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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obedience in Faith

God's sense of humor is always striking, that is, when it's not subtle. And sometimes it's both, because He often uses irony. At least, with me.

While I would not call myself a rad-trad by any means, I definitely lean to the right. For example, I don't like Contemporary Christian music in the Mass, and while I can tolerate SOME Haugen-Haas, an entire Mass of bad theology in music does make me go cross-eyed. But I've seen what some of the Christian rock-type music has done to draw some kids into the church and help their faith increase, even they outgrow the music and begin to beg for the timeless polyphony that many of us crave for its truth and beauty, and honor given to God.

And I don't believe that girls should be alter servers. Yet if they are allowed in a particular parish, I just accept that fact. For I see that all the girls fall away and go on to other things, while the boys remain, become seminarians, and often an adult man serves Mass when no alter servers are otherwise present.

Further, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are overused, in my not so humble opinion. And I have never felt called to that particular service, although earlier this year Father mentioned that he could train us. But it hasn't happened, and I've been relieved.

In any case, I far prefer to fade into the background in the church, to organize what I have to for work, but during Mass, take a back seat, be present, and pray. But not be visible. Because holiness doesn't depend on what others see us doing during Mass up in front of everyone.

But over the last couple days, given some of the questions that arose at the parent meetings, I came to see that being trained at that parish as an Extraordinary Minister could have value. Because I could answer questions as to how things are done at that specific parish.

Yet I'm still not willing to just volunteer to Father and ask him to train us, although he would do it in a heartbeat. I actually have the impression that he WANTS us to take on that role at Masses we attend there, or are involved with, thought he hasn't come right out and stated it as such.

Well, last night, I went into the chapel, and again today, I said the same prayer...I told Jesus that although I don't want to serve in that particular capacity, if Father asks me to do so, or any other capacity, I will take it as a request from the Lord Himself, and I'll obey. I'll surrender to God's will in that, and just asked for direction as to what He wants me to do.

Well, today, God answered.

At work, we are planning a Benediction, which I had to discuss for logistical purposes with Father today. And he mentioned the need for altar servers. Great! I told him I'd get him a list of the kids in the classes so he could tell me which are trained for this. He first suggested to me, "Well, you could do it."

Huh!? Serve? Ring the bell? Incense? Huh?!

But....I'm a girl! A girl who does NOT want to be at the altar.

So I counter-suggested we find the kids first, and then see. We literally have NONE in our evening program. So I looked to the high school students who would be there. None available because they have other obligations for that time slot.

So I called Father back, gave him the news, and said that if he wanted to train me, that would be fine. Of course he first gave me instructions over the phone. And while I've attended several Benedictions, and he's well aware of that, I've not really paid that much attention to what the server was doing and when. So I asked, "Uh....can I PRACTICE this before we do it?"

Sure. The day of, we'll run through it.

I got off the phone and told the DRE that I was going to be the altar server for the Benediction. She thought it was cool (and I know that SHE wouldn't want to do it, herself. She feels as I do about these things.)

So I went into the church for awhile to pray, and realized that Father's request of me today was a direct answer to the prayer I offered to God last night. And when I was asked to serve....I found every excuse possible to refuse. And grasped at straws. And tried to get away. And realized that I could not go anywhere to escape. And only THEN did I surrender to God's own will for me.

I was quite chastized today. Clearly, I have a HUGE problem with obedience. I seriously felt like I had to go to Confession, seeing my complete propensity to reject God's will in the most simple of things. Even after making a promise to obey.

So there, I surrendered, and I said "yes" to His Divine Plan, hoping I wouldn't set the alb on fire, and then the church.

But the story hasn't ended.

Tonight I had to recruit servers for a second Benediction, and in talking to the classes, a girl volunteered, a girl I know to be a real holy kid. And another boy volunteered, too. Perfect. But the girl asked to speak to me, and asked if we needed a server at the other benediction?


Father had told me he preferred two, but could work with one, and he's in fact done this by himself before.

But now we have one....and I am off the hook.

Tonight, God made His point. Thankfully, it appears He doesn't REALLY want me to don and alb and kneel next to Father at the altar and ring the bell. Rather, He wanted me to see my flaw, to surrender to His will...and only THEN did He reveal His entire plan.

And of course....if something happens and my lone server can't attend, well...I just hope no one has a camera.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the overuse & the girl thing..

uncle jim said...

you're teaching strong stuff here.
i, too, have an aversion to girl servers.
past pastor, now deceased, would not allow that.
new pastor started it about a year ago.
i now note more girl servers than boys.
not a good trend.

Adoro te Devote said...

The thing I've noticed about girls, though, is past a certain age they stop serving. Maybe they'll sing or read, but they stop being altar servers.

I frequently see the boys continue to serve into and through college, if they are seminarians, certainly. And at Daily Mass, often one of the adult men present will step in to serve if there is not a boy available. And at my parish, I've never seen a girl serve a daily Mass, although they do sometimes on Sundays.

And last night, a girl actually refused, wasn't comfortable at the benediction. She was trained once but doesn't remember how to do it.

And I think from Father's perspective, at least with regard to me, he'd prefer to have SOMEONE serve, rather than no one. And he knows I'd be revernt, both being an adult, and of course, because I love Jesus. So from that perspective, I guess if I were a priest I'd ask a woman to assist if one of the kids couldn't.

I really have to be more obedient, though.

Adrienne said...

I agree with Adoro. At our parish the girls all quit serving quite young while the boys continue. I believe that more boys should be serving than girls and should be encouraged, through their parents, to serve.

I am an EMC and, at first, I liked it. Now I am really uncomfortalbe and asked to be taken off the schedule.

How about this??? Taking communion to a priest in extended care after he had knee surgery. I told him it felt really creepy and he just said in that situation he's "just another person." Sorry, still felt creepy:)

Sister you-know-who-I-am from Lincoln said...

You soooo need to move to Lincoln. Ready to relocate? I even have a job for you (we need a Youth Minsistry coordinator really badly). We don't have female altar servers, EMEs (of either gender)and the best bishop in the states!

Adoro said...

Adrienne ~ Yeah, that would seem wrong to me, too.

Sister, yes I know who you are, but you must trust me when I tell you that I am definitely NOT cut out to do youth ministry, and I am also not cut out to remain where I am. yes, God called it to me for now, but the more I learn, the more I realize that there isn't a real "fit". Not for the long term. It's hard to explain, but I feel it in my very bones.

I enjoy teaching adults, coming up with talks, etc., but that's a miniscule amount of what I do here. And the only part I really enjoy. The rest of it....well...I do because I have to because someone needs to.

Anonymous said...

Lots to commnent on here.

I don't particularly care for girl servers, either, but those in our parish who do it are very reverent and come from devout families. One is in high school, so it will be interesting to see how long she continues. Several times, however, Father has been w/o a server and an adult has had to fill in.

EMC . . . I, too, believe they're overused, but I don't avoid them, either. We have families who will avoid them to make the point that they're not needed or that they don't feel it's proper. For me, I can't help but think "they're offering me the blood of Christ and I'm going to refuse because of who is holding the cup?" Doesn't matter if the Host is considered both forms, it just strikes me as wrong to walk right past.

I can't stand "hymns" that focus on us or we. It's also painful to see so many hymns reworded so as to be gender neutral. Changes the meaning of the verse more often than not.

Still, I think we're headed in the right direction. It will take a while, but with the new generation of traditional Catholics coming up, we should be okay.

Melody said...

Adoro, good for you for being open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Courageous Grace said...

Please keep in mind that this comment is coming from an Anglican (In the Fort Worth Diocese if that clears things up).

I also am not a fan of girl altar servers or crappy music (I'm a classically trained musician).

I'm not sure what EME's the Episcopal church (or at least in my conservative diocese) the priest is the only one who administers the host but we have trained/licensed chalice bearers who administer the cup in the absence of other priests or deacons. Is that kind of the equivalent of an EME?

Adoro te Devote said...

Courageous Grace ~ EME's, or EMHC's (Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist / Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) are laity who are authorized to assist in distributing Communion during Mass, or bringing Communion to the homebound, etc.

In the Anglican church, what does it mean for the chalice bearers to be trained/licensed?

In the Catholic Church, you may have heard of "Communion Services", which are services held at parishes where there is no priest available. In that case, an authorized person, such as a Deacon or Parish Life person (whatever they're called) presides over a Liturgy of the Word, and distributes Communion from hosts already consecrated.

Hope that helps!

Courageous Grace said...

Thanks for the info! For chalice bearers, they are acolytes trained usually by the head acolyte (trained by the priest I think?) specifically to serve the cup in addition to other duties performed by acolytes (my husband is a chalice bearer and also serves once a month as MC-head acolyte during the service...not sure what you'd call them).

We also have LEVs (Lay Eucharistic Visitors) who are trained by the priest to bring Communion to the homebound/infirm (my husband and I are licensed LEVs).

Both chalice bearers and LEVs must be licensed by the diocese. Does that help?

Adoro te Devote said...

Well...sort of. But how are you "Licensed"? Certainly I understand "license" from a secular perspetive, but what does it mean in a religious institution? Is there a particular course of study? A particular commission from a bishop? Etc? Can you explain that piece?

We don't have any hierarchy in our laity with regard to the Extraordinary Ministers. Usually there is a person who is in charge, and I don't know who does the training for all. I do think the priests are involved. All good things to consider. I know that if I do it through the parish where I work, the Pastor will train me, but I don't know if that's the case throughout.