Thursday, January 09, 2014

Who guards the altar?

The altar at the old Jesuit noviate of 
St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, taken from 
the space behind the grille where women 
could attend Mass there in the old days.
PrayTell has a lively conversation going on about the newly established Guardians of the Altar at Trenton's cathedral.  A lot of the conversation threads around restricting the ministry of altar server to males.  It's a "corrective" someone notes.  Someone else quotes the Vatican statement on the matter, which it respects  "the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations.  Thus the obligation to support such groups of altar boys will always continue."  [Congregation for Divine Worship on female altar servers]

I waded into the conversation (with a bit of trepidation) with this comment:

"Despite the statement that it is well known that altar serving develops priestly vocations, it is worth noting, I think, that the data from the US is not clear about the connection between priestly vocations and serving at the altar.  Two thirds of newly ordained priests report having been an altar server, but without any comparison data (What percentage of priestly vocations can be attributed to serving in a parish/diocese which forbids women to do so? What percentage of men — or women — marrying in the Church were altar servers? and in the future, what percentage of priests will report have had a mother who was an altar server?) it really doesn't answer the question of whether restricting the ministry to males serves the Church — the Body of Christ — well one way or the other.

Saying the rosary, participating in Eucharistic adoration are equally strongly correlated to becoming a priest, but we hear no arguments are restricting these practices to males."

Perhaps not surprisingly, given my own reflection of the Gospel of John, my favorite comment of all is this one:
"And then, if they are really interested in having something “special” for the boys only, they could perhaps institute something like an all-male cleaning squad to inspire those young men to follow the path of Jesus in the true spirit of humility and service.  
Which incidentally reminds of this “classic Bergoglio story”: After becoming archbishop he was invited to have dinner at the seminary, and the rector asked if he wanted to say something to the seminarians. Bergoglio proceeded to say, “I’ll wash the plates tonight.” After that… it became fashionable for faculty to clean their own dishes."  Elizabeth Ahn

1 comment:

  1. It makes me sad to see this happening. I understand the push back from "too much" progress, but it still makes me sad.