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Saturday, March 15, 2014
20th Anniversary of Altar Girls
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Today is the 20th Anniversary of the Church formally stating that girls can serve at the Mass. Yet, as those familiar with Catholic Tradition and those familiar with the effects of this know, altar serving should be for boys ONLY.

I recently say this insightful comment on Facebook:
"Regardless of what anyone contends this is not an issue of gender equality. Indeed, no one has a right to serve at the Mass. As a father of five, four of whom are girls, the equality argument rings hollow to me. To discuss altar girls under the banner of equality is to impose a false, secular, notion of participation into the sacred and eternal realm of the liturgy. We all participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, regardless of what our role is or isn’t."
For hundreds of years, the usage of altar servers has brought about countless priestly vocations. In the words of the Archbishop of Westminster, Bernard Cardinal Griffen, "To serve at the altar, as to sing in the choir, is next to the priesthood the highest privilege which a human can enjoy. He represents the faithful and takes a most intimate part in the rich treasures of the church's liturgy and ceremonial. Those sacred ceremonies should be carried out with devotion, dignity and attention to detail."

Traditionally, the role of altar server has always been reserved to males and rightfully so. By having males serve at the altar, a young man is better able to discern the priesthood since he is involved with the Liturgy. Personally, I support the return of an all-male group of altar servers for the entire Catholic Church. Some parishes are even returning to the practice of all-male altar servers.

Historically, the role of altar server has always been reserved to males. In the Encyclical Allatae Sunt on July, 26, 1755, Pope Benedict XIV stated in paragraph 29:

Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: "Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry." We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21."
In 1970 the Vatican condemned female altar serving in Liturgicae instaurationes as well as in 1980's Inaestimabile donum. Not until a circular letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to presidents of episcopal conferences on March 15, 1994, did the Vatican officially allow female altar serving.

Continue Reading on the History and Graces of Altar Serving... 

 


1 comments:

del_button March 15, 2014 at 9:02 AM
Brian Williams said...

Matthew, thank you for sharing my quote. This is indeed an important subject. Here is my blog post which contains the quote and also reflects on this infamous anniversary. http://liturgyguy.com/2013/10/06/altar-boys-and-the-priesthood/

Brian Williams
Liturgy Guy

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