Tuesday, 22 November 2011

It's altar girls again!

Apparently this topic is guaranteed to send one's visitor stats through the roof but, in my view it's more likely to lead to combox meltdown.

The priest is free to decide
against altar girls if he so wishes
Christine on Laudem Gloriae has linked on it but, cleverly avoided making a comment although, anyone who reads her blog knows which way the wind blows on LG.

The link leads to The Washington Post news report on Corpus Christi Parish Church in Loudon County where the Parish Priest has said "Enough" to female altar servers. Good for him!

I wish some strong soul would also say "Enough" to wrinklies on the sanctuary (me included, much as I love serving).
You see, in my little book of curmudgeonly prejudices, I believe that altar servers should be aged betwixt 5 and, say, 21.

Older servers have a great deal of wisdom to impart and they should continue to do this..but for Heaven's sake, leave the way clear for young men to shine.

I have yet to see a young altar server given any duty other than holding a candle or acting as boat boy (with the incense). That is pretty insulting to youth in my book.

I was taught to MC at the age of eleven* by a very enlightened Westminster priest called Father Bushey. Others of that age quickly followed and a pattern was set. The older servers were pensioned off; I know that sounds unkind but it's rather like having a wonderful church choir with a member or two who cannot find a note at any price. It would not be tolerated. They would be (kindly, one hopes) asked to man the Piety Stall or, whatever.

* Those who have seen me MC recently may be mystified why, having had so much experience, I am  fumbling and stumbling in my duties today.....but...it's an age thing Dear! And, I also blame V2 for lasering my memory into a stodge of grey porridge.

So, there we are.....how to upset both the pro girl camp and the revered oldie camp in one swift go!



  1. I agree completely. This is why I decided to sing in the choir rather than go back on the altar and serve when I moved to my current parish about 8 months ago.

    I believe that serving can help young men to be open to the idea that they may have a vocation and all the time we have young men and boys who wish to be up there then those of us with the first signs of grey hair should move aside and just do enough to keep our hands in in case we are ever needed.

    (Having said that I do serve the EF Mass but that is something I want to do for as long as I can - and we don't have that many of us who will do that one - three to be precise)

  2. I wonder how a priest would tell altar girls to stop serving. I wonder if their parents would leave the parish in a huff. I rather like seeing a pastor take a stand.

  3. Richard,
    I think you're one brave blogger! However, I totally agree with you!



  4. Thank you Michael, so good to have your support.

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  6. hmmm...my brother stopped serving after girls invaded the sacristy. Must be a 'guy' thing and I agree; it just didn't look right to see girls up there.

    I'm all for keeping church altars all-male

  7. I'm not sure that altar girls are the problem, more a symptom. It's the flight of men from Mass which is deeply concerning. Of the four churches within striking distance, the men in the congregation tend to be of advancing years. No teens, no 20s, 30s or 40s and very few 50s.
    The ratio of women to men is at least 80/20. The readers are women, the EMHCs are women, the procession of gifts tend to be all-women, the collections are taken by women, the children's liturgy supervised by women. I see some young boys at Mass with their mothers, but no fathers.
    Where are all the males? At what stage are they lost?
    Btw, I've completed 10 decades. You might get some more after the 15.

  8. Looking back at my post I should perhaps clarify that the reason I didn't go back to serving OF mass was because I thought the young needed a chance - not because of female altar servers. I just realised how that came across.

    In general I don't think I favour female altar servers but I have never been at a parish that has any.

    I wonder if anyone has researched the effects of serving on vocations to female religious orders? Surely it is long enough now to perhaps have some perliminary stats?

    @Gentry - Good point.

    It's interesing that the EF Mass I attend has 5 guys who look to be between 18 and 35 in a congregation of about 40 whilst the OF has about 6 in a congregation of about 200.

    I wonder if there is a greater attraction to obviously orthadox expressions of the faith? Vocations to religious orders which wear full habit etc would seem to support that.

    Just a thought.