Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SP January 30, 2008

By Patrick Archbold

You Report: Traditional Masses around the World - IX
Diocese of Baker, in the United States

Tridentine Mass altar girls? Not yet…

8 comments:

David L Alexander said...

Concerning "Tridentine Mass altar girls..."

One would think that all ecclesiastical law is wrapped up in one nice big package, but it never has been. A unified code of canon law in 1917 was itself a major break. That said, not every disciplinary matter that affects the celebration of the Traditional Mass (in our case, the Missale Romanum of 1962) is covered in the rubrics. Matters of whether females should serve at the altar, who should administer communion under "extraordinary" circumstances, and whether communion can be received in the hand -- all are covered by universal norms. While the former remained static over the years, the latter has not. So it is possible in theory for all these things to be permitted.

That said, how likely are they to occur?

Those who serve the Mass do so at the pleasure of the priest. The 1992 decree permitting female servers reinforced this prerogative, and upheld the venerable practice of male servers. When we consider the sensibilities of those priests who are dedicated to the Traditional Mass, the use of "altar girls" would be unrealistic. The same would apply to the other innovations mentioned.

What remains, then, is the matter of what constitutes a "stable group." This is an inaccurate translation of the Latin "coetus," which is more accurately a group that consistently meets. This provision is ostensibly to assure that a Traditional Mass publicly scheduled occurs for enough people, so as to be a good use of human resources, and show respect for a priest's time. The potential for abusing this provision -- the inevitable consequence of a lack of good faith at the local level -- has made clarification from the Holy See necessary.

Personally, I would be surprised if the PCED issued a separate ruling on "altar girls" at the Traditional Mass, given the provision in the law which already deals with it. But it could happen, I suppose. Still, in my diocese (Arlington, Virginia, USA), our bishop has disallowed the indulgences for female altar servers, communion in the hand, and extraordinary ministers of communion, for the Traditional Mass.

I've trained dozens of young men for the Traditional Mass. I would refuse to train girls or women, as would the pastor whom I serve. In addition to scaring away most of the guys, my experience has been that they do not view serving the altar as a privilege, so much as an opportunity to make an ideological statement.

But hey, that's just me.

Patrick said...

I am sure there are bishops who would like to include "girl altar boys" in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. Also, I am sure they would like to have the priest celebrate the TLM, versus populum, in the vernacular. And, why not use the new lectionary and Eucharistic prayers? Heck, let's just substitute the Missal of Paul VI. Wouldn't it also be an improvement to allow the option of Communion in the hand?

Any foolery such as girl altar boys would undermine Pope Benedict's efforts to heal the rift with the SSPX and traditionalists in general. I hope the Vatican quickly shoots down this one.

David L Alexander said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David L Alexander said...

"I am sure there are bishops who would like to include "girl altar boys" in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass..."

Again, a priest cannot be forced to use them, and any cleric predisposed to the TLM is unlikely to prefer them. Anyway, we can worry about it when it happens -- or when there is evidence of this, whichever comes first.

Patrick Archbold said...

DL,
Previous poster is a different PAtrick. On this blog, I report, you decide.

Patrick T. said...

My name, by a happy coincidence, also happens to be Patrick. I will start using the name Patrick T. I should have done that from the start.

I don't think the TLM is in eminent danger of takeover by altar girls. My previous post was meant to be a bit facetious.

However, I do think supporters of the TLM do need to be on guard. We know that there are plenty bishops who would like to undermine the intent of Summorum Pontificum.

David L Alexander said...

"We know that there are plenty bishops who would like to undermine the intent of Summorum Pontificum."

Agreed.

Patrick T. said...

By the way, above, I meant to write "imminent danger" not "eminent." :o)