LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

I Don’t Understand . . .

Why all Catholic men don’t see serving Mass as the great privilege that it is, and learn to do it; and I also don’t see why all Catholic priests don’t actively encourage this . . .

It’s surprising how often, even somewhere like the Oratory, you find a Mass with no server : and I do sometimes wonder whether some priests don’t simply find it easier than having to create serving rotas, train servers, and all the other things which go with having servers for every Mass.

On the other hand, I suspect that most if not all of the practical problems could perfectly well be left in the hands of the laity – they certainly are in many if not most Anglican churches, without any apparent ill-effects.

The Mass ought to have servers; if only for the dignity of the greatest event known to man. I was involved in a discussion recently on another blog with someone who apparently despised Low Mass, and obviously was only really interested in High Mass; and whilst I disagree personally with that viewpoint, simply because I prefer the quiet and privacy of Low Mass, there is no doubt that High Mass is the ‘normative’ form of the Mass, and that ‘Low Mass’ is, in effect, a concession to make it possible for all priests to say Mass every day.

That said, though, I can see no reason why Mass should ever be said without a server unless there is simply no possibility of finding one : and it is hard to see why that should be the case in any normal circumstance – even during the working day it should always be possible – you have retired people, people who work shifts, students, all sorts of possible sources of servers.

Gentlemen : if you can’t serve, then why not learn, and make yourselves available ? And Fathers – why not make a conscious policy decision to try and eliminate server-less Masses from your Churches ?

(And, for the ladies, I have written this for the gentlemen because that is the perceived norm, particularly in the UK; but if you attend Mass somewhere where women and girls serve, and feel inclined to do so, then the above applies to you as well !)


  1. I was muttering "yes! yes! Yes!" as I read, until your last comment.

    No no no no no!

    Women shouldn't serve. It's an abomination and an insult to us to have us serve at the altar. Even if there's no-one else, Don't Do It!

  2. 'Since the pope is responsible for legislation, i.e., discipline, and since he promulgated to code of canon law and approved the action of the CDW permitting female altar servers we are not departing from the custom of the Church which is to humbly submit to the will of the Holy Father.'

  3. Shadowlands, the Pope letting stuff happen is not the same as it being the Pope's will that it happen. To say nothing of the fact that Popes Get Stuff Wrong. Filial piety doesn't mean training yourself to think that whatever your parents say, do, think, or permit is ideal or even good.

    More or less on this topic (and in concrete detail, which is always more useful, I find, than vague generalities) Comments 12 and 13 esp. on this thread.

  4. Berenike If the Pope is getting stuff wrong, that is between him and God. Scripture tells me, that I must obey my spiritual leaders.
    (Hebrews 13:17-19)
    "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."

    Scripture does not tell me, that You, nor any other's opinions will hold sway or give an account before God for me, or that your opinions hold authority before the Pope's. In fact, if you want to get really fundamental, it says women should be silent in these matters. I, will do my best(which fails miserably, regularly) to obey my spiritual leaders, especially the Pope, until he utters otherwise. I know, for some reason, that therein lies unity, and blessing. What sometimes seems like a good cause, can mask the devil's work, disunity. God bless, I wish you peace in Holy Mother Church.

  5. I know where you're coming from :) And it is very pious. Nor am I saying you should listen to what I say because I say it :) Scripture also tells me to weigh what preachers tell me to see if it departs from the Gospel that has been preached to me (sorry, can't remember the reference, somewhere in the letters of St Paul, at least.), if you want to pass proof texts around :)

    Of course altar girls are permitted. So is communion on the hand. It doesn't mean either is a good thing. It does mean you can't give anyone a hard time for doing it, as if it were not permitted.

    For centuries superiors had all sorts of extensive rights over the consciences of religious under them. This was permitted. It was a bad thing, and is no longer allowed. It seems that a Pope permitted abbots to ordain priests - this is a serious oh-oh in all sorts of ways. The Pope signed off on the current English translation of the Mass, which is in many places not even a paraphrase. There are whole chunks missing! It's legitimate. Priests shouldn't change it when saying Mass, even if what they say is actually better. But the mere fact of it being authorised doesn't make it good!

    The Catechism says that lay people should correct their pastors when necessary. We are all Christians together, and all responsible for each other and for the wellbeing of the Church as a whole.

    To say that something permitted is not a good thing per se, is not disobeying the Pope! It's permitted. There's nothing saying "this is a good thing, and you must believe that this is a good thing". It's not even commanded! Just allowed. I'm not arguing that it's not permitted!

    Being obedient and pious doesn't mean switching off your critical faculty. You don't have to think about these things. In fact, it's healthy to avoid it on the whole, as you rightly do. And as I do, when I'm not wasting time on the blogs. Best not to think about it. Waste of prayer time. "whatever is good... think on these things".

    But if you choose to discuss it, then "the Pope allows it therefore it must be better than not allowing it" , or "the Pope authorised it, therefore it must be good" is just daft, at the very least :)

  6. Berenike;In fact, in personal preference, I like male altar servers. I just found your use of the word 'abomination' a bit strong, and your direction of "Don't do it!" very bossy. You reminded me of certain non-Catholic fundamentalists I used to know and be influenced by (terrified), although many Catholics are beginning to remind me of the latter, especially on blogger. Therefore, I looked up the Church's teaching/view on it, rather than taking your sole direction on it. I think that was me using my critical ability?

  7. B: You'd probably hate me. I've been serving Mass since 1975. I bet that rips a hole in your heart.

    But you know what? Somehow I've never seen how if the server is to represent ALL the people [you know, some 50% of which likely does not have the toilet seat up when they have to "go"] if a little 8 year old boy can answer for "all the people" then a little 8 year old girl should be able to do same. I know it probably gripes your butt no end, but even in the days before female servers were common, women WERE permitted to do the responses and ring the bell outside the sanctuary. You think God really gives a flip if she's there to present the wine and water and ring the bells? There's a REASON the priest uses the plural form of "you" even if there is only one physical server kneeling next to him at the prayers at the foot of the altar.

    Frankly, I've seen more WOMEN who are roadblocks to females serving than men. Just like the women who can't seem to stand if there's a girl in the neighborhood who can beat her little boy in a footrace.

    You're playing the "Wah, wah...she's doing something I wouldn't do even if it's allowed." card.

    Funny how with some of the traddy types a women is supposed to stay outside the sanctuary, because it's "only a man's place...blah, blah" but re: CLEANING the floor -- she's welcome to scrub the place on her knees. No qualms about her being in the sanctuary then. Someday you'll have to explain that one to me.

    I'm for encouraging BOTH sexes to learn -- so they can be intimate with the Mass in a way a non-server can never know without experiencing it. BOTH sexes should fall in love with Mass from an "inside perspective."

    If I had a nickle for every woman who was surprised to learn that is NOT holy water in the water cruet, I'd be rich as Croesus.

    Oh, and you really want to be honest -- if you took traddy girls from 8-20 how many of them do you HONESTLY think would know the responses off by heart in Latin without resorting to a cheat sheet? Think they REALLY are as attentive to the Mass as their brothers? Then they'd REALLY get as high a percentage of those who knew the reponses as well as their brothers?

    I wouldn't even want to make that bet.

    If it floats your boat to tell your hypothetical daughter "well, you go iron all the cassocks, that's what YOUR suited for" I'd hate to be your daughter. Especially if you turn to her brother and say "Well, darling boy, let's make sure YOU know all about the Mass and get your responses right and know what they mean.... never mind your sister ... it's not that important that she memorizes this like you will."

    My motto is that if "Mary wants to be at the feet of Jesus" she shouldn't be forced to play Martha. Martha's sure important as all get out ... but it seems to me "Mary has chosen the better part." And people like you shouldn't be snotty and condescending to her.