I ACCEPT with amusement your heading "Foul Play at Mass", to the letter from your distinguished correspondent Fr Anthony Furness concerning my own letter (May 8) on "Altar Maids in the Sanctuary".
I confess to having my tongue in my cheek in using the word "commissioning" instead of ordaining when writing about acolytes in the third century. I feared putting ambitions in the minds of those "charming altar maids", whose sights are already set very high.
Yes, acolytes were ordained; having progressed through Minor Orders before receiving Major Orders. No, I was not quoting directly from Canon Six of the Fourth Council of Carthage (AD 398).
It was from a book on "Conferring Orders" given to me by Monsignor Duchemin, my Rector at the Beda College of Rome, when I was about to receive Minor Orders, and under the title The Ordination of Acolytes.
I found the wording I quoted in my letter, which I found to be the same as those pronounced over me at my own Ordination as an Acolyte. So I presumed it was handed down by tradition.
As for poisoned wine at Mass, if present day altar servers who had been found worthy were commissioned as Acolytes at the Mass, I am sure that they would have no objection to taking part in the praegustatio at the Offertory.
For twenty years I was an acolyte at the Jesuit Church at Farm St in London and would have rejoiced had it been part of my duties during those years.
Nowadays I see wine cruets being put on the credence table immediately after the preceding Mass, even though the next Mass follows an hour later. Things were different in my day. I am now 83.
Fr Robert Goold London N2