Friday, January 13, 2017

Reflection on exercising the office of subdeacon

Assisting at the blessing of gold, frankincense, myrrh, and chalk this past Epiphany.
In the months following my institution as an acolyte in the Ordinariate, which I wrote about in my piece here last September, I unfortunately haven't yet been able to exercise the subdiaconal role for an Ordinariate liturgy because our parish doesn't have a deacon (which, as in the traditional Latin Rite, is required to have a proper high Mass with the three vested ministers). You could say my institution was partly in anticipation of us eventually getting one of our priestly candidates ordained transitionally to the diaconate. The good news is that in the meantime, I've been blessed to lend out my services in the role of subdeacon for three solemn Masses in the traditional Latin Rite at the local Cathedral-Basilica in Philadelphia, and once for a friend's wedding.

It's safe to say that in the western Church today, the vast majority of men who assist as subdeacons are either already priests, or they're seminarians from the Ecclesia Dei societies (such as the FSSP) who are just one or two years shy of being ordained as such. For them, the role is a stepping stone on the path that brings them ever closer to offering the holy sacrifice in their own right. This may be one reason why I haven't been able to find a written reflection anywhere on the Internet about one's experience in serving Mass as a lowly subdeacon--perhaps it's not been thought of as worth writing about. So, for today's column, I'll aim to fill the void by penning a brief reflection on my experience serving in this important but near-totally forgotten ministry.

The subdeacon, in essence, is the deacon's first minister, just as the deacon is to the celebrating priest. By wearing such a similar vestment and standing at the priest's left side just as the deacon stands to the priest's right, it's almost as though this ministry allows the deacon to "bilocate"--to stand in two places at once and more effectively carry out his own office. This will be clearer as we progress through the column. While it's true that subdeacons weren't used by the twelve Apostles, they're referred to in Christian literature as early as the 3rd century, demonstrating how cavalier it was to dispense of the office after 1970 like yesterday's garbage.

The subdeacon's office begins in the sacristy. Typically, when you walk in, the sacristan has already laid out three sets of vestments atop the central armoire, with the subdeacon taking the one on the left. Like the other ministers, after donning the cassock and washing his hands, the subdeacon starts with the amice, kissing it, laying it briefly over his head, then pulling it down and around his neck and shoulders. Ideally, he also recites the traditional vesting prayers before putting on each item, just as the priest does (I read them off of a card of my own design).

While the alb has become standard for altar servers in most parishes, most servers at Extraordinary Form or Ordinariate communities will have never worn one because they're reserved to major ministers. Instead, servers wear the abbreviated version known as the surplice. The traditional alb has to be gathered around the waist with the cincture, which also has its own prayer and special way of being tied. Since I've never been in the habit of using a cincture and I don't exactly keep one at home to practice with, I still have to ask for the MC's or a knowledgeable acolyte's help every time I put it on. (Also, a reason I picked the Army over the Navy after high school. The knots would have killed me.) Thankfully, according to tradition, the ministers are assumed to not be able to dress themselves for high Mass, anyway. Ceremonial books like Fr J.B. O'Connell's The Celebration of Mass suggest that the first and second acolytes help the deacon and subdeacon to vest, and then in turn the deacon and subdeacon assist the priest. It goes against our American do-it-yourself pride, but the implied help is a lot better than vesting oneself and then asking the MC, "does this look crooked to you?"

The vestment unique to the subdeacon is the tunicle with the prayer: "May the Lord clothe me in the tunicle of delight, and the garment of rejoicing." In theory, the tunicle is supposed to be a bit shorter and less embellished than the deacon's dalmatic, but in practice these days, they tend to look identical. Subdeacons began wearing these in Rome as early as the sixth century, although at various points in Church history, its use spread also to simple acolytes when serving in positions of honor such as carrying the processional cross--a custom still maintained in some Anglican and Ordinariate communities, and even some EF ones like our Cathedral Masses from time to time.

The tunicles laid out for me are usually of the stiff Baroque kind, which my longtime readers know I'm not fond of compared to the elegance of Gothic and other styles dating to the medieval era. On the other hand, I've come to accept that Baroque vestments are still infinitely preferable to the abominations you'll find in 98% of all the sacristies worldwide--polyester rags which any dime-store Wiccan priestess would be embarrassed to put on. Further, when I put on that tunicle, I become a servant, both to God and the people assembled to pray. If the vestments are devoutly made, meet the liturgical precepts, and edify the people who look at the ministers wearing them, who am I to complain? So, when I say "the garment of rejoicing", I really do mean it. It's a privilege to take up the subdiaconal office whenever I can.

Waiting for the signal, like "greyhounds straining upon the start", we line up for the procession in single file according to the order of precedence, although if the celebrant starts out with the cope instead of the chasuble, the deacon and subdeacon stand to his left and right to hold the edges up. Depending on how many people show up for a Mass at the Cathedral, we might take a circuitous route around the back of the church to make for a longer procession down the central aisle. Upon entering the Cathedral's enormous sanctuary, we turn left and right to salute anyone sitting in the choir stalls, then gather at the foot of the altar. The MC walks by to collect our birettas, then we begin reciting the Prayers of Preparation while the choir chants the Introit.

In the vast space of Ss. Peter & Paul, Psalm 42 and the Confiteor actually take on quite an intimate nature because no one in the congregation, and possibly not even the acolytes over by the credence table, can hear what we're saying. In fact, I can barely hear the deacon to match his cadence when reciting our versicles together. There's also the awkward feeling when you're standing to recite the Prayers at the Foot, because any altar server for the Extraordinary Form from the MC on down has, until this point, only ever recited the Prayers at the Foot while kneeling (at my Ordinariate parish, we stand for the Prayers of Preparation in English, but we recite them in the sacristy immediately before processing in for Mass, so that's different). When the priest turns from side to side during his confession to say et vobis, fratres ("and to you, brothers") and you're standing beside him, you get a sense that he's reciting the prayer as it was originally meant to be. At least in my mind, fratres doesn't seem to ring quite as true when the only one being addressed is a 10-year old boy.

We ascend the altar together so the priest can incense it. Whenever I go up the steps with the priest, I pinch and lift up the hem of his alb to give him greater freedom of movement as he goes up: one of many gestures that modern man derides, as though we treat the priest like an enfeebled old man. Every time the priest genuflects, I place my hand on his elbow to stabilize him and help him get back up. When he walks from side to side swinging the thurible, I lift up the edge of his chasuble to let him extend his arms freely. Of course, with a fiddleback, this is purely symbolic, but if he were wearing a voluminous conical chasuble, holding up the edges would be a practical necessity.

On the Epiphany, the poinsettias were really getting in the way of things....
You'll notice that the ministers go through much of the Mass lined up like ducks in a row above. The Roman Rite is fond of visually emphasizing order and how everyone has their assigned place. (Practically, it means the subdeacon spends a lot of time looking at the back of the deacon's neck.) Every old parish church with this series of steps leading up to the high altar was built with the idea that they at least had the potential to celebrate a high Mass with the traditional three vested ministers all lined up in a path of ascent. Just one of many signs of how radically priorities have changed is in the way altars are arranged in most modern churches: with no steps, but rather, placed just so that as many people as possible can gather around it horizontally.

The subdeacon's most visible, and audible, "job" at high Mass is chanting the Epistle reading. At the Cathedral, the MC walks up beside me, presents me with the Book of Epistles, and shows me to my place. It's a cavernous space to fill with one's voice, especially if you're facing ad Orientem ("away from the people", as the other party calls it). Right away, you appreciate the genius of requiring a minister to sing the text because, from a purely practical point of view, to merely shout the reading across the cathedral in the spoken tone without the aid of a microphone would make anyone go hoarse by the end of the lesson. Once that's done, I return to the priest, going up the altar steps at the Epistle side to present the book to him, kiss his hand, and receive a blessing.

After the priest privately reads the Gradual and Alleluia (or Tract in Lent) out of the altar missal, I go up to switch the missal over to the Gospel side, then return to the foot to help form up the gospel procession. We all follow the candle-bearing acolytes to the place where the Gospel is to be read, and I hold the Gospel-book for the deacon in such a way that he can chant it facing north (sideways, from the congregation's point of view). After the reading, I make a beeline for the priest, presenting the Gospel-book to him while pointing to the beginning of the lesson so he can kiss it. It's one of many small actions that you can easily miss just watching from the pew, but I like to think of it as one of many gestures that give lie to the idea that Catholics don't revere the Bible.

During the sermon (and possibly the Gloria, or even a very long Gradual) we sit at the sedilia. Unless the celebrant is also preaching, we feed his chasuble behind the back of his seat to let him sit down unencumbered, then the deacon and subdeacon bow to each other and sit. Sometimes we'll have the first and second MC on either side of the sedilia to even attend to the deacon and subdeacon with their birettas and the backs of the vestments. If that seems like an excessive chain of waiting-and-being-waited-upon, I'll assure you that there's no comfort whatsoever in sitting in a prescribed posture (upright, hands on knees, not gazing mindlessly around the church) with stiff vestments. Strictly speaking, just as in Downton Abbey, you're not supposed to lean against the back of the sedilia because the backs are strictly ornamental. With so many things to remember, both at the bench and throughout the whole liturgy, one can appreciate the wisdom, yet again, of having the MC prompt the ministers on when to doff their birettas (such as at the uttering of the Holy Name of Jesus, and certain sung phrases like suscipe deprecationem nostram/"receive our prayer"). It may be different for those subdeacons who are privileged to assist in the role on a weekly basis, but for those whom only perform the office on occasion, there's a lot to mentally keep track of while also maintaining any kind of prayerful reverence all at once.

At the Offertory, I go over to the credence table and allow acolytes to help clasp the humeral veil around me. With it, I carry the chalice and paten up to the deacon. Usually as an altar server, you might present the wine and water cruets to the priest for him to pour into the chalice himself, but at solemn high Mass, the deacon and subdeacon do the pouring for him. The deacon then gives me the paten to hold and "hide" under the humeral veil at the foot of the altar for the whole Canon of the Mass. This curious custom has had a lot of mystical associations fixed to it over the centuries, but its origins may stem from practices of the early Church that have otherwise long since passed into history. Mr. Louis Tofari has a detailed column on this very subject (using a photo from our nuptial liturgy for the header) here.

Another one of the subdeacon's duties is going around, "passing the peace". The Roman pax, however, is a lot more deliberate and dignified than what most of us are accustomed to when we think of the "sign of peace".
The most powerful moment of the Mass for me when serving as subdeacon is the priest's Communion. In the Ordinary Form, the priest's and people's Communions are done in a fluid sequence, but in the old rite, the order of Mass makes it clear that the celebrant's act of receiving Communion alone is what completes the holy sacrifice. There's a whole series of prayers and actions leading up to it, and the Communion for everyone else in attendance (even be he a cardinal) is made in a separate ritual which, for centuries, was more often done completely outside of Mass altogether. But when the priest receives, the deacon and subdeacon wait upon him on either side until right before he's about to receive the Host. At that point, they step a few paces back and bow to give the priest some space to reverently receive. We then return and I uncover the chalice so he can receive the Precious Blood. Again stepping back and then returning, after I replace the pall on top of the chalice, the deacon and I switch sides and proceed with the "second Confiteor".

Perhaps the worst aspect of assisting as subdeacon is in distributing Communion to the faithful. What I mean here is that, in the traditional arrangement, the deacon and subdeacon accompany the celebrant to every person who receives the Host from him. The deacon at least has a real job to do by holding the altar paten under each communicant's chin. The subdeacon, however, merely stands the celebrant's side ornamentally. I suppose he could come in handy if a ruffian came up to assault the priest, or if the priest accidentally dropped the ciborium.... but otherwise, the subdeacon just stands there, hands folded, watching God's children of every size and shape receive the Body and Blood of Christ. One thing I do like is how often I see someone come forward, sticking their hands out even while kneeling. Obviously to most of my readers, there's no Communion in the hand allowed at a traditional Latin Mass! But what it means to me when someone does this is that they've come to discover something new. It may be their first time attending a Latin Mass, or perhaps they accidentally walked into the "wrong Mass". That's okay, though, because the old liturgy is for everyone--not just a select few who have long cultivated an appreciation for dead languages and seemingly esoteric worship. The rebuilding of what was lost is done by just these sorts of encounters: one by one, soul by soul.

My last major duty is at the very end of Mass, or perhaps more properly speaking, just after the end. As I did for deacon during the Gospel reading, I hold up the Gospel again, this time for the priest to read John 1:1 off of the card. In other forms of Mass, the priest simply reads off of the card as it rests on the altar, but in a high Mass, the subdeacon will actually go to the corner and pick the card up for him to read. At the words et verbum caro factum est ("and the Word was made flesh"), the subdeacon is the only one in the church who remains standing because everyone else genuflects with the priest.

We're given back our birettas and recess out just the same way we came, back to the sacristy. Before removing our vestments, there's a beautiful little devotion that we do at the Cathedral which the congregation never sees. As the ministers approach the cross in the sacristy, the priest says, Prosit ("may it be to your benefit"). The deacon, subdeacon, and all the servers respond, pro omnibus et singulis (for all and for each). Then we all kneel to receive a final blessing. Thus, we put away our vestments, and the long, thankless work of our sacristans and servers in dismantling the high altar and all the EF-related items begins.

The subdiaconal ministry is a privilege to me for allowing me to be so close to the altar, and a blessing for those attending who get to partake in the full ceremonial of the Church's rich liturgical tradition. However, in the end, all I do is follow a set of instructions as closely as I can manage by people who know the ceremonies better than I do, all while maintaining a reverent and respectful bearing. The real work in making these grand liturgies possible is done behind the scenes. Remember that many Latin Mass communities (and Ordinariate groups as well) ultimately run the sacristy out of a few dedicated laymen's car trunks because they're using borrowed space. If you ever attend Mass at such a place, be sure to offer a kind word of thanks or a helping hand to those laymen who make it all possible!


  1. I've often thought that during the communion of the people at an EF mass it would be great to have the priest giving communion by intinction with the deacon holding the chalice and the subdeacon holding the paten. The symbolism of receiving both species at the same time united (like our Eastern brothers do with communion via spoon), with three ministers would be a great act of worship to experience. That said this elaborate communion ritual might have worked when people received 1-3 times per year. It would be far from practical in a typical parish or even an EF mass when 98% of the congregation receives every Sunday--communion would take 20 minutes a week!

    1. As someone coming from an Anglican Use Catholic parish where I've seen Communion by intinction done reverently and cleanly day in and out for years (Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas), I'm very much in favor of it as a general principle. I've thought of much the same kind of arrangement as you describe. Unfortunately, when we say "Communion in both kinds", most people will naturally think of it done in the worst ways at their local parishes, so it's understandable why they'd be hesitant.

      Hopefully, when our liturgical culture returns to some semblance of stability, we can start thinking about organic development for the EF. I'm also personally in favor of the subdeacon chanting the Epistle at the chancel gate "versus populum", which I know is allowed by the rubrics but is rare enough that people would be taken aback by it without some careful explaining beforehand.

  2. a well developed running commentary through your experiences as sub deacon. I was impressed by your excellent chanting of the epistle. (You seem to end up with LONGER readings than the gospel. Oh well AMDG, as the Jesuits would have it) Also, kudos for your clever witty comments, lending a bit of humor to your narrative.

  3. It doesn't sound like you very much enjoy the honor of serving as a subdeacon. As someone that served in that ministry before becoming a deacon, it is what you make of it, like all ministry roles. There are opportunities for the subdeacon at and away from the altar. Chanting the Epistle is a great honor. Holding the paten during the Liturgy, standing by the side of the priest, holding the large paten while people are Communing (which is the proper rubric), and cleaning and preparing the chalice after Communion are all honors that a subdeacon in the East does not enjoy. The subdeacon in the West is granted the ability to partake in the Mysteries in a very sacred way.

    1. "It doesn't sound like you very much enjoy the honor of serving as a subdeacon."

      That would be a misinterpretation of my column, or I didn't communicate that clearly. I like serving Mass as subdeacon, to be sure.

      "holding the large paten while people are Communing (which is the proper rubric)"

      Could you explain that?

    2. Since the "New Order of Mass" gives room for any person in the assembly to take on what was the role of the Sub Deacon. Never the less, it is an honor to assist in the EF. Some things I have noticed were never done in my home parish. In the 1950's and 60's the parts of deacon and sub deacon were done by priests. No hand kissing, Holy Communion was distributed by all three. There was never a recitation of the confietor the second time. What I am reading and watching is a mixture of the "Latin Rite" with the "Dominican Rite"... in other words older Altar Servers know they assisted the priest in Vesting ... but what is being presented is a mixture of different "Rites" and not the normal "Latin Rite". I never lifted the alb for the priest to climb the steps. Bell ringing is a another topic at a later date.

  4. One more comment, before I was privileged to become a subdeacon, I had to serve as Master of Ceremony for a number of Masses. I would suggest you ask to do so and be educated, since your comment about others knowing what they are doing needs to include you. You need to know what the priest and the deacon are going to do in order to provide the rhythm needed in the Liturgy to be consistent and offered in beauty. Forgive me in my comments if they sound critical, but are offered in the love of Christ.

    1. In theory, I agree. In practice, there aren't many opportunities to serve as MC for a solemn high Mass in this area because it's hard enough to find someone qualified to assist as either deacon or subdeacon in the old rite. More than once, if I hadn't been available to assist as subdeacon, the solemn Mass wouldn't have happened at all. Further, solemn Masses are not celebrated so often that you wouldn't want anyone but the most qualified MC to assist in that role at any given time you have one.

      I have MC'ed for a missa cantata a couple of times, but it's typically the case that I'm found to be exponentially more useful as a cantor. My area of greatest expertise is really in singing plainchant, especially the Propers.

    2. My comment would be true, though, even if I had MC'ed a pontifical Mass every Sunday for the next year. We have some exceedingly knowledgeable people here.

  5. Underscores the problem is that the diaconate and subdiaconate were not meant to be confined to seminary but should to be restored to the parish level instead of stepping stones in seminary. Priests serving in that role would be better at their own parishes with their own deacons and subdeacons.
    This would be most fruitful at the diocesan level than organizations like the FSSP which will and should always have a Tridentine character.

    Specifically, I imagine bishops instituting acolytes when they arrive for confirmations. Some of these, after a couple years of service, should be deemed appropriate for discernment of Sacred orders should be designated as Subdeacons (allowed in Ministeria Quaedam). From there to either seminary or "permanent" deacon or just stay as "permanent" subdeacon.

    1. Unfortunately, I don't think we've been able to find a single permanent deacon willing to assist in the diaconal role for any high Masses in the old rite here in the Philadelphia area. It's not that they wouldn't be welcome, but that there's no interest as of yet. So, for now, the men serving as deacons are always priests.

  6. Perhaps I am confused, but it appears that you were "instituted" into the "ministry" of acolyte, and not "ordained" into the "order" of subdeacon. You remain a layman.

    In the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, a "cleric" in "minor orders" (e.g. acolyte) may substitute for an ordained subdeacon (the so-called "straw" subdeacon) but may not perform certain actions normally done by an ordained subdeacon: wear the maniple, pour the water into the chalice at the Offertory, place and remove the pall and perform the ablution of the chalice after communion. From your description, you seem to do all these things -- although from the photos it is not clear (to me, at least) that you are wearing the maniple.

    Is there some legislation or other authority which allows you to perform the actions of an ordained subdeacon?

    1. I know there is some debate about the nature of the institution of acolytes, such as whether the rite is functionally equivalent to the old subdiaconal ordination. The praxis at the Cathedral here is to act "completely" as a subdeacon, including with the maniple. That was the manner in which I was trained to exercise the office for these liturgies, so it's nothing to do with my own preference.

      Personally, though, I'd be happy to act as a "straw" subdeacon if I were visiting somewhere else, just to avoid any confusion.

      Interestingly, the Ordinariate's manual of ceremony for subdeacons does not permit them even the biretta, but does permit them to do some functions not done by straw subs in the TLM.

    2. I did not mean to imply that you are acting on your own initiative or according to personal preference, thereby disregarding or violating the regulations. I take it that "the Cathedral here" is that of the Ordinatiate. Perhaps they have or will develop a "solution" to this problem.

      As for the TLM (Extraordinary Form) even if you were to act as a "straw subdeacon" that would not address the difficulty -- the regulations governing the TLM require that a "straw subdeacon" be a "cleric" in "minor orders" or at least to have received "first tonsure." But even if installation of an acolyte is the "functional equivalent" of ordination to the subdiaconate, you remain a layman and not a cleric (since one becomes a cleric now by ordination to the diaconate) and cannot receive first tonsure or the minor orders since they have been abolished.

      One must hope that as the use of the TLM/Extraordinary From and of the Ordinate usage grows (and, God willing, prospers), these any many other matters [perhaps including restoration the order of subdeacon to the entire Roman Rite] will be taken care of.

    3. I take it that "the Cathedral here" is that of the Ordinatiate.

      I'm flattered you think the Ordinariate commands the resources to build or buy an edifice such as that of the Cathedral-Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul! No, that's the seat of the Most Rev'd Charles Chaput, Archbishop of (the Archdiocese of) Philadelphia. Pope Francis celebrated Mass there during his visit of 2015. The Ordinariate's Cathedral, while also beautiful and more to my taste, is is rather smaller. It's in Houston:

      There is no connection between the Ordinariate and the TLM community which organizes and celebrates these Masses at the Cathedral-Basilica in Philadelphia, other than that I volunteer there and the two groups are friendly. Many people from one group attend the other's events and vice versa.

      Finally, rest assured that "restore the minor orders" (and first tonsure, etc.) has been something of a campaign slogan of mine for about six or seven years now. I'm fully on board with that idea.

    4. Sorry once again. I was aware that the photos were from Philadelphia. I was wondering whether "[t]he praxis at the Cathedral here is to act "completely" as a subdeacon, including with the maniple" referred to the Ordinariate cathedral or to the "Roman" (for lack of a better distinguisher) Cathedral such as that in Philly. That is, is it a peculiarity of the Ordinariate to have a layman act (in your words) "completely as a subdeacon," or is this the practice also at the TLM outside the Ordinariate?

      I apologize for being so unclear.

    5. I was referring to the Cathedral-Basilica in Philadelphia. As a separate matter, the manual of ceremonies for instituted acolytes acting as subdeacon for the Ordinariate's Missal (not the TLM) is that acolytes vest with the tunicle, but not the maniple nor the biretta. However, since the Ordinariate's seminarians do wear the biretta when in choir, it would stand to reason that a seminarian who is also an instituted acolyte may wear the biretta when serving as subdeacon (but not the maniple, at least until ordination as a deacon).

      While I personally find that overly restrictive considering the high-church Anglican tradition, I would nonetheless follow the directives and leave my biretta at home were I to assist as subdeacon for a high Mass according to the Ordinariate's Missal.

      Hope that helps.

    6. As someone who was asked to have these matters about subdeacons in the Extraordinary Form resolved long ago, I refer to two important posts on my Blog :

      The decision of the Ecclesia Dei Commission was as follows and should be read very carefully :

      An acolyte instituted according EITHER to the old or new Pontificals may act as a subdeacon. The use of the term "straw subdeacon" ill-befits the Sacred Liturgy and ought to be abandoned.

      According to the Decision, there is but one restriction on what an acolyte may do when assisting as subdeacon in place of a cleric. In short, he may do what a clerical subdeacon may do, except he may NOT wear a maniple.

      In my opinion, and following from the logic of this Decision of the Commission, an acolyte WHO IS NEITHER A SEMINARIAN NOR IN RELIGIOUS LIFE ought NOT use a biretta when assisting as subdeacon, just as he wouldn't use a biretta if he were sitting in choir. The biretta and maniple do not pertain to the role of subdeacon in a Solemn Mass, they pertain to those in the clerical state, and by extension, seminarians. But not to laymen.

    7. Thank you so much. This is exactly the "authoritative" information I was seeking.

    8. Thanks for the citations! I'll look them.over later tonight.

      With regard to birettas, in your opinion, do deacon candidates count as seminarians for the purpose of wearing them? I ask because I intend to enter diaconal formation for the Ordinariate when I meet the minimum age requirement, which is not long from now.

  7. As to your discomfort during the distribution of Communion to the faithful, I recall clearly (although, alas, I do not have access to the books at the moment) that some liturgists/rubricists indicated that the subdeacon holds the paten while the deacon holds the ciborium. I suspect that this may be "rubric creep" from the prescriptions for Pontifical Mass -- the deacon holding the ciborium, I imagine, to allow the faithful to kiss the bishop's ring without danger of bumping the ciborium and spilling the Sacred Species. I do not believe that the practice of the subdeacon holding the paten was very common in the U.S. There are, however, videos of Pope Benedict administering the Sacrement while Msgr. Marini holds the ciborium and another papal MC holds the paten.

  8. I like your comment about the priest turning to the servers at the Confiteor and saying "et vobis, fratres" and how it doesn't quite seem to ring true when the only one being addressed is a 10-year old boy. We need to restore the tradition of men serving at the altar, it would encourage more true vocations and discourage men who have an unnatural attraction to young boys from joining the priesthood. You wrote a post about the tradition of adult male servers recently that was very interesting.

    It's also nice to see that the diocese of Philadelphia allows servers to look like freemen, the idea that all men have to wear ridiculously short haircuts is an asinine modern idea that men in past centuries would be puzzled by. "Scissors or the Sword" is another fascinating read from your archives. Too often, those of us who attend the traditional Mass have to deal with people who are still fighting the battles of the 1960s and the attitudes from that era. They don't realize that the traditional Latin Mass goes back a lot farther than 1962. Great pics, another great article.