Cleansing Fire

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“Mommy, look! A priest!”

April 28th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

“No, honey. That’s just a man having a midlife crisis.”

I am absolutely baffled as to why we see the alb-trend being embraced by men now, as well as women. It’s funny how in a strange sort of way, it makes sense, but in a twisted sort of way it doesn’t. We can all understand why women wear the alb when they are “administrators.” They want to be priestesses. It’s that simple. Nancy DeRycke, Joan Sobala, Barb Swiecki, Margaret Ostromecki, and like-minded daughters of wisdom feel oppressed by the male-dominated Church. Even though 1. they’re not, and 2. they’re wrong, I can at least, in principle, understand where they’re coming from.

But Mr. Rabjohn? He has every ability to become a priest, at least in principle. He’s a man, and he’s Catholic. So what reason does he have to wear an alb? It’s not really a protest. If it is, it’s kind of lacking in the gusto department. Is it arrogance? I wouldn’t presume to start judging men’s souls.

So why is he wearing an alb? He’s not an altar boy. He’s not a lector. He’s not even a specified and specific Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. According to Rome, these roles in the liturgy can use an alb. Rather, he’s a “Pastoral Administrator.” What administrating is done from the pulpit that can’t be done from behind a desk? An administrator is someone who runs the parish, not the Mass held within that self-same parish. A Pastoral Administrator can serve God nobly without being an intrusive presence in the sanctuary.

Rome has never permitted anyone bearing such a title to wear an alb, much less to actually be in the sanctuary for some made-up liturgical role. Sr. Joan behaves the same way and dresses in similar fashion because she’s trying to prove something. However, whatever the motives are for such attire and posture, the matter is still an illicit one.

Another key facet of this is that a woman is obviously not a priest. Anyone going into St. Anne or Good Shepherd will see the Pastoral Administrator vested in that way, but will know, “they’re not priests.” If anything, it would probably be “oh, look, there’s a nun.” However, when someone comes into St. Pius the Tenth parish, there is a clear and distinct possibility that Mr. Rabjohn will be taken for a priest. At the very least, he could be construed as a deacon, sitting next to the presider. While his motives may or may not be the same as our female administrators’ (I’m not one to judge men’s hearts), the implications here are much more definite. He is a man. He is vested. He is in the sanctuary. He is interfering with the Mass in a way only expected of an ordained minister.

If these liberals are going to cling to their notion of “the alb is the vestment of the baptized,” then perhaps we should just keep bins of albs on hand at the entrances of our parishes, so every baptized Christian could wear one. But, wait, that would mean that our administrators wouldn’t be the center of attention.

And there’s the real reason, dear friends. Liberals crave attention. Whether it’s legitimate or not, they need it. Forget about the rubrics, 2,000 years of liturgical tradition, and reverence. “If it makes us look important, we’ll do it. And why? Because we can.”

Shame on those who enable such immature behavior. Shame on those who engage in it. The Mass isn’t some can of tinker-toys that can be upended and the contents rearranged for amusement’s sake.

I, for one, hope that this fad of middle-aged and elderly men and women playing dress-up at Mass goes away. How long can a mid-life crisis last? Somethings tells me it’s got something to do with that countdown at the top of the page.

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8 Responses to ““Mommy, look! A priest!””

  1. avatar Matt says:

    excellent post…very very very correct analysis…that countdown has A LOT to do with it–one last ditch "just like old times" hippiefest

  2. avatar Bernie says:

    When I served funerals and sometimes Mass after I retired I wore an alb. The other adult servers did not. I wore the alb because it is the proper attire for a server. In fact, street clothes are inappropriate for a server (not seriously so for a daily Mass in the early morning, of course). I can tell you that nearly every time I served a funeral I was addressed as "Father" by at least one person filing out after Mass. An adult male wearing an alb is looked upon as clergy by some if not most in the congregation. And yes, there is a certain pride in "dressing up" which is not all that bad for a server as it causes you to move and act with a liturgical presence that supports the impression the ritual should have on the senses of the participants. You could see, however, how that could be dangerous in a person grabbing a liturgical role for himself that is not really legitimate.

    I personally do not like to see anyone –who has a valid liturgical role to play– in the chancel in street clothes. Some criticize the bishop's secretary/MC for wearing an alb while attending the bishop at Mass. I would criticize her for not wearing an alb. Lay administrators, however, don't belong in the chancel, except to perhaps make an announcement at the end of Mass, so they shouldn't wear an alb.

    Readers shouldn't wear an alb. They should be seen only in street clothes as they "represent" the congregation. In my opinion they should sit with the congregation, as well, and not in the chancel.

    I'm getting a little off your point. Sorry.

  3. avatar Matt says:

    we wouldn't have this issue if it was 1962…

    psshhh, put the altar boys in cassocks!

  4. avatar Gen says:

    That's the problem in Rochester, Bernie. We have to deal with these strange contingencies like having vested nuns in the sanctuary. It's better for them to be in some kind of reverent garb, rather than be there in street clothes. But then again, it's optimal for them to be outside of the sanctuary.

    As Matt said, we wouldn't have these problems if this were 1962.

  5. avatar Louis E. says:

    Will you be having these problems after 2012?

  6. avatar Matt says:

    Unfortunately, they will persist at least for a little while and in a smaller degree, Louis. The style of Bishop that Papa Ratzi continually appoints is of a certain style–they tend not to be the "smackdown" type, but the very pastoral type who are also loyal to the Church and her teachings. They lead by example, and improve things brick by brick. The "lay pastoral administrator" role probably will die with Bp Clark's retirement, but with some of our priests as undermining to the Church as they are, it will be a tough job to eradicate this behavior immediately

  7. avatar Dr. K says:

    "The "lay pastoral administrator" role probably will die with Bp Clark's retirement"

    The reason that Charlotte Bruney, P.A. of St. Vincent DePaul, came to Rochester was because the new bishop in her previous diocese did away with their version of the "Pastoral Administrator" role. There is no reason to doubt that the same thing could happen here, and Charlotte and co. could be sent to look for work elsewhere.

    ~Dr. K

  8. avatar Anonymous says:

    Albany?


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