Male-only Altar Servers?

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Crusader

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Does it make sense to limit altar servers to males who just might just possibly be discerning a vocation to the priesthood or diaconate? Or perhaps at least those males who are at least potentially eligible to become priests or deacons?

Yes, the Church allows both sexes of almost any age to become altar servers. However it seems that serving at the altar is just too valuable in terms of helping to foster priestly vocations to be allowed to those who cannot possibly become priests or deacons.

Most priests and deacons today were altar servers as kids. Redemptoris Sacramentum #47 notes: “It is altogether laudable to maintain the noble custom by which boys or youths, customarily termed servers, provide service of the altar after the manner of acolytes, and receive catechesis regarding their function in accordance with their power of comprehension Nor should it be forgotten that a great number of sacred ministers over the course of the centuries have come from among boys such as these.”

Many people suggest that if such limits were introduced, that they wouldn’t have enough altar servers. Unless they are speaking of chapels in convents or female prisons, I’m not entirely sure that’s correct. More likely than not they simply need to place more focus on their altar server programs.
 
I think being an alter server is good for both boys and girls. I was an alter server when I was younger and it helped me to understand not only what was going on during Mass, but have a greater appreciation for the Eucharist and church teachings. I was actually a server before it was ok to do so in my diocese. It was an inner city church with an older population. The priest had more problems with the boys not showing up and being unreliable than with there not being enough of them. We only had a couple girls that were servers but it did help with numbers. Plus, I was already going to be there anyway with my mom being the music director and my sister cantoring. 🙂
 
In the beginning, if serving at the altar were limited to boys, there might be a temporary shortage. But once the boys realize that this is now a no-girls-allowed activity, they’ll all jump in.

The problem we have now is really the increasing feminization of the Church and its ministries. Once a ministry is opened to women and girls, very soon it is taken over by women and girls, and the men and boys lose interest. This is a serious situation, for it leads to the falling away from the Church of men and boys who begin to feel disenfranchised. The situation wherein the Church was once pretty much a men’s club was really not so bad, because in this way, many men saved their souls when otherwise they would not have. Women are naturally pious and would go to church anyway. Many men need something to do to keep their interest. If they’re in charge, they’re interested. So let’s let them be in charge. Women-only heaven won’t be any fun! 😉

Betsy
 
Women and girls are currently banned from the catholic priesthood, allowing them to participate as altar girls, lectors, EMHC’s, organists , etc., gives everyone a chance to participate, not just the men.
 
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Crusader:
Yes, the Church allows both sexes of almost any age to become altar servers. However it seems that serving at the altar is just too valuable in terms of helping to foster priestly vocations to be allowed to those who cannot possibly become priests or deacons.
I’d rather see male-only altar servers, but only because it fosters more vocations to the priesthood.
 
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picasso_13:
I think being an alter server is good for both boys and girls. I was an alter server when I was younger and it helped me to understand not only what was going on during Mass, but have a greater appreciation for the Eucharist and church teachings. I was actually a server before it was ok to do so in my diocese. It was an inner city church with an older population. The priest had more problems with the boys not showing up and being unreliable than with there not being enough of them. We only had a couple girls that were servers but it did help with numbers. Plus, I was already going to be there anyway with my mom being the music director and my sister cantoring. 🙂
No question that serving at the altar is beneficial for both males and females.

I am of the opinion however that serving is such a valuable means to foster priestly vocations, that it needs to be limited to those that might possibly receive a priestly vocation from God.

Parishes with the problems you cite need to focus more attention on their altar server programs.
 
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BobCatholic:
I’d rather see male-only altar servers, but only because it fosters more vocations to the priesthood.
Same. Any parish/diocese that was serious about priestly vocations would focus a great deal of effort on altar server programs in order to get rid of the “excuses.”
 
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Fullsizesedan:
Women and girls are currently banned from the catholic priesthood, allowing them to participate as altar girls, lectors, EMHC’s, organists , etc., gives everyone a chance to participate, not just the men.
Serving at the altar is an important means to foster priestly vocations. That’s why it should be limited to those who might possibly receive priestly vocations from God.

I sure hope you are not suggesting that EMHC’s need to exist simply to allow females to “participate”?

Finally, women cannot be lectors in the Catholic Church. That installed ministry is up only to males. They can be readers however.
 
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baltobetsy:
In the beginning, if serving at the altar were limited to boys, there might be a temporary shortage. But once the boys realize that this is now a no-girls-allowed activity, they’ll all jump in.

The problem we have now is really the increasing feminization of the Church and its ministries. Once a ministry is opened to women and girls, very soon it is taken over by women and girls, and the men and boys lose interest. This is a serious situation, for it leads to the falling away from the Church of men and boys who begin to feel disenfranchised. The situation wherein the Church was once pretty much a men’s club was really not so bad, because in this way, many men saved their souls when otherwise they would not have. Women are naturally pious and would go to church anyway. Many men need something to do to keep their interest. If they’re in charge, they’re interested. So let’s let them be in charge. Women-only heaven won’t be any fun! 😉

Betsy
Fascinating quote. Accurate too I would suggest.

What are the reasons for cetain ministries to be taken over by some women and girls? This is a truly interesting subject.
 
I don’t think the problem is with whether both male and females should serve. It seems to me that there is no one stressing vocations for the boys that do serve. Most of the boys who are alter servers at my church (I work with the youth group) are not considering priesthood at all.

While it may have been a great way of getting boys into the priesthood…please show me something that shows it still has that effect on boys today. Girls haven’t been serving for that long so can you show it has effected the vocation to the priesthood? Just curious.
 
I’d rather see male-only altar servers, but only because it fosters more vocations to the priesthood.
Allowing everyone to participate has its benefits as well. And with the current crisis in regards to sexual abuse of altar boys, some parents are naturally cautious about allowing their sons to perform this service. A nondiscriminatory policy increases the numbers so the ministry is performed.
 
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Fullsizesedan:
Women and girls are currently banned from the catholic priesthood, allowing them to participate as altar girls, lectors, EMHC’s, organists , etc., gives everyone a chance to participate, not just the men.
Mass is not about THAT kind of participation.
 
Why does everyone need to participate? I think we misunderstand our lay vocation. It’s not our main function to do something at church - our main function is to sanctify the world and bring it to Christ. It’s easy to lose sight of this if we have some ministry at church which makes us think we’re doing enough already.

And another thing about “participation,” if we truly understood what happens at Mass, it would be such a thrill just to be there that we would feel no need to hold a public position. And we truly do participate by responding, singing, sitting, standing, kneeling, bowing, etc., as well as by joining our hearts and minds to what the priest is saying and doing. *Redemptionis Sacramentum * is very clear about this.

Betsy
 
Want a practical example? Watch the Sunday Mass on the Hallmark channel from the campus of Notre Dame.

Surrounded by college seminarians and other young men who might just have priestly vocations, the “lead” altar server is a young female. One woman amongst a sea of men.

Not only is her presence extremely incongruent, it also keeps a male with a possible vocation from serving – and providing excellent witness to other young men who might also be thinking about serving at their parishes.

I’m sure if one dug into the situation there is a “reason(s)” she is a server and the “lead” server at that…
 
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baltobetsy:
Why does everyone need to participate? I think we misunderstand our lay vocation. It’s not our main function to do something at church - our main function is to sanctify the world and bring it to Christ. It’s easy to lose sight of this if we have some ministry at church which makes us think we’re doing enough already.

And another thing about “participation,” if we truly understood what happens at Mass, it would be such a thrill just to be there that we would feel no need to hold a public position. And we truly do participate by responding, singing, sitting, standing, kneeling, bowing, etc., as well as by joining our hearts and minds to what the priest is saying and doing. *Redemptionis Sacramentum *is very clear about this.

Betsy
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamen!
 
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picasso_13:
I don’t think the problem is with whether both male and females should serve. It seems to me that there is no one stressing vocations for the boys that do serve. Most of the boys who are alter servers at my church (I work with the youth group) are not considering priesthood at all.

While it may have been a great way of getting boys into the priesthood…please show me something that shows it still has that effect on boys today. Girls haven’t been serving for that long so can you show it has effected the vocation to the priesthood? Just curious.
They may not be considering the priesthood at all, but their (possible) priestly vocations would still be well fostered by serving at the altar.

The facts are clear. MOST bishops/deacons/priests or today once served as altar boys. It’s rare to meet a priest that wasn’t an altar boy. That’s simply not arguable.
 
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Fullsizesedan:
Allowing everyone to participate has its benefits as well.
When the Church discriminates against females in roles where there is no doctrinal requirement to do so, it only lends credence to the feminist’s claim that the Church’s restriction against priestly ordination of women derives from misogyny instead of divine law.
 
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Crusader:
What are the reasons for cetain ministries to be taken over by some women and girls? This is a truly interesting subject.
I don’t think it’s as much a matter of the women and girls taking over as the men and boys taking off once the females arrive. I’ve seen it happen, but, being a woman, I don’t know why. Do the gentlemen have any insights here?

Betsy
 
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Catholic2003:
When the Church discriminates against females in roles where there is no doctrinal requirement to do so, it only lends credence to the feminist’s claim that the Church’s restriction against priestly ordination of women derives from misogyny instead of divine law.
Rather than read my post you seem to be mired in a swamp of misandry.

Serving at the altar is a powerful way to foster priestly vocations. For that reason serving at the altar should be limited to those who might possibly receive priestly voations.
 
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