The Great Altar Server Debate Continues

cassock & surplice 2At dotCommonweal, Peter Nixon’s post generates some thoughtful comment. Likely a bit more intelligent than chit-chat at the kitchen table of Star of the Sea rectory. I wonder what Father Illo or Cardinal Burke would say about my parish. No altar servers in a generation, but we sent five guys off to seminary last Fall.

Some thoughts:

– Get the priesthood of the baptized first. A middle schooler or a high-schooler should understand what being a baptized, believing disciple is before venturing into a discernment on the ordained priesthood. This is where the needed Christian maturity needs development

– Peter suggests an expanded role for altar servers. Perhaps. But I would hope for an expanded role for young people in the parish. It makes little sense for boys and girls to be visiting the sick, singing in choir, feeding the poor, and such as servers. But as visitors, choristers, wait staff and such–lots of sense.

– Peter is right that cultivating clerical vocations is going to take a lot of time and effort. Instituting an all-male serving corps is an indulgence to the hermeneutic of entitlement. By that I mean that recapturing some golden age when “vocations” poured our way. If they ever did. Golden ages are built, not recovered.

– Campus ministry is the real proving ground for discernment. Today’s young people make life decisions in college. Gone are the days when a pre-teen had limited choices, and might think about doing something different from the family business or the local factory. Three generations ago, an all-male server corps might have made sense–though I wouldn’t want to put all my eggs in that 1950’s basket. Today it is a futile exercise in nostalgia.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to The Great Altar Server Debate Continues

  1. I really like your point about the priesthood of the baptized. I sometimes wonder what the response would be if I asked the average Catholic at my parish, “Are you a priest, prophet, and king?”

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