Vatican Confirms: Female Servers Prohibited at Old Mass

The admission of female serves in 1994 by the Congregation for Divine Worship does not have retroactive effect upon celebrations according to the old Missal of 1962. The papal commission Ecclesia Dei responsible in such matters confirmed this today. Only male servers may be used at celebrations of the “old Mass.” A written response of the commission from May to such a question from Great Britain had been disseminated on internet previously.

The Vatican authority referred to a directive on the old Latin Mass which was published the middle of May. According to this directive, liturgical decrees issued since 1962 which are not compatible with the liturgical books then in use are not binding on Tridentine celebrations.

In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI readmitted the rite, which was superseded worldwide in 1970, the “extraordinary form.” The “modern” celebration according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) remains the normal form.

Source: KAP, tr. awr.

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100 comments

  1. Is the restoration of the subdiaconate next?

    Is this about aesthetics or theology? If aesthetics, then is the Extraordinary Rite just an elaborate theatrical production? If theology, does this mean that those worshiping according to the Extraordinary Rite are not bound by the Church’s post 1962 understanding of the role of women? Does all of Vatican II go out the window for the duration of the Mass?

    Austin Newberry

  2. Does the celebrant of the Tridentine Mass have to fast from Midnight? But I’m sure he would want to, anyway!

    1. Does the celebrant of the Tridentine Mass have to fast from Midnight?

      It would require some research to get a definite answer on the length of the fast required (one has to determine what laws were in the liturgical books in 1962 as opposed to which laws were general laws as UE only derogates from the former:

      “28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.” [My bold]

      But it’s no longer than three hours, because that was the length set by Pope Pius XII in the 50’s, as Ed Peters writes:

      First, while previously the eucharistic fast had been observed from a fixed terminus a quo (namely, midnight), henceforth the fast would know only a terminus ad quem (namely, reception of the Eucharist) such that the observance of the fast was to be reckoned backward from the time communion was expected to be received, instead of being observed forward from a fixed hour. Second, the fasting period was fixed at three hours for solid foods and one hour for liquids, except that alcoholic beverages were entirely forbidden during the fast, while water or medicines did not break the fast. Third, the pope distinguished between celebrants, who needed to complete their fast prior to the start of Mass, and people, who needed to complete their fast only prior to the actual reception of communion.

  3. I am glad the Vatican is putting our assessments dollars to such good use. Perhaps they will revisit the question of how many angels can sit on the head of a pin.

  4. Going from “not binding” to “prohibited” is a big step. Why is the reasoning that led to allowing female servers at the ordinary Mass not a valid reasoning for the old Mass as well? Whatever the reasons, that is a bit off-putting.

    And to think that my mother was serving at the early morning Mass in the 1930s already!

    1. This ranks right up there with the other silly old rule which once forbade Catholic women from entering the sanctuary (still true among the Eastern Orthodox for Orthodox women). Touching the communion vessels was another one.
      Women who were in favor of the restoration of the EF and might have entertained the idea of being able to serve on the altar, now must feel so offended by this action, they’ll just decide to pick up their skirts and jump over the wall to the Anglicans and Lutherans. Where, I have no doubt, they may be very warmly welcomed.

      What more does B16 have in mind for alienating more and
      more of his flock?

      1. “Women who were in favor of the restoration of the EF and might have entertained the idea of being able to serve on the altar”

        Are there many such women? I have always found that support for the EF goes hand in hand with support for male only altar service.

        “and jump over the wall to the Anglicans and Lutherans. Where, I have no doubt, they may be very warmly welcomed”

        Leave their religion because they cannot serve at the altar of the least used form of liturgy?

    2. I looked up the 1994 letter:
      http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19990301/SCRMNTL/ordin_w%27men.htm
      It looks like a reluctant tolerance of reality more than a ringing endorsement. My impression is that the reality was that there were altar girls long before the Vatican officially allowed it.

      In other words, that ruling does not matter. It indicates a certain off-putting (to me) mindset in the Curia, but in terms of impact, there is no reason to go up in arms about it. It is one of those rulings that are meant to be followed or ignored, simply according to the locals’ preference.

      1. They wouldn’t be leaving their religion, merely changing denomination. The religion is called christianity.

      2. Kind of like the Church’s moral teachings? Take it or leave it?

        Well, that does sum up the attitude of many, sadly.

    1. The snark within me wants to ask if it’s because you can’t compose bouncy introits and what-not for the EF?

      But I’ll restrain myself.

      1. I suppose you could do better. When your talent remotely approximates that of David Haas, then you will be able to speak with some authority.

      2. Dylan,

        I don’t believe there’s anything that would prevent David from composing introits, bouncy or otherwise, for the EF. You might recall that there are quite a number of fairly bouncy settings of the Mass, including the proper, from before the 1960s.

  5. How easily the previous commenters dismiss the EF. It brought my wife into Christianity and brought me back to the Church. It also acts as a bridge to institutional union with the Orthodox Church with whom we share more than with any other group of Christians. Before criticising it, at least attend it.

  6. It also acts as a bridge to institutional union with the Orthodox Church with whom we share more than with any other group of Christians.
    ———————————————–
    Ceile De, I’ve not only attended, but I served as an altar boy for years before Pius XII instituted the Holy Week changes and after that time. I don’t miss the EF at all. I miss some features of the old Mass which could easily be incorporated into the Novus Ordo without much of an adjustment, but the OF has many more advantages the old rite never had.

    If the EF didn’t bring the Orthodox over the Bosphorus and the Tiber to Rome with the pre-Vatican II rite, I don’t see how the EF will be much of a bridge for them today. True, many Orthodox applaud the EF restoration as a bow towards tradition–something, I admit, is extremely important to Orthodox Christians . However,there are so many more age old, ecclesial issues dividing the two churches which no liturgical restoration or innovation can hope to gloss over.

  7. This is one of those places, I suspect, where there’s a clash of civilizations, to use Huntington’s phrase, between a liberal and a conservative mind. A liberal mind sees a rule it doesn’t like, that conflicts with its commitments, and asks, “What is the reason for that?”. And expects a certain kind of “rational” answer to justify the rule as if it were hermetically sealed. A conservative mind, despite its reputation, may be more intuitive, or even aesthetic (fiddleback chasubles aside…) and simply find the contested issue hard to answer on its “rational” terms.

    As someone who appreciates both a Paul VI and a Pius V Mass…if well enacted…I would say that altar girls in the Extraordinary Form just look odd and silly. Out of place there. Inauthentic. Distracting (and not because of lust, but because of novelty). Like celebrating the EF with tie-dyed vestments, earthenware chalices, priest ad populum* or music by the St Louis Jesuits.

    Will that satisfy the folks here who asked the question, some of whom find the whole EF regrettable? Probably not. From that viewpoint, what possible “rational” reason could there be? But it’s a fascinating and (almost-literally) mind-bending experience to try on the intellectual diversity of imagining what it’s like on the other side of the civilizational mind divide.

    *Except where old Roman architecture requires it.

  8. I guess the Vatican is humoring the conservatives who want the protected space of the EF.

    Of course many priests secretly would prefer to have altar boys only, but they bow to modern civilization. They have learnt to become critical of their own gynophobia, as the Vatican and of course the EF crowd have not.

  9. The EF crowd as some call them, at least in my parish, are quite comfortable at both the EF and OF and love both. They honor both on the terms of each one’s merits. But, it is the Mass, period, no matter the form.
    I prefer the vernacular for the ordinary celebration of the Mass, but prefer the solemnity of the EF and its lack of emphasis on the priest who is celebrating. What may well happen in the future already commented above is that some of the best of the EF “style” may be incorporated into the OF which will remain the normal, ordinary form of the Mass for generations to come.

    1. “….its lack of emphasis on the priest who is celebrating”

      The focus is entirely on the priest in the EF. He’s the only one doing anything of note save, of course, for the altar BOYS. He reads all the prayers, reads all the readings, in short, he does everything. Now someone is going to counter that all the emphasis is on GOD because the priest, after all, is “facing God” along with all the people. Has the promise of Jesus to be present in the midst of those who gather in his name been abrogated? Since Jesus is the very image of God, how can facing the people be facing away from God. Did the “First Pope” deceive us when he said all the baptized comprise a priestly people worthy of offering acceptable sacrifices? Then where is the evidence in the EF that the priestly people are offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice along with the priest and not merely in the presence of the priest?

      Did Jesus face away from the disciples at the Last Supper or at Emmaus. Did any presbyter/priest do so during the first three centuries? The EF represents an understanding of baptism, eucharist, and holy orders that is not consistent with the Tradition as it developed over the course of at least the last two centuries. That development is consistent with sources that pre-date the middle ages and reach back into the apostolic and patristic eras. The OF is the Traditional Mass.

      1. Did the “First Pope” deceive us when he said all the baptized comprise a priestly people worthy of offering acceptable sacrifices?

        So now Peter did write the first letter that bears his name? You heard it here first!

      2. The cultic role of the priest is emphasized in the EF, not the personality of the priest–I should have been clearer making that point. Is Cardinal Burke’s personality being emphasized or is he simply following the rubrics of any bishop that celebrates this form. Why do we have to allow “personalities” to get involved or have we been so imbued with that characteristic since the reformed Mass that that is what we normally think of?

      3. Jack;

        With all due respect… your dismissal of the emphasis on God in either form is disheartening. I could see how an individual attending an EF Mass for the first time may focus on the priest because they are accustomed to having to focus on something in the OF rather than being engaged in prayer. This isn’t a criticism of the OF, it is just an acknowledgment of the very different sense of participation required of each form. I don’t think anyone who regularly attends the EF liturgy would consider it important to ‘focus” on the priest.

  10. Gerard Flynn :

    Well, I considered something about fluffy pink cotton candy, but decided against it.

    I suppose you could do better. When your talent remotely approximates that of David Haas, then you will be able to speak with some authority.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

  11. Chris – he’s back……. “prefers the solemnity of the EF and its lack of emphasis on the priest who is celebratiing”….geez, Fr. Allan, do you really believe that? Watch a TLM by Cardinal Burke leading in with cappa magna, etc……no emphasis on the priest celebrating?

    Alternative universe – wishing that the EF “style” may be incoporated into the OF….or, let the tail wag the dog and re-invent what 2400 bishops at VII did cuz we know more than they did in the 1960s.

    1. I refuse from here on to be part of any discussion of the EF. I would be happy to discuss the form which is celebrated by a massive majority of Catholics in the US. The form which is a result of an ecumenical council and great reforms. I would suggest to the editors of this site that they create an alternate blog for those who wish to deliberate over the EF. I suggest this because almost every topic posted turns into a EF-OF debate. I am sick of it. The site can offer a lot better.

      1. The form which is a result of an ecumenical council and great reforms.

        You realize that this is also true of the EF, just a different council?

        I would suggest to the editors of this site that they create an alternate blog for those who wish to deliberate over the EF. I suggest this because almost every topic posted turns into a EF-OF debate.

        Well it’s a little odd to complain about there being discussion of the EF in a post about the EF. But much of the drama could be restrained if both parties didn’t call each other names and post outrageous and offensive comments. And there’s certainly plenty of that going on in this thread by Joe O’Leary (the Vatican is “gynophobi[c]”, David Haas (the EF is “silliness”, Sandi Brough (the EF is “unholy”), Paul Boman (the EF is “antiquarianism”), et al.

      2. Thank you Samuel
        It is depressing to see comments about other contributors. Those who are rude are unlikely to convince others. Part of the value of this blog is the engagement between those who see things differently. We may not convince our opponents. We should understand their approach better.

      3. Mike;

        This is one of the central issue of liturgy today, despite the efforts to minimize it for the past 4 years. Yes, the number of EF attendees is still small, and probably will remain small in comparison to those who attend the OF for some time. Has the number of OF attendees in the US increased by anything approaching 500% in the last 4 years? That is the currently figured amount of increase in EF attendees during that time in the US (in our Diocese it is closer to about a 15-fold increase… about 45 weekly EF attendees in 2006 to about 700 weekly attendees now.)

        Dismissing the issue as trivial does not make it so.

    2. Bill – “Chris – he’s back” — Yes, Fr. Allan has written another comment here. Did he say he was leaving? I do think it’s been a while since I saw a comment from him, but then I was out of the loop for half of May.

      Is there a reason you need to rally the troops against Fr. Allan’s mere presence and participation?

  12. “ts lack of emphasis on the priest who is celebrating. ”

    In fact, all of the emphasis is on the priest who is celebrating. He may not have much freedom of expression, but he’s still the sacral guru who does it all.

    I’m in Germany at the moment and I picked up a German book today which speculated that a certain kind of person likes the Tridentine rite because it allows them to look at the priest from the back. They wouldn’t at all be interested in looking at female altar servers from the same perspective.

    By all accounts, many of the more influential ones among them are in the office which drafted this gynophobic, misogynistic rule.

    It brings the whole house of liturgical norms into disrepute. Who would be bothered to implement them!

    1. Ah, yes. Those who prefer the EF prefer it because they’re homosexual. If you’re going to make the argument Gerard, at least have the courage of your convictions and write it out.

      1. Yes, that does seem to be what the author was saying. Of itself, it’s not all that useful a discovery. It’s harmless enough.

        The real odium attached to this ruling is, that, largely, as a result of latent psychosexual dynamics, the people who think up and promote these rules, are dressing up (no pun) the sacrileges of gynophobia and misogyny and calling them orthodoxy, in the strictly literal sense of the word. And those other aesthetes who like lace and everything medieval, and who indulge their tastes through liturgy, are taken in and cheerlead for them.

    2. I remember the short-lived article on this blog about homosexuality and the older form of the Roman Rite. That was a charity-fest if I ever saw one. Thanks for bringing back good memories.

      1. Jeffrey…

        Fortunately, I copied and archived that article as it was quickly removed from this site once it was realized that it came across as more homophoblic than theological.

      2. Ironically, I was made aware of this blog in January by a friend in town for the NA Academy of Liturgy meeting. One of her friends, a “feminist theologian” went off on a rant about how everyone was avoiding “the elephant in the room” that the new translation was “gay”…effeminate and fussy, etc.

        I notice some pretty ambivalent attitudes on here towards men who are attracted to other men.

      3. So Pray Tell still stands behind the scholarship? (That is, not in endorsing the position expressed, but the quality of the work, in the sense a peer-reviewed journal agrees that something is worth publishing, even if they don’t necessarily accept the conclusions.) Because, I think many of us on the outside had assumed y’all had decided that it was a mistake to publish such an obviously outrageously bad article, not a controversial article. To say that you took it down “because we concluded a constructive conversation on it was not possible. There was simply too much misunderstanding of the article, or irrational reactions, to warrant keeping it up” is like one of those apologies where someone says “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my doing X” rather than “I’m sorry I did X”. (I understand that it’s not an apology of any kind you’re making, but it seems like an analogous way of distancing.)

      4. I stand by what I wrote. We’re not a journal with peer-reviewed articles, we’re a blog. The quality of the post was appropriate to a blog. The resulting conversation showed it wasn’t going to work here. But I already said that. I stand by what I wrote.
        awr

      5. You know, Jeffrey Herbert, having just stumbled upon what you wrote about this blog over at The Chant Cafe, I for one am humbly grateful that, having such a low view of us as you do, you still deign to address us all from the heights of your Fons Sapientiae. God, but we’re lucky to have you, Jeffrey, unworthy as we are . . .

        Jeffrey Herbert wrote:
        Intellect? Good heavens… I think that last bottle of chablis has gone to your head in a major way. All it takes to carry on a conversation at Pray Tell is some patience, sympathy and an online dictionary of “words that sound like you know what you’re talking about” so that you can decipher the less coherent postings. If there is a finer example of the intellectual flatulence that passes for academia anywhere online, I have yet to find it. (Well, OK… there is the HuffPo… but let’s limit the scope to our field of interest!)

    3. , but he’s still the sacral guru who does it all.

      That would be a lousy thing, if it were true, but it’s not. In the normative form of the EF, the priest does not say all the responses, sing the music, hold the paten, pour the water and the wine, hold the chalice at the offertory, sing the Gospel, sing the Epistle, etc. etc. etc.

      1. He does it all. All of the important bits, that is.

        He doesn’t clean the place beforehand, or wash the linen. It would be better if he did.

    4. There seems to be an obsession with trying to figure out what is wrong with people who might like or prefer the EF. The base assumption being that any normal healthy Catholic would vastly prefer the OF and the only people who would not prefer it have some sort of deep-seated mental or sexual problem (like self-hating repressed homosexuality, dislike or fear of women), are ignorant (have nostalgia for a time that never existed or confusion about what constitutes communal prayer), or evil motives (hunger for power and authority, wealth, status, etc).

  13. This rule will only strengthen the tendency in the “two forms” to really separate the church into two rites- two groups. Those who don’t want women serving in the liturgy in any role, and those who hope women can serve in more.

    #12 – No, the Orthodox will now and in the future be more reluctant to move to full communion. It’s the legalism and the central control. Will not fly with them.
    Besides, the Latin rite as it evolved up to Trent so deviates from the Patristic age, as to almost be a rupture.

  14. This is truly stomach-turning. Any church that spits on women like this is *not* a Church of God. Once again, the hierarchs have provided proof for the world to see of exactly why this unholy Latin Mess has to be completely eradicated from the face of the earth before we can enter the New Springtime. It does nothing to instill the Spirit of Christ and of Sophia in the people.

    Where is the progressive revolt on this?!! NCR isn’t even covering this issue; are PrayTell the only ones who are going to stand up about this? When are we going to throw these misogynistic hierarchs out on their duffs and smash their precious idols (gold crockery, pointy hats, backward-facing altars) once and for all?

    1. Sandi, what’s stopping you from doing so in your own parish or diocese? Or at least organizing a protest outside whatever church closest to you dares to worship God on a backward-facing altar with the unholy Latin Mess.

      1. It’s really easy to dehumanize people you don’t agree with in a comment box online. I imagine Sandi would have a harder time with her “eradicate them from the face of the earth” and “smash their backward altars” comments if she had to say it to actual people attending an EF Mass or act on it locally. She would actually discover that the EF isn’t some evil plot by idol-worshipping hierarchs wishing to oppress the people of God, but is instead a Mass celebrated by people not unlike herself.

      2. I have to say, she sounded like the crazed love child of Oliver Cromwell and Matthew Fox.

  15. I’m not sure worshiping with Anglicans and Lutherans, who are Christian denominations, constitutes leaving one’s religion.

    Stewart Griffin :
    “Women who were in favor of the restoration of the EF and might have entertained the idea of being able to serve on the altar”
    Are there many such women? I have always found that support for the EF goes hand in hand with support for male only altar service.
    “and jump over the wall to the Anglicans and Lutherans. Where, I have no doubt, they may be very warmly welcomed”
    Leave their religion because they cannot serve at the altar of the least used form of liturgy?

  16. How depressing to read this article! Are the temple police striking again, this time with a gratuitous smack-down of young women who might be presumptuous enough to think of serving at mass? Yes, yes, I know–no one has a “right” to special participation in the liturgy. But we all have a right to equal respect from the institutions we associate with. As she intones, “Domine, non sum dignus,” will she glance at the side of the altar and notice that there is a young man serving who is less unworthy than she is?

    The May 13 “Instruction” contained the statement “On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honour.” How would having female servers near the altar dishonor the EF? This seems a punitive development at a time when the rate of depression among teens and incidence of youth suicides are rising, at a time when young people struggle to build some confidence in the future while economies across the globe have yet to recover. The Vatican that is so expert at keeping secrets might have kept this rule from becoming public. What IS the point of announcing it, except to align the Vatican further to the right in the perception of the public? Indeed, if Ecclesia Dei moves just a wee bit further to the right, maybe it’ll fall off its big flat earth.

    I call upon priests who celebrate the EF to resolve to do so without altar servers! You have an obligation not to give a symbolic slap in the face to women.

    1. What IS the point of announcing it, except to align the Vatican a wee bit further to the right in the perception of the public?

      The point of announcing it is apparently to stop it from happening at the University of Cambridge, where the students who asked for the EF have protested that their chaplain has insisted on asking women to serve the Mass.

      1. Thanks for the information. I’ve tracked down the news articles on the Cambridge quarrel. Fr. Z takes a canon-law legalistic approach. I have not read a moral or theological justification for the exclusion of female servers.

      2. Actually, Fr. Zuhlsdorf takes a pastoral approach to the question. Until the publication of UE, he held that it was probably allowed to have female servers, based on the 1983 Code of Canon Law and its authentic interpretation, but that it would be ill-advised, because part of the point of allowing wider use of the 1962 form (since the original indults in the 80s) has been reconciling to the Church people who would be made uncomfortable by its being done. The good of souls providing a strong reason not to do it, even if morally allowed or theologically reasonable, he hasn’t entered into moral or theological discussion of the issue.

      3. Interesting. in Cambridge, the chaplain has reluctantly agreed to use the old Mass, because of SP, but is keeping some of the changes of the past 40 years that he finds most important (such as female altar servers), and is using them to enrich the old Mass.

        If the use of the old Mass expands, isn’t there a chance that there will be more and more such initiatives? People can’t hope to pressure unwilling people to use the EF, and preserve the unchanged purity of the exact 1962 version frozen in time. If they really want to grow to significant numbers, they have to accept that it will start evolving and reforming, just like anything alive. It’ll be like taking a step back by 45 years, and then moving forward again, with the hope, I guess, of being more discerning the second time.

      4. Claire, Good points all. For most who are new to the EF and that would be younger people, they want to participate in all the parts of the Mass that they have sung or said in the past with the OF. We need to make sure that the Latin chants are easy for them to do so. I see no real problem with lay lectors (commentators are allowed). As for the issue of altar boys/girls, there could be a compromise in allowing the girls to do adjunct things and the two that would normally minister directly to the priest be boys, wine, water, washing of the hands, etc. That would open up all kinds of possibilities within the context of the current law.

      5. NCR has picked up the story in its Morning Briefing

        http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2011/06/08/vatican-girls-are-not-permitted-to-serve-at-old-mass/

        The news story illustrates the practical difficulties of integrating the OF and EF in parish life since the issue arose because the parish had a “team” of servers composed of boys and girls who did both OF and EF. Of course when one talks the language of “team” with young people that gets you into a whole different world than just liturgy.

        Pastors will have to be creative. Fr. Allan suggests “commentator” like roles as a means of providing an enhanced similar role for young women.

        One of these could be taking a place in or right before the front pews, and modeling the people’s full participation, e.g. singing the sung responses Amen, etc. This would help to show that these are the peoples parts (which servers in the old Low Mass did) not parts reserved to the choir. In the case of a Low Mass they should lead the people in saying the Latin parts including the Gloria, Credo, etc .

        It seems unlikely that all Sung EF Masses will have all sung Propers. Right before V2 when I was a Jesuit Novice we were beginning to say the Propers with the priest at Low Masses. Learning these would be a challenge for young women, certainly not something that could be viewed as a second rate role. In the case of Sung Propers, as commentators they would say the English text of the Propers.

        This illustrates the fact that the EF will undergo change if it is to exist with the OF in the same parish. It will be far easier to do the EF in separate parishes where 1962 can more easily be recreated, and the OF can be ignored. Promoters of the EF are going to have to make some choices.

      6. It seems unlikely that all Sung EF Masses will have all sung Propers.

        Sung EF Masses will have sung propers, by definition.

        In the case of Sung Propers, as commentators they would say the English text of the Propers.

        I’ve never seen a commentator at an EF Mass and I don’t expect to see one. Certainly not at a Sung Mass, at several points in the Mass there’s no way you could sing the propers and then read them out in translation without delaying the liturgical action.

      7. The issue is a political one, of how much EF advocates are willing to modify the EF to get it into the average parish.

        This decision sends a message to all pastors who might receive a request from the members of their parish for an EF Mass, that they will have to face the issue of not having women altar servers in the EF. Many of them have gone through the years when altar girls were a big issue, and are very glad that problem is behind them.

        This decision sends a message to all lay people who love Latin and Gregorian chant, and there are likely far more of us than EF lovers, that we don’t want to get involved with the EF.

        As someone who likes Latin and Gregorian chant I would love to have an OF Latin Mass in my parish. I am willing to have EF lovers have their Mass but not in my parish unless they are willing to be far more flexible.

        One of the reasons I carry on a conversation with Fr. Allan on these issues is that he appears to be flexible. If he were my pastor I might even be willing to support an EF in the parish if he also gave me a Latin OF.

      8. Prior to SP, and in my previous parish, I had a “Gregorian” OF Latin Mass the First Saturday of each month. We sang and spoke everything in Latin. The Schola sang the official Introit for the procession, the offertory antiphon and the extended Communion psalm (there were no hymns although Latin motets). I presided at it as I would at a vernacular OF Mass, and facing the people, although today I think I would do it ad orientem (Liturgy of the Eucharist). The Liturgy of the Word was in English of course. We had altar girls, lay lectors. It was a normal parish Mass, just Gregorian Chant and in Latin.
        It would be difficult to do it and also an EF Mass and that’s why I don’t do the OF Latin Mass in my current parish because of the EF.
        I know the permission for the EF is to reconcile those who want this form of the Mass and its rigidity. But personally I’d have no problems with altar girls and lay lectors and Eucharistic Ministers in the case of real need. But I’m not going to impose that on the EF until it is allowed if ever. But Jack is right the OF allows for a great deal of more flexibility in Latin and also allows for a mixture of Latin and vernacular.
        In terms of the EF, if you have a trained schola and a priest who doesn’t mind singing, the EF Mass entirely sung is a piece of cake and in fact I find it easier than the spoken form. Our schola sings everything and the people try to participate with the singing and their responses once only the domain of the choir and/or altar boys.

  17. Mark Miller :

    This rule will only strengthen the tendency in the “two forms” to really separate the church into two rites- two groups. Those who don’t want women serving in the liturgy in any role, and those who hope women can serve in more.

    Is there any real possibility that there could develop two rites?
    It does seem like it would end a lot of energy waste inside the Papal Catholic Church if there were a Latin Rite and a Vernacular Rite, each in union with the pope.

  18. I’m a little surprised that people who dislike the EF so much would want young girls to be exposed to it in the first place, much less participate in something they find so objectionable. It’s like asking for women to be ordained into the current clerical caste system.

    1. Who dislikes the EF? After a few years of weekly Latin mass, Gregorian chant and all, at school, I knew the responses from the Introibo ad altare Dei to the Ite missa est. I understand the sentiment of those who prefer the EF, though I surely do not share the politics that most of them apparently espouse. Much of the aesthetic appeal of the liturgy seemed to disappear following V.II, and I mourned its passing along with others. But aesthetics does not belong to the essence of worship, and the equal worth of all God’s children does. However, to prefer the EF for political reasons, as the demand for a prohibition on female servers indicates, seems mean spirited and anti-Christian.

      To say that none of the baptized has a right to serve at the altar is not the same as justifying applying the “no inherent right” mode of exclusion only to females. There is no theological justification. It is about anti-reform politics.

      If anyone still maintains a hope that keeping the EF going alongside the OF would heal the breach between traditionalists and reform-minded Catholics, this prohibition reveals the foolish delusion in that hope.

      1. I think you are right that all this is about church politics. It has been for the last fifty years or so. It’s a “conflict of visions.” Otherwise it would not provoke such passion here.

        The agenda of “reform-minded Catholics” is very largely driven by images of equality and open borders. The “traditionalist” Catholics are very much about hierarchy and boundaries. The reformers are not finished yet. The traditionalists have had more than enough. For reformers, the solution is more reform. For traditionalists, the reform is a large part of the problem.

        What Benedict XVI has done, without proscribing the reforms directly, is to set about freeing the traditionalists, primarily through the liturgy, and seeing who will eventually shape a future Church. It’s pretty clear whose side he’s on.

        From this perspective it would make no sense to allow altar girls at a Pius V Mass. Why open the door to the spirit and image that created the problem in the first place? What’s being let out is a quite distinct grammar of reverential religion, one which symbolizes the safeguarding of so much that traditionalists have felt the loss of for the last half-century.

        If this is political, it is also, I would guess, in the minds of its practitioners, theological. Not in the sense of “justification” for a single rule, but in the sense of a wider “strategic” vision of what the Gospel and the Church are.

        You wrote, “But aesthetics does not belong to the essence of worship, and the equal worth of all God’s children does.” This pope would disagree, I think. I hope I am not being unfair (as I earlier was re the EF) by saying that your primary concern here is for baptismal equality, and especially equality for women. The conservatives associate that drive –so obviously and deeply valued by you– with loss and disorder. Thus, it’s only theo-logical that they would decline to cooperate.

  19. Gerard Flynn :

    They wouldn’t be leaving their religion, merely changing denomination. The religion is called christianity.

    Vatican II comments on that.

    ”Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.” – Lumen gentium

    I should think that anyone who would leave the Church simply because they can’t be an altar girl are in the Church bodily but not in heart. LG again:

    ”He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a ‘bodily’ manner and not ‘in his heart.’

    1. Why urge the authority of the Magisterium against a complaint that is, basically, about abuse of male authority?

    2. Well I suppose we all can selectively quote Vatican II, but even in the quotes provided it depends on your ecclesiology and how you interpret the term Church.

  20. Samuel, I will stand by my statement. I see no liturgical, and certainly no pastoral value to the EF.

    1. “No liturgical value”? What does that even mean? The Church says it’s valid and licit liturgy. It’s the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Surely that always has some value. Do you disagree?

      As for the pastoral value, in the territorial parish where I primarily serve, there is a weekly SSPX Mass. Some of the people who used to go there now come to our parish church instead. That’s surely pastoral value.

      1. I believe that what Mr Boman is expressing is called “the hermeneutic of rupture.”

    2. “I see…no pastoral value to the EF.”

      Ceile De :

      How easily the previous commenters dismiss the EF. It brought my wife into Christianity and brought me back to the Church. It also acts as a bridge to institutional union with the Orthodox Church with whom we share more than with any other group of Christians. Before criticising it, at least attend it.

  21. .

    Samuel J. Howard :

    , but he’s still the sacral guru who does it all.
    That would be a lousy thing, if it were true, but it’s not. In the normative form of the EF, the priest does not say all the responses, sing the music, hold the paten, pour the water and the wine, hold the chalice at the offertory, sing the Gospel, sing the Epistle, etc. etc. etc.

    This so misses the point that I can almost hear the cackling as SJH stirs the pot to see what comes to the surface and who bites at it.

    1. Of all the comments in this thread, you point out Samuel J. Howard as “stirring the pot?” Seriously?

      I agree with his point about the EF not being the more priest centric of the two forms of Mass.

      1. I agree with his point about the EF not being the more priest centric of the two forms of Mass.

        Thanks, but I didn’t make that point. Just the more limited one that an EF celebration is not completely priest focused, but is the work of the hierarchical Church acting in together.

      2. Ah, sorry to mischaracterize your point then.

        I don’t think either form of Mass is more priest-centric inherently, though I do think the OF has more of a tendency to be in practice.

  22. Stephen Manning :
    I think you are right that all this is about church politics. It has been for the last fifty years or so. It’s a “conflict of visions.” Otherwise it would not provoke such passion here.
    … The “traditionalist” Catholics are very much about hierarchy and boundaries.
    If this is political, it is also, I would guess, in the minds of its practitioners, theological. Not in the sense of “justification” for a single rule, but in the sense of a wider “strategic” vision of what the Gospel and the Church are.
    The conservatives associate that drive –so obviously and deeply valued by you– with loss and disorder. Thus, it’s only theo-logical that they would decline to cooperate.

    The fight for the EF can be seen as a renewal of the Catholic Counter Reformation. Some have a strong tendency to hold tightly to everything which maintains the division between Catholics and Protestants. For many people a Catholic identity is tied to the papal-centric, fortress mentality, and triumphalism of the Counter Reformation.

    This is part of theology of the Church, ecclesiology. How one defines the institution, where one turns for dependable teaching is ecclesiological. There is a great tendency to conflate traditions and The Tradition, to conflate pope/hierarchy/clergy with teaching tradition and to conflate celibate males with clergy.

    OTOH, prohibiting female altar servers is simple in two senses.
    1. That is exactly the way it has been since the rules were set in 1570.
    2. Why involve girls in anything resembling clerical service when they are not allowed to serve in the clergy?

    Besides we need to put boys in the server slots because that is the habitual recruitment route for clergy.

  23. Before the promulgation of UE I regularly heard three reasons for why females should not serve at the altar in the EF. For the avoidance of doubt, I think all three are wrong.

    (1) It is licit but pastorally inappropriate, i.e. would be a stumbling block for those who prefer the EF.

    (2) Boys will not serve in a situation where girls are present and hence having female servers discourages boys from serving, which in turn reduces the likelihood of vocations

    (3) A female at the altar sends a theologically incorrect message.

    Reasons (2) and (3) apply equally to the OF, and in fact most EF advocates I know are opposed to female servers in the OF as well. Fr Z, for instance, espouses all 3 reasons listed above, e.g. in his 31 May 2008 post: ‘The service of males at the altar is also not merely a practical issue, that is, that it helps vocations. The deeper theological point is that service at the altar is, in a sense, an extension of male ordained priesthood and those orders and ministries that lead to it.’

    For any who believe that female servers are fine for the OF but not for the EF: how do you make this work in a parish that offers both forms and does not want a pillarised congregation? My parish has a solemn Latin OF Mass each Sunday; most but not all of the servers are male. If we were to start a regular Sunday EF Mass as well, what would we say to a woman who asked to serve at it? “Your service at the altar is not an extension of the priesthood at the OF Mass, but it is at the EF” That doesn’t sound right.

    I could understand the derogation approach of UE in a parish that exclusively uses the EF. The analogy with a separate rite (e.g. Ukranian) seems apt to me. But we are supposed to have two forms of one rite. I don’t see how to reconcile that with the idea of derogation.

    1. My thanks to Stephen Manning, Tom Poelker, and Jonathan Day. I’ve needed to understand the history, and your explanations helped a great deal. I’d add only that I see also renewed opposition to “democratic,” i.e., “secular,” approaches that make use of words like “rights” and “obligations.”

      “The reformers are not finished yet.” From where I stand, they’ve barely begun, except for groups like the ACPI. So much of the past five decades has been spent squabbling and digging in, with increasingly irrational attacks in reaction against V.II.

      “The conservatives associate that drive . . . with loss and disorder. Thus, it’s only theo-logical that they would decline to cooperate.” There’s neither Theos nor Logos in that fear of “loss and disorder.” “Disorder” is code for female sexuality. This association of the drive for gender equality with disorder and with loss of power belongs to psychoanalytic theory, not first to theology, and perhaps theologians should be spending more time with that discipline.

      Tradition in itself is never a reason for continuing any practice. It’s the term most commonly invoked by those retreating from any discussion of reasons for change. “Besides, we need to put boys in the server slots because that is the habitual recruitment route for clergy.” Yes, I understand the practical reasoning, but I have heard no good reason to support the practicality. The discussion seems to turn on tropes: only men can become “bridegrooms of the church”–priests–and many who enter seminary have been altar boys in their youth, so servers should be young males. The marriage simile again. (See the earlier discussion here of “consecrated virgins”: only women can image the “bride of Christ”). The church frowns on same-sex unions, but this is a rhetorical figure writ large as “doctrine,” and I suspect that only aesthetes fretted with fear of “disorder” fail to see how ridiculous that is.

      1. The church frowns on same-sex unions, but this is a rhetorical figure writ large as “doctrine,” and I suspect that only aesthetes fretted with fear of “disorder” fail to see how ridiculous that is.

        I’m not one to throw around the phrase “homophobia”, but I have a hard time seeing this kind of argument as being anything but.

    2. Celibidache, the famous conductor, hired a trombone player who had auditioned from behind a curtain. He was horrified to discover she was female. The orchestra persecuted her for years. Similarly, priests comfortably attuned to the idea of altar boys will react viscerally to the female variant (particularly when their own homosexual affectivity has played a formative role in their choice of priesthood). Clerical gynophobia (horror feminae) is more deeply rooted than that of conductors; otherwise there is no difference – the latter draw on a false musicology or a false appeal to what the public can adjust to, and the former create a false theology on the basic of their visceral reactions.

  24. Samuel I. Howard, I was unclear. I meant the pronoun “this” to refer to the marriage metaphor, not to same-sex unions. I find nothing at all persuasive in the claim that priests must be male because only men can image the bridegroom of the Church or that males cannot be ‘consecrated virgins’ because only women can image the betrothed of Christ. An unreflective heterosexism seems built into these images. The images structure the ‘orthodoxy’ so that the idea of a female priest or a male consecrated virgin seems disordered (to say the least) in the same way that homosexuality seems disordered to heterosexists. If there’s homophobia at work, it’s in the marriage metaphors.

      1. Mea culpa. You found a gay stereotype in my words as a result, I now see, of my careless anger about this topic. I don’t know that homosexuals are any more susceptible to aesthetic passions than anyone else–except in stereotypes. In discussions of Der Heilige Schein on this blog and in interviews, David Berger described a group of homosexual-cum-homophobe misogynist aesthetes. One rarely encounters any such near-stereotype these days in secular life simply because repression of homoerotic feeling in public is less common than in Berger’s circles. The characterization of aesthete I have in mind applies to a far more diverse crew of traditionalists than Berger described. An ‘aesthete’ can be so taken by a rhetorical figure that he or she cannot assess in any detached way the doctrine it accompanies. I recall one such person, apparently heterosexual (a female acquaintance of mine was dating him), who simply could not follow another lit critic’s reading of proto-Nazism in the novels of D.H. Lawrence because the passages the critic quoted were so movingly written. The aesthete could not shift from ‘feeling’ the prose to finding any associated theme or idea in it. At some point, I’d call this an irrational state. But to call it irrational is still not to condemn it. (We can be motivated by emotive words in political discourse or homiletics.) Perhaps we’d all be healthier and more readily rational when we need to be if we indulged our aesthetic passions now and then. Repression can generate a demoniacal dimension; I believe Berger’s right about that. Once each season, we should gather in the woods like the Bacchae or the church hall with Sr. Anna Nobili to chant and dance! If only such behavior, like female servers at EF, did not stir up in many of us a repressive fear of ‘disordered’ sexuality.

  25. In this part of the world, it’s the fact that girls are serving which attracts boys to serve alongside them. In many parishes, the majority of servers are girls, and there are more than a few women MCs too. Their comportment, standards of dress, behaviour and attitude to their ministry put many of the boys to shame.

    Samuel said further up the thread that he had never seen a commentator at Mass, and referred to holding up the action of the rite. He should have been around in the 1950s when such things became common, and when each reading at Low Mass was read first of all silently in Latin and then aloud in English from the pulpit by a lay person (including the Gospel, be it said) using one of the translations then available (Douay or Knox). It may have delayed the action, but it certainly improved participation. And it helped pave the way for a vernacular liturgy after the Council.

    1. Samuel said further up the thread that he had never seen a commentator at Mass, and referred to holding up the action of the rite. He should have been around in the 1950s

      Well, I was talking about a living tradition, not about the 1950s.

      when such things became common, and when each reading at Low Mass was read first of all silently in Latin and then aloud in English from the pulpit by a lay person (including the Gospel, be it said) using one of the translations then available (Douay or Knox). It may have delayed the action, but it certainly improved participation.

      Paul, I was talking about Sung Masses in regards to delay. “Certainly not at a Sung Mass, at several points in the Mass there’s no way you could sing the propers and then read them out in translation without delaying the liturgical action.”

      Not holding up the liturgical action for the commentator is explicitly ruled out in De musica sacra et sacra liturgia:

      96 f) The commentator should follow the celebrant closely, and so accompany the sacred action that it is not delayed or interrupted, and the entire ceremony carried out with harmony, dignity, and devotion.

      Furthermore, the commentator is not allowed to read the propers aloud in English at a low Mass as they are said in Latin:

      14 c) It is strictly forbidden for the faithful in unison or for a commentator to recite aloud with the priest the parts of the Proper, Ordinary, and canon of the Mass. This prohibition extends to both Latin, and a vernacular word-for-word translation.(Though the congregation can recite these prayers in Latin with the priest in certain degrees of participation at Low Mass.)

      The lector that reads the readings in the vernacular at Low Mass is not the commentator per se.

      The reading of the readings in the vernacular at High Mass is not governed by universal legislation (except that the commentator can’t do it, see DMSESL 96E)

      1. Generally, people’s memories of “How it was done in the 50’s” are not reliable in terms of determining what should be done according to the rubrics. For instance, I’ve been confronted after Mass by angry congregants who inform me that in the Latin Mass the servers are supposed to kneel for the whole Mass and that’s how it was done in the 50s.

    2. Good Lord, what a fulmination!

      I was merely stating that to say that one has never seen a commentator is not to say that no one else has. Some of us, perhaps many of us who are older and more experienced, have seen them. What legislation may say about them is irrelevant. The fact is that they have existed.

      And to attempt to rebut that by saying that you were talking about High Mass when you did not specify it is an admission of failure to be clear. I’ve never seen a commentator at an EF Mass and I don’t expect to see one is pretty much a blanket statement. Yes, you went on to talk about delays in High Mass, but you said you had never seen a commentator at an EF Mass. That says nothing except that your experience is limited, perhaps because of your age. I find myself wondering if you ever knew the EF Mass in the days when that was all there was.

      And if you think the 1950s is not a living tradition, you should talk to the large number of people still alive who lived through it, and were formed by it, and who probably know more about it than you do. Anyone would think the liturgy was only 35 years old!

      Anyone can quote documents, but the truly wise are the ones who know how to apply them in pastoral situations.

      1. I was merely stating that to say that one has never seen a commentator is not to say that no one else has. Some of us, perhaps many of us who are older and more experienced, have seen them. What legislation may say about them is irrelevant. The fact is that they have existed.

        I didn’t dispute that they existed. What legislation says about them is most certainly relevant in discussing what they should and should not do at Mass. Something that is a live issue for those of us who deal with the EF multiple times a week.

        And to say attempt to rebut that by saying that you were talking about High Mass when you did not specify it is an admission of failure to be clear.

        I have never seen a commentator at a low Mass or a high Mass (in either form), which is why that part of my statement was unmodified. My statement about commentators holding things up at a high Mass was explicitly qualified as such, because that was what was being discussed in the previous comment by Jack Rakosky on June 8, 2011 at 8:45 am who was hypothesizing about the commentator at a sung Mass.

      2. I’ve never seen a commentator at an EF Mass and I don’t expect to see one is pretty much a blanket statement. Yes, you went on to talk about delays in High Mass, but you said you had never seen a commentator at an EF Mass. That says nothing except that your experience is limited, perhaps because of your age. I find myself wondering if you ever knew the EF Mass in the days when that was all there was.

        So? I am willing to bet that I’ve been to more EF Masses in the past year though than you have in the past 30. (And no, that doesn’t mean I’ve only been going to EF Masses for a year.)

        And if you think the 1950s is not a living tradition, you should talk to the large number of people still alive who lived through it, and were formed by it, and who probably know more about it than you do.

        My point is that discussion of what is fitting in an EF celebration needs to be based on their pastoral realities of those celebrations in communities where they happen regularly. Just as I don’t go to an FSSP priest for advice on how to organize our novus ordo Easter Vigil. That’s what I mean by living tradition. Things are different now that they were in 1962.

        My pastoral experience is that often people don’t remember accurately how things were in the 1950’s. That people go to our mixed language novus ordo Mass and claim (literally) “it’s exactly like the old Latin Mass” when it’s obviously not, etc.

        Anyone can quote documents, but the truly wise are the ones who know how to apply them in pastoral situations.

        As a general principle it’s true enough. Though one of the key principles of applying them in pastoral situations is to know what they say. I apply these documents in pastoral situations several times a week. Do you have some actual criticism of my pastoral practice to make?

  26. Jonathan Day, June 8, 2011, 10:15 am: Before the promulgation of UE I regularly heard three reasons for why females should not serve at the altar in the EF. […] 2) Boys will not serve in a situation where girls are present and hence having female servers discourages boys from serving, which in turn reduces the likelihood of vocations

    In my area, daily Mass in either form is often served by adults. I have not seen a woman serve a low EF Mass, but women often serve at the OF. Point (2) cited by Jonathan Day does not make much sense in churches where adult laypersons do most of the Mass serving. Any childhood socialization issues are not present when adults serve Mass. Also, laywomen who serve Mass probably know that women’s ordination is not on the immediate horizon. Most men and women I know who serve Mass do so either to help a priest when a child server fails to show, or so so out of a commitment to and love of the Mass. I’m sure that every adult server has an individual reason for volunteering to serve Mass. The women who serve Mass at Cambridge might have unique motivations for serving Mass. These motivations are theirs alone and shouldn’t be subject to others’ criticism.

    If I happened on an EF Mass served by a girl or a woman, I wouldn’t get up and leave. The significance of Mass is more important than who serves or celebrates the Mass. If someone doesn’t like the idea of girls or women serving EF Masses, they should come up with a better reason for the restriction of altar service to boys and men than no. 2 above.

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