My friend Dorothy at Edinburgh Housewife writes marvelously about the silences in the Traditional Latin Mass during Lent but also adds a little observation about the role of women in the Church. My emphases.
Nothing says 1970s/1980s like a big old-fashioned screen at the front of the church with someone putting on and taking away the plastic pages. But I associate Trad Mass with my theological education, with taking up at long last my vocation (Christian marriage), with the struggle to embrace middle age with dignity and new, sometimes startling, insights about what it is to be a woman in the Church.
For example, it is really quite staggering to realize, after decades of being told women need to DO MORE and that the BEST jobs are (by unspoken definition) the traditionally MALE jobs, and becoming the First Female this and the First Female that is really a wonderful achievement, that sometimes the best thing girls and women can do for public worship is NOT to volunteer to be lectors, cantors, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and altar servers. There is a real beauty and discipline in standing back so that slowly men will go forward to take the roles appropriate to them, to do the work they should be doing and, God willing, by their example awaken boys in our parishes to the voice of God calling them to priesthood. Will the men thank us for our sacrifice, for our resistance to our natural womanly desire to please the priests who ask us to take these roles? Probably not (at least, not in words), but that doesn’t matter.
From your quotation: There is a real beauty and discipline in standing back so that slowly men will go forward to take the roles appropriate to them, to do the work they should be doing and, God willing, by their example awaken boys in our parishes to the voice of God calling them to priesthood. (boldface removed)
The laws of the Catholic Church pertaining to exercise of liturgical and sacramental ministry by the laity make no distinction whatsoever between lay men and lay women. Even in mission lands where catechists are routinely granted faculties to baptize solemnly due to lack of clergy, the ministry of catechist is open to lay women and to lay men equally. The original norms for appointment of extraordinary ministry of communion, promulgated in the late 1970’s, were explicit in this regard, putting “lay men and lay women” in the same enumerated category even while putting “religious men” in a separate category before “religious women” in the list of precedence.
Here, the author’s looking toward lay liturgical ministry as something that will “awaken boys in our parishes to the voice of God calling them to priesthood” also is seriously misguided. Rather, lay liturgical ministries are distinct from ordained ministry. Here, the norms promulgated by the Second Vatican Council in the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum concillium on divine worship are quite clear.
Rather, what is really necessary to awaken vocations to ordained ministry, and also to religious life, is true conversion to authentic Christian faith. People who have surrendered their lives to our Lord do not hold back from his calling, which persists until we obey it.
Yes, I think that excluding girls and women from roles canonically open to any layperson on the basis that otherwise boys will be discouraged from wanting to grow up to be priests does not stand up to objective examination. Boys still want to be in the NHL despite the increased participation of girls in hockey. And they are still trying hard to get into medical and dental school, even though their family doctor or dentist may have been a woman. Would you prevent a man from volunteering in the nursery, or serving at coffee hour, lest girls get turned off their future role in the parish?
“Snapdragon” has an interesting article in this month’s Portal magazine which discusses this point, among others. http://www.portalmag.co.uk