I have a bad experience with FEMALE ALTAR SERVERS in the Diocese of Malolos, Holy Family Parish in Sapang, Palay, Bulacan.
The newly built house of worship was perfect for worship. However before each masses, the situation inside was like a MARKET. Before the entrance procession, the LADY ALTARS [?!] were lined up, some didn't even tie their shaggy hairs. And to my indignation, two ladies chitchat while in the isle for 30min, with a comb in one hand and candle on the other and combs her hair constantly like she's in front of a mirror.
I tried to call the attention of one of the leading older male altar servers but to no avail. [Unfortunately, the older they get, the longer they were in service of the parish, the hard-headed they get! Take it from someone who has to learn a lot of patience dealing with the "Reverend Mothers."]
Adding insult to injury, though there are lots of Mass ushers in uniform, no one was checking the behavior of their own. The HERMANA's were talking so loud that in my desire to pray I can't even consentrate.
During communion, there were small kids who line up for communion. At isa pang nagsalita "P**ang ina, ang haba ng pila.." [Oh my...] so I told this young boy to stop receiving the communion.
After the Mass, those sampaguita vendors even steps inside to sell their sampaguitas.. i told these needy vendors to respect the sacredness of the Church...
I hope the parish priest of this Parish or at least the Bishop will read this comment.
It happened not only once, it happened many times, otherwise I won't point this out.
We need to make our Churches sacred for this is where we all worship the One TRUE God, the Bread of Life...
First of all, why are there still altar servers in the Diocese of Malolos? Is this for the sake of novelty? Was there even a call from the faithful for "full active participation" and the need for "gender sensitivity" within the Altar Servers? I seriously doubt it. I think this is novelty for novelty's sake. Or the other paradigm..."if it's new, it must be good! If it's old, it must be bad."
Let us remember that boys are made altar servers because they are being invited or "lured", "tempted" to consider the ORDAINED ministry. How will this happen to girls as altar servers?
I cannot blame the people for being too noisy in church before the Mass or any liturgical celebration IF the environment encourages them to be so. If for quite sometime, liturgical celebrations are conducted in an atmosphere that encourages people to take the Mass and the newly built church for granted, then we cannot blame the people for acting in such way.
It is the role of our priests and bishops to orient people towards the holy. The vital role of catechism, the proper construction of our churches, the solemnity of our liturgy (which obviously must discard the mundane songs and dances) would definitely help the people know and experience the Holy.
Take this from Sacrosanctum Concilium
30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.Take note that the Council Father envisioned active participation in these terms:
The people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes.
Active participation is in terms of the people ACTIVELY responding and singing and through actions, gestures and bodily attitudes. Unfortunately, liturgists who have dissenting agendas, used this as a creative license to do whatever they want with the Mass...And so started the disintegration of the holy character of the Mass. Not that I am saying that the Mass lost EVERYTHING that is holy. No! That is heresy!
I am saying that by emphasizing more on Man (the dancing, the secular music, the over simplification of church architecture and design), the emphasis on the "communal meal" rather than the same sacrifice of Calvary, people have begun to see the Mass as a community activity, a gathering, which, not surprisingly, ready-made liturgies like Euchalette and Sambuhay, ALWAYS emphasizes.
As a lowly cardinal said in two separate occassions:
We ought to get back the dimension of the sacred in the liturgy. The liturgy is not a festivity; it is not a meeting for the purpose of having a good time. It is of no importance that the parish priest has cudgeled his brains to come up with suggestive ideas or imaginative novelties. The liturgy is what makes the Thrice-Holy God present amongst us; it is the burning bush; it is the Alliance of God with man in Jesus Christ, who has died and risen again. The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the Totally Other, whom we are not capable of summoning. He comes because He wills. In other words, the essential in the liturgy is the mystery, which is realized in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it. Men experiment with it in lively fashion, and find themselves deceived, when the mystery is transformed into distraction, when the chief actor in the liturgy is not the Living God but the priest or the liturgical director. - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Chile, 1988)
Do we still need sacred space, sacred time, mediating symbols? Yes, we do need them, precisely so that, through the "image," through the sign, we learn to see the openness of heaven. We need them to give us the capacity to know the mystery of God in the pierced heart of the Crucified. - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Spirit of the Liturgy )
Just like you, we all pray that our priests and bishops inculcate that love of the Mass and the liturgy just like how St. John Marie Vianney loved them.
Try talking to your parish priest. I hope he is not too defensive just like much of the priests I talked to when confronted with the same issue.
If push comes to shove, video tape it and send it to the CDF or upload it on YouTube. I'll even post it here on TPC. You won't get any satisfying results at CBCP...