Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Really? This will inspire vocations to the priesthood?

I'm not too sure about this one.
The Cathedral of SS Simon and Jude, diocese of Phoenix has disallowed female altar servers.
The rector says the new parish liturgical mandate will inspire more men to become priests.  This smells like clericalism.

Before I begin you need to know two things.
First I am not in favor of woman priests.  Second I'm not even in favor of married priests.  So there you go. Now, let's address the issue at hand.

I know the theology behind the ministry of acolyte--a ministry in priestly formation (one of the passages on the way to receiving ordination--the ministry of acolyte is a 'minor order')  The altar server has it's roots in the ministry of acolyte--but it isn't that ministry.

The rector wants to inspire males to become priests.  Why?  There is obviously a shortage and the priesthood has suffered a certain diminishment during the past decade or two.  In order to fix that the solution is to allow only the male gender around the altar.  

It isn't a matter of females serving at the altar that diminished the priesthood.  No, the church as a whole has done a fine job.  The magisterium, clergy, and laity have shared in the joint venture of that diminishment.
There are men who have discerned that they are called to formation and ordination in the sacred orders--so let's ask the question; Where was their inspiration?  The Holy Spirit?  Mom and Dad and family?  Perhaps a teacher or coach or friend?  Maybe even a priest?
Or was it that no girls were allowed to serve at the altar?

Perhaps fasting and praying and adoration are what need to be fostered.  Perhaps more priests who spend time in the confessionals and go to confession are what need to be fostered.  Perhaps priests doing the work of priests ought to be the visible sign.

 Perhaps what inspires the heart to answer the call isn't 'who is allowed' but who is holy.

By focusing on the gender of altar servers the focus is taken away from what is really occurring on the altar--Christ's becoming present.  That is the center of the priesthood--nothing else.

Oh, and by the way--When I was an active priest, I found that female servers were much more reliable.