Thanks to TPC reader, Josemaria Lazaro Paulo Jeronimo Martin Carvalho-von verster, for alerting me to this.
If you think altar girls can make you shake your head, wait till you read this!
KOREA Parish progresses from altar boys to ‘altar families’
SEOUL (UCAN) -- A parish in Korea now has entire families as altar servers during Mass, [is this a liturgical dynasty or what?] a move that family members say has strengthened their bonds and deepened their faith in a special way. [really? So the family that serves at the altar together, attends Mass together? Sorry Father Peyton for toying with your famous rallying cry. But puhleease! We got to church as a family EVEN if we are not in the sanctuary! Is this a family's motivation to go to Mass?]
"I was surprised when our parish priest asked me and my whole family to serve as an 'altar family.' [Damn right you are! You're not the only one!] I had never heard of this before," [Damn right you are again!] said Athanasius Kim Gi-ho, who instructs altar servers at Nammok Church in Pusan diocese.
He and his two sons had assisted priests separately as altar servers in the past, but not his wife. So his family had to practice a bit for a few days before serving at Mass together.
When the Mass was over, parishioners gave them a round of applause, [Nice performance? Did they sing and dance? So the people went to Mass to see the serving family and got the spectacle of their lives Great!] Kim recalled. "I have never been so honored and I was so proud of my family," the parish council member said.
Several parishes in Korea have families serving at the altar, but Nammok is the first Pusan diocese parish to do so, according to Father Justine Jun Dong-ki, diocesan pastoral director. [Silent dissent.]
The parish priest, Father Augustine Kim Weon-seok, commented that people nowadays are so busy that that they find it hard to spend time with their families. "That's why I suggested the service last March. It also helps deepen their faith," he said. [Why not just go to Mass together and sit at the same pew together, eh?]
If a whole family is not available, couples can serve at the altar without their children, he added. [Now they have liturgical provisions for uncomplete families! I thought this was meant to bring the family together!]
Iliano Kim Yong-soo and his wife, Seraphina An Chang-im, are one such couple.
“We discussed a lot” before serving together, Kim said. “When I was actually assisting the priest at the altar with my wife, I felt an unspeakable joy from inside me which I never experienced before." [Ho-hum. Can we have some chips in here? A Korean verison of Dynasty is on TV.]
An said it would have been better had their two children served with them. But they were away at university, and the whole family served together only later. [Oh.]
Father Jun says the practice of having altar family servers is "recommendable and relevant to Catholics today." [I heard that term too before. Relevant today! Like women priests, gay bishops. Some bishops in medieval times even said that divorcing the rightfully married queen so that their adulterous king can marry another woman in order to produce a successor to the throne! Oh yeah. Relevant for their day and where is that church headed? Relevant...I'd call that "Easy-way-for-me-to-do-what-I-want-even-if-it-is-forbidden!"]
He pointed out that family members often do not attend Mass together. “The children go to Sunday school while adults attend Mass. We need things that a family can do together, both at home and in the church." [And this is his brilliant plan!]
Traditionally, only boys assisted Catholic priests during Mass, and the term "altar boys" came into general use. In 1994, a letter from the Vatican to episcopal conferences around the world affirmed that altar service can be performed by male and female laypeople.
Below is an excerpt of a response to a letter from the then prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship, Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez. This letter issued in July 2001, was issued in response to a bishop's question also known as a dubium concerning the possible admission of girls and women as altar servers. The response, which was a further explanation of the Circular Letter of 1994 as mentioned above, especially on the matter granting permission for bishops to admit female altar servers, made it clear that only a diocesan bishop may decide whether to permit female servers in his diocese; furthermore, that no priest is obliged to have female servers, even in dioceses where this is permitted. The letter stressed that no one has a "right" to serve at the altar, and also strongly reaffirmed that altar boys should be encouraged
Here is the excerpt
In accord with the above cited instructions of the Holy See such an authorization may not, in any way, exclude men or, in particular, boys from service at the altar, nor require that priests of the diocese would make use of female altar servers, since "it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar" (Circular Letter to the Presidents of Episcopal Conference, March 15, 1994, no. 2). Indeed, the obligation to support groups of altar boys will always remain, not least of all due to the well known assistance that such programs have provided since time immemorial in encouraging future priestly vocations (cf. ibid.) [Get that? Priestly vocations from where? Young boys, of course but if you give the impression to this young girls that they can too move up a notch higher in the sanctuary and end up like Jefferts-Schori.]
With respect to whether the practice of women serving at the altar would truly be of pastoral advantage in the local pastoral situation, [is it really a pastoral question or another slimy approach towards women's rights?] it is perhaps helpful to recall that the non-ordained faithful do not have a right to service at the altar, [service in the Church is not a matter that you can bark at the United Nations if you are not allowed to or something you take to the streets. It is a privilege and only Holy Mother Church gives that privilege!] rather they are capable of being admitted to such service by the Sacred Pastors (cf. Circular Letter to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences, March 15, 1994, no. 4, cf. also can 228, §1, Interdicasterial Instruction Esslesiae de mysterio, August 15, 1997, no. 4, see Notitiae 34  9-42). Therefore, in the event that Your Excellency found it opportune to authorize service of women at the altar, it would remain important to explain clearly to the faithful the nature of this innovation, lest confusion might be introduced, thereby hampering the development of priestly vocations. [Confusion? Hmm... I think women priests are some of it. Oh yeah, nuns in pants are too!]
What's your take on this?
To encourage more families to go to Mass together, we make them altar servers?
Please help me. I'm having migraine attacks trying to make sense out of that proposition.