Bring back the lowly altar boy

Regina Magazine editor argues that the future of the Church depends on male altar servers
(photo from Regina Magazine article)

(photo from Regina Magazine article)

The following comes from a May 2 Regina Magazine article by Beverly Stevens:

With all the hullabaloo on this topic, I have tried valiantly to avoid having a  knee-jerk opinion on altar girls. Now, however, I have actually spent some time thinking about it. And I do have an opinion, based on my personal experience both as a Catholic mother and REGINA’s Editor.

What’s it like to have no priests? Imagine a country where there is one elderly priest for every 10 parishes. Or one where all the priests are ‘rented’ from Third World countries. Or where it’s impossible to have your child baptized — that is, if you are so lucky as to have a child. Or where the churches are closed, shuttered, and filthy from neglect.

What am I describing? Huge swathes of Western Europe today. And I have to say it: no altar boys means no vocations. Where liberal churchmanship prevails and altar girls are the norm, vocations are almost non-existent.

And like it or not, boys don’t like serving alongside girls. Now, feminists would have us believe that this is due to some innate prejudice against girls held by pre-pubescent boys. In any case, it’s a fact.

It’s also a fact that 80% of recently ordained priests in the US were altar boys. I’ll say it again: altar boys = priests.

Of interest is the fact that when you bring these facts up to the pro-altar girl crowd, their eyes glaze over with a kind of righteous fury. Basically, they will inform you grimly, it is their right to have their daughters serve. Never mind that this ‘right’ is driving away potential vocations. Well, they will insist with a triumphant smile, then the Church just needs to let women be priests.

This kind of conversation fascinates me because it is evidence of two distinctly different mindsets — and some would say distinctly different Churches — in Catholicism.

Their mindset is that the priesthood is a job, and that all jobs are opportunities to gain economic and social privilege. Hence, women must be permitted to be priests. Speaking as a former senior vice president of a global bank, I just want to say that this is deeply wrong-headed thinking.

The priesthood is not a job. A priest is not a ‘community leader.’ He is likewise not social worker. He is not a shoulder to cry on or a jovial guy to preside over your family weddings. Also, he is not a facilities manager. He may act in these capacities, but it is a fundamental error to see him as a mere functionary in a collar, because of course a woman can do all of those jobs.

That’s not the point.

For 2000 years, the Roman Catholic priesthood has been understood as a spiritual vocation, wherein the priest stands in persona Christi (“in the person of Christ”). Hence, his hands and indeed his entire person are consecrated; he is a man who exists entirely for his people. He is in fact married to the Church.

It is this understanding of the priesthood upon which the Church was founded, and upon which she has built the civilization of the West. Only those who are clueless about the benefits that this civilization brings which is in fact the mother of all of their liberties would want to destroy this for feminist ideology.

Isn’t it incredibly ironic that the future of the Church should rest upon something that has gone un-noticed through all the high-flown rhetoric of the last 50 years?

The lowly altar boy.

Bring him back. He is the future of the Church — nay, the future of Civilization.

Comments

  1. Kristin says

    Excellent article, and exactly right from beginning to end. What a pleasure to read!

  2. Elizabeth says

    I’ve always wondered if any of the ”Altar Girl Servers’ ever become a Sister or Nun?

  3. JD Cahill says

    One priest for 10 parishes? That’s nothing. We know a priest who came to the USA from Nigeria. Back in the homeland he covered 18 parishes, trying to get to each one once a month. He had a motorcycle, bicycle and a canoe to traverse these hinterlands. The whole village lined up for Confession before Mass, even non-Catholics who were honored that he came to them. No wonder that after many years of this he jumped at the chance to come to the USA.

  4. I agree totally with the authors view point, the trouble is, it will be hard to turn things around in the V2 Church. The momentum is not in place to swing future candidates hearts and minds. The V2 Church is losing its once Catholic religious faith to political correctness, Protestantism, ecumenism, and the preferred ignorance of sin. The graces needed to motivate, grow, form and nurture good boys, to become ‘alto Christus’ have nearly vanished. Restoration of altar boys can’t happen without grace, and it can’t happen without an entire restoration of the V2 Church back to Roman Catholicism. Agreeing with the author, sadly many will not have any priest at their deathbeds, because they will be to few and far between. Only in the…

  5. Yes! I had all girls, and I did not want them to be altar servers. There are just some things women can never be — Catholic priests; and men cannot be — mothers and give birth to children. The sooner all this gender bending stops the better. Women can do many things that men can do, but there are limits and vise versa. The idea that a person can be anything they want to be has been carried to ridiculous extremes in this and others countries. We cannot be anything we want to be. That is fact. If we think otherwise, we are delusional.

  6. Anonymous says

    I think our Church badly needs to separate itself from the secular world! Since Vatican II, our Church made a HUGE mistake, in opening its doors wrongfully, to the secular world! Catholics re NOT worldly people! We belong to Christ! Next, our Church must teach the Catechism, to all, and show all Catholics, from childhood, how to be good practicing Catholics! And Catholics must all learn their various roles, given to us by God! Little boys must imitate the role of Christ, while little girls must imitate the role of Our Lady! The Church needs to help form strong Catholic families worldwide! Little Catholic boys should all be invited by their parish priests, to learn to be altar boys, with strong parental support!

    • Linda Maria says

      Sorry, but I forgot to type my name in the above post! It was typed by me, Linda Maria! The time and space limits now are very short for writing posts– hence my errors!

  7. Linda Maria says

    Our Church desperately needs to separate itself from the secular world! We do not belong to the corrupt, “fallen” secular world— we are Christ’s! The Church needs to help form strong, devout Catholic family homes, and teach Catholic children their Catechism thoroughly! The children must learn their proper roles, too, as boys and girls. A little boy must imitate the role of Christ, and the little girl’s role model is the Blessed Mother. All little Catholic boys must be invited by their parish priests, to learn to be altar boys– and their families must strongly support them! Ignore the secular world– it is worthless!

    • Linda Maria says

      It would be better if the Church would return to its holy Tradition, as well as return to altar boys only, at Mass!

      • Catherine says

        Great article! Good Mother! Thank you! Christ’s flock is starving for the fullness of Truth. Nebraska’s success in vocations should have all bishops bringing back the altar boys and the altar communion rails. Why are there so many fallen away Catholics? Why is there less belief in the Real Presence? We know that Christ has not failed us. Like lemmings running off of the cliff. Pride, disobedience, false compassion, false teaching, ambiguity and political correctness have caused a great dis-ease within the Body of Christ.

        Warning: A GRAPHIC youtube.. portraying the dazed and confused!
        http://youtu.be/AOOs8MaR1YM

      • Your Fellow Cathlic says

        It might have been tradition for a certain period of time, but it wasn’t so in the Biblical or Patristic eras, and it’s not true in the most recent tradition. There is a difference between holy or Sacred Tradition, and transitional traditions which may and often are changed. Women not serving at Mass is not and never has been Sacred Tradition.

        • YFC, the Lord Jesus Christ never ordained women. The Lord Jesus and the Church followed Jewish tradition in having an all male priesthood. Only pagans, and possibly the Gnostics, had priestesses. The Gnostics despised the God of the Old Testament and had a different “Jesus”.. All the ancient churches of the East and Africa have an all male priesthood, even the non Catholic ones such as the Orthodox, Coptic, Armenian Apostolic and so forth. None of them had or have women priestesses.

          • Your Fellow Cathlic says

            Not talking about priesthood Anne. Even the New Testament describes the service of women in the church.

          • My point was they do not serve at the altar. They serve in other ways.

  8. ‘Thank You” for this article because it is an opinion that I agree with and is the truth. If the Church would Re-Evangelize, and no use the term new evangelization, back with tradition, we could get things back on track. The modernist have been able to implement so many ideas that has lead to bad theology and look what its done to Holy Mother Church. Catholics need to stop thinking of self and return to Tradition.

  9. Anonymous says

    Agreed 110%
    The next step then needs to be: close off the sanctuary with altar rails, followed by kneeling and reception of Holy Communion on the tongue by women and men dressed in an appropriate manner worthy of receiving our King. (Communion in the hand was born out of disobedience and has led to a monumental lack of belief in the Real Presence).
    Finally, rid the Church of Extra Ordinary Eucharistic Ministers. Their hands are NOT consecrated to be touching the precious Body of Christ.

  10. I constantly brag about my parish, St. Margaret’s in Oceanside, having only “altar boys “. On Sunday’s only, there are Eucharistic Ministers. They are men and all wear coat and tie. Communion is in one form only. I could go on and on about this wonderful parish and its pastor!

  11. Father Karl says

    This is an excellent article, and I agree with all that was said. Priestly vocations come from being an altar boy,, and boys do not want to serve along with girls. Because the Church is being feminized, males are staying away from Mass. However, with the TLM there is no problem: men and boys attend and serve Mass, and there are many vocations to the priesthood as a result.

    • Thank You Father for speaking up. Excuse the name calling but why are not any Bishops whom I’m sure have read this article being the cowards they are not commenting also ? Wearing the Roman Collar also means being a man, as we all agree that young men be alter boys.

  12. Women are not allowed in the sanctuary but this law has been disobeyed. Boys and only boys should serve the priest, it is a disservice to girls thinking they could become priests. The TLM of course has no problem with this, there are only boys and they are full to the max wanting to learn to serve at the altar.

  13. Clinton R. says

    This article is 100% correct and I agree with many of the opinions expressed here. It is not hard to figure out, boys serving at the altar learn about what the priest does at Mass. Girls however, cannot become priests. Though, if modernists like Cardinal Pietro Parolin had their way, women would be allowed to be clergy. It is very true that we are fighting 50 plus years of the liberals/modernists getting their way. First laymen were allowed as lectors as Pope Paul VI suppressed Minor Orders. Then in order to prevent outright rebellion, Communion in the Hand and women in the sanctuary were permitted. We are going to need traditional minded clergy as well as the laity to reverse the damage from these disastrous decisions.

    • Bob One says

      Rubbish!!!!!!!!!!! What makes you think that only men can be involved in the Mass. Only men may be Priest, but that doesn’t rule out women from anything else in the Church. The truth is, women run the Church anyway. Do you really think the Priest/Pastor runs the parish and not the Parish Secretary?

      • Clinton R. says

        Pope Benedict XIV in his encyclical Allatae Sunt (1755):

        “Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.

        • Clinton R. says

          That is a good retort as to why only men should be serving at Mass. His Holiness Pope Benedict XIV cites his successor Pope Gelasius condemning the practice of women serving at Mass as EVIL. A feminized liturgy has not done the Church well at all.

        • Your Fellow Cathlic says

          Discipline only , not doctrine, and one based on historical inaccuracies.

      • Catherine says

        “The truth is, women run the Church anyway !!!!!!!!!!!” = Double Rubbish!

        Bob, Christ is the Head of His Church. Alter Christus = Another Christ. Without the male priesthood, there is NO Eucharist on the altar. As wonderful as she may be, the parish secretary cannot change bread and wine into the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. She can forgive you Bob for not being a stronger male role model but she cannot absolve you from your sins. Please stop using 10 exclamation points. That’s ok for the parish secretary. Please, no more watching Oprah reruns. Stop enabling and placating misguided ungodly raged feminists who often successfully remove the strong male leadership qualities that produced the greatest Saints.

      • St. Christopher says

        “Bob One”: the only “rubbish” is your post. No woman should have any role in or during the Mass. The Vatican is so frightened by feminists that “demand” this or that, or are “outraged” blah, blah, and blah. In point of truth, these women want to be priests (although some very recent demands have been made for a woman to be made a Cardinal). The Altar Boy, in a closed, male-only society, is needed to increase the identity of young men toward the priesthood. For girls being a “server” is all about being admitted to the boys tree house (because Mom intervened). Women have special roles in the Catholic Faith, but saying and assisting at Mass are not among them (also no to being deacons or acolytes).

        • Bob One says

          I spent from second grade to senior in high school as an altar boy. Started among the 30+ in side pews next to the altar, moved up to candle bearer during the consecration, there were six of us plus the therifor (sic) then moved up to Master of Ceremonies, on the altar turning pages for the Priest, etc. This was like a Pontifical High Mass every Sunday. In addition, there were about twenty boys in the choir, directed by the nun from outside the altar rail. Then there was the adult choir, sometimes the girls choir, and the mixed voices. I know what High Catholic Church is from years of experience. Not one of the fifty or so guys on the altar and in the choir ever made it to Priest. Not because the Priests and Pastor didn’t try, and…

          • Anonymous says

            Bob One— maybe the “50 or so guys on the altar and in the choir” all got discouraged from interest in the Priesthood, when Vatican II came along! So sad! Before Vatican II, my mother always used to remark, that the best and brightest boys in Catholic school, and the ones of very good character– Role Model boys!– up to about 20% of them, in every class, perhaps– would be heading to the seminary! This used to be true! Almost every single Catholic boy, before Vatican II, at some point in his young life– considered a priestly vocation! The priesthood was very highly admired!

          • Linda Maria says

            Bob One, maybe those “50 or so guys” gave up on the idea of the Priesthood, after Vatican II! Before Vatican II, my mother used to say, that all of the best and brightest boys in Catholic school, and the ones with very good character– Role Model boys– would all be heading to the seminary— maybe up to 20% of every class! There were a great many priestly vocations, before Vatican II– and no priest shortages, at all! Every Catholic boy, at some point in his life, considered a priestly vocation– the priesthood was very highly admired!

          • Bob, there is a Religious order for women, its called being a Sister/Nun, and then maybe after her orders are given to move on and teach at all levels in schools.

          • St. Christopher says

            “Bob One”: It is nice that you had this long time experience; mine was shorter (although I did know of at least one priest that came out of the group). However what is your point, exactly? The history of the Church, even the recent history, is full of altar boy-becoming priest stories. So what that you did not experience this? The Pope, even though not admired as “orthodox” by many Catholics (but we must pray for him) was an altar boy. Asked again: what is your point?

          • Linda Maria says

            Bob One– Sorry, but the post above, of “Anonymous” —was mine! I forgot to type in my name! This website gives you very little time, to type a post!

      • Canisius says

        No Bob One you will not turn us into a protestant sect. The Sooner a schism occurs the better

  14. Linda Maria says

    The question is not about POWER, and “men vs. women,” but about the beautiful and appropriate, God-given ROLES, of men and women, in the Church! Each gender has their own unique and special role! Women should STOP SEEKING WORLDLY, EGOISTIC, SELFISH POWER!! It will do them great harm, and wreck our Church and society! Does anyone understand, that the CELIBATE PRIEST leading a HOLY LIFE– also needs other men and boys– to help support his great role, of being our “alter Christus?” I prefer the Traditional Church and society ONLY– with great respect, for the roles of Mother ad Father, and the roles of the Priest and Nun, at church! Beautiful!

    • Linda Maria says

      I think that a great many of the misguided, liberal “social activists” of the 1960’s era and beyond, have been unstable, dangerous “social misfits,” who never had an understanding of real life! Most are extremely narcissistic, feel they are leading a life of a “misfit” and “victim,” and are totally focused on themselves— with a tremendous amount of unusual criticisms in the world around them! For these types of “misfits” and “victims”– THE WORLD IS FULL OF “WRONGS” THAT THEY FEEL CALLED TO “CHANGE,” AND TO “MAKE RIGHT!!” I will continue…

      • Linda Maria says

        For example, my Mother was one person who never in this world, had a need for the crazy idea of so-called “feminism!” She was a strong, caring Italian girl, married happily at age 17, knew life and what to expect, knew her responsibilities, and was totally HAPPY in her roles as loving WIFE and MOTHER– and had a happy, part-time professional career, too– but REALISTICALLY kept it always as SECOND to the needs of her HUSBAND and her CHILDREN! She was a strong Mother, spoke her mind when necessary, had a firm moral backbone, yet was sweet and caring, too! Everyone has always just LOVED her! I will continue…

        • Linda Maria says

          My Mother always knew, that Life is a big responsibility, and you have to live it with LOVE and SERIVCE to others, and to RESPECT GOD ALWAYS! Very, very, very SIMPLE! And NO– absolutely NOBODY is going to always get the “justice” they think is due to them, in this life– there are a great many “wrongs” in this world, so you must be STRONG, FORGIVING, and HUMBLY ACCEPT the bad things that happen, and never take it personally– that’s a part of Life! Life is NOT some “misfit, ivory-tower dream,” of poorly-adjusted “intellectual” professors and “experts,” of this and that subject– who write books!

          • Linda Maria says

            I will finish by saying, that my Mother has always been a very happy, loving, feminine, yet “down-to-earth” woman, knowing both possibilities and limits to things, knowing sacrifices and responsibilities– and above all, she is loved by all who know her, especially me! She always laughed at the “feminists”– RIDICULOUS, to her! Womanhood is a TREASURE, and women are ENTITLED to their God-given TREASURE, and esteemed ROLE in Life! I, too, LOVE the natural, God-given roles, of Man and Woman!

          • Ann Malley says

            You were/are very blessed Linda Maria, unlike Vincente Roberto who still seems fixated. The “educated” views spewing from the Brown Tower are highly demonstrative of just what has gone wrong with the world – perhaps not an analysis of the how precisely, but absolutely a predictable array of fetid fruits.

            For all of the studies, these types fail to grasp the simple wisdom of God’s creation. Even going so far as to denigrate the ass, one of God’s creatures who, as in the case of Balaam.

            Perhaps these “educated” souls should open scripture to Numbers 22:28 instead of cracking whatever “learning” materials are encouraging him to behave with such rancid predictability. But then they are all too often trained to go after what…

          • Ann Malley says

            … they are told is good instead of what actually is. (Like those apprentice tailors paying through the nose to be “educated” by the masters who made the emperor’s new, non-existent clothes. No doubt they’d shout down any seamstress who noted, quite logically, that the tailor’s work left much to desire. Especially come winter time ;^)

            Patience with this one, Linda Maria. Some children are rebellious by nature no matter what we do ;^)

          • Linda Maria says

            Ann Malley– Calif. Catholic Daily should never stoop so low, as to print the filth and violence— as well as “hate speech” towards good, devout Catholic women– of very wayward, rebellious kids like “Vicente Roberto.” Would he write or speak this way, towards a Catholic nun, teaching at his school, or a good Catholic mother? For sure, the good nuns would have kicked such a bad kid out of Catholic school!

          • Ann Malley says

            ….sad to say, Linda Maria, but Vincente reflects an increasing swath of American society. Keep up your great posts. Your witness is important here. And that’s likely what angers our young “gentleman” so much.

        • Catherine says

          Linda Maria, Your May 7, 2016 posts @10:25 and 10:40 pm. reminded me of this..

          Taken from Catholic Answers:
          “In view of this combination of strength and gentleness, Pius XI applied to St. Francis de Sales the scriptural line, “Out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Judg. 14:14). Rather than sapping his strength or making him too weak for the struggle, his gentleness, in Pius XI’s words, “possessed the power to attract hearts in that very measure of success which Christ himself has promised to the meek—‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land’” (Rerum Omnium Perturbationem, 10).”

          God bless, your mother, and please tell your mother thank you!

  15. My daughters are altar girls. My solution to the boy problem is the girls only serve at 7 am during the week. Trust me there are no young boys near the church at 7 am on Monday. Problem solved.

    • Have any boys not joined or quit being altar servers because of your daughters?

    • St. Christopher says

      Nope — your logic would contain an affirmation of having women priests, but only during the week, never on Sundays. Girls, and older women too, need to learn, and accept their esteemed roles within the Catholic Church. These roles include raising children to be faithful and faith-filled. Christ had a special affection for women, although they were never apostles. Mary certainly would have been the very first priest, if not the first Pope, if Christ had wished to create a societal sexual identity breakthrough: He did not. I have daughters and granddaughters, but actively discouraged any talk of their being servers.

  16. Catherine says

    Happy Mother’s Day, to Mary, ‘The Queen of Heaven’, and our Mother!

    Bring Flowers of the Rarest (Queen of the May) – John McDermott – YouTube

    https://youtu.be/XOH8awmOj4c

  17. Catherine says

    Father Karcher told Mass attendants, “We think that this program is so important that we are putting the Confirmation and other classes on hold while the Alpha program is taught. “

  18. Linda Maria says

    Before Vatican II, there were thousands and thousands of priests, both diocesan and those in religious orders– all over the world! Priests serving in parishes, schools, universities, hospitals, foreign missions, charities– and those serving in quiet contemplative religious orders, praying for the needs of the world, too! My home parish, which was average-sized, always had about five or six priests assigned there, to include the pastor. Plus, deacons serving in their final seminary year, prior to Ordination, too! The rectory was quite full! Many Catholic boys aspired to the priesthood, and picked out the kind of work they were interested in– whether working as a diocesan priest, or a priest in a particular religious order.

  19. Linda Maria, thanks for your above post suggesting that VII caused us not to join the priesthood. Trouble is, we were all out of college and working careers before VII started. Keep in mind that I was raised in the “high church” tradition long before the altars were turned around or “love” overtook classical catechism teaching. My small town (9,000 people) had two parishes and at least five priest until the 70’s. They ran two schools, under the direction of nuns and a hospital and three mission parishes. VII wasn’t the cause of the reduction in numbers, it was the creeping change of the culture. Remember the summer of love? Demonstrations on campus? Marches in the streets for civil rights? Women marches? Society changed and…

    • Canisius says

      Bob One providing no answers to the crisis in the Church that he and his generation helped create

    • Linda Maria says

      Bob One– You are right, the liberal hippie-hijack of our Nation and our Church, made a big mess, and destroyed all interest in religion, too! However, after Vatican II, boys with serious priestly vocations, often had to deal with massive confusion and “political” rejection by the Church, of our traditional Mass, and faith and morals, which they were taught from childhood, during this turbulent time! This era was one of the ugliest, most ignorant, and most destructive, and inexcusably irresponsible— in our whole American history! I so detested it!!

  20. Catherine says

    “Remember the summer of love?” = How can anyone, forget it, Bob One, when you are still so very wrapped up in it. Although you are still enjoying that summer, you also demonstrate with every post, just how un-lovely things have become. If true, It’s more than obvious why you’ve been selected to serve on advisory boards.

    Bob One, If true, you may have been raised in the “high church” but you have been taking the LOW ROAD to serve the path of least resistance. No servant is greater than the Master…except, in the delusional minds, of those still enjoying that summer.

  21. Ann Malley says

    Vincente, you speak of, “…Mental constipation.” And yet you do not understand that the mind is particularly intended to store information. That is its purpose. To get the “runs” as you seem to prefer leads to the evacuation of that which is necessary for health.

    That is not health. That is a diuretic termed “education” to draw you to the well wherein that which you should retain is systematically drained off until there is nothing left but a void to be made use of by those who would use you. Not teach you.

    And while the above is presently fashionable, it is neither the mature nor the wise approach. Again, you need to get to the root of what is bothering you and ask yourself why the postings of others irritates you so…

  22. Linda Maria says

    To Ann Malley– A good education trains the mind well, cultivates good character in a student, and ennobles the human spirit. It teaches the student right from wrong, develops in the student a good Moral Conscience, and inculcates good social manners, and good citizenship. A good education ennobles a young man or young woman, and prepares them for excellent service to God and to humanity, in their field. As we can see, Brown University– as well as many other “hippie” schools– has failed totally, in its mission– with students such as “Vicente” — and should be closed!

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