I confess that I initially sent back a terse note to this one: “You are wrong.” Having Reconsidered, more can be said…
From a reader…
Today I was an Alter [sigh] Server at Mass and upon returning home I just wanted to check if there was an age limit when I came across your article “How Old Can An Alter Boy Be?”. I myself have been trained as an Alter Server in my local Parish. I Enjoy it and I am good at it. But, in reading your article I came across a statement that I believe deems undermining, sexist and Insensitive in times whereby we are striving towards a society of equal genders. The statement reads “While I’m at it, the introduction of father and son serving teams can be a useful in easing altar girls out of the sanctuary. I saw this done in a parish and it was very effective.” I understand, as you explain later on that it is important for males to be involved in Mass’ for the purpose of pursuing a vocation in Religion however I disagree with you in saying that females must be “Eased out of the sanctuary.” Women and Men should have the same rights to be involved in the mass. Perhaps because of this eviction of women from proceedings, a decline in adherents to Christian Denominations has occured. I am not denying your right to a point of view, and I do not intend to, in any way offend you, but I believe that this should be brought to attention and perhaps an apology/restatement released on your blog on your behalf
I present a GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE:
You are clearly a bright student, and have learned well the lessons that you have been taught by your teachers. I would encourage you to continue your studies – and pay special attention to grammar and spelling, it will serve you well to learn precision in your writing and speaking in the future.
Many times adults will speak to children in a condescending manner. I certainly do not wish to do so, and so will speak to you directly, knowing that you are smart enough, and strong enough to handle even hard truths.
Much of what you have been taught is false.
You write that we are in “times striving towards a society of equal genders.” You must know that equality of the sexes does not require that we all do the same thing. It is a tragedy of modern society that the notion of equality has been used to attempt to eradicate the differences between men and women. The notion that, to be of equal worth, things – and people – must be worn down to some semblance of sameness, has been promoted by those who have a vested interest in this enterprise. When equality is meant to be sameness, then any unique characteristic becomes bad and punishable. Not too far from your corner of the world is Cambodia. I would encourage you to read about the equality principle promoted in the 1970’s by the Cambodian leader Pol Pot. While that is an extreme example, it is a case in point of what this sort of equality leads to.
The equality which the Church promotes is one which does not erase the distinctions between the sexes, nor the uniqueness of the individuals. To be equal, we do not have to be the same, nor do we have to do the same things. An apple and an orange can be considered of equal value, even though the orange cannot be sliced and baked into a delicious pie and the apple cannot made into tasty marmalade. In the same way, men and women – boys and girls – have different roles in life, and in the Church’s sacred liturgy.
You speculate, “Perhaps because of this eviction of women from proceedings, a decline in adherents to Christian Denominations has occured.” Yet, if you look at statistics, those denominations which have embraced this notion of equality=sameness, and which have diluted the traditional Church teachings on the difference between the sexes, for example, the Anglican Church, have declined in adherents with truly alarming rapidity.
I would encourage you to continue applying yourself to your studies. Study the life and the teachings of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, who helped with the foundation of the Society of the Sacred Heart and their school system. She suffered greatly at the hands of the French Revolutionary society which was the first to push the notion that equality meant sameness. She was a strong promoter of the education of young ladies and also a strong supporter of the priesthood, but she knew, with the solid instincts of a faithful daughter of the Church and a disciple of Christ Jesus, that priests have their role to play, and the faithful have theirs, and understood that men and women, while equal in dignity, are not identical in nature or vocation.