Girl Altar Servers?

This article on ‘What I Say to My Altar Servers’ posted at InsideCatholic has led to a combox storm over girl altar servers v. boy altar servers. So what do I think?

I think having only boy altar servers is best. Here’s why: boys and girls like to do things separately. When I asked the girls at St Joseph’s High School if they wanted to be altar servers they said, “No, father, we don’t have to do everything with the boys. We’re happy for them to be altar servers and not us.” It was their feminist grandmothers who wrote me the letters complaining when we switched to all boy altar servers. Boys and girls like to do things separately because their sexuality (like everything else about them) is in development. Boys doing things with other boys and men help them to become men. Girls doing things with other girls and women help them to become women.

A second reason why I prefer all boy altar servers is that they (and everyone else) associate in their minds that the sanctuary and the altar are the preserve of the priest and deacons, and that the church teaches that this is a masculine role, and therefore reserved to men.  Boys serving Mass supports the teaching of the church in this way, and it helps to form vocations early. The feminization of Christianity has been like an unstoppable juggernaut hurtling through our tradition and boy only altar servers helps to put the brakes on that. To speak plainly: religion seems girly enough already, and it’s nice to have some roles that only the women do and some that only the men do.

However, that being said, girl altar servers are permitted. In my parish we have girl altar servers, and they do a good job, and I’m proud of them. They were in place and doing a good job before I got here and I wasn’t about to fire all of them just because of my own preferences. 

The way we handle the situation here is to observe certain over-riding principles about the relationship of the sexes that are Catholic and which avoid an easy secular uniformity egalitarianism. Therefore, the boys and girls serve at different Masses. All boys for one Mass. All girls for the other Mass. Also, they dress differently. No unisex robes. Instead the boys wear cassock and surplice. The girls wear cassock albs. There is a dress code for boys and girls–no sneakers, no chewing gum, hair neat and tidy etc.

At school, where we do not have girl altar servers I make sure there are plenty of roles for the girls within the worship life of the school. Girls are the ushers, lectors and sacristans, while boys set up for Mass and serve at Mass.

I think it is possible for boys and girls to serve at Mass in different, but equal ways, and that this helps them to learn the complementary nature of gender, and to understand how this all fits together within the life of the church and the family.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17915066381658225713 Rachel Bostwick

    That is wonderful. Thoughtful and well-done.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01678341854029479678 Old Bob

    Thank you, Father!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17437769524164651907 JACK

    This is the best solution to the situation that I have heard yet! Kudos Father!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17691145638703824456 kkollwitz

    My daughters understood this and were happy for their brothers to serve.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14873681229902155435 Brother

    Brilliant!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10290672817881622332 mccormack

    In the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus it was women who were at the foot of the cross. Why should not they serve at the altar ? Your argument, if taken to its logical conclusion, is also an argument against girl lectors, ushers, and sacristans, for boys do these as well. If they don't want to do things with the boys, then maybe separate Masses for the sexes ? separate religions ? Given the closeness of Mary to Jesus, I am very uncomfortable with banishing women from the sanctuary. I think the distinction has to be made between priest and servers. Alter servers are neither priests nor priests in training. Is there any evidence to suggest that having only male alter servers results in more vocations and if there were would that be sufficient justification to prevent girls from serving ? There are many instances in the Bible of women serving the community of Jesus and his disciples.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11526551230663069005 Irenaeus G. Saintonge

    I agree with you mostly, Fr., but I'm not so sure about female readers either. Isn't it true that the preference is for specifically installed lectors, then 'extraordinary' readers if no lectors are present? Since women can't be installed as lectors either, it seems somewhat inappropriate to me to allow them to be readers in the absence of lectors.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04028697040893246669 Mary F

    Well said father. I wish that were the practice at parish's in my area. Our former parish in Ohio had all male altar servers and there were plenty available. I saw a picture of a recent pass at a parish and there were 3 female altar servers and one male. Given the grades given for the student I would not be surprised if the parish has mostly girl altar servers due to it being seen as a "girl" thing. My daughter will not be a servette. It would be an interesting study to look at vocations in parish's that have all male altar servers. I know of word of mouth accounts indicating it does help encourage vocations. An even more important reason for having all male altar servers is to just reinforce that boys do have a valued place in church, due to the feminization of so many aspects of church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01840883223560338540 Gregory

    So I said to her: "I thought the 'wimmins movement' (I did the apostrophe fingers) was all about elevating females above the level of service, servants, servility – especially of men – and so forth. Why on earth would you clamour for young girls to be thrust into a mere service role and dressed accordingly, thus risking her perhaps developing a subservient mindset that might shape her entire life?"You know, sometimes you can almost see the "actually, though I hate to admit it, he might have a point now I come to think of it" mental-cogs whirring around in someone's head.Anyway, I'm still awaiting her response. This was about 1997…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00567101757750678643 Joel

    Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Priests on Holy Thursday in 2004:'In the light of this, dear brother priests, I would ask you, among other initiatives, to show special care for altar servers, who represent a kind of “garden” of priestly vocations. The group of altar servers, under your guidance as part of the parish community, can be given a valuable experience of Christian education and become a kind of pre-seminary.'Observing good priests reverently prepare themselves to say mass and then assisting them in offering the holy sacrifice was one of the greatest inspirations that led me to enter the seminary.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15627951372512284327 Julia

    Hi Father, I both agree and disagree with you. While I do acknowledge and support the theology on the Complementarity of Gifts between the sexes and that men and women both have unique roles within the Church, I do not see the role of altar server being distinctly male. In our parish we have both genders serving along side one another. We have male and female sacristans, lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, ushers and so forth. Our Parish is very vibrant and dynamic and also very reverant, always.I agree that the role of priest is a male role, in the same way that conceiving and bearing a child is woman's role. However, as a previous comment stated, women were present at the foot of the cross and in many cases, women were the first to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ.In the Early Church, the Mass was performed in a woman's home and there was such a position as a Deaconess. Women have an incredibly important role in the continuation and growth of the Church. And it is a role that co-exists and is interdependent with the role of men in the Church.We compliment one another and the Church needs both genders working together to accomplish her mission – to evanglize the world.Pax Christi,Julia

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15654759332682745087 Stella Oriens

    I agree with McCormack – girls shouldn't be lectors either, because this is a role which has (until very recently) always been reserved to men… specifically clerics.Sacristans should really be properly defined (as the man whose job is keeping order in the sacristy, preparing the sacred vestments and caring for the sacred vessels). I don't have any problem with women performing this role (and indeed many perform superbly) though it was also a role long given to clerics.Ushers are a new invention, though they could be loosely connected with the Porter. Given their role is entirely non-liturgical and takes place nowhere near the sanctuary, I don't see how McCormack can argue that Father's logic demands women not perform this role.When looking for New Testament justifications of certain positions one must be careful not to ignore the Old – in Christ't time also women had no service roles in the Temple. Priests were married (but continent during their years of service) and women stayed well outside the Holy Place.Please be careful not to conflate "service to the community" with "sacrifice on behalf of the community", since the former is open to all (priest and laity alike) but the latter is the exclusive domain of the Liturgy, which is the clearly the domain of men.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15654759332682745087 Stella Oriens

    In discussing the sacristan I forgot to mention that under that name people often conflate the management of the sacristy (as I described) and the care (laundering, repair) of sacred vestments and vessels.In larger churches (cathedrals, monasteries) the sacristan was generally a priest and vestments were usually sent to nuns for repairs. In smaller churches however, this was often entrusted to the women of the parish (for reasons of convenience, cost). Given this example, I think girls can be given a very positive role that brings them closer to the liturgical life of the sanctuary without having them step into it.Why not revive the Altar Guilds of old, and ask the women of the parish to teach their daughters how to care for the liturgical linens? Angelus Press has an excellent (and cheap) booklet on just the subject. They're affiliated with the SSPX, but that has no impact on the quality of the booklet itself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08128307573411627111 Laura

    Thanks for your thoughtfulness on this subject. I like the way the servers in your parish dress differently; a good solution to an awkward inheritance. As a 50 year old woman (and former Navy doctor), the concept of female alter servers never made sense as this role is in preparation for the clerical roles most properly understood. I think women can serve well in many other places. An excellent sacrastan, well kept purificators, well-prepared meals (and, thus content stomachs and minds ready to learn) and well-catechized youth are all essential aspects of our Christian community. All roles done for the love of Christ and the love of neighbor are important!

  • https://openid.aol.com/opaque/d0eb31e0-63e6-11e0-ba8e-000f20980440 PamperedRoze

    Vocations went down when the altar servers became young girls. It confuses girls into thinking they can become priests, setting them up for failure and it takes away the opportunity of discernment for boys. I think it's a bad idea to continue to have girls. We need priests :)) GREAT blog, Father – thank youPS: I don't think women should ever be on the altar for any reason….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00650938872732748697 Bee’s Blog

    I have strong feelings on this one so really have to think it through before I even begin to put 'pen to paper'.But in the meantime I will say here that my daughter was one of the first female altar servers in a private Dominican chapel here in Trinidad where male and female Acolytes serve together. It also has to be said that the young girls displayed more understanding and reverence for the sanctuary than any of the boys in addition to which they had more respect for the dress code.Of course it could be a cultural thing as well. I recently finished a five night Lenten Crusade at which one of my speakers (a recently ordained young priest) wore under his vestment for all the world to see, jeans and sneakers. His dress code did not affect the strong message he had to give. I am using him again this coming week on another Crusade and I'm sure his attire will in no way stifle the message that he will have for the congregation. I am not saying that a dress code is not important – it is. After all, you wouldn't go to the beach wearing a three piece suit!I know some girls, daughter included, who could teach some male altar servers a thing or two about their role.I also have a son who never showed any inclination towards wanting to be an altar server. To each his own but I for one, am happy to see girls on the altar. There is absolutely nothing wrong in being an usher, sacristan or lector but if I were a young girl I would take umbrage if those were the only roles in the Mass open to me!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04090032726095919164 Justin and Ann

    I was an altar server however many years ago (I am 28), and growing up in a culture which continuously promotes the myth that men and women are the same. I now appreciate establishing a distinction between the genders as early as possible. Having only male altar servers is a teaching moment to inform kids what it means for men and women to be different, but equal. Plus, I think boys/men tend to need extra help in learning how to serve others (women have it built into their maternity). – This is all being said by a former feminist who came to see the light of God's reality, and now fully appreciates the wisdom of His Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00650938872732748697 Bee’s Blog

    Oh for goodness sake – Jesus was surrounded by women! Not only were twelve male disciples part of His ministry. After His resurrection who did He appear to first? Was it not a woman in the form of Mary Magdalene? And was not Peter envious? And who is to say that serving on the altar does not bring a girl to realize that she has a vocation to enter religious life? It is not only a shortage of priests that the Church is experiencing globally but vocations to female religious orders as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15654759332682745087 Stella Oriens

    Bee, I refrained from replying to your first comment because I don't want to abuse Fr Longenecker's comment box, but I can't let your second go unchallenged.First, the last point in your first post – if you would take umbrage at being denied the opportunity to serve in the sanctuary, would you also take umbrage at being denied admission to the seminary? To whom would your umbrage be directed? On what grounds?Second, on Christ being surrounded with women. Nothing you said is untrue. Nothing you said is relevant, either. The sanctuary is "surrounded" by women of the congregation in the nave. Christ really present at the Mass is still surrounded by women – they haven't been banished from the liturgy!Finally, vocations. Could you explain how a female religious vocation is anything like liturgical service in the sanctuary? Even in the houses of women religious (where the Faith is still respected) women do not serve the Mass – the priest does things by himself. Certainly, women will perform roles otherwise handled by men… but because the men are not there.In much the same way did women work in factories during WW2. It was not because this was the ideal arrangement, but because it was the only possible arrangement.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03590759076941965879 Mater

    I'm a mother of both genders, and I believe girl altar servers are bad for both boys and girls, for the reasons you mentioned and othrs. For girls, I think they interfere with her own vocation discernment. If she hears God calling her to devote her life to him, then she needs to be at the elbow of religious women, to learn and observe what that's all about, not on the altar. If there are no nuns or consecrated women around, she should be developing her prayer life so that she can hear his sweet whisper. God calls consecrated women to himself, not to the Church, as he does priests.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    It's important to keep in mind that one of the main reasons why women were forbidden to serve at Mass, was the common belief of the ancient church that menstrual blood made women unclean and thus they couldn't be near the altar, or even receive holy communion when menstruating. Since, happily noone believes that anymore. I don't see why girl servers(or even deaconesses for that matter) are such a big deal. This is all part of a normal evolution though; there used to be a time, when men and women were forbidden to sit together during mass, even today in certain villages in eastern europe you can find this practiced, though of course it's no longer part of canon law.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00650938872732748697 Bee’s Blog

    Stella, in no way had I any intention at all of abusing Father's comment box. That was not my intention and if it seemed as though I was doing so, then I sincerely apologize.I will come back tomorrow and answer your questions but in the meantime will say that on rereading all the comments it has now become quite clear to me that depending on where one lives, there are certainly cultural differences which have to be taken into consideration when it comes to some aspects of Roman Catholicism.Blessings.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15825109896111176650 Giuseppe Ambrose

    @ AlfredThe burden of proof is on you to prove that one of the main reasons why women were forbidden to serve at Mass, was the common belief of the ancient church that menstrual blood made women unclean and thus they couldn't be near the altar, or even receive holy communion when menstruating.I want to see links to primary sources, i.e. early Church documents, and older versions of canon laws.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    @Giuseppe,I'm not going to do your homework for you, but I'll get you started. I suggest you google the following:The earliest example I believe comes from Blessed Dionysius of Alexandria who wrote in 247 A.D.:"Menstruous women ought not to come to the Holy Table, or touch the Holy of Holies, nor to churches, but pray elsewhere."Also, there's an essay by a scholar at Harvard(if you're strapped for time, skip to the section: 'bloody eucharist.':BLOODY WOMEN AND BLOODY SPACESMenses and the Eucharist in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15825109896111176650 Giuseppe Ambrose

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15825109896111176650 Giuseppe Ambrose

    Not going to do my research for me? That's not how it works. You make a claim, you back it up. Hence bibliographies, and footnotes and endnotes and such things in academic papers. Hence a defense in court makes its own defense, not the prosecution.Secondly, one person does not make a widespread prejudice accepted by an entire institution. Even a dozens upon dozens, or hundreds. Take Donatism, take Arianism. I just read the Harvard document, it is about as convincing as Christopher West's proof that the Easter Candle has always been considered a phallic symbol. Plus, most of her sources are secondary.I suggest you read this letterthis letter of Pope St. Gregory the great to St. Augustine of Canterbury. In quite direct terms, Pope Gregory the Great addresses this issue.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    Part 2 of 2:Thirdly, I am always amused to hear of people conjuring their own contorted version of what the ubiquitous "Early Church" was to substantiate their novelties. Much of the "Early Church" is shrouded in mystery and its supposed practices were in reaction to the tumultuous time period of Roman persecution. If one wishes to return to the "Early Church" perhaps we could re-instate penances for confession that had year-long durations, fully nude baptisms by immersion, or the early Jerusalem (as told by St. Cyril) custom of dipping one's fingers into consecrated wine and smearing it on one's face. Where do we draw the line? The fact is that wanting to return to some fanciful "pure" time in the Church (while casting aside the organic development of the past 2000 years) has been condemned as "Antiquarianism" by Pope Pius XII.Fourthly, the institution of "Deaconesses" is one that never had any form of clerical right or privilege. This was solmenly defined by the Council of Nicaea in 325 Canon 19:"We refer to deaconesses who have been granted this status, for they do not receive any imposition of hands, so that they are in all respects to be numbered among the laity."I'll conclude by saying that the irrational position of defending the abhorrent practice of female altar-servers is not only a legal, historical and liturgical abuse it also a spiritual abuse. Why do feminists feel the need to deny their very God-given femininity? Why do you insist in allowing and encouraging young girls to assume roles that run in direct contradiction to their very feminine identity? The abuse of having women before the altar blurs the divinely-ordained distinction between man and woman and cleric and layman. It is a diabolical disorientation that has been foisted upon an unwitting Catholic faithful by a cadre of rebellious dissidents with no regard for the sacrality and sublimity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Reject their poisoned fruits with all of your heart and soul.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    @Giuseppe,* I've already read the letter by St. Gregory the Great, notice how he says that even though it isn't a sin, it is still commendable for women to abstain from holy communion when they are menstruating. "Therefore when women, after due consideration, do not presume to approach theSacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord during their monthly period, they are to becommended. But if they are moved by devout love of this Holy Mystery to receive it aspious practice suggests that they do, they are not to be discouraged"Notice also how Gregory's judgment was not accepted by the archbishop of canterbury. “During the time of menstruation women should not enter into church or receive communion, neither lay women nor religious. If they presume to do so all the same, they should fast for three weeks…In the same way those women should do penance, who enter a church before their blood is purified after birth, that is for forty days” (Penitential of Theodore of Canterbury 7th century)Nor was Pope Gregory establishing universal law for the church.(In the east it remained forbidden for women to receive holy communion while menstruating)Captiulary of Bishop Theodulf of Orleans(9th century):"Canon 6. “While a priest is celebrating Mass, women should in no way approach the altar, but remain in their places, and there the priest should receive their offerings to God. Women should therefore remember their infirmity, and the inferiority of their sex: and therefore they should have fear of touching whatever sacred things there are in the ministry of the Church."Also to this day, in the Orthodox Church, it is still forbidden for menstruating women to receive holy communion. (call your local Russian Orthodox parish) * I also did give you a primary source in the canons of Blessed Dionysius of ALexandria, written in an epistle in 247 AD. "Concerning women in their menstrual separation, whether it is right for them in such a condition to enter the house of God, I think it unnecessary even to inquire. For I think that they, being faithful and pious, would not dare in such a condition either to approach the holy table or to touch the body and blood of Christ."* Could you be more specific as to what is inaccurate in the Harvard Essay? I'm not familiar with the writings of Christopher West, what does he have to do with all of this though?@Texas Traditionalist*The Council of Nicea is referring only to the deaconesses of a specific schismatic sect, not to all deaconesses. *It's not antiquarianism to point out the source of a particular practice that has ancient roots.* Do you count the Holy Father(Benedict XVI and before him John Paul II) amongst this 'cadre of rebellious dissidents with no regard for the sacrality and sublimity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass'?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 j_smith898

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    Some more 'boring' pedantry from History:In French 'egalitarian' DOES NOT have the same connotation as 'equality' in English.In a socio-theological context we might say 'egalite' in French is more like we are all equal in the sight of God. All and every soul is precious to the Triune God and the Holy Mother.The French being an highly Catholic nation interpolated this onto their politics as every citizen is of the same value and dignity to the State.Started with those rascally 'Liberal' historians: Burke, Carlyle, Macauley, and Trevellyan (whose main concern was to keep the Francs and Germans at each others throats at all costs to keep Britain less threatened.They deliberately started confusing the 'ideal' of egalitarianism with 'equality' as 'internal propaganda' in the English speaking world; unfortunately, over time in true Pelagian fashion many ever-variant loving 'anglos' ran with the idea, which was originally cautionary not commendatory!Pray for us St Mary of Egypt.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    @Giuseppe Ambroserarely do i care to follow blogs.just added you mate.Semper Fimy family are all Army like way back, but quite frankly what i admire about the US Marine Corps to the newest private soldier is their uncompromising intellectual acuity.listen to one of your Chaplains over on Ancient Faith Radio on Icons- best sermon i have heard for yonks.Many people pray for you all. Gen James Amos is a good man- he doesn't comment on the law. Just does his job. What a brill conceptGod bless you all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    Part 1 of 2 (this part refuses to post for some reason!):I've been going to the Traditional Mass ever since its existence was brought to my attention via our Holy Father's 2007 Motu Proprio … and I am still utterly amazed that this topic is somehow considered fertile ground for debate. I thought I'd address a few of the comments being made here.First off, the abuse of female altar-servers being tolerated by Rome is the result of capitulation to disobedience that had been present for years. Dissident Bishops and Priests during the early and mid 20th century (particularly in Northern Europe) began introducing this abuse in flagrant violation of the laws and immemorial custom of the Church. It was only under concession to pressure from these dissidents that Roman authority tolerated this liturgical aberration. A practice borne of disobedience and dissent? Sound Catholic to you? I think not. To think that every practice and concession that emanates from Rome is automatically an infallible "de-fide" decision and impervious to constructive criticism is not a Catholic position.Secondly, the main point in rejecting the abuse of female altar servers is the fact that serving at the altar is, first and foremost, a CLERICAL role. One of the Church's most treasured institutions (both East and West) is the use of the Minor Orders. These were unjustifiably abandoned in diocesan structures but they have been retained by the traditional Priestly and monastic orders (with the full approbation of the Holy See). The Minor orders are composed of: Tonsure, Porter, Lector, Exorcist and ACOLYTE. These precious steps to the Holy Priesthood go back to the earliest known records of ecclesiastical life in the Church. Due to the potential unavailability of ordained acolytes to assume the role of serving at the altar, the Church has allowed well-instructed laymen to assume this clerical role. The salient point here is that serving at the altar was, is and always will be a clerical role that can only be fulfilled by someone who has the potential to enter in to the clerical state: i.e. a male. The Church has not (and cannot) change this fundamental distinction.Continued ….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ Alfred:Point 1: There was no such "schismatic sect of Deaconesses". That is a total falsehood. Here is the poignant section on the Council of Nicaea's ruling from the Catholic Encyclopedia:"Both in the one and the other case the voice of the Church made itself heard in conciliar decrees and the abuse in the end was repressed without difficulty. Such restrictive measures seem to be found in the rather obscure 11th canon of Laodicea, and in the more explicit 19th canon of the Council of Nicaea, which last distinctly lays down that deaconesses are to be accounted as lay persons and that they receive no ordination properly so called (Hefele-LeClercq, Conciles, I, 618)."Point 2: Antiquarianism is indeed present when Catholics opt to resurrect long-extinct (or even condemned) practices or justify anomalies by invoking a selective-reading of the "Early Church". Point 3: Part 1 of my post wasn't posting for some reason. It is a fact that female altar-servers arose in the mid 20th century in the form of a flagrant abuse against standing laws of the Church. No practice borne of obedience and dissidence can rightly be considered a legitimate development of Catholic liturgical life. The toleration of this abuse by both our previous and current Holy Father was/is indeed a capitulation to outside pressures and a misguided attempt to keep the peace among rebellious Catholic clergy and laity alike.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15654759332682745087 Stella Orientis

    Fascinating as the question of whether menstruating women should be receiving communion would be in an theological journal, I can't help but notice it is utterly irrelevant here.The claim that menstruation was the reason women could not serve in the sanctuary was never proven, even remotely. It is utterly tangential to the real reason (reservation of service at the altar to clerics normatively, and to unmarried men extraordinarily).The fact is that the clerical state was not withheld from women (let alone because they were ritually impure 25% of the time), but that authentic Christian women never sought Holy Orders until the 20th century. It was a regular mark of heresy and schism that women would purport to be presbyters or episkopoi, well attested throughout the history of the early church. That women can never become clerics is the sole reason they could never serve at the altar (rampant 20th century abuses and Roman accommodation notwithstanding).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00650938872732748697 Bee’s Blog

    Vatican newspaper praises girl altar servers http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=7160Allowing girl servers ended prejudice, inequality, says Vatican paper (CNS) **********As Assistant to the Vicar for Evangelization in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain and the Administrator of the Evangelization Commission and a non feminist, I think it wise that I withdraw from this conversation. But not without first saying that in this country, not only are there female altar servers but also female Eucharistic and Lay Ministers.Blessings and may God hold you all in the palm of His hand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,There's a difference between a discipline and a Doctrine. The male priesthood is a doctrine not a discipline.In Eastern Churches they do not have a Mass, but a divine liturgy. Their entire service is sung. I was told that setting up different seats for men and women, helps the choir orchestrate the music better.I have Eastern Orthodox friends who have also told me that they make a distinction between the two bloods. One stands for life, such as blood in child-birth and the other for death, such as blood shed in killing.The Liturgy is as sacrifice. Women are barred from the sanctuary to make a distinction between the blood that stands for life and death.Blood in menstruation also stands for death.A woman brings life not death.It's men who have to give an accounting for life taken, on behalf of the church. Not women.I do support altar girls, but not priests.I just wanted to clarify what the Eastern Orthodox mean by this.The question you should be asking is what is the priesthood? Abraham's ancestors were ruler priests who married the daughters of other ruler priests. This continued among the Jewish people. The expectation was that the Messiah would be born from the seed of woman one day.Mary, Father Jochaim was a priest.The priests offered sacrifices in the temple, and were set apart for this.The Christian priesthood is not genetic, but is based on sacrifice.The Mass/Divine Liturgy is a participation in the heavenly liturgy in the company of the angels and saints, and in the presence of Christ, both priest and victim.Christ offers the same sacrifice that he did on calvary, although in an un-bloody manner.The priest is a stand in for Christ, the one priest.A woman priest cannot offer the sacrifice of Christ.We cannot put up a picture of St. paul and call it the Virgin Mary. In the same way, the form for the sacrificial priesthood cannot be female.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16691057085434760180 Ambrose

    @ Alfred * I've already read the letter by St. Gregory the Great, notice how he says that even though it isn't a sin, it is still commendable for women to abstain from holy communion when they are menstruating. “As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he mayeat anything, while the weak man eats only egetables. Let not him who eatsdespise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.” Romans 14:1-4

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03165364758664791667 Fr. Steve

    Motu Proprio – MINISTERIA QUAEDAM (Certain Ministries) by Pope Paul VI; 01JAN1973: "In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,I found this Orthodox link. That explains these issues. Orthodox men are also forbidden from communion, when they have involuntary, bodily discharge or flow of semen. Their priests also refrain from sexual relations with their wives, 24 hrs before the Eucharist.http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/menses.aspxWe RC's would call the whole bodily discharge thing a discipline, rather than a doctrine.This might also explain why celibacy is preferred for our priests that serve everyday.Savvy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14954141550795813015 adele young

    Father I agree with you totally about the role of women in the Church …they should be only serving in the most menial and minor roles and not within the sanctuary….until the men have completely destroyed the Catholic Church. Then the women can clean up the messes…their historical role within the Church has always thus been so…if you don't think so read your Bible…what did Peter's mother-in-law do the minute Christ healed her…she went into the kitchen and fixed a meal for them all. A sainted woman indeed!! for all posterity to emulate! I understand totally why women are not allowed priestly ordination and agree with all the reasons here Father states that the Church in all its official capacity should be entirely a male priority. Women were made to be either barefoot and pregnant…or should get to a nunnery!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14163855804754963521 joan

    If we just had the Extraordinary Mass, the Holy Mass that the Church always worshipped with and the one that all the Saints loved and cherished, there would be no need for all this confusion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savia,I'm happy that we agree about altar girls.I'm also aware of the practices concerning men abstaining from holy communion as a result of nocturnal emissions. However these prohibitions have never been as severe and as universal as the one's concerning menstruating women. Blessed Dionysius of Alexandria(in the 3rd century) absolutely forbids menstruating women to receive, while he leaves it up to men to decide if they wish to receive communion following an involuntary ejaculation. Also, take a look at the following canons from Timothy, Patriarch of Alexandria(7th Centruy):"Question VII. May a menstruous woman communicate?Answer. Not until she be clean.Question XII. If a layman ask a clergyman whether he may communicate after a nocturnal pollution?Answer. If it proceed from the desire of a woman, he ought not: but if it be a temptation from Satan, he ought; for the tempter will ply him when he is to communicate."Also, when I was talking about men and women having to sit separately, I was referring to it being a Roman Catholic practice, that is very rare now, but used to be mandated by canon law. I mention the ancient prohibitions concerning women to point out that rules concerning the exclusion of women from liturgical roles were developed in an age that had very different notions concerning the differences between men and women, than even those of today's conservative catholics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    I also would like to add that when it came to nocturnal emissions in the Catholic Church there were different criteria concerning what constituted voluntary and involuntary ejaculation, such as whether or not the man experienced plessure in the nocturnal emission, or whether or not lustful images accompanied it, as well as whether or not he had been eating too much the day before. (I refer you to the canons compiled in the 12th century by Gratian of Bologna, which was a very authoritative text in the west) No such distinction were made for menstruating women however. Also, in the western church, when, back in the day holy communion was received on the hand, men were allowed to receive the sacrament into their bare hands, while women were canonically required to have a cloth over their hands when they received.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,The thing is if it's not in the catechism it's not official. I think the distinction once again, needs to be made between a discipline and a doctrine.A discipline established by the church or canon can be changed.I am sure there were reasons for establishing a particular discipline.I will look into them.A sacrament established by Christ cannot.You have to remember that the Mass is the Lord's Supper, so it's Christ who consecrates and Christ who offers the sacrifice.The priest is just the stand in.A sacrament causes what it stands for.A sacrament needs valid form and matter.I think the Eucharist is more important than the fight for power.Savvy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,You have also not citied or provided links to your quotes. How do we know you're not making it up?Savvy

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Gregory,I would have asked her why she wanted to dress and act like a sacrificial lamb in a Holy sacrifice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,My Orthodox friend just confirmed that the OCA forbids this practise you described in the Russian Orthodox Church. It's what crosses over from tradition to folklore superstition.Like Giuseppe says, we would like to see some primary sources on this subject, not copy and paste.You seem unable to make a distinction between a discipline such as eating meat on Friday and a sacrament or doctrine.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savia,"The thing is if it's not in the catechism it's not official. "Really? Is that in the catechism?You are aware that there were no catechisms before the 16th century aren't you? Does that mean that nothing was official in the church before the 16th century? Come to think of it, you don't provide any citation or link supporting that statement, how do I know that you're not just making it up?I get the distinction between doctrine and discipline, but you have to keep in mind that disciplines can be based on doctrines. In the case of our topic, it isn't the case that menstruating women were forbidden to receive holy communion because it was considered spiritually beneficial for them, but rather because it was believed that they were in a state of impurity. It was never a dogma of the church(I never said that it was), but it was a belief that was tolerated in the church for a very long time. It's a lot like limbo, for example,people believed in it for most of the church's history, it was even in the catechism of st. pius x, but it's not present in the most recent catechism, but a commission in Rome declared that it is still ok to believe in it. (I can provide you with a link to it, in case you think i'm making it up.)Oh and by the way, canons have a binding force, and i've listed plenty of canons. "You have also not citied or provided links to your quotes. How do we know you're not making it up?"In all of the quotes above I have noted where they come from, and in some cases provided numbers for the canons. If you really really want me to compile a bibliography for you, I can do that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    Savia,Ma'am, I feel compelled to address a few of your comments.1.) You said, "The thing is if it's not in the catechism it's not official."This is not correct, ma'am. The sacred deposit of faith consists far more than a Catechism produced in 1983 by JPII. The doctrinal Patrimony of the Church consists of the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture (when interpreted by the Church) and all "ex-cathedra" declarations of all the Popes and Dogmatic Councils (such as Trent, Nicaea, etc). In addition the 1983 Catechism (commonly referred to as the CCC) can be quite diffuse and I'd much rather consult other Catechisms such as the Roman Catechism of Trent for clarity.2.) You said, "You have to remember that the Mass is the Lord's Supper, so it's Christ who consecrates and Christ who offers the sacrifice. The priest is just the stand in."This statement is deficient in a few respects. The Mass is first and foremost the re-presentation (i.e. making literally present) the Sacrifice of Calvary. The term "Lord's Supper" is insufficient in that it is allows someone to interpret the phrase as nothing more than a mere communal meal. Secondly, it is inaccurate to say the Priest is a "stand-in". You are correct in saying that it is Christ as our High Priest who celebrates the Mass through the Priest. However, the Church teaches that the Priest literally becomes an "alter Christus" (another Christ) during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He is not just some kind of symbiote or symbol at the altar. Lastly, a Sacrament needs (1) Proper Form (2) Proper Matter (3) Proper Intent and (4) Apostolic Succession (not necessary for Baptism). Needless to say, the masculinity of the Priest is part of the proper matter of the Sacrament.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10933376510482067490 Jess

    I am female and was an altar server for a great portion of my childhood/teenage years. Someone here stated earlier that the girls should be at the elbow of a female religious, learning from them, instead of the Priest at the altar. For me, (and bear with me as I try to explain), it wasn't about being beside the Priest, it was about being close to Jesus. Why should a female be denied the opportunity to be integral in the consecration process? Kneeling beside the altar, being feet away from the bread and wine being changed in to Jesus' own body and blood is an experience incomparable to anything anyone can experience. A female should be able to experience this just as much as a male should. Jesus said to let the children come to him. He is present at the altar, so the children (be them male or female) should be allowed to come to Him and be close to Him.

    • Jackie

      Jess, I love your comment. I have been serving for 15 years. After 7 years of being an Altar Server, I was asked to become a coordinator, which I now coordinate 130 altar servers from age 8 to 87, we serve together kids, adults, etc. I have had girls become interested in becoming a nun because of serving. I currently have a young man discerning to be a Franciscan priest and one discerning to become a monk. Our Church is so vibrant. I have been involved in various ministries due to being an Altar Server. Although I have not felt called to become a nun, I do keep that in mind. Being an altar server has helped me to be open to that possibility where before I was not open to it. I love witnessing the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, it’s such an awesome experience being so close! The priests have served as my spiritual director. I have never had the thought to become a priest or such nor would want women to be deacons or priests, but serving in other capacities is fine with me!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15627951372512284327 Julia

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15627951372512284327 Julia

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15627951372512284327 Julia

    ….Continued from previous post.Man alone is not created in the image of God, but man and woman are the image of God. The second creation story supports this:[NAB] The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken." That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body (Genesis 2:18-24).Woman was not created from Man’s foot to be beneath him or from his head to be above him. She was created from his side to be equal to him. Equal, but different. This equality is recognized in Genesis when Adam says, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken.” She is not less than him, profane while he is holy. No, they are both holy, both God’s Children and called to live and work together.JPII refers to this as the Feminine Genius. We were created to be different from one another but also to ‘fit’ together. This fit is not just physical but spiritual as well. Our gifts come together in solidarity to raise a family. We were created this way, by God, in His image. Thus we form a communion of persons and we are all called to participate in this communion of persons. This communion can be from a marriage, friendships and one’s Church community.Every area of life needs both male and female gifts. The male gifts are apparent in the Church, especially through the Priest – but the female gifts are needed too and this is where the growing female leadership stems from. It is not a sign of weak boys afraid to do a “girls” job, but a call to women to embrace ministry and share their feminine gifts with the Church, which needs our presence along with the men.Now, I do not support feminism. I do not think that women should be priests, but I do believe that women have a very important role in the Church as spiritual mothers. We are called to nurture the Church and not play as though we are some impure gender who are saved out of pity, but true salvation is available to men only. No, we are one people, united through Christ and are called to share equally in God’s salvific plan for all of us.Finally, on the issue of celibacy, someone had commented that this is the practice due to the impurity of emitting one’s seed. This is from Leviticus 15:16-18.[NAB] When a man has an emission of seed, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until evening. Any piece of cloth or leather with seed on it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening. "If a man lies carnally with a woman, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening (Leviticus 15:16-18).Continued in next post….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15627951372512284327 Julia

    ….Continued from previous post.However, this would discount the fact that nocturnal emissions occur without a sexual partner. It is a fact of life. Not being a man, I cannot attest to it personally; however, I understand that it can occur as an involuntary event. This is also addressed in the Deuteronomic Law:[NAB] If one of you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he shall go outside the camp, and not return until, toward evening, he has bathed in water; then, when the sun has set, he may come back into the camp. Outside the camp you shall have a place set aside to be used as a latrine (Deuteronomy 23: 11-13). This, to me, does not seem like a sound reason to justify and endorse celibacy. However, St. Paul, in my opinion, provides a much better explanation in his First Letter to the Corinthians:[NAB] "I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction" (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).His answer is thus that both men and women can serve God more effectively by remaining single. Marriage and family can be a distraction from service as the spouse and children become the primary concern for the individual. Whereas, a single person without children can more fully dedicate him or herself to God. This is apparent in the single lay ministers in parishes, the religious brothers and sisters and in the priests. JPII taught that sexual act is the nuptial meaning of the Body and viewed it as Holy, not impure. But Holy within the confines of Matrimony. Outside of it, the meaning is lost. It is to show love, to reproduce and to keep the family united. A priest does not have a spouse for the aforementioned reason and therefore, ought to not partake in sexual relations as that would have to occur outside of marriage. These are my thoughts on the matter. The bottom line is, though, the Church has come to recognize the dignity inherent in all of humanity, not just the men. It is important for us to realize that many of the old ways with regards to female servers in Church, whether its as an altar server, Eucharistic Minister or Lector – if we deny women the ability to serve the Lord because of gender issues, saying that we are not holy or are impure – that is an affront to our dignity as women as well as human beings.JPII and the Vatican II recognized the gifts we bring to the Church and to the collective Body of Christ. We are important and embracing this fact is not a denial of history or Tradition but embracing that Truth that the Holy Spirit is leading the Church and we are moving in the direction of Ultimate, Transcendent and Absolute Truth, which is telling us that Men and Women are called to use their complimentary gifts in harmony with one another to lead and nurture the Church and the World.With that, I will say thank you for allowing me to participate in this conversation. God Bless.Pax Christi,Julia

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08172827779493356123 msc

    Father this was very insightful and while girls can do the job it's men I have grown up seeing in the sanctuary and will continue to see as this is their role.Many thanks,Sr. Kasandra

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ Jess,Jess, I understand the sublimity of being in such an intimate proximity to the holy altar upon which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is confected. However, do we not also acknowledge the infinitely greater sublimity of consuming our Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament?How can one faithfully acknowledge that they are receiving the very flesh of our Lord and still believe that they "need" more to fulfill their spiritual desires?Jess, serving at the altar is first and foremost a clerical role. The very attire servers don (whether it be a cassock and surplice or an alb) are exclusively clerical vestments. The Church has solemnly defined that women cannot hold the clerical state. This is not misogyny or inequality. This is an acknowledgment of the divinely-instituted roles God has established. The clerical state (and its functions such as altar-serving) is a participation in the divine Fatherhood of Christ. I as a man can never enter into the sublimity and majesty of motherhood. You as a woman can never enter into the sublimity and majesty of fatherhood. These are roles that exalt our masculine or feminine identities. To confuse (or reject) these roles is not an emancipation of our gender identity but a distortion and a deformation of them. Unfortunately, Roman authorities tolerate this distortion to appease those who desire to blur and distort these roles. I pray and trust that this great abuse will be rectified in the near future.Clerical functions are not a right. It is a privilege and a service and is the prerogative of the Church, as guardian and custodian of all ecclesiastical practices, to dispense these previleges to those whom she deems fitting. The 2000 year perennial teaching of the Church, guided and founded by Christ, is our guide and not our desires, wants or emotions. May God bless you, ma'am.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Texan Traditionalist,Thanks for the information. It's always nice to learn more.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,Limbo was never a doctrine, but a theological proposition and therefore optional.There are many private devotions that are optional.That people take these things, to the point of going overboard with them, has nothing to do with the facts.In Africa, there are sometimes animals sacrificed during a Mass. It's a cultural practise that they bring in. It's also common to see women breast-feeding during a Mass. The only guy who fell down dead, was a visiting priest from the West.If the priesthood, fell into any of these categories, don't you think there would have been a statement by the Magisterium to clarify it by now.There was in fact a statement in response to this confusion, that clarified the nature of the priesthood and that it was not possible for women to be priests.A lot of people have put this in simple language here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Texan Traditionalist,I understand that in Eastern churches, they have do not have an open altar.Their altar is the place beyond, or the holy of holies, where even the priest is not permitted to go, except when making preparations for Mass.Hence, they do not have need for altar girls, etc.We, however are the Latin church. It wouldn't make sense for us not too.I would also like your input on this whole menstruation thing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvy,About limbo, the papal theological commission that in 2008 released a study on limbo, refers to it as having been taught as "the common doctrine of the church." Here's the link: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.htmlI'm familiar with the African practice of animal sacrifice during Mass and the Vatican forbade it because it's incompatible with Catholic doctrine concerning the one sacrifice of Christ. The belief that menstruation made women unclean was taught by the church, it was enshrined in canons, and even in liturgical rites of the church(such as the churching of women). It was never a dogma, but it was a common belief, and one that the church endorsed in many ways. It's a lot like the dogma of the assumption in many ways; it's belief became more and more universal as time went on, until in 1950 the Pope declared it as a dogma. The difference here is that the belief in the impurity of menstruating women was quietly dropped as time went on. About women's ordination, all of the arguments you've made against it(women can't represent Christ, etc) are not part of the official teaching of the church. Come to think of it, it's not even in the catechism, so according to your own principle of "if it's not in the catechism it's not official," this teaching(that women can't represent christ at the altar) isn't official. The only official reason, the one that the pope gives in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is that this has been the constant practice of the Church going back to the very beginning. (Also keep in mind that the church has never ruled against the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate, but has also said that the issue 'requires further study'). I for one find it ironic that Christ received his body and blood from a woman(St. Augustine says 'He took flesh, from the flesh of Mary.) but a women can't represent that same body and blood. That's neither here nor there though. My point is simply that, since this 'constant practice of the church' was accompanied by a very strong belief in the bodily impurity of women as an impediment to receiving the eucharist let alone confecting it, the 'constant practice of the church' is on very shaky ground indeed. The church wants to have its cake and eat it too, it wants to retain the practice of excluding women from holy orders while at the same time, not affirming the traditional reasons for this practice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred, The church gradually gave up the idea that menstruation blood should not mix with the blood of Christ, because they both represent death.Hence, there's no precedence in forbidding them.On the other hand, a woman cannot offer the sacrifice of Christ on calvary, since it's only Christ who is the saviour and it's His body and blood that we consume. Not anybody's else's.Mary was sinless. Mary is special, but we do not eat her body and blood and she did not offer a sacrifice on calvary.Women are not called to die. In a marriage it's the husband, who has to love his wife, like Christ loved the Church, by sacrificing himself for her, placing her before himself.This is from the Catechism.1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit."This would in fact reverse civilization into thinking that women have to become sacrificial lambs, for their husbands, rather than the other way around.Th end result would be bad for women themselves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17284905121465747077 Steve

    For the record, Savia, the church does not teach (not in the catechism, nor in its tradition) that it is a husband's role to "sacrifice" his life as a lamb would have been sacrificed in Old Testament times. Neither the husband nor the wife are called in Christianity to be a sin offering for the other. They are both, however, called to sacrifice their own desires at times for the good of the marriage, the good of the union and the good of any children they may have. It's amazing how convoluted some of the arguments get when people find themselves wanting to keep women and girls at bay. Fortunately, Jesus did not occupy himself with coming up with a thousand extravagant explanations for why women should be kept at arm's length from Him. Jesus was much more concerned with bringing all people — women, men, and yes, children of both genders — into intimate union with God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,The Assumption was held by the early church. It was not invented by the Pope in 1950. It was made worthy of belief. It was a development of what already existed.With respect to Limbo, the development was in terms of a theological distinction, that had to be clarified.It is still left optional.You might want to read this.http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2007/0710fea4.aspThe Eastern Orthodox Bishop, Timothy Ware, said that this could be the final break in Christianity.In the incarnation God, became man and dwelt amongst us.This gender-bending makes it seem like a woman dying would have been just as valid. The church is valid as groom, Christ is valid as bride etc.It's the age of heresy of gnosticism. That matter is not real.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Steve,This is from the Catechism.5 Fidelity expresses constancy in keeping one's given word. God is faithful. The Sacrament of Matrimony enables man and woman to enter into Christ's fidelity for his Church. Through conjugal chastity, they bear witness to this mystery before the world.St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say to their wives: I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us. . . . I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.1659 St. Paul said: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. . . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church" (Eph 5:25, 32).1616 This is what the Apostle Paul makes clear when he says: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her," adding at once: "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church."Nobody is arguing that women cannot be in union with God. We are just saying that a woman did not die on the cross.C.S. Lewis on "Priestess in the Church" said " One of the ends for which sex was created was to symbolize to us the hidden things of God. One of the functions of human marriage is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and semitive figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical figures.It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity lays upon my own sex. I am crushingly aware how inadequate most of us are, in our actual and historical individualities, to fill the place prepared for us. But it is an old saying in the army that you salute the uniform not the wearer. Only one wearing the masculine uniform can (provisionally, and till the Parousia) represent the Lord to the Church: for we are all, corporately and individually, feminine to Him."http://www.acahome.org/submenu/docs/cslewis.htm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,It's ironic that you mention Bishop Timothy Ware as he is a supporter of women's ordination.Also, if the nuptial symbolism in the Eucharist is such that a man is needed to symbolize the bridegroom, why is a women not needed to symbolize the bride? Wouldn't that make a private mass in a monastery chapel with only a priest and one male server a gay marriage?If Christ the bridegroom needs to be symbolized by a man, what about Christ as the Lamb? Mary did offer a sacrifice on calvary actually, at least, according to Pope John Paul II:"A disciple and friend of St Bernard, Arnold of Chartres, shed light particularly on Mary's offering in the sacrifice of Calvary. He distinguished in the Cross "two altars: one in Mary's heart, the other in Christ's body. Christ sacrificed his flesh, Mary her soul". Mary sacrificed herself spiritually in deep communion with Christ, and implored the world's salvation: "What the mother asks, the Son approves and the Father grants" " I never said that we receive Mary's body and blood in holy communion, but rather that Christ received His humanity from Her, that She is the source of His body and blood, which was taken from Her own body and blood.What I meant about the assumption was that it was taught first as a commmon belief long before it was made a dogma, not that the pope invented it. It was worthy of belief since at least the 8th century. It mandated belief since 1950.Marriage may be described as analogous to the sacrifice on the cross, but it is not described as being a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the wife, by the sinless husband. Here the analogy breaks down.Show me where the church declares that ordination is closed to women because the nuptial imagery in the mass requires the ordained priest to be a man.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    The quote from Pope John Paul II above may be found here:http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2bvm3.htm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06226557343805556434 jayeverett

    It really doesn't matter because boys or girls today have no idea what it is like to be an altar server. In many churches today they run around and do not pay attention to the mass simply because they do not know the mass. They like to hold their hands in the orans position like the priest does because mommy says "that was nice" after mass. Most churches have no training program for altar servers and as such are quite usless because the only reason the serve is because mommy wants them to. Get rid of them altogether and get a deacon………

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,The Orthodox do not like innovation. They call even the Pope a Protestant.For God all souls are female. Humanity men and women are the bride. Women have to remain themselves, but men have to become spiritually like women.Christ is lamb in the Mass, and also the bridegroom of the church.The statement from Pope John Paul 2 indicates that Mary participated in the sacrifice of Christ, just like we do at Mass.It does not substitute the sacrifice of Christ.Christ is both priest and victim. In the Byzantine rite the priest literally takes a knife and plunges it into the side of Christ."Show me where the church declares that ordination is closed to women because the nuptial imagery in the mass requires the ordained priest to be a man."Mass is the marriage feast of the lamb.In Scott Hahn's book "The Mass as Heaven on Earth"Please see this.http://www.salvationhistory.com/studies/lesson/supper_heaven_on_earth_the_liturgy_of_the_eucharist#II.B.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,There are Orthodox who believe in women's ordination, and Bishop Timothy Ware is one of them. What do you mean by 'they call the pope a protestant'? Who? The Patriarch of Constantinople? The signers of the Balamand agreement? Mary's participation in that sacrifice is completley unique, it is not like our participation in the mass. Let's look at Pope John Paul II again. "In the West St Bernard, who died in 1153, turns to Mary and comments on the presentation of Jesus in the temple: "Offer your Son, sacrosanct Virgin, and present the fruit of your womb to the Lord. For our reconciliation with all, offer the heavenly victim pleasing to God" "So yes, Mary did offer a sacrifice on Calvary. (I never claimed that it substituted the sacrifice of Christ.) I'm sorry to burst your bubble but Scott Hahn's books are not magisterial documents of the church. I want you to show me where the church has declared that the reason why only men are ordained is that they have to represent Christ the bridegroom. Also, please tell me, why there doesn't have to be any women in the liturgy of the mass who represents the bride. Why there doesn't have to be any lamb that represents Christ the Lamb.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Also, where did you get that "for God all souls are feminine?" Is that in the catechism?Which fathers/doctors of the church taught that? if a man's soul is female without having the physical errr atributes of a woman, then why can't a female take the role of a priest without having the physical attributes of a male?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ SaviaPoint 1: In regard to your question of the Eastern Churches: The Eastern rites do make use of altar severs during the Mass (Divine Liturgy according to Eastern lingo). They are seen preparing incense, lighting candles, holding lighted tapers and occasionally as readers. This is also reserved to men only for the exact same reason in the West: because it is a clerical role that they are assuming. One of things I always try to convey to people is the fact that there really isn't that big of a gap between Western and Eastern liturgical practices as many people think. In fact, I've known of various Orthodox laymen and clerics state that the biggest obstacle toward re-union with the Catholic Church is the reform of the liturgy that took place after Vatican II … but that's another discussion perhaps! The Eastern approach to the altar is the same as the West's in many respects. The Eastern Rites enforce that the laity should not enter into the sanctuary without a legitimate and approved reason. This is the same practice of the West. While the liturgical chaos of Novus Ordo parishes have abandoned the sacrality of the sanctuary, traditional Catholic parishes have not. This is why you see the use of the altar rail to define the Holy Sanctuary, i.e. the Holy of Holies ("Sanctum Sanctorum" in Latin)Most if not all Eastern parishes are defined by the "Iconostasis", or wall of icons that separates the sanctuary and altar from the remainder of the Church. Believe it or not, this is practiced in the West as well. Google "rood screens" or "templons" and see for yourself. One of the most beautiful examples is the screen in the Roman Catholic Basilica of San Marco in Venice. I foresee a revival of these screen in many traditional parishes due to their rich symbolism. They are designed to emulate the Holy Curtain than hung before the Holy Of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem. This curtain ripped in two during our Lord's crucifixtion to signity that our Lord's presence no longer dwealt with those who rejected His covenant and is now found in His Church and the Blessed Sacarement. Beautiful symbolism, eh?So to sum up: The East and West are inseparably linked in liturgy. Female altar servers are an equally abusive affront to both Western and Eastern tradition.Point 2: In regard to this whole "menstruation" hullabaloo, it has absolutely no relation whatsoever to the issue at hand. A woman's period of menstruation pertained to the worthy reception of Communion. It was equally forbidden for a man to receive if he had sexual relations within a day of the time of Mass or if he had a seminal discharge. The same even applies to married Orthodox Priests. So to say that this issue has any relevance to the issue of conferring a clerical office (or role) on a woman is ridiculous.Notice how the conversation has morphed into a discussion of this single issue? This is nothing but a convoluted attempt to thrown smoke in mirrors and distract from the real issue at hand:The Clerical state and its functions (such as serving at the altar) is a participation in the divine Fatherhood of Christ and a continuation (and fulfillment) of Levitic Priesthood of the Mosaic religion. It is a dogma of the Church that the Church will not and cannot (i.e. unable to) confer the clerical state on a woman. Period. PERIOD.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Texan Traditionalist," In regard to this whole "menstruation" hullabaloo, it has absolutely no relation whatsoever to the issue at hand. A woman's period of menstruation pertained to the worthy reception of Communion. It was equally forbidden for a man to receive if he had sexual relations within a day of the time of Mass or if he had a seminal discharge. The same even applies to married Orthodox Priests. So to say that this issue has any relevance to the issue of conferring a clerical office (or role) on a woman is ridiculous."Sure ridiculous, if you ignore statements from Theodore Balsaman (12th century Patriarch of Antioch):“At one time deaconesses used to be ordained in keeping with the laws of the Church. They were allowed to approach the altar. But because of their monthly impurity they were ousted from their place in the liturgy and from the holy altar”or Matthew Blastares, canonist and monk who wrote in 1335 that Deaconesses were “forbidden by the Fathers to enter the Sanctuary or to perform any such services due to the unfortunate event of menstruation.”By the way the Catholic Church has not ruled one way or the other concerning ordination of women to the diaconate, all of the documents simply state that the issue requires further study. While the issue of impurity of men is different. In ancient times it was widely held that any sexual activity was in some sense sinful(see St. Augustine), and as I've argued above the restrictions for men after nocturnal emissions were much laxer than those of women, especially if they could not be connected to any activity of theirs prior to sleep, or if it wasn't accompanied by dreams, or pleasure. And even when they were allowed to receive holy communion, women in the ancient church were still required to have a cloth over their hands, while men received directly on their hands. There was also never a liturgy of purification for men, like there was for women,(the churching ceremony after childbirth). So clearly there is a difference here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ AlfredI am still at a loss as to what relevancy the ancient practice of denying communion to menstruating women and men soiled with seminal discharges has with the abuse of women assuming the role of acolytes. To "approach the altar" was not a reference to acolytical duties, but a general interdict to enter into the sanctuary of the Church to perform the duties proper to women (such as the purification of altar vestments and vessels) or to receive Communion. One can read many a moral theology manual and find references to the reception of Communion as "approaching the altar". This is what is still practiced by the Orthodox (particularly the Ethiopian Orthodox) and is of no relevance to women being conferred the clerical state (which is an impossibility).Women may not receive the clerical state. This is the solemn teaching of the Church. The Diaconate pertains to the Major Orders of the Church. The only function that is even remotely comparable is that of the "Deaconess" which was solemnly declared to be of the realm of the laity by the Council of Nicaea in 325.To sum up and bring this subject away from it digressions: Women assuming the role of acolyte is an abuse in that is a usurpation of role that pertains to an ecclesiastical office. This immemorial tradition of the Church is based in the distinction between the sexes and their complimentarity. The clerical state and all ecclesiasticl offices are of the domain of men as they are all an extension and continuation of Christ's role as both Father and High Priest.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Texan Traditionalist," Women assuming the role of acolyte is an abuse in that is a usurpation of role that pertains to an ecclesiastical office. This immemorial tradition of the Church is based in the distinction between the sexes and their complimentarity. The clerical state and all ecclesiasticl offices are of the domain of men as they are all an extension and continuation of Christ's role as both Father and High Priest."That's your opinion, the Holy Father has ruled differently concerning women substituting acolytes. I'm sure it's comforting to think that whenever the pope does something you disagree with that he's merely capitulating to hordes of vicious slobbering modernist barbarians, but the fact is: the pope has approved it in an official document, offered mass with girl servers(both John Paul II and Benedict XVI), and addressed gathering of altar servers the majority of which were girls. If you believe that you can read the pope's mind, and that he's winking at you thinking "Oh I'm just pleasing the evil modernists, really I agree with you 100% that this is abhorant and an usurption, i'm just afraid to say it/write it, because you know, I'm a coward," then I suggest you talk to a shrink and not me. As far as women deacons, take a look at what the Council of Chalcedon said about them. You'll be surprised. At the VERY LEAST there is no consensus amongst historians and scholars on this issue. The church has never officially declared one way or the other. For one Eastern Orthodox opinion on the issue, see this interview with Bishop Timothy Ware:By the way, one thing that is certain is that Deaconesses sat with the male clergy during the Divine Liturgy, their ordination took place at the altar(just like male deacons), and they received holy communion at the altar with the clergy NOT with the laity.(THIS IS NOT DISPUTED). So your claim that the prohibition of women from the sanctuary refers only to holy communion and cleaning is complete and utter nonsense. The point of the menstruation discussion is:1. The church at one point in her history tolerated as consistent with orthodox doctrine the view that women are impure in a way that is very different from men.2. This belief found its expression in many of the practices excluding women from clerical duties.(see above)3. Therefore the church's prohibition of women from clerical roles can't be taken at face value.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    The link to the interview with Bishop Timothy Kallistos Ware is here:http://www.stnina.org/node/376

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,Christ is already the lamb of God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If what you mean is why is there no a literal lamb. It's because Jesus did not become an animal, but a human male."if a man's soul is female without having the physical errr atributes of a woman, then why can't a female take the role of a priest without having the physical attributes of a male?""In the Church every human being – male and female – is the "Bride", in that he or she accepts the gift of the love of Christ the Redeemer, and seeks to respond to it with the gift of his or her own person.The Eucharist is the Sacrament of our Redemption. It is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride. The Eucharist makes present and realizes anew in a sacramental manner the redemptive act of Christ, who "creates" the Church, his body. Christ is united with this "body" as the bridegroom with the bride. All this is contained in the Letter to the Ephesians. The perennial "unity of the two" that exists between man and woman from the very "beginning" is introduced into this "great mystery" of Christ and of the Church.Since Christ, in instituting the Eucharist, linked it in such an explicit way to the priestly service of the Apostles, it is legitimate to conclude that he thereby wished to express the relationship between man and woman, between what is "feminine" and what is "masculine". It is a relationship willed by God both in the mystery of creation and in the mystery of Redemption. It is the Eucharist above all that expresses the redemptive act of Christ the Bridegroom towards the Church the Bride. This is clear and unambiguous when the sacramental ministry of the Eucharist, in which the priest acts "in persona Christi", is performed by a man. This explanation confirms the teaching of the Declaration Inter Insigniores, published at the behest of Paul VI in response to the question concerning the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood."http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.html

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,If Jesus and his apostles were afraid of blood they would not celebrate the sacrament of drinking Christ's blood.The question is not one of purity. Men are not purer than women.The chief act of corporate worship for a priest is the offering of sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. For the Old Testament priests this was the slain animal offerings; for the New Testament priests it is the offering of the living Christ to his Father as he presents himself to his Father in his heavenly intercession on our behalf as our high priest.1367 The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: "The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different." "And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,The deaconess was not an ordained priest.Council of Nicaea I"Similarly, in regard to the deaconesses, as with all who are enrolled in the register, the same procedure is to be observed. We have made mention of the deaconesses, who have been enrolled in this position, although, not having been in any way ordained, they are certainly to be numbered among the laity" (Canon 19 [A.D. 325]). Council of Laodicea"[T]he so-called ‘presbyteresses’ or ‘presidentesses’ are not to be ordained in the Church" (Canon 11 [A.D. 360]).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    The point of churching of women, was not about impurity. It was to make a distinction between the blood that is shed in child-birth, blood that stands for life and blood that is shed in killing, blood that stands for death.The blood that was shed in war, sacrifice etc fell to men and to priests.The blood that was shed in child-birth, menses, fell to women.There was to be an accounting for all blood shed. The life-giving blood of women being superior to the life-taking blood of the priest.The two bloods were not to mix.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    @the texan traditionalist Amen about the abolition of minor orders at VAtican IIone of many delitorious innovations that has wrought havoc ever sincesurely following St Tereses' words would be much more effective not to say truly Christiangirl acolytes…?nah, just an Orthodox thought

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    "So yes, Mary did offer a sacrifice on Calvary."Mary was sinless. We are not. There is only one Queen.Mary represented the life-giving blood of the woman.The Apostle Paul refers to the Blood of Jesus no less than twelve times in his writings because God makes peace with us through the Blood of the Cross. It is to HIS atoning sacrifice that the priesthood points as a sign. If it is made to point to anything else, it becomes a broken sign.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12315992410780120057 marlon

    I remember being told as a child that we girls could not be servers because it might lead us to believe that we could one day be priests. I think that allowing girl altar servers has led to real confusion about women's roles in the Church.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,The Council of Nicea is referring to deaconesses belonging to a schismatic group called the Paulianists, READ THE WHOLE CANON.Here is what later councils had to say about deaconesses:Council of Chalcedon(451 AD):Canon 15: “A Woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination. And if, after she has had hands laid on her and has continued for a time to minister, she shall despise the grace of God and give herself in marriage, she shall be anathematized as well as the man united to her.” Council of Trullo(692 Ad):“Let the canon of our holy God-bearing Fathers be confirmed in this particular also; that a presbyter be not ordained before he is thirty years of age, even if he be a very worthy man, but let him be kept back. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began to teach when he was thirty. In like manner let no deacon be ordained before he is twenty-five, nor a deaconess before she is forty.”Scholars such as Timothy Ware point out that the same word for 'ordination' in these canons is used for male deacons as well as female deacons.Even if women are excluded from the priesthood, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are excluded from the diaconate. I still don't get it. Why can a man represent the bride, but a woman can't represent the bridegroom? The bread and wine in the Eucharist become the body and blood of Christ despite the fact that they don't take on any of the physical properties of the body and blood of Christ, but a woman, well that's impossible for her to represent Christ because she's not a man. It doesn't make any sense.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11740482509910163332 Gail F

    I think that is an EXCELLENT way to handle it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    "I still don't get it. Why can a man represent the bride, but a woman can't represent the bridegroom? "Men and women both represent God in equal, yet distinct ways."The analogy of the Bridegroom and the Bride speaks of the love with which every human being – man and woman – is loved by God in Christ. But in the context of the biblical analogy and the text's interior logic, it is precisely the woman – the bride – who manifests this truth to everyone."http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem_en.htmlMen and Women are the bride, but women make this visible. Women represent God the life-giver.Men and women are both priests. But, Men make this visible.the Priest represents God, who gives an accounting for for life taken.The very first life was taken, when Cain killed his brother Abel.Abel's blood cries out to God for justice, because there is life in the blood of the innocent one.It was only innocent blood that could atone for this innocent blood. This is the blood of Christ."The bread and wine in the Eucharist become the body and blood of Christ despite the fact that they don't take on any of the physical properties of the body and blood of Christ, but a woman, well that's impossible for her to represent Christ because she's not a man. It doesn't make any sense."This happens because it's Christ who consecrates, through the priest.Now, if you ask me why can't Christ work through the woman priest. It would no longer be an atonement for life-taken, because, woman represents God who gives life.The catechism states:"The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign of life. This teaching remains necessary for all time."Fr. John A. Hardon wrote:"It is impossible to exaggerate this identification. The Catholic Church exists mainly that the Sacrifice of the Mass may continue to be offered from thousands of altars every day, even until the end of time. True, Jesus died only once physically. But every time that Mass is offered, He is ready and willing to die and offer His life for the salvation of the world.We can safely say that God would long ago have destroyed the world because of its sin, except that the Sacrifice of the Mass had been offered by now on thousands of altars throughout the world."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savia,That's very nice, but that's not the reason that the church gives for women being barred from the priesthood. It's not in ordinatio sacerdotalis, and in Inter Insigniores it is not mentioned as the basis for this norm. You still haven't explained why men can represent women, but women can't represent men.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ AlfredWell it surely didn't take long for the talons to unfurl and the ad-hominems to be unleashed, eh? If you want to discuss this like civil Catholic adults I'd be happy to oblige. If not, then I'll be on my way. In regard to the personal dispositions of our current and previous Popes, this is not something I have presumed to claim knowledge of. The facts speak for themselves. It is a historical fact that women serving at the altar has been consistently decried as a liturgical abuse … and its overwhelming common usage is the result of rebellion against the standing laws of the Church.Both Paul VI and John Paul II issued documents stating their opposition towards this abuse: "Liturgicae instaurationes" (1970):"In conformity with norms traditional in the Church, women (single, married, religious), whether in churches, homes, convents, schools, or institutions for women, are barred from serving the priest at the altar" – n. 7. … and "Inaestimabile donum" (1980) respectively:"Women are not, however, permitted to act as altar servers" – n. 18 Why weren't these clear statements regarding the Sovereign Pontiff's disposition enforced? Well, this it is all symptomatic of the emasculated Papacy the Church has been forced to contend with in the past 40-50 years, in addition to rampant collegiality and a clergy with little to no regard (or knowledge) of the Church's perennial tradition. The use of women at the altar is a practice borne of dissent, rebellion and liturgical "experimentation". Sound Catholic to you? If you are unaware of the doctrinal and liturgical crisis that has befallen the Church (coupled with the deafening silence of our hierarchy in the face of heresy and dissent), then we are engaged in a fruitless debate. Your insistence on the fallacy of women being elevated to the clerical state is an abuse that has long been condemned by the Church. Were there wayward Deaconesses who took it upon themselves to imitate the roles and function of clergy? I'm sure. Dissidents have always existed in the Church. Read the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the exaggerated roles that some Deaconesses illegally assumed:"(Const. Apost., VIII, 27) that 'the deaconess gives no blessing, she fulfills no function of priest or deacon', and there can be no doubt that the extravagances permitted in some places, especially in the churches of Syria and Asia, were in contravention of the canons generally accepted. We hear of them presiding over assemblies of women, reading the Epistle and Gospel, distributing the Blessed Eucharist to nuns, lighting the candles, burning incense in the thuribles, adorning the sanctuary, and anointing the sick (see Hefele-LeClercq, II, 448). All these things must be regarded as abuses which ecclesiastical legislation was not long in repressing." The Church's prohibition of women from the ordained clergy is a manifestation of the distinction of genders and of men being called to imitate the Priestly and Fatherly roles of Christ. Your tired tactic of trying to convolute this discussion with incessant recourse to women's menstruation doesn't hold water, pal. Is that all you truly have?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Texan Traditionalist,I'm aware of the papal documents forbidding women acolytes, i'm also aware of the papal documents permitting women to substitute for acolytes. If the popes agreed with your thinking they could never justify permitting this practice. Your recourse to disqualifying a practice because it was 'born of dissent' doesn't hold water, because it is no longer a dissenting practice, since the pope has approved it. It might have been dissenting once, it's not so anymore. To say that it is an abuse and an aberration is to indite the Holy Father, since he permits it, and has used them in the past. Not to mention that the reasoning given by the Pope in permitting girl servers appeals to the already established law of a lay person substituting of an acolyte allowing the interpretation that this lay person could be female. It didn't change the already existing law, so it's in harmony with previous papal documents. These are facts. If you think you know what the pope was 'really' thinking, and what his 'real' intentions were, even though they've never been recorded or written down, then we haven't much to talk about. I can't read the pope's mind, i'm sorry to say. I can only go by what he has officially written down, and what he has done. As a comparison look at communion on the hand, it was a practice born in dissent, but then it was approved, and the current Holy Father has said that:"I am not opposed in principle to Communion in the hand; I have both administered and received Communion this way myself. The idea behind my current practice of having people kneel and receive Communion on the tongue was to send a signal and to underscore the real presence with an exclamation point." Nothing about how it was born in dissent therefore it is wicked. But then again, you probably know what the pope was 'really' thinking in this case, and he really meant to say 'communion on the hand is bad, it was born of dissent, it's bad bad bad, just like altar girls." The Catholic Encyclopedia was written in 1913, a lot has changed in terms of historical scholarship since then. Even the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith in the commentary to Inter Insigniores states that the issue requires further study. Not to mention that, according to Bishop Ware(did you read the interview?), the practice was never eliminated. Deaconesses were permitted by the canons of an ecumenical council(Chalcedon) and by Patriarchal authority, that's hardly marginal, and there was an official ordination ritual where she was vested with a stole, given a chalice, that took place in the sanctuary by the older(lex credendi, lex orandi). The clerical functions of deaconesses were performed with approval of ecclessial authorities not against them.You haven't engaged with what I've said concerning menstruation, you just keep dismissing it as smoke screen. You just keep repeating the same things over and over.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Oh and take a look at this photo:http://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A053rcAltarGirls.htmYeah, he's only just tolerating them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,I just broke down church documents for you. Please see.Purity and the priesthood in the Hebrew Scriptures and Rabbinic traditionhttp://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_01011993_purity_en.htmlThen read INTER INSIGNIORES again.http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19761015_inter-insigniores_en.htmlYou don't have to be Einstein to figure this out.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,The first document is not of a binding nature.Yes, let's read Inter Insigniores.Notice how the first part makes no mention of the sort of symbolism that you use as an argument, but only appeals to the tradition of the church. "Having recalled the Church's norm and the basis thereof, it seems useful and opportune to illustrate this norm by showing the profound fittingness that theological reflection discovers between the proper nature of the sacrament of Order, with its specific reference to the mystery of Christ, and the fact that only men have been called to receive priestly ordination. It is not a question here of bringing forward a demonstrative argument, but of clarifying this teaching by the analogy of faith."The symbolism of the bridegroom and all that, falls under theological reflection on the practice, it is not a part of the actual argument against women's ordination. It is not a reason for the practice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    By the way, please tell me why a man can be a bride, but a woman can't be a bridegroom.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ AlfredAs I stated previously, never have I claimed to know the innermost dispositions of any Sovereign Pontiff. Claiming I have done otherwise is your own invention. What is a fact is that the practice of female altar servers arose in direct rebellion against the authority of Holy Mother Church and her perennial liturgical practices. The fact that is now so common-place is nothing more than a capitulation to the desires of dissenters by Roman authorities. Papal authority has been utterly emasculated in the past decades and an emphasis on accommodation rather than conservation has been the flavor of the day. To claim that all that comes out of the Holy Father or Rome enjoys the status of de-fide promulgation impervious to any form of criticism is tantamount to idolatry. You reduce this discussion to the realm of "my opinion" vs. "the pope's opinion" is quite juvenile. Catholics do not debate in a void. We are blessed to have at our disposal the entire doctrinal and liturgical patrimony at our fingertips. I challenge you to find a citation of women being allowed to enter into the Minor Order of Acolyte (or assume its roles and attire) prior to the liturgical upheaval of the mid 20th century. In addition I challenge you to find a pre-20th century example of a liturgical practice that was initially considered an abuse and was then enshrined in the liturgical books by the Church. The constant teaching of the Church is that Deaconesses did not enjoy the clerical status and any exaggerations that existed within their ranks were abolished … culminating in the Council of Nismes in 394 which reproved in general the assumption of the levitical ministry by women and the entire dissolution of Deaconesses in the First Council Orange in 411.Lastly, could you please reiterate what you mean by, "By the way, please tell me why a man can be a bride, but a woman can't be a bridegroom." … ? I'll address it accordingly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Texan Traditionalist,One topic at a time: "The constant teaching of the Church is that Deaconesses did not enjoy the clerical status and any exaggerations that existed within their ranks were abolished … culminating in the Council of Nismes in 394 which reproved in general the assumption of the levitical ministry by women and the entire dissolution of Deaconesses in the First Council Orange in 411."There is no such constant teaching.Funny, the Council of Chalcedon approves of deaconesses and it took place in 451, and was an ECUMENICAL council while Orange was only a local council. Furthermore, like I said, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has said that the issue needs to be studied further, look at the commentary to Inter Insigniores. Look at this passage from Bishop Timothy Kallistos Ware:"Orthodoxy certainly accepts that women can be ordained to the first of the Major Orders, the diaconate. In the ancient Church women served as female deacons; and although in the west these deaconesses seem usually to have been regarded as a (lay¹ rather than an ordained¹ ministry), in theChristian east they were blessed with the same prayers and according to exactly the same rite as male deacons, so there are sound reasons to place them on the same sacramental level. They helped in particular at the Baptismof adult women, and also did pastoral work among the female members of thecongregation, although they do not seem to have preached or assisted in theadministration of holy communion. The order of deaconesses has never been abolished in the Orthodox Church, but from the sixth or seventh century it fell increasingly into disuse, finally disappearing around the eleventhcentury."(The Orthodox Church pg. 292-293)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    " To claim that all that comes out of the Holy Father or Rome enjoys the status of de-fide promulgation impervious to any form of criticism is tantamount to idolatry. "I never claimed this. "I challenge you to find a citation of women being allowed to enter into the Minor Order of Acolyte (or assume its roles and attire) prior to the liturgical upheaval of the mid 20th century. In addition I challenge you to find a pre-20th century example of a liturgical practice that was initially considered an abuse and was then enshrined in the liturgical books by the Church. "Take a look at this about Carthusian nuns:"After her solemn profession or perpetual donation, the nun can, if she wishes, receive the Consecration of Virgins. This is a special rite where the Bishop gives the nun not only the veil and ring, external signs of an indissoluble union with the divine Spouse, but also the stole. This confers on the recipient certain liturgical privileges the most significant of them being the proclaiming of the Gospel on certain occasions.The nun’s habit is similar to the monk’s: white robe, cowl with lateral bands for those who have taken vows. However, instead of the monk’s hood the nuns wear a wimple with their veil."http://www.chartreux.org/en/nuns/NUN.HTM

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    "In addition I challenge you to find a pre-20th century example of a liturgical practice that was initially considered an abuse and was then enshrined in the liturgical books by the Church. "In 865 Sts. Cyril and Methodius wrote a Cyrillic Mass(Roman rite mind you). Popes Nicholas I and Adrian II allowed this saying: "Let those be cast forth from the fold who condemn this use of the vernacular."In 873 Pope John VIII forbade the Mass. Then in 874 Pope John VIII approved the Slavonic Mass. Then Pope Stephen VI condemned the Mass. Pope Alexander II, 200 years later, decreed in his full authority and "in perpetuity" that the Mass could never again be recited in Slavonic, but only in Latin or Greek. Then Pope and Saint Gregory VII prohibited the use of the Slavonic "under any circumstances". Then Pope Leo XIII reinstated the Slavonic Mass. Then Pope St. Pius X canonized the legitimacy of the Slavonic Mass. Then Vatican II happened and …. well you know the rest.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16657616922571992600 The Texan Traditionalist

    @ Alfred,1.)I'll address your comments regarding the Glagolitic Mass ("Slavonic Mass") first. I find it a little odd that you just copy and pasted what was written on a "Unity Publishing" article. Regardless, what that article doesn't impart is that the Pope's indecisiveness on the use of the Glagolitic liturgy was primarily a concern over the orthodoxy of St. Methodius. His opponents (primarily Bohemian prelates) considered this Mass to be riddled with subtle heresies and even falsely accused him of disseminating anti-Catholic treatises written in Slavonic so as to conceal their meaning. In addition, Pope Alexander II actually approved its use in Dioclea in 1062 and Pope St. Gregory VII cautioned against it out of concern over the translation of sacred scripture into a language that was, as of then, not fully studied lest error should enter into the sacred scriptures. The Papacy's reluctance toward the Glagolitic liturgy had more to do with the host of false aspersions leveled against St. Methodius which still had to be resolved and the unfamiliarity with the Slavonic language and its ability to convey the accuracy of sacred texts. 2.)Secondly in regard to Deaconesses. First off I do not recognize neither the authority of Kalistos nor do I think Catholics are to look towards schismatic Churches for authentic exegesis on any issue. The very functions that he mentions were categorically condemned as exaggerations of their roles. That role, of which, has always been regarded in the West as simply widows wishing to consecrate themselves to the ascetic life. Thy were granted particular privileges such as tending to the baptism of women (which, even for adults, was done in the nude via full immersion) and the anointing of a woman's body during Extreme Unction while the Priest performed the actual rites. Many of the early women's religious orders did make use of certain clerical vestments to express their symbolic role within their own communities (such as the stoles for fully professed Carthusian nuns or crosiers for Abbesses). However, sin enters even into such bastions of holiness for it was necessary for Pope Innocent III to put a stop to the absue of Abbesses hearing confessions (and granting absolutions!) and preaching. The chanting of the liturgical propers is something that is still retained in several traditional convents (in the absence of ordained ministers of the altar). I've seen it myself in a traditional Carmelite convent where the propers were chanted behind the grate which separated the choir of sisters from the sanctuary. None of this pertains to any usurpation of the clerical status. … and just to bring us back home: women donning clerical habits (cassocks, albs) and assuming the role of the Acolyte has no basis, East or West, and capitualtion by emasculated Hierarches proves nothing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,Are you really that daft. "when Christ's role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this 'natural resemblance' which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man.""In the new Passover, the Church, under visible signs, immolates Christ through the ministry of the priest. And so, it is asserted, since the priest also represents the Church, would it not be possible to think that this representation could be carried out by a woman, according to the symbolism already explained? It is true that the priest represents the Church, which is the Body of Christ. But if he does so, it is precisely because he first represents Christ himself, who is the Head and the Shepherd of the Church."http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Paul06/p6interi.htm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    @AlfredAs with many 'expert opinions' certain metropolitans without metropolia speak for themselvesnot Orthodoxyas you probably knowListen to the fine 'not very good reasons' of 'we orthodox' for not having deaconesses atAncient Faith Radio under the Metropolitan's listingsAlso, since I was there, know that at the 1988 negotiations on deaconesses in the Church of England in conjuction with the Orthodox of the Dublin Agreement the metroploitan infamously changed from a public opinion on The subject to a private one (geddit?) in camera.yeah, unlikely to happen again if you are wondering in the real world of ORTHODOXY

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,Ok honey, I'm sorry I'm not as smart as you, take a look at the document though. The first 4 sections talk about the direct reasons for the practice of barring women from ordination, section 5, gives a theological reflection and not a demonstrative argument.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    "In the ancient church, and up until the twelfth century, the priestly order of diaconate was accessible to women. They too were ordained at the altar, during the sacred liturgy, with the laying on of hands by the bishop, and thereafter stood vested in their sacred dalmatics and stoles, for the celebration of the eucharistic liturgy with the other clergy. The form of the ordination prayer for female deacons, and the placing of it within the eucharistic liturgy around the altar itself, are clear signs that we are speaking here of a sacred ordination (cheirotenia) not a mere blessing (cheirothesia) as some writers have argued²²´. The female deaconate was distinguished from the male deaconate only in that the women deacons did not administer the eucharistic gifts publicly, although they themselves received the gifts along with the other deacons around the altar of the church. They were also required to be celibates²³°. The liturgical witness of women deacons was a great blessing for the church which after the twelfth century (much earlier in the Western Church) faded away. Some have said that this was a providential development. It is hard to see their justification for so surprising a conclusion considering that the ordination ritual for women deacons still exists in the sacred liturgical books of the church, thus clearly testifying to its status as an integral part of Orthodox tradition; and the abolition of the office came about as a result of the increasing social collapse that affected the Byzantine world after the rise of Islam. It came about, therefore, as a result of the oppressive damage being done to the Christian movement in the wider culture of the medieval East, not as a positive response based on Christian developments. It also has to be confessed that the attitude of the predominantly male monastic movement after the fourth century was hostile to the concept of the deaconess. After the sixth century, when the bishops themselves were co-opted into the celibate ranks of the ascetics, the phenomenon, still seen in the fourth-century golden age of the Fathers, where deaconesses could even be members of the bishops own family²³¹, became more and more a mere memory. Monastics, who themselves were at first not a regular part of the local church organization (living in the wilderness far away from the metropolitan church) soon came to dominate the ranks of the clergy, and thereafter pressed for the appointment of more and more celibate clerics by preference." – Father John Anthony McGuckin The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture. Blackwell,2008. Pgs 326-327.I'm appealing of course to his authority as a scholar, not as a priest. Also, the synods in the west that forbade deaconesses were local synods. Chalcedon approved of deaconesses and it was an ecumencial council.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,Why would this reflection be on the paper about women's ordinations, if it was not important?Really, we are through. You are playing games on purpose.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savia,I'm not playing games. I'm simply pointing out that those reflection play a different role in the document, they are the result of the norm, not the reason for it. Look at Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, you won't find them there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    The distinction is plainly in the document I might add, I didn't make it up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Anthony Brett,I am fed up of explaining this to Alfred. Perhaps you can provide an Orthodox source that also holds to the argument that the life-giving work of the woman, is separate from the life-atoning work of the priest.The distinction between what stands for life and what stands for sin and death needs to be made.Bottom line: the Mass is a sacrifice, atonement for sin. It's the same sacrifice at calvary, made present.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    golly those rules were made TO BE BROKENTHANK YOU YODA

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savia,Don't be fed up, just work on your reading comprehension. Let's stick to Inter Insigniores and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, which are the main binding documents of the magisterium on this topic. The symbolism of masculinity and femininity does not play a role of justification in those documents.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,Even Pope John Paul 2's document on the dignity of women, has addressed this issue.It seems like you want a word by word notice, like a 5-year old, because you cannot put things together.Nuns are brides of Christ.Men do not become nuns.Women do not become priests, who represent the one true priest. Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savia, Yes, I want a clear and precise reading of the magisteria documents. Mulieris Dignitatem doesn't have the status that Inter Insigniores and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis do.If men can be brides(as you say), why can't women be bridegrooms?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    "The symbolism of masculinity and femininity does not play a role of justification in those documents."Yes, they do, You chose to ignore this. I quoted a whole chunk of the previous document, and you called it a theological reflection.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,Yes I do call it a theological reflection. You want to know why? Because the document itself calls it a theological reflection and not a demonstrative argument.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Let's put it plainly, in Inter Insigniores look at the sections before and after this phrase:"Having recalled the Church's norm and the basis thereof, it seems useful and opportune to illustrate this norm by showing the profound fittingness that theological reflection discovers between the proper nature of the sacrament of Order, with its specific reference to the mystery of Christ, and the fact that only men have been called to receive priestly ordination. It is not a question here of bringing forward a demonstrative argument, but of clarifying this teaching by the analogy of faith."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    "If men can be brides(as you say), why can't women be bridegrooms?"Men cannot be nuns. In fact, I have not come across men fighting to be nuns.Maybe, it has something to do with the fact, that people somehow think a priest's work is better.This is not true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02300536931993067125 Alfred

    Savvia,you said so yourself that men can be brides.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Alfred,I should have clarified my stance. Men can be common brides , as members of the church, but cannot be consecrated ones.Women can be common priest, as members of the church, but cannot be ordained ones.Why?A man is a more fitting icon for a priest.A woman is a more fitting icon for a bride.The sacraments made the things of God "visible"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    i cannot imagine now nor everfighting to be a 'nun'just a thought.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05003640516890793019 Savia

    Anthony Brett,I know that no man would be crazy enough to fight to be a nun. But, these women are obviously deluded into thinking they can be priests.I don't see how the work of atoning for sin and death is greater than be married to Jesus Christ forever.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 Anthony Brett Dawe

    @Saviai'm with yahas I have been saying for some decades now (with the our Father interspersed to be sure)why do the Anglocons object to the proper grammatical form'priestess'well, that is correct and short circuits the whole dumb ideaall the best

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01404198713362172634 Jens

    You, father, think religion is girly? Please correct that error.

  • http://www.progress.org/jstaiwan.htm Jewell Bliek

    Immediately after reading through your article ” Girl Altar Servers? “, I eventually made the decision to book mark it on Google. This is truly one terrific material to share with some friends

  • http://www.jlewisstatues.co.uk jean

    I delayed allowing my daughter ot serve at the altar for while, because of the beleif that it was less correct than boys serving.
    However, both she and her two younger brothers now serve. People have said to me that when they saw her attention, devotion and demeanor on the altar they cried because it shamed them into considering their own lack of attention. (This is how servers are meant ot be of course.)
    She is a great support to her younger brothers who are the only boys who serve at our church. They too are very attentive and serious about the Mmass, understanding who they serve ; even though they are only nine.
    The other servers have become more disciplined by their example, and most of this I think is due to my daughters example.I would love to see more devoted young men serving the altar, but I have seen the good that has happenned through a girl server, and perhaps that for now is God’s will.


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