Women are now liberated! What good news. We can now invade all the hallowed halls heretofore belonging only to males. We can become anything we want in life, according to the feminists. If it was formerly a man’s domain, then we should show him how much better we can do it. And even if we can’t do it as well, take it away from him anyway. Although I am of the proper gender to take advantage of this invasion, I find myself uneasy and not a little sad. It seems that in the pursuit of feminine superiority, we have lost so much of what it actually means to be female.
The feminine versus the feminist is definitely in the minority. As we struggle to be all we can be, we watch the liberated women be all that they want to be with the blessings of the world at large and the church in particular. I never paid much attention to the whole matter until it invaded the Church. The dignity of the sanctuary has been jeopardized by pant suits, miniskirts and perfumed grandmothers. The solace we should be able to find in our churches is undermined by the feminist agenda.
There is a small aspect of this revolution, and I know I am in the minority here, that defies reason, dignity for the most part and promise. And until I had a son serving Mass, I didn’t think about it much one way or the other. I now see altar girls as a potential threat to future, priestly vocations. And I feel sorry for the girls who feel they need to take part in a masculine role and try to make it their own. The influx of girls has cost many boys their rightful place in serving on the altar. In our efforts to be fair to females, boys may be turned from vocations that would be the building of our church’s future. And I don’t believe the retort that girls who serve Mass may go on to be nuns. Of course, some of these girls may find a vocation in religious life. Serving Mass, however is not a step towards the convent while it can be part of the path way to the priesthood.
There is a bonding that can occur between a pastor and his flock of altar boys. This can’t occur easily when females are involved. There are also many moments when the altar servers are alone in the sacristy, helping to prepare for Mass. Placing adolescent boys and girls in close proximity is asking for trouble. As reverent as servers can be on the altar, they are still children.
And the alb or cassock and surplice has traditionally been male attire. Putting a young girl into male clothing doesn’t bring dignity to either the Mass or the young lady wishing to serve. My son was in a CCD class the day it was announced that girls could become servers. The reaction of the girls in his class was to stand up and exclaim girl power! There wasn’t a lot of Christianity or religious feeling evidenced by the girls.
I was raised back in the olden days! I never found myself envying the altar boys at Mass. The nuns of that era said the boys have the future potential to become priests. Serving Mass lets them experience that possibility to an extent. Girls should happily emulate our Blessed Mother. As much as I have searched in the Bible, I have yet to find an instance where Mary tried to overstep her son or His apostles. She was a nurturer and a keeper of the hearth. She was the Mother of God and accepted her role with love and dignity. When the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, Mary shared in those graces. The Apostles went out to preach and Mary channeled her blessings into being a true woman.
I am not sure what women are finding as they crowd around the altar. And I feel sorry for little girls competing with boys on the altar. And I shed tears for the young boys who leave the altar rather than compete. Who will accept responsibility when their path from the altar takes them away from God’s plans for them and, perhaps, even the Church?
Barbara M. Barthelette