More than boys; why men are needed to serve the altar
The lapsing of the minor orders was something that happened cyclically.  We see that in Trent Session XXIII, which admits even married men can serve provided married no more than once, that unmarried clerics are not available, and that they wear cassock and tonsure in church.  We also saw it by the early 20th century.

Pinning down when they lapsed again is difficult.  Proper minor orders still seem to be assumed in the late 19th century...  My territorial parish has a book from the 1830's "Teachings of the Holy Catholic Church Embracing His Dogmas, Sacraments, and Sacramentals" with the Imprimatur of PT O'Reilly, Bishop of Springfield definitely assumes their presence and describes their duties.  Fortescue in the 1920 edition of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described still seems to assume their presence (while he also concedes a lack of Sacred Ministers outside of seminary in England at the same time).  By the time of O'Connell took over, lay substitutes are definitely expected.

My conjecture would be the World War I was, as  Benedict XV said, the suicide of Europe.  How many potential clerics were lost in those wars from the children never born of the entire generation of young men lost?  Or from WW2?  To the Communist domination of Eastern Europe?

Recall that the seminary system itself was a product of Trent.  Before that, Charlegmagne's system of every cathedral having a university attached to it was the formal mechanism combined with a practical parish apprenticeship was the norm.  Ultimately, I posit the issue does connect with Sacred Ministers, as well... specifically their lack of availability outside of seminary: the normalization of Low Mass.  It was not an accident that the Caermoniale Episcoporum forbids incense without the presence of a deacon...  the Missa Cantata being a concession granted by bishops recognizing their near universal absence from parishes, which have always needed deacons and subdeacons as much as they will always need acolytes and ostiarii...  even if Exorcists and Lectors were always rather superfluous without the formal Catechumenate in the west...  even if priests retain their lower orders, it isn't ideal that they should serve lower except for necessity (IOW, somewhere between that routine use before the Council and the effective ban on it after).

Going forward, the diocesan systems should do well to mix seminary formation with service in the parishes, at least in later years.  To some extent, if Ministeria Quaedam was ever implemented by the bishops as Paul VI intended, one could consider only admitting those already instituted as Acolytes to seminary, offloading at least some level of basic formation to the parish level.  They should also be serving the altar in the meantime and if they should discern they don't have a priestly vocation, why should they not continue to serve?  If acolyte was already an entry point to seminary, longer interstices could be laid out, perhaps subdeacon by 2nd year (without any change of legislation necessary - just the designation applied by the Episcopal Conference as explicitly allowed by MQ), and deacon by 5th year with priesthood at end of 7th year.  Any leaving seminary would be as "permanent" as an acolyte who didn't feel the call to higher vocation anyway...

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Re: More than boys; why men are needed to serve the altar - by Uxi - 05-20-2016, 11:17 AM

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