From a seminarian…
I’m a seminarian at __ in ___ and I was wondering what’s the reason for why women should not be in the sanctuary for things such as lecturing and EMHC? I’m totally on board with this teaching, I just don’t know any deep theology or doctrine behind the practice. It’s been around since ancient times in the Jewish and even Catholic Tradition until recently. So, if you have an answer or books or articles that can explain this practice more thoroughly that’d be great! God Bless!
These days people don’t like to hear the following phrase:
There is a difference between male and female.
The difference goes to the very core of our being.
We are alike in our humanity and, as baptized Christians, we are alike in our sacramentally changed and elevated state.
But men and women are different. Sexes are not interchangeable.
For centuries the Church has operated mostly in cultures that accepted and respected this obvious fact. In many places and times, the Church has had to insist on the similarity of men and women with respect to our human dignity and baptized status. Against societies that preached that women were mere property of their menfolk, the Church has held aloft the Blessed Virgin to show that women not only have the same dignity as men, but a woman could rise to the highest pinnacle of the created order and outshine even the angels in purity and grace.
These days we move in a world wherein few societies, particularly in the West, denigrate women as they had been in the past. Compare how they are treated where Islam has risen! The world now seeks to erase all differences between men and women, and to make sex (“gender”) a matter of personal choice and feelings, something fluid, something shifting back and forth depending on the base tug of concupiscence. Men pretend to be women, women men. To support this fiction, doctors perpetrate mutilation on apparently willing subjects. Devious psychologists affirm the deluded souls that their psychoses are normal and that their feelings trump reality.
So, how does that affect the long-standing, traditional prohibition against women in the sanctuary?
The current liturgical legislation is mute on the issue. There is, currently, no law in the Latin Rite that prohibits women from entering the sanctuaries of our churches (as there still is in the liturgical laws of some of the Eastern Rites of the Church).
Those who wish to retain the traditional practice do so not on the basis of the ius vigens, but rather on appealing to the maintenance of the long-standing practice of the Church.
The reasons for this long-standing practice is to emphasize the properly priestly role of service in the sanctuary. There are probably also roots in the Old Testament distinctions of ritual purity. However, they were overwhelmed by other, theological and symbolic meanings.
The sacred space of the sanctuary is usually separated from the nave of the church is by steps and ideally by a communion rail.
The priest is – must be – a male.
Priesthood is as masculine a thing as motherhood is feminine.
A female Christian priest is as illogical a construct as a male mother would be – were our world a sane one.
A man enters the sanctuary as and in service to The Priest, alter Christus. As the priest is configured to Christ, the High Priest, those who serve him are similarly configured.
In an era when squires served knights and knights served lords, maids served ladies and ladies-in-waiting served princesses and queens, this made sense. Today however, when so many have rejected the norms of Christian society, not so much.