In a male environment, the games that are played out in parallel with puberty are about control and dominance; achieving goals, breaking rules, finding boundaries and testing strengths. Having spent a long time working in a boys’ school, I have made the following observations about the types of boy therein. There are the boys who retreat behind increasingly greasy hair, unwilling to play the games in public and struggling to communicate, they set targets of their own, but their world is very secretive. There are the sportsmen and “babe magnets” (and their hangers-on) who seem self-assured, are achieving the goals they have set themselves and are proud enough to show off their successes. There are also the boys who never really get a chance to play any games, old before their time, usually as a result of difficult family circumstances, they plod on through, bored by their contemporaries and oozing practical common sense. Finally there is the odd Tod in Venedig character; alabaster perfection, feline grace and totally unaware of the effect they have on the adult population of the school, male and female (strangely they are often totally unappreciated by their peers). Let me assure you that this isn’t about sexual lust, but about the astounding effect of physical human beauty on adults. It is something we should be aware of even if we can’t talk about it much, it isn’t grubby but it can soon become grubby. We are terrified of admitting the power of the human form, and as a result cheapen our feelings with endless celebrity mags, beauty products and plastic surgery, obsessed nevertheless, but in a grubby way.
The trouble with teenage girls is that so many of them fall into this “shatteringly beautiful” group. I can only imagine what the fathers of teenage girls must go through, one day they have a loveable but wonky goofball for a daughter, the next they wake up to find a fragile but powerful assortment of perfect curves and Sabatier sharp attitude.
We have to admit to our incapacity when faced with such fearful beauty (it blinds us to the fact they are really just extremely vulnerable humans). We should also do our best to encourage our daughters (and sons) to shield themselves from possible injury through being comfortable with modesty (a near impossible task, I know). Surely, however, the ideal is for young women to be somehow self-shielding from the glare of appreciative eyes.
This was supposed to be a post about female altar servers, my Catholic Times informs me that L’Osservatore Romano has given them a full thumbs up and if the reporting of the article is correct, their reasoning is loopy and dangerous. However, as posts are not to be more than a page of A4 (my own rules), I’ll stop here but leave you with one question. When does a girl serving at the altar cease serving? …. When she gets her curves?… When she becomes a woman?….If she becomes pregnant?…Never?
You see, the reason why I ask this is the Vatican has already made it clear there is no room for homosexual tendencies in the priesthood so the chances of being stunned by a beautiful altar boy and sexual feelings developing should be limited. This will not be the case for a heterosexual priest and a female server. The church is burying its head in the sand over the fact young people can be beautiful and that that such beauty can sometimes seriously destabilize some who thought they were immune to such things. Why subject the vulnerable to the risk?