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-   -   Women sacristans? (http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=204566)

Vittorio23 Dec 10, '07 5:08 pm

Women sacristans?
 
I'm interested in opinions on this matter... I was discussing the use of women sacristans with some friends who where firmly against it-- feeling that, like altar serving, it should be restricted to males only.

Thoughts?

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 10, '07 5:11 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vittorio23 (Post 3066827)
I'm interested in opinions on this matter... I was discussing the use of women sacristans with some friends who where firmly against it-- feeling that, like altar serving, it should be restricted to males only.

Thoughts?

totally agree with you friend

First of 9 Dec 10, '07 5:12 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
From at least 1954 through at least 1960 the sacristan at my parish was a woman.

Vittorio23 Dec 10, '07 5:15 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wifeandmomoftwo (Post 3066839)
totally agree with you friend

Can you elaborate, please?

Phemie Dec 10, '07 5:16 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vittorio23 (Post 3066827)
I'm interested in opinions on this matter... I was discussing the use of women sacristans with some friends who where firmly against it-- feeling that, like altar serving, it should be restricted to males only.

Thoughts?

Our sacristan is a woman, and a more devout faithful woman you are unlikely to find. She took on the job because nobody else would do it. It's been done by women in our parish since 1958 when the parish was established. Right now she'd like to retire but she can't find anyone to replace her.

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 10, '07 5:18 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vittorio23 (Post 3066852)
Can you elaborate, please?

I think that men should only be sacristans.

Phemie Dec 10, '07 5:19 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wifeandmomoftwo (Post 3066864)
I think that men should only be sacristans.

Why?

Extraordinary Dec 10, '07 5:19 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vittorio23 (Post 3066827)
I'm interested in opinions on this matter... I was discussing the use of women sacristans with some friends who where firmly against it-- feeling that, like altar serving, it should be restricted to males only.

Thoughts?

The Church does not even so much as hint about the preference of men over women when it comes to sacristans or sextons.

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 10, '07 5:26 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phemie (Post 3066871)
Why?

why do you think that woman should be allowed to do this??

Joannm Dec 10, '07 5:32 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
In convents, where there are no men, women have always served as sacristians.

puzzleannie Dec 10, '07 5:35 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
my opinion is of no earthly use on this issue, and neither is the opinion of any other poster. what is Catholic Church discipline? find something in writing that prohibits women from serving in this role and I will get excited, until then, an opinion and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee

Phemie Dec 10, '07 5:40 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wifeandmomoftwo (Post 3066902)
why do you think that woman should be allowed to do this??

Even the 1917 Code of Canon Law allowed women to be sacristans. I haven't yet been in a parish where the sacristan was a man. What is it about that ministry that you think should be reserved for men?

Lepanto Dec 10, '07 9:16 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phemie (Post 3066970)
Even the 1917 Code of Canon Law allowed women to be sacristans.

Please provide the appropriate citation.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phemie (Post 3066970)
What is it about that ministry that you think should be reserved for men?

As is the case for altar boys, the position of sacristan is traditionally seen as a breeding ground for priestly vocations. Sacristan --> Acolyte --> Deacon --> Priest.

Also, a woman will not be able to purify the sacred vessels -- a fundamental duty of any sacristan. (Particularly problematic at Masses that use a dozen chalices.)

Andreas Hofer Dec 10, '07 9:35 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lepanto (Post 3067695)
Also, a woman will not be able to purify the sacred vessels -- a fundamental duty of any sacristan. (Particularly problematic at Masses that use a dozen chalices.)

Purifying the vessels is a fundamental duty of any priest (and possibly a deacon), and it is a function that has been extended to acolytes, though it is not fundamental to their order. AFTER they have been purified, current discipline allows anyone to wash them, though it would seem especially appropriate to restrict contact with the sacred vessels to those in some sort of (not necessarily holy-) orders. As this can be hard to do, the next best thing, as with altar boys, would be to restrict contact to those who could hold orders.
******
For those wondering why the thread question even exists, here is the description of the office from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

...The Decretals of Gregory IX (lib. I, tit. xxvi, "De officio sacristæ speak of the sacristan as if he had an honourable office attached to a certain benefice, and say that his duty was to care for the sacred vessels, vestments, lights, etc. ...The "Cæremoniale episcoporum" prescribed that in cathedral and collegiate churches the sacristan should be a priest, and describes his duties in regard to the sacristy, the Blessed Eucharist, the baptismal font, the holy oils, the sacred relics, the decoration of the church for the different seasons and feasts, the preparation of what is necessary for the various ceremonies, the pregustation in pontifical Mass, the ringing of the church bells, the preservation of order in the church, and the distribution of Masses; and ...The Council of Trent desired that, according to the old canons, clerics should hold such offices; but in most churches, on account of the difficulty or impossibility of obtaining clerics, laymen perform many of the duties of the sacristan and under-sacristan.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13322a.htm

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 11, '07 3:49 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phemie (Post 3066970)
Even the 1917 Code of Canon Law allowed women to be sacristans. I haven't yet been in a parish where the sacristan was a man. What is it about that ministry that you think should be reserved for men?

The question was what do you think...I gave my reply to that question.
I know it is not stated anywhere that a woman cant hold the position it is just my preference not to see them hold it..just as it is my preference not to see EHMC's:D

I do agree with the view point of Lepanto and Hofer though!

puzzleannie Dec 11, '07 4:31 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lepanto (Post 3067695)
Also, a woman will not be able to purify the sacred vessels -- a fundamental duty of any sacristan. (Particularly problematic at Masses that use a dozen chalices.)

this is not a fundamental duty of the sacristan, it is the duty of the celebrant. it is the duty of the sacristan to keep the chalices and other plate clean after they have been purified.

THurifer2 Dec 11, '07 4:56 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Up until the last century sacristans were usually priests.

Altar societies still exist (at least in my parish) and much of their duties cross over into the sacristan job....

With that in mind. I believe a sacristan is to do their duty in silence and have a very very behind the scenes approach. Their duties should be done long before and long after people show up for Mass...this will help prevent any desire to look important and want to be "on stage".They have an important job...if done correctly most people will not even know who the sacristan is..

Unlike my opinion of female altar servers...I see nothing wrong with female sacristans....perhaps this is a good chance to get a young girl away from the altar boy corps and enlisted into the altar society.

TMC Dec 11, '07 7:17 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andreas Hofer (Post 3067731)
...... it would seem especially appropriate to restrict contact with the sacred vessels to those in some sort of (not necessarily holy-) orders. As this can be hard to do, the next best thing, as with altar boys, would be to restrict contact to those who could hold orders.

Why? Anyone can wash the vessels. Is there something wrong with women such that they should not handle them? Or are you saying that washing the vessels would lead to more vocations?

I have never heard of a gender restriction on sacristans and can't imagine why there would be one.

THurifer2 Dec 11, '07 7:27 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3068779)
Why? Anyone can wash the vessels. Is there something wrong with women such that they should not handle them? Or are you saying that washing the vessels would lead to more vocations?

I have never heard of a gender restriction on sacristans and can't imagine why there would be one.

I am thinking some are confusing Purifying vessels and washing them.

Only a priest, Deacon, or insitituted acolyte may purify the sacred vessels after communion. (purification is fyi is performing the ablutions following communion)

Since only men can be priests, deacons and acolytes then they are the only ones who can do the ablutions.

However washing the sacred vessels can be what is done long after mass and after the ablutions are done. And anyone can do that.

NewUlm1976_2000 Dec 11, '07 11:57 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vittorio23 (Post 3066827)
I'm interested in opinions on this matter... I was discussing the use of women sacristans with some friends who where firmly against it-- feeling that, like altar serving, it should be restricted to males only.

Thoughts?

There is nothing wrong with it. It is pretty common to see them in this ministry in the region. Women can be just as holy and do the ministry just as well. I hope the practice continues well into the future.

JimR-OCDS Dec 11, '07 12:26 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
When I was growing up in pre-vatican II Catholic School, the nuns of our parish were the sacristans.

After they left, women took over the job because men were unavailable, or clueless about it.

Jim

Lepanto Dec 11, '07 1:14 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NewUlm1976_2000 (Post 3069923)
There is nothing wrong with it.

According to whom?


Quote:

Originally Posted by NewUlm1976_2000 (Post 3069923)
It is pretty common to see them in this ministry in the region.

And that makes it right?


Quote:

Originally Posted by NewUlm1976_2000 (Post 3069923)
Women can be just as holy and do the ministry just as well.

The holiness of some women is not in question here. Moreover, being "more holy" than another person does not make one more qualified.

Cristiano Dec 11, '07 1:39 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lepanto (Post 3067695)
As is the case for altar boys, the position of sacristan is traditionally seen as a breeding ground for priestly vocations. Sacristan --> Acolyte --> Deacon --> Priest.

This is an interesting comment I never thought of it. In my experience since I was a kid in Italy I always remember the sacristan being an older man or someone unable to perform a regular job because of some handicap. Maybe I am wrong and that is just my perception.:o

NewUlm1976_2000 Dec 11, '07 2:16 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lepanto (Post 3070233)
According to whom?

And that makes it right?

The holiness of some women is not in question here. Moreover, being "more holy" than another person does not make one more qualified.

All the local bishops in the region allow it. I was actually trained in by a very holy woman sacristan (good person all around). There are no gender issues with it whatsoever. This ministry goes beyond a pure patrichical application.

puzzleannie Dec 11, '07 2:48 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
still waiting for OP or others to post official Vatican document limiting the role of sacristan to men. until this is forthcoming, I suggest we close this discussion, which is of no value whatever.

MarieVeronica Dec 11, '07 2:49 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
St. Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower) served as Sacristan for a time.. in her Carmelite Monestary community. This fact is mentioned in her life story.. "The Story of a Soul".;)

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 11, '07 2:53 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Vittorio23 (Post 3066827)
I'm interested in opinions on this matter... I was discussing the use of women sacristans with some friends who where firmly against it-- feeling that, like altar serving, it should be restricted to males only.

Thoughts?

Quote:

Originally Posted by puzzleannie (Post 3070684)
still waiting for OP or others to post official Vatican document limiting the role of sacristan to men. until this is forthcoming, I suggest we close this discussion, which is of no value whatever.

Puzzelannie...

Why stop the thread when he the OP is interested in our opinions on the subject?
He is not obligated to provide a Vatican document to prove anything, nor is any poster. Since he is only looking for our OPINIONS.

THurifer2 Dec 11, '07 3:09 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by NewUlm1976_2000 (Post 3070536)
All the local bishops in the region allow it.

This is NOT true...you live near Nebraska and one of the BEST bishops on the planet earth is in charge in Lincoln he does NOT allow women Sacristans.

love4mary Dec 11, '07 4:21 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
I am an EMHC, an Altar Server AND the Sacristan at my parish; oh and I am also a woman.

Most of the ministries are balanced between men and women, but the job of Sacristan at all three of our weekend Masses are women. Why?, because no men have come forward expressing an interest. Most just state that it requires too much "behind the scenes" work which would take away from the prayer of the Mass for them.

ThuribleGuy45 Dec 11, '07 4:54 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lepanto (Post 3067695)
Please provide the appropriate citation.



As is the case for altar boys, the position of sacristan is traditionally seen as a breeding ground for priestly vocations. Sacristan --> Acolyte --> Deacon --> Priest.

Also, a woman will not be able to purify the sacred vessels -- a fundamental duty of any sacristan. (Particularly problematic at Masses that use a dozen chalices.)



I don't see how the "breeding ground" comment can be correct. Back in the day - and even today I think - altar boys were typically recruited at the 4th & 5th grade levels. Hard to picture
2nd and 3rd-grade sacristans, no? I think the postings about "Ladies' Altar Societies" are much closer to the typical, traditional experiences of we seniors. And as noted by others, there is a BIG difference between the care & maintenance of the vessels and their purification in the liturgy.

jmcrae Dec 11, '07 5:17 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wifeandmomoftwo (Post 3066864)
I think that men should only be sacristans.

What difference could it possibly make? It's not like anyone ever sees the Sacristan. She or he works completely behind the scenes, when there is no one else in the Church, other than perhaps a few praying the Rosary or something.

As someone pointed out earlier, Little Thérèse (who has been declared both a Saint and a Doctor of the Church) was a Sacristan for most of her short life, and long before Vatican II, or the advent of feminism. Did she sin? :shrug:

(Her Confessor testified that she never committed anything but the smallest, most venial of sins. So, if it is sinful to be a Sacristan, it is not a serious sin.)

MusicMan Dec 11, '07 5:57 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by THurifer2 (Post 3070778)
This is NOT true...you live near Nebraska and one of the BEST bishops on the planet earth is in charge in Lincoln he does NOT allow women Sacristans.

Lincoln is an awful long way from Minnesota and the Diocese of Winona. I don't believe any Bishop in New Ulm's Province require Sacristans to be men. I also don't believe that any Bishop in the Province of Iowa requires Sacristans to be men. I know for a fact that the Bishops of the Province of Wisconsin have no requirement either. I'd say that New Ulm's statement is pretty much correct.

Just because the Bishop of Lincoln does something, it does not mean that is required of the rest of us. He is neither the Pope nor the Magesterium.

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 11, '07 5:58 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmcrae (Post 3071296)
What difference could it possibly make? It's not like anyone ever sees the Sacristan. She or he works completely behind the scenes, when there is no one else in the Church, other than perhaps a few praying the Rosary or something.

As someone pointed out earlier, Little Thérèse (who has been declared both a Saint and a Doctor of the Church) was a Sacristan for most of her short life, and long before Vatican II, or the advent of feminism. Did she sin? :shrug:

(Her Confessor testified that she never committed anything but the smallest, most venial of sins. So, if it is sinful to be a Sacristan, it is not a serious sin.)

WOW!
The OP asked for "opinions" I gave mine. Why is it so hard to understand that not everyone is RAH-RAH about woman sacristans? This is my opinion by the way...you dont have to agree just as I do not have to agree with your point of view:thumbsup:

jmcrae Dec 11, '07 6:10 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wifeandmomoftwo (Post 3071400)
WOW!
The OP asked for "opinions" I gave mine. Why is it so hard to understand that not everyone is RAH-RAH about woman sacristans? This is my opinion by the way...you dont have to agree just as I do not have to agree with your point of view:thumbsup:

What has "rah-rah" got to do with it? It shouldn't even matter - nobody ever sees the Sacristan, anyway.

Next we will be hearing that only men should be allowed to knit the altar cloths or sew the vestments, or make the coffee and put the cookies out after Mass, because of those ultra-sensitive young boys who will lose their Vocations if they come into any contact whatsoever with women, or even things that women might have touched, in Church. :rolleyes:

wifeandmomoftwo Dec 11, '07 6:12 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmcrae (Post 3071448)
Next we will be hearing that only men should be allowed to knit the altar cloths or sew the vestments, or make the coffee and put the cookies out after Mass

;)

THurifer2 Dec 12, '07 2:49 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MusicMan (Post 3071399)
Lincoln is an awful long way from Minnesota and the Diocese of Winona. I don't believe any Bishop in New Ulm's Province require Sacristans to be men. I also don't believe that any Bishop in the Province of Iowa requires Sacristans to be men. I know for a fact that the Bishops of the Province of Wisconsin have no requirement either. I'd say that New Ulm's statement is pretty much correct.

Just because the Bishop of Lincoln does something, it does not mean that is required of the rest of us. He is neither the Pope nor the Magesterium.

The person I quoted said region...The two closest churchs among those two dioceses is around 165 miles
Are you sure that is an AWFUL long ways?

The distance from Lincoln diocese to Winona diocese is shorter than a drive across my diocese....in fact I believe it is shorter than driving across each of the two dioceses themselves. SO in reality Two to the churches in Lincoln could be farther apart than a church in WInona and Lincoln.

MusicMan Dec 12, '07 3:44 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
It's 337 miles from New Ulm to Lincoln, NE. I know that Winona is a big diocese, and it's very wide geographically. I don't know anything about the geography of the Diocese of Lincoln.

What I do know is this: Unless they are right on the border with the Dakotas, when a Minnesotan says "regional," most people in the region think Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

With the Cathedra being so far apart, I think it stands to reason that when New Ulm says that all the Bishops in the region allow women sacristans, the statement is correct.

Furthermore, and this is to get my post back on topic .. I'm really confused. What is the OP's issue with women sacristans? That task is such a behind the scenes job that I'm completely baffled that so many people here even know they exist!

ora_pro_nobis Dec 12, '07 4:06 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Back in 1780, my church had a woman sacristan. Were it not for this brave lady, a lot of the church plate, including the chalice and ciborium would not have survived the Gordon Riots (heard of those, folks?). When the mob was rampaging through London, seeking to burn down any Catholic place they came across, she stayed behind when all clergy had fled, gathered up the precious vessels in her apron and carried them to safety. The chapel was burned down by the mob. The vessels survive to this day, because of the courage of a female sacristan.

sacristan1 Dec 12, '07 5:12 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
I am a Sacristan and an EMHC. I work very hard to make sure the Sanctuary, linens, decorations, etc., are ready for each Mass. I serve at daily Masses and on weekends setting up for Mass and cleaning up afterwards. I have 8 other ladies that work with me in the Sacristy and I have the highest regard for each of them and their dedication to their work. Most of the time we are not seen but the altar does not get set up by itself on weekdays when we have no servers and on weekends we still have to prepare everything for the servers to take to the Altar. I also serve as EMHC and take Communion to the sick and dying, comforting the family and attending funerals. I help the sick in whatever way I can. This is all volunteer work and I love what I do although at times it is very exhausting. It disturbs me that you think a woman should not do this job.

dixieagle Dec 13, '07 5:04 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sacristan1 (Post 3075427)
I am a Sacristan and an EMHC. I work very hard to make sure the Sanctuary, linens, decorations, etc., are ready for each Mass. I serve at daily Masses and on weekends setting up for Mass and cleaning up afterwards. I have 8 other ladies that work with me in the Sacristy and I have the highest regard for each of them and their dedication to their work. Most of the time we are not seen but the altar does not get set up by itself on weekdays when we have no servers and on weekends we still have to prepare everything for the servers to take to the Altar. I also serve as EMHC and take Communion to the sick and dying, comforting the family and attending funerals. I help the sick in whatever way I can. This is all volunteer work and I love what I do although at times it is very exhausting. It disturbs me that you think a woman should not do this job.

Thank you for your selfless and necessary (and entirely appropriate!) service.

I find the notion that women are unfit to do anything but sit quietly in church (preferably in their long jumpers and mantillas) profoundly ridiculous and disturbing.

Andreas Hofer Dec 14, '07 10:20 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3068779)
Why? Anyone can wash the vessels. Is there something wrong with women such that they should not handle them? Or are you saying that washing the vessels would lead to more vocations?

I have never heard of a gender restriction on sacristans and can't imagine why there would be one.

The restriction I'm suggesting isn't based primarily on sex, but on orders. Formerly, only those who had progressed to a certain stage of orders were allowed to touch the sacred vessels (I can't remember if this began at acolyte or subdeacon, but the restriction is much like the more stringent one that only a priest may touch the Sacrament itself). I think with our cultures' thorough lack of understanding of the sacred a continuation of that restriction on touching sacred items would be very helpful. Sex only comes it at the second level, at which we saw it used for centuries with altar serving, that if you can't have the actual minister you should at least have someone who could be the minister. At this point it makes sense that sense men can be clerics but women can't, there would be a precedent for, in the absence of legislation to the effect, still preferring males over females for the job.

I think a big difference in the lines of reasoning on this issue is one of the starting point. Those who start with the historic Church as referent look to centuries-long practices and say those should continue to be our standards even if they are no longer explicitly law. Those who start with what we are used to now ask "Why should we do anything else?" without giving tradition that same normative weight.


Quote:

Originally Posted by dixieagle (Post 3079606)
I find the notion that women are unfit to do anything but sit quietly in church (preferably in their long jumpers and mantillas) profoundly ridiculous and disturbing.

I also find straw men ridiculous and disturbing. Your caricature of the opinions expressed above helps no one.

jmcrae Dec 14, '07 10:32 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andreas Hofer (Post 3081957)
The restriction I'm suggesting isn't based primarily on sex, but on orders. Formerly, only those who had progressed to a certain stage of orders were allowed to touch the sacred vessels (I can't remember if this began at acolyte or subdeacon, but the restriction is much like the more stringent one that only a priest may touch the Sacrament itself). I think with our cultures' thorough lack of understanding of the sacred a continuation of that restriction on touching sacred items would be very helpful.

You are aware that the majority of crafts, including the metalworking and making of the sacred vessels for Church is done by women, right? (Because men have "real jobs" in offices, on the rigs, and on construction sites, etc.)

If they can create them, why can't they touch them, to lay them out or to wash them, or to put them away? This is the Sacristan we are talking about, which as I understand it, has always been a traditionally female task, because of its "behind the scenes" nature - in pre-Vatican II times, it was normally done by nuns.

TMC Dec 14, '07 10:39 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
OK, I understand your points, but I disagree with your reasoning. There are two points in particular I would like to comment on.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andreas Hofer (Post 3081957)
Sex only comes it at the second level, at which we saw it used for centuries with altar serving, that if you can't have the actual minister you should at least have someone who could be the minister. At this point it makes sense that sense men can be clerics but women can't, there would be a precedent for, in the absence of legislation to the effect, still preferring males over females for the job.

This doesn't make sense to me. You are a priest or you are not. An unordained man is not a half-priest or part way priest, he is no priest at all. The fact that he is the right gender for it is just irrelevant. It doesn't make him any more "priestly." Why not just take the best person for the job?

Quote:

I think a big difference in the lines of reasoning on this issue is one of the starting point. Those who start with the historic Church as referent look to centuries-long practices and say those should continue to be our standards even if they are no longer explicitly law. Those who start with what we are used to now ask "Why should we do anything else?" without giving tradition that same normative weight.
I think it is a question of how much to change tradition and why. If something is working well I would not change it without good reason in any context. In the religious context we also have to know something about why we do it lest we fall into some unexpected error. Applying that here, its not clear to me that the old way was working (the fact that the rule was changed may speak to this), or that there is not some good reason to change. As for looking at the why, if it was because sacristan was on teh route from acolyte to priest, that is not true anymore. If there was some more theological reason I have not heard it.

THurifer2 Dec 14, '07 11:56 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dixieagle (Post 3079606)
I find the notion that women are unfit to do anything but sit quietly in church (preferably in their long jumpers and mantillas) profoundly ridiculous and disturbing.

OH YEAH!!!!! well TAKE THIS!!!

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a22...och/jumper.jpg

puzzleannie Dec 14, '07 12:23 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wifeandmomoftwo (Post 3070722)
Puzzelannie...

Why stop the thread when he the OP is interested in our opinions on the subject?
He is not obligated to provide a Vatican document to prove anything, nor is any poster. Since he is only looking for our OPINIONS.

yes, and our opinions are worthless when it comes to matters concerning the liturgy or doctrine which are already covered by church law. I repeat, stupid useless discussion, why am I here? I am going to watch Christmas specials on Hallmark and drink hot chocolate.

jmcrae Dec 14, '07 12:27 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3082020)
This doesn't make sense to me. You are a priest or you are not. An unordained man is not a half-priest or part way priest, he is no priest at all. The fact that he is the right gender for it is just irrelevant. It doesn't make him any more "priestly." Why not just take the best person for the job?

That's a good point - there is absolutely no difference in status between males and females among lay people, and to the best of my knowledge, being a Sacristan has never been considered an "order" of the priesthood (otherwise they would not have employed nuns to do these tasks in pre-Vatican II times).

dixieagle Dec 14, '07 6:58 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by THurifer2 (Post 3082338)

Thanks, but no; looks too much like my old Immaculate Conception School uniform. ;)

Andreas Hofer Dec 15, '07 8:22 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmcrae (Post 3082000)
If they can create them, why can't they touch them, to lay them out or to wash them, or to put them away? This is the Sacristan we are talking about, which as I understand it, has always been a traditionally female task, because of its "behind the scenes" nature - in pre-Vatican II times, it was normally done by nuns.

When a chalice, for instance, is created, it is a cup. Once it has been consecrated - set apart for divine service - it is a sacred vessel, and thus traditionally restricted to clerics. And, look again at the CE article I excerpted for you - cathedral sacristans were once legally required to be priests, and Trent desired that the post be given to clerics. Thus even if due to a lack of these a woman got the job (which I also highly doubt was the traditional practice, since it conflicts not only with my experience of traditional but also other experiences on this very thread), it was as a concession, not an ideal.

Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3082020)
This doesn't make sense to me. You are a priest or you are not. An unordained man is not a half-priest or part way priest, he is no priest at all. The fact that he is the right gender for it is just irrelevant. It doesn't make him any more "priestly." Why not just take the best person for the job?

Really all I can say here is that I'm not the one who came up with the principle that clerical duties should be reserved to males. It wasn't until the mid- to late Middle Ages that women were allowed to sing in the choir, because that was a clerical task. People knew that lay men were not clerics, but they drew a line at sex. And even once women were allowed in the choir, the job of cantoring was reserved to men, such that (be it by law or simply custom) if the propers were being sung by a single individual this was reserved to a male even into the twentieth century. Altar serving provides another example. Although boys were not clerics, and thus just as lay as girls, they were allowed to serve "as" clerics while women were never permitted "on the altar" (so to speak) until the 1990s. In a parallel case, consider that when women were finally allowed to read in place of a lector (a cleric) for the first time, also in the mid-twentieth century, they were supposed to do this from outside the sanctuary. The main trend I'm picking up here is that even as old distinctions are oh-so-gradually worn down over the course of centuries, certain preferences or restrictions still generally obtain for quite a while as conservative pull toward the old norms.

Andreas Hofer Dec 15, '07 8:22 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3082020)
I think it is a question of how much to change tradition and why. If something is working well I would not change it without good reason in any context. In the religious context we also have to know something about why we do it lest we fall into some unexpected error. Applying that here, its not clear to me that the old way was working (the fact that the rule was changed may speak to this), or that there is not some good reason to change. As for looking at the why, if it was because sacristan was on teh route from acolyte to priest, that is not true anymore. If there was some more theological reason I have not heard it.

And hence we arrive here. It is of course, a question of being open to prudent revision of tradition. But there is also the serious question of assessing the wisdom of the rather precipitious changes introduced in the 70s which even Pope Benedict himself has expressed suspicion and outright dissatisfaction over, often precisely because of how rashly they were accomplished. The dichotomy I tried to sketch above (between start with tradition and start with now) isn't a difference between people who think you need a good reason to change and those who don't, but between people who question current practice because they wonder if there was sufficient reason to institute it to begin with on the one hand, and on the other hand those who say we would need a good reason to suggest changing from what we do, in fact, now have. One says "Because of what we did think then, I doubt there is enough reason to seriously depart from it, despite what may be allowed now" whereas the other says "Because we have a discipline in force, you're going to have to bring sufficient evidence to get me to show a preference toward traditional practice that is not explicit in the law."

So I'm not saying it's clear that we should have only clerics touch the sacred vessels, or that only men should be able to touch them, but I would also certainly not admit that it's clear there needed to be a change. I am saying that we know from the pope's own mouth that certain ill-advised changes were rushed through in the liturgical reform, so I think we have fair reasons to question our current norms in light of traditional law and custom. From there I say that despite conceding the legality of female sacristans, it might be wisest to adhere as closely as we reasonably can to our traditional restrictions. If all the men in a parish are disinterested ignoramuses, well then appoint a woman and get the job done, but if there is a qualified man and a qualified woman, I would default to the man in deference to tradition.

Quote:

Originally Posted by puzzleannie (Post 3082425)
yes, and our opinions are worthless when it comes to matters concerning the liturgy or doctrine which are already covered by church law. I repeat, stupid useless discussion, why am I here? I am going to watch Christmas specials on Hallmark and drink hot chocolate.

It is absolutely false that our opinions are worthless so long as there is a law on the books. That is unadulterated legal positivism, as if a law is good simply by the fact of its promulgation. We have to obey the laws, not agree with them, and we are also fully entitled to give our opinions to our sacred pastors for the good of the church. So if we - especially those of us with degrees in theology or canon law - are able to hold opinions on the matter and even submit them to the hierarchy, I don't see why these would be worthless. If one of a bishop's lay friends comes up to him and says he thinks there is a good argument for only using one among a set of options, do you think the bishop is apt to tell him about how his opinion is worthless in light of the mere existence of another option?

TMC Dec 15, '07 10:36 am

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andreas Hofer (Post 3085248)
It is absolutely false that our opinions are worthless so long as there is a law on the books. That is unadulterated legal positivism, as if a law is good simply by the fact of its promulgation. We have to obey the laws, not agree with them, and we are also fully entitled to give our opinions to our sacred pastors for the good of the church. So if we - especially those of us with degrees in theology or canon law - are able to hold opinions on the matter and even submit them to the hierarchy, I don't see why these would be worthless. If one of a bishop's lay friends comes up to him and says he thinks there is a good argument for only using one among a set of options, do you think the bishop is apt to tell him about how his opinion is worthless in light of the mere existence of another option?

I think you are on both sides of legal positivism here. If we should keep the old rule merely because it was a rule for many years, even if we see no good reason for it, why should we reject the current rule now merely because we don't see a reason to change? If the old rule was important just because it was the rule, why is the same not true for the new rule?

Andreas Hofer Dec 15, '07 12:10 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3085586)
I think you are on both sides of legal positivism here. If we should keep the old rule merely because it was a rule for many years, even if we see no good reason for it, why should we reject the current rule now merely because we don't see a reason to change? If the old rule was important just because it was the rule, why is the same not true for the new rule?

Well, actually one of the properties of good law in general is stability - too much change erodes the power of law so from that standpoint we shouldn't change it unless we think it is necessary to achieve some good. This is why Benedict did not immediately change liturgical laws he doesn't like, etc. and also why I wouldn't changing our current (lack of) law on sacristans if we could achieve a reasonable situation without doing so.

But I'm not arguing that we should adhere to the traditional norms merely because they were the norms. I actually tried to articulate two principles within those older norms which suggest to me that we should continue to try to approximate them as closely as possible. The first principle is that contact with the sacred should be restricted. That which is most sacred (the Eucharist) should continue to be restricted to the hands of the ordained, and that most closely associated with the Eucharist (primarily the vessels in which it is contained) should be restricted to those who have somehow been dedicated to sacred service (in our present legal reality, this would probably extend to acolytes). Here as well, I don't simply recognize that this is the older principle but I think it remains key for Catholicism today, when a misunderstanding or total lack of the concept of the sacred leads to many deformations of practice and even of the faith.

The second principle, then, was that in the absence of those who are allowed to perform a clerical function (in this case handling the sacred vessels), we try to fill the job with someone who could be a cleric. I think I gave sufficient historical examples of this above. When a principle is a old as this one we owe it deference because we need to give it the benefit of the doubt that there is some good reasoning behind it. Here I think the reasoning is that we don't want the exercise of the ministry by someone not actually instituted in it to confuse ourselves or others about the nature of that ministry. So if we think service at the altar, for instance, is an essentially clerical function, aren't we sending a confusing message by letting someone serve who could never possibly be a cleric? Or if we think the office of sanctifying is entrusted primarily to the bishop, then the pastor, etc., what kind of message would be saying by having a deacon confer a blessing while the bishop is standing right beside him? (canonically, those in lower orders are supposed to defer to those in higher orders - this conveys our belief about the fullness of the priesthood in the episcopacy)

So the argument runs: If we continue to value our sense of the sacred (which I think we should) and we also think our non-ideal practice should try not to obscure the principles behind ideal practice (which I also think remains valid), and both these principles were in fact the operating principles of the Church for many centuries until very recently, shouldn't we demand compelling positive reasons to depart from the principles? Sacrosanctum Concilium itself said that there should be no change unless truly necessary (not just possibly beneficial), yet no one has presented any evidence as to why it might have been necessary to alter our restrictions on contact with the sacred. Why then should we not ask to see these reasons and, while waiting, seek to continue obeying the operative principles we have received through tradition?

Lepanto Dec 16, '07 2:25 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TMC (Post 3082020)
This doesn't make sense to me. You are a priest or you are not. An unordained man is not a half-priest or part way priest, he is no priest at all.

The sacrament is called Holy Orders (plural), because yes, it actually does have different levels. Only the bishop has the fullness of orders, whereas the following participate in it, but to a lesser degree:
- priest
- deacon
- reader
- acolyte

And in a non-sacramental yet still liturgical way:
- candidacy

All are men.

Phemie Dec 16, '07 4:00 pm

Re: Women sacristans?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lepanto (Post 3090007)
The sacrament is called Holy Orders (plural), because yes, it actually does have different levels. Only the bishop has the fullness of orders, whereas the following participate in it, but to a lesser degree:
- priest
- deacon
- reader
- acolyte

And in a non-sacramental yet still liturgical way:
- candidacy

All are men.

Readers and acolytes are not part of Holy Orders. They are steps to it, but the first level of Ordination is to the Diaconate.


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