How I Navigate Liturgical Issues

My entire approach to liturgical questions is shockingly simple. Here it is:

Just give me my lines and my blocking. After that, I will remember the wisdom of St. Spencer Tracy, who summed up the craft of acting as follows: “Remember your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.” That’s it. That’s all.

This means that I am blissfully uninterested in critiquing the granular details of what the Church opts to do in the liturgy. I have this nutty idea that when the Pope and the local ordinary binds something, it’s bound, and when they loose something, it’s loosed.

So, for instance, if I want to know what the Church thinks about female altar servers, I don’t go to websites, YouTwitFace, or comboxes. I turn to what actual popes and bishops (aka the shepherds and teachers of the Church given to us by God) say.

And wouldn’t you know it, they say rather a lot. So, for instance, we discover that the Holy Father authorized altar girls, not kicking and screaming, nor out of a nefarious plot to castrate, feminize and destroy the Church, but eagerly and of his own free will. Indeed, he seemed to have the notion that women have something to offer the Church and that feminine gifts may actually enrich, not impoverish, the Church:

“This is the way to be courageously taken. To a large extent, it is a question of making full use of the ample room for a lay and feminine presence recognized by the Church’s law. I am thinking, for example, of … the forms of liturgical ministry permitted, including service at the altar …. Who can imagine the great advantages to pastoral care and the new beauty that the Church’s face will assume, when the feminine genius is fully involved in the various areas of her life?”

Not only that, the 1987 Synod on the Laity taught that

“without discrimination women should be participants in the life of the Church and also in consultation and the process of coming to decisions” (Propositio 47; cf. Christifideles laici, n. 51).

2. This is the way to be courageously taken. To a large extent, it is a question of making full use of the ample room for a lay and feminine presence recognized by the Church’s law. I am thinking, for example, of theological teaching, the forms of liturgical ministry permitted, including service at the altar, pastoral and administrative councils, Diocesan Synods and Particular Councils, various ecclesial institutions, curias, and ecclesiastical tribunals, many pastoral activities, including the new forms of participation in the care of parishes when there is a shortage of clergy, except for those tasks that belong properly to the priest. Who can imagine the great advantages to pastoral care and the new beauty that the Church’s face will assume, when the feminine genius is fully involved in the various areas of her life?

In short, the Church’s actual teachers say that, among other things, “service at the altar” by women is just ducky.

Now being the boot-licking Magisterial toady I am, I therefore choose to scandalously listen to what the Church actually says through its actual real teachers and to therefore serenely Not Care about the burning matter of female altar servers. Peter sez they are fine. Power of the Keys. Ergo, fine by me. Blessed Peace.

I can even consider the possibility that if I try trusting the Church to teach about girl altar servers, I might actually learn something new, challenging, and life-giving. It’s liberating to believe that Christ keeps his promises to the Church in the whole binding and loosing department.

Laudamus Te
To My Partners in Evil, Patrick Coffin and Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Summorum Pontificum...
Where Fr. Z Shines

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