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Author Topic: Ordination and tonsuring of servers  (Read 6258 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cyprianus
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« on: June 19, 2008, 06:11:50 PM »

I have been taught that, in the Byzantine Rite, the hierarchy and communion of the Orthodox Church is shown forth by us receiving the Mysteries of the Church according to our part and within the Mystery of the Church.

Therefore, a priest vests as a priest in order to receive Communion, even if he has not concelebrated at that particular Liturgy, because that is his order within the economy of Christ's Body, the Church, and it makes sense for him to vest as such for Communion.  Similarly, a server removes his stikhar to make Confession and receive Communion, because he is not ordained and is a layman, therefore should receive the Mysteries as a layman.

Now, I occasionally visit Byzantine Rite churches of the Greek Archdiocese and the Antiochian Deanery and noticed that their servers receive the Mysteries while wearing their stikhars.  This surprised me at first as it contradicts what I have been taught is the Byzantine Rite custom.

Anyway, it got me to thinking a little bit more about this.  The reason that servers wear stikhars is that, properly, they are tonsured and ordained to this ministry, much like readers.  However, these days, as I understand it, servers are very rarely, if ever, tonsured and ordained.  Therefore, the "servers/acolytes" whom we see in most of our churches today are actually laymen performing an ordained role in the Liturgy.  Leaving aside for the moment the matter of whether this is proper, it raises some questions:

  • Does anywhere actually tonsure servers anymore?  The Athonie Fathers, perhaps?
  • Does anybody know where I can find more information about the exploration of St John of Shanghai & San Francisco of restoring the tonsuring and ordination of servers?
  • Why do some churches permit laymen to receive the Sacraments as though they were ordained?
  • What are the thoughts of others about restoring the ordained misnistry of the server?
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2008, 07:33:35 PM »

I have been taught that, in the Byzantine Rite ...... I occasionally visit Byzantine Rite churches of the Greek Archdiocese and the Antiochian Deanery ......it contradicts what I have been taught is the Byzantine Rite custom."

What is a Church of the "Byzantine Rite"? Are you talking about Eastern Catholics?
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2008, 07:47:35 PM »

What is a Church of the "Byzantine Rite"? Are you talking about Eastern Catholics?

Different rites exist within the Orthodox Church, ozgeorge, with forms of service that developed differently in different parts of the Orthodox world.  To my knowledge, the particulars of this discussion do not apply to any of the Western Rites so I specified that I was talking about the Byzantine Rite, which developed in the east and to whcih the Liturgies of St Basil and St John Chrysostom belong.  It is true that the Byzantine Rite does also exist in the Catholic church but I am speaking here specifically about the Orthodox Church, (although it would be interesting to learn of the practice of our Catholic friends of the Byzantine Rite if any of them wished to share it here).

I hope that clarifies my meaning.

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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2008, 08:04:56 PM »

Thanks for clarifying. I found it confusing because the Orthodox don't call their Liturgy "Byzantine Rite".
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2008, 08:06:42 PM »

^^ Are you a member of a non-Canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction?
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2008, 08:08:18 PM »

^^ Are you a member of a non-Canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction?
To whom are you speaking?
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2008, 08:09:54 PM »

To whom are you speaking?

To the OP - I used the double carets kinda to refer to him without naming him.  Sorry....
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2008, 08:10:46 PM »

Thanks for clarifying.

That's quite all right. Smiley

Quote
I found it confusing because the Orthodox don't call their Liturgy "Byzantine Rite".

This is different from my own experience, though.  Having said that, much of my experience in Orthodoxy has been with people who have similar interests to my own, including liturgical cevelopment and history, so it is fairly common in those circles to hear different rites referred to as Gallican, Byzantine, Roman, and so forth.  I suppose it just depends on our own experience.

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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2008, 08:16:32 PM »

^^ Are you a member of a non-Canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction?

 Huh  Would I seem very rude if I were to ask why you ask?  I don't see how it's relevant to the general questions I was asking in the OP.  I just wondered what people's thoughts were on the matter.

To answer your question, though, no, I do not consider the jurisdiction to which I currently belong and to which I have belonged since having become Orthodox to be uncanonical, although I have friends who disagree with me.

Pax,
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2008, 08:22:34 PM »

Huh  Would I seem very rude if I were to ask why you ask?

No, because my profile makes it clear that I'm part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.  When you say "Orthodox" that could mean anything ranging from Roman Catholicism to OO and so on....


I don't see how it's relevant to the general questions I was asking in the OP.  I just wondered what people's thoughts were on the matter.

The triggering word, heretic, was thrown in at a different thread.


To answer your question, though, no, I do not consider the jurisdiction to which I currently belong and to which I have belonged since having become Orthodox to be uncanonical, although I have friends who disagree with me.

There are 15 Canonical Orthodox Churches and a lot more uncanonical Orthodox churches in the world today.  If an Orthodox Church is not part of the 15 Canonical Orthodox Churches, it is deemed uncanonical.
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2008, 08:23:53 PM »

Cyprianus, In partial reply to your inquiries.

In the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, it is routine, when a bishop is making a pastoral visit, to tonsure, "set apart," the acolytes as readers.
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2008, 08:26:52 PM »

This is interesting about servers. Here's a question I've had about servers: In my former church, anyone with such a special role in church life would have been chosen for his upstanding and sincere Christian testimony. So when I became Orthodox, I was under the impression that the servers were very godly young men, very dedicated to Christ. Now lately, I have been surprised to learn that many do not even know the main elements of Orthodox Christianity. One of them openly admitted to me that the entire time he was serving in the altar for ( several years), he didn't have the faintest clue about what Christianity was  about and he was living a very immoral life. I am not judging-merely very surprised and confused. I realize I'm straying from the original post here, and I apologize for that.
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2008, 08:31:56 PM »

No, because my profile makes it clear that I'm part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.  When you say "Orthodox" that could mean anything ranging from Roman Catholicism to OO and so on....

Thank you for clarifying, SolEX01.  I do understand your question but I still don't understand the relevance of my jurisdiction to the subject matter of this thread.  I'm not being deliberately obtuse and I apologise if I am causing any frustration.

Quote
The triggering word, heretic, was thrown in at a different thread.

I have already explained on that thread that my meaning seemed to have been misunderstood, perhaps because of my own lack of precision.

Quote
[qb]There are 15 Canonical Orthodox Churches and a lot more uncanonical Orthodox churches in the world today.  If an Orthodox Church is not part of the 15 Canonical Orthodox Churches, it is deemed uncanonical.

As I have not been a member of this forum for long, I am not yet comfortable enough to reveal very much information about myself and my affiliations.  However, if it helps to set you at your ease with me, I can confirm that I belong to the same communion of Orthodox churches that you do.

Thank you for that elucidation, BTRAKAS.  I had been entirely unaware of that, not having witnessed it myself.  I shall ask about this further among my friends in the Greek Archdiocese.

Pax,
Cyprian.
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2008, 08:40:05 PM »

Thank you for clarifying, SolEX01.  I do understand your question but I still don't understand the relevance of my jurisdiction to the subject matter of this thread.  I'm not being deliberately obtuse and I apologise if I am causing any frustration.

We have people from all Orthodox backgrounds, canonical and uncanonical, in this forum.  I didn't even mention schismatic groups and I apologize if I appeared insistent.

I have already explained on that thread that my meaning seemed to have been misunderstood, perhaps because of my own lack of precision.

I'm guilty of being imprecise from time to time as well.   Grin  Welcome to the forum.   Smiley

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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2008, 09:06:06 PM »

Cyprianus, In partial reply to your inquiries.

In the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, it is routine, when a bishop is making a pastoral visit, to tonsure, "set apart," the acolytes as readers.

Btrakas,

Are you saying then that there are tonsured readers in the Greek Archdiocese in America?  I ask because whenever I go to a Greek parish (and I've been to at least four of them) I've never seen a man who looks like a reader (i.e. wearing just a cassock).  I see plenty of men (and women) wearing an exorason on top of regular clothes.

Just curious, b/c tonsured readers are common in some other jursidictions. 

Markos
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2008, 09:10:05 PM »

To answer the question, rather than change the topic and be questioning people's "canonical" statuses, if we want to follow the canons, a priest must celebrate every Sunday, so unless for medical reasons, or if he is retired, he will concelebrate. However if a deacon does not serve, he would vest before receiving, but normal practice in the Russian church, at least, is that servers should devest to receive communion.
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2008, 09:32:09 PM »

To be honest I think this is one of those local practice things that some people make out to be as important as the dogma of the Trinity.

As much as I have seen 9 year old altar boys receive communion in a sticharion I have also seen 80 year presbyters come up and receive communion via the spoon in just a cassock. Local traditions vary.

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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2008, 12:41:18 AM »

MarkosC, Re. Reply #14

Yes.  Typically Altar Boys (Acolytes) have been or will be set apart as "readers" in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  Likewise, most of the chanters have been set apart as readers, at some point.  Altar Boys wear robes and a deaconal type stole; chanters wear cassocks, over their street clothes, which separates their human iniquity from the holiness of the sanctuary.
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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2008, 12:53:17 AM »

To be honest I think this is one of those local practice things that some people make out to be as important as the dogma of the Trinity.

I agree.
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2008, 01:56:03 AM »

MarkosC, Re. Reply #14

Yes.  Typically Altar Boys (Acolytes) have been or will be set apart as "readers" in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.  Likewise, most of the chanters have been set apart as readers, at some point.  Altar Boys wear robes and a deaconal type stole; chanters wear cassocks, over their street clothes, which separates their human iniquity from the holiness of the sanctuary.

Yes. From my distant past I remember Archbishop Iakovos so tonsuring us alter-boys.
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« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2008, 10:57:08 AM »

I see plenty of men (and women) wearing an exorason on top of regular clothes.

I've seen members of Church choirs wear robes above their regular clothes except that such a robe isn't called an exorason.

I have never seen a woman in any canonical Orthodox Church wear a black exorason over her regular clothes.
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« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2008, 05:03:55 PM »

I'm a tonsured reader in the OCA under Archbishop Job. I do not remove my cassock before going to communion. When I serve I receive communion while wearing my robe. Seeing that anyone from reader (the first step) through Bishop is an order of the priesthood (albeit minor order), I don't see a reason why they should de-vest before receiving communion. When you are tonsured or blessed (as a sub deacon) you are given the right to wear your robe or sash and use your official title. You don't step out of that position until you leave the church after service. AFAIK, once you put the robe on, it stays on till the service ends.

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« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2008, 08:02:36 PM »

I've seen members of Church choirs wear robes above their regular clothes except that such a robe isn't called an exorason.

I have never seen a woman in any canonical Orthodox Church wear a black exorason over her regular clothes.

BTRAKAS,

Thanks for the clarification.

SolEx,

I did think it was weird.  It sure looked like the ladies were wearing Exorasa (sp?) on top of regular clothes, though of course I didn't go up to them and ask. Wink 

Maybe it's just the practice in this particular [canonical] jurisdiction. 
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« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2008, 09:04:16 PM »

I've seen members of Church choirs wear robes above their regular clothes except that such a robe isn't called an exorason.

I have never seen a woman in any canonical Orthodox Church wear a black exorason over her regular clothes.

Don't the female readers tonsured by the GO Archdiocese in the US wear exorassons?
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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2008, 10:29:16 PM »

Don't the female readers tonsured by the GO Archdiocese in the US wear exorassons?

I have never seen a female tonsured as a reader by a GOA Hierarch at my local GOA Church.  I can't imagine women are tonsured by any GOA Hierarch in any GOA Church other than female babies after baptism/chrismation or females who are Chrismated into the Orthodox Christian faith.   Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2008, 10:42:58 PM »

Only one I recall was in San Francisco about 3-4 years ago. Quite a brouhaha over it.
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« Reply #26 on: June 20, 2008, 10:58:45 PM »

I have never seen a female tonsured as a reader by a GOA Hierarch at my local GOA Church.  I can't imagine women are tonsured by any GOA Hierarch in any GOA Church other than female babies after baptism/chrismation or females who are Chrismated into the Orthodox Christian faith.   Smiley
A friend of mine is a tonsured woman reader in a GOA cathedral...

Only one I recall was in San Francisco about 3-4 years ago. Quite a brouhaha over it.
... in the same GOA Metropolis of San Francisco.
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« Reply #27 on: June 20, 2008, 11:02:52 PM »

I have never seen a female tonsured as a reader by a GOA Hierarch at my local GOA Church.  I can't imagine women are tonsured by any GOA Hierarch in any GOA Church other than female babies after baptism/chrismation or females who are Chrismated into the Orthodox Christian faith.   Smiley

Meet Reader Joy and Reader Eve Tibbs, tonsured as a Reader by Bishop Antoun of the Antiochian Archdiocese and Metropolitan Anthony of the GOA, respectively. Likewise the OCA does, or at least did have altar girls in the past too.

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« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2008, 11:05:18 PM »

Meet Reader Joy and Reader Eve Tibbs, tonsured as a Reader by Bishop Antoun of the Antiochian Archdiocese and Metropolitan Anthony of the GOA, respectively. Likewise the OCA does, or at least did have altar girls in the past too.
Thank you! I knew that the Orthodox Church in the States had tonsured female readers.
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« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2008, 12:07:38 AM »

A friend of mine is a tonsured woman reader in a GOA cathedral...
... in the same GOA Metropolis of San Francisco.

I can't see how tonsuring women as Readers is canonically valid.

From OrthodoxWiki:
A reader, also called a lector (in Greek, αναγνώστης, anagnostis or anagnostes; in Slavonic, Чтецъ, chtets) is one of the minor orders of the Orthodox Church, a sub-clerical order to which a man is tonsured, setting him apart as blessed by the bishop to read the epistle readings in the Divine Liturgy. He may also serve as a cantor, catechist, or in other leadership roles in the local parish community.

Even the example picture with the OCA altar girl, the former OCA Chancellor (now deposed) basically said to stop allowing girls to serve in the altar.
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« Reply #30 on: June 21, 2008, 12:25:59 AM »

I can't see how tonsuring women as Readers is canonically valid.

From OrthodoxWiki:
Well if it is on a Wiki it must be true  Wink

Please take keep thread on the subject of vesting for communion, the subject of women in orders has been discussed on many threads here are few...

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13191.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,7250.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,9583.0.html

As you will read this subject has been discussed to death on this forum.

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« Reply #31 on: June 21, 2008, 12:28:16 AM »

I can't see how tonsuring women as Readers is canonically valid.

From OrthodoxWiki:
A reader, also called a lector (in Greek, αναγνώστης, anagnostis or anagnostes; in Slavonic, Чтецъ, chtets) is one of the minor orders of the Orthodox Church, a sub-clerical order to which a man is tonsured, setting him apart as blessed by the bishop to read the epistle readings in the Divine Liturgy. He may also serve as a cantor, catechist, or in other leadership roles in the local parish community.

Even the example picture with the OCA altar girl, the former OCA Chancellor (now deposed) basically said to stop allowing girls to serve in the altar.

The only thing is that OrthodoxWiki is probably just as much (or little) an authority as Wikipedia, since they're both based on the same user-edited format.
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« Reply #32 on: June 21, 2008, 12:46:09 AM »

Well if it is on a Wiki it must be true  Wink

Reply #23 in this thread started us down this road.  Given that part of the thread deals with the tonsuring of servers (whether male or female), the discussion inevitably led to the subjects touched upon by various threads.  I realize that quoting Wiki isn't the best; However, I defended my point even when refuted by one instance of a woman being tonsured a reader.   Smiley

Thanks.   Smiley 
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« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2008, 04:18:56 AM »

Likewise, the OCA does, or at least did have altar girls in the past too.


Almost an accurate report, leaving out that as soon as this photo was published the OCA synod (then in current session) immediately condemned this.
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"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides
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