Late to the party


I was out of town last week when Bishop Loverde of Arlington conducted the greatest manuever in public relations ever. EVAH!

First, he announced that individual parishes would be permitted to have altar girls as long as the pastor, other clergy & pastoral council can come to a consensus about their desire to have them.

Then, he announced that two parishes would have permission to celebrate the 1962 Latin Mass. (press release here)

Reactions have been predictable:
Conversatives went "Yay!" then "Boo!"
Liberals went "Boo!" and then "Yay!"
Bishop Loverde and everyone at the chancery gave each other high fives and are still chortling about dodging the bullet with these two hot topics.

Some Arlington parishes already had altar girls at last Sunday's Masses and rushed to proclaim that "We're no longer gender-restricted." I'm sure I'll hear some misguided talk about women priests in the next several months (in which case I'll send them here.)

For another blogger perspective, visit Father Jim "Dappled Things" Tucker.

My reaction - altar girls have been inevitable since the Vatican ruled on the issue. The interesting issue with Arlington is there will be a divide among most parishes who allow them, and the several that won't. Letters will be written. Acrimonious pastoral council meetings will last late into the night. Some pastors will hold the line and not allow any sway. Most pastors will go with the flow.

The Tridentine Mass will be similar - the folks who want that will flock to the two parishes that celebrate, the rest of us will do latin and greek sparingly, or the more popular option: never. A "Kyrie" and "Angus Dei" here and there won't really add up to using chant and latin in the way that Church liturgy documents extol them. The divide will be greater, and the perennially discontented will continue to write letters, protest and generally disrupt life for the rest of us.

So who's going to have more latin at their standard Masses? Who's going to do more chant and sacred polyphony? Who's going to make sure altar servers are better trained and present themselves properly for their sacred work?

I'm sure for the vast majority of parishes it will be business as usual.

Still - changes in discipline (and both these items are related to Church disciplines and practices, not doctrinal items) are a good time to revisit what's really important and what needs to change.

Hopefully we can use this moment to make all Masses in Arlington more prayerful and sacred.

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I think the problem with this is when you are the priest and you get a transfer to a parish where there are altar girls and you do not want them. You become stuck with it in away. It will be interesting to see if Arlington will remain strong with vocations. My understanding is that Rome, while allowing it, does not recommend it. I am certainly not condemning anyone for doing what the Church allows but I will find another way for my daughter to serve God. I am in a dioceses were altar girls are the norm and I don't think that it has had very happy results.

I thought the "Angus Dei" was only allowed in Texas! :-)

Must have been thinking about steak when I wrote it.

man with black hat: "I will go to the altar of God..."

Early indications from an informed source within the local presbyterate, would seem to indicate that no more than a dozen of the 67(?) parishes of the diocese are likely to use females at the altar; indeed, in some locales, it is simply a non-issue. On the other hand, it is likely that a few more parishes will eventually be able to employ the 1962 Missale Romanum.

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John Schultz

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This page contains a single entry by John Schultz published on March 29, 2006 6:28 AM.

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