Does the Holy See need a Congregation for the Laity?

And, if so, what should that Congregation for the Laity look like?

Should half of its members be women?  What kind of women?  Homemakers and mothers?  Professional women? Lay apostolate leaders?  Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion type lay people?

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga says there should be one, according to Andrea Tornielli at Vatican Insider:

Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras) who is in charge of coordinating the Pope’s eight-member Council of Cardinals said the group has resumed its talks regarding Curia reform. He said this from the northern Spanish city of Logroño, which he is currently visiting.

The cardinal explained that “the Vatican’s bodies will be rearranged as the Laity is currently just represented by a Pontifical Council. There is a Congregation for Bishops, another for priests and one for religious but there isn’t one for the laity, despite the fact they are the majority.”

It is not surprising that the Curia reforms include a greater attention to the laity by means of a new Congregation dedicated especially to them. Various pontifical councils could be merged into this, including the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers.

Pope Francis sees clericalism as an illness in the Church: this is partly why it is absurd for lay men and women in Christian communities and Church structures to undergo a sort of “clericalisation” in order to be valued.

I can’t stand the way laity are clericalized in the Catholic Church.  I wish more lay Catholics would get about their mission to transform the world than being concerned about being Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (when there are enough deacons and priests around) or lectors (same thing, why does it seem to always be some woman in slacks coming forward to read?) or some other role that seems to diminish the importance of priests and deacons?

Let’s find our proper complementarity, okay?

 

 

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30 Responses to Does the Holy See need a Congregation for the Laity?

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    You asked: I can’t stand the way laity are clericalized in the Catholic Church. I wish more lay Catholics would get about their mission to transform the world than being concerned about being Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (when there are enough deacons and priests around) or lectors (same thing, why does it seem to always be some woman in slacks coming forward to read?) or some other role that seems to diminish the importance of priests and deacons?

    The canonical norms pertaining to use of extraordinary ministers of holy communion are quite clear: there are not to be extraordinary ministers of holy communion, or of any other sacrament for that matter, when a sufficient number of ordinary ministers are available to administer the sacrament.

    But in places where parishes have to reduce their mass schedules or, even worse, cannot celebrate mass every Sunday, due to lack of clergy, I don’t think you can make the case that there are (1) enough clergy to distribute communion in a reasonable amount of time during mass and (2) enough clergy to bring communion to the sick and shut-ins with reasonable frequency without resorting to extraordinary ministers. Unfortunately, this is the situation in most of North America.

    Liturgically, the ministry of Reader, like the ministry of Acolyte (or Server), has always been a lay ministry distinct from the ministries of those in sacramental orders. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, it was regarded as one of the “minor orders” that all seminarians would receive during the course of their formation.

    But having said that, it is NOT appropriate for any ministers to be in the sanctuary in street clothing — and it also is NOT appropriate for ministers to be coming forward from the back of congregation during the liturgy itself. Rather, those who exercise ministry should (1) vest in albs (or, equivalently, cassocks and surplices), (2) come into the church in the entrance procession, (3) have assigned seats “in or near the sanctuary” near to the place where they need to be to perform their respective ministries, and (4) leave the church in the procession at the end of mass (or any other service in which they might be serving).

    The use of lay ministers does not diminish the role of the clergy in any way. Rather, it allows the clergy to focus on the aspects of ministry that they cannot delegate to others.

    Norm.

  2. Thiedra Thomas says:

    But… But… Vatican 2! Universal Priesthood, n all that!

  3. EPMS says:

    Opposition to women servers is an example of the “clericalization” of the laity you refer to. As. Norm points out, acolyte, lector etc are not sacramental orders and thus are roles appropriately filled, when needed, by any trained layperson. A bigger issue, down the road, is the maintenance of support for an all-male celibate priesthood among parishes whose services are largely led by married deacons and or women religious, owing to a shortage of priests.

    • Foolishness says:

      Sorry, but having girls up altar serving discourages boys from doing so and among those boys who do become priests a good two-thirds were altar servers, so there is a link between vocations to the priesthood and altar serving. When we have a shortage of priestly vocations, let’s not discourage boys by massive political correctness. And you point to the problem, EPMS, that having “Father” replaced by women EMHCs and the odd married deacon and a range of “lay ministers” doing this and that also discourages vocations.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Deborah,

        You wrote: And you point to the problem, EPMS, that having “Father” replaced by women EMHCs and the odd married deacon and a range of “lay ministers” doing this and that also discourages vocations.

        I rather think that any vocations discouraged by such practices are those who would be seeking ordination for the wrong reasons anyway. We have too many of them already.

        Norm.

      • Thiedra Thomas says:

        Foolishness is right. In my parish when I was younger, the church wasnt full compared to when they got rid of altar girls and extraordinary ministers. i knew boys who got seriously interested to the priesthood because their exposure and instruction in attending to the altar. also i remember my mom talking about other orders like porter and subdeacon and all that been thrown out and it was about the same time women got involved maybe because of feminist movement. Its strange when feminists would rather make women be second class men than first class women or make men be more feminine.

      • Stephen K says:

        Just a few thoughts. Firstly, I am not surprised there is a link between altar serving and aspiration to priesthood. Not sure whether aspirations translate to permanent vocations though, or whether, in a modern epoch (i.e. more than just a few decades), altar-serving is the key to encouraging anything other than the ceremonial functionality of the priest, or what presbyteral model it encourages. Would it be true, for example, to think that “altar-stuff” and liturgy in general act as a draw-card for a particular concept of priesthood – a temple elite, rather than a more demotic or ascetic model of service? And are people open to the possibility that the apparent disintegration of the monolithic force and power of the larger Christian Churches, including the clerical model of priesthood, over the last 60 years, is in fact a manifestation of the work of God, striking down all foundations for pretension or condescension in a religion where there is to be no more Greek or Jew, slave or free etc?

        How many people really want priests to be and form a caste and perpetuate a caste-system? There is certainly one demographic that does, but will it ever become the norm again? I think the clerical sex abuse scandal – as well as materialism or empiricism – has dealt it a very profound and possibly mortal blow. My own personal reflection is that although liturgical worship and prayer must be attended to with the same care as everything else worth doing, the constant temptation is to convert a means to the highest end.

        There is a certain pre-pubescent age when boys and girls do not want to do things together, and a certain age when boys and girls do want to do things together, but not necessarily pray and serve at the altar. So maybe the problem is unresolvable.

        I was first prompted by your post about a survey of Ordinariate sodalities, not about the question of altar-girls per se. The real interest in such a survey would be a long term one, with a test and control group. Which one, over the next 50 years, results in greater numbers of ordination? Would it be possible to so quarantine the environment that real causalities and authentic correlations could be identified? And what kind of spiritual landscape do we end up with for both groups? I don’t think we can be too confident of anything, but I’d be interested in others’ answers.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Stephen,

        You wrote: How many people really want priests to be and form a caste and perpetuate a caste-system? There is certainly one demographic that does, but will it ever become the norm again? I think the clerical sex abuse scandal – as well as materialism or empiricism – has dealt it a very profound and possibly mortal blow.

        This is very well said, indeed!

        You continued: My own personal reflection is that although liturgical worship and prayer must be attended to with the same care as everything else worth doing, the constant temptation is to convert a means to the highest end.

        No. Rather, liturgical worship demands absolutely the best care that we can give to it — care far beyond everything else worth doing.

        You wrote: There is a certain pre-pubescent age when boys and girls do not want to do things together, and a certain age when boys and girls do want to do things together, but not necessarily pray and serve at the altar. So maybe the problem is unresolvable.

        Or not.

        The ministry of service at the altar — that is, the ministry of an acolyte — is probably THE most critical ministry in the mass. If something goes awry or is out of place, the altar server frequently is the ONLY person who can fix it discretely, without causing a major disruption to the liturgy itself. This ministry should not be entrusted to children of any age, but rather to mature and responsible confirmed adults who have thorough liturgical training, the right presence and demeanor, and the ability to recognize that something is amiss, and the presence of mind to figure out how and when to correct it without drawing attention.

        Having said that, we have had a very interesting experience on the campus of my alma mater in recent years. Shortly after his arrival nearly a decade ago, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, our current archbishop, decided to replace the Paulist Fathers who had served as chaplains the campus ministry at my alma mater with diocesan clergy in the hope of developing more vocations. We are now getting several vocations to the clergy and religious life per year from the campus ministry at the world’s premier institute of technology (!). Alas, undoubtedly to our archbishop’s dismay, most of the candidates for ordination are studying for other dioceses….

        In the campus ministry, the students who serve as readers, as altar servers, and as extraordinary ministers of holy communion are both male and female, in about equal numbers, so the presence of ladies obviously is not deterring the gents. As you point out, this might be related to the ages of those involved — but if so, it recommends in favor of migrating the ministry of altar server to an older age.

        Norm.

      • Stephen K says:

        Norm, you make good points. I myself think that the virtues or merits of pre-pubescent altar boys is overstated. I think liturgical ministry of any sort is a weighty business and ought to be the affair of maturer participants. I believe that the phenonemon of altar boys in eton collars, ribbons, gloves, slippers and lacy cottas is very much a product of a particular time, culture and mentality whose attractiveness and utility are enhanced by nostalgia and sentimentality. Besides which, there may me something spooky about thinking that it is okay to “groom” young boys to priesthood by getting them to imitate or participate in clerical context before they often even have anything like a sense of perspective on the implications.

        I make the above observation as a mature, hindsight, reflection. I think there is a very critical line between formation in the good sense, and the kind of influencing that gave rise to sayings such as ‘give me a child until he is seven and he is mine forever’. Let me be clear here: I am not talking about sinful corruption but of the tricky problem of child development. Though there appears to be little rule about the topic, there remains enough anecdotal evidence that a proportion of clergy and religious had, prior to the modern era, been inexorably channelled to their vocational destination by familial and cultural and ecclesiastical pressures and circumstances, and leading to unhappiness. Many religious orders have for some time now abandoned the concept of “juniorates”, where boys (or girls) begin living the life of religious in junior high school (or younger).

        So, on balance, though I have myself at time encouraged young boys to learn to sing and participate in choir, or thought altar service appropriate, I am now not so sure that is good or desirable.

        Norm, of course, in one sense, and an important one at that, you are very correct in suggesting that worship should be given the very best attention. I don’t wish to argue this. My principal point was the latter element of my statement: that we should beware of making a means into an end. By that I had principally in mind, the kind of preoccupation with minutiae and rubric, elevating them respectively to issues of moral virtue or correctness.

        Readers must not mistake me here. I always believe in doing things well. As a one-time choral director I would often instruct the choir “I don’t want to see anyone praying out there: you have a job to do, so concentrate!” I meant, of course, that as liturgical servants they had a responsibility to ensure that their task, their ‘service’, was a serious business for the edification and promotion of the congregation’s act of worship. Indeed, their attention to their singing, their ‘invisibility-through-smoothness’, their movement or silence, was itself worship particular to their temporary role. I wanted no other thought in them but the focus on facilitating the piety of others, no egotism. This was not a ‘spirit of performance’ but a ‘spirit of service’.

        But I find much liturgical / rubrical polemic simply and repulsively anally retentive. If, through inadvertence one vestment rather than another, one reading or prayer rather than another, one sequence rather than another, is used, so what? God is greater than any of our puny liturgies or pre-occupations of this sort. If God were not, God would not be God but a petty deity insisting on appeasements of various kinds. There is a true middle, a true medium, between casual disregard for doing things as well as one can, and making human products, however bejewelled, an idol for our worship or outrage. A hasty, sloppy or self-conscious Tridentine service in my opinion is worthless compared to a sincere, God-focused, careful Quaker prayer service. God wants, so the scriptures say, contrite hearts and not burnt sacrifices.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Stephen,

        You wrote: I believe that the phenonemon of altar boys in eton collars, ribbons, gloves, slippers and lacy cottas is very much a product of a particular time, culture and mentality whose attractiveness and utility are enhanced by nostalgia and sentimentality. Besides which, there may me something spooky about thinking that it is okay to “groom” young boys to priesthood by getting them to imitate or participate in clerical context before they often even have anything like a sense of perspective on the implications.

        Yes, I agree with you completely on this.

        You wrote: Let me be clear here: I am not talking about sinful corruption but of the tricky problem of child development. Though there appears to be little rule about the topic, there remains enough anecdotal evidence that a proportion of clergy and religious had, prior to the modern era, been inexorably channelled to their vocational destination by familial and cultural and ecclesiastical pressures and circumstances, and leading to unhappiness.

        The evidence of this is more than anecdotal. The statistics bear it out. One need only look at the number of men who left ordained ministry, and also both men and women who left religious communities, in droves during the 1970’s and 1980’s, after being misled into it in this way.

        You wrote: My principal point was the latter element of my statement: that we should beware of making a means into an end. By that I had principally in mind, the kind of preoccupation with minutiae and rubric, elevating them respectively to issues of moral virtue or correctness.

        Yes, absolutely! The Second Vatican Council spoke to this explicitly in the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum concillium on divine worship (internal citations removed; boldface added)

        11. But in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain. Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.

        But C. S. Lewis might have made your point even more eloquently in his Letters to Malcolm.

        As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

        I would add that this is as true for those who exercise various roles of ministry as it is for the congregation!

        The liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council reflect this realization, most notably in a complete restructuring of the rubrics. The Tridentine liturgical books provide explicit directives for the celebration that are so detailed as to specify which sleeve of the alb to put on first, with no explanation whatsoever as to why. The Pauline liturgical books replace that with a construct that has three tiers to it.

        >> The first tier is a theological explanation of the rite and the goals and purposes of the various elements therein.

        >> The second tier is the traditional rubrics, far less detailed, which specify the normative method of achieving the desired end.

        >> The third tier is pastoral sensitivity to the local congregation that must choose from among the options provided in the rite and implement the rubrics in a manner that attains the goals and the purposes of the various elements.

        Thus, the proper celebration of the liturgy is no longer so simple as “say the black and do the red” because “the red” requires consideration of which options to choose and how best to do what’s in red to attain the desired end in the congregation within which the celebration occurs.

        Norm.

    • “Opposition to women servers is an example of the “clericalization” of the laity you refer to.”

      The Offices of Lector and Acolyte are ancient Offices or Orders of the Church which have ONLY been conferred upon men since Apostolic times. A desire to maintain this does not pertain to “clericalisation” but to Tradition.

      We would always do well to consider the liturgical practices of our Eastern Orthodox brethren. And this is an example where men only are admitted to the sanctuary, according to continuous Tradition.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        The Saint Bede Studio,

        You wrote: The Offices of Lector and Acolyte are ancient Offices or Orders of the Church which have ONLY been conferred upon men since Apostolic times. A desire to maintain this does not pertain to “clericalisation” but to Tradition.

        Actually, my recollection is that they evolved in the middle ages when there was little formal education and illiteracy became widespread. The office of lector required enough formal education to read the scriptural readings and the office of acolyte required the ability to read the rubrics and the acolytes responses, and in addition a thorough knowledge of the liturgy itself, attained through additional training. And of course, one must understand these “minor orders” in the context of the others — that of “porter” (who had keys to the church building, the responsibility to open it for services, and who saw to its general upkeep and cleanliness) and that of “exorcist” (see the movie — this did not require ordination!). But in the middle ages, all of these “minor orders” were conferred only on those who had been admitted to the clergy through tonsure — originally a shaving of the head except for a peripheral ring that’s still practiced in a few monasteries, though it was reduced to clipping a few locks of hair by the time of the Second Vatican Council. The Second Vatican Council actually directed a reversion to the original practice of admission to the clerical state coming through ordination to the deaconate and what were then the “minor orders” reverting to “ministries” performed by laity rather than by junior clerics.

        Norm.

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  5. EPMS says:

    Do you have evidence that boys are reluctant to be on the altar because they are looking for a “no girls allowed” environment? A lot of girls play hockey now, but I don’t think this has reduced boys’ interest in the sport. The argument that a drop-off in vocations coincided with the use of “altar girls” and therefore was caused by that seems an example of the “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” fallacy. Apparently about 70% of current/recent Catholic seminarians previously attended a Catholic school. In the US, the percentage of Catholic children attending a Catholic school has declined from about 50% in 1964 to 15% in 2009. For Hispanics, the group that will soon comprise a majority of US Catholics, the percentage is 3%. This seems a more important factor than “massive political correctness”—a rather strong term for merely opening up an opportunity for lay service to both sexes.

    • Joaquin says:

      http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/09/action-item-all-male-altar-service-prompts-increases-in-numbers-of-altar-boys/

      Well, I guess the only plausible explanation for those numbers is that all the women of the parish got chained to the kitchen and are busy making babies. Or those evil traditionalists are lying, like they always do!

    • Troy says:

      Regarding EPMS and reduced interest in the sport.

      As someone who lives in a community obsessed with hockey, I can tell you that boys and girls rarely play hockey together. Sure, there are girl’s teams, but they play girls. Good thing to, because I bet some/many boys would stop playing if they had to play with or against girls, no matter how much they like the sport.

      The statistical data may not be available to support the theory, but I believe it is true, allowing girls in the sanctuary only discourages boys. It is not about creating a caste/club of males only, it’s about allowing boys to have a front row seat in seeing a priest at his vocation in the sanctuary. This and the time spent with other boys and father in sacristy is a beginning and gives boys a back stage pass to view the vocation of priesthood. Certainly there is more to the vocation than saying mass, but seems to me that ought to be the best place to start.

      I’ve never met a man, whose first whispers of vocation came from seeing a priest doing his visiting, or shoveling the snow, or helping in the kitchen of the parish hall or local soup kitchen (although priests were seen doing all those things). I have met many MANY men whose first whispers of vocation came while serving in the sacristy and sanctuary.

      • Thiedra Thomas says:

        thats how people see priests now, a sort of holy social worker rather than someeone whos instruments are the chalice the patten, the stoal, the oil, the bible, the crucifix, etcetra. I heard from a visiting priest today that if you’re not friendly, you wont have friends after you die, and if youre friendly, you get to be friends with god and thats what matters. with due respect to father, thats something my mom would say. maybe thats why theres a sudden issue of womens ordination because father friendly is a second class woman to people who dont know any better and boys are creeped out by him than a father they can be proud to imitate but wester society shames for being insensitive and being basically a man.

      • EPMS says:

        “The statistical data may not be available to support the theory, but I believe it is true”. One hears “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts” said in jest, but rarely put forward as part of a rebuttal in a serious discussion. But we expect the unexpected on this blog.

      • EPMS says:

        To move off the anecdotal, the articles on vocation from which I took the survey figures quoted in a previous posting consistently identified the university years as the key time when current and recent seminarians discerned a vocation to the priesthood. And references to “time spent with father in the sacristy” and “back stage passes” kind of give me the creeps. I know abuse was statistically rare, but I imagine bad PR hasn’t helped when it comes to recruiting altar boys.

      • Foolishness says:

        EPMS, I imagine you were the only one who “got the creeps” from the comment you refer to. It was certainly not meant with that kind of innuendo.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Thiedra,

        You wrote: I heard from a visiting priest today that if you’re not friendly, you wont have friends after you die, and if youre friendly, you get to be friends with god and thats what matters.

        Yuck! Gag! Spit! What terrible theology! THAT is what kills — ah, rather, fails to develop — vocations!

        How did this clown ever get ordained, anyway?

        Norm.

      • Thiedra Thomas says:

        Rev22
        he was a pilipino, i think hes with a missionary group missionaries of jesus he was asking for donations so we had a second collection.

  6. EPMS says:

    Joaquin: As Fr Zuhlsdorf points out, he made no claims that his figures represent any kind of statistically valid sample. A parish which has switched from co-ed to all-male servers may have become a locus for traditionalists in other ways—-offering the TLM, for example, and thus become a magnet for families likely to encourage their sons to serve on the altar (and probably send them to Catholic schools). So I await more concrete evidence that boys only want to participate if girls can’t. As a general attitude I don’t find this attractive, but perhaps that’s just me.

    • Thiedra Thomas says:

      My parish has the priest facing the people an alot of people didnt like getting rid of altar girls but accepted it. isnt it great that families encourage their sons to serve at the altar! i asked my nephew what he thouthg about altar girls and he said hed be embarassed to be with girls especially if hes the only one like only girls are suposed to be altar servers.

  7. Stephen K says:

    Deborah, if I may, I’d like to respond more particularly to your final paragraph. Namely, (1) your question why can’t laypeople concern themselves with transforming the world rather than be ministers, (2) your comment about women in slacks, and (3) your charge that being, or wanting to have, liturgical roles diminishes the importance of deacons and priests.

    The question why we laypeople do not concern ourselves with transforming the world is a question not tied simply or required to be put to, those who busy themselves with liturgical roles; put honestly, how many of us even busy ourselves with transforming ourselves let alone the rest of the world? And, further, what is it about laypeople that makes the transforming the world more their mission than any individual deacon or priest? I really think one of the challenges facing Christianity, and traditional Catholicism in particular, is how to achieve a spiritual identity of mission, an existential democracy, if you will.

    The comment about women in slacks I take to be a very human expression of exasperation with, or repugnance at, not so much women in themselves, as for the kind of deconstructive informality lay wear can represent compared to the vestimental ‘otherness’ and colour of traditional liturgy. If I am correct in my reading, then all I would say is that my own aesthetic sensibilities are selectively (i.e. sometimes, according to the context) in sympathy but not exclusively because I think that in spiritual essences, accidents and externals do not “make the man”, so to say. It is too easy to begin a degradation of our brother or sister by sartorial condemnation. I always remember the reply from the policeman in charge of our pipe band – to my protest that we should wear a more formal military Scottish uniform style ‘because it went half way to making us feel good’ – that no, we should wear the more comfortable Highland day wear ‘because it went half way to helping us play better’(!). I remember too, my traditionalist protest many years ago to an elderly religious about the handling of the sacred vessels in procession by the lay at a professing ceremony, to which this saintly and venerable (and one firmly still in the traditional religious stream ) man replied that “we mustn’t let these sorts of things tyrannise us”.

    On the charge that women in slacks, or altar girls or any other lay substitution diminishes the “importance” of priests and deacons, I would simply suggest that until anyone other than the ordained can consecrate Mass, hear confession or preach at Mass, this will not be so, at least in the critical functional sense. But, perhaps more pertinently, we do need to rethink what it is we value in priesthood and the diaconate. I think – and it is merely an instinct – that priests should be so formed, and our attitudes so revised, that “importance” almost has no place in their vocabulary or self-concept. Personally, I actually think the reading of the Scriptures by a layperson is a positive symbolic expression of the engagement of the community at large in the mission of the Gospel as well as giving physical expression to the idea that the litourgia is truly a ‘work (of the people)’ and acts to some extent as corrective to the phenomenon of ‘one man-show’, a criticism often levelled against NO ministers by TLM devotees.

    • Foolishness says:

      Great, thoughtful comment! Thanks.

      As for the “women in slacks” comment, I myself try to wear a skirt or a dress to church in honor of the doctrine of the complementarity of the sexes and in rebellion against the politically-correct unisex mold that seems to govern most of the rest of our lives. I always think of going to Costco and seeing how everyone seems to be dressed alike, men and women, in stretchy jeans and sweat shirts or fleecy tops. That’s me most of the time.

      Of course, I would not want any women who wear slacks to feel uncomfortable in our church—-my sister has not forgotten how she was barred from entering a Russian Orthodox Church because her dress slacks showed beneath her nearly floor-length dressy slacks. Would not want that by any means. Nor would I want any legalistic rule concerning head covering, though I prefer a head covering when I am in church, too.

      You are so right about this: “The question why we laypeople do not concern ourselves with transforming the world is a question not tied simply or required to be put to, those who busy themselves with liturgical roles; put honestly, how many of us even busy ourselves with transforming ourselves let alone the rest of the world? And, further, what is it about laypeople that makes the transforming the world more their mission than any individual deacon or priest? I really think one of the challenges facing Christianity, and traditional Catholicism in particular, is how to achieve a spiritual identity of mission, an existential democracy, if you will.”

      I see it this way: we all must be concerned with letting Jesus transform us, but the clergy’s role is to feed us spiritually so we can go out into the world to evangelize, feed the hungry etc. We should not be leaving everything up to “Father” when it comes to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, nor should we assume we’re fulfilling our role when we elbow Father out of the way inside the church while neglecting our own mission outside.

  8. EPMS says:

    I think Norm and Stephen K both made very important points in their respective postings dated November 3. How many impressionable little boys, “groomed” for the priesthood from an early age largely on the basis of their aptness to learn and eagerness to please those in authority, went on to seminary only to “wash out” when the real demands of this vocation became apparent? It’s not about dressing up and doing things in the sanctuary that others are not allowed to see, hear, or touch. It is a life of endless self-giving, with less and less support or prestige, unfortunately.

    • Thiedra Thomas says:

      do they teach altar boys how to run a parish, or do seminarians also get taught how to run a parish with accounting and stuff like that?

      maybe its like in olden times when a dad teaches his son his trade the son didnt go to school for that, and because the priest doesnt have a son the altar boys see the essential things and they study later in dept. even then i know some guys who didnt get to be priest even when they were so smart. maybe they dont know how to talk to people. at least more men are applying they might catch one good priest from them.

  9. EPMS says:

    Thiedra: Regarding your first paragraph—we wish!

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