls to decide to do so. In many cases, there aren't enough boys (especially in some of the isolated rural parishes) or not enough have answered the call. I appreciate the good intentions of the girls and their parents who choose to serve.

While one of the reasons I disagree with this entire practice is that I believe it emboldens the feminists with an agenda to continue their futile push for female ordination, it does not follow that every female altar server is a a budding "feminazi" doing the bidding of a pushy mother. I am sure most of them do it with good intentions. However, I don't see, generally, how young boys can be attracted to the priesthood by this experience while young girls would not be.

There are others, however, who look at this and reach different conclusions. Many folks in the pews, who do not have the time or inclination to study their faith very deeply, look and say, "Why, we've had altar girls for years, so what's wrong with women as priests?" They don't see any continuity and don't understand Tradition with a capital "T", but instead just see a Church where lots of changes took place, have little recollection of what that Church was like before 1970 and believe that everything can change and we are just "moving forward".

It also, again, emboldens another group who believe they are going forward: The more militant who insist upon women's ordination. They see altar girls as one more concession that they've managed to win from the Church, because it is now allowed after it was already being disobeyed when it was not allowed. They think that if they just keep "chipping away" at the "chauvinist authority structure", they will get their desired end. So they continue to have their fake ordination ceremonies and lead countless souls astray and incur excommunications.

I think that that all of this confusion would have been avoided or at least greatly reduced if the permission for altar girls had never been given. I do not believe it is practical either to take the position that since is has been permitted we can't take back the permission because too many people will be offended. Sometimes the only way to really move forward is to admit that we've made a mistake and correct it.

But again, these are my personal views and I have never publicly aired them. I do not confront priests, bishops, altar girls or their parents with them. If holding such opinions means I am "rigid", please report me to the thought police now so I can begin serving my sentence.

Vatican Watcher said...

"Freiburg im Bresgau, 8.26.11 (KIPA) The Vatican has given a green light for female altar servers for the papal visit to Freiburg (Germany). Nine female and eight male servers from the Freiburg Archdiocese will minister at the youth prayer and the closing liturgy on September 24-25, the diocese announced on Friday. It is customary that no female serves are used at papal liturgies in the Vatican. By contrast, there were female servers at the liturgies for Benedict XVI’s visit to Bavaria in 2006."

So, if the news report is correct, the Holy Father not only "tolerates" females serving at Papal masses, but "approves" through the proper channels.

Is Phoenix listening?

Templar said...

Dear Heavenly Father, and Blessed Mother, please hear my cries and speed the reconciliation of the SSPX to the Church so that those of us who love your Church as it was before the destruction of 65 may have a home to flee too. Your sons and daughters of the Traditional Faith are outcasts, marginalized for wanting to remain faithful to the One True Faith. How much longer Father? How much longer must we endure?

Anonymous said...

I was more thankful than ever today for our priest and parish. The first prayer petition of the day was that the Church bring to full fruition the hope of the Second Vatican Council. The priest had an excellent homily. In the Communion line I was directly behind a mother with two little girls who were blessed after she had Communion. The altar server holding the paten was a young woman whose demeanor indicated that she took the job seriously. As I returned from the altar, I walked directly toward a beautiful statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and reflected on our priest's devotion to her. A young woman held the Cross high as priest, deacon, lector, and servers (both male and female) processed out. This was just what I needed to see at my own parish after the news of the week and I am thankful. Finally in the bulletin was an invitation to attend an altar server training session and anyone who is starting the 5th grade or older -- including adults -- will be welcome. Deo gratias!

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the use of altar girls but don't get agitated at all about it. It's low on the priority list. Far lower than the platoon of EMHC's in dumpy clothing invading the sanctuary for distribution, but I digress.

The women's ordination movement is fizzling and fizzling fast. It is a very rare thing indeed for young females to be interested in it. Perhaps it is best not to kick the hornet's nest and let the tick-tock solution work its magic.

Templar said...

Anon: I too had something to be thankful for at mass today. A woman, modestluy attired, and vieled, approached for Communion with her new born in her arms, and her 3 other children (all under the asge of reason) in tow. When the woman knelt, on the cold hard marble floor to receive Our Lord with humility, the eldest of her sons (probably no more than 5) dropped to his knees beside his Mother and received a Blessing.

Certainly, we CAN be taught, and we CAN understand if a 4 year old can.

allandan500 said...

"WHY BE SO RIGID WHEN THE POPE AND THE VATICAN ARE NOT WHEN IT COMES TO ALTAR GIRLS, I HUMBLY ASK AGAIN!" -- The simple answer is that the Catholic Church is in the greatest mess in its history and the cause can demonstrably be traced to the mistakes of Vatican II. What is difficult to understand about that?