Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Differing opinions

Father Jim weighs in on the news out of the Diocese of Arlington:

What's liturgically untraditional isn't so much the sex of the server, as the fact that both the altar servers and the lectors are specifically and unambiguously *lay* ministries in the Novus Ordo, as opposed to clerical roles as they had always been before. That's the reason that altar boys dress up like little clerics (chierichetti, as they're called in Italian) in cassocks and surplices -- they're "disguised" as the minor clergy for whom they substituted. Traditionalists will recognize this in the way we "dress up" a seminarian (or, in necessity, even a pious layman) as a subdeacon for High Mass in the Old Rite, even though he's not been ordained as such yet. In the Old Rite, if you have a liturgical function on the priest's side of the altar rail, you dress as a cleric because it's presumed that you are a cleric (even if you really aren't). The New Rite doesn't presume that at all. I wish it did, but there's no use in pretending as if that didn't change. Once Pope Paul VI disconnected those liturgical ministries from the domain of the clergy, where they had always been before, I think it was inevitable that the Novus Ordo would have women washing the priest's fingers and men in neckties reading the Epistle. Which is why I'm not really bothered by the fact that there will be altar girls in some parishes of the diocese now. In fact, if that's the price of the two "Tridentine" Masses, I think it's quite a bargain.

Arlington diocese resident Mattias doesn't think the price is worth it:

Today, however, at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, VA, Loverde gathered his priests for their annual priest retreat during lent. He had some news. For now forward at the discretion of pastors—in consultation with their parish counsels and parochial vicars, something NEVER required by cannon law—they may permit altar girls. No obligation of course. For now. Oh yes, and two parishes in the diocese, just two, may have the pre-1962 Mass.

The timing is questionable: Why the middle of Lent? The Church's liturgical year starts the first week of December during Advent. And why just wait until after your big fundraising push of the year? Don't you know such deception can be considered negligent out in the real world, let alone quite deceptive before your flock? Of course, you will cite the women who clamored for it. Or the little girls who all will be inspired to be nuns because of it. Show me the statistics that vocations for women have increased since altar girls were allowed in 1994? Show me the women that are upset. And I'll remind them the priesthood is a path to service not to power.

Both posts raise points. Check them both out in full.

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