As I sat in the Extraordinary Form Mass this morning, my thoughts turned toward a comment made by a member of the Catholic OnLine Forum. It was on a thread about ordaining women as priests. Although he didn't come right out and say he supported ordaining women, he made the comment about women having "more of an opportunity to serve." This perplexed me because (as I replied) women already are serving in many ways during the Mass.
Within the Novus Ordo Mass, women can be a Lector, an Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist, sing in the choir, and play an instrument if a band is available. At a Latin Mass, women can sing in the choir, also. But clearly, there are not the same opportunities within the Latin Mass.
To be honest, after all the years of being part of churches where women served in so many capacities - it is actually a relief to not feel pressured to serve within a Mass. I've been on the other side - where women did everything from taking up the collection to greeting and ushering to teaching children's Sunday School. It's exhausting. By the time a Sunday is over in some of these churches, the women who serve are more than ready to see the day end.
How often do these women simply rest in church and absorb what is being taught? Not often. There is always something to do.
After Mass, our parish has a "donuts and coffee" time for those who would like to mingle with others. I remember other churches calling this "fellowship time" and one non-denom church I know actually has a restaurant within its building, just for that purpose.
I spent almost an hour and a half talking with a beautiful young woman about ministry. She is the mother of two very active young children and we spent the better part of our time walking through the halls to make sure she could keep an eye on their behavior. She is a devout woman and hungry for God. It was a blessing to meet her.
But with two very active children, I imagined this young mother didn't have much time to simply soak in the presence of God and focus on what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Tridentine Mass is the only place I've been where I feel women have the opportunity to rest and absorb. Silence is a part of Mass and although there are small children around, they are usually well-mannered.
Women do so much in our society. They can become nervous and edgy if they don't have a way to unwind. I just thought it was pretty wonderful that within the Latin Mass, they can often find a small slice of peace.