Saturday, November 26, 2011

"They're Going After My Girls"

When you read the caption of this post, what was the image conjured in your mind? Bullying? Some other variety of physical intimidation? Perhaps some kind of emotional torment? At the very least, a sort of threat, right?

Nope. These are the words used by Jennifer Zickel to describe either the Catholic Church or her priest upon hearing that her parish wouldn't be having female altar servers anymore.

Oh, the humanity! I'm betting there's a Lifetime movie in production right now to bring this story of oppression and struggle to the public at large.

The whole story is at the Washington Post:

Tucked in with announcements about a new electronic donation system and a church dinner at Margarita’s Mexican restaurant was news that Zickel, the mother of two girls, had been dreading: Corpus Christi would no longer train girls to be altar servers.

Zickel burst into tears and ran to the bathroom.

“I knew right then that our family couldn’t stay at this church anymore,” Zickel said, her voice breaking. “I’m a mama bear, and they’re going after my girls.”

Who knew bears were so melodramatic?

The decision last fall by Corpus Christi’s pastor, the Rev. Michael Taylor, and the response of Zickel and about a dozen other families who left the 1,100-family South Riding church reflect ongoing tensions among American Catholics over the role of women. About 50 families from across the country wrote letters of protest to the Arlington Catholic Diocese, and a vigil is scheduled for Sunday outside the diocese’s offices.

Last fall? Are you freaking kidding me? Why is this a story now?

Looking at the rest of this tragicomic paragraph, I wonder if these dozen families were all personally affected by this decision or if they are just looking to make a statement. I suppose it doesn't really matter. It's just another example of people having little or no respect for authority. Holding a vigil? I wonder how many other vigils they've had and for what cause. Hopefully, they've opted for a few occasions that were actually Catholic, rather than this sort of immature pouting.

Perhaps next they'll protest non-Catholics being barred from communion. Or those in mortal sin even. Or just skip to the chase and demand women priests.

Interestingly enough, although this story made the Washington Post, the line coming from the diocese is pretty tame:

Caitlin Bootsma, the diocese’s spokeswoman, said she thinks the number of displeased parishioners is very small.

“The rest of the community either supports it or is getting used to it,” she said. In the diocese overall, “we don’t hear much on the issue at all anymore.”

Which makes sense considering that the girls already participating were allowed to continue. They just had to wear white, while the boys wear black.

Maybe we should go back to Blessed John XXIII's policy and not even allow women in the sanctuary, period. Make sure his name is attached to the decision and watch the liberal heads explode from apoplexy.

If I can just add a small bit here. Have you ever watched the interactions of young boys and young girls? At this age, boys are drawn to things that they perceive as activities that are for boys. The minute girls show up to participate, the boys will lose interest. You can observe this anywhere, but if you've been especially unlucky, you've seen it in your parish since girls started on the whole altar serving thing. My parish used to field half a dozen servers for any given Mass. When the girls started, it was down to 1 or 2 within a couple of years. The boys didn't want to do it anymore. Think about that when someone mentions the vocations crisis. Ask yourself or any protesting parishioners you might know if we are doing everything we can to address the crisis. Consider that maybe we aren't and that this course of action might be something that would help.


Jennifer said...

How sad and pathetic.

Stamping her feet because she can't go into Bluebeard's room.

Paige said...

your last paragraph is exactly what our Pastor said a few weeks ago in his Q&A session with the RCIA group. He tries to separate them so they don't serve together.
But it's true, all having altar girls will do for us is lower the number of boys who are close enough to the Sacrament to hear the Call, and expand the number of girls who wonder why, with one foot in the door they are being turned away.
Modern society doesn't understand this at all, and so they think we're some kind of backwards weirdos, but equality does not equal "same." It's kind of weird the things people will pick battles over. Makes you wonder how many Catholic doctrines were even being held in that particular household.

Anonymous said...

A mother is upset because her daughters would not be permitted to become altar servers, and you mock her for being upset and questioning the motives of people who protest, and criticize them for being insufficiently obedient. The petty tone of your comments and speculating that those with whom you disagree harbor other, unstated, objectionable opinions is high-school debate stuff.

Re-reading your comment, it seems that the overall purpose of the post is to make fun of the people protesting. I suppose that the last paragraph contains your point – that point being that girls serving as altar servers is bad. That is supported by your anecdotal observation that when you add girls as altar servers, you think boys won’t do serve any longer. My inference is that you don’t have altar-serving age children. I do. Several of them.

Boys do not fail to become altar servers because girls are altar servers. Boys do not become altar servers because their parents let them join hockey leagues that practice on Sunday mornings, or who don’t want to serve in front of a congregation and their parents refuse to say “too bad” and make them do it, or the parents go to Mass and the kids stay at home and play Xbox because it was not worth the fight.

The comments about the role of girls as altar servers in the vocations crisis is speculation or, if you will, wishful thinking. If you were serious about that argument, you would point to the vocations rates of parishes that keep girls off the altar with those who do not, but you don’t, because that data does not exist. It is just humbug.

My daughters were active in the Mass through high school, as altar servers and Eucharistic ministers. If my parish eliminates girls from alter service, I may not leave my parish, but I will reduce my contributions to something like zero and let the parish know the reason I have done so. Only, the comment relating to girls’ reaction to being close to the action (pun intended) is close to the mark. My daughters remain highly-observant Catholics, but I would be surprised if they do not leave the church at some point for a church that is more congenial to their participation.

Throwback said...

Thank you for your readership and comments.

Regarding your points. Someone who indulges melodrama to the extent portrayed in the article opens themselves up for criticism, hence the opening paragraph of my post. Nobody is "coming for" this woman's children and her statement to that effect is sensational and absurd.

On the rest, I think it's a natural reaction to question the motives/beliefs of those who react in such a way. Her daughters certainly have no right to be altar servers. There is no injustice here since they aren't being deprived of anything they are due. Why respond in this manner? Why make is a public issue?

Your comment about pettiness is interesting, since failing to support the Church financially because of no girl altar servers strikes me as exactly that. Wouldn't that be violating a precept of the Church? As to why boys don't seek vocations, I'm unclear of why your speculation and anecdotes are somehow valid while mine aren't. While data per se doesn't exist on the topic, the stories about groups like the FSSP and other traditional communities (heck, even the SSPX) are always about how they fill seminaries to bursting. Just an observation.

By the way, I have three kids, two of whom are of sufficient age and do serve at the altar.