Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I know that if I were to stop having altar girls here at St. Joseph (which I have no plans to do, by the way) that the girl servers who are very dedicated and feel close to Christ in their altar serving would have broken hearts.

But let's say that from on high, like one's bishop, there was a plan put in place to promote vocations to the priesthood and that an all male corps of altar servers, rightly called altar boys, was at the foundation of this plan, then could we sacrifice altar girls and direct them toward reading and ushering and the altar guild?

I report you decide!


Gene said...

Altar girls are bad. Period.

Father Kevin Estabrook said...

I posed the same question on FB a few weeks back.

"Would you support a ban on altar girls if it was scientifically proven that it would result in more priestly vocations"

to which someone (female) simply responded: "No!"

The conversation ended there.

Cletus Ordo said...

This is a conversation that should be based on facts and tradition. But it will not be so. This conversation will continue to be mucked up in emotions, reactions and secularized opinions.

Welcome to the modern Church.

dbonneville said...

Fr. M., I hope you do plan a phase out. I think it would be deeply exciting for any parish and would help parishioners to see the priesthood with fresh eyes. If it was presented as a visionary and not punitive action, the parish would come around.

Anonymous said...

The near by pedestrians -- who aren't members -- need to keep their nose out of this. Of course, the media harps on to anything that tries to create controversy in our Church. To this station, how about a balanced approach? You'd think that the media would try produce such a balance, but we have come to get used to this liberal, effeminate agenda!

Anonymous said...

Altar girls are a legalized abuse. However you may argue about their usefulness or the girls' supposed spiritual benefit out of it, they are against tradition in the entire Western Church until liberals who ruined much of the liturgy had their sway. And even until now, no eastern church ever allows such an aberration.

Altar girls follow a long line of abuse that protestant-catholics have thrown at the liturgy to sing a new church into being: Mass facing the people, abolition of Latin, communion in the hand, pop and rock masses and sappy hymns in place of the propers, lay invasion of the sanctuary even with sufficient numbers of priest-distributors of communion, wreckovation of churches, altar rails, and church furnishings, endless improvisations and ad libs, ideological protestant leaning inculturation, creativities, "liturgical" dance, disappearance of the tabernacle in the church or its removal from the center of the sanctuary where it once existed as according to the church plan, ugly vestments or sometimes the total disappearance of vestments of the clergy, earthenware or glass vessels so as to evoke a "meal" of love... The list is long. Those who have no love for what the church in her theology and faith have surrounded the rituals with those traditional elements of old, have succeeded by introducing their agenda little by little until eventually they got their way through legalization of their abuse such as communion in the hand, and altar girls. Arrgh.

The only argument for altar girls is usefulness and sentimentalizing egalitarian acceptance (which by the way is not a valid credential for service at the sanctuary because service at the sanctuary IS NOT A RIGHT). On the other hand, altar girls are against tradition, liturgical history, and even comes close to subtly attacking the theology male priesthood. And as such let me repeat it again and again: ALTAR GIRLS ARE AN ABUSE, ABUSE, ABUSE!


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I would like to see the design of the study that might prove "scientifically" that banning girls as altar servers increases vocations among the boys.

Православный физик said...

I think a wonderful thing is happening at this parish. (Of course here in Byzantium, we don't have altar girls)

I'll share a comment I wrote on FB:

No one (male or female) has a right to serve at the altar. The normal Mass of the Church is the Solemn High Mass (Sung Liturgy) with Deacon and their absence, these roles are substituted by altar boys. If we understand altar boys to be sub. clerics, and because it is impossible for the Church to ordain women even if she wanted to, follows that boys can only serve at the altar. Unfortunately, there's been a backwards understanding of the Liturgy in general, and as such, we get errors such as altar girls. NB: In a situation with all girls (such as a convent) women can serve from outside the sanctuary....It is certainly true it's not Divine Law, but we could argue immemorial custom for the Church for at least 1500 years.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

PBdC - Many of us who are in favor of having girl servers love the Church every bit as much as you - possibly more.

As often happens when argument such as your are presented, there is the danger of confusing "T"radition and "t"radition. And, yes, it matters a great deal.

Having "sub-clerics" (non-ordained servers) is a matter of tradition - of history. It is not a matter of Tradition - that which has been revealed as Divine truth and is, therefore, unalterable.

I would wonder if an abuse, once "legalized," ceases to be an abuse. If one is driving 69 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, one is guilty of abusing the law. However, once the speed limit is raised to 70 mph, driving 69 is, well, righteous!

Paul said...

Too much change in too short of a time. Back and forth. OK, not OK. Spurred on by a fickle, secular world it is no wonder people are deceived to believe that that they can hammer Christ's Church in their own image?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Former PI, I think the biggest concern that some have and which is quantifiable is that boys are choosing not to serve the altar because girls are doing it or that there are more girls interested than boys.

It has to do with boyhood psychology and the opposite sex.

Obviously if you have more boys serving the altar and it is understood as a sort of apprentice for the seminary at an appropriate age, it could help with vocation recuritment.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Michael Kavanaugh,

I am interested to hear what your arguments are regarding communion in the hand. Although such is not the topic here, I would like to know how you square that "legalized" altar girl argument of yours with such a blatant disregard for "t"radition of communion directly on the tongue.

And whether you like it or not, the two are related by the sheer pride of the innovators who introduced them. Don't tell me that altar girls came into Catholic sanctuaries through a good route. Nonsense! You are a priest, and it seems by your postings you are ignorant, or pretend to be blind with regard to the history of the altar girls issue.

And please, leave the love for the Church issue out of it by the way. Liberal protestant-catholics also claim sincerity for their love of the "c"atholic religion too, not just you and me.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

You said: "having "sub-clerics" (non-ordained servers) is a matter of tradition - of history. It is not a matter of Tradition - that which has been revealed as Divine truth and is, therefore, unalterable."

Don't you detect the problem with your argument? Is it because a thing is a matter of "t"radition and not "T"radition, then one can so easily dismiss them? You don't see the end of the line for such a silly argument don't you?

Yes a thing can be a matter of "t"radition, it may not be of Divine institution, but nevertheless, the "t"raditions have been come up with from the "T"raditions of the Church. Where do you suppose did the Church come up with the rituals of the Mass although most of them are just matters of "t"radition? Are we going to dismiss all of them right now because you just label them "t"radition?

Ah if we would accept your argument, then go all the way with your liberal reasoning bandwagon: clerical celibacy, canonization of saints, feast days and festivals of the church, the college of cardinals (why not abolish them? isn't ministry based on baptism anyway right? they are arrogating to themselves the right of all the faithful to choose their earthly head), forbid genuflections, remove all tabernacles, don't hold processions and benedictions... Oh yes dear Father, they are "t"raditions with A SMALL T! But they matter much to the big T of Sacred Tradition!


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father - How is this situation quantifiable?

If boys are choosing not to serve because girls are serving, what's the reason? Is it legit? Is it just pig-headedness? Is it gross immaturity? What's behind this?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes PI you hit the nail on the head; all of those, in the feminization of the liturgy, we lost the boys, lost boys! Whatever the reason not good!

JusadBellum said...

Oh for Pete's sake....

Why, when looking at a change like this, do pastors immediately go to the farthest negative extreme position and transition methodology? seriously.

If you have a cadre of altar girls you don't preach fire and brimstone and act like an ass. No, you GIVE THEM A BETTER, MORE GLAMOROUS POSITION and highlight, accentuate the positive about how we really need to give young women the leadership role of usher, cantor, and lector to better use their leadership, singing, and intellectual talents....

Then you make a BIG DEAL of being pro-girl ushers, cantors and lectors.

And the QUIETLY assign boys to all the altar-boy functions.

That's how it's done. If anyone asks you point to the GLAMOUROUS, VITALLY NEEDED ROLES these young future leader women are currently doing and doing a fine job at, and how mean could people be to deny them this much more up front and public role?

See? Far from being an ass about it in a heavy handed way, you instead put a good taste in the girls' mouth (and parents) by accentuating another ministry....and thus clear the decks for the boys in the same moment.

That's how you do it "pastorally".

Anonymous said...

THIS is worthy of 3 minutes of air time? This is only newsworthy because it is not P.C. and contradicts feminist ideology. I cannot believe how much time they spent on this so-called "news" story.

How about giving the same amount of time featuring converts who are coming into the Church via R.C.I.A.? Or about this new priest and his good work? Nope. Not going to happen.

I've noticed with television media, regarding the Catholic Church, if the story doesn't criticize Her or promote progressive ideas, it's not news. If it can be used to create a sense of anger against the Church, they're all over it.

As one example, how about the massive news coverage of the March for Life in Washington, D.C. last Thursday? Didn't see ANY stories covering it? Neither did I. But I bet if 500,000 people had shown up in Washington in support of gay marriage, gun control, or against police use of excessive force, well, we'd have had to listen to hours upon hours about it.

So you really have to be suspicious why a T.V. station would cover this and consider it newsworthy.

JusadBellum said...

CARA's study of the men ordained in the USA in 2012 revealed that over 70% of them had been altar servers at one time. It was the highest common denominator.

It's an ancient and well known rule that girls grow taller and mature quicker than boys. A 12 year old girl will sometimes tower over a 12 year old boy.

Socialization has nothing to do with it. If you want them to stay through teen years then a mixed altar server corps is going to add the hormonal dimension that wouldn't be the case for all boy teams.

But regardless, serving on the altar is a known factor in vocational discernment - that's just a fact. How much it's a factor is anyone's guess, but it is a factor. To arbitrarily - in a time for genuine vocational crisis - close 50-60% of the available serving slots to boys "just because" strikes me as a very cavalier attitude.

Joseph Johnson said...

As far as I know, liturgical vestments are not Tradition, either (they are, however, a part of our liturgical tradition). Should we get rid of them as well and just let the priests and deacons wear whatever they want for the Mass?

I think it's pretty obvious that retaining only those bare elements that are Tradition while casting off all the other traditions is not a wise course of action. It is a snub to the accumulated wisdom and experience of generations. We didn't suddenly, in the past 50 years, become far more enlightened and intelligent than the generations that preceded us.

Anonymous said...

I can speak for my parish of 450 families. We do not officially ban altar girls but we have not had an altar girl in over 12 years. I will note that we have 7 men in the seminary from our parish. Clearly we are doing something right. I think having only altar boys is a big part of that.

dbonneville said...

I remember going to Mass one time on vacation in Maine as a teenager in the 80's. I was shocked, as young teenager, to see "girl altar boys" wearing white "sacks", together with the boys wearing the same sacks. I was an altar boy at the time, and had only ever seen cassock + surplus. This was shocking to me back then not knowing anything about anything.

But that is not the point. The point it turns out is that this was an illegal abuse. It was fomented as habit against Church law, and then later pushed as "it's already a norm in places". That is how it ended up getting through the Bishop's conference and to the Vatican. I was a planned rouse, a falsehood, a fake innovation that was really a strategic move by progressives seeking to mold the Church in it's own image.

As Scripture states, the law is for the lawless. They seek at every turn to go as far, if not farther, than what anything written down says. Girl "altar boys" were really one of many little trojan horses let in to the Church from the 70's to the 90's.

Anonymous said...

"If boys are choosing not to serve because girls are serving, what's the reason? Is it legit?"

It's an accepted developmental fact that at the age when boys normally begin altar service they are typically averse to socialization with girls (just a few years before adolescence when they typically seek it).

"Many of us who are in favor of having girl servers love the Church every bit as much as you - possibly more."

Certainly, there exist individuals with all combinations of depth of love for the Church and attitudes toward altar girls.

However, in my experience in diverse parishes extending well over half a century, I have observed a distinct stratification. Among those Catholics who favor only male altar boys, virtually all would express deep love for the Church. Among those Catholics who favor altar girls, many appear to love the Church deeply, but many do not.

Of course, this observation admittedly has no implication regarding the merits of the question. But, for what it's worth, it does imply that given a Catholic at random, the probability that he loves the Church deeply is greater if he favors only altar boys than if he favors altar girls also. Again, just a mathematical fact, with no implication in itself as to which practice is preferable.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Henry - If boys at the normal age for seeking admittance to the altar serving corps also express displeasure at hobnobbing with girls at the dinner table, the classroom, or the school bus, do we accede to their pre-pubescent angst, or do we say "Suck it up, kiddo, and do what's right."?

Jusad - I don't know of any parish that has bumped boys for girls in the altar corps.

Joseph - I am not in favor of jettisoning every historical element of the liturgy just because it is of ancient age. But not every practice or requirement is necessarily beneficial just because we've been doing it that way for a very long time.

The recognition of the rights and abilities of women is a new-fangled thing, indeed. That changes in our traditional practices should follow is not, I think, a slap in the face of historical practices. Rather, it is a recognition that as culture changes, so can (and should) those liturgical practices that are subject to such changes.

Anon - I don't think that all (maybe most, I don't know) traditions have "come up from the "T"raditions of the Church. I think many historical practices are far more influenced by culture and historically limited mores than Divine Revelation.

Anonymous said...

I like the father's chasuble---like to see more like that in the Atlanta Diocese, bring back more formality to the vestments.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the original question: "...could we sacrifice altar girls and direct them toward reading and ushering and the altar guild?"

Although I expect these matters have a practical aspect, I really wonder why we have somehow accepted the idea the Church needs to incorporate women and girls into various roles in the Church that have previously been exclusively male. So what that the larger society has seen fit to move in that direction? Because to me the point of the Church is to help us follow Jesus Christ, and bring others to the Faith, not to create an organization where we vie for who has control and who is running things and who gets to be visible and have a "role" (like a play?) during Mass. The blatant ambition of women pushing for a "greater role" in the Church is a huge turnoff to me, because they seem to have jettisoned the idea of humility and appear to be looking at the Church in terms of human ambition.

I prefer the male run Church, and I prefer the role of women to be not visible. I believe prayer is probably the most effective way to participate in the Church, and everyone can do it, but it is a hidden participation, and some women just feel like their contribution needs to be in what they view as the power positions in order to influence things. This is a distasteful trait in a man, and it's really vulgar in a woman.

Unfortunately, it's been my experience that many of the women vying for a "role" in the Church are not exactly contributing to bringing more people to Christ or to more authentic worship of God. They seem to me to be climbers - seeking themselves and their own ambitions. We don't need more of those kind in the Church.

I don't think girls need to be altar servers and would rather not see them on the altar. And it's been my experience in parishes where girls are servers, all the servers are rather sloppy and careless with regards to their manner and deportment on the altar. They sure are not reverent and conscientious; neither the boys or the girls. I think there needs to be some attention paid to the training of servers, and I think it would be best if they were only boys.

Anonymous said...

I will only say this, Fr. Illo was my college chaplain for two years is a great and wonderful priest. He risks his life to go and do retreats for convents in south America and does an amazing amount to challenge people to actually live their faith. Great priest and I stand with the Holy Mother Church in giving Her pastors the right to only admit males to altar if they feel so inclined. Fr. Illo's parish will indeed become a gem in San Francisco, a model of good and reverent Liturgy. God bless you Fr. Illo.

Anonymous said...

I don't like girl altar boys for no other reason than aesthetic. The Mass should be beautiful and formal. Girl altar boys just don't fit into the formal altar scene.

Girls don't look good wearing male clothes, especially with their hair hanging over the surplices' backs and shoulders, or their pony tails swinging from side to side. They don't look good when playing with their hair while sitting with the priest in the sanctuary.

They don't look good in surplices when their bodies are starting to develop into womanhood. They look ugly wearing heels under their albs. They don't look good towering over altar boys their age.

If girls are really better than boys in doing things during Mass, let them chant the Propers in Latin. That'll kill all ambitions to be girl altar boys.

PBdC said...

Oh good Father Kavanaugh,

You seem very clear with your idea and distinction between "t"radition and "T"radition. Ok. Most people here know that too. And you say that "t"raditions are mostly shaped by culture and historically limited mores than by Divine Revelation. And that you seem to indicate that altar boys are historically conditioned requirement of the Church that needs to be changed since we have a "new" appreciation of the role of women in society.

So tell us good Father Kavanaugh, do women and girls need to be at the altar in order for them to be appreciated? I understand Fr. Allan's dilemma that were he to remove his altar girls, hurt and misunderstandings would ensue. And that is different from insisting on altar girls as A RIGHT AND NECESSITY. So in principle, do we need women in the sanctuary "to recognize the new fangled rights and abilities of women"?

J from Augusta said...

"Would you support a ban on altar girls if it was scientifically proven that it would result in more priestly vocations[?] to which someone (female) simply responded: No!"

Wow...the social agenda means more than Christ. More than the Mass, confessional absolution, Last Rites… In other words, to this responder, she'd rather see *fewer* Masses celebrated; fewer sins absolved; fewer of the dying passing away in the peace of Christ….if it means her precious baby grrrrl can't be 'one of the guys' fumbling with cruets and incense boats in front of a crowd who doesn't know her by name and wouldn't likely notice if she weren't there.

Let that sink in folks: To many of our 'c'atholic brothers and sisters, GIRLPOWER is more important than Jesus Christ in our midst as an Alter Christus. And I believe that you could explain it in *exactly* those terms and she'd still answer the same way.

"I would like to see the design of the study that might prove 'scientifically'…"

It's irrelevant, Father, whether or not one could actually be produced: You heard the lady (and I think she is the voice of many)--she doesn't care what you can proooove with your 'science'; she'd rather there were fewer of your types around if it meant her baby had take a pew during Mass.

"The recognition of the rights and abilities of women is a new-fangled thing, indeed."

Hahhahaha…what? See that's the problem with Social Justice Warriors: It's always 1960. I mean, what world do *you* live in? No disrespect, Father, but seriously…it's been GIRLPOWER in the Church and in the West for more than half a century now---the suffragette movement got underway right after slavery ended and has seriously been ramped-upped since the 1970s. We are now generations upon generations removed from anything resembling a 'patriarchal' society that we don't know them when we see them--hence our society's blind spots regarding truly diabolical misogyny among Muslims, for example. So yeah…you can keep on pretending like we JUST got out of Eisenhower's America, but sayin it doesn't make it true.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh at the EF of the Mass there are no altar girls and, relative to numbers, it is likely that the number of vocations to the priesthood are increasing more so than from the OF of the Mass.

Certainly this is the case in France where I read that there are only 14,000 diocesean priests - half of whom are over the age of 75. Some priests have to look after 50 parishes. However the traditional seminaries are full and by 2050 statistics show there will be more priests ordained to offer the EF Mass in France than the OF of the Mass. See Fr Ray Blake's report.

I think on the other hand altar girls lead to a push for women priets and why are priests feeding the hungry ambitions of mothers pushing their daughters in that direction?

I think the answer is simple: unfortunately, numbers are declining in the parishes and so priests - having got themselves into the position of allowing altar girls - are reluctant to pull back for fear of losing some of their remaining parishioners.

As for fostering women priests, I think, I am sure if the altar girls are questioned they will have ideas of being future women priests.

Many women are not happy with the situation of altar girls but their views are never asked.

Cardinal Burke is quite right that we need to step back from what has become more of less a feminist takeover of many parishes in the Church.

I am sure that very few will listen - they know best, as they've known for the past 50 years now - and so the rot will continue ...


Daniel said...

Pass me my smelling salts, Scarlett -- there are girls on the altar!

Priestly vocations have been on decline since at least the 1950s. The priest shortage was a topic nationwide in the 1970s and '80s, a long time before we started seeing girls on the altar. I suspect most of the commenters here are too young to know that or too old to remember.

In any case, it makes as much sense to blame the priest shortage on the rise of video games or the designated-hitter rule.

The real reason for the shortage of vocations is staring us in the face, but since nobody has gone there yet, I won't.

And for those who think young boys won't take part in an activity if girls are involved -- what planet does that happen on? Not this one.

Daniel said...

And finally, to harken back to our discussion of the janitor with the wayward wand -- girls on the altar is not the kind of "abuse" we need to be concerned about.

Joseph Johnson said...

In case you're too old to remember, 10 or 11 year old boys oftentimes feel very awkward or even repulsed by having girls around unlike 15 or 16 year old young men who would, typically, feel quite the opposite!

Anonymous said...


I can't help but think that you are an outsider trolling this blog, sticking your fingers in the collective eyes of people who post here, trying to provoke some kind of angry response.

So what is your obvious reason for the vocations shortage that is "staring us in the face"? Celibacy?

If you take a close look at the dioceses that bring in the largest number of vocations per capita, you will find that they are dioceses that lean more toward a traditional sense of orthodoxy, like Lincoln, Nebraska and La Crosse, Wisconsin (former diocese of the Cardinal everyone loves to hate, Burke).

If you want the Catholic Church to become more like protestant churches, look at THOSE numbers. All the mainline protestant churches are on the decline. The more they compromise with the world, the more people walk away from them. The more protestantized Catholic parishes become, the more Catholics walk away from them. And converts? Why would a protestant go to the trouble of becoming a Catholic when there is little or no difference.

J from Augusta seems to understand the problem. There is a current of leadership in the church that will not let go of their Port Huron version of things and they would rather see parishes close and vocations dry up than take the corrective steps that would reverse the decline we are all victims of. And that decline goes deeper than just the loss of vocations.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanaugh said: "The recognition of the rights and abilities of women is a new-fangled thing, indeed."

This needs to be addressed before argument can proceed further. To equate today's applause for female presence in historically male-populated roles while demeaning any female-centric role (motherhood, for one example) is hardly progress. Recognition of the rights and abilities of women is NOT a new-fangled thing. Loss of the complementarity of the sexes is.


Anonymous said...

That last comment from Daniel about girl servers not being the abuse we need to worry about... Well Pope Benedict XVI, for one, would largely disagree with that line of thought. To him, the liturgical situation of the Church, good or bad, is intrinsically connected to the state of the Church as a whole. Obviously, you might, and probably do, disagree with that, but to make a blanket claim denying the importance of liturgical matters is only one way of viewing the matter, and is by no means a position that will be accepted by all.

Gene said...

Steven, Very nicely put.

JusadBellum said...

Fr. K,

it's not that boys are 'kicked out' it's that by just opening the corps to girls, you automatically reduce the available serving slots by 50% or more (I've been to masses where all the servers are girls.)

But here's the thing.... girls are just casually welcomed to serve without fanfare or attention drawn to it. It just happens.

Why couldn't the same be done to restore an all-boy cadre to the altar - no fan fair, no attention, just quietly invite boys to serve and those girls who were serving invite them to become lectors, cantors, and ushers instead rather than servers. Having girls welcome people as greeters is also a great move and at that age girls tend to be less shy than boys anyway.

It's about helping everyone find a place, make use of their talents, and help boys who are not naturally disposed to spirituality to have a front row seat of the Mass and so give them the best chance to listen to that soft quiet calling from the Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

My parish does not allow altar girls and we have had two women in the last two months enter cloistered convents. A third will enter next month. Church militant TV has a great report on how the abuse of altar girls was allowed in the Church

Gene said...

The issue is not whether girl altar servers discourage vocations, or whether it encourages the idea of women Priests, etc. We ought not argue along those lines because it probably cannot be "scientifically" or statistically proven one way or the other. Besides, it misses the point completely…the reason that having girl altar servers is a threat to the Church is that it is counter to the male Priesthood established by the Children of Israel and by Jesus Christ and the Church. It is the lowest kind of pandering to popular fads, modernist notions of feminine "equality," and Leftist egalitarian ideology. It was a mistake, is one now, and will remain one as long as it exists.

John Nolan said...

Fr AJM gives the impression that he doesn't like girls in the sanctuary but won't dispense with them (which he is perfectly entitled to do) because they would have 'broken hearts'. Were they all heartbroken before 1994? Are they heartbroken now when told they may not serve the EF?

A London parish which decided to move in a more traditional direction did not sack its girl servers; it simply didn't recruit any more. Within a few short years the girls left to go to university or whatever and the parish now has an all-male body of servers.

Anonymous said...

Ever since the "serpent" allegedly tempted Eve and she allegedly tempted Adam, who screwed up and ate the apple, men have been blaming their screw-ups on women.

The Church is run by MEN...always has been. The problems of the Church....ALL of them, were created by MEN. Blaming them on altar girls is like blaming the collapse of Lehman Brothers on the women who came in at night and cleaned the offices.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

J from Augusta - I was responding to Fr. Estabrook's question which suggested that it might be possible to proooooove that restricting altar serving to boys only would result in more viocations. SO it's not "my science."

Also, the emergence of women into their rightful place in society is new fangled. In the world *I* live in, it was 1890 before women could vote in any state - thank you Wyoming for leading the way. It was not until 1920 that the right of women to vote was recognized for national elections. No woman sat on the Supreme Court until Justice O'Connor in 1981, and no woman headed a Fortune 500 company until Katherine Graham became CEO of the Washington Post in 1972.

Yes, it is a new fangled thing.

Anon - No, women don't need to be on the altar to be appreciated. I never suggested such. Also, I never insisted that anyone has a "right" to be an altar server. I can imagine that there are situations where a priest with some physical disability may require the assistance of an altar server of one gender or the other, so in that case it may be a "necessity."

Steven - I disagree. For FAR too long we relegated women to roles of servitude and dependency. Recognizing there abilities in areas other than motherhood does not, ipso facto, demean motherhood. Unless you think that being anything other than a mother is demeaning to women or to motherhood.

Jusad - I, too, have been to masses where there are only girls serving. Why only girls? Because the boys 1) didn't show up when assigned, or 2) never signed up in the first place. The boys were not excluded by the presence of girls.

JusadBellum said...

Fr. K, your quip about boys not showing up proves our point - it became common knowledge that the girls would be there so the boys absented themselves.

There was no culture of encouragement and making it special for boys. Having to do something with girls at that age will make many boys naturally decline.

In any event, if the Holy Spirit does call any boy from that parish, will he listen? Will he attend Mass?

The thing is, we acknowledge there's a desperate vocational shortage of priests. We acknowledge there is a huge demographic wave of retirements coming in the next 10 years as enormous numbers of priests in their 60s and 70s retire.

We pay lip service to praying for vocations. We spend ALOT on vocational recruitment, on youth retreats, pilgrimages, Scouts - all factors that the CARA survey of ordained priests point to as factors in their discernment process.....EXCEPT the one single largest factor which was service at the altar!

And it costs us nothing that we're not already paying now! As all us lay people are pointing - it's a trifle to phase out girls and phase in boys. It's a trifle to invite girls to another type of perfectly valid and public service (usher, greeter, lector, cantor).

It's so Darn easy, so Darn quick, costs nothing..... why NOT JUST TRY IT? Why the stubborn, almost ideologically blinkered insistence that we must have girls at all costs?

Anonymous said...

Right to vote, Supreme Court Justice, CEOs, etc - none of these positions mean that men have any more respect for women than prior generations. I would in fact argue the opposite, and abortion, contraception, and the destruction of the family attests to that. I do believe that men (as a generalization of the present day working age man) have abandoned the self-sacrificial role of manhood. The result of this is that men pawn off on women much of the work that is rightly the man's - and women are all too often willing to do it rather than push back. Many women I know have successful careers but would much rather spend more time with the kids. That is less and less possible with the feedback loop of the above as well as the changing economic environment due to more women working. Women holding public office in society does not mean that men respect them more. Men used to provide women the opportunity to be shielded from the grind, not because we believe they are too weak or stupid to handle it, but out of love and respect, and a sense of responsibility. My wife would be a stellar CEO. I work hard, not to keep her locked away from public life, but so that she is able to do that which is according to her nature - to nurture, raise, and educate our children, assist in the community, and to avoid the constant rending that is splitting loyalty to two lives (work and home). These are activities for which she has a significant and designed comparative competency advantage. She can also drive and open her own door, too. Perhaps I do those things to keep her servile and dependent or perhaps it is out of a sense of love and protection (something Adam's fall gave us a chance to rethink). This idea of women's liberation is nothing more than men's liberation in disguise.

I hope and pray that my daughters never have to be supreme court justices, CEOs, or presidents because I hope and pray that men in that day are better.


Anonymous said...

Jusad and Anon, please read my 3:05 post. Unlike yours, it's brief and to the point. Y'all write sooo long. My A.D.D. eyes start to glaze over after about 100 words.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jusad - "Common knowledge" seems to me just another way of saying, "Well, everybody knows that..."

I don't know why serving at the altar is or ought to be special for boys and not girls.

I don't agree at all that "we pay lip service to praying for vocations." (I hope the pun was intended!) My prayers and the prayers of the people in this parish are sincere. Prayers are also effective, in God's good time.

Again, having girl altar servers does not prevent a single boy from signing up and showing up. And again, if the boy is not willing to serve when there are girls serving, then I probably don't want him on the altar in the first place.

Steven - I think women can and do exhibit an exceptional level of self-sacrifice, possibly more than men.

Many women are not interested in being "shielded from the grind." Many women would say that, since men escape the duties of much of day-to-day parenting by "escaping" to the office, it is MEN who are escaping the real grind.

Not a few women are better at jobs formerly held only by men. There's nothing innately better about a women in any occupation, but the fact is, many women accomplish the work more efficiently and effectively.

I believe that leadership - industrial, corporate, political, etc - is also a woman's, "according to her nature." What is unnatural is trying to deny thins and to keep women from doing what they are entirely capable of doing because of their gender.

I hope and pray that if your daughters desire to be and have the ability to be Justices on the Supreme Court, CEO's, or presidents, that that is exactly what they will achieve.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder if I had been allowed to be an Altar Server growing up, if I would have experienced more connection to the Church, ...and thus been better armed to say to no to influences/people who pulled me away...for 25+ years.

The key is probably providing young people a sense of personal connection..either within a devout househhold, roles in the parish, etc. As well as clear and strong Catechesis that starts early and continues on past Confirmation.

I think this probably holds true for young males also.

I know of one man who resisted being an Altar Boy because he didn't want to be a priest.

Today he is a priest. And a fine one at that!

Anon Female.

Gene said...

Don't ya'll forget that Kavanaugh is an expert on women…he told us so himself…LOL! He also has a heavenly singing voice (he told us that, too), majored in Biology (which makes him an expert on global warming), an has read at least two anthologies of philosophy. We are talking a real Renaissance man here...

PBdC said...

Oh good Father Kavanaugh,

You said,
1) Women need not be at the altar to be appreciated (although you said quite a similar thing when arguing about changing traditional practice regarding altar boys "the recognition of the rights and the abilities of women is a new fangled thing")

2) "I never insisted that anyone has a right to be an altar server"

3) "there are situations... such as a priest with physical disability which... (may be of) necessity."

So it seems your argument for altar girls is just one of utility and necessity in sige situations. So tell me, good Father Kavanaugh.

Would you remove your altar girls if there are sufficient number of boys who will serve?

Would you stop calling on women to serve at the sanctuary if the priest is perfectly healthy and/or there are a sufficient number males who can do the serving?

And unless you are an ideologue mouthpiece for liberal feminist agenda, would you conform yourself now to traditional practice of altar boys only knowing that the original concession for altar girls discouraged use of altar girls and encouraged retaining traditional practice?

Don't tell me you know about this last point, Father. Because if you say you do not know, or if you pretend you do not know, I really get the impression that you are really a one sided propagandist whose only interest is to push for your "ideological rights of women".

Daniel said...

Although I am not a priest and never felt the calling, I would imagine it is a powerful and irresistible pull from God. I doubt God lets any of His young priests get away because there are girl altar servers. Give Him some credit!

Anonymous said...

Ever since it began, the Church has been run by....MEN.

If the Church is starting to fade, it's because of what MEN did or did not do. Altar girls didn't mess it up. Nuns didn't mess it up.


Daniel said...

quicumquevult,I am gratified tht you agree with me that Pope Benedict focused almost entirely on pharisaical letter-of-the-law issues as opposed to tending the flock and such minor concerns as preventimg abuse (real abuse, not girls on the altar). Pretty much the entire world noticed that as well. Obviously, you and I will agree to disagree on whether that was a good thing, or healthy for the church. But last time I checked, Benedict, bless his soul, was no longer on the job. There may be a connection.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if young boys - say age 10 onwards - are allowed to get away with being "put off" by sharing altar server duties with girls, they are not going to grow up to be suitable candidates for priesthood anyway. Their mind-set would be inculcated from an early age and they will expect to carry on with excluding females from ministry.

Gene said...

Anonymous, I do not agree with you, but your post does call to mind what my wife says when I or one of my friends does something stupid, "It is because of that birth defect between your legs."

Daniel said...

Throughout this thread, there is a fear of women, a disrespect, a distaste and glimpses of odd personal tastes and "issues" (They don't look good on the altar, with their ponytails and high heels).
I believe in another post, Father rightly called it "misogyny." There is lots of commentary from people who do not seem to have spent a lot of time around women and, if so, did not find it comfortable.
People certainly have the right to their opinions, but not to infect the church with it.
And as a parent, it troubles me to lay that upon the children of the parish.

Daniel said...

If you have been a parent of middle- or high-school kids, you will see how easily kids of all kinds mix in clubs, teams, activities, band and chorus, etc, if the adults set the proper tone.
Are the angry old men here afraid that boys and girls won't work together on the altar -- or afraid that they will?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - No, I never claimed to be an expert on women. That's another of your lies.

Yes, I majored in biology, but I never claimed to be an expert on climate change. Note: It's called climate change, not "global warming." That background gives me a better understanding of how science works than those who have no such background.

No, I never read two anthologies of philosophy. I minored in philosophy and was chosen to be a member of Phi Sigma Tau, the National Honor Society in Philosophy.

I can't wait to see what you make up next...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

PBdC - Yes, the recognition of the talents and abilities of women is a new fangled thing in our culture. I didn't say of suggest that girls have to be altar servers to be appreciated.

No, I do not argue for altar girls for merely practical reasons. No, I would not prevent girls from serving if there were enough boys to fill the role. No, I would "stop calling" girls to serve if the priest were healthy.

No, I would not stop having girls as altar servers because the rules once forbade their providing that service. Nor would I stop women from voting because the rules once forbade their doing so.

Anonymous said...

After more than fifty comments in this thread, I’m left wondering what’s to be gained by such discussions. The gap between those for whom the Mass is focused on worship of a transcendent God, and those for whom it is focused on social and communal concerns, seems too great to bridge by sincere exchange of views. Unfortunately, this appears to be true of the whole Church, which is split from top to bottom by a veritable internal schism of which the relatively superficial issue of altar servers is merely a symptom. Most of us surely hope this schism does not become a formal split like the Orthodox schism. On the other hand, some may fear for the future of a Church dominated by those whose beliefs are no longer those of the Catholic Church of history, and wonder how the simple belief in the indestructibility of the Faith that many grew up with must be nuanced in a more complicated and troubled time like ours now.

Anonymous said...

Daniel says: "People certainly have the right to their opinions, but not to infect the church with it."

Yours included, Daniel? (just a little funny there, no offense intended, good sir)

Our family was asked some ten years ago if our girls would serve at the Altar. We politely declined because our thinking was that their service at the Altar *may* discourage a boy from possibly serving and thus possibly inhibiting a potential vocation to the priesthood. They looked at us as if we had green eyes and two heads!

Our daughters were *not* disgruntled or disappointed in the least. They did not feel they were "hated" because of their gender. They build up Christ's Kingdom in other ways. They understand that vocations to the ministerial priesthood are a necessity for Holy Mother Church and we as laymen should do everything we can to foster those vocations as well.

Our youngest three are boys. One is a "Junior Emcee" and the youngest will be serving next year as a fifth grader (he "plays" priest at home).

71% of the priests serving in active ministry in the U.S. served at the Altar of Sacrifice as Altar boys.

It is not rocket science.

Catechist Kev

WSquared said...

I like your idea in terms of putting the emphasis on former altar girls elsewhere, Father. I am fine with altar boys only or with altar girls-- my primary desire is for more priests; if both girls and boys serve at the altar, I don't see why they can't wear different garb: the alb for girls, cassock and surplice for boys.

At the risk of sounding like I'm saying that women and girls should "know their place," we should know that a very crucial lay role is waiting for us women to take up. And I don't mean "being seen and not heard," or "staying home to have baby after baby," neither of which the Church teaches.

Women are mothers to a hurting, fallen world, regardless of whether we have children of our own, and perhaps especially if/when we do: my stress is on the spiritual, and not just the material/biological, dimension of motherhood-- which virginity and celibacy make clear.

I am on board with Ephesians 5's stress on complementarity and mutual submission of men and women and husbands and wives in public and in private. I have little use or patience for misogyny, or men who think that women should cater to or bow down to insecurities that they refuse to do anything constructive about. I have also stressed here and elsewhere many times that I have just as little use or patience for radical feminism.

I have mp problem submitting to a man who can lay down his life as he's supposed to, like St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI (it was B16 who made submission palpable for me: the average male, Catholic or not, be he a neanderthal or a namby-pamby, is a disgrace). Submission, as Joseph Ratzinger once wrote, is to give one's self into the care of another. A man to whom a woman submits should also be worthy of that submission, which means that he should also know how to submit-- to Christ, and to receive Him worthily. If men and women have to put each other down or insist that the other conduct themselves with both hands tied behind their backs in order for them to be "strong," then they are not nearly as strong as their posturing would like others to believe, and are wasting everybody's time.

The role of women-- religious and lay-- is to take the Church out into the world, to choose for Christ anywhere and everywhere. So altar girls may not serve at the altar anymore if a bishop told them that they no longer can-- so what? All that means it that women's gifts don't just stay in the sanctuary or sacristy, and that's a good thing. I would argue that a bishop who discourages altar girls actually challenges us to expand our understanding of "Church"-- that "Church" is not just one hour a week in a building on Sundays-- or at least his actions would present us with that opportunity.

Catholic women have an opportunity to mess with people's heads by sticking it to a culture that presumes to have the conversation on Catholicism only on its own terms.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Henry - I don't fall into the gap you describe. Actually, I don't think many here or in the Church do. It is a false dichotomy.

The mass is both the worship of the Triune God and the source of the grace that leads to a transformation of our lives here on earth. That transformation, in turn, leads to the changes needed in our society that ensure that justice is carried out for all.

They are both necessary and they are concurrent.

CCC 1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."138

Footnote 138 is a reference to Eucharisticum Mysterium #6 (Instruction on Eucharistic Worship Sacred Congregation of Rites May 25, 1967) which states:
“The Eucharist both perfectly signifies and wonderfully effects that sharing in God's life and unity of God's People by which the Church exists. It is the summit of both the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and the worship which men offer to Christ and which through him they offer to the Father in the Spirit. Its celebration "is the supreme means by which the faithful come to express in their lives and to manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the true nature of the Church."

Anonymous said...

Fr Kavanaugh,

Do not presume to speak for women anymore.

An actual woman

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, the pertinence to my comment of the unexceptionable quotations you cite does not seem obvious to me.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Actual Woman - I don't believe I have attempted to speak for women. Could you be more specific? Kindly....

Henry - Both quotes refer to the dual nature of the Eucharist. Mass is focused, concurrently, on the worship of the transcendent God AND social/communal concerns. (Sacrifice and Meal) This is the understanding of the Eucharist that I operate with, the one the Church teaches.

CCC 1325 "The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."

"God's action sanctifying the world" speaks to the social/cultural issues that, on this side of the tombstone, we must concern ourselves with.

"...the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.", then, speaks to worship of the transcendent God.

George said...

"quicumquevult,I am gratified tht you agree with me that Pope Benedict focused almost entirely on pharisaical letter-of-the-law issues as opposed to tending the flock and such minor concerns as preventimg abuse (real abuse, not girls on the altar). Pretty much the entire world noticed that as well."

Was such unkind words for the Pope Emeritus really necessary? From everything I've read about him, he focused on doing what he thought was needed and necessary for the Church.
My position as a Catholic is that I defer to an orientation in attitude, that in those things the Holy Father does, he does so with at least the good intention in whatever he does to the end and purpose of benefiting the Church and the faithful and spurring us on to be better Christians.

Daniel said...

I'm surprised that only 71 percent of priests are former altar boys, considering that every church in Christendom, I believe, provides the opportunity to serve. That's much lower than I expect. It means (for the math-challenged), 3 in 10 priests were NOT altar boys. For me, it makes the opposite point of what you probably intended: Becoming an altar boy is not the express lane to the rectory and not the only way to develop vocations. As I said earlier, if the call is strong enough, God and the young man will find the way.

PbDC said...

Father Kavanaugh,

You said, "Yes, the recognition of the talents and abilities of women is a new fangled thing in our culture. I didn't say of suggest that girls have to be altar servers to be appreciated."
-- Then if it is not about the rights and appreciation of women, then why do girls need to be at the altar? If they don't need to be at the altar, and there is a sufficient number of boys to serve, get them out of there, they don't belong there!

No, I do not argue for altar girls for merely practical reasons.

-- So here you contradict yourself. If it is not for merely for practical reasons, then it is really about that feminist issue of rights and abilities (new fangled thing)

No, I would not prevent girls from serving if there were enough boys to fill the role. No, I would "stop calling" girls to serve if the priest were healthy.

No, I would not stop having girls as altar servers because the rules once forbade their providing that service.

-- Ah so, it is now allowed so it is now sound. Is it really about legal positivism (the Church allows it eh?). What about:

1) The Church discourages it: " will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar" Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (PCILT)3, 1994 - See more at:

2) Can we not question now the wisdom and rightfulness of allowing that altar girl thing as against its soundness vis-a-vis the long standing "t"radition of the Church? If your basis for altar girls is merely about legal positivism, (it was an abuse before, now it is "righteous" because it is allowed) BEWARE! Even Hitler made an unrighteous act (the killing of Jews) "righteous" by mere legislative fiat. So no Father, legal positivism is not a very good basis for arguing for the soundness of altar girls. Think again about evil abortion now made legal and "righteous". Think again about the soundness of communion in the hand (hey it is legal, and it is just a "t"radition with a small T!)

3) The route through which altar girls came into the sanctuary was through a rebellious spirit and not oftentimes coming from an issue of women's rights to the sanctuary (similar to your new fangled thing argument). And in a parish where I am in, proponents of altar girls often come very close to the threshold undermining the doctrine on the Catholic priesthood.

Nor would I stop women from voting because the rules once forbade their doing so.
-- Sorry Father, voting rules have nothing to do about altar serving because altar serving as I have insisted and you concurred is NOT ABOUT RECOGNITION OF RIGHTS, which the universal suffrage issue with regard to women was in its essence an issue of equality and rights. So please don't bring the "new fangled thing" argument of yours when talking about altar girls.

(*sigh* seems you are a hardened liberal yourself)

Anonymous said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, I assume that--as I suggested--CCC 1325 is "unexceptionable" in that every serious Catholic accepts it without question or exception.

If so then, a fortiori, it hardly bridges the gap I originally mentioned--in substance, between those who regard our sanctification in and of the world as fruit of our worship of God, and those who regard the improvement of man's condition in the world as the purpose of the liturgy.

Ellen said...

My former parish had altar boys exclusively until about 12 years ago-my son was an altar boy before they started allowing girls to serve. For almost 100 years of exclusive altar boys, the parish (a Polish ethnic parish) fostered one vocation. And he left the priesthood to get married. With the lack of sisters to foster vocations among girls, I see girls serving at the altar as the only chance some may have at being with someone with a religious vocation.

It will be interesting to see if this change in this parish leads to people not just changing parishes, but actually leaving the Catholic Church completely. What we don't need is to give people any more reasons to leave the faith.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Henry - I don't think anyone regards the purpose of the liturgy to be solely the improvement of our condition in the world.

I don't think the gap you propose actually exists. Rather, there is a continuum of understanding/practice in parishes across the country.

I would suggest this is a good thing. It is not necessary that there be uniformity, but that there be unity which can, and is, found in the Church today.

In the United States, we can all be good Americans even if we speak different languages, celebrate Christmas and Easter on different dates, or hang the toilet paper with the leading edge "over" or "under" the roll.

George said...


While there is some data out there that at first glance seems to support the altar server-priestly vocation connection, more in-depth analysis and study is needed. Perhaps such analysis has been (or is) being done. Were those who served as altar boys and subsequently became priests oriented in that direction anyway? How much did serving at the altar have to do with influencing the decision to become a priest? Did it reinforce it? Why do some parishes produce more religious vocations than others(setting aside the difference in size of the parishes)? What kind of families did those who went into the priesthood come from? What influence did a priest role model (parish or other) have on the vocation choice? If it can be demonstrated that there is a definite connection between serving at the altar and priestly vocations then that is something which cannot be ignored.

As far as any connection between girls serving at the altar and any resultant vocations to consecrated religious life, it would be good to look at any data pertinent to that. The need for priests is great and so that must come first.
At any rate, thanks for being a committed Catholic.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think the gap you propose actually exists."

It's manifest right here in this thread on this blog, where different people are speaking at cross purposes on the basis of very different beliefs in faith and liturgy, one person advancing views that seem either irrelevant or wrong-headed to the other. The existence of people between the extremes does not bridge the gap.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Henry - This blog is in no way a true or accurate reflection of the reality of the Church.

99.9% of the people in the pews don't fret about the absence of maniples, whether or not this Sunday is Septugesima or the 4th in Ordinary Time, or whether Bishop Ganswein is a trustworthy reporter of the thoughts of Pope Emeritus B16.

No, the commentary here, especially that which espouses beliefs and actions contrary to the teaching of the Church, is not an reflection of any faith, least of all the Catholic Faith. Rather, it is an expression of anger and frustration. These masquerade as "expressions of faith" when, in fact, they are merely the purging of spleens.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Former PI, Physician heal thyself or recognize a serious case of projection for self-diagnosis! :)

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father, this is YOUR living room, not mine. Your hyperbole, not mine. Your pointless musings about calendars, bishops' thoughts, and beeswax candles, not mine.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Former good PI, you are the one with the pointless musing about beeswax if you will recall--you brought it up. Projection, projection, projection and anger at our good Holy Father Emeritus for allowing all old thing to again become new in the EF.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan - You brought up candle complaints, only to be hoisted on your own petard, remember? Do you still have those fake, non-beeswax candles in your guasi-pseudo-"Benedictine" altar arrangement?

Henry - This blog is completely non-representative of what is of any concern to 99.9%+ of Catholics. It's Fr. McDonald's "living room," so he can bring up whatever he wants. But it is of no concern to the most Catholics.

The trivial disputes about how many times the thurible must be swung, how loud the celebrant's voice should be when praying the Institution Narrative, or whether girl altar servers constitute "napkins" in the sanctuary - these are such non-issues that it isn't even funny.

dbonneville said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh,

"This blog is completely non-representative of what is of any concern to 99.9%+ of is of no concern to the most Catholics."

Sounds like you are finally getting why Fr. McD runs this blog.

But play with your numbers a bit. 80% of Catholics don't attend Mass weekly. 90% believe contraception is OK. Of the 20% that do attend Mass, a small percentage (15% or so) believe everything the Church teaches (see "Young Catholic America" for recent stats).

So when you say this blog is pointless for 99.9 percent of Catholics, you are stating the very problem this blog tries to address.

It sounds like you are a card-carrying "Church of Nice (TM)" member, platinum membership level (includes a year of Fish Wrap)! If not, why are you here commenting like it was important?

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

Contrary to your arrogant clerical assumptions, intelligent lay Catholics are indeed concerned with matters pertaining to the liturgy. Just because they are a captive audience do not assume they are indifferent to music, vesture, the ars celebrandi of the priest, and other things you consider trivial. Some might be (and indeed I have come across them) but they don't constitute 99.9+% or anything like it.

As for this blog (and there are many others like it) its primary concern is with liturgy, which is how the layman encounters the Church and which is supposed to be 'the source and summit of our Christian life'. Just as war in the nuclear age was 'too important to be left to the generals', so liturgy is too important to be left to the liturgists.

Fifteen minutes' drive from where I live there is a small rural (but historic) church where the new parish priest has started offering the old rite of Mass every Sunday - once a month it is sung. It is us, the laity, who make this possible with our support, in particular by providing singers and servers.

This blog allows people to engage in serious discussion without taking themselves too seriously. One could write a dissertation on the maniple (a Eucharistic vestment dating back to the first millennium) but it's only you who seem to be obsessed with it. By the way, you're not alone - many of those who despise the older rites and uses seem to vent their spleen on this innocuous strip of silk; perhaps a psychiatrist could explain it.

What impresses me about a lot of the commentators here is that they can endure excruciatingly bad liturgy week after week and still not lose heart. Their patience will be rewarded, hopefully in this life, undoubtedly in the next.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - And, of course, you count yourself among the "intelligent" lay Catholics. The rest, not so much.

I do not consider "music, vesture, the ars celebrandi of the priest" trivial at all. I do disagree with you on what constitutes quality or appropriateness in these things and, in your view, that makes me a philistine. And you have the temerity to call me "arrogant."

I am not obsessed with maniples, I simply refer to them as a useful example of the inconsequential things that "intelligent lay Catholics" waste time fretting over.

I also do not "despise" the old rites anymore than I despise a Sopwith Camel. However, I would not choose the Camel were I to engage in air to air combat in the 21st century.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

dbonneville - This blog isn't going to convince 99.9% of Catholics that 1) maniples are important, 2) Latin is the better language for celebrating mass than the vernacular, 3) that girl altar servers - "napkins" as some refer to them rather crudely - are a bad idea, or that a host of other non-issues are essentially, or even tangentially, related to salvation.

I drop in here because I like to see and comment on what's going on in Fr. McDonald's living room.

Anonymous said...

A more apt comparison would be abandoning the phalanx in favor of freeform combat at the Battle of Thermopylae.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh,

Does it matter if Protestant converts to Catholicism, in a practical sense, regarding their salvation?

Something seemingly trivial, like a maniple, is in reality connected to humans tinkering with powers and principalities, playing with the keys, etc. Not that the Church does not have power to change this or that incidental, but it has to change in good faith and good conscience.

When men in positions of actual power use manipulation, scheming, and subterfuge to bring about change, it is doomed to failure. I don't think anyone anywhere is really arguing from a a position of "OMG the maniple!" or "OMG altar girls!", but rather, they sense rightly an unholy tinkering, a feigned innovation, a forced change not in accordance with a proper sense of the faith.

The incidentals at hand, a maniple or an altar girl, are just the accidents of the occasion. The same goes for music, vestments, priestly orientation, dancing, puppets, glassware, you name it: the list is long.

Objectively, most parishes are not in simple alignment with SC from VII, and this does not require any gymnastic hermeneutic to figure out. A plain reading will suffice. Anyone can read the first page or two of SC and realize, someone has been doing some unholy tinkering, with a bad conscience, and has foisted it all on the many-times unwitting faithful, because they could get away with it, "it" being the attempt to mold the Church in their own image.

All of this innovation is doomed to failure, just like Iconoclasm or the Gospel of Thomas. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God, and I fear for the souls of the men that engineered this mess, and for those that keep it going for any number of reasons.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Douglas - First, SC was not an implementation document. It is an outline of principles and rationales.

For example, SC 21 says, "21. In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it."

We are given a principle here, not specific marching orders. There are elements of the mass that have been added through the years that, on review, ought to be changed. SC doesn't tell us which ones should be changed or to what extent they should be changed.

Those decisions were left up to others. SC 25: "25. The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from various parts of the world."

Experts on the liturgy and bishops representing the Catholic world were explicitly given the task of revising the texts. They would recommend how the principles might be implemented.

Regarding the use of the vernacular, the task of suggesting how the principles of SC might be implemented was left to "competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22."

So to say that, "...most parishes are not in simple alignment with SC from VII," isn't quite the full picture. The changes suggested by the competent authorities were approved by the Holy See.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Douglas - Then comes the more difficult part of your post. You accuse those who were lawfully given the task of recommending changes to have acted "with a bad conscience." They have, in your view, manipulated, schemed, and used subterfuge to bring about change.

I suspect it is very difficult for you to make that kind of a moral judgment.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh, I suspect most of the commentators here, and most intelligent and informed Catholics would question the judgement and liturgical sensibility of a priest who equates the classic Roman Rite to a long-obsolete aeroplane.

The irony is that the Novus Ordo was designed, like so many modern products, with built-in obsolescence - not my opinion, but the stated intention of those who authored it; I suggest you read Joseph Gelineau on the subject, not to mention the writings of Annibale Bugnini.

dbonneville said...

Fr. K,

Should the use of Latin be maintained? Should it be held in high esteem? Should the Propers be sung? Are clown masses OK? Glass chalices? Can many of the arbitrary changes made really be considered a natural progression that organically flows from the mind of the Church over 2000 years, or were many of them fabricated in an on-the-spot kind of way in a brief period?

Is it true that there were two minds of what do with the pastorally ambiguous SC? Did one school of thought get the upper hand? Did one recent Pope reject one of those mindsets?

First, I'll say that pastoral ambiguity is not a bad thing. It's the freedom to love. It's also the freedom to sin - so we have to be mature in Christ to manage pastoral ambiguity in good faith, both as pastors and those being pastored.

It's obvious there were bad actors in the process that has unfolded over the last 50 years. Some of them, no doubt, acted in bad faith. They had an agenda they pushed through at all cost. Their efforts have nearly destroyed the faith. There are simple numbers to confirm this, from any front you pick.

The ambiguity built into SC played so diabolically well into the hands of those who stood by waiting to grasp power, that those who never would have interpreted SC in a way outside of tradition were simply gobsmacked, and wholly unprepared, for what unfolded in the 70's and 80's.

It's like Dad said "have a good time" to his teenage son left at home for the weekend. His son partied and landed Dad's convertible in the pool. Dad had in mind maybe the son would have extra some video game time. Dad comes home, sees the mess, and is nonplussed.

There is no accusation, in the least, towards the architects of SC and other VII documents. The bad actors acted out in a way that many Council Fathers could never have imagined. It's clear that SC is a beautiful document, a gift to the Church, but one that has not been put into action yet. The reforms of VII have not been implemented yet, according to one recent Pope. A cursory, kindergarten-level reading of some VII documents leave this conclusion inescapable. Unless, of course, one has an agenda and ideological filters to help, ahem, "interpret" what the Fathers "really meant".

If you see a robbery, or an old lady get mugged, you can make a moral judgment with a strong measure of assurance that someone acted in bad faith. If you see a string of robberies and uncover a systematic plot to commit more of them, I'd say a moral judgment is, in good faith, not hard to make. The level of culpability maybe is indeterminate. But some level of guilt is a sure bet.

With the statistical demolition of the faithful on all kinds of measures, it's really impossible not to conclude someone somewhere, with the help of others, have acted in bad faith.

For instance, a priest giving private consultation, or an RCIA teacher preaching that contraception is generally OK - neither of these can do this in good faith. But yet it has happened for 40 years. And 90% of Catholics agree. This means many someones in many places have taught falsely many times. Surely this is not hard to see. How else would they gain so many converts to their ideology? They have been overwhelmingly successful.

So here we are on this blog, talking about the kinds of changes that need to happen.

And if we come back to the maniple or beeswax, we are not really talking about them. We are talking about 10,000 little things that have to be corrected in order to point the ship back in the right direction. 10,000 little things that were moved out of place.

dbonneville said...

It is not hard with a cursory reading of SC to see that the average parish does not look like what it describes. It gave pastoral leeway that was used in a negatively-creative way that was not foreseen. But here is what I believe: all of the bogus innovations will simply perish with use, like the documents of the heretics of the early Church. And when the squatters are done squatting, the next generation will have no interest in their innovations, and we'll see 1) VII finally implemented, and 2) Benedict XVI sainted, and regarded as a prophet who righted wrongs Pius X identified in Modernism, encapsulated in relativism.

It takes no effort to make a judgment about the events of the last 50 years with all the copious and boring data we have to back up the simple thesis that the "smoke of Satan" has indeed has a material, practical, and logical affect on the life of the Church. God save us all!

Lord, have mercy on good and bad actors alike in this saga! And Lord, please, no more altar girls. It's just tacky.

dbonneville said...

Hot of the press, for anyone that still hasn't gotten on the clue bus:

Hopeful Msgr. Pope can set any wayward readers straight.

I think Fr. McDonald would agree with this entirely.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - I did not compare the EF with the Sopwith Camel. I compared the CHOICE to fly a Sopwith Camel into air-to-air combat today with the CHOICE to fly, for example, an F-22 Raptor into combat today.

One might CHOOSE to fly the Camel, but it would not achieve the purpose of air-to-air combat in the 21st century. The CHOICE to fly an elegant, historical, "t"raditional aircraft in combat today would plainly be inappropriate.

I'm sure you agree.

Douglas - How do you know that the people involved in revising the rites, as they were lawfully empowered to do by the highest Church authority, operated "with a bad conscience" and that they have, "manipulated, schemed, and used subterfuge" to bring about change?

Please don't say "I read it" in a book or on the internet.

I have read that the Jesuits were behind the plot to assassinate President Lincoln as a part of their Vatican-directed plan to establish the Pope as the dictator of the United States of America.

I have read that Ronald Wilson Reagan was the antichrist (Each letter of his name has six letters, hence "666"). 'Nuff said.

I have read, very recently, that vaccinations cause autism, mental retardation, dyspepsia, gout, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and frowns.

How do you know the motives of these men? Did Msgr. Charlie Pope tell you this?

Anonymous said...

"but it would not achieve the purpose of air-to-air combat in the 21st century."

Is the spiritual battle really any different? Surely the principalities and powers are no different.

If it is the culture that has changed, European, African, and Asian cultures of any time period were vastly different from each other, and yet the Mass was the same. I wonder if the focus on new tools to fit the "modern times" is a ruse in spiritual warfare.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Stephen - The people are different. The cultures of people are different. The languages and other means of communication are different. The art, music, architecture, medicine, and literature are different.

And the ecclesiology and liturgical theology are different.

Anonymous said...

The people have always been different. The cultures of people have always been different. The languages and other means of communication have always varied widely. The art, music, architecture, medicine, and literature have always varied by culture and period. I take that for granted given that we are discussing a global ministry across centuries. But what changed so drastically in ecclesiology and theology to merit such a shift in emphasis?


Gene said...

Kavanaugh, Catholic liturgical theology is uniform. It does not vary from culture to culture….unless you call fads theology. How is the ecclesiology different? Isn't Catholic dogma uniform with regard to ecclesiology? Catholic Liturgy reflects a very definite Christology…you know Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Stephen - A good, readable presentation on the ecclesiology of Vatican II is "COMMUNIO -
THE KEY TO VATICAN II’S ECCLESIOLOGY" by Cardinal Marc Oulette. If you google that title and name, you'll get it. (15 pages)

Another good read is "The Ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council" by then Cardinal Ratzinger published in the Fall 1986 issue of, you guessed it, COMMUNIO.

The differences in, say, art were not appreciated for a very long time in the Church's thinking. Hence, a neo-Gothic church in Savannah (our cathedral) would be architecturally similar to a neo-Gothic church in Tokyo or Oslo or some other city. Some argue that there is a "style" of architecture that is proper to the Roman liturgy and that, therefore, vernacular forms of architecture in various places around the world should be shunned in favor of the "preferred" style.

I don't think that that notion holds sway any longer, partly - maybe in large part, I'm don't know - to the developments in ecclesiology. How we understand ourselves as a Church (ecclesiology) has an impact on how we build, how we sing, how we vest, how we decorate the interiors of our places of worship.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - Catholic theology evolves over time. See, among others, "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" by John Henry Newman.

CS Lewis: "The very possibility of progress demands that there should be an unchanging element ... the positive historical statements made by Christianity have the power ... of receiving, without intrinsic change, the increasing complexity of meaning which increasing knowledge puts into them."

No, Catholic doctrine is not uniform with regard to ecclesiology. There are "ecclesiologies" that are operative and/or dominant at various times during the history of the Church.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We aren't. Hence, development of doctrine.

Gene said...

Theology may "evolve" over time, but the Christological truths upon which it is based do not. I think that is what Lewis is saying, although I am not completely comfortable with Lewis' Anglican theology. Progressives and liberal theologians love to use the word "evolve." They think it makes them sound smart, plus it opens the door to all kinds of meddling with Scripture and doctrine and allows them to move forward with their sociological agenda for the Church.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh

The three grandest Catholic churches in central London are Westminster Cathedral, the Oratory and St James's (Spanish Place). Architecturally they could not be more different. The Cathedral is neo-Byzantine, the Oratory is Italianate and St James's is English Gothic. All were built between 1884 and 1903. Gregorian Chant is proper to the Roman liturgy but no style of architecture is. Had it not been for the Reformation most Catholic worship in England would take place in buildings dating from the 11th to the 15th centuries which reflect the style of the century in which they were built.

One would not build in the Gothic style today a) because the cost would be prohibitive and b) modern architects do not, in the main, want to copy the styles of the past although they may well take inspiration from them.

Vernacular styles of architecture might be seen in historical buildings - a village church in England is noticeably different from one in France, or one in Austria, or one in Kenya - but as far as modern architecture is concerned all cities look much the same. The only way I could distinguish a street in Tokyo from one in Shanghai would be to look at the traffic - in Tokyo they drive on the left (which is of course the right side) as opposed to the right (which is of course the wrong side).

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - While Catholic liturgical theology is uniform, the practice of Catholic liturgy is not. The theology is enfleshed in a variety of ways.

For example: The Book of the Gospels is given honor in the liturgy. That is the "liturgical theology" that is attached to the Gospels and the book that contains them.

In some places, not all, the book is carried in procession. In some places, not all, the book is adorned with a gold (or fake gold) cover covered with jewels (or fake jewels).

In some African Catholic communities, the Book of the Gospels is carried in procession in a satchel on the back of the book bearer. This symbolizes that the Gospel must be "borne" by believers.

So while the theology is uniform, the ways in which the theology is expressed are not.

dbonneville said...

Fr. K,

Don't say I read it, or anything, in a book? The testimonies and insights of Muggeridge and Von Hildebrand are disqualified now because they are written down? What if I read it on the internet? Does that disqualify it? I read on the internet that Cardinal Kasper said there were deliberate ambiguities in the VII documents. Is he right? But if I read something required by a liberal seminary prof, then it's legit?

I've read about heterodox hippy-era priests that participated in a near iconoclastic purging of images, statues, together with the devotions associated about them, in the 70's. I've read about this, and seen the church buildings. I haven't met anyone that tossed a monstrance in a river, but I've read about things and have seen pictures. I don't doubt the truth of it. Grandma didn't do, that I know for sure.

I've sat through hippy-dippy 12-string guitar masses first hand, with a room full of classmates rolling their collective eyes, and saying things after like "he's just trying to be cool". Does that count? Folk music is not a rupture from Gregorian chant? Doesn't SC call for more, and not less, Gregorian chant? How do you read SC and pul out the 12-string? Sin is involved. It's a missing of the mark. It's not what was asked for by council Fathers.

The rational of "the culture has changed" was/is just a license for a rock-star-wannabe-priests to try whatever he wants. Need more proof?

See Fr. McD's new post:

There is the smoke of sin in that sanctuary.

Tell us all that you are good with this. Or tell us why you are not. I'd like to hear you put your money where your mouth is. Prove one way or the other why this is good or bad. No platitudes.

As far as properly ordained and commissioned specialists, Johann Tetzel was one of those. A few bad Popes were too. That's a bit like saying because David was king, it was God's will that he knock up Bathsheba. What is your point? David was king. David was also wrong, and he did not escape reaping what he had sewn.

"Catholic theology evolves over time". Very true. But getting a hold of this truth and then running out and trying to force it to happen...that's not too different than trying to force the hand of evolution. It has to happen naturally, with no forced rupture. But let's be clear: there are forceful ruptures, and there are forced ruptures. What we saw in the wake of VII was forced rupture. The hermeneutic of rupture is a complete failure because it can't happen, it did not happen, it can't proceed without sin, without willful, cognizant rejection of some very exact things. We could not possibly be where we are today, in a collapse of the faith, without sinful decisions made by men with the power to enforce with strident militancy. None of this is natural.

Anonymous said...

Fr K wrote: "How we understand ourselves as a Church (ecclesiology) has an impact on how we build, how we sing, how we vest, how we decorate the interiors of our places of worship."

This understanding must be cumulative rather than rewritten by decade. I'm not accusing you of this, just discussing the principle, but I do believe there is an arrogance inherent in the belief that my generation "gets it" or has a better understanding than the previous one. Were that true, we would end up with something whimsical that must be changed to maintain its "newness". Prudence and humility would dictate that perhaps the cumulative wisdom of our predecessors probably had it right. The Backstreet Boys thought they would be timeless too.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Douglas - How do Muggeridge and von Hildebrand know the hearts of the people they accuse of having bad consciences, and that they have, "manipulated, schemed, and used subterfuge" to bring about change?

Simply because an author writes something down doesn't mean that he/she is accurate or factual.

Too often this kind of ad hominem attack sounds like this to me: "I don't like, don't approve of, don't agree with what Person A has done; therefore, Person A must have acted with a bad conscience and must have used manipulation, scheming, and subterfuge to accomplish what they did."

As to the Super Bowl Fiasco mass, I think it's pretty gawd-awful.

I don't agree that we have suffered a "forced rupture." If that were the case, then the mass that is celebrated in 99% of Catholic Churches on Sunday would not be the mass at all.

I don't believe for an instant that the Holy Spirit has defected. I know, as a matter of faith, that that will never happen.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Gene - If you don't like the word "evolve" then use a synonym.

There is no possible way a person who knows the history of Christian doctrine can maintain that is does not develop. The Divinely revealed Truth remains the same, but the way in which that Truth is understood, explained, and taught is constantly under revision.

John Nolan said...


Fr K indulges in special pleading. If you want to know the 1970s mindset he is a good source.

Unfortunately for him and his followers this no longer applies (if indeed it ever did).

It's not pleasant being a dinosaur, so we must sympathize and pray for him and his ilk.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - There's no special pleading going on. I am a natural skeptic, that's all.

Douglas has made an accusation based on what some authors have said.I don't doubt these authors' honesty - I suspect they sincerely believe what they have written. But is there some evidence that the authors he cites are not making the same kind of argument I described at 11:06?

dbonneville said...


The special pleading is disingenuous. The relativism is self-serving and goes exactly nowhere. Literally, numerically, and morally.

Anyone who reads Hildebrand and concludes his work is simply ad hominem, well, I just don't know what to say to that, exactly.

Trying to explain anything to someone that thinks like that is like trying to grasp oil with the hand.

But I'm going grasp one more time. This just in from Rorate in the past couple hours, the last paragraph of an article about the faith in the Netherlands:

"In the Jubilee Year of 2000, Cardinal Simonis, said almost prophetically in an interview with the magazine 3OGiorni, that in the last quarter of the 20th century, there was “more libertinism in the faith, and thus consequently in morals” A libertinism, however, “that leads nowhere since it has no successors. And this can be seen. Those movements and groups that practiced it are actually at rock-bottom, whereas those who stayed with tradition are still nowadays able to attract..."

There is the end game: no successors. Ha! The false version of "theological development" is on full display in the Netherlands, and in the football Mass. I mean, they even picked the wrong team.

Like the false "spirit of VII", inorganic developments and those that espouse them are simply, intrinsically, self-exterminating.

In that light, to all the self-exterminators and their ideas, I say, sally forth!

You know what, I bet a lot of gray-haired clerics know the Traditionalists (of whatever strain) are going to have the last laugh. They know it, they know it, they know it. They know they are going to be out lived by their enemies, and even in that light, they won't capitulate. Talk about stiff-necked.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - What you might say is, "This is how von Hildebrand knew the hearts and minds of the people he accuses of being of bad conscience, and of using manipulation, scheming, and subterfuge" to change the mass.'

Then you would go on to explain the facts in the case.

Absent those facts, Fr. Z, of all people, has some good advice: "It’s difficult and dangerous to extrapolate one man’s anecdotal experiences into something larger than it is."

Anonymous said...

Fr K.

You are looking too granularly at this. This is not "one man's anecdotal experiences". Have you not been in the blogosphere? Have you not read anything by anyone that is not happy with many of the changes and abuses of the last 40 years?

By this same logic, one of Benedict XVI last public teachings is simply "anecdotal experience", where he asserts that there were two councils: one of the Fathers and one of the Media, and that the Media version has dominated the last 50 years, with the real council yet to be implemented. Are these simply and easily dismissed as "anecdotal experiences"? It would be incredulous to just flippantly dismiss that POV.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Douglas - I have read lots and lots and lots in the blogosphere, but that's not what this discussion is about. Nor is this about what Pope Benedict said.

It is specifically about the charges you made about people being of "bad conscience, and of using manipulation, scheming, and subterfuge" to change the mass.

You cite Muggeridge and von Hildebrand as your sources. If these did not "report" anecdotes, then what evidence supports these claims?

Anonymous said...

Fr. K.,

It's hard to believe you are being this obtuse. I can't tell if it's intentional, as if you are just trying to drag out a petty back-and-forth word battle, or if you really don't get that for the Church (lets just stick to the US), post VII, to have gone off the rails on every statistical measure we have records for, sin had to be involved. Pick any few meaningful measures among the US Catholic population you want - they will show a negative trend: contraception, co-habitating, Real Presence, exclusivity of the Catholic faith, etc.

The working thesis here is as follows: the precipitous decline of many key metrics in the US Catholic population intrinsically involves sin.

Is that too much of a stretch for you?

I pointed out Muggeridge and Hildebrand as two sources that you might consider, hopefully, on a higher level than just a blogger tossing out some "anecdotes". Though eye-witness testimony for you seems to reduced to anecdotes in a derogative kind of way.

To say some authorities acted in bad faith is obvious, and impossible to refute. The smoke of Satan entered the Church. Where there is smoke there is fire. You don't have to analyze the aerosol capacity of Pam with a spectrometer determine how a kitchen fire got started. There was grease, there was fire: the house is on fire. Sound the alarm. Or not?

What area of Church statistics are not clear to you? Have you read up on any? Are you aware that 82% of US Catholic do not attend mass? Are you suggesting there is no sin there? Though on the books we know it's a mortal sin? If the people are not in a state of moral sin because of missing Mass, is it likely that there are other areas of mortal sin they might be stuck in?

You cannot, in good conscience, say sin is not involved in the current state of affairs, and that some measure of sin by leaders is near the root of it. It would be a sin. It would be missing the mark. It would be falsifying an objective truth.

Let's say it again: leaders in the truth engaged in rebellious sin, and tried to make the Church in their own image, in bad faith, by rejecting a proper respect for tradition and trampling the consciences of the faithful.

Here: page 163

And this is 10 year old data.

Gene said...

Since Mikey won't capitalize "Mass," I think we should stop capitalizing his name….mikey kavanaugh…that looks better.

Gene said...

Douglas, I am not even sure kavanaugh believes in sin…at least not as it is understood in Catholic theology.

fr. michael j. kavanaugh said...

Douglas - You should know that it is impossible to refute an opinion. That's all you've given be regarding those you and Muggeridge and von Hildebrand accuse of acting in bad conscience and using manipulation, scheming, and subterfuge to harm the Church.

The struggles you cite are real - no one disputes that. These are FACTS that can be measured and reported. The accusations you and others make are OPINIONS that, so far, have no substantive foundation.

I don't agree that the struggles/problems, which can be measured, are attributable to the changes in the mass. This is, I believe, and example of the "Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc" logical fallacy. "A" happened, "B" followed, therefore, "A" caused "B".

If these problems were found only in the Catholic Church you would have the beginnings of evidence for a causal linkage. But the radical individualism that is, I believe, far more responsible for these societal issues, are evidenced across our culture. The problems are society-wide, so that cannot, I don't believe, be related to Church matters.

dbonneville said...

Fr. K.,

You have a perspective that makes sense to you, based on your formation, your overarching narrative, your agenda, and a multitude of legitimate factors.

I, and many others like me, have a different perspective, based equally valid criteria. Truly, it's a matter of perspective.

It is true we can't both be right in an objective sense. We can be "right" in "good conscience" towards what we understand. But we are responsible for gathering the facts, and not turning a blind eye.

It would be easy to design a narrative, and label every fact that challenges it as the product of some other narrative, thereby excluding them from thoughtful consideration. This is an elemental construct of classical polytheism: an attempt to manipulate the powers and principalities in one's favor to affect societal order. But as Paul said, we know that this tinkering is demonic.

No matter how the facts are presented, you have a mechanism that, from your perspective, dilutes or disables them in your favor. But that would only be in your mind. The ultimate truth, which is knowable, doesn't yield to interpretive narratives. It stands fast regardless of our comprehension, and it is knowable in most cases.

The liberal mindset has all it's chips on this interpretive narrative mechanism. All "truths" are rendered equal because, as it presupposes, we can't really know the ultimate truth. This gives rise to the pastoral approach to all dogma. "The people can't understand this". But that is not fact, it is a narrative presupposition. From my perspective, that is a lie based on an agenda. It's required, and cannot be abandoned at any cost.

This kind of flattening-of-the-truth psychological and philosophical mechanism is like magic talisman in the minds of liberals. With it, they can win every argument :)

It is the cornerstone of Hegelian dialectic. But the way out of this sticky-like-molasses dialogue is biological, on the whole. Everyone that subscribes to the liberal narrative will either die in it, or have a change of heart.

A change of heart is only possible when one considers that their narrative, if they are able to see it, was self-elected, and that it's possible to let it go. This means not only letting go of the agenda that intrinsically pours forth from it, but more deeply, the personal identity associated with it.

It takes a complete and utter metanoia, a change of mind, to "repent" of a worldview.

What will rid the world of the "spirit of VII"? Death, or the deep kind of repentance described above.

"Radical individualism" = "Not my hermeneutic of

No, the problem is polytheism, like it has always been. It just has fresh lipstick and new dress.

dbonneville said...

To further what I just mentioned, especially about polytheism (presented today as neo-paganism), this was just published at Rorate:

"During the Synod there had been moments of obvious manipulation on the part of some clerics who held key positions in the editorial and governing structure of the Synod. The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem) was clearly a prefabricated text with no reference to the actual statements of the Synod fathers. In the sections on homosexuality, sexuality and “divorced and remarried” with their admittance to the sacraments the text represents a radical neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope..."

So in one fell swoop we get people acting consciously in bad faith by inserting things they knew had not been discussed which had to be a sin on some level, manipulation, and paganism.

And this is why, among other things, we need to phase out altar girls :)

If you can't connect the dots, get some metanoia going!

Thanks for reading - on to other great Fr. McD. posts...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Douglas - A general may, in combat, give an order that, upon completion, results in heavy losses for his side in the battle. An investment counselor may, in offering advice to a client, encourage him/her to purchase a stock that, after some period of time, becomes worthless.

One cannot assume, from the outcome of the order or investment advice, that the general and/or the counselor acted in bad conscience. They both may have acted in all good faith, giving orders/advice that they sincerely believed to be sound.

I think that you are assuming that the people who developed the revised rituals acted in bad conscience because you believe the changes have led directly to the "collapse of faith" among Catholics. I don't agree with that line of thinking. There are a host of causes for the difficulties we are facing, many of them being external to the Church.

I, a liberal, don't consider all truths to be equal nor do I think that it is not possible to know ultimate truth with certainty.

As to "facts" - you have not yet presented any regarding your assumption that the ritual revisers acted in bad conscience - that they intended to do what they knew was wrong or evil.

This is not a matter of my worldview, but a matter of whether accusations you make are based on more than assumptions and anecdotes.

Lastly, I appreciate your willingness to engage in this exchange without (much) rancor. Thanks.