Women servers at the tridentine mass


i know that women are allowed to be servers at mass, however, i would love to be a server at a tridentine mass, but i have never seen women serve there and was wondering whether it was banned or something? it would seem strange to ban it when it is allowed in the ‘new mass’



You may find this interesting

It is not simply “allowed” in the Novus Ordo. Priests can choose their own servers. If they do not want to allow girls to serve, they don’t have to. Those who don’t allow girls to serve probably have reasons they consider more important than inclusiveness. Since many in the traditional community (and even in the not-so-traditional, but orthodox community) consider female servers to be a caving of the Church to secular society, it is VERY unlikely that they would allow altar girls. I do not know any priest who celebrates the Tridentine Mass who would allow it.

The Bishop has to allow the option first. Then its up to the individual parish pastor to actually use female servers or not. Our archiodese allows for female servers but a previous pastor only used boys. So the approval has to come from the Bishop first that his pastors may have that option. If the Bishop says only boys may serve, the pastors have no power to use females.


ive read through the comments and it does seem to be a very interesting discussion, although it doesnt really answer my question!

As a bit of background, im not yet a catholic, but in the process of converting. I regularly attend tridentine masses, as well as the new mass, but i have a real facination and interest in liturgy and ritual. I am already on the road to becoming a server at the new mass once im received into the church, but my real passion is with the tridentine mass.

From the posts in your poll, it gives me the impression that women are ‘forbidden’ to enter the sanctuary, are we not holy enough or something? I think some people just need to calm down and realise that there are women out there who want to be servers, and who would do a fantastic job at it and arent interested in becoming priests (or trying to become priests). After all, i know men who serve the traditional mass who will never be priests, yet they are still allowed to do it. so, what is the difference?? After all, the traditional mass isnt exactly as it was previously, i mean, how many people fast for 12 hours before receiving communion?? I guess it must be ok to change some things but not others, and if this is the case, then stop being so hung up about women servers!


While I agree with your statement that women should be allowed to be servers, many people see altar servers in the traditional way of basically an acolyte on his way to becoming a priest. Since women cannot be priests, people fear by allowing women to be altar servers gives hope that women may be priests. They forget that the Pope has said numerous times that even if the Church wanted to, it could not validly ordain women priests.

Like I said, I agree with women servers, just know that those with other views are not being sexist, simply standing up for what they see as an attack on tradition.

Its wonderful that your coming into the Church and that you have such a love for the more traditional form of the mass, but you can not come into The Church and want to change everything just to suit your own wants. Girl altar boys are one of the worst liturgical abuses out there and you want to try and screw up the Mass of the ages just because its not fair for women…well your in for a wake up call if your going to the Tridentine Mass. I say that because we who go to the Tridentine Mass have a more traditional conservative view on the church and many issues, so don’t plan on girl altar boys in the EF mass ever!

First, in the United States, female altar servers were to be allowed with the permission of the Bishop (and actually trained/used by the pastors) with the idea that it would be for instances where there were not enough young men interested in being altar servers to fill a Sunday schedule. Some Bishops have chosen to be more liberal with granting permission than others, but nonetheless, that is how female altar servers came to be in the United States. I mention this because I do not know how they came to be in England, but assume it was along this same logic. Please correct me if I am wrong with that assumption.

As to your specific question, I think it’s important to remember the purpose of the altar server, especially in the TLM. While there to assist the priest in the performance of Mass, it is also a learning opportunity for young men to become more familiar with the Mass. Say, at any given parish, you have 30 boys who have decided to become altar servers. Naturally, not all 30 of these boys will want to continue being altar servers, but those who do want to become more involved may eventually become sub-deacons. Again, this leads to a natural elimination which results in a handful of deacons, and from that group, there may be a couple of priests. The whole idea is that it is almost a ‘training’ process that prepares young men for the priesthood, and since women cannot be priests, the point of putting them in ‘priestly training’ loses its appeal.

Think of it in this sense. It is perfectly acceptable to use NFP in your marriage, even for prevention (at least for a certain period of time) because that ‘chance’ is always there for conception. However, when you use contraception, you are eliminating the opportunity for the act to achieve its end. In the same way, your male friends may not want to be priests, but who knows when one may receive that calling. On the other hand, since women can never be priests, this argument cannot hold for them as well.

And although the requirements to fast are no longer in place, I personally know many people that still maintain a fast, whether it be 12 hours or no food from midnight on until mass has been attended. The same goes for no meat on Fridays - just because it isn’t required doesn’t mean everyone stops doing it.

If the Bishop allows female altar servers, as is clearly the case, then it is up to the pastor, and my experiences with the TLM is that orthodoxy is upheld as best it can be, so rather than getting frustrated with the situation, perhaps you can only serve at the OF while still attending the EF. And if you are truly that concerned, you can always talk to the pastor.

i am well aware of the conservative view of a lot of people who attend the tridentine masses, and while i agree with a lot of things they say, i have to disagree on others. i find it shocking that a lot of traditionalists think that women servers ‘distract’ the boys, but then again, male priests/servers distract women as well, it goes both ways and cant be used as an excuse. Ive mentioned the pervious argument that men are allowed to be servers even though there is no chance of them ever becoming priests. Also, some of the traditional aspects of the tridentine mass arent in use any more (ie 12 hour fasting). It just seems that the traditionalists attack anything that allows women any kind of roles in the church other than being a wife/mother/nun. I do not want to do any of these, nor do i feel called to any of them. Some traditionalists need to allow women to follow their vocations…

The use of women to replace men in serving Mass is a relatively new indult even for the Novus Ordo. Because the indult has been given only with the new Mass in mind, it doesn’t seem to apply to the traditional Mass, for a law is to be interpreted according to the intention. The regulations for the traditional Mass come from two sources: the SRC decrees until 1962 and the decisions of the Ecclesia Dei Commission (now under the Holy Office or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Pope Benedict has insisted and reiterated that there is to be no mixing of the new rite with the traditional Mass. While it is possible that some developments could occur in either one, they are regulated as two separate rites (or “forms” of the same rite, if you prefer), just as one would not interpret rubrical decisions (much less, indults) of the Byzantine rite as relevant to the Melkite rite or any of the Latin rites.

What’s more, it would simply look ridiculous for a woman to serve at the traditional Mass. It is also interesting to note that the above evaluation is also true of receiving holy Communion standing or in the hand.

I’ve never heard of the 'distraction argument before, so I won’t comment on it. I’ve also addressed my views on this matter in relation to fasting, so that doesn’t need to be touched on. What does concern me is your ‘anger’ (for lack of a better word) that women are not involved in the TLM. The truth is that only altar servers and priests are involved. Perhaps you could be an usher, or involved with the music for high masses, but at the end of the day, the majority of people, both men and women, participate through prayer only - which is still an amazing thing.

You mentioned that you are in training to be a female altar server for the OF. Does this not fulfill ‘your vocation’ as you see it? Also, I don’t know if you intended it to be used this way, but your tone implies that what you believe your ‘vocation’ to be is more than just an altar server, which does cause me to worry.

you seem to be quite perceptive. Before my journey to the catholic church began i was a priestess in a different religious system, and ive also been offered ordination in the liberal catholic church (they have valid apostolic succession but ordain women). But, i have given these up to become a catholic, although i do feel a little annoyed that the role i once had i am no longer allowed. In many senses, avoiding the catholic church would be much easier for me as i am a bit of a feminist, but God has called me to be a part of the catholic church and i cant really say no to God can i?

God is calling for you, but He is asking for sacrifices. You mentioned that you were a priestess in a different system - well, to quote St. Thomas More - abandon your heretic ways and embrace the bride of Christ! You are being called for a reason, and giving up this desire to be part of the priesthood is part of the journey.

Remember that God does all things with purpose. Christ had many faithful women who followed and believed in Him, but none of them were made priests, nor sent as deacons to spread the Word. This was not mere chance - it was a decision made by God as part of His divine plan, and whether we choose to embrace the plan or rebel against it, we are all subject to it. As was previously noted by another poster, even the Church does not have the authority to ordain women because Christ did not give that opportunity to us. It may be hard, but so is the path to salvation, and God has mercy on those who sacrifice in His name.

To the OP one thing about being Catholic is learning to be obedient and humble. You are just comming into the Church and already you want to “wrecknovate” the TLM mass. Look you are not going to see altar server girls in the TLM, there will be a TLM in every parish in the US before that happens. I know I may sound harsh, but do you know how many groups worked so hard and waited so long to have this form of the mass to be able to be celebrated without that much hassle from the Bishops or priest? Although my opinion is that girls should not serve my opinion does not matter and I remain obedient and just let it be because the Church has allowed it, you must do the same when it comes to the TLM. Pray and pray much for humility so that you can be obedient.

ok, so maybe i could be a bit more humble. but it does annoy me that one of the things i am good at (leading rituals and organising liturgy) is the one thing im denied.

and as for the catholic church, the real presence in the eucharist is one of the things keeping me in the church(nowhere else has it, even those places that claim to), otherwise i would probably stray to the anglican church or something similar. i just feel oppressed and trapped - the tridentine mass is for me the best expression of catholic worship, yet i will only be able to take part in it as a member of the congregation. its all just rather frustrating to think of joining a church where there is no place for me in the future

ok, so maybe i could be a bit more humble. but it does annoy me that one of the things i am good at (leading rituals and organising liturgy) is the one thing im denied.

and as for the catholic church, the real presence in the eucharist is one of the things keeping me in the church(nowhere else has it, even those places that claim to), otherwise i would probably stray to the anglican church or something similar. i just feel oppressed and trapped - the tridentine mass is for me the best expression of catholic worship, yet i will only be able to take part in it as a member of the congregation. its all just rather frustrating to think of joining a church where there is no place for me in the future

One of the reasons people go to the Tridentine Mass is to get away from the sense of “modern” that they find in the Pauline Mass - this would include women taking part as readers and altar servers.

As to the holiness of women, bear in mind that Mary the mother of Jesus, a married lay woman, is the Queen of Heaven, and you as a woman are created to be like her. :slight_smile:

The bottom line is that no, you will most likely not be permitted to serve at a Tridentine Mass - you will have to simply sit back, then, and be served. :wink:

ok, so maybe i could be a bit more humble. but it does annoy me that one of the things i am good at (leading rituals and organising liturgy) is the one thing im denied.

You could become a Catechist for children. There are plenty of opportunities for Catechists to develop liturgies and lead in ritual actions with and for children - obviously, these are not Sacramental liturgies or rituals, but they are nevertheless very valuable, and help to lead the children to the Sacraments. :slight_smile:

thanks for your suggestions, but im not a particular fan of children (which is why i dont want children myself) so i think teaching them would be a bad idea. im not the motherly type!

i guess i will see what the church has in store for me in the future when i am finally allowed to join, but i do feel that the catholic church would be perfect for me if only i was a man!

There is most certainly a place for you, it’s just not what you thought it would be. Even the laity have their places in the Church.

Dear curumba13,

It is wonderful that you feel called the One Holy and Catholic and Apostolic Church. I too am in the process of converting (from Atheism) and love the TLM. My approach to things tends to be intellectual which is one reason why I think I like the Latin Mass, so many more layers of meaning to unravel. I am also very pro-woman, although I avoid the word feminist because of its association with very anti-woman things like abortion, and so I thought I might share with you some of what I have come to understand about why the Church has a male only priesthood and why male only servers might be a better option.

If we assume that the Catholic Church truly is what it says it is, and the Pope truly is who he says he is, then we must accept that it is God who does not want woman to be priests, not just a bunch of old dudes with outdated opinions. But how can this be? Obviously God is not sexist, but He does fully understand human nature and I think that His prohibition has more to do with a “defect” in men then any that lack of holiness in woman.

When we look at anthropology we see that in all cultures at all times there has been a “division of labor.” Some tasks were only for woman, some only for men. Cultures do not come from nowhere but develop in response to human needs. Some needs are particular to the environment a people live in, like warm clothing in cold climates, or medicine for snake bites in the tropics, but other needs are universal and we see the same adaptations again and again. These things we can take to be basic human truths since they occur everywhere we are. So what is the basic human truth that leads to the division of labor? (Please don’t be offended guys)…Men are lazy.

They become disengaged far more easily than woman. When traditional cultures are altered by contact with modern conveniences and monetary systems the inevitable outcome is that the men feel less important and powerful, and not knowing how to deal with those feelings end up just leaving. You end up with whole villages of nothing but woman and children which of course is not healthy for a strong and moral community. Men need to have roles which only they can perform or they feel unneeded. I think God knows this.

I think He knows that if woman were allowed to be priests men would become even more removed from religion then they already are. Woman will show up for Christ one way or another (consider who stayed at the foot of the cross and who ran away and hid behind a locked door). Accepting an all male priesthood might feel like a sacrifice but it is one we woman can make as a gesture of charity to men who, for whatever reason, seem to need a little more encouragement in their faith. Each gender has its strengths and weaknesses and, although we are of course all individuals, to pretend that we are really the same is not supported by science or history.

I hope that helps.

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