QUAERITUR: What is wrong with women being lectors?

From a readerette:

Thank you for your wonderful blog.

I have been reading lots of comments, and seen some criticism of women lectors. What is wrong with women being lectors?

I will open the floor to readers in a moment.

First, only men are instituted, “official” lectors. Women can only substitute for them in their absence. Thus, they are a permitted exception to the rule.

Second, the very idea of women entering the sanctuary to perform a liturgical role is a historical oddity.

Third, we need a deeper understanding of “active participation”.

Fourth, because the lectorate has always been a step to Holy Orders, women reading in the sanctuary can be seen by some as a step to the ordination of women to the priesthood.

I am sure others will have comments. I will now back out of the room… but not entirely.

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187 Responses to QUAERITUR: What is wrong with women being lectors?

  1. jesusthroughmary says:

    To cross-reference a recent post:
    “Why do you oppose women acting as lectors?”
    “Because I am not a Protestant.”

  2. I have a general issue with just anyone being a lector (and I’m not a fan of EMHCs either). Far too often there’s too much of a focus these days on the ‘thing’ I do at Mass, the ‘ministry’ I exercise at Mass, what part the laity play in the Mass. The focus has shifted from where it should be, the offering of Christ to the father to redeem mankind, his constant drawing of us to himself, from the persons of the Trinity, to a focus on the community. Yes it’s important the congregation understand the beauty of all this and an participate in prayer, it’s important we learn to see Christ in each other but the danger always was (and in many, many places this fear has been realised) that this focus on the laity’s role would become egocentric. Being a lector is not about me and the role I play, it is about God and the wonders he has done for us.

    I don’t like it when, in a pinch and there’s no one else, I am asked to read. Standing on the sanctuary is a powerful thing, being close to the Blessed Sacrament and (this will sound daft I know) but I don’t like having my back to the tabernacle. That’s where my eyes should be, that’s where I should point towards. Turning the other way feels like navel-gazing.

  3. BillyHW says:

    A woman will listen to a man, but a man will not listen to a woman. It’s in our natures.

    Frankly, having to sit there and listen to that insufferable woman who has to do everything, and help with everything, and be seen in everything, is unbearable.

  4. jesusthroughmary says:

    Another thing I have wondered, but for which I have no answer: Why is it preferable to have a lay lector (formally instituted or not) as opposed to simply having the priest, deacon or acolyte read the epistles?

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    The problem is that many parishes don’t really have a lot of appropriate activities for women, so they gravitate to what they’ve seen, and this is what they see. Moreover, a lot of Catholics think that “being active as a Catholic” consists of volunteering for one of these liturgical spots, rather than understanding the entire scope of “being active as a Catholic.” This is a huge problem, and not just when speaking of lectors and the like.

  6. fvhale says:

    Let me throw Canon 230.2 into the discussion:
    Lay people [Laici, of either sex, not Viri laici, lay men, as in the preceding paragraph] can receive a temporary assignment to the role of lector in liturgical actions. …
    The full Latin text: Laici ex temporanea deputatione in actionibus liturgicis munus lectoris implere possunt…

    Unlike 230.3, which includes distribution of Holy Communion, there are no requirements of necessity or lack of clerics in regard to lay persons (of either sex) being assigned temporarily to the role of lector.

    Also, GIRM 101:
    In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons [alii laici, no reference to sex] may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture. They should be truly suited to perform this function and should receive careful preparation, so that the faithful by listening to the readings from the sacred texts may develop in their hearts a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture.

  7. Supertradmum says:

    I have been a lector in the NO and for several reasons. One, at the daily Mass, I am the youngest person in the congregation of 90% women. The men are all in the eighties or older, and several cannot see well. Two, I have training in drama and speech, as well as being in lector training years ago. Three, I also have hours of Scriptural courses for my theology degree, which is heavily Old and New Testament studies, I can read with meaning . Plus, there is grace.

    However, if there is a man to do the readings, I would, of course, defer always. One of the older men in the back said he was glad I was reading as he could hear the Scriptures. By the way, Europeans do not buy missals and there are no pamphlets in the churches for daily readings.

    I guess I look at it as missionary work.

    Remember that all the readings in the convents and female monasteries are done by the nuns and this tradition goes back thousands of years, as these nuns knew their Latin. Lay people at the monastery I was in attend Mass and the nuns do all the readings, except of course, the Gospel.

    Many churches in England have a history of rupture, as Americans do not understand, and the daily Mass attendance is lower than that in the States. In fact, most parishes, not mine, do not even have a Saturday Mass in the morning. I miss the old tradition of men attending daily Mass on a regular basis. But, with daily Masses at 9 or 10, which is the norm, and not before work, the Masses tend to be for the elderly and for women.

    However, I do not like woman in the sanctuary and do so only out of necessity. .

    By the way, I read in hat or mantilla. No problems.

    The other thing, is that in England, it is rare to have an altar server at daily Mass. Again, the time interferes with men attending. The priests do most of the needed actions themselves, unless there are retired priests attached to the parishes who say Mass daily with the pastor. The pool of servers, lectors, etc. is small.

  8. Spaniard says:

    I have a question. Is it an issue with the Sanctuary or with Holy Orders? If a woman in our choir were to sign the psalm from the choir’s position, is the issue cleared? Just a thought

  9. Both. Readings cannot be done from the loft, even if the psalm might be done.

  10. Ellen says:

    I’m a reader, (a term that I prefer to lector) or maybe I should day I was one. I quit about the time that horrible new translation of the NAB New Testament went into effect.

    I will occasionally read at a daily Mass and if I do say so myself, I am a good reader. I try not to ham it up, get all dramatic or try to make the reading about ME. Also, I try not to drone and be boring. My goal is to almost disappear, so there is nothing but the word.

    If only we’d use the RSV-CE, I’d go back to being a reader in a heartbeat.

  11. Tradster says:

    The entire notion of lay lectors while the “presider” sits and stares for half of the Mass is ridiculous, regardless of their sex. That said, the various sanctuary roles should be exclusively reserved for priests and those who could potentially become priests. So, no female servers, lectors, or EMHCs. That should also include the cantor in those churches where the stand is situated in the sanctuary area, for the same reason.

  12. StWinefride says:

    From Latin Mass Society UK – full text here:

    http://www.lms.org.uk/news-and-events/news-blog/march-2012#schneider

    Bishop Schneider lists ‘Five Wounds to the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ’, including Offertory Prayers of Novus Ordo and use of female readers and acolytes.

    “There is a certain number of concrete aspects of the currently prevailing liturgical practice in the ordinary rite that represent a veritable rupture with a constant and millennium-old liturgical practice. By this I mean the five liturgical practices I shall mention shortly; they may be termed the five wounds of the liturgical mystical body of Christ. These are wounds, for they amount to a violent break with the past since they deemphasize the sacrificial character (which is actually the central and essential character of the Mass) and put forward the notion of banquet. All of this diminishes the exterior signs of divine adoration, for it brings out the heavenly and eternal dimension of the mystery to a far lesser degree.

    A) The first and most obvious wound is the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass in which the priest celebrates with his face turned towards the faithful, especially during the Eucharistic prayer and the consecration, the highest and most sacred moment of the worship that is God’s due

    B) The second wound is communion in the hand…

    C) The third wound is the new Offertory prayers.

    D) The fourth wound is the total disappearance of Latin in the huge majority of Eucharistic celebrations in the Ordinary Form in all Catholic countries.

    E) The fifth wound is the exercise of the liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women as well as the exercise of these same services in lay clothing while entering into the choir during Holy Mass directly from the space reserved to the faithful. This custom has never existed in the Church, or at least has never been welcome. It confers to the celebration of the Catholic Mass the exterior character of informality, the character and style of a rather profane assembly. The second council of Nicaea, already in 787, forbad such practices when it lay down the following canon: “If someone is not ordained, it is not permitted for him to do the reading from the ambo during the holy liturgy“ (can. 14). This norm has been constantly followed in the Church. Only subdeacons and lectors were allowed to give the reading during the liturgy of the Mass. If lectors and acolytes are missing, men or boys in liturgical vestments may do so, not women, since the male sex symbolically represents the last link to minor orders from the point of view of the non-sacramental ordination of lectors and acolytes.

  13. vetusta ecclesia says:

    It’s another example of the protestantisation of the Mass. There is far too much focus on “word” and not enough on “praise” and “sacrifice” The average Sunday NO Mass is 2/3 to 3/4 readings, psalms, notices, sermon etc. and the Sacrifice is tacked on the end almost as an afterthought.

  14. jflare says:

    Hmm. I usually dread answering these kinds of questions. Though the church I grew up in had an altar rail when I was little, someone inflicted arson on the building after I’d served maybe all of one Mass. When we rebuilt, I served Mass a fair bit for a few years; I recall women lectoring as much as men.

    I’ve only rarely been a lector, but I’ve learned that I’m not ecstatic about music ministry (or whatever we want to call the songleaders) at my parents’ church. Last time, I wound up standing maybe 15 feet from the altar, technically in the “choir area”, but still painfully obviously in view. I literally wondered if anyone would be annoyed if I’d (quietly) blow my nose during the opening prayer. I couldn’t help but think I’d risk becoming more a spectacle than the priest. I recall being quite relieved when it came time for the readings and I could step 6 inches down and walk over to the pew.
    I could escape the limelight for a few minutes.

    It would’ve been nice to at least have an altar rail there to visibly distinguish between my role as a musician and the priest’s role as..priest.
    Sadly, I suspect if I’d suggest that, I’d receive a large number of pretty stony looks.

    Thankfully, I’m not required to be home at my folks on Sundays much….

  15. pmullane says:

    I’m not sure I have strong feelings either way on the subject of who does the readings at Mass (other than the Gospel) , however as someone who has served as a reader for some time I think I can identify some problems with the practice:

    Firstly laypeople reading is more likely to cause a distraction. Chances are there will be, from a ‘pool’ of lay readers, some people who do not read well. If a priest does not take care to choose who is asked to perform this function, and does not make requirements that they prepare properly, and does not train his readers, then at some point there is probably going to be someone up reading who is casting eyes on the text for the first time, stumbling and misprononciating their worms all over the place. In extreme cases, people start panicking (even those who are familiar with the text, reading aloud in front of the mirror can be very different from reading at a lectern with a couple of hundred eyes on you). Its horrible to watch the car crash of someone getting all messed up, and then apologising, and then becoming embarrassed, and then wanting the ground to swallow them up. From personal experience, I can tell you its hard to ‘actively participate’ in Mass when you’ve screwed up your reading. Another problem with having inexperienced readers is that the whole of your Mass is consumed with the fact that I AM READING. How many people skip their preparation prayers to ‘just go through the readings again’, or dont concentrate fully on saying the creed in order to make sure they dont miss there cue to go say the bidding prayers. I find that when one has a ‘job to do’ at Mass, it directly inhibits your ability to participate actively in the Mass itself.

    The other end of the spectrum is that for the ‘good’ reader, reading at Mass can become an oppertunity for Pride. Most people who are good readers know that they are good readers, and its easy to get carried away with that feeling (‘how special I am’). I know that I’ve had to resist that temptation. Also, its too easy to impose yourself on the text if you are a good reader. At our University Chaplaincy, a regular reader was a man who was once heavily into the stage, and, lovely and godly fellow that he was, didnt half like to ‘ham it up’ when reading at Mass. Again it didnt spoil anything and certainly wasnt sinful, but it was less dignified than the Mass is due and less perfect than could have been.

    In my experience when the priest or a deacon or even a seminarian reads there tends to be less fuss, and it seems to be a more organic part of the Mass. It takes away distractions, lends weight and gravitas to the non-gospel readings, and allows the congregation to focus on the words proclaimed, less than the proclaimer. Practically speaking, I would prefer if the readings were made by an instituted acolyte, and if a ‘substitute’ were used, that they closely resembled the person they were substituting for (a vested senior Altar boy, for example).

    Apologies for the long post.

  16. Mike says:

    Benedict XVI mentioned somewhere that if the Canon of the Mass is not the highpoint of the Mass there is something wrong.

    We get the Scriptures from the Church; I prefer clerics reading from the sanctuary.

  17. RuralVirologist says:

    @vetusta ecclesia
    Where I am, the average 1962 Missal Mass is 2/3, and sometimes 3/4, (asperges), readings, notices, sermon, etc., and only then the offertory, which I assume begins the Sacrifice part of the Mass that gets tacked on at the end. In the Low Mass booklet I’m looking at, the first 10 pages cover the pre-offertory part of the Mass, followed by 15 pages of the Sacrifice part of the Mass, followed by 5 pages after communion (including till the end of the Last Gospel) – 50% Sacrifice part. The first 10 pages, however, are lengthened by the pages elsewhere that contain the readings, and then the notices and sermon, which is usually lengthy, but can be a good 90 minutes or more under certain circumstances (e.g. Bp Fellay’s recent visit.) Add in singing of the Kyrie, Gloria, and Creed, which slow the priest down somewhat when sung by the congregation, then it’s quite easy to get to only 1/4 of the Mass being the Sacrifice part, tacked on at the end. So it’s not just the Ordinary Form that has a longer pre-Sacrifice part of the Mass prior to the Sacrifice part. I always found odd – Ordinary and Extraordinary forms – that the part of the Mass from the offertory onwards is the shorter part, and also the last. It would seem better (to me) to have it first, or nearly first, and then the rest, to absorb the written Word after consuming the Eucharistic Word instead of going from communion straight to the snacks.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    Tradster, do you think the celebrant should do all the readings? Do you live in an area where the parishes have more than one priest? I live in areas where there is only one priest per parish and he may have two daily Masses and more on the weekend. Remember, that in many, many places, including Malta, the entire country, there is NO Tridentine Mass, only NO.

    We are in a situation in some places where the territory is missionary. Missionary priests cannot do everything. Burn out….

  19. Johnny Domer says:

    I find there’s a bit of cognitive dissonance between more conservatively-minded Catholics who think altar girls are terrible, but female lectors are ok. Most of the same objections to altar girls can be applied to female lectors: historically, having any woman in the sanctuary is a novelty; the task of proclaiming the readings was always one left to clerics, either the priest himself at a low or sung Mass, a lector at sung Mass, or the subdeacon at Solemn High Mass. In fact, reading the epistle was a more decidedly clerical act than simply serving the Mass. The Church allowed any lay man to serve the traditional Mass as long as he wore cassock and surplice; meanwhile, nobody was allowed to read or chant the epistle at the traditional Mass unless he had received the minor order of lector.

  20. anilwang says:

    Just to cause a bit of trouble, behold this circa 1481 illumination from a missal in a Church in Salizburg with not one but two well known female EMHCs:
    http://danielmitsui.com/hieronymus/index.blog/1712514/new-drawing/

    My suggestion, if presented with these EMHCs, pick the one on the left:-)

  21. Federico says:

    The ministry of a lector is properly called a ministry (Ministeria quaedam). Only men may be lectors (Ministeria quaedam, also c. 230). Others may fulfill the role when lectors are not available (c. 230, also GIRM). When those who are not instituted fulfill the role, they may not be called lectors (Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest Article 1, § 3). Bishops and pastors should guard to avoid creating an artificial shortage of ministers to fulfill various functions (including lectors) (Christifideles laici 23).

    Thus, the presence of women reading in the sanctuary reflects a lack of instituted ministers (and, again, being a lector is a ministry). This shortage speaks of widely spread ecclesial disobedience to the will and law of the Church. The reason for the disobedience is open to debate. My view is that it’s based on an erroneous understanding of “active participation” that leads to a desire to include women in a role ordinarily (in the technical sense) reserved to men. This is a form of clericalization.

    This passage from CL is relevant (emphasis mine):

    In the first place, then, it is necessary that in acknowledging and in conferring various ministries, offices and roles on the lay faithful, the Pastors exercise the maximum care to institute them on the basis of Baptism in which these tasks are rooted. It is also necessary that Pastors guard against a facile yet abusive recourse to a presumed “situation of emergency” or to “supply by necessity”, where objectively this does not exist or where alternative possibilities could exist through better pastoral planning.

    Federico.

  22. Andrew says:

    What about female lectrices at televised Papal Masses (with no shortage of clerics present)?

  23. PA mom says:

    Maybe this is just because I am accustomed to it, but I am in favor of women lectors, as part of a mix. As far as Holy Orders goes, especially in the NO, reading in one’s native language is no big accomplishment, Bible studies courses are abundant to assist in understanding for meaningful reading , and nuns have been reading the Bible together beautifully for centuries. this appears to me a way to “get with the times” without really losing ground.
    That said, it annoys me when only women seem to be lectors for extended periods of time. It is pleasing to hear a man’s voice confidently share the Good News.

  24. Joy says:

    Agreeing with Supertradmum here. I have background in speech, drama and specific training in public “reading” as we’ll as “lector” training. We have a total of 6 individuals who have volunteered to read, none of whom have any special training. (and at 43 I am the youngest of the group by more than 20 years) Additionally, as we have no voice amplification system, and many who are hard of hearing, when I read those who typically cannot hear can actually hear what is being read and are grateful.

    Out in the boondocks it is sometimes a necessity to work in less than ideal situations. We are not even guaranteed a priest each Sunday.

    If I were asked to defer to a man, I would do so with no hesitation whatsoever.

  25. Fern says:

    Interesting comments, however, my sense is that Priests find it easier to allow all the women who volunteer to take over instead inspiring men to serve. Strong male figures will draw men to the same service. Added to that, men “seem” to have a better sense of what is appropriate apparel for assisting at the Sacrifice of the Mass in any capacity. Also, there is an increase in vocations where men and boys serve. There is no requirement for a Priest or Bishop to have women assisting at Mass. May the Holy Spirit inspire men to desire to serve!
    Fern

  26. The Masked Chicken says:

    I have received lector training, but I am not a lector, as in holding an instituted office. It is proper to call such people, “readers.” It is a perfectly good description. If pastors called them, “emergency lectors, ” that might not be a bad thing, as people might begin to wonder what the emergency is.

    That being said, one must distinguish between the ideal and the real. Ideally, lectors would be all male, but the current law of the Church allows women to read the Old Testament readings and epistles at Mass. The answer to the readerette is that there is nothing sinful about women reading, as long as it is understood that they are emergency readers, not, technically, lectors, which is an office that can only be filled by a male. They are fulfilling a role, not an office. It is wrong to call them lectors. It is not wrong for them to lector, if you see the difference.

    “A woman will listen to a man, but a man will not listen to a woman. It’s in our natures.”

    Actually, this is backwards. Studies have shown that both sexes respond better to female voices. That’s why airplane warning voices are female recordings.

    The Chicken

  27. Federico says:

    @Chicken…” Actually, this is backwards. Studies have shown that both sexes respond better to female voices. That’s why airplane warning voices are female recordings.”

    Not quite (Fr. Z will forgive the off topic). I am a commercial pilot (part of my misspent youth) and planes i have flown had two voices, a female one and a male one. The female voice provided advisory information (“Traffic!”) while the mail voice provided urgent commands (“Pull up!”)

    One of my sim instuctors famously said: “when mom talks you should listen. When dad talks you are in trouble!”

  28. mamajen says:

    The only real problem I have with women reading is that they are more likely to be inappropriately dressed than men. It’s amazing that even some older women don’t know or don’t consider how to dress respectfully for a role that finds them in the sanctuary. Otherwise I generally just appreciate a loud, clear voice that knows how to pronounce things. I can see how only allowing men would be better, but in some parishes that is probably difficult.

  29. Maltese says:

    The second greatest person after Christ to ever walk this earth was a woman, and the most influential of teachers after her Son. Some of my best professors were women.

    But St. Paul is specific about the teaching role of women in church (as well as wearing head-coverings).

  30. Rellis says:

    They are clearly allowed by canon law and common practice (see papal Masses), but that doesn’t mean they are a good idea (they are not), or in keeping with our tradition and liturgical continuity (they do not).

    The idea of lectors/readers divorced from traditional holy orders is itself odd. This is a good argument for Rome to reverse the bad decision of Pope Paul VI of happy memory and restore all seven holy order steps.

    A simple interim solution is for the rubrics to be updated to use the same absence/necessity test for readers as is currently used (and increasingly-followed) for EMHCs. They should be used as “straw readers” in the absence of a cleric (which shouldn’t ever happen since there will presumably be a priest celebrating Mass).

    On a personal note, I shouldn’t be “turned on” during the second reading, but that can happen during the summertime. Not what I came to Mass for, I have to tell you. Sorry, but that’s the way men are.

  31. dspecht says:

    Chicken – your point is right: females can not hold an liturgical office – they should not, are not allowed to (and that’s also the reason official liturgical singing should not be done by females, at least not in the sanctuary, as Pope Pius X reaffirms in his liturgical-music-guidelines) — and that is not only a prescription by positve eccl. law, but by divine law, as St. Paul is teaching it in I Cor 14, 33f.

    Read there – and you will see that St. Paul gives also the deeper reasons: the Godly ORDER and conctrete: this order says that women should not lead, but submit to the men. So like in matrimony, as you can read in his epistle to the Ephesians. Read the wonderful explanation there – the holy order of GOD. Yes, GOD is a GOD of order: The FATHER beeing the head of the SON, CHRist the SON beeing the head of the man, the man beeing the head of the women. (And both the heads of their children [and possibly, as the case may be, also of their slaves]). – But our modern time, with its liberalism, is exactly against this order (therefore the call for pristesses, for feminism and genderism, etc. etc.)!

  32. anilwang says:

    I think The Masked Chicken hit on a more fundamental problem. EMHCs and “emergency” lectors in general are treated too flippantly. They are emergency roles, not offices. And as mamajen pointed out, even in these emergency roles there is a certain dignity and reverence that needs to be in place (regardless of gender).

    It’s not just liturgical. One thing that I noticed on Christmas day at a particular parish which had several closely spaced masses in several languages. Although the mass itself was reverent, after the mass, people appointed to help set up the sanctuary before the mass looked more stage hands setting up props for the next scene. It’s something no-one else would see unless they stayed 20 minutes after mass praying or saying the rosary. But bit does point to something fundamentally wrong in how we treat the sanctuary.

  33. Pingback: Women as lectors in the Ordinariate? | Foolishness to the world

  34. AnnAsher says:

    I, once again, highly suggest to all women the reading of “The Privelege of Being a Woman” by Alice Von Hildebrand.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/097061067X

    Women embracing our true dignity and proper roles is crucial to restoring the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ. Until His reign is restored in society there will be no lasting peace.

  35. AnnAsher says:

    Ps. Thank you Fr Z for pointing out that female Lectors are only permitted a “substitutes”. Therefore, their names should not be appearing as a regularly scheduled lector.

  36. VexillaRegis says:

    @Rellis: Regarding risking to be “turned on” by a readeress, what do you think sometimes happens to us women, when we see handsome men reading? Even fully dressed ones? You are a distraction to us! ;-)

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    As far as dress is concerned, I think I may try to start a fashion trend. How about a truly unisex cardboard box that covers everything except the head? It would be a dream come true, no?

    The Chicken

  38. Imrahil says:

    With respect to dear @Dr Peters and other canon lawyers (who, by my prejudice, are wont to see sense in many things),

    I just can see no sense in having an office reserved for men (which is the case with lectors) but allowing, so to speak, the use of said office for women too.

    Whether absolutely and not taking into account the canon that reserves it for men, women should be lectors, is another question. I might try a detailed answer but have not the time now.

    For the time being, I tolerate women lectors because it is the practice and I could not speak aloud against it anyway. Also, as to their way of reading I have no actual complaints to make; that must be said.

  39. AnnAsher says:

    @spaniard: cantoring is an appropriate external participation for women.

  40. Imrahil says:

    On the other hand, dear @Rellis & @VexillaRegis, that the Lord in his infinite bounty created beautiful women (and, I’m told, men) should not, I think, be held to their discredit. Nor that you delight in seeing them to your discredit.

    (Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart; but that means a look to lust after her which does consist in, in the sober language of the scholastics, consenting to the will to commit the sin of adultery with her. All else, no problem.)

  41. James Joseph says:

    That and the lector may also be called sub-deacon according to the Paul VI document I read a while back.

    What is the relationship between ‘custos’ (Joseph) and ‘the voice in the wilderness’ (John Baptist)?

  42. moon1234 says:

    What amazes me with all of the comments I have read is the common theme that “There are no instituted lectors, so I must read.”. Where did this mindset of an assumption of a liturgical role come from? Is there not a priest at Mass? Can he not speak?

    Every day our priest stands up and proclaims the Epistle and Gospel just fine. It takes him all of a few minutes. His vocal cords are not stressed and he seems perfectly capable of standing and speaking. There truely are a very small percentage of priests who are unable to stand or speak while being the celebrant at Mass.

    Catholic Kings (France-King Louis) have stated that even they are unworthy to enter the Sancturary of God. How times have changed that the sancturary and liturgical roles have been reduced to nothing more than a place in the Church and something to do during Mass.

    This is just one more example of why I choose not to attend the NO unless I have no other choice. It is time that we advocated for the return of Minor Orders and encourage our young men to look at the seminary. If for nothing else, we would have many more ACTUAL Lectors and Acolytes.

  43. Joe in Canada says:

    With respect to whether it is a Sanctuary issue or a ministry issue, in the Byzantine tradition readings are done from the nave. Readers and cantors are men. However, in practice, in many a parish with a married priest, for a non-Sunday Liturgy, the priest’s sons serves as his acolytes leaving his wife and daughters to do the readings and the singing. (many Catholic Byzantine parishes copy their Roman brethren and don’t follow this).

  44. introibo says:

    On the rare occasion when I attend the NO and there is a woman lector, the voice usually grates on me…too old, scratchy…I don’t want to hear the writings of the prophets or St. Paul read by a woman. The one exception was in a local parish where the reader sounded like Siobhan McKennna (Irish actress, played Our Lady in King of Kings). Her voice was pleasant to listen to.

  45. Genna says:

    London Undergound (Tube) had a rule of thumb for recorded announcements based on crowd psychology. Woman’s voice for requests. Man’s voice for commands, as in “Mind the gap”.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    Many of us do not have access to the TLM. That is a separate issue. When the Pope stops having women readers, such as at Christmas Mass, last year, I shall say no when asked at the last moment…which is always the case when I read.

  47. VexillaRegis says:

    @Chicken, @ Imrahil & Rellis: Cardboard boxes with holes for the head will not work. I think we have to get all parishes a couple of full chicken costumes, complete with beak and cockscomb – plus a mask!

    Of course there is no sin in being involuntarily “turned on”, but it can be very impractical, especially in church, where there usually is no possibility to have a cold emergency shower! Anyway, I’m nearsighted and slightly astigmatic, so taking my glasses off helps a lot, haha.

  48. Supertradmum says:

    Same list of guys, learn custody of the eyes….one of the best things I learned from the nuns.

  49. Daniel says:

    It seems there are also two schools of thought on the proper way to do the reading. One is that a background in such fields as drama, speech or even scripture study is helpful in order that the reader might do a proper interpretation of the text. The other is that the reader shouldn’t give his interpretation, but actually do a basic monotone reading if not chant the text. There are both good and bad of each, though personally I think I prefer hearing a straight reading of the text rather than a dramatized reading.

  50. The Masked Chicken says:

    ” Cardboard boxes with holes for the head will not work. I think we have to get all parishes a couple of full chicken costumes, complete with beak and cockscomb – plus a mask! ”

    Dear VexillaRegis,

    Do you want to scare the congregation into Heaven?

    “Of course there is no sin in being involuntarily “turned on”, but it can be very impractical, especially in church, where there usually is no possibility to have a cold emergency shower! ”

    Just emergency lectors!

    I admit, the boxes would make kneeing and sitting a bit hard, but we don’t do enough penances, anyway. This way, you can avoid temptation and do penances at the same time :) What lovely mockery to watch the boxed person next to you fall over. There would be no doubt about standing for Communion. It would end liturgical dancing. It would make cello playing in Churches impossible.

    Hardly any down-sides.

    The Chicken

  51. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Same list of guys, learn custody of the eyes….one of the best things I learned from the nuns.”

    Don’t even think of wearing perfume or aftershave . We chickens have to exercise custody of the nose, you knows.

    The Chicken

  52. The Masked Chicken says:

    So, if the Scripture readings that request, women; if the Scripture commands, men.

    The Chicken

  53. The Masked Chicken says:

    I feel like I’m speaking in a strange foreign tongue, today, the way my last post came out.

    The Chicken

  54. Supertradmum says:

    Daniel, I was not referring to dramatized reading, but the readings should be proclaimed and not read without understanding or like the news.

  55. Supertradmum says:

    Chicken, I do not wear perfume. The Scriptures have something to say about women wearing simplicity of dress and in modern terms not look like bohemians or gypsies. Same should apply for men…

  56. Joy says:

    @Daniel — As with most things, there is a correct/trained way to read publicly – in my experience, there are not many trained in this art. I thank the Irish sisters for this gift given to me at an early age. And those trained in speech/drama are typically more comfortable in front of large gatherings and do not get flustered as easily if a slip of the tongue occurs. It is also about projection, enunciation, etc…. I do not believe anyone is advocating dramatized readings.

    If the reader does not understand what is being read, how much more difficult will it be for those hearing to understand? So some background of some kind in Scripture study would be beneficial, to my way of thinking.

    @Chicken – thank you for the good dose of levity this morning!

  57. VexillaRegis says:

    @Chicken: “Hardly any down-sides” ? ROFL!
    BTW, we are having chicken for dinner. You might need that cardboard box….

  58. Supertradmum says:

    Joy, ditto on all points.

  59. All the usual women haters out in force, afraid they’ll soil the sanctuary (unless of course they’re cleaning it which of course we’ll allow).

    In the absence of instituted lectors (which in most parishes is a permanent absence) lay people may read – and there is no differentiation made between men and women. Get over it. It represents the view of the Church. The Holy Father is happy with it (at least in practice). The Church’s inability to ordain women can’t simply be extended to suit people who don’t like their tone of voice or what they wear.

  60. pmullane says:

    “All the usual women haters out in force, afraid they’ll soil the sanctuary ”

    Thats a bit of a statement, care to substantiate?

  61. Jeannie_C says:

    ter several years of university study he dropped out of the program and married.

  62. Not covered in these comments, as far as I could tell, is the understanding of AUTHORITY and the GRACE OF PREACHING, and the root of this is the SUPERNATURAL effect.

    We must strive for the most supernaturally effective method of reaching hearers.

    The question is, do we really want our readings and preachings to have a good effect on the listener? If so, allow the individual with the most authority to read. Allow the person with the ordained grace to preach, read, and speak. There is grace attached to the hearing of the natural voice of those with authority and to whom have been given the grace to preach from ordination and blessing.

    From a hierarchical standpoint of authority, the priest has precedence, after that is the Deacon and so on. Like having the capacity to bless that which is under one’s authority [children, property, etc], authority also affects the power of the speaker over the listener. Men have authority over women, not the other way ’round. I squirm the most at children’s Masses where children do the reading – they might be more innocent but they certainly carry no authority whatsoever over me, so I assume my hearing them affects me only ‘naturally’ not in a supernatural manner.

    As far as the argument of “in the absence of men, women can do the readings”, that’s moot as long as there is the priest.

  63. Jeannie_C says:

    Sorry, my rant was too long and so cut off. Here’s the thing, if 50% of Catholics are men why aren’t they signing up on “Stewardship Sunday” to “serve”? Why do we have one altar server, a boy, with his mom holding the other candle for the proclamation of the Gospel? If men want to lead, they need to stand up and get to it. Easier to sit back and let the women go for it.

    And what are these men, these 50% of the Catholic population doing about encouraging their sons to become priests? Not much.

  64. StWinefride says:

    @Christopher McCamley said: All the usual women haters out in force, afraid they’ll soil the sanctuary (unless of course they’re cleaning it which of course we’ll allow).

    As a woman, I do not hate my own kind. If Holy Mother Church, in Her wisdom, has decided something – where’s the problem?

    From my post above (Bishop Schneider):

    The second council of Nicaea, already in 787, forbad such practices when it lay down the following canon: “If someone is not ordained, it is not permitted for him to do the reading from the ambo during the holy liturgy“ (can. 14). This norm has been constantly followed in the Church.

    Up until the Second Vatican Council that is.

  65. Well every so often Fr Z, for some reason, decides to have a post on readers, extraordinary ministers of holy communion or altar servers and the comments go along a few standard lines:
    (1) I hate the novus ordo and it’s all Protestant; (2) There’s this woman who wears a strappy dress and she should wear a hat; (3) Women are in some sense ritually unclean and though we mightn’t say it, it’s what we think; (4) everything should be done by the priest and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand “full, conscious and active participation”; (5) women can’t be priests, therefore they can’t be anything really.

    The minor orders, as illustrated in the picture, were, to be honest, farcical, for years – ways of controlling seminarians. The new sense of ministry intended by Paul VI simply never took off. Now you could decide to change the practice, formally institute lectors and acolytes in parishes and effectively end the participation of women in these roles. Or you could make the priest do everything. I don’t see anyone but a tiny minority supporting these approaches. The same sort who opposed St Teresa and St Catherine being made Doctors of the Church.

  66. Holy women of history include those who supported men in doing their jobs, including even driving them with single-minded persistence. As long as women step up, the less men will do. This includes weak priests.
    Women: stop being ‘Eves’ and stand down. Tell men to ‘man up’ and do their jobs. And then wait and pray.

  67. Sword40 says:

    Well said, Tina in Ashburn.

  68. JohnW says:

    Let us all pray for a reform of the current state of the church. Nothing seems sacred in the normal american parish. If a person entered a church during Mass of the new rite and knew nothing of the Catholic faith,would they sense mystery? If the same person enter a Catholic church during a traditional Tridentine Mass would they sense mystery and sacredness? I think we all know the answer! We need a reform and we needed it thirty years ago. Pray Pray Pray

  69. Tradster says:

    Supertradmum,

    Re: your question: “Tradster, do you think the celebrant should do all the readings? Do you live in an area where the parishes have more than one priest?”

    Uh, yes, I absolutely think the celebrant should do all the readings instead of just sitting there staring out into space. And since he is there at the NO Mass anyway I fail to see what the number of priests in the area has to do with who does the readings. Or are you suggesting that standing at the pulpit reading aloud will so tucker out the poor man that he will be unable to celebrate multiple services?

  70. Supertradmum says:

    Tina, sometimes there are no able men at daily Mass at all…see reasons above.

  71. Long-Skirts says:

    Tradster says:

    “Supertradmum,
    Re: your question: “Tradster, do you think the celebrant should do all the readings? Do you live in an area where the parishes have more than one priest?”
    Uh, yes, I absolutely think the celebrant should do all the readings instead of just sitting there staring out into space. ”

    A BRIT
    IN
    BANGLADESH

    And the Word was made Flesh
    But does that really mesh
    With authentic faith and dialogue today?

    ‘Cause at Eucharistic meal
    Which is no big bloody deal
    We smile and our mistakes are washed away.

    We gather round the table
    To hear a gospel fable
    From Father Bob the celebrant divine.

    Never kneels he always stands
    But he runs to shake your hands
    Then he sits a lot perhaps a weakened spine.

    The ladies and the girls
    Their ministry unfurls
    A Eucharistic minister’s sensation.

    With servers and the cantor
    They have a playful banter
    Then bread and wine it’s time for celebration.

    As the people we all sing
    But the bells they never ring
    For they took away the Words that made His Flesh…

    For a Corpus? That’s too rough
    There’s no need for violent stuff
    That’s as welcomed as a Brit in Bangladesh!

  72. Athelstan says:

    Hello Christopher McCamley,

    All the usual women haters out in force, afraid they’ll soil the sanctuary (unless of course they’re cleaning it which of course we’ll allow).

    All the usual progressives trolling the forum, afraid to actually read the more substantive concerns about women lectors given voice here.

    The minor orders, as illustrated in the picture, were, to be honest, farcical, for years – ways of controlling seminarians. The new sense of ministry intended by Paul VI simply never took off.

    Did you not stop to consider the dissonance between these two statements? Is it not possible – just possible – that minors had some kind of purpose besides mind control of seminarians?

    Having said that, I *do* agree that putting this toothpaste back in the tube will be very difficult, even more so than easing out altar girls. Here in the Archdiocese of Washington, one of the two or three most conservative parishes in existence makes almost exclusive use of women lectors. And there would be a fight, I think (or at least some very unhappy women), if the pastor tried have only instituted lectors or clergy do the readings.

    A pastor trying to do things gradually could pick one of the Sunday masses to do the more traditional things: ad orientem, heavier use of chant, EP#1, no altar girls…and perhaps instituted lectors for readers. That might reduce the complaints. But some will rightly wonder why women are good enough to read at the 11am mass but not the 9am one. Even the smallest changes in a parish can excite resistance, or departures.

  73. Athelstan says:

    Hello Long-Skirts,

    This is one of your very best efforts yet!

  74. maryh says:

    All the usual women haters out in force, afraid they’ll soil the sanctuary (unless of course they’re cleaning it which of course we’ll allow).
    Maybe women shouldn’t be cleaning the sanctuary either.

    That’s a problem: people interpreting keeping women out of the sanctuary as a way of keeping it more pure, as if women were inherently less pure than men. I think the Catholic tradition is rather the opposite, given the example of our Blessed Mother and the female saints.

    Women, by our God-created biology, created in the image of God, cooperate with God to bring forth new called-to-be children of God. Men, by the call of Jesus Christ, cooperate with God to bring us the body and blood of Christ. The two roles are equal in dignity and absolutely confined to one sex – one by God’s decision in the creation of women’s biology, one by God’s decision in calling only men to the priesthood.

    These days, when I see women altar servers or lectors or EMHCs, I see men abrogating their RESPONSIBILITY, not the increased “participation” of women. Men, do your jobs! Don’t make us do EVERYTHING! Sure, some women see it as more participation or even as a step towards the “priesthood”, but I think most of us do it because the men don’t.

    Oh, and by the way, I DON’T appreciate the condescending reference to a “readerette”. A very holy man once said “The duty of every man is the dignity of every woman.”

  75. Supertradmum says:

    Tradster, priests are overworked now in many countries and dioeses. Now, the laity must help. Four sems in one diocese of 110,000; 15 active priests in two years for 100,000 in another. I know priests who are burnt out and sems who are taking over duties formerly done by priests. If my reading helps a priest who is saying Mass while ill or fatigued, so be it. I do not know where you live, but everywhere I go there is a serious shortage which no Ordinarate or new generation will solve. The shortage of priests will get worse and worse. Besides, St. Etheldreda was Abbess over a huge mixed monastery, as were several Medieval women saints. I am sure she read at joint chapters. I have spent quite some time in monasteries and the nuns read, not the priests. All NO of course. Canon law provides at this time…for good reasons, although there are abuses.

  76. AnAmericanMother says:

    Yeah, Christopher, and next you’ll be calling all us people of the female persuasion who are uncomfortable with the idea of female lectors “self-hating”. Right?
    Jeannie C, here’s the problem:
    When women get into positions of authority they tend to be kinda bossy (it’s a tendency I really have to fight in myself). Men do NOT like conflict with bossy women. Those men out in the congregation are laying low because they see the women in the sanctuary and they have enough conflict in their lives already. You could call it a corollary of Gresham’s Law, I suppose.

  77. Supertradmum says:

    PS if every single man on this blog became a priest or monk, I would not have to read, nor any other woman.

  78. Hidden One says:

    From what I can remember (from hearing it in a sermon), in the Old Testament, under the Old Law, if a woman even entered the liturgical equivalent to the sanctuary, the Levites (liturgical equivalent: altar boys) were solemnly bound before God to kill her. Period.

    If one supposes that the Old at all foreshadows the New liturgically, lectresses are a bad idea. Scratch that, a really bad idea.

  79. Supertradmum says:

    The priest saying many of the Masses over Christmas had a fever. All the priests I know said several Masses each holyday in the past three weeks. Reading could be a work of mercy, but I only do if asked.

  80. Joseph-Mary says:

    Tell this to the Holy Father who allows female lectors at his Masses. I actually do read at a weekday Mass but do not consider it a gateway to ordination–at all.

  81. Tradster says:

    Supertradmum,
    Sorry, but I’m just not buying it. If the “presider” is healthy enough to speak the homily and recite aloud everything for the Canon then he can stand there and read the Epistle and Gospel, as well.

    No wonder the wymynpreests are so rabid to be ordained for the NO. They expect to be able to just sit there for half of the Mass smiling out at their adoring fans.

  82. JKnott says:

    Wow, all the excellent comments here.
    I like to view this topic from a mystical perspective, which is why a reading of the “Song of Songs” and “The Spiritual Canticle” by John of the Cross suggests to me that women do not belong in the sanctuary. Christ died for His Bride the Church. The representations are clear.

    The NO has favored a predominately exterior activity in the sanctuary where the focus is on practical functionality. Even if the clear evidence that women readers are a negative distraction in most instances were not true, I believe that the moment women step foot in the sanctuary and assume a calling to proclaim the Word of God, given to those who represent Christ as the head of the Church, they are not just “doing dishes, straightening up, or providing a necessary “service” or “ministry” which speaks of their equality and need to be included; they are actually contributing to the poor formation of the interior life of all women, and sadly losing their intrinsic beauty.
    In the religious life, prior to the NO, Mass readings would have been done by men.
    Though permitted by the Church, this “option” calls to my mind what Our Lady of Fatima said about war. “It is a punishment of sin.”
    It would be a breath of fresh air to see women choose to emulate the humility of the Mother of God who NEVER put herself forward.

  83. MichaelJ says:

    Tell this to the Holy Father who allows female lectors at his Masses?
    Is there not a difference between allowing something and desiring something? Do we know one way or another whether the Holy Father tolerates female lectors or actively desires them.
    Remember that His Holiness John Paul II once allowed partailly nude female lectors. Is anyone really willing to suggest that since he did, we have no basis for objection if our local Ordinary does the same?

  84. Supertradmum says:

    Hidden One and would you kill people for adultery as well? Christ had something to say about this..and a woman reading is not sinful. It is dangerous to reason as you have.

    ry as wrll
    Ary

  85. Supertradmum says:

    Oops sorry about scribbles…have been posting from a mobile with an Internet which goes on and off..this is Malta

  86. Bea says:

    I don’t like to see women in the sanctuary. period. (except for the women who take care of the linens)

    There is a nice young man who should be an altar server. His sister is one.
    I’ve mentioned it to him and talked to the mother, too.
    The mother told me that his sister (she’s older) is bossy and he doesn’t want to be up there with her.
    Some men stay out of the sanctuary because so many women are up there.

    We have altar girls who flip their hair and flirt with the altar boys (while they try to keep their composure).
    We have a female extraordinary minister who has joined almost all organizations there is to join. She sits in the sanctuary with a broad happy smile, looking out towards the “audience” AKA congregation. As if to say “look at me”
    We have female lector/readers with tight fitting jeans.
    Clickity, clackity heels all over the sanctuary. No thanks.
    The exceptions to the rules have taken over, where the exceptions are now the rule.
    It’s to cry for.

    Also I believe the word of God should be announced in a male voice.
    The Word made Flesh was male.
    Let His pronounced Word at Mass be Male.

  87. Supertradmum says:

    Pre-Vatican convent, girls school and female monasteries, the nuns and even other women read and even in the vernacular. Also in Europe, even on Sunday in most churches, readers do not sit in the sanctuary, but in the pews.

  88. Supertradmum says:

    Stick a II in after Vatican, bye.

  89. VexillaRegis says:

    @Supertradmom: Thank you for your last three posts! There seems to be some grumpy (old) men on here today ;-). Of course they do wash the altar linen, clean the floors in the sanctuary and mend the litugical vestments (for free, of course!) .

  90. VexillaRegis says:

    @STM: and maybe some are even prepared to be killed for adultery, an easy sin to commit, since it starts in your heart. Then there would not be many men left to read.

  91. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Women, by our God-created biology, created in the image of God, cooperate with God to bring forth new called-to-be children of God. Men, by the call of Jesus Christ, cooperate with God to bring us the body and blood of Christ. The two roles are equal in dignity and absolutely confined to one sex – one by God’s decision in the creation of women’s biology, one by God’s decision in calling only men to the priesthood.”

    Except that almost all women are born with the eventual capacity to be able to have children, but not all men are born with the eventual capacity to be priests. Some are born to be physical fathers, so the man sex fractionates more than the woman sex. Most women will be mothers; some men will be priests.

    Then, there are us chickens, who can be neither wife nor priest. We get to see neither physical children nor spiritual children. I, sometimes, think that being single without vows or ordination is the vocation that calls for the most hope, since there is very little to show for it, in terms of a progeny for the future, in this life. Heavy sniffling.

    JKnott,

    As C. S. Lewis put it (parahrasing):

    “To Christ, we are all female.” Since the Church is the bride of Christ, there is a small sense in which we humans occupy the female slot in the marriage.

    Another thing C. S.Lewis wrote:

    The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation. If that claim is false then we want not to make priestesses but to abolish priests. If it is true, then we should expect to find in the Church an element which unbelievers will call irrational and which believers will call supra-rational. There ought to be something in it opaque to our reason though not contrary to it—as the facts of sex and sense on the natural level are opaque. And that is the real issue. . . . If we abandon that, if we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion.9

    Read more: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=04-01-005-f#ixzz2HJmzU7uM

    The Chicken

  92. pmullane says:

    Hello Christopher, there was a lot in your reply so I hope you don’t mind me answering point by point

    “Well every so often Fr Z, for some reason, decides to have a post on readers, extraordinary ministers of holy communion or altar servers and the comments go along a few standard lines:
    (1) I hate the novus ordo and it’s all Protestant”

    There are some people who think that the Novus Ordo is overly protetstantised, they make arguments which you are welcome to refute. I don’t believe that I’ve read on here that anyone ‘hates’ the NO, that would be a very strong statement. Many people dislike the way it is celebrated, and certain things about it. These are all things that it is healthy to discuss.

    ” (2) There’s this woman who wears a strappy dress and she should wear a hat; ”

    Some people above expressed a concern that female readers can perhaps fail to dress appropriately for Mass. Sometimes what they are wearing may cause a distraction, or a near occasion of sin. I imagine this is a real problem in nice sunny places, here in drizzly old England not so much. If a lady in the pew in front is causing you a distraction, you can move seats, if the lady at the lectern is, it’s a little more difficult. Some people struggle with purity, they don’t ‘hate’ women, in fact in not wanting to objectify their sisters they love them all the more. Nobody has mentioned a hat, but again head coverings were a tradition in the Church. Good people can discuss whether they are a good idea or not.

    “(3) Women are in some sense ritually unclean and though we mightn’t say it, it’s what we think;”

    I can’t really answer that because I can’t read minds. I have NEVER gotten that impression from this blog. In charity, perhaps you are allowing your prejudices to colour what your read.

    ” (4) everything should be done by the priest and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand “full, conscious and active participation”

    That hinges on the word ‘everything’. Most people on the blog think that the roles proper to the priest should be performed by the priest. Distributing Holy Communion and proclaiming the Gospel (where there is no deacon) are two examples. That is also the clear mind of the Church, and if you think otherwise the burden is on you to explain why. Other jobs are not proper to the priest, such as taking up the offertory and playing the organ. I’ve explained, above, how having a job to do at Mass can inhibit fully participating in it.
    Perhaps you can look there for a rational argument

    “(5) women can’t be priests, therefore they can’t be anything really.”

    Women can’t be priests, therefore some here would argue it is less appropriate for a woman to do jobs that lead towards the priesthood than a man. An example is an altar server. Many priests discovered their vocations by serving Mass, so we should try and avoid anything that would cause a barrier to a vocation. You agree we need vocations, yes?

    “The minor orders, as illustrated in the picture, were, to be honest, farcical, for years – ways of controlling seminarians. The new sense of ministry intended by Paul VI simply never took off. Now you could decide to change the practice, formally institute lectors and acolytes in parishes and effectively end the participation of women in these roles. Or you could make the priest do everything. I don’t see anyone but a tiny minority supporting these approaches. The same sort who opposed St Teresa and St Catherine being made Doctors of the Church”

    Says you. Farcical? I think the burden is on you to show evidence. I suspect your last few sentences are meant to be an insult of some kind, but I’m sorry, I just don’t know who your talking about. Are you insinuating that people on this blog are against female doctors of the Church because they think boys are better than girls? Seriously?

  93. robtbrown says:

    Christopher Mc Camley says:

    (1) I hate the novus ordo and it’s all Protestant;

    It’s not all Protestant, but vernacular liturgy has Protestant origins.

    The minor orders, as illustrated in the picture, were, to be honest, farcical, for years – ways of controlling seminarians.

    How would the minor orders control seminarians?

  94. robtbrown says:

    BTW, Jean Guitton, friend to Paul VI, said the liturgy was Protestantized because the pope was very interested in Ecumenism with Protestants.

  95. fvhale says:

    @robtbrown: Is there any definitive critique of the words and whispers of Jean Guitton? It seems that he is always putting words into the mouth of “his friend” Ven. Pope Paul VI, but nothing is ever documented, really. I have seen references to him from every position relative to the Council and liturgical reforms (both for and against whatever). Who was he, really, and is he a reliable “source” for the private thoughts of Ven. Pope Paul VI?

  96. maryh says:

    @The Masked Chicken
    Except that almost all women are born with the eventual capacity to be able to have children, but not all men are born with the eventual capacity to be priests. Some are born to be physical fathers, so the man sex fractionates more than the woman sex. Most women will be mothers; some men will be priests.
    Quite true. Both man and woman are intrinsically excluded from a role by virtue of their sex alone, and yet many more women are called to be mothers than men are called to be priests.

  97. robtbrown says:

    fvhale,

    Two not so harmonious points.

    1. Once that in Ministeria Quaedam minor orders (also subdiaconate) were suppressed to be replaced by Lay Ministries, there is no reason to restrict the performance of reader and server to males. And, IMHO, neither is there any reason to prohibit women from being installed in the Lay Ministries of lector and acolyte .

    On the other hand,

    2. I have been told by canon lawyers that in the hermeneutic of canon law, any subparagraph assumes the meanings of the primary paragraph. Thus, the use of laici in para 2 is to be understood as viri laici in para 1.

  98. poohbear says:

    I prefer to listen to male readers because they just read. Women tend to dramatize.

  99. robtbrown says:

    fvhale says:
    @robtbrown: Is there any definitive critique of the words and whispers of Jean Guitton? It seems that he is always putting words into the mouth of “his friend” Ven. Pope Paul VI, but nothing is ever documented, really. I have seen references to him from every position relative to the Council and liturgical reforms (both for and against whatever). Who was he, really, and is he a reliable “source” for the private thoughts of Ven. Pope Paul VI?

    From Wikipedia:

    Born in Saint-Étienne, Loire, he studied at the Lycée du Parc in Lyon and was accepted at the École normale supérieure in Paris. His principal religious and intellectual influence was from a blind priest, Francois Pouget. He finished his philosophical studies in the early 1920s and later became a professor in many famous French universities. During World War II, he was made a war prisoner by the Nazis. In the year 1954, he earned a literary award from the Académie Française. From 1955 to 1968 he continued his works as a professor at the Sorbonne. He became a member of the Académie Française in 1961.

    Invited as an observer to the ecumenical council of Vatican II, the first lay person to be granted this honor, he would become a close friend of Pope Paul VI.

  100. VexillaRegis says:

    @poohbear: Then you should come to our parish. All women readers read without dramatizing, but one of the male readers has an irritating habit, to say the least. He reads slowly and quite monotonuos, so, at the end of the sentence, the congregation has forgotten how it started. He sings the responsorial psalm in the same way. sigh.

  101. OrthodoxChick says:

    I guess I’ll chime in with my 2 cents regarding women lectors. My reply is to use the old saying, “Just because one can, doesn’t mean one should”. Sacred tradition trumps modernist tradition, IMHO.

  102. Fern says: Interesting comments, however, my sense is that Priests find it easier to allow all the women who volunteer to take over instead inspiring men to serve.

    I think this is true, and a contributing factor in the general blurring of distinctions between clergy and laity.

    In re priest shortages as a contributing factor to female lectors: were we all that short on priests when this practice started? or did the number of priests start falling off afterward? Now, of course, we have to deal with the situation as we find it. Priest shortages are undeniable, and I think the prevalence of heterodoxy, and especially feminism in many chanceries is a major factor. Feminists like crowds of women in the sanctuary, to condition people to get used to the feminization of the liturgy. And they like a shortage of priests, because they think it will force Rome to start ordaining women.

  103. Corey F. says:

    Uh, restore the Minor Orders to the Church universal, and this won’t be an issue.

    #simplesolutionstosillyproblems

  104. fvhale says:

    @robtbrown: Yes, I already know what wikipedia says, which is not much.
    There is a fuller English biography which presents some of the complexities of his life at:
    http://www.egs.edu/library/jean-guitton/biography/

    My question is, most of the references to Guitton and his private talks with Ven. Pope Paul VI come from Paul VI Secret, about 170 pages, published in French in 1979, a year after the death of the Pope. Before that there was the rambling, poorly translated into English “The Pope Speaks” from 1968.

    My question is about the credibility of his revealed “secrets” and “whispers.” How much of it is really Ven. Pope Paul VI, and how much of it is Jean Guitton ideas about the Pope’s thoughts and intentions?

    For example, what you referred to, was apparently from a radio interview Guitton gave “in the 1990’s” [when Guitton was over 90]:

    Likewise, Journalist Jean Guitton, a close friend and confident of Pope Paul VI, confirmed that its was the direct aim of the Pope to protestantize the liturgy. In a radio interview in the 1990s, Guitton said:

    “The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy – but was is curious is that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant Lord’s supper… there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or at least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too catholic, in the traditional sense, and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass.”

    The source for this quotation of Guitton telling us “the intention of Paul VI” was Michael McGrade, “Redemptionis Sacramentum, DOA, RIP”, Christian Order, August, September, 2004.

    I am just becoming increasingly skeptical about quotations from Guitton telling various people what the Pope “intended,” and his words being used on both sides of arguments about the Extraordinary Form.

    So my question stands: has anyone really done any critical study (from a historical perspective) on Guitton’s words telling us the “intentions” of the (deceased) Ven. Pope Paul VI? Has anyone really studied Guitton’s words to see if they are consistent or contradictory, if they can be supported or disputed by other sources and documents? The “Paul VI” he presents seems to be quite malleable to support a number of different, contradictory positions. Is there any reality at all to the “Paul VI” he presents in his writing and spoken words?

  105. Hidden One says:

    Supertradmum,

    “Hidden One and would you kill people for adultery as well? Christ had something to say about this..and a woman reading is not sinful. It is dangerous to reason as you have.”

    Of course I wouldn’t kill people for adultery. However, I do consider adultery a really bad idea. I imagine you do too.

    I do not say that it is sinful for a woman to read at Mass (by default), for the Church permits it; however, it seems to me – considering precisely Whom handed down the rubrics in the OT – that God would prefer that they did not. (No, that’s not a contradiction: consider the reception of Communion in the hand.)

  106. Long-Skirts says:

    …just put another son on a train to finish up his 5th yr. in a Traditional Catholic Seminary

    SACRIFICE
    OF
    STEEL

    Dark cold and gray
    Under a wave of cement
    Wander steel rails
    Puffs of smoke
    Spray up
    From steel-gray whales
    He enters
    Willingly –
    The steel groans and away sails
    To the Cross-road
    Shores
    Of Sacrifice and steel nails.

  107. Supertradmum says:

    The priest shortage is because of abortion, contraception, and selfish parents.

  108. Lynn Diane says:

    The origins of women lectors and altar girls are entirely different. The use of women lectors was and is licit and permitted under certain circumstances but the use of altar girls was not. The use of altar girls to serve Mass began in disobedience in the 1970’s and only became licit about 1993 when nearly every parish in my diocese had them. Altar girls were only permitted then to spare many, many priests and bishops the embarrassment of having to tell so many altar girls that it was not licit for them to serve Mass. A good rule of thumb is to follow the example of the Holy Father in this matter. Ubi Petrus ibi Ecclesia.

  109. St. Epaphras says:

    Tina in Ashburn:
    Holy women of history include those who supported men in doing their jobs, including even driving them with single-minded persistence. As long as women step up, the less men will do. This includes weak priests.
    Women: stop being ‘Eves’ and stand down. Tell men to ‘man up’ and do their jobs. And then wait and pray.

    Yes, please.

  110. MichaelJ says:

    Supertradmum,
    If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the vocations crisis is mostly due to 50 years of incessant promotion of the “Priesthood of the Laity” of which Lay readers are a large part. No doubt the reasons you cite play a significant role, but they are not, in my opinion the most significant.

    Why should my son desire to become a Priest when everyone, through words and actions insists that Priests are “nothing special”. Why would he want to become a Lay reader when he sees that it is something women do?

    We’re in a viscious cycle that I see no way out of barring Divine intervention.

  111. Cafea Fruor says:

    @Rellis: So you can be “turned on” by the warm weather attire of a women reading? Guess what? I, a woman, can be “turned on” all stinkin’ year long by a male reader (clergy or not) with a nice voice, or a handsome face, or what have you. And there are some priests whose Masses I simply can’t attend because they are just too young and handsome.

    I really, really wish men would stop assuming that they are the only ones who face temptation regarding the other sex. It’s an oligarchy perhaps, but not a monopoly.

  112. theophilus says:

    In the case below, it appears the diaconate was not a transitional role to the priesthood. So maybe Lector could be examined in the same light.

    Council of Chalcedon

    Canon 15

    A woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination. And if, after she has had hands laid on her and has continued for a time to minister, she shall despise the grace of God and give herself in marriage, she shall be anathematized and the man united to her.

  113. Supertradmum says:

    If a man does not pursue a call fromGod, it is his sin, not anyone elses. The past was full of corrupt cultures and even corruption in the Church. There have been other times in history when vocations were low. Men have only themselves to blame for the priest shortage, and it is the revealing sign of weakness that some blame women. Besides my list above, it is the weakness of men not assuming responsibility that has caused the crisis and if your son or any other young man cannot see the real beauty of a priestly call, it is the fault of the dad and mom. Passing the blame is just another sign of weakness. If you have sons, train them to be real men and take back the feminized churches.

  114. Perhaps I’ve waited long enough to have the last word here (but probably not). I have no great objection to either male or female readers, at least in the OF context, but I know of no liturgical torture worse than listening to either a man or a woman proclaiming the scripture with feeling and expression as though it’s his or her one great thespian opportunity.

    But I do sympathize with those living in apparently post-Catholic areas where there is a dearth of either men or women readers and/or servers at daily Mass. Perhaps I am fortunate to live in an area that I would hardly suggest as a Catholic utopia, but I can certainly throw a dart at the map near me and likely hit a parish with plenty of both men and women present at daily OF Mass. (If only this were so of the EF also.) Even at the perhaps rather progressive parish nearest me, daily Mass sees at least a couple of well-prepared adult male servers in surplice and cassock. Doesn’t the K of C or a similar men’s group frequently take on this responsibility in contemporary parishes, where indeed there are not a lot of young boys available for daily Mass, they being in public rather than Catholic schools?

  115. I always enjoy commenting here, because everywhere else I’m regarded as an extreme conservative Catholic – here I’m middle of the road.
    pmullane did a line by line response so I’ll try and reciprocate a little. But firstly, in setting out a range of what I perceived as common comments I necessarily reduced them to types for the sake of simplicity and effect.
    (1) I hate the novus ordo and it’s all Protestant” There are some people who think that the Novus Ordo is overly protetstantised, they make arguments which you are welcome to refute. I don’t believe that I’ve read on here that anyone ‘hates’ the NO, that would be a very strong statement. Many people dislike the way it is celebrated, and certain things about it. These are all things that it is healthy to discuss.

    >>>> I think lots of people here, stongly dislike the novus ordo, regard it as basically heretical, will drive for hours to avoid it, will always describe it negatively, will always compare it with EF unfavourably. You mightn’t characterize that as “hate” – I think it’s justified.

    ” (2) There’s this woman who wears a strappy dress and she should wear a hat; ” Some people above expressed a concern that female readers can perhaps fail to dress appropriately for Mass. Sometimes what they are wearing may cause a distraction, or a near occasion of sin. I imagine this is a real problem in nice sunny places, here in drizzly old England not so much. If a lady in the pew in front is causing you a distraction, you can move seats, if the lady at the lectern is, it’s a little more difficult. Some people struggle with purity, they don’t ‘hate’ women, in fact in not wanting to objectify their sisters they love them all the more. Nobody has mentioned a hat, but again head coverings were a tradition in the Church. Good people can discuss whether they are a good idea or not.

    >>>>All of the blame for the lust and distraction of men is placed on women. They are presented as temptresses, as Eve. I think my description was a fair summary of a common view on this blog.

    “(3) Women are in some sense ritually unclean and though we mightn’t say it, it’s what we think;”
    I can’t really answer that because I can’t read minds. I have NEVER gotten that impression from this blog. In charity, perhaps you are allowing your prejudices to colour what your read.

    >>>>>Well if you don’t read that in some of the tone of the comments here then I would suggest you lack insight.

    ” (4) everything should be done by the priest and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t understand “full, conscious and active participation”. That hinges on the word ‘everything’. Most people on the blog think that the roles proper to the priest should be performed by the priest. Distributing Holy Communion and proclaiming the Gospel (where there is no deacon) are two examples. That is also the clear mind of the Church, and if you think otherwise the burden is on you to explain why. Other jobs are not proper to the priest, such as taking up the offertory and playing the organ. I’ve explained, above, how having a job to do at Mass can inhibit fully participating in it.
    Perhaps you can look there for a rational argument.

    >>>>>Quite simply, the readings, are not proper to the priest. The Church’s preference, in the absence of an instituted lector, is they be done by a lay person, male or female, rather than the priest. As for the description in another comment of the priest sitting doing nothing – well he should be listening to the word of God like everyone else. In the same way, if there is an acolyte, he should purify the chalice, not the priest.

    “(5) women can’t be priests, therefore they can’t be anything really.”

    Women can’t be priests, therefore some here would argue it is less appropriate for a woman to do jobs that lead towards the priesthood than a man. An example is an altar server. Many priests discovered their vocations by serving Mass, so we should try and avoid anything that would cause a barrier to a vocation. You agree we need vocations, yes?

    >>>>> Except the minor orders as steps to priesthood as per the picture are gone. The concept was changed, the notion of ministry was clarified. The idea that having female readers puts people off becoming priests is nonsense.

    “The minor orders, as illustrated in the picture, were, to be honest, farcical, for years – ways of controlling seminarians. The new sense of ministry intended by Paul VI simply never took off. Now you could decide to change the practice, formally institute lectors and acolytes in parishes and effectively end the participation of women in these roles. Or you could make the priest do everything. I don’t see anyone but a tiny minority supporting these approaches. The same sort who opposed St Teresa and St Catherine being made Doctors of the Church” Says you. Farcical? I think the burden is on you to show evidence. I suspect your last few sentences are meant to be an insult of some kind, but I’m sorry, I just don’t know who your talking about. Are you insinuating that people on this blog are against female doctors of the Church because they think boys are better than girls? Seriously?

    >>>>> The minor orders were not utilised as ministries. Porters, exorcists? It was a pretense, a carry over from the past. What they were used for in seminaries were stages given out to seminarians to reward behaviour or with-held to express concern.

    >>>>> There are not insignificant number who think women shouldn’t be doctors of the Church, for precisely the same reasons as many here think they shouldn’t be readers – it’s a question of authority in the Church.

  116. benedetta says:

    I don’t really have a big problem with it so long as the lector reads properly, male or female, at the Novus Ordo. Of course it is true that it is a non-issue as to the ancient rite.

  117. robtbrown says:

    fvhale,

    You simply asked who Guitton was, and I referred you to Wikipedia. The text from the radio interview I read in 20 Giorni some years ago.

    It is well known that PVI asked Guitton to write him every year to give his opinion on how the papacy was going. And PVI would respond. As things began to fall apart, however, the pope stopped answering.

    I don’t intend Guitton as a scholarly reference but merely because his comments seem a good summary. To me Guitton’s remarks simply confirm what is no secret. Whereas JXXIII was primarily interested in Ecumenism with the Orthodox, the way mass came to be said under PVI (incl vernacular, versus populum) took the liturgy closer to the Protestants but farther from the Orthodox. Further, in an attempt at syncretism Paul VI himself introduced the Protestant concept that the Eucharist is a memorial of the Last Supper (thankfully, jettisoned by the Catechism) and said more than once that it is a liturgical innovation (a fact usually ignored by neo-cons).

    Paul Vi is a curious figure. Upon taking the Fisherman’s Ring, he was considered the pontifical version of the philosopher king. In the end, however, his was a pontifical face plant.

  118. gracie says:

    Man, I’m getting old. This article made me think back to how things were done in the 1950/60’s. Most Churches had schools attached to them so for the daily Masses a couple of boys would go over to the Church to be altar boys for that Mass. No muss, no fuss. If there were any readings the priest did them. He also passed out Communion by himself with the altar boy walking along beside him holding the paten. It was all done so easily. Today’s Mass has become like a stage production with everyone having to play a part. It’s depressing.

  119. robtbrown says:

    Christopher Mc Camley,

    Although you’re correct that the minor orders had become by and large offices without functions, it is wrong to say they were used as rewards for seminarians. They, and first tonsure, were simply steps on the way to the priesthood.

    And of course, you’ve ignored the fact that the subdiaconate was also suppressed even though the subdeacon’s function, reading the epistle, was alive and well.

  120. Pingback: Can Prayer Succeed Where Nicotine Patches Drugs Cant | Big Pulpit

  121. Jael says:

    Also, I’m a bit confused. Are we talking just about the Roman rite here? If so, my apologies. Here’s what confuses me: The Antiochian Orthodox have women read the Epistle at Sunday Divine Liturgy (aka Mass), and I don’t think they’ve been able to change anything for at least 1,000 years. The women are not in the sanctuary when they read. It seems from this that the historical anomaly is having women read at the ambo, rather than having women read the Epistle from another part of the church…in other words, historically women read the Epistle, but they did not do so from the sanctuary.

  122. jflare says:

    Guess I’ll jump in here again. I have been contemplating this issue a bit.
    Ultimately, if I have a viewpoint one way or another on this matter, it’s this:
    Whether we allow for women as lectors or not REALLY goes back to our understanding of what Mass IS.
    If we were dealing with simply a few readings, a few prayers, and a simple meal, well, who really cares who’s doing what? In that case, maybe we don’t even need a priest, because we’re not really worried about Mass anymore.
    But we’re dealing with MASS, the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary being re-provided before our eyes.
    Who all do we really NEED for this?
    Well, really, only one: The priest.
    Technically, he doesn’t even need a congregation. Only his own need to offer Mass.
    So, why do we have deacons, subdeacons, lectors, choir, and whatnot?
    Because, while one priest COULD do all that’s needed, there’re many times when time constraints dictate that assistants be available. If that’s true though, we should do what we may to ensure that such assistants COULD become priests themselves, even if most will not.
    We can’t ordain women, so logically, women shouldn’t be in the sanctuary any more than strictly needed. NEITHER should men who have no interest in pursuing any of a priest’s duties.

    Sadly, this idea will not sit well with most Catholics in America or Europe today. We have suffered a great deal from poor catechesis.
    We also have a need to address poor expectations in society.
    Someone raised the question earlier about where all the men..went.
    Well, when we have women insistent on doing what canon law allows them to do, but don’t care a fig about the original or intended meaning of this or that role, I for one have no interest at all in fooling with them any more than I must.

    In other words, if you wish to see more men and boys filling any roles at Mass, knock it off with the attitude about how women should be allowed to do anything.
    Especially when I’m volunteering my time and effort, I don’t waste much on people who grouch about my every move.

  123. StWinefride says:

    Supertradmum, you say: “and if your son or any other young man cannot see the real beauty of a priestly call, it is the fault of the dad and mom.

    We also need to get down on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament and pray, pray, pray for vocations to the Priesthood.

  124. Supertradmum says:

    FSSP has reinstalled the minor orders..in some manner….two sems I know of were just tonsured this fall. I have been spending some time with one and his family. Ironically, as I have noted before, the steps in the chapel at Mundelein have the names of these inscribed in ascending order. The minor orders should be rescued.

  125. pmullane says:

    Hello Christopher, thanks for replying. Hope you dont mind if I respond in type:

    “>>>> I think lots of people here, stongly dislike the novus ordo, regard it as basically heretical, will drive for hours to avoid it, will always describe it negatively, will always compare it with EF unfavourably. You mightn’t characterize that as “hate” – I think it’s justified.”

    Strongly dislike does not equal hate, as much as you think its justified. Your right that some people just dislike the Novus Ordo full stop. These people see it as a much poorer expression of the Mass than the Extraordinary Form and blame it for a lot of the problems in the Church since the 1970’s. Usually they will give specific reasons why they think its inferior to the EF, some will say the use of different Eucharistic Prayers, some the lack of silence, etc. Some people have a problem not so much with the New Mass itself, but with the heavy handed implementation and the apalling way in which people attached to tradition were treated in its implimentation. Some people have problems not with the New Mass itself, but more with the abuses that take place within it. I ‘strongly dislike’ going to Mass when a priest is improperly vested, announces that ‘you lot aren’t wearing your coats so neither will I’, says in his homily that ‘There are no good reasons why women can’t be priests’, skips several of the prayers, etc. If my parish priest behaved like that, I would probably go out of my way to find a more reverant Mass. Mass in the Extraordinary Form tends as a rule of thumb to be more reliably reverant. Some people bemoan the fact that some ‘options’ in the Ordinary Form are seemingly mandatory, like use of the vernacular, versus populum etc. I dont recall anyone here saying ‘I hate the Ordinary Form’. Mabye some do, its a big world, but its not an opinion I recall hearing.

    “>>>>All of the blame for the lust and distraction of men is placed on women. They are presented as temptresses, as Eve. I think my description was a fair summary of a common view on this blog.”

    With all respect your wrong. If you think that male commenters here think that ‘women’ deliberately dress provocatively in order to ‘tempt’ men to impure thoughts then your dead straight wrong. It is very possible for a woman, especially in todays culture, to wear something that she finds entirely unremarkable that could have guys weak at the knees. We are all children of God, and we need to care for one another. If I do something that is an occasion of sin for you, I have a responsibility towards you to stop it. We are supposed to be helping each other get to heaven.

    “>>>>> Except the minor orders as steps to priesthood as per the picture are gone. The concept was changed, the notion of ministry was clarified. The idea that having female readers puts people off becoming priests is nonsense.”

    Again says you. Saying something ‘is nonsense’ doesnt make it so, and its not really a persuasive argument. Of course no one has said that ‘having women readers puts people off becoming priests’.

    “Well if you don’t read that in some of the tone of the comments here then I would suggest you lack insight”

    Perhaps I do. I can find no evidence for your opinion on this Blog. Its a work of Mercy to enlighten the ignorant, can you provide evidence that commenters on this blog find women unclean, or that they think that but dont say it? If not I challenge you to retract that statement.

    “Quite simply, the readings, are not proper to the priest. The Church’s preference, in the absence of an instituted lector, is they be done by a lay person, male or female, rather than the priest. As for the description in another comment of the priest sitting doing nothing – well he should be listening to the word of God like everyone else. In the same way, if there is an acolyte, he should purify the chalice, not the priest.”

    And the discussion here is who is the readings proper to. We are chewing the fat about the pro’s and con’s of who does the readings. If you have an opinion then offer it, if you disagree with others then engage their arguments, its not really helpful to call people names. I agree the Priest should be actively listening to the word of God, and disagree with the other commenter that he is just ‘sitting there’.

    RobtBrown has answered you on the question of the minor orders, and he has a better grasp of the subject than I, so you can engage him on that topic.

    “There are not insignificant number who think women shouldn’t be doctors of the Church, for precisely the same reasons as many here think they shouldn’t be readers – it’s a question of authority in the Church”

    Who? Where? Names? Can you direct me to quotes on this blog? Otherwise its an irrelivant point to this discussion. Perhaps you find that opinion elsewhere.

    Thanks.

  126. Volanges says:

    Those who are calling for the priest to do all the readings are ignoring the GIRM’s instructions that the readings are not presidential but ministerial functions and that the celebrant only reads the Gospel if there is no deacon or other priest available to do so and only reads the First and Second reading if there is no one else (instituted minister or one acting in lieu of) to do so.

    Instituted lectors are as scarce as hen’s teeth where I live. I’ve actually never met one who hadn’t already progressed to ordination as deacon. It’s my understanding that the CCCB, to whom Canon Law gives the responsibility of setting out the requirements for institution to the ministry, has made preparing for the diaconate a requirement. Thus few parishes will ever see one.

    All I ask of a reader/lector is that they know how read, know to pronounce the words, and know the meaning of a period, comma and question mark. I’ve been in parishes where anyone who volunteered, regardless of their ability, was accepted. That defeats the purpose of the reader/lector.

    I’ve been a reader for decades in many different parishes. I started at the request of the pastor in whichever parish that happened, probably my second military parish, and have volunteered my services when asked to do so ever since.

    Is it only in English that a different word is used to differentiate between the instituted ministry and the average Joe reading in his parish? In French a lecteur is a lecteur is a lecteur (one who reads) and one is either instituted or not. I believe the same applies to Latin, though I stand to be corrected.

  127. Cathy says:

    Can anyone answer why, when a couple has a wedding, or even more dreadful, when a family has a funeral, the pastor would request family members to participate as lectors and offer the prayers of petition at mass?

  128. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Volanges:

    Good points. We must make a distinction betweeen the OF and the EF. Perhaps some people here think that some others would like female readers in the EF, but I don’t think anybody would like to change the rules for the EF. But if the OF rules AND the Holy Father allow women to read in the OF, there is nothing to discuss IMHO.

    Dear Caffea Fruor:

    This is a real problem for many women. A lady I know, once said, that priests, and male readers should be obligated to be old, ugly and nasty, so that she could focus on the Mass. Women have hormones too, you know ;-) !

  129. Ultimately I can’t prove how the tone of comments comes across. But I will say this, I have been reading this blog for many years and over the years it has become narrower in outlook, the comments less mainstream. I know lots of people who no longer read it at all. [May I warmly invite you to become consubstantial with them?] And we’re not talking liberal, progressive Catholics, but ordinary decent Catholics who always go to Mass in the ordinary form. Who like orthodox preaching, proper rubrics, appropriate music and don’t want dancers and concelebrating priests sitting while extraordinary ministers distribute communion. Vatican II happened for a reason. It wasn’t a rupture and it must be interpreted correctly but it happened for a reason, and liturgical reform happened for a reason. When I see a server lifting up the back of the priest’s chausable in the extraordinary form for no reason I thank God for reform and for the noble simplicity of the ordinary form.

    Perhaps “hate” is understood differently in differently places. It has a fairly weak usage in Ireland as in “I hate orio cookies”.

    And whether intended or not, a lot of comments here sound like mysogyny rather than being informed by the mind of the Church.

    Perhaps I did read the negative comments on female doctors elsewhere. Wouldn’t be suprised to have read them here though – certainly reflects some of the thinking.

  130. pmullane says:

    Hello again Christopher,

    I think your right, you cant prove how the tone of the comments come accross. Reading comments on the internet is notorious for easy misinterpretation. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to give comments the most generous interpretation. Im sorry you have interpreted many of the comments here as mysogyny, but its possible (and I would say probable) that you have just misinterpreted what you have heard. Its possible, however, to charitably challenge opinions you think are wrong without calling people names. And what you read into peoples comments says more about you than it does about them.

    Your very lucky that you know so many people who are Orthodox Catholics and who in the past have read Fr Z. Im surprised that many people have been turned off, however truth is truth whether people are turned off or not. Fr Z can speak for himself, but im fairly sure he doesnt do this to try and please as many people as possible.

    “Vatican II happened for a reason. It wasn’t a rupture and it must be interpreted correctly but it happened for a reason, and liturgical reform happened for a reason”

    Amen to that.

  131. MichaelJ says:

    Supertradmum, did Eve play no role in the fall? Was it solely Adam’s “fault”?
    I agree that it is my responsibilty to teach my son the faith so that he may hear the call. Don’t undermine my efforts. Every time you step up to the lectern, despite that you see it as a necessity, that is precicely what you do.

  132. jesusthroughmary says:

    “Vatican II happened for a reason. It wasn’t a rupture and it must be interpreted correctly but it happened for a reason, and liturgical reform happened for a reason”

    The Great Schism and the Protestant Revolution also “happened for a reason”. You’re assuming the validity of several premises in your syllogism. Others here challenge those premises with good cause and in good faith. You’re being rather dismissive, I think.

  133. Imrahil says:

    Dear @poohbear,
    I prefer to listen to male readers because they just read. Women tend to dramatize.
    That is not necessarily the case; indeed the standard readeress for many years in my parish read (was always the first in Church for the preceding rosary and) read in a monotone voice as if she on purpose did not want to make anything heard besides the literal word. Personally I even prefer a bit of dramatization.

    That said, now perhaps approaching the content of the question: A reading done by a woman can, at best, be meditation and contemplation. I do not doubt that in devotional services (adorations, etc.), such things may be. But the reading at Mass – is it not something else? Is it not something else even that praise of God (which it is of course primarily)? Is it not – teaching?

    Women may not teach in the Church. Other than even all-male priesthood (which is a most justified deduction from it), this is firm Scripture, and the very least it can mean (or so I interpret) is that the formal liturgical teaching moments are reserved for men…

  134. Well MichaelJ’s last comment is frankly typical of the sort of comments and tone I’ve been talking about – suggesting that the very act of a female doing the readings would undermine his efforts to teach his son his faith.

    The reason I said that VII and liturgical reform happened for a reason is the underlying impression of some that everything was honky dory in the good old days. And yes the great schism and reformation happened because of failures in the Church – pity was it took so long to react to those failures.

  135. Joy says:

    Dear Michael J,
    I wish to understand how a female reader undermines your efforts to teach your son the faith and encourage a call to the religious life/priesthood in him? I have followed this thread with interest, and have yet to understand this in particular – I am honestly interested, especially as the mother of two boys, one of whom has expressed quite strongly a desire to be a priest. I am in the very small pool of readers at my parish (which as I previously stated, if there were more, or if it was decided it should be male-only, I would step down without hesitation), but am probably considered one of the most -if not the most- traditional…
    Should women read during Mass? I have yet to see a compelling argument one way or the other, though some have made me think. But, do you truly believe that there aren’t larger forces at play in a call to the priesthood? Larger than the occasional woman reading during Mass? I am not being snarky here, I do honestly want to know.

  136. Long-Skirts says:

    THE
    ELEPHANT
    IN
    THE
    LIVING
    ROOM

    I’m Eucharistic
    Minister
    At Mass I dress
    In style
    You act as though
    That’s sinister
    I lead all down
    The aisle.

    I see my son
    But twice a year
    He prays and studies
    Hours
    In cassock-black
    Men laugh and jeer
    Though mocking
    Just empowers.

    I’m Eucharistic
    Minister
    At Mass I dress
    In style
    You act as though
    That’s sinister
    And loyal
    I’ll dance awhile.

    Empowers him
    To pray say yes
    Receive and be
    Anointed
    These other Christs lay hands
    And bless
    Melchisedech
    Appointed.

    I’m Eucharistic
    Minister
    At Mass I dress
    In style
    You act as though
    That’s sinister
    Why we’re priests
    Rank and file.

    Through Masses, rosaries
    Teary eyes
    If Christ calls all
    My boys
    They’ll go but not
    Support your lies
    A meal with lots
    Of noise.

    I’m Eucharistic
    Minister
    At Mass I dress
    In style
    You act as though
    That’s sinister
    We’re having fun
    Just smile.

    Three years he’s slaved
    Four more to go
    Each year he’s
    Farther away
    And that’s so we
    Can learn and know
    His life for Christ
    He’ll lay.

    I’m Eucharistic
    Sinister
    At Mass I dress
    In style
    And all can be a minister
    Diabolically
    Disorienting
    To beguile!

  137. Long-Skirts says:

    “The little village of Lu, northern Italy, with only a few thousand inhabitants, is in a rural area 90 kilometres east of Turin. It would still be unknown to this day if, in the year 1881, the family Mothers of Lu had not made a decision that had “serious consequences”. The deepest desire of many of these mothers was for one of their sons to become a priest or for a daughter to place her life completely in God’s service.
    Eucharistic Adoration
    Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandro Canora, they gathered every Tuesday for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, all the mothers prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.
    Through the trusting prayer of these mothers and the openness of the other parents, an atmosphere of deep joy and Christian piety developed in the families, making it much easier for the children to recognize their vocations.”

    Every first Sunday the mothers, grandmothers, godmothers of our Chapel go to the Communion rail after Mass and say the “Mother of Lu” prayer to our Blessed Mother for Priestly vocations and/or religious vocations…in the last few years 3 of our daughters have entered Traditional Catholic Convents and 3 of our sons entered Traditional Catholic Seminaries all thanks to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother!!

  138. Therese Z says:

    I am a lecter, and I really didn’t think about the problem. I have seen so many churches where the pulpit is outside the sanctuary that I saw it as being on the “lay” side of the altar railing, and therefore anybody could enter it and perform its functions, except for the Gospel and homily.

    Now I’ll have to think it over, given the fact that lecter is an instution. I knew it was along the line of ordination but I assumed it was collected there with acolyte as the centuries passed and only educated people could fulfill certain roles.

  139. StWinefride says:

    Christopher McCamley you say: Well MichaelJ’s last comment is frankly typical of the sort of comments and tone I’ve been talking about – suggesting that the very act of a female doing the readings would undermine his efforts to teach his son his faith.

    But the Catholic Church is 2000 years old!

    The Post-Vatican II period with its protestant imports is 40 years old.

    You just can’t ignore the history of the Catholic Church and the reasons why, in Her wisdom, She has come to the decisions She has.

    You just can’t.

    The first post on this thread by JesusthroughMary says:

    To cross-reference a recent post:
    “Why do you oppose women acting as lectors?”
    “Because I am not a Protestant.”

    It really is that simple and it’s all part of recovering a true Catholic Identity.

  140. Supertradmum says:

    MichaelJ, my one and only son is happily pursuing his vocation in the priesthood and seeing his mummy reading, although rarely, did not implode his vocation. And, I suggest you visit some more conservative monasteries of nuns, as women have been reading for centuries, as I noted above.
    Others:
    Regarding women not teaching men, tell that to Doctor of the Church, St. Catherine of Siena, a lowly third order Dominican, who taught a pope, and St. Therese, the Little Flower Doctor of the Church, who has taught millions of men her spirituality.

  141. MichaelJ says:

    First, let me start off by saying that my primary objection is to Lay involvement with the actual celebration of the Mass in general rather than female lay readers specifically. Please note also that I explicitly stated “undermines” and not “prevents”. If he chooses to pursue a vocation, it will be despite the existence of lay readers, not because of.

    That being said, there are two main things I am trying to teach in the hopes of getting him open to the possibility that he may have a vocation.

    1. Priests are far more than a “Sacramental Pez Dispenser”. They have a vital and unique role to play in our Salvation and without Priests, we are all surely damned. It could be argued that Confecting the Eucharist is most important thing , but this does not mean that other Priestly functions are not also vital for our Salvation . At his age, he does not fully understand the Eucharist, but what he sees is a consultant being called in by those “in charge”. He sees a man coming in for a brief moment to read some words from Scripture and doing, to his eyes, very little else.
    2. Men and women have often overlapping, but distinct gifts. God has ordained, for reasons I often find inscrutable, different roles for men and women. He has no hope of understanding or appreciating the unique role that women play unless he first understands his own so I am focusing on his role. One of his roles, whether lay or ordained, is to teach the Faith and one effective way to do this is lead prayers and read from scripture.

    Having lay readers undermines the first and having female lay readers undermines the second.

  142. StWinefride says:

    Supertradmum: As you know, a nun is a woman who belongs to a religious order, who has taken vows and usually lives in a Monastery/Convent. She is not a layperson. The question from a reader is about female lectors at the Novus Ordo Mass, and I haven’t had the impression from this interesting thread that anybody has a problem with women teaching men. There is no doubt that St Catherine of Siena, St Therese of Lisieux, St Theresa of Avila and all the other female saints are greatly admired by men.

  143. Suburbanbanshee says:

    All lay lectors should be taught to chant the readings properly.

    It’s all been downhill since we stopped chanting them.

    So there.

  144. Fr-Bill says:

    A woman lector often reminds me of my first wife, especially when she pontificates THE W-O-R-D OF THE L-O-R-D !!!
    I do not like it.

  145. VexillaRegis says:

    Fr-Bill,

    what a gentleman you are!

  146. jflare says:

    ” But I will say this, I have been reading this blog for many years and over the years it has become narrower in outlook, the comments less mainstream. I know lots of people who no longer read it at all.”

    So, I gather then, Chris, that you’re not happy with the content of this blog as it comes now?
    I’m a little puzzled by that, really. I can’t claim to have read this blog for years on end; maybe three at most, but I have to tell you that I find it to be anything BUT narrow in outlook. If you’ll notice the title, WDTPRS.com, you’ll remember that Fr apparently originally began discussing..what prayers really say. It appears that the content has expanded dramatically so that we now discuss prayers, culture, politics, even catching items from space exploration. ..We even have wonderful audio clips and/or video to help us to celebrate Lent, Advent, Christmas, and Easter seasons. I can’t imagine a blog that’s been more diverse!
    ..And it’s a truly fabulous thing to be able to find some of these resources. If I had a greater income, I’d likely be making contributions to this almost as much as I do to my home parish.

    As to being mainstream, well, if I’m looking for the usual ho-hum presentation of faith, I need only to visit most any average parish within 3 or 4 miles of home. I read this blog–and interact with others on it–in no small part because I grew quite weary of the usual snooze-button Catholicism.

    We have LIFE on this blog.

  147. Long-Skirts says:

    Supertradmum says:

    “MichaelJ, my one and only son is happily pursuing his vocation in the priesthood”

    I’m so happy for you and your family. I will keep your son in my prayers.

    SEMINARIAN

    My son has left
    For boot camp
    To learn to
    Fight the war

    My son, a cache
    Of rosaries
    And missal
    To shoot far

    My son will wear
    A uniform
    Of blackthorn sloe
    Coal tar

    In robed cassock
    Silent rebuke of shock…
    An Alter
    Christus Czar.

  148. benedetta says:

    Hello Christopher,

    “Vatican II happened for a reason. It wasn’t a rupture and it must be interpreted correctly but it happened for a reason, and liturgical reform happened for a reason”

    I think this is true but where I am there is a huge need of a reform of the reform, unfortunately. Second Vatican happened for a reason, yes, but that reason wasn’t necessarily to eliminate the ancient form of the Mass, or any number of things it is cited as support for or against.

    I too have been reading the blog for years. I think we have to take into account the fact that American Catholics are on the verge of a very real persecution, and the last four years have been very trying. At the same time, people have become more vocal about abuses in the ordinary form. How lovely for you that you live in a place where it is celebrated reverently and properly and adheres to Church teaching. Pray for those who do not have that same benefit for whatever reason.

  149. benedetta says:

    Christopher, And further I think we have to review what Fr. Z said at the very outset on this matter before casting aspersions against commenters on the blog, and it hardly needs be said that in addition to the commenters you characterize, one could similarly characterize others for ranting albeit from different viewpoints.

    Fr. Z’s points are worth actual consideration, leaving aside your anger towards commenters and your description of that which you loathe in commenting. I don’t hear any of the sorts of things you allege in Fr. Z’s points. Now I have heard all sorts of lectors over the years, including certain holy women who have read reverently and appropriately. I have heard lectors of either sex read poorly as well. All at the ordinary form. Isn’t it worth knowing, where we have come from, as a Church, as far as lectors, and why? And considering? And when we have lectors who are female, shouldn’t we consider genuinely what the reason would be. I think that if we decide that the tradition is based in misogyny, then we have bought into a falsehood that has been foisted on the current generation. The Holy Father’s address to the Roman Curia has provided much food for thought lately. Clearly, the dignity, and rights, of women, created so by God, do not hinge on modern feminist theory which bases its freedoms upon the so-called “right” to eliminate one’s children in the womb, for any and no reason. Rather our dignity as Christian women has a far better, more freeing, and authentic meaning. I do not read anything in Second Vatican that meant to introduce that sort of secular feminist justification into the Church, whether in the Church’s liturgies or doctrine. And, I am certain I am not alone when I observe that the pro abortion and “choice” culture of death has infected even our Church, and the younger generations, so much so to the point of despair, loss of faith, and so much loss, all in the name of making an elaborate show of having women appear to actively participate in the liturgy, as if we believe that the Church somehow has condemned women from the get go. In reality it is the other way around. It is the culture of death, not the Church, that has condemned women and made them to suffer. To the extent that secular feminism has achieved its designs on the Church, ordinary women, mothers, young women, professional and working women, have suffered greatly. I am not sure that going back to all male lectors will do much to counter the damage done. But I think we have to think openly and clearly, and not be afraid of the secular appearances when we consider what is right and true for our Church.

  150. acardnal says:

    StWinefride says:
    8 January 2013 at 1:14 pm
    Supertradmum: As you know, a nun is a woman who belongs to a religious order, who has taken vows and usually lives in a Monastery/Convent. She is not a layperson.

    StWinefride, I agree with 99 percent of your comments but for clarification I must note the following: Consecrated and vowed religious are technically considered laity unless they have received the sacrament of Holy Orders in which case they are considered clerics.

  151. robtbrown says:

    Christopher Mc Camley says:

    Vatican II happened for a reason.

    True, but it is questionable whether the Council adequately addressed the problems in the Church.

    It wasn’t a rupture and it must be interpreted correctly but it happened for a reason, and liturgical reform happened for a reason.

    Cardinal Ratzinger said on more than one occasion that the liturgical reform following Vat II was a rupture with liturgical tradition. Whether the documents are in any way a rupture is another question. The texts are long and varied–there are some good things to be found in them and some not so good things

    When I see a server lifting up the back of the priest’s chasuble in the extraordinary form for no reason I thank God for reform and for the noble simplicity of the ordinary form.

    Do you attend the Novus Ordo celebrated in Latin ad orientem?

  152. Cecily says:

    acardnal–I’ve been lurking on this site a long time, and respect your contributions. This time, however, I think you are basing your statement on obsolete canon law…the 1917 Code of Canon Law divided the members of the Church into only two categories: clergy and laity. In the canon law now in force (1983 code), Supertradmum is correct. Here it is:

    Can. 588 §1 By its very nature, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay.

    As a priest friend recently wrote me:
    The state of “consecrated life” includes:
    institutes of consecrated life (i.e., “religious orders”, “religious congregations”, etc. – whose members are colloquially referred to as “religious”)
    societies of apostolic life (e.g., the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter)
    consecrated virgins
    hermits/anchorites
    consecrated widows

    The latter two states (i.e., clerical and consecrated life) are mutually exclusive of the first: i.e., there are no “lay clergy”, no “lay sisters”. Either one is a layman, or one is not. If not, then one is in either – or both – of the second and third states, clerical and/or consecrated life.

    The latter two states – clerical and consecrated life – overlap to a small degree. In other words, there are some men (only men) who are both in consecrated life AND in the clerical state: e.g., an ordained priest-monk.

  153. Supertradmum says:

    acardnal , I did not have time to answer that, so thanks and the same people who do not want women readers would not want to see a nun reading either. As to women teaching men, that was brought up in this thread, which is why I responded.

  154. StWinefride says:

    acardnal: thank you for the clarification!

    With all due respect to Supertradmum’s comments, I wrote my last post because I, personally, felt that the discussion of women lectors was branching off into areas that it needn’t or was possibly going beyond the scope of the question. Here are my thoughts, for what they’re worth!

    The question from the reader:

    I have been reading lots of comments, and seen some criticism of women lectors. What is wrong with women being lectors?

    I understood this question in the context of a woman (not a nun) reading at a Novus Ordo Mass in your average parish and responded according to that assumption.

    Father Z lists 4 reasons why this was possibly not good and I immediately identified with reason No. 2, although the other 3 of course have merit:

    Second, the very idea of women entering the sanctuary to perform a liturgical role is a historical oddity.

    I remembered having read a Bishop on this – Bishop Schneider– who identifies the Five Wounds of the Liturgical Mystical Body of Christ and I linked to the LMS UK for the full article.

    With respect to lay lectors he says this (my emphasis):

    The fifth wound is the exercise of the liturgical services of lector and acolyte by women as well as the exercise of these same services in lay clothing while entering into the choir during Holy Mass directly from the space reserved to the faithful. This custom has never existed in the Church, or at least has never been welcome. It confers to the celebration of the Catholic Mass the exterior character of informality, the character and style of a rather profane assembly. The second council of Nicaea, already in 787, forbad such practices when it lay down the following canon: “If someone is not ordained, it is not permitted for him to do the reading from the ambo during the holy liturgy“ (can. 14). This norm has been constantly followed in the Church. Only subdeacons and lectors were allowed to give the reading during the liturgy of the Mass. If lectors and acolytes are missing, men or boys in liturgical vestments may do so, not women, since the male sex symbolically represents the last link to minor orders from the point of view of the non-sacramental ordination of lectors and acolytes.

    Having made this clarification, I shall now exit stage left!

  155. maryh says:

    It seems to me that if the sanctuary were reserved to males, preferably those with some degree of orders and distinguishing clothing / robes, there would be no problem with women doing some readings from a location outside the sanctuary. In fact, it appears the tradition of having the lectern? ambo? outside the sanctuary at least implies that sometimes the readers will be persons not allowed in the sanctuary during Mass. I don’t see any muddying of sex roles or symbolism in that case.

    The problem with our current society is that it is very difficult for people to see any sex-based roles (for women, at least) as anything other than a statement of women’s inferiority. About the only place people still (generally) accept that some roles must be reserved for men is in commercial film entertainment. There are no blockbusters where an actress, however talented, plays the male lead love interest.

    That’s why I think we have to make clear that the Mass is about the Sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation. In terms of sex roles, it makes present for us the sacrifice of the Bridegroom for the Bride. So of course the priest should be male, and actually, it makes sense that everyone in the place of the Sacrifice (the sanctuary) should also be male.

    The other primary secular problem I see is that the priesthood is connected with authority and power, which is what I think the crux of the matter is. The feminist argument is less that “women who are ‘called’ can’t be priests” as that “women will never have the power and authority of bishops and the pope.”

    That’s a misunderstanding of power and authority, of course. Women will never have the “kind” of authority as priests in the Church. But as others have pointed out here, women can and have corrected popes and bishops – and at least one was made a Doctor of the Church for it.

  156. Cathy says:

    Is extraordinary always good? The meaning of the word is out of order. I think it would be out of order if I could no longer breathe or my heart would stop beating and I would think it a blessing if someone who knew how to perform CPR would do this for me until either breathing or heart beating were able to function in an ordinary capacity. Somehow, I would find it odd if the person doing CPR felt slighted as opposed to blessed because I was returned to an ordinary state. I would actually be frightened if they were so determined in this feeling that they charged at me with a live electrical wire, simply to have the opportunity to perform CPR once again. I want to be an ordinary Catholic and I want the Church in an ordinary state. If an office of the Church is ordinarily given to a man, I find it a blessing, and not a matter of- (electrical wire) – men are better or more deserving, when the office is officially given back to a man.
    Munchausen by proxy is a strange phenomena in human relationships. It is even stranger when it enters the Church. Sometimes, it seems to be the entire impetus behind publications and ideology of the Fishwrap and the Tablet.

  157. wmeyer says:

    Vatican II happened for a reason. It wasn’t a rupture,,,

    The Council was not a rupture. However, the documents did not specify the changes which were rashly made. And those were certainly a rupture.

  158. Cecily says:

    Supertradmum–I’m new here, and my first comment, above, was in moderation because of that. I posted it not only for acardnal, but for you, and I think you didn’t see it…anyway, all the best with your lectoring. I think it makes a lot more sense for a woman in the first row to read, than a man in the sanctuary with an accent so thick we all have to open our missals to see what he’s trying to say. That said, I think we can all take a deep breath and realize nothing will be perfect till the second coming…

  159. In scanning this thread again, I’m puzzled to the frequent reference to “lectors”. I’ve been a Catholic well over half a century, and don’t know for sure that I’ve ever seen a lector. But I do know for certain that I’ve never seen a woman lector, for the simple reason that only men can be instituted as lectors.

    In my favorite parish were the pastor uses language precisely–evidently realizing how much difficulty imprecision in language has caused the Church in recent decades–we don’t have lectors but we do have readers for the OF–that is, lay persons who at appropriate times go to the ambo to read scriptures, despite not having been instituted as lectors.

    Likewise, we don’t have “eucharistic ministers”–other than our priests, who are (ordinary) eucharistic ministers–though we do have some EHMC’s. Though, thankfully, not so many are needed, since communion is normally distributed in only one form, except for specified occasions, as specified in the applicable norms.

    Incidentally, I understand that in the early 1980s, the U.S. church received a Vatican directive to halt routine distribution in both kinds, but obviously it was ignored.

  160. acardnal says:

    Cecily, you may be right. But we may have get clarification by Dr. Peters because Canon 588 has two additional sub-paragraphs whose meaning is not clear to me.

  161. OrthodoxChick says:

    I hope you’re all watching EWTN live with Fr. Mitch tonight. He has Bishop Athanasius Schneider (I’m sorry if I mis-spelled his name) as his guest. Bishop Schneider is saying in no uncertain terms that Communion is to only be received on the tongue while kneeling. Period. End of story. Praise God!!!

    I hope EWTN puts this episode up on their Youtube channel because everyone should see it!

  162. Cecily says:

    acardnal: Go ahead and check with Dr. Peters if you like, it might be interesting. (He’s always interesting!) In the meantime, I’m wondering what is not clear to you?

    It seems clear to me that the two sub-paragraphs you refer to merely define the terms “lay” and “clerical.”

    In any case, a religious (someone in consecrated life) is neither clerical nor lay, according to Canon 588.1 In other words, a religious is not a lay person. A religious is not a cleric. A religious is a third thing.

    By the way, the priest who told me that a religious is not a lay person was a monk for 20 years before he became a priest.

    Anyway, here is all of Can. 588 for anyone who is interested:

    Can. 588 §1. By its very nature, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay.

    §2. That institute is called clerical which, by reason of the purpose or design intended by the founder or by virtue of legitimate tradition, is under the direction of clerics, assumes the exercise of sacred orders, and is recognized as such by the authority of the Church.

    §3. That institute is called lay which, recognized as such by the authority of the Church, has by virtue of its nature, character, and purpose a proper function defined by the founder or by legitimate tradition, which does not include the exercise of sacred orders.

  163. MichaelJ says:

    Cecily, I do not know about anyone else, but I am having trouble with the word “neither”. If it means what you seem to be saying it does – that a Religious is a third state, then I would think that a a man cannot be both Consecrated and Clerical like the ordained priest-monk you used as an example earlier.

  164. Cecily says:

    Henry Edwards: Good point!
    So I will say, “Supertradmum, all the best with your reading from the first pew.”

    We have only male readers at my parish. Fine with me as long as they keep the drama and the unintelligible foreign accents under control. One male reader does fine when he chants, but is a ham when he reads. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of readers and lectors learning to chant the readings properly. Let’s use chant only.

  165. acardnal says:

    Cecily, I guess I need some clarification from a canonist because of Canon 207 which seems to affirm the position that there are only two states: the clerical (ordained) and lay persons (non-ordained). So I am not clear if the current Canon Law of 1983 abrogated Canon Law of 1917 with regard to this subject or not.

    Can. 207 §1. By divine institution, there are among the Christian faithful in the Church sacred ministers who in law are also called clerics; the other members of the Christian faithful are called lay persons.

    §2. There are members of the Christian faithful from both these groups who, through the profession of the evangelical counsels by means of vows or other sacred bonds recognized and sanctioned by the Church, are consecrated to God in their own special way and contribute to the salvific mission of the Church; although their state does not belong to the hierarchical structure of the Church, it nevertheless belongs to its life and holiness.

  166. Cecily says:

    MichaelJ: It’s talking about religious who are not priests.

  167. Cecily says:

    acardnal: I have emailed the priest-monk to ask him about Canon 207.
    MichaelJ: Maybe I answered you too soon. I’ll wait and see what the priest says.

  168. lana says:

    @Chicken-
    This is off-topic, but you mention those who cannot be either spiritual fathers or physical mothers. Our Lady at Fatima said ‘Many souls go to hell because there is no one to pray and sacrifice’. When we pray or do even a small sacrifice, in union with Christ’s sacrifice, we obtain the graces for others to repent and be saved. In this sense, we are all spiritual mothers to those souls that gain or regain eternal life. Hope this helps!

  169. Cecily says:

    Henry Edwards: On second thought, I looked up “lector” in the Catholic Encyclopedia. (Granted, the online one is not the most recent). Anyway, it says “Lector (reader)…” Lector is just Latin for reader. So what difference does it make which word we use? (I’m not being snarky, I really want to know).

  170. Cecily: Indeed, setting Latin usage aside as irrelevant here, in ordinary English usage “lector” and “reader” are synonyms. And at one time in Catholic history, the word “reader” may have been used for the minor order of lector.

    But now, in the Catholic Church post Vatican II, one can argue that the word lector properly refers to an “instituted lector”, and only males can be instituted as lectors, just as only males can be instituted as acolytes, though we frequently refer conversationally to certain altar servers (maybe even girls) as acolytes, where or not they have been instituted as acolytes.

    I suppose it makes a difference mostly to people who are sensitive about the blurring of clerical offices and roles. People who don’t want to imply that someone has a clerical status if they don’t. People who don’t want to call someone a “eucharist minister” (as is a priest or deacon) if he or she is only an extraordinary minister of holy communion (not of the eucharist). Maybe people who are glad that lectors must be women, whereas both men and women can be readers. I.e. only to people to whom fine distinctions of language still matter.

  171. Cecily says:

    Henry Edwards: Fine distinctions of language do matter to me; I’m a writer. I agree that we need to be careful, especially with usage of EMHC. (We don’t have any EMHC’s in my parish, thank heavens).

    What I’m wondering is, where does it say that “lector” means an instituted lector, whereas “reader” does not mean an instituted reader? What changed that after Vatican II? In other words, “Sez who?” Thanks.

    By the way, I think you meant “…glad that lectors must be men.”

  172. acardnal says:

    Cecily, I have done more research and am inclined to agree that those in the religious state of life are not considered lay persons, Canon 207 notwithstanding.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church:
    “II. THE LAY FAITHFUL
    897 The term ‘laity’ is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church. That is, the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World.”

    Note: Not sure why the words “is here understood to” are used. They could have simply been omitted but because they were used it causes me to still wonder. More research revealed they quoted Lumen Gentium, #31:

    “31. The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church.”

    I still don’t understand why they used the words “is here understood to”.

    The “Baltimore Catechism” and “My Catholic Faith” also support the religious state not being part of the laity. So, I could be wrong but until evidence to the contrary, so be it. Still would like to hear from a canonical expert. :-)

  173. Cecily says:

    acardnal,

    Thanks for doing the research on this…it seems definitive. I haven’t had time to do more research, and the priest hasn’t responded yet. I’ll be interested to hear what he says. If it’s reasonably soon, I’ll post it here.

    It appears that “laity is here understood to mean…” is a wordy academic way of saying “The definition of laity is…” or, “Laity means…”

    Regards,
    Cecily

  174. Cecily says:

    Acardnal, the priest says he has a canon law book that sheds some light on the seeming conflict of canons, and he’ll try to respond tomorrow.

  175. MichaelJ says:

    ” is here understood to mean” sounds perfectly understandable to me and seems not to be a wordy way of saying “is”.
    It is odd, to say the least, to wait so long to define a term that is intended to be used throughout the document.
    From a technical document perspective, the phrase “is here understood to mean” means that the definition of the term applies only to the current portion of the document – where “here” is.

  176. acardnal says:

    MichaelJ, I agree. When I read “is HERE understand to mean” conveys to me that whatever is being discussed applies to this document, circumstance, example, context, etc, ONLY. So, it caused me to remain circumspect about the definition of laity. But my other research and reading convinced me otherwise. I still would find it helpful to get a canon lawyer’s view but then again maybe not . . . they’re lawyers after all! ;-) As Pres. Clinton famously said, “depend on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”

  177. acardnal says:

    sic: “depend” should read “depends” above.

  178. Cecily says:

    Oops, sorry for talking down to you. In any case, just because it means “here” does not mean “here and only here.”

  179. Cecily says:

    I meant, “does not necessarily mean ‘here and only here’.”

  180. acardnal says:

    but it might. :)

  181. Cecily says:

    Yes! But you seem to have proven it doesn’t :-)

  182. acardnal says:

    I have learned over the years and my reading that many things written by the Holy See are ambiguous and open to interpretation – especially the documents produced at and shortly after Vatican II. This is unfortunate for many reasons.

    My work here is done. Moving on to other posts. ;-)

  183. Cecily says:

    Canon 207.1 explanation from the aforementioned priest (verbatim):

    I think the apparent discrepancy is threefold:

    a) there may be a translation problem in Can. 207 §1.

    By divine institution, there are among the Christian faithful in the Church sacred ministers who in law are also called clerics; the other members of the Christian faithful are called lay persons.

    In Latin, there is no definite article (“the”). The source Latin here reads only,

    “Ex divina institutione, inter christifideles sunt in Ecclesia ministri sacri, qui in iure et clerici vocantur; ceteri autem et laici nuncupantur.”

    …which could just as easily have been translated, “other members of the Christian faithful are called lay persons.” rather than “the other members…”, which leaves open the possibility that there are still other members which are neither lay persons nor clerics – i.e., consecrated life.

    b) I believe that in this section of Canon Law the authors were referring to the hierarchical structure of the Church. In that perspective, those in consecrated life – like the laity – are not part of the hierarchical structure, whereas clerics are. As my canon law commentary points out, “Considered in terms of its hierarchical element, those who make a special consecration of their lives do not form a third state between clergy and laity (Lumen Gentium 43).”

    c) Like so many other major ecclesiastical documents, the current Code of Canon Law was compiled by a committee. And members of committees don’t always check with one another to ensure that they’re always saying the same thing throughout the same document.

  184. acardnal says:

    Thanks Cecily and thanks to your priest-friend.

    Interestingly, the quote of Canon 207 above was from the Vatican’s website. I think what your priest-friend said confirms, among other things, my last comment above which stated “many things written by the Holy See are ambiguous and open to interpretation . . . .” I should have added “poorly translated”, too, but I am not a Latin expert. Thus, the mess we and the Church are now living in post -V2 and which our Holy Father Pope BXVI is correcting slowly especially with regard to the liturgy which is the heart of the Church. Long live Pope Benedict!

  185. Cecily says:

    acardnal, You’re welcome :-) I enjoyed talking with you.

    I think anything and everything ever written is open to interpretation. Look what Protestants and others have done with the Bible. Just goes to show us we need the interpretation of the Magisterium. Yes, Long Live Pope Benedict!

    (Another example: I wish we had the founding fathers of the US around to correct certain current interpretations of the Constitution).

  186. robtbrown says:

    A few belated comments re Minor Orders:

    The 1917 code restricted them to those studying for the priesthood. In earlier times, however, those in Minor Orders functioned in cathedrals and monasteries, so it is a mistake to look for their history in parishes. In fact, Abelard was already a well known scholar and teacher even though he was in Minor Orders (and so could have married Heloise).

    One of my objections to the current liturgical situation is that it has obviously been designed for parochial use. Previously, liturgy had been distinguished as Monastic or Basilican, with parochial masses being a subset of the latter. Now it seems that all liturgy is a subset of parochial, which IMHO is back asswards (keeping in the spirit of same sex unions).