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Author Topic: Women: "Uncleanness" and Baptism and Deaconesses  (Read 9166 times) Average Rating: 0
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serb1389
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« on: April 08, 2009, 02:03:57 PM »

From the "Met Jonah" thread: 



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3. The diaconate of women should be re-instituted in our Church, according to the ancient, New Testament model.
I don't know that I would be eager to see this happen willy nilly but if the time is right and there is a need for it to be reinstituted then this is worthy of consideration. If I'm not mistaken St. Nectarios tonsured two women into the women's diaconate.  That said it seems most functions of this tonsure have been subsumed by women monastics...I think. 
I would not be eager to see it willy nilly either, but as we have many, many women converting (and we do indeed), then I think there is a need.  I had a priest tell me just the other day that he thinks it's totally inappropriate for a priest to be handling an adult woman at a baptism.  I agree with him.  With the climate of the times being what it is, especially (not that our church practices are determined by the climate of the time, but we do need to take extra care sometimes), we need to be especially careful about our priests handling women.  I say this as one who does NOT want to see her husband accused of something because he baptized an adult woman.  That is just one example of the need.  There are others, but I think even the existence of one (very crucial) need like this is enough.

Firstly, need is assessed by many factors, and not just women entering the church (and how many). 

Secondly, most of the women who are converting are doing so from other Christian denominations.  The GOA (and most other jurisdictions) have protocol as to how they are received into the church, and it's not through re-baptism.  Now, if there were converts from paganism or etc. or if the church decides to be more cyprianic in its mindset, then there would be a need.  As it stands today, I don't think we can make a case that there really is that much of a need. 

I do agree though that one convert who needs to be baptized is too much.  We don't need our priests being brought into scandals.  I wonder though how the early church was able to maintain its dignity.  They didn't start ordaining deaconesses until much later on when the need was immense.  Maybe that is a lesson to us.  Just throwing it out there. 

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4. Women should be welcomed to participate in the Liturgy as members of the choir, as chanters and readers. Women should be tonsured for these roles in the same manner as are men.
I was not aware tonsure was required of anyone to sing in the choir. To my knowledge anyone can read if asked/blessed by the priest without tonsure if a tonsured reader is not available. Traditionally speaking male choirs might be preferable but not normally possible at the parish level. This is a decision for Bishops and priests. Tonsuring female readers strikes me as very problematic if it lacks any serious traditional precident. The service for tonsure of a reader is that of a taper bearer and would suggest a right/duty to serve in the altar. This is not right. Even an Abbess who has the right to be in the altar and receive communion there cannot do this so far as I know. One thing is for sure, the door should not be open to female altar servers.
Choirs, in the way we have them here in the US, are a Western innovation, and are foreign to the Church.  Why are male choirs preferable?  Are not women included in the commands we see in the Bible to raise our voices to the Lord?  Why should women be excluded from this?
Why not women altar servers?  Just curious what your thinking is here.  In monasteries the women always serve in the altar.  There WAS a female diaconate, where she was ordained in the altar, received communion in the altar as clergy, and served in the altar.  The precedent is there for allowing women to serve in the altar and there is no theological reason she CAN'T, so I'm curious as to what your thinking is.

I was always under the impression that women serving IN the altar was an "oikonomia" to the canons.  If it's an economy then there must be a reason why they wern't allowed in the first place (other than scheuvanism).  Does that make sense? 

Also...how do you figure then (with this reasoning that I laid out above) that there is no theological reason that a woman CAN'T be in the altar?  Like I said above, what about the iconic role of the priesthood?  I understand that economic examples have been given, like the Panagia, etc.  But those are economy, not the rule.  See my point? 

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5. Tonsured women should be welcomed to serve in the Sanctuary as are men.
No they shouldn't unless there is ample precident in the Tradition. I do not like this creeping anti-male feminist gender homogenizing.
See above.  In addition, though, just because a woman has a desire to serve does NOT make her anti-male or a feminist, or gender homogenizing.  Did it ever occur to you that it has nothing to do with you?  Or with men?  At all?  But rather a woman's genuine desire to serve?

What about the standard response of "well there are many other ways you can serve, just not in this particular way".  Also what would you answer to the question "what about men who have the desire to give birth to a child.  And not just any child, but the Son of God?"  .....I'd be interested in your feedback. 

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6. Both male and female infants should be Churched in the same way, within the Sanctuary.
No they shouldn't. That is not the tradition, and so far as I know never has been.
I don't personally care whether they're both in the Sanctuary or not.  I don't really even care that they're churched differently.  But I do care that the reason for it does not hold water theologically.

Yah...I covered this above.  Let me know what you think. 

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7. The Church must make it clear that natural bodily functions should in no way bar anyone from participation in the sacraments.
  This is utter nonsense. Absolutely not. These bars are on everyone not just women. If a man has an open bleeding wound/sore he should not commune any more than a women in her monthly time. Nor should either if they've had relations the night before.  Such an idea is just unthinkable. For goodness sake, this has nothing to do with sexual discrimination even a little. If a Orthodox person communes within 24 hours of their repose, if they are desanguinated, then that blood has to be saved and buried with them. It's about respect for the Holy Mysteries, not egos.
This is ridiculous.  A woman's menstrual blood does not circulate the way the rest of the blood in the body does, otherwise she would die from blood loss on day one of her period.  But they didn't know that when the canon was written.  Either way, this is a stupid argument that has been hashed and rehashed a million times on the forum.  Suffice it to say:  1.  We should NEVER be teaching our children that something their body does is wrong or bad, that God's creation is not good, or is a mistake.  This is the concern with this issue.  2. It's best to leave it up to one's spiritual father, so there's no point in arguing here.

This is honestly one of the most motivating things i've ever heard/read/experienced from a woman, or anyone for that matter. I just wanted to personally thank you for writing this.  Definitely gave me a reality check.  thanks pres! 

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This is for the most part just modernist ego driven crazy talk so far as I can see, a complete disregard for the Tradition when it becomes "insensative" by modern "standards". 
Look, I'm not in favor of ordaining women to the priesthood, so let's get that out there before going any further.  Because, inevitably, any woman who wants to serve in the church is labeled a "feminist," "anti-male," "modern," etc.  That's a load, and we all know it.  I AM in favor of a female diaconate, should the CHURCH (not you or me) decide that there is a need.  I AM in favor of women being allowed to serve in the altar (as many already do, and with their bishop's blessings) because there is no reason to BAR women from heeding THEIR calling to serve.  At the least, the distinction needs to be made that NO ONE, MALE OR FEMALE, should be in the altar without the priest's/bishop's blessing.  This distinction is always lost. 

It is wrong to say that women are feminists and anti-male for desiring to serve the Lord.  It is unfair.  There are a few women out there, yes, who are a very vocal minority, who have ruined it for the rest of us.  But to ignore these issues and brush them off as "feminist talk" is to ignore and brush off an entire HALF of humanity (whom God ALSO created in His image and likeness), not minister to them, and to set precedents that, no matter the fact that there is NO theological basis for it, women are just lesser than men.  You may say that's stupid, or feminist, or modern or whatever.  I say, I'm tired of hearing men like you brush me off.  I say, it's time to EDUCATE the people and end the mythology.  No, women should not be priests, but let's be clear about the reasons.  I had a Sunday Schooler (a 16 year old) tell me she thinks women shouldn't be priests because Eve ate the apple and women are worse and lesser than men.  This was three weeks ago.  Is this what we should be teaching our children?  No.  We SHOULD be teaching them that the priesthood is not for women.  But we should be teaching them the proper reasons why, and we should be drawing VERY clear lines about what is and isn't proper for women, BASED ON THEOLOGY, NOT ANTIQUATED MISOGYNISTIC MYTHOLOGY.
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Instead of going through all of this, I think maybe we should just start by addressing the points I brought up before (above).  Let me know what you think. 
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2009, 03:26:35 PM »

Thank you to whoever responded "This is ridiculous.  A woman's menstrual blood does not circulate the way the rest of the blood in the body does, otherwise she would die from blood loss on day one of her period.  But they didn't know that when the canon was written.  Either way, this is a stupid argument that has been hashed and rehashed a million times on the forum.  Suffice it to say:  1.  We should NEVER be teaching our children that something their body does is wrong or bad, that God's creation is not good, or is a mistake.  This is the concern with this issue.  2. It's best to leave it up to one's spiritual father, so there's no point in arguing here."

This topic troubles me greatly, especially when the woman healed of the flow of blood was able to approach the Lord for healing.  And yet it seems to bring up such vehement feelings in men, for some reason, who can choose not to masturbate and who can avoid getting papercuts.  Women cannot choose not to menstruate unless they get below a certain body fat %, which means that they would have far fewer opportunities to commune even if they had said their prayers and prepared their hearts, and genuinely trusted in the Lord to heal them.
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2009, 03:55:07 PM »

This topic troubles me greatly, especially when the woman healed of the flow of blood was able to approach the Lord for healing. 

A great point: she had a flow of blood for years, and actually touched Christ while He walked on the Earth... and she wasn't struck down, or humbled, but rather exalted for her faith.  However, I'm sure someone will dismiss it since she wasn't eating and thus there was "no chance for it to come out in the flow of blood."

I've got a question for the no-communing-during-menstruation crowd: what do you do with the millions of skin cells that, after receiving blood from the body and which die in a continual cycle throughout the day, fall off the body after communion (for hours, days, *gasp* and years)?  What about the hairs that come off the head (and other parts of the body - underarms and face, for example)?
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2009, 04:37:43 PM »

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I had a priest tell me just the other day that he thinks it's totally inappropriate for a priest to be handling an adult woman at a baptism.  I agree with him.  With the climate of the times being what it is, especially (not that our church practices are determined by the climate of the time, but we do need to take extra care sometimes), we need to be especially careful about our priests handling women.

The climate of the times does bear consideration with regard to the influx of adult converts needing baptism in recent years.

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Choirs, in the way we have them here in the US, are a Western innovation, and are foreign to the Church.  Why are male choirs preferable?  Are not women included in the commands we see in the Bible to raise our voices to the Lord? Why should women be excluded from this?

I don't think women should be excluded from singing. The resurgance of congregational singing in American Orthodox parishs strikes me as a very good think.  

If I'm not mistaken, I believe to original move to well trained choirs in ages past was in support of the idea of "kallos" beauty. The worship of the Lord should be beautiful both theologically and in its expression. In public worship the male voice can express the depth and sobriety of our worship better than the female voice, generally speaking, since it is more or less restricted to an upper register (if that is the right musical term). It is well to remember both east and west until fairly recently male choirs were the norm in churches, with boys singing the highest note and adult men filling in the middle and lowest notes (granted some men can sing much higher than others). I'm not sure whether this was because of a strong sense of cultural impropriety about allowing mixed choirs, or women being thrust too much in the public eye or whether there is some undergirding theology that supports male only choirs.  Personally I've not seen such theology, though I've heard it alluded to. So my guide at this point is a combination of the tradition that has come to us plus the "artistic" considerations given the natural range of the male voice as to what might be considered preferable.  That said, I not aware of any prohibition of women singing. If the worship is beautiful sing away.

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Why not women altar servers?  Just curious what your thinking is here.  In monasteries the women always serve in the altar.  There WAS a female diaconate, where she was ordained in the altar, received communion in the altar as clergy, and served in the altar.  The precedent is there for allowing women to serve in the altar and there is no theological reason she CAN'T, so I'm curious as to what your thinking is.

A monastery is not a parish. When you say the female diaconate served in the altar in ancient times does that mean they carried tapers, fans, banners, etc. as those who serve there today do?

I am open to the possibility of being wrong on this point, but only if such a thing had strong roots inthe Tradition. That said, even it it is permissible in certain cases I really don't see it as a good thing especially in this day and age. It is wonderful that women are willing to serve, and willing to step in wherever there is need. But today's greatest gender need, if I can speak this way, is women insisting that men do their part and remain active and engaged. If it is easy for a woman to displace a man in these functions, soon enough only women will be doing it at all...the men will either associate it will something belonging more to women than to them or will just view it as another indication that their maleness has little meaning or place in the Church or the world.

I'm speaking on my own, but I think in some manner these gender based service distinctions is part of the way the Church sacramentalizes what it is to be a male, a way of holding men responsible to the theological depths of what it means to be a male and make them accountable for the spiritual leadership of their homes and parishes.  If women step in, like it or not, that element goes out the window.

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In addition, though, just because a woman has a desire to serve does NOT make her anti-male or a feminist, or gender homogenizing.  Did it ever occur to you that it has nothing to do with you?  Or with men?  At all?  But rather a woman's genuine desire to serve?

But it does have something to do with me. I am a male. That maleness is not without theological meaning and not without theological responsibilty. Does it not occur to you that just because a woman can do something that does not mean she should do that thing. Femaleness has theological meaning too and when traditional liturgical roles in the Church get blurred so does that meaning for both genders.

As for desire to serve: If the desire is simply to serve then I'm sure there are a number of opportunities for service in a parish. If the desire is to serve in a particular role...then that risks serious problems.  For example, I might want to be a priest and try everything I can to secure that ordination...but in reality a  pursuit of ordination simply out of my private desire is a very strong reason to suggest that I should not be a priest. So I cannot look upon the service desires on the part of women for specific traditional male roles without at least a little suspicion. The more pushing I see to open this thing or that thing up on purely gender equality concerns, the less I'm inclined to think that its a good thing to do.

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I don't personally care whether they're both in the Sanctuary or not.  I don't really even care that they're churched differently.  But I do care that the reason for it does not hold water theologically.

I would agree. Old custom is not the same as "The Tradition". An undergirding theology needs to be present and sound for the practices of the Church.

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This is ridiculous.  A woman's menstrual blood does not circulate the way the rest of the blood in the body does, otherwise she would die from blood loss on day one of her period.  But they didn't know that when the canon was written.  Either way, this is a stupid argument that has been hashed and rehashed a million times on the forum.  Suffice it to say:  1.  We should NEVER be teaching our children that something their body does is wrong or bad, that God's creation is not good, or is a mistake.  This is the concern with this issue.  2. It's best to leave it up to one's spiritual father, so there's no point in arguing here.

How it flows is irrelevant. It is still blood, and that it is a flow blood from a human body is what is important to this question. Nor is it a question of good or bad body functions. The relations between a man and woman in marriage are not bad, nor any of the body fluids involved. Indeed it can be very good since it can lead to new life.  But new life or not, such activities and their consequential "flows" preclude access to the Holy Eucharist for a set amount of time. This is the Tradition and there is no brooking it in the name of modern sanitary practices and enlightened body function values.

Consider the burial desanguination aspect. The blood of a recent communicant is saved and buried with them. This is because their body received the precious and life creating Holy Body and Blood of Christ our God. The human body tabernacles and ingests/incorporates that priceless gift, and that takes a little time to complete. I've read that if one reposes soon after taking holy communion one is escorted very quickly by many angels to the presence of the Lord. So if this is the case are you prepared to save any of the monthly flow from a day you took communion to be buried with you or else be disposed of in some prayerful and dignified way? Would you hand your priest a bag of your "deposits" for a proper disposal the same way you might an irreparialy damaged icon? If not, why not just follow the Tradition.

Or to illustrate it another way. When I was baptised and given my blessed garment, there were some loose threads that fell on the floor. My god mother picked them all up one by one, put them in a little baggie and told me to take care of them since they were blessed. I still have them after many years. If blessed cotton threads deserved such careful consideration, what of the very "life" of a human body who has recieved the Body and Blood of the Lord. Is it less special? It is treated worthily to trow it away like used sanitary products? No, of course not.

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Look, I'm not in favor of ordaining women to the priesthood, so let's get that out there before going any further.  Because, inevitably, any woman who wants to serve in the church is labeled a "feminist," "anti-male," "modern," etc.  That's a load, and we all know it.  I AM in favor of a female diaconate, should the CHURCH (not you or me) decide that there is a need.  I AM in favor of women being allowed to serve in the altar (as many already do, and with their bishop's blessings) because there is no reason to BAR women from heeding THEIR calling to serve.  At the least, the distinction needs to be made that NO ONE, MALE OR FEMALE, should be in the altar without the priest's/bishop's blessing.  This distinction is always lost.  

I want to be sure I understand you correctly. Are you saying you don't believe in women in the priesthood because of certain labels that might be used for its supporters?  If so then I would be inclined to read your disinclination more at not wanting to face the battle of labeling rather than any particular theologial preference/understanding in favor of an all male priesthood. If not please clairify.

As or what is an inevitable "load of it" that we all know, I must disagree for I do not "know" this.  Of course I'm distinguishing between a desire to serve...and a desire to serve in the altar.

As for the restoration of the female diaconate, I agree is it a decision for the Church and not for either of us, though if the decision is made thoughtfully, prayerfully, and for theologically sound reasons keeping with the Tradition I would be in favor of it.

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But to ignore these issues and brush them off as "feminist talk" is to ignore and brush off an entire HALF of humanity (whom God ALSO created in His image and likeness), not minister to them, and to set precedents that, no matter the fact that there is NO theological basis for it, women are just lesser than men.  You may say that's stupid, or feminist, or modern or whatever.  I say, I'm tired of hearing men like you brush me off.  I say, it's time to EDUCATE the people and end the mythology.  No, women should not be priests, but let's be clear about the reasons.  I had a Sunday Schooler (a 16 year old) tell me she thinks women shouldn't be priests because Eve ate the apple and women are worse and lesser than men.  This was three weeks ago.  Is this what we should be teaching our children?  No.  We SHOULD be teaching them that the priesthood is not for women.  But we should be teaching them the proper reasons why, and we should be drawing VERY clear lines about what is and isn't proper for women, BASED ON THEOLOGY, NOT ANTIQUATED MISOGYNISTIC MYTHOLOGY.

I do not think this is about brushing you off or your half the human race, but about resistance to the denaturing of the meaning of what it means to be male or female in the Church and in society. It is about resistance to a misguided entitlement driven gender focused liturgical egaletarianism.

You say you are tired of being brushed off by men like me. It certainly was not my intent to make you feel brushed aside. But neither was it my intent to pretend there are no differences between male and female and that those differences do have their own particular delimitations and theological role restrictions in the Church. I do not doubt that women find some of it frustrating. But I don't think that kind of frustration is neccesarrily a bad thing. It serves to remind women of trouble that came to the human race because of our mother Eve's ursupation of God's given order. That is not a popular sentiment today, but it is not a condemnation of women any more than a woman's covering in Church is a condemnation of the angels (it is done for the sake of the angels...a reminder to them of the value and safety of submission to God above self will). That submission could be such a gift. Mothers and sisters could insist that their men not shirk their duties within the Church...hold them accountable for being male in a good way...rather than competing with them for what some regard as a trophy of power-equity.

As for your Sunday School teacher's evaluation of Eve's part in the Fall...that's a little wince worthy in my book as well.

As for antiquated mysogenistic mythology, I'm no more for it than I am for modern mysanthropic mythology.  I am a Traditionalist, and I am quite patriarchal, no doubt, in my mindset which I think is entirely proper to faith and to society. No appologies there. I too share your concern for sound theologial foundations for our praxis.

However if in my tone or my ignorance, which I'm sure if greater than I imagine, I ask your forgiveness for this cheifest and most verbose of sinners.
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2009, 04:42:34 PM »

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A great point: she had a flow of blood for years, and actually touched Christ while He walked on the Earth... and she wasn't struck down, or humbled, but rather exalted for her faith.  However, I'm sure someone will dismiss it since she wasn't eating and thus there was "no chance for it to come out in the flow of blood."

Bodily illness in this regard  is a different matter and I believe treated in the canons. I think that for those in this condition economias are authorized.

Besides Christ healed her.

This question regards what is appropriate communing behavior for those women who have more or less normal body function in this respect.

As for "less opportunities to commune" no one male or female has a right to a specific count of communions. Consider the life of St. Mary of Egypt. I don't think she got to commune regularly as did most in her time male or female...and I think it all sort of worked out for her in the end.

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what do you do with the millions of skin cells that, after receiving blood from the body and which die in a continual cycle throughout the day, fall off the body after communion (for hours, days, *gasp* and years)?  What about the hairs that come off the head (and other parts of the body - underarms and face, for example)?

So far as I know the canons only deal with blood and bodily emissions not with hair loss and toenail clippings. Besides, stuff that falls off is dead. Leaking blood is not dead.
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« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2009, 05:09:20 PM »

This is a slightly different topic but regarding the baptism of adult women-I checked out a link on this forum to the recent National Geographic article on the Russian Orthodox Church. There was a picture of an adult women being baptised wearing nothing but a hot pink bikini! I was totally astounded that any woman would dress that way for baptism-in a church and in front of a man not her husband, but kept my peace, not wanting to appear too "outdated". Sure enough, some non-orthodox acquaintances of mine saw the article and  believe  me, that picture did nothing to boost their opinion of the Church...they called me up and wondered what was  with the Orthodox church for allowing such immodesty. I was very embarrassed.

When I was baptised, I wore a very loose, modest and opaque white gown made for me by my godmother. She actually made a second one for me to change into after the immersion, for modesty's sake. I also discouraged men from attending the baptism, for reasons of modesty.

Why would a woman wear nothing but a bikini for baptism, or want to appear in church in such attire before a man who was not her husband???  Shocked Huh
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2009, 05:59:59 PM »


Unfortunately, there are women who like to get "attention" from the opposite sex.  Sad, but, true.  I am surprised that the priest actually went through the baptism with her in that outfit.

For this same reason, I have to agree that men/women don't mix - especially in the Altar.  Even with the best of intentions...why risk the chance of tempting each other - even if it be unintentional?

For years I felt excluded.  That this is a "man's" world.  I understood that Christ picked only male disciples, however, it still stung when I saw men, that I knew had questionable moral standards, go in and out of the Altar, and I could only gaze in awe from the outside.  However, as I matured, I realized, as was mentioned above, that the Altar is ONLY for those who are serving.  MEN are also excluded if they have no business to conduct in the Altar.  In other words, if they are not the bishop, priest, deacon or altar server, they have as little right to be in there as do I.

Needless to say, in time I realized that there is plenty for me to do, outside the Altar.  You don't have to actively "serve" in the Altar to do God's work.  Certainly that is the most visible mean, however, God's work is done in the smallest of tasks.  I have taken on a number of things, that keep me so busy that I sometimes wonder how to do it all. 

I am fine with men serving in the Altar.  I am fine with the role God has given me.  Be happy with what you have...and search for a way to serve with what you have been given.

As for the menstruation thing....I personally, respect Christ enough that I would not dare to approach Him, lest I were prepared.  This means, clean.  Clean conscience.  Bathed, in clean clothes, clean hair, clean nails, and smelling fresh as a daisy.  Unless I am dying, and am in dire need of Communion, I can wait a week.

Why look for issues?  How many women actually Commune EACH and every Sunday?  For that fact, how many MEN do?  So, why argue about every 4th Sunday's eligibility?

If we are simply looking for reasons to "shake" the Faith...this is a truly silly reason....and if I may say...prideful.

Communion is a privilege, not a right.

I have to admit that I am brokenhearted if that time of month falls on a Sunday, especially on Holy Week (barring me from venerating the Holy Shroud-Plashchanitsia)....but, I get over it...

It's not a curse.  It's just life....and it's MY choice to keep my distance.  Nobody knows which woman is menstruating...and nobody dares instruct them whether they may/may not approach. It's the woman's own conscience....her own appreciation of What she is approaching that holds her back.

Makes me appreciate it more when I am able to partake of the Privilege.

Besides, I don't think a person's "judgement" will hinge on whether she Communed or kissed the cross or went to church, etc. 

We will be judged on how we lived and how we expressed our love, not just for each other, but, for Christ....which is manifested in our daily lives and our daily actions.

Just my opinion.

Please nobody take offense.

Peace.


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« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2009, 06:06:56 PM »

This is a slightly different topic but regarding the baptism of adult women-I checked out a link on this forum to the recent National Geographic article on the Russian Orthodox Church. There was a picture of an adult women being baptised wearing nothing but a hot pink bikini! I was totally astounded that any woman would dress that way for baptism-in a church and in front of a man not her husband, but kept my peace, not wanting to appear too "outdated". Sure enough, some non-orthodox acquaintances of mine saw the article and  believe  me, that picture did nothing to boost their opinion of the Church...they called me up and wondered what was  with the Orthodox church for allowing such immodesty. I was very embarrassed.

When I was baptised, I wore a very loose, modest and opaque white gown made for me by my godmother. She actually made a second one for me to change into after the immersion, for modesty's sake. I also discouraged men from attending the baptism, for reasons of modesty.

Why would a woman wear nothing but a bikini for baptism, or want to appear in church in such attire before a man who was not her husband???  Shocked Huh

Did it feel weird for you to have the priest see you/look at you?  Just curious. 
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« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2009, 06:13:52 PM »

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Did it feel weird for you to have the priest see you/look at you?  Just curious. 


Serb, what do you mean? See me, look at me when? Do you mean when I was being baptized? (I just want to clarify before I answer)
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« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2009, 06:16:51 PM »

Quote

Did it feel weird for you to have the priest see you/look at you?  Just curious. 


Serb, what do you mean? See me, look at me when? Do you mean when I was being baptized? (I just want to clarify before I answer)


Yup that's exactly what I mean.  see you/look at you when you were being baptized. (i don't want to insinuate that he was leering or staring at you...that's why it was kind of confusing). 
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2009, 06:24:55 PM »

Quote

Did it feel weird for you to have the priest see you/look at you?  Just curious. 


Serb, what do you mean? See me, look at me when? Do you mean when I was being baptized? (I just want to clarify before I answer)


Yup that's exactly what I mean.  see you/look at you when you were being baptized. (i don't want to insinuate that he was leering or staring at you...that's why it was kind of confusing). 

Well, to be honest...I didn't really like it very well. The priest who baptised me seems to be a very sober man and he handled it pretty well, I think. But I was conscious of modesty issues the entire time, and it sort of took away from the service.  I remember when I came up out of the water the third time, he made a point of looking the other way...
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« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2009, 06:51:22 PM »

So far as I know the canons only deal with blood and bodily emissions not with hair loss and toenail clippings. Besides, stuff that falls off is dead. Leaking blood is not dead.

I really couldn't care less about these silly questions about the mythology of blood, but this statement just strikes me as laughable.

'Leaking blood' is not dead? Do you really expect it to start reproducing and growing outside the body? And what exactly makes blood 'alive'. And how is this different from cells in feces or urine? How does ths differ from skin cells that die and fall off AFTER communion? Perhaps the Eucharist isn't as 'life giving' as you would leave us to believe...LOL.

This is a question that has absolutely nothing to do with religion...it's purely a biological one.
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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2009, 07:04:21 PM »

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'Leaking blood' is not dead? Do you really expect it to start reproducing and growing outside the body?

No.

That said, blood is treated with considerable care in both the OT and NT. Recall that Gentile converts were forbidden by the apostles and the Jerusalem Council to eat blood or the flesh of strangled beasts. The life is in the blood.

This is not a question of simple biology. Nor is it some cranky mythology.

The Church has canons about this and long standing traditional practices with respect to it.

I realize some can go nuts trying to play canon lawyer, but the fact of them remains and they cannot just be simply dismissed as ignorant mythology.
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« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2009, 07:19:05 PM »

Quote
I have to admit that I am brokenhearted if that time of month falls on a Sunday, especially on Holy Week (barring me from venerating the Holy Shroud-Plashchanitsia)....but, I get over it...

Dear Liza

Refraining from communion during your period is one thing, but there is no prohibition at all for a menstruating woman to attend church, or to venerate icons or the plashchanitsa. Yes, there are babushki and yiayies who might say otherwise, but that idea is simply wrong.
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2009, 07:30:31 PM »

Quote
'Leaking blood' is not dead? Do you really expect it to start reproducing and growing outside the body?

No.

That said, blood is treated with considerable care in both the OT and NT. Recall that Gentile converts were forbidden by the apostles and the Jerusalem Council to eat blood or the flesh of strangled beasts. The life is in the blood.

This is not a question of simple biology. Nor is it some cranky mythology.

The Church has canons about this and long standing traditional practices with respect to it.

I realize some can go nuts trying to play canon lawyer, but the fact of them remains and they cannot just be simply dismissed as ignorant mythology.

Yes, yes, I played canon lawyer for quite a while...and was pretty good at it when I did. But you're begging the question. I am wondering if you have any 'real world' biology to back up your statements. If they're simply based on Aristotelian Biology and you want to make theology based on that, fine, but at least admit as much.

How is life in the blood? Not that I'm dismissing the importance of blood in maintaining the functionality of various organs, but it's simply a medium to transmit energy which is created and used by other organs. It's like the powerlines of the body, important, yet, but hardly the essence of life. I would think that if we were to say that 'life' is in something we'd be speaking of the brain and neural system.
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« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2009, 07:45:11 PM »

Quote
'Leaking blood' is not dead? Do you really expect it to start reproducing and growing outside the body?

No.

That said, blood is treated with considerable care in both the OT and NT. Recall that Gentile converts were forbidden by the apostles and the Jerusalem Council to eat blood or the flesh of strangled beasts. The life is in the blood.

This is not a question of simple biology. Nor is it some cranky mythology.

The Church has canons about this and long standing traditional practices with respect to it.

I realize some can go nuts trying to play canon lawyer, but the fact of them remains and they cannot just be simply dismissed as ignorant mythology.

Yes, yes, I played canon lawyer for quite a while...and was pretty good at it when I did. But you're begging the question. I am wondering if you have any 'real world' biology to back up your statements. If they're simply based on Aristotelian Biology and you want to make theology based on that, fine, but at least admit as much.

How is life in the blood?

Pop open a vein, and you will find out.
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« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2009, 08:47:45 PM »

Quote
'Leaking blood' is not dead? Do you really expect it to start reproducing and growing outside the body?

No.

That said, blood is treated with considerable care in both the OT and NT. Recall that Gentile converts were forbidden by the apostles and the Jerusalem Council to eat blood or the flesh of strangled beasts. The life is in the blood.

This is not a question of simple biology. Nor is it some cranky mythology.

The Church has canons about this and long standing traditional practices with respect to it.

I realize some can go nuts trying to play canon lawyer, but the fact of them remains and they cannot just be simply dismissed as ignorant mythology.

Yes, yes, I played canon lawyer for quite a while...and was pretty good at it when I did. But you're begging the question. I am wondering if you have any 'real world' biology to back up your statements. If they're simply based on Aristotelian Biology and you want to make theology based on that, fine, but at least admit as much.

How is life in the blood?

Pop open a vein, and you will find out.
Actually, life relies on numerous events that link our existence like a chain. If any would be cut it would culminate is non-being. In that respect any of them would be just as vital to life.
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« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2009, 08:52:46 PM »

Dear GreekChristian

Is this an actual serious question?  I assume it is but that it could be is very puzzling indeed.

Quote
Yes, yes, I played canon lawyer for quite a while...and was pretty good at it when I did. But you're begging the question. I am wondering if you have any 'real world' biology to back up your statements. If they're simply based on Aristotelian Biology and you want to make theology based on that, fine, but at least admit as much.

How is life in the blood? Not that I'm dismissing the importance of blood in maintaining the functionality of various organs, but it's simply a medium to transmit energy which is created and used by other organs. It's like the powerlines of the body, important, yet, but hardly the essence of life. I would think that if we were to say that 'life' is in something we'd be speaking of the brain and neural system.

First things first: Here are two very relevant Scripture passages.
Quote
Leviticus 17;14: For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

Acts 15;20: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

As you can see Aristotle has nothing to do with the statement "the life is in the blood". The revelation of God however has a great deal to do with it. Some might object that the prohibition on eating blood was just part of the Mosaic Law that is not so as we see from the Apostles, but even if it were that does not make the reason for the original prohibition a mere ritual didacticism. The reason was moral because the blood of flesh is the the life thereof.  And my point for bringing this up was that if God took animal blood so seriously, even in the NT then that leads us to the very very serious considerations of the following point.

Second:
We are not just talking about blood in general here but about the Holy Mysteries, the Body and Blood of Christ...which last I heard Orthodox believe and understand it to be truly Christ's Body and Blood and not some mere sign of memorial. When we receive them they become part of us (preferably for healing).

We are not talking about the constraints of natural biology but our duty with regard to how we approach and receive the Holy Mysteries.  The canons tells us how to approach both in body and in soul. We are not gnostics for whom mind/soul is all and the body just a temporary meaningless shell.  Our bodies shall be raised by Christ and God willing transformed and transfigured by Him.  Our reception of the Holy Eucharist, the medicine of Immortality as St. Irenaeus called it is intimately connected with our part in the Resurrection.  The canons tells to come to the Holy Eucharist in purity of mind and heart, confessed of our sins, at peace with our fellow man, prayerfully with faith and with holy fear. They also tell us to come prepared in our bodies, with fasting, with sexual purity, and without weeping sores, bleeding wounds, or for women in their monthly time.



 
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« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2009, 09:16:31 PM »

How is life in the blood?
Basic Life Support (CPR) primarily requires the artificial circulation of Blood.
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« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2009, 10:00:01 PM »

Dear GreekChristian

Is this an actual serious question?  I assume it is but that it could be is very puzzling indeed.

Serious indeed!

Quote
Quote
Yes, yes, I played canon lawyer for quite a while...and was pretty good at it when I did. But you're begging the question. I am wondering if you have any 'real world' biology to back up your statements. If they're simply based on Aristotelian Biology and you want to make theology based on that, fine, but at least admit as much.

How is life in the blood? Not that I'm dismissing the importance of blood in maintaining the functionality of various organs, but it's simply a medium to transmit energy which is created and used by other organs. It's like the powerlines of the body, important, yet, but hardly the essence of life. I would think that if we were to say that 'life' is in something we'd be speaking of the brain and neural system.

First things first: Here are two very relevant Scripture passages.
Quote
Leviticus 17;14: For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

Acts 15;20: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

As you can see Aristotle has nothing to do with the statement "the life is in the blood". The revelation of God however has a great deal to do with it. Some might object that the prohibition on eating blood was just part of the Mosaic Law that is not so as we see from the Apostles, but even if it were that does not make the reason for the original prohibition a mere ritual didacticism. The reason was moral because the blood of flesh is the the life thereof.  And my point for bringing this up was that if God took animal blood so seriously, even in the NT then that leads us to the very very serious considerations of the following point.

Second:
We are not just talking about blood in general here but about the Holy Mysteries, the Body and Blood of Christ...which last I heard Orthodox believe and understand it to be truly Christ's Body and Blood and not some mere sign of memorial. When we receive them they become part of us (preferably for healing).

We are not talking about the constraints of natural biology but our duty with regard to how we approach and receive the Holy Mysteries.  The canons tells us how to approach both in body and in soul. We are not gnostics for whom mind/soul is all and the body just a temporary meaningless shell.  Our bodies shall be raised by Christ and God willing transformed and transfigured by Him.  Our reception of the Holy Eucharist, the medicine of Immortality as St. Irenaeus called it is intimately connected with our part in the Resurrection.  The canons tells to come to the Holy Eucharist in purity of mind and heart, confessed of our sins, at peace with our fellow man, prayerfully with faith and with holy fear. They also tell us to come prepared in our bodies, with fasting, with sexual purity, and without weeping sores, bleeding wounds, or for women in their monthly time.

You never answered my question, I did not ask for a scriptural or canonical argument, I asked if there was any reasonable biological justification behind your assertions...the correct answer would have been 'no'.
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« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2009, 10:03:34 PM »

How is life in the blood?
Basic Life Support (CPR) primarily requires the artificial circulation of Blood.

Basic life support only requires the artificial circulation of oxygen throughout the body, be it in the form of hemoglobin or perfluorocarbons...the extra cells and proteins in blood, while useful, are not of such immediate importance and some elements, such as platelets can be a double-edged sword (better to have them than not, but they can still bring about premature death).
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« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2009, 10:21:20 PM »

Basic life support only requires the artificial circulation of oxygen throughout the body, be it in the form of hemoglobin or perfluorocarbons...the extra cells and proteins in blood, while useful, are not of such immediate importance and some elements, such as platelets can be a double-edged sword (better to have them than not, but they can still bring about premature death).

You're just saying stuff like that to impress the ladies.
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2009, 10:47:54 PM »

Basic life support only requires the artificial circulation of oxygen throughout the body,

GiC, air emboli kill people last time I checked.  I never heard of a human being surviving by pure oxygen circulating through the bloodstream.  If you provide such an example, I will believe you.   Smiley  Here is what I found.

Quote
Air bubbles,  which can not only block blood flow if they are large but also prevent the heart from effectively pumping blood. The air bubble may be introduced during intravenous delivery of drugs, nutrients or fluids. An air bubble embolism may also form when a vein is operated on or when a person is being resuscitated because of the force of having pressure put on their chest. Underwater diving can cause an air embolism; the risk depends on how deeply the person dives and how fast he or she returns to the surface of the water.

be it in the form of hemoglobin or perfluorocarbons...the extra cells and proteins in blood, while useful, are not of such immediate importance and some elements, such as platelets can be a double-edged sword (better to have them than not, but they can still bring about premature death).

Without a heart, how would oxygen move throughout a body?   Huh
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« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2009, 11:29:16 PM »

From the "Met Jonah" thread: 


I would not be eager to see it willy nilly either, but as we have many, many women converting (and we do indeed), then I think there is a need.  I had a priest tell me just the other day that he thinks it's totally inappropriate for a priest to be handling an adult woman at a baptism.  I agree with him.  With the climate of the times being what it is, especially (not that our church practices are determined by the climate of the time, but we do need to take extra care sometimes), we need to be especially careful about our priests handling women.  I say this as one who does NOT want to see her husband accused of something because he baptized an adult woman.  That is just one example of the need.  There are others, but I think even the existence of one (very crucial) need like this is enough.

Firstly, need is assessed by many factors, and not just women entering the church (and how many). 

Secondly, most of the women who are converting are doing so from other Christian denominations.  The GOA (and most other jurisdictions) have protocol as to how they are received into the church, and it's not through re-baptism.  Now, if there were converts from paganism or etc. or if the church decides to be more cyprianic in its mindset, then there would be a need.  As it stands today, I don't think we can make a case that there really is that much of a need. 

I do agree though that one convert who needs to be baptized is too much.  We don't need our priests being brought into scandals.  I wonder though how the early church was able to maintain its dignity.  They didn't start ordaining deaconesses until much later on when the need was immense.  Maybe that is a lesson to us.  Just throwing it out there. 
I agree with you totally, which is why I said if the CHURCH deems it necessary.  I trust the Church on this one.  I don't know about how the early church handled it.  I'll have to ask Fr. Christos.  He'll know.  I'll get back to you.


Quote
Quote
Choirs, in the way we have them here in the US, are a Western innovation, and are foreign to the Church.  Why are male choirs preferable?  Are not women included in the commands we see in the Bible to raise our voices to the Lord?  Why should women be excluded from this?
Why not women altar servers?  Just curious what your thinking is here.  In monasteries the women always serve in the altar.  There WAS a female diaconate, where she was ordained in the altar, received communion in the altar as clergy, and served in the altar.  The precedent is there for allowing women to serve in the altar and there is no theological reason she CAN'T, so I'm curious as to what your thinking is.

I was always under the impression that women serving IN the altar was an "oikonomia" to the canons.  If it's an economy then there must be a reason why they wern't allowed in the first place (other than scheuvanism).  Does that make sense? 
I understand what you mean, but I don't really have an answer, to be honest.  This is a subject about which I've done a lot of reading, but definitely have a LOT MORE reading to do.  Could you provide a source for me that shows the oikonomia?  I would be grateful.  From what I understand, the oikonomia is not for WOMEN, but for ANYONE who is NOT ORDAINED to be in the altar.  As women were, in fact, ordained to the diaconate, I'm not sure where the oikonomia would come in.  Does that make sense?

Quote
Also...how do you figure then (with this reasoning that I laid out above) that there is no theological reason that a woman CAN'T be in the altar?  Like I said above, what about the iconic role of the priesthood?  I understand that economic examples have been given, like the Panagia, etc.  But those are economy, not the rule.  See my point? 
The iconic role of the priesthood, yes, I'm absolutely with you.  I DON'T believe in women being ordained to the priesthood.  But I think that being in the altar, serving in the altar, and being ordained to the priesthood are all totally different things.  Further, I would say that the example of the Theotokos being presented in the altar was NOT oikonomia.  Her womanhood, her femaleness was the essence of her being, in that it was essential to her being the mother of God.  Thus, it could not be an oikonomia, which is a concession.  Does that make any sense? 


Quote
Quote
See above.  In addition, though, just because a woman has a desire to serve does NOT make her anti-male or a feminist, or gender homogenizing.  Did it ever occur to you that it has nothing to do with you?  Or with men?  At all?  But rather a woman's genuine desire to serve?

What about the standard response of "well there are many other ways you can serve, just not in this particular way".  Also what would you answer to the question "what about men who have the desire to give birth to a child.  And not just any child, but the Son of God?"  .....I'd be interested in your feedback. 
I agree when it comes to the priesthood, as I said.  But my question is where do we draw the line?  I say, we draw the line where the theological support stops.  If (and I say "if" because, as I said, I am not an expert in this area) there is theological support to bar women from entering the altar, then so be it.  I would totally accept that.  I have a problem with cultural traditions and ideology and mythology that have become Orthodox because we have made up reasons for it to be Orthodox.  I would venture to say that there is not theological evidence to bar women from the altar based on the example of the Theotokos, the office of the female diaconate, the service of nuns in the altar (who are still women, are they not?), and the common allowance by many, many bishops of women into the altar for purposes of cleaning and caring for it.  If women are never to be allowed into the altar, then why are there so many bishops who give them the blessing to clean and care for it?

Quote
Quote
I don't personally care whether they're both in the Sanctuary or not.  I don't really even care that they're churched differently.  But I do care that the reason for it does not hold water theologically.

Yah...I covered this above.  Let me know what you think. 
Your turn to tell me what you think, my friend!  Smiley

Quote
Quote
This is ridiculous.  A woman's menstrual blood does not circulate the way the rest of the blood in the body does, otherwise she would die from blood loss on day one of her period.  But they didn't know that when the canon was written.  Either way, this is a stupid argument that has been hashed and rehashed a million times on the forum.  Suffice it to say:  1.  We should NEVER be teaching our children that something their body does is wrong or bad, that God's creation is not good, or is a mistake.  This is the concern with this issue.  2. It's best to leave it up to one's spiritual father, so there's no point in arguing here.

This is honestly one of the most motivating things i've ever heard/read/experienced from a woman, or anyone for that matter. I just wanted to personally thank you for writing this.  Definitely gave me a reality check.  thanks pres! 
Don't thank me, just pray for me, please, my dear friend!

Quote
Quote
Look, I'm not in favor of ordaining women to the priesthood, so let's get that out there before going any further.  Because, inevitably, any woman who wants to serve in the church is labeled a "feminist," "anti-male," "modern," etc.  That's a load, and we all know it.  I AM in favor of a female diaconate, should the CHURCH (not you or me) decide that there is a need.  I AM in favor of women being allowed to serve in the altar (as many already do, and with their bishop's blessings) because there is no reason to BAR women from heeding THEIR calling to serve.  At the least, the distinction needs to be made that NO ONE, MALE OR FEMALE, should be in the altar without the priest's/bishop's blessing.  This distinction is always lost. 

It is wrong to say that women are feminists and anti-male for desiring to serve the Lord.  It is unfair.  There are a few women out there, yes, who are a very vocal minority, who have ruined it for the rest of us.  But to ignore these issues and brush them off as "feminist talk" is to ignore and brush off an entire HALF of humanity (whom God ALSO created in His image and likeness), not minister to them, and to set precedents that, no matter the fact that there is NO theological basis for it, women are just lesser than men.  You may say that's stupid, or feminist, or modern or whatever.  I say, I'm tired of hearing men like you brush me off.  I say, it's time to EDUCATE the people and end the mythology.  No, women should not be priests, but let's be clear about the reasons.  I had a Sunday Schooler (a 16 year old) tell me she thinks women shouldn't be priests because Eve ate the apple and women are worse and lesser than men.  This was three weeks ago.  Is this what we should be teaching our children?  No.  We SHOULD be teaching them that the priesthood is not for women.  But we should be teaching them the proper reasons why, and we should be drawing VERY clear lines about what is and isn't proper for women, BASED ON THEOLOGY, NOT ANTIQUATED MISOGYNISTIC MYTHOLOGY.

Instead of going through all of this, I think maybe we should just start by addressing the points I brought up before (above).  Let me know what you think. 
Over to you!
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« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2009, 12:53:44 AM »

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I had a priest tell me just the other day that he thinks it's totally inappropriate for a priest to be handling an adult woman at a baptism.  I agree with him.  With the climate of the times being what it is, especially (not that our church practices are determined by the climate of the time, but we do need to take extra care sometimes), we need to be especially careful about our priests handling women.

The climate of the times does bear consideration with regard to the influx of adult converts needing baptism in recent years.

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Choirs, in the way we have them here in the US, are a Western innovation, and are foreign to the Church.  Why are male choirs preferable?  Are not women included in the commands we see in the Bible to raise our voices to the Lord? Why should women be excluded from this?

I don't think women should be excluded from singing. The resurgance of congregational singing in American Orthodox parishs strikes me as a very good think.  

If I'm not mistaken, I believe to original move to well trained choirs in ages past was in support of the idea of "kallos" beauty. The worship of the Lord should be beautiful both theologically and in its expression. In public worship the male voice can express the depth and sobriety of our worship better than the female voice, generally speaking, since it is more or less restricted to an upper register (if that is the right musical term). It is well to remember both east and west until fairly recently male choirs were the norm in churches, with boys singing the highest note and adult men filling in the middle and lowest notes (granted some men can sing much higher than others). I'm not sure whether this was because of a strong sense of cultural impropriety about allowing mixed choirs, or women being thrust too much in the public eye or whether there is some undergirding theology that supports male only choirs.  Personally I've not seen such theology, though I've heard it alluded to. So my guide at this point is a combination of the tradition that has come to us plus the "artistic" considerations given the natural range of the male voice as to what might be considered preferable.  That said, I not aware of any prohibition of women singing. If the worship is beautiful sing away.
Really?  Are you serious?  Men's voices are better?  That's not misogynistic, no not at all!   Roll Eyes (that's the first time in all the time that I've been on this forum that I've ever used the rolling eyes face)

This is a perfect example of taking something that was a cultural norm and "Orthodoxing" it-- finding a reason to make it Orthodox so that we can stay within our comfort zone.

As far as the singing being beautiful, personally, I don't have a problem in that area (I don't say that to be boastful, only to make a point), so does that mean that, in your opinion, it's okay for me to chant?  I do chant AT the chant stand with the men *gasp.*  Does that mean that God appreciates the heartfelt praises of a tone deaf person less than those of a musically gifted person?  That doesn't seem very nice of God.

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A monastery is not a parish. When you say the female diaconate served in the altar in ancient times does that mean they carried tapers, fans, banners, etc. as those who serve there today do?
The Holy Altar is the Holy Altar, my friend, the same in the monastery as in a parish.  Furthermore, we should be educating the laity, not indulging them in baseless, uneducated mythology.  Making a distinction between a monastery and parish in this context doesn't hold water, I'm afraid.  When I say the female diaconate served in the altar, I mean she distributed the Holy Eucharist, she helped with the baptisms of women, etc.  I would say that both of those are more important than carrying fans in the Great Entrance, wouldn't you?  This is another argument that doesn't hold water.

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I am open to the possibility of being wrong on this point, but only if such a thing had strong roots inthe Tradition. That said, even it it is permissible in certain cases I really don't see it as a good thing especially in this day and age. It is wonderful that women are willing to serve, and willing to step in wherever there is need. But today's greatest gender need, if I can speak this way, is women insisting that men do their part and remain active and engaged. If it is easy for a woman to displace a man in these functions, soon enough only women will be doing it at all...the men will either associate it will something belonging more to women than to them or will just view it as another indication that their maleness has little meaning or place in the Church or the world.
I, too, am open to the possibility of being wrong, which is why I said that I follow what the Church decides, not me.  I totally agree with you, as well, that there is a great need to encourage the men to serve.  But this cannot be left to women to do.  I think any married woman would tell you that it is often NOT we who our husbands listen to. Smiley The men need to be encouraging eachother as well. 

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I'm speaking on my own, but I think in some manner these gender based service distinctions is part of the way the Church sacramentalizes what it is to be a male, a way of holding men responsible to the theological depths of what it means to be a male and make them accountable for the spiritual leadership of their homes and parishes.  If women step in, like it or not, that element goes out the window.
I would love to see some theological support for this one.

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In addition, though, just because a woman has a desire to serve does NOT make her anti-male or a feminist, or gender homogenizing.  Did it ever occur to you that it has nothing to do with you?  Or with men?  At all?  But rather a woman's genuine desire to serve?

But it does have something to do with me. I am a male. That maleness is not without theological meaning and not without theological responsibilty. Does it not occur to you that just because a woman can do something that does not mean she should do that thing. Femaleness has theological meaning too and when traditional liturgical roles in the Church get blurred so does that meaning for both genders.
No, no.  What I mean is that a woman's desire to serve is not based in a desire to displace men.  Her desire is not shaped by men at all.  It is shaped by a heartfelt calling to serve God.  And yes, it DOES occur to me that just because a woman can do something does not mean that she should.  The guys on the forum who know me from HCHC (and there's a bunch of them) will tell you that I am the FIRST person to stand up and say that it is totally inappropriate, unnecessary, and heretical to ordain women to the priesthood.  I absolutely 100% do NOT believe in the ordination of women to the priesthood.  So yes, that DOES occur to me.  It applies to men, though, as well (that just because they CAN do something doesn't mean that they should).  Again, the lines have to be clear, and those lines should be drawn by theology and God's will, not by men's will and men's mythology.

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As for desire to serve: If the desire is simply to serve then I'm sure there are a number of opportunities for service in a parish. If the desire is to serve in a particular role...then that risks serious problems.  For example, I might want to be a priest and try everything I can to secure that ordination...but in reality a  pursuit of ordination simply out of my private desire is a very strong reason to suggest that I should not be a priest. So I cannot look upon the service desires on the part of women for specific traditional male roles without at least a little suspicion. The more pushing I see to open this thing or that thing up on purely gender equality concerns, the less I'm inclined to think that its a good thing to do.
Why does that risk serious problems?  If the lines are clear what a man OR woman may and may not do, where is the risk?  I would abide by whatever the Church decides, personally.

Again, you are not getting it.  It's not about gender equality.  It has nothing to do with gender.  A woman who TRULY desires to serve does NOT desire it simply to be equal to men.  She desires it because she desires to serve God.

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I would agree. Old custom is not the same as "The Tradition". An undergirding theology needs to be present and sound for the practices of the Church.
Cool, I love it when we agree!  Smiley

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How it flows is irrelevant.
I didn't say how it flows.  I said how it CIRCULATES.  The point being that it DOESN'T circulate through the body.  The Holy Eucharist does not enter the menstrual blood because it's not circulating through the body.  The one has nothing to do with the other.

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It is still blood, and that it is a flow blood from a human body is what is important to this question. Nor is it a question of good or bad body functions. The relations between a man and woman in marriage are not bad, nor any of the body fluids involved. Indeed it can be very good since it can lead to new life.  But new life or not, such activities and their consequential "flows" preclude access to the Holy Eucharist for a set amount of time. This is the Tradition and there is no brooking it in the name of modern sanitary practices and enlightened body function values.
Actually, very little of it is actually blood, just so you know.  As I said before, though, this should be determined not by you (or me), but by one's spiritual father.  Even I don't make decisions like that for myself.  It's not up to my conscience.  It's up to my spiritual father, and it's up to me ONLY TO OBEY him.  So, no matter your personal interpretation of how MY body functions and no matter your personal interpretations of the canons, I'll obey my spiritual father on this one.  Smiley

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Consider the burial desanguination aspect. The blood of a recent communicant is saved and buried with them. This is because their body received the precious and life creating Holy Body and Blood of Christ our God. The human body tabernacles and ingests/incorporates that priceless gift, and that takes a little time to complete. I've read that if one reposes soon after taking holy communion one is escorted very quickly by many angels to the presence of the Lord. So if this is the case are you prepared to save any of the monthly flow from a day you took communion to be buried with you or else be disposed of in some prayerful and dignified way? Would you hand your priest a bag of your "deposits" for a proper disposal the same way you might an irreparialy damaged icon? If not, why not just follow the Tradition.

Or to illustrate it another way. When I was baptised and given my blessed garment, there were some loose threads that fell on the floor. My god mother picked them all up one by one, put them in a little baggie and told me to take care of them since they were blessed. I still have them after many years. If blessed cotton threads deserved such careful consideration, what of the very "life" of a human body who has recieved the Body and Blood of the Lord. Is it less special? It is treated worthily to trow it away like used sanitary products? No, of course not.
Those little anecdotes are cute and well intentioned, but not theologically binding, per se.  Either way, as I said, I'll leave it up to my spiritual father.

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Look, I'm not in favor of ordaining women to the priesthood, so let's get that out there before going any further.  Because, inevitably, any woman who wants to serve in the church is labeled a "feminist," "anti-male," "modern," etc.  That's a load, and we all know it.  I AM in favor of a female diaconate, should the CHURCH (not you or me) decide that there is a need.  I AM in favor of women being allowed to serve in the altar (as many already do, and with their bishop's blessings) because there is no reason to BAR women from heeding THEIR calling to serve.  At the least, the distinction needs to be made that NO ONE, MALE OR FEMALE, should be in the altar without the priest's/bishop's blessing.  This distinction is always lost.  

I want to be sure I understand you correctly. Are you saying you don't believe in women in the priesthood because of certain labels that might be used for its supporters?  If so then I would be inclined to read your disinclination more at not wanting to face the battle of labeling rather than any particular theologial preference/understanding in favor of an all male priesthood. If not please clairify.
No, you aren't understanding.  I'm not in favor of women being ordained to the priesthood because it is not theologically sound, and because there's no precedent for it either in tradition or in the Holy Fathers.  I don't care about the labels.  What I was saying is a "load" is the assumption that women who subscribe to the beliefs that I do (the eradication of misogynistic mythology, the education of the laity, the drawing of clear lines based on theology) automatically favor the ordination of women to the priesthood.  It's simply not true.  Personally, I draw a VERY clear line.  I don't have a problem with women in the altar (as long as they have the blessing).  I don't have a problem with women chanting and reading.  I don't have a problem with menstruating women approaching the chalice.  I don't have a problem with women in the diaconate (as it was originally intended, not some changed, gender-equalized form where a deaconess would go out on the altar and read petitions-- this is not proper).  I have a HUGE problem with the idea of women in the priesthood.  Is that a little clearer?  Sorry if it wasn't before.

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As or what is an inevitable "load of it" that we all know, I must disagree for I do not "know" this.  Of course I'm distinguishing between a desire to serve...and a desire to serve in the altar.
Again, the "load" was the label of "feminist" and "anti-male" applied to any woman with a desire to serve.

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As for the restoration of the female diaconate, I agree is it a decision for the Church and not for either of us, though if the decision is made thoughtfully, prayerfully, and for theologically sound reasons keeping with the Tradition I would be in favor of it.
Cool.  Ditto.

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But to ignore these issues and brush them off as "feminist talk" is to ignore and brush off an entire HALF of humanity (whom God ALSO created in His image and likeness), not minister to them, and to set precedents that, no matter the fact that there is NO theological basis for it, women are just lesser than men.  You may say that's stupid, or feminist, or modern or whatever.  I say, I'm tired of hearing men like you brush me off.  I say, it's time to EDUCATE the people and end the mythology.  No, women should not be priests, but let's be clear about the reasons.  I had a Sunday Schooler (a 16 year old) tell me she thinks women shouldn't be priests because Eve ate the apple and women are worse and lesser than men.  This was three weeks ago.  Is this what we should be teaching our children?  No.  We SHOULD be teaching them that the priesthood is not for women.  But we should be teaching them the proper reasons why, and we should be drawing VERY clear lines about what is and isn't proper for women, BASED ON THEOLOGY, NOT ANTIQUATED MISOGYNISTIC MYTHOLOGY.

I do not think this is about brushing you off or your half the human race, but about resistance to the denaturing of the meaning of what it means to be male or female in the Church and in society. It is about resistance to a misguided entitlement driven gender focused liturgical egaletarianism.
I didn't mean me personally.  I meant me symbolically as a woman in the church who desires to serve.  But I will say that I think your assertion of "misguided entitlement driven gender focused liturgical egaletarianism" is WAY off base and offensive.  You are assuming that women who desire to serve do so because they desire equality.  That's just wrong.  Equality has NOTHING to do with it.  You'll never be able to bear children.  I'll never be able to be a priest.  Cool.  Who cares?  I just want to serve God.  Make sense?

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You say you are tired of being brushed off by men like me. It certainly was not my intent to make you feel brushed aside.
Don't worry about me.  As I said, I didn't mean me personally.  I meant me symbolically as a woman, and you symbolically as a man (with a certain belief system).

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But neither was it my intent to pretend there are no differences between male and female and that those differences do have their own particular delimitations and theological role restrictions in the Church.
Neither was it my intention to pretend.  There's no pretending going on here, my friend, except on the part of those who say there are theological reasons for women to be barred from entering and serving in the altar.  That's pretending.  Of course there are roles for us.  Did not God make us man and woman?  There's no doubt about that.  Let's just be clear on what those roles are and WHY they are. 

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I do not doubt that women find some of it frustrating.
What we find frustrating is NOT the role limitations.  It is the persistence of the misogynistic mythology behind the improper setting of limitations.  It is running up against men who are set in their ways, threatened by women who desire to serve, unwilling to listen, and unwilling to answer questions.  It is seeing the the limitations applied ONLY to women when they should be applied to men AND women-- such as having a blessing to enter the altar--- no man should be entering the altar without a blessing either, but it doesn't stop them.  You don't see the faithful get scandalized when some random guy wanders into the altar in the middle of the service.  He may not even be Orthodox!  No one says a word.  A woman even goes onto the solea and everyone holds their breath---is she going to go into the altar?  Does she know she's not allowed?  She went in!!!!  *GASP*  Never mind if she had the blessing from the bishop to go in and change the altar cloths (like little Georgia, an elderly lady in my home parish)!  They see a woman walk in and it's, "Panagiamou," with everyone doing their cross like fifty times!  A bit of a double standard, wouldn't you say? 

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But I don't think that kind of frustration is neccesarrily a bad thing. It serves to remind women of trouble that came to the human race because of our mother Eve's ursupation of God's given order. That is not a popular sentiment today, but it is not a condemnation of women...
You bet your baklava it's not popular!!! Why?  BECAUSE IT ISN'T THEOLOGICALLY SOUND!!!!!!!  In case you've forgotten, in the words of Nonna Verna Harrison in the article "Orthodox Arguments Against the Ordination of Women As Priests" (contained in the book Women and the Priesthood, ed. Hopko, SVS Press, 1999, pg 170), "Orthodox Christians believe that the consequences of Eve's sin have been healed and redeemed through the pure, freely chosen and obedient birthgiving of the Mother of God.  Within the life of the Church, she has replaced Eve as the paradigm of womanhood..."

So, there are plenty of reasons for women to be barred from the priesthood.  This ain't one of them.

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any more than a woman's covering in Church is a condemnation of the angels (it is done for the sake of the angels...a reminder to them of the value and safety of submission to God above self will). That submission could be such a gift. Mothers and sisters could insist that their men not shirk their duties within the Church...hold them accountable for being male in a good way...rather than competing with them for what some regard as a trophy of power-equity.
Competing?  Trophy?  Power-equity?  Again, you (not surprisingly) have the wrong idea here.  To reduce this issue to nothing more than power-equity and gender competition is to do a TRUE disservice to men AND women, and is exactly what I was talking about as being frustrating and "brushing off."  You brush it off as being about those things.  It's not.  Why are you so threatened by it, anyway?  Because reducing it to these things is indicative that you don't want to deal with the real issues.  Is that because the answers may be contrary to your narrow world view?  Hmmm.... Smiley

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As for your Sunday School teacher's evaluation of Eve's part in the Fall...that's a little wince worthy in my book as well.
First off, she wasn't my teacher.  She was my STUDENT.  I am her teacher. 
Second, what does a "little wince worthy" mean, anyway?

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As for antiquated mysogenistic mythology, I'm no more for it than I am for modern mysanthropic mythology.  I am a Traditionalist, and I am quite patriarchal, no doubt, in my mindset which I think is entirely proper to faith and to society. No appologies there. I too share your concern for sound theologial foundations for our praxis.
Glad to hear it.

For the record, by the way, I don't really care all that much, personally, about serving in the altar.  I don't feel a strong desire myself to enter the altar to serve.  I chant at the chant stand, which is where I believe God wants me.  My bishop says God gave me ten denarii in my voice, and I must use it.  So I do.  Serving in the altar would keep me from doing that.  I don't believe that's God's will for me.  And truthfully, I've grown up in the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ same as everyone else here, and I'm now married to a priest, so seeing women serving in the altar would freak me out and make me a little uncomfortable (though I know of one parish in our metropolis that has had altar girls for many, many years-- I have never attended it, though, as it is a LONG drive south).  So that said... my problem is not in my personal barring from service in the altar, or in the barring of women in general.  My problem is with the misogynistic mythology that people give as reasons FOR barring women from service.  My problem is with promoting and continuing that mythology, rather than educating and correcting.  My problem is with allowing the will and pride of men to dictate the practices of the Church, rather than sound theology.  If the Church says that the women should be barred from the altar with sound theological reasoning for it, then I will by all means shut my mouth.  But the Church has not said this so far, and yet... here we are.  This is my problem.

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However if in my tone or my ignorance, which I'm sure if greater than I imagine, I ask your forgiveness for this cheifest and most verbose of sinners.
God forgives and I forgive, though it is not necessary.  You have said nothing to offend me.  Things I disagree with, sure.  But we can disagree and still love.

Forgive me a sinner,
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« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2009, 01:24:02 AM »

I am just wondering if anyone thinks that there is a correlation between the sharp decline in male attendance in Christian churches and how active females are in the leadership process?

I have no ground to hold on why woman should or should not be allowed behind the iconostasis.  I do not understand the history or the issues.  That being said, I rather like it being a boy's club.  But I have been involved in many churches where women were pretty much running the show, even scolding the pastors publicly for this or that.

I know that this may seem awful, but men like being led by men and they like to lead.  When women take the reigns, so to speak, it makes me want to leave.  Forgive me if this is awful of me, but I am just expressing my non-theological gut feeling on these things.

Do most women in Orthodox parishes feel excluded, alienated, or marginalized with the male dominated services?  I am honestly curious.  Also, do the head coverings make women feel this way?

I am also wondering if this is a created problem in our culture based off our our ideals of equality, which in most ways means no gender differentiation, unless the woman is expressing her sexuality.

Please, please do not think that I am being heartless in saying this, but please just consider it:

Should not women be glad to see the men being so active in the first place, as almost all other Christian Churches are dominated by women?  In the Catholic church I grew up in, none of us boys would serve as acolytes because of the girls doing it.  That might have been immature and foolish, but I think as the boys get bigger we retain a lot of the same attitudes in adult form.

Forgive me, the uninformed misogynist catechumen.
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« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2009, 01:40:11 AM »

Alveus Lacuna, you're so funny!!!   laugh  No forgiveness needed!!!

I am just wondering if anyone thinks that there is a correlation between the sharp decline in male attendance in Christian churches and how active females are in the leadership process?
Hmmmm.... I'd have to give that one some thought and research, myself.  Never even occurred to me.

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I have no ground to hold on why woman should or should not be allowed behind the iconostasis.  I do not understand the history or the issues.  That being said, I rather like it being a boy's club.  But I have been involved in many churches where women were pretty much running the show, even scolding the pastors publicly for this or that.
That's horrible, that some women scold the pastor publicly!  No one should be doing that, not even the bishop, not even his wife!  Smiley

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I know that this may seem awful, but men like being led by men and they like to lead.  When women take the reigns, so to speak, it makes me want to leave.  Forgive me if this is awful of me, but I am just expressing my non-theological gut feeling on these things.
Lots of guys feel that way.  There's nothing awful about it.  It just speaks of our comfort zone... how we were raised and what we're comfortable with.  There's nothing to apologize for on that.

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Do most women in Orthodox parishes feel excluded, alienated, or marginalized with the male dominated services?  I am honestly curious.  Also, do the head coverings make women feel this way?
I can only speak for myself... I don't feel that way with respect to the services, because I serve the way I want to serve-- by chanting.  That is what I've ALWAYS wanted to do, and God has granted my desire, and I am truly blessed for it.  I think what's more marginalizing and alienating is the general tone of misogyny that often permeates the air.  It never bothered me that I couldn't (or wouldn't) go in the altar, ever.  Until one Sunday when a chanter who doesn't like me (because I'm a woman at the chant stand and am far better educated in my Byzantine music than he, not to mention I can actually carry a tune) rubbed it in my face that I couldn't (read *wouldn't*) go into the altar.  That was the first time I can ever remember it really bothering me.  And it bothered me not so much because I COULDN'T go in, but because he had NO BUSINESS going in.  He had no reason to go inside, he was just going to rub it in to me, and to shoot the breeze once inside.  It's so much more complicated than "male dominated services."  It's the implications of mistaken theology-- that women are lesser than men, somehow lower in God's creation, that we are not as deserving of love in His eyes.  These things come through the way people think, talk, behave, and in our theology (the parts that are incorrect, that is).  They hurt.

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I am also wondering if this is a created problem in our culture based off our our ideals of equality, which in most ways means no gender differentiation, unless the woman is expressing her sexuality.
IMHO, I think it is as you've said for women who desire equality, not for women who genuinely desire to serve.  I have a genuine desire to serve (I'd like to think).  It doesn't bother me that I'm barred from the priesthood.  I serve as God intended for me-- at the chant stand (among other ways-- that's how I serve during the services, though).  Make sense?

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Please, please do not think that I am being heartless in saying this, but please just consider it:

Should not women be glad to see the men being so active in the first place, as almost all other Christian Churches are dominated by women?  In the Catholic church I grew up in, none of us boys would serve as acolytes because of the girls doing it.  That might have been immature and foolish, but I think as the boys get bigger we retain a lot of the same attitudes in adult form.

Forgive me, the uninformed misogynist catechumen.

No forgiveness necessary, my friend.  I don't think you heartless, and I doubt anyone else here does, either.  Sure, we are glad to see men active.  I must say that I swell with pride seeing my husband serve with such love, faithfulness, and zeal (and yes, lest anyone say anything, my spiritual father is quite aware of this pride that I have for my husband).  I love and admire your honesty and your humility.  Please forgive me, a sinner!
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« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2009, 02:56:21 AM »

I am just wondering if anyone thinks that there is a correlation between the sharp decline in male attendance in Christian churches and how active females are in the leadership process?

Empirically ... No.  Society has accepted women in leadership positions including those Christian denominations which ordain women as Priests and Hierarchs

Decrease in Church attendance by males is usually attributed to lack of belief in God (e.g. My father died, why did God take him so I'll get 50 piercings, drink lots of alcohol, stay away from Church,...) you get the picture.   angel
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« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2009, 08:50:24 AM »

From the "Met Jonah" thread: 


I would not be eager to see it willy nilly either, but as we have many, many women converting (and we do indeed), then I think there is a need.  I had a priest tell me just the other day that he thinks it's totally inappropriate for a priest to be handling an adult woman at a baptism.  I agree with him.  With the climate of the times being what it is, especially (not that our church practices are determined by the climate of the time, but we do need to take extra care sometimes), we need to be especially careful about our priests handling women.  I say this as one who does NOT want to see her husband accused of something because he baptized an adult woman.  That is just one example of the need.  There are others, but I think even the existence of one (very crucial) need like this is enough.

Firstly, need is assessed by many factors, and not just women entering the church (and how many). 

Secondly, most of the women who are converting are doing so from other Christian denominations.  The GOA (and most other jurisdictions) have protocol as to how they are received into the church, and it's not through re-baptism.  Now, if there were converts from paganism or etc. or if the church decides to be more cyprianic in its mindset, then there would be a need.  As it stands today, I don't think we can make a case that there really is that much of a need. 

I do agree though that one convert who needs to be baptized is too much.  We don't need our priests being brought into scandals.  I wonder though how the early church was able to maintain its dignity.  They didn't start ordaining deaconesses until much later on when the need was immense.  Maybe that is a lesson to us.  Just throwing it out there. 
I agree with you totally, which is why I said if the CHURCH deems it necessary.  I trust the Church on this one.  I don't know about how the early church handled it.  I'll have to ask Fr. Christos.  He'll know.  I'll get back to you.

I'd be interested in hearing what he says. 

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Choirs, in the way we have them here in the US, are a Western innovation, and are foreign to the Church.  Why are male choirs preferable?  Are not women included in the commands we see in the Bible to raise our voices to the Lord?  Why should women be excluded from this?
Why not women altar servers?  Just curious what your thinking is here.  In monasteries the women always serve in the altar.  There WAS a female diaconate, where she was ordained in the altar, received communion in the altar as clergy, and served in the altar.  The precedent is there for allowing women to serve in the altar and there is no theological reason she CAN'T, so I'm curious as to what your thinking is.

I was always under the impression that women serving IN the altar was an "oikonomia" to the canons.  If it's an economy then there must be a reason why they wern't allowed in the first place (other than scheuvanism).  Does that make sense? 
I understand what you mean, but I don't really have an answer, to be honest.  This is a subject about which I've done a lot of reading, but definitely have a LOT MORE reading to do.  Could you provide a source for me that shows the oikonomia?  I would be grateful.  From what I understand, the oikonomia is not for WOMEN, but for ANYONE who is NOT ORDAINED to be in the altar.  As women were, in fact, ordained to the diaconate, I'm not sure where the oikonomia would come in.  Does that make sense? [/quote]

LOL!  Right again.  I could probably try to do a more intense search on this, but I did my canon law project on this canon and I just re-read through it and you're right, all of the "oikonomia" is for people in GENERAL entering the altar.  All of the objections to women (and there are many) ALL have to do with the flow of blood.  I'm gona post it here so you can read through it.  It's not comprehensive, but definitely gives you a place to start to look at it. 

Thinking about it though (outloud...lol) what is the theology that ALLOWS women in the altar?  Because we are all human beings, etc. there is no man nor female, etc. ?  Just curious where you're basing your foundation. 

I plan on reading a book I just found = "Order of Creation, Order of Redemption: The ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church" by Michael Azkoul.  I wonder if there will be any interesting insights there.  Maybe not b/c it's specifically about ordination, but you never know. 

I also found an article "BABY DEDICATION IN TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY:
EASTERN ORTHODOX "CHURCHING"
OF FORTY-DAY-OLDS " by Ron Grove, which I think might add something to this conversation. 

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The iconic role of the priesthood, yes, I'm absolutely with you.  I DON'T believe in women being ordained to the priesthood.  But I think that being in the altar, serving in the altar, and being ordained to the priesthood are all totally different things.  Further, I would say that the example of the Theotokos being presented in the altar was NOT oikonomia.  Her womanhood, her femaleness was the essence of her being, in that it was essential to her being the mother of God.  Thus, it could not be an oikonomia, which is a concession.  Does that make any sense? 

Why do you think that serving in the altar and serving is not connected to the priesthood?  Wern't there different levels of priesthood in the Levitic times?  They were all men.  The people who "served" were also considered "priests" but not "high priests" and etc.  What do you think of this angle...? 

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I agree when it comes to the priesthood, as I said.  But my question is where do we draw the line?  I say, we draw the line where the theological support stops.  If (and I say "if" because, as I said, I am not an expert in this area) there is theological support to bar women from entering the altar, then so be it.  I would totally accept that.  I have a problem with cultural traditions and ideology and mythology that have become Orthodox because we have made up reasons for it to be Orthodox.  I would venture to say that there is not theological evidence to bar women from the altar based on the example of the Theotokos, the office of the female diaconate, the service of nuns in the altar (who are still women, are they not?), and the common allowance by many, many bishops of women into the altar for purposes of cleaning and caring for it.  If women are never to be allowed into the altar, then why are there so many bishops who give them the blessing to clean and care for it?

I'm not sure why the bishops allow it.  Maybe they see a need, maybe they have a particular understanding of our theology, maybe anything.  I would also respond (kind of tongue and cheek) why certain bishops do NOT allow women in the altar.  I was always under the impression that it was because of the iconic role of the priesthood.  But then again the people who have posited this theology have said that the bishop is the one who is the presider of the liturgy and he allows the priest an the altar servers and etc. so I would think "why not then women" if it's just a matter of HIM being the one who is in charge of the Bema.  I'm gona ask around a little bit. 

I think the answer to that would be "it's on his head if he decides to let a woman in there".  I think if we're all on the same page in terms of the theology, then the problem is helping people understand that theology and be OK with it.  I think also the amount of danger that exists in terms of pride and women being in the altar is a HUGE factor.  I remember a few women from HC (you know who they are) who were chomping at the bits to get into the altar.  That kind of mentality is very dangerous, no matter what our theology says. I almost would say "don't let them in" just because of that kind of attitude. 

Anyway, i'm gona read through these articles and that book and i'll try to post some things that I think are relevant.  Otherwise I think you'll find my little paper enlightening.  Let me know what you think. 
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2009, 10:51:50 AM »

Basic life support only requires the artificial circulation of oxygen throughout the body,

GiC, air emboli kill people last time I checked.  I never heard of a human being surviving by pure oxygen circulating through the bloodstream.  If you provide such an example, I will believe you.   Smiley  Here is what I found.

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Air bubbles,  which can not only block blood flow if they are large but also prevent the heart from effectively pumping blood. The air bubble may be introduced during intravenous delivery of drugs, nutrients or fluids. An air bubble embolism may also form when a vein is operated on or when a person is being resuscitated because of the force of having pressure put on their chest. Underwater diving can cause an air embolism; the risk depends on how deeply the person dives and how fast he or she returns to the surface of the water.

be it in the form of hemoglobin or perfluorocarbons...the extra cells and proteins in blood, while useful, are not of such immediate importance and some elements, such as platelets can be a double-edged sword (better to have them than not, but they can still bring about premature death).

Without a heart, how would oxygen move throughout a body?   Huh

Hence my reference to hemoglobin or perfluorocarbons Wink
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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2009, 11:20:25 AM »

Dear Presbytera,

I'll try not to create too much of a megapost but just resond to a handful (apparaently a double handful) of your responses to my responses:

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Really?  Are you serious?  Men's voices are better?  That's not misogynistic, no not at all! 


Better suited because of the vocal range available to a male choir. This is my guess as to one of the reasons male choirs arose as normative. And yes, I am serious.  And no it is not myogynistic. That said, I've got no issue with women singing in the parish choir. If they can sing and make the commitment to the choir, then with the priest's blessing sing away.

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far as the singing being beautiful, personally, I don't have a problem in that area (I don't say that to be boastful, only to make a point), so does that mean that, in your opinion, it's okay for me to chant?  I do chant AT the chant stand with the men *gasp.*

Honestly, I've no idea if I should have a problem with it or not. I know it is done. And as for chanting at the chant stand...where else are you supposed to to it?  Trying to stand alone and fumbling with the books would strike me as potentially distracting. What you must understand about my posts on this subject is that I want the Tradition preserved and followed regardless whether all its reasons and nuances are well understood. Granted it is better if there is understanding, but the Tradition doesn't change just because I might have no clue as to its "whys".

What is important in dealing with the Tradition at a community and pastoral level is being sure that it is indeed the Tradition, or at least a tradition of such establishment and good order as to have the force of Tradition.  


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Does that mean that God appreciates the heartfelt praises of a tone deaf person less than those of a musically gifted person?  That doesn't seem very nice of God.
He's probaly fine with it.  The tone deaf singer's neighbor however might have some issues.

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The Holy Altar is the Holy Altar, my friend, the same in the monastery as in a parish. 

But the "who" which is available to assist in the altar is not quite the same between a monastery and a parish.

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When I say the female diaconate served in the altar, I mean she distributed the Holy Eucharist, she helped with the baptisms of women, etc.  I would say that both of those are more important than carrying fans in the Great Entrance, wouldn't you? 

I have not heard that the female diaconate distributed communion and would need some better reference to accept this point. As for assisting with a baptism, or carrying a fan that does not require tonsure (so far as I know).  

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think any married woman would tell you that it is often NOT we who our husbands listen to. Smiley The men need to be encouraging eachother as well. 

We agree on this point. I know our priest often encouages men to help in the altar because he doesn't want to leave the impression that it's just something little boys and teenagers do.

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No, no.  What I mean is that a woman's desire to serve is not based in a desire to displace men.  Her desire is not shaped by men at all.  It is shaped by a heartfelt calling to serve God. 
 

Then I have misunderstood or to narrowly construed this type of desire among women. At least in the specifics of what you are talking about, forgive me.

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Again, you are not getting it.  It's not about gender equality.  It has nothing to do with gender.  A woman who TRULY desires to serve does NOT desire it simply to be equal to men.  She desires it because she desires to serve God.


Forgive me again. This is just an "artifact" of forum posting. If we were having a face to face conversation, you could have corrected my impressions or your statements where they got off track, but in forums conversation is taken by turns...and operating assumptions cannot be corrected or modified midpost based on input from others in the conversation. So there can be mulitple points based on that assumption that get included which might not otherwise.

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I didn't say how it flows.  I said how it CIRCULATES.  The point being that it DOESN'T circulate through the body.  The Holy Eucharist does not enter the menstrual blood because it's not circulating through the body.  The one has nothing to do with the other.
 

Biologically speaking I wasn't aware that it circulated much if any at all, rather I though that it was a blood rich tissue sluffing. By flow I mean how it left the body.

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As I said before, though, this should be determined not by you (or me), but by one's spiritual father.  Even I don't make decisions like that for myself.  It's not up to my conscience.  It's up to my spiritual father, and it's up to me ONLY TO OBEY him.  So, no matter your personal interpretation of how MY body functions and no matter your personal interpretations of the canons, I'll obey my spiritual father on this one.

This is one of those I get where you are coming from and can agree to a point but not totally. Yes, you should listen to the counsel of your spiritual father.  That said, this is not a purely private spiritual matter, it is a question dealt with specifically within the canons and Tradition of the Church.  Understanding the why's of the applicable canons and the Traditoin certainly shapes how they are applied in our time and circumstance, but we do not get to simply disregard them because they are no longer PC or pershaps not well understood.

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Those little anecdotes are cute and well intentioned, but not theologically binding, per se.  Either way, as I said, I'll leave it up to my spiritual father.

Actualy, so far as I know, the bit about desanguination after recent communion is theologically binding.

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At the least, the distinction needs to be made that NO ONE, MALE OR FEMALE, should be in the altar without the priest's/bishop's blessing.  This distinction is always lost.  

We definately agree on this.


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It is seeing the the limitations applied ONLY to women when they should be applied to men AND women-- such as having a blessing to enter the altar--- no man should be entering the altar without a blessing either, but it doesn't stop them.  You don't see the faithful get scandalized when some random guy wanders into the altar in the middle of the service.  He may not even be Orthodox!  No one says a word. 

This is not the case in my parish. We very much do get scandalized if a random person, Orthodox or not attempts to enter the altar without blessed business in the altar.  Not too long ago we had a non Orthodox visitor (a local news cameraman) step into the altar through the holy doors no less (wearing a hat and shorts no less) when the bishop was visiting us. It was quite scandalous. One reader tripped on the bema and fell trying to get to him and once inside the a deacon very quickly saw too it his hat came off and he was escorted out through the back door of the vestry. We were not amused.

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You bet your baklava it's not popular!!! Why?  BECAUSE IT ISN'T THEOLOGICALLY SOUND!!!!!!! 
I can't say I'm convinced of that.

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In case you've forgotten, in the words of Nonna Verna Harrison in the article "Orthodox Arguments Against the Ordination of Women As Priests" (contained in the book Women and the Priesthood, ed. Hopko, SVS Press, 1999, pg 170), "Orthodox Christians believe that the consequences of Eve's sin have been healed and redeemed through the pure, freely chosen and obedient birthgiving of the Mother of God.  Within the life of the Church, she has replaced Eve as the paradigm of womanhood..."


I can't forget what I've never read or even heard of to read. The Theotokos may well have replaced Eve as the paradigm of womanhood, but the biological realities of being a woman have not changed so far as I know, not yet. And until those realities that impose certain canonical restrictions at certain times in a woman's life are healed then there is no good reason to discard the Tradition concerning them.

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First off, she wasn't my teacher.  She was my STUDENT.  I am her teacher. 
Second, what does a "little wince worthy" mean, anyway?

I mean it is an idea that I find as disturbing as you do.  Women are not less than men. Men and women are different but comeplementary and have different though overlapping sets of responsibilities.

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If the Church says that the women should be barred from the altar with sound theological reasoning for it, then I will by all means shut my mouth.  But the Church has not said this so far, and yet... here we are.  This is my problem.

On issues that I don't quite understand I tend to agree with St. John Chrysostom, "Is it the Tradition? Ask no further." What God wants me to know He will lead me to in His own time.

A note in Addendum:

Some of the things we've been talking about do have deep cultural roots, and I suppose one could reasonably ask if just because a practice has strong/persisitant cultural roots is that good enough reason to preserve it, especially if in the the "light" of changing times it no longer seems as relevant as it once did. The specific custom set I'm thinking of is the strong separation that used to exist between the sexes in almost every culture. The only persons of the opposite sex one had regular dealings with were those of one's own family, otherwise men kept with men and women with women. In public situations they kept apart. We see this in the Traditional practice of women standing on the Theotokos side of the temple and men on the Christ side of the temple...not that this is much observed in most places that I know of anymore.  There was a time when I could have cared less about such things, but the older I get it seems they may have been more important than we realized.  For example, in my parents time in larger schools there were still seperate boys and girls entrances. I've even seem to recall boy's and girls water fountains in my childhood...and on the playground at recess there was very little mixing, and that generally brief and businesslike. 

If these social restrictions were still in place in our society, I have come to believe certain of our current social problems would be greatly reduced...especially those that involve the unwise congress of our teens.  There is some forgotten wisdom in having men's spheres and women's spheres of interaction and activity, and the least onerous of that I think tended to be sacramentalized in the Church. And I think we set things like this aside too easily to our peril. I've no "proof" just what seems reasonable or at least not unreasonable from the observations I've made over the course of my life, such as it is. I could be wrong, I know, though at least in some respects of this I don't think so.  Human societies have their traditions for a reason, even if they've been forgotten....this seperation of the sexes has been so historically pervasive, there must be some good deep reason for it, something important, even if we no longer know what it is.

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« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2009, 11:34:59 AM »

LOL!  Right again.  I could probably try to do a more intense search on this, but I did my canon law project on this canon and I just re-read through it and you're right, all of the "oikonomia" is for people in GENERAL entering the altar.  All of the objections to women (and there are many) ALL have to do with the flow of blood.  I'm gona post it here so you can read through it.  It's not comprehensive, but definitely gives you a place to start to look at it. 
Can't wait to read it!

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Thinking about it though (outloud...lol) what is the theology that ALLOWS women in the altar?  Because we are all human beings, etc. there is no man nor female, etc. ?  Just curious where you're basing your foundation. 
I think the article I'm posting below will answer that, but I will say first that, again, the precedents have been set-- the Theotokos, the female deacon, and, let us not forget the example of the saints.  Pr. Kyriaki gives an example of just one in the article below. 

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I plan on reading a book I just found = "Order of Creation, Order of Redemption: The ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church" by Michael Azkoul.  I wonder if there will be any interesting insights there.  Maybe not b/c it's specifically about ordination, but you never know. 

I also found an article "BABY DEDICATION IN TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY:
EASTERN ORTHODOX "CHURCHING"
OF FORTY-DAY-OLDS " by Ron Grove, which I think might add something to this conversation. 
Thanks for posting those.  I'm adding them to my reading list (which is like a mile long, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually!)

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The iconic role of the priesthood, yes, I'm absolutely with you.  I DON'T believe in women being ordained to the priesthood.  But I think that being in the altar, serving in the altar, and being ordained to the priesthood are all totally different things.  Further, I would say that the example of the Theotokos being presented in the altar was NOT oikonomia.  Her womanhood, her femaleness was the essence of her being, in that it was essential to her being the mother of God.  Thus, it could not be an oikonomia, which is a concession.  Does that make any sense? 

Why do you think that serving in the altar and serving is not connected to the priesthood?  Wern't there different levels of priesthood in the Levitic times?  They were all men.  The people who "served" were also considered "priests" but not "high priests" and etc.  What do you think of this angle...? 
I think that we have to remember, first, that the OT examples of the priesthood were fulfilled in Christ, the high priest.  You asked about the iconic role of the priesthood.  We must remember, though, that we are ALL icons of Christ, created in His image and Likeness.  This is not to dispell or devalue His role as man.  Yes, He came in a form we could understand, as a man.  And that does have a huge value.  But we have to look at the deeper theology of that, not just throw out there, "but Christ was a man."  Because without further explanation and deeper reflection, that statement sets up a mythology that teaches that women are somehow lesser.  Christ is the last Adam, and came to save ALL humanity, not just men.  We must remember that.  Again, I'm not refuting or dispelling the iconic argument.  I'm simply saying we have to be careful about how we use it, and use it correctly so that we are clear about the nature of our humanness and what it means to God.  Make sense? 

Beyond the iconic argument, the levels of the priesthood can also be seen as being fulfilled in the minor and major orders of ordination.  As we have seen, the Church saw fit to ordain women to the major order of diaconate.  Pr. Kyriaki below makes the point that the diaconate is in itself a full and complete order, and we must remember that.  To say that it is only a step in the road to the priesthood is incorrect, we must keep them separate.  I think the Church drew the line quite clearly.  The line stops at the diaconate.  Why do we question that and turn it on its head?  Just curious what you think.

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I agree when it comes to the priesthood, as I said.  But my question is where do we draw the line?  I say, we draw the line where the theological support stops.  If (and I say "if" because, as I said, I am not an expert in this area) there is theological support to bar women from entering the altar, then so be it.  I would totally accept that.  I have a problem with cultural traditions and ideology and mythology that have become Orthodox because we have made up reasons for it to be Orthodox.  I would venture to say that there is not theological evidence to bar women from the altar based on the example of the Theotokos, the office of the female diaconate, the service of nuns in the altar (who are still women, are they not?), and the common allowance by many, many bishops of women into the altar for purposes of cleaning and caring for it.  If women are never to be allowed into the altar, then why are there so many bishops who give them the blessing to clean and care for it?

I'm not sure why the bishops allow it.  Maybe they see a need, maybe they have a particular understanding of our theology, maybe anything.  I would also respond (kind of tongue and cheek) why certain bishops do NOT allow women in the altar.  I was always under the impression that it was because of the iconic role of the priesthood.  But then again the people who have posited this theology have said that the bishop is the one who is the presider of the liturgy and he allows the priest an the altar servers and etc. so I would think "why not then women" if it's just a matter of HIM being the one who is in charge of the Bema.  I'm gona ask around a little bit. 
My question is why WOULDN'T the bishops allow it?  I'm going to post an article below by Presbytera Kyriaki Fitzgerald, which I think will illustrate what I'm trying to say.

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I think the answer to that would be "it's on his head if he decides to let a woman in there". 
My friend, you say that as though it's a sin...

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I think if we're all on the same page in terms of the theology, then the problem is helping people understand that theology and be OK with it.  I think also the amount of danger that exists in terms of pride and women being in the altar is a HUGE factor.  I remember a few women from HC (you know who they are) who were chomping at the bits to get into the altar.  That kind of mentality is very dangerous, no matter what our theology says. I almost would say "don't let them in" just because of that kind of attitude. 
I totally agree with every word of this.  I definitely remember those women, and they are the kind that make this issue so difficult, setting men on their guard (because they are made to feel like the enemy) and setting women in protest (saying, "no, we're not like those women!!!")  They have created an ADVERSARIAL atmosphere in the discussion as a result of pride and hurt feelings.  I, too, have wanted to say "don't let them in" for the same reasons as you.  We have to separate the two.  We have to separate out the women like them and remember that they are human and suffer from pride the same way the rest of us do.  They just suffer more with this particular issue.  And then we have to separate their attitudes from the rest of us women, remembering that we are not all that way.  And we have to overcome and have the discussion because it's an important one that needs to be had.

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Anyway, i'm gona read through these articles and that book and i'll try to post some things that I think are relevant.  Otherwise I think you'll find my little paper enlightening.  Let me know what you think. 
Thanks, my friend!  I can't wait to read it!

In the meantime, here is an article written by Presbytera Kyriaki Fitzgerald.  Of course, she is a prolific writer and has studied this topic at great length, with well documented sources, and with much obvious humility and prayer.  This little article is just a quick summary, but it hits on ALL of the points we have discussed in this thread in the past few days.  I really hope and pray EVERYONE will read it and learn a few things.

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Orthodox Women and Pastoral Praxis
Observations and Concerns for the Church in America
Icon: Jesus Healing the Woman with an Issue of Blood
Jesus Healing the Woman with an Issue of Blood

Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald

This article was published in the St. Nina Quarterly, Volume 3, No. 2. It was excerpted and adapted from a paper given at the Intra-Orthodox Conference on Pastoral Praxis (24-25 September 1985) and subsequently published in Orthodox Perspectives on Pastoral Praxis (Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1988). Reprinted by permission.

The ministry of men and women is a topic that is being discussed in many circles today. It is my intention to identify some of the significant issues related to women and to Church praxis (practice) that need to be addressed.

American-born Orthodox Christians, especially the generation of post-World War II, have been deeply influenced by the attitudes of contemporary society. These attitudes at times may or may not coincide or complement the fundamental affirmations of the Orthodox Christian faith. Much of our sense of self and perceived identity, like that of many Americans, has been significantly shaped by the "teachings" of the surrounding Western culture and society. To analyze these factors lies outside the scope of this paper. It is, however, very important that we recognize that every believer is susceptible to the influence of the diverse values of our society. Women are equally affected. Orthodox women are all too frequently forced to choose between what is often called the "traditional" or the "contemporary" understanding of women. Orthodox women often prematurely assess their position and role in the Church from either one of these two perspectives, long before they can reflect upon the entire theological, historical, and pastoral tradition of our Church. This takes place simply because they have had precious little exposure to this tradition.1

Women and the Diaconate

There has been growing interest in recent years among Orthodox in the historic position of the female deacon and in the possibility of reviving this ministry. Clearly, there has been a very remarkable development in this area of theological investigation. It is now common to find many Orthodox theologians openly discussing this issue. For the most part, they find no doctrinal reason against the rejuvenation of a genuine order of women deacons. Because these theologians see no doctrinal reason to keep the Church from reactivating the diaconate of women, this is a recognition which is, in itself, highly significant.2

The most extensive and fundamental research by an Orthodox scholar on the topic of the order of the deaconess has been done by Professor Evangelos Theodorou of the University of Athens. Through his analysis of Byzantine liturgical texts, Theodorou has clearly demonstrated that the female deacons were actually ordained at the altar and within the context of the Eucharist. While this question was once debated among Orthodox theologians, Theodorou has forcefully shown that the female deacon did not simply receive a blessing (cheirothesia) but received the laying on of hands (cheirotonia) as was the case of the male deacon.3

According to the Byzantine liturgical texts, the ordination of the woman deacon occurred as any other ordination to major orders. It took place during the celebration of the Eucharist and at the same point in the service that the male deacon was ordained. She was ordained at the altar by the bishop and, later in the service, received Holy Communion at the altar with the other clergy.4 Depending upon the need, location, and situation in history, the deaconess ministered primarily to the women in the community in much the same way that the male deacon ministered to men.5 While the expression of the deaconess’ work varied in both form and content throughout the life of the Church, it is important to note that the hallmark of this ministry had always been loving service to others. This is because the female deacon, like the male deacon, was ordained to diakonia or ministry.6 And, as was the case with her male counterpart, she was ordained to unconditional service to the Lord and His Church. The woman deacon had always to be receptive to the many changing needs of the Church and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

There is no clear evidence to explain why the order of the deaconess was gradually deemphasized sometime after the twelfth century. It should be noted, however, that there does not exist any canon or Church regulation that opposes or suppresses the order. Writing in 1954 Professor Evangelos Theodorou noted that one could find at that time convents of the Church of Greece in which there were ordained deaconesses. This observation is certainly an important one.7

Before going any further in our discussion, it is important to emphasize here that we must not misunderstand the diaconate to be merely a stepping stone to the ordained priesthood. This is still a fairly common, yet mistaken, assumption expressed by many within the Church. This kind of thinking is essentially alien to the proper Orthodox Christian understanding of ordination. The diaconate is a genuine and full order in and of itself. It has its own particular justification for existence and its own unique ministry within the life of the Church. While we know that certain male deacons may be called to pass from the order of deacon to the order of presbyter and bishop, the nature and vocation of the ministry of the ordained deacon is permanent, complete, and unique. Yet, the ministry of the deacon does not entail presiding at the celebration of the Eucharist as the father of a community of believers. Thus, it was quite possible for both women and men to be ordained to the order of the diaconate.8

The ordained diaconate is the only ministry of higher orders that has been open to women in the Orthodox Church. Although women have in fact been ordained deacons in the Orthodox Church, they have never been ordained to the orders of priesthood and episcopacy. Those persons who presently believe that there is no need for the diaconate in general and, more particularly, for women deacons, would find the prayers of the Orthodox Church of special interest. In the Orthodox ordination service of the deaconess, the following prayer is offered by the ordaining bishop.

    O God, the Holy and Almighty, You have blessed woman through the birth in the flesh of Your only-begotten Son and our God from the Virgin, and You have given the grace and visitation of the Holy Spirit not to men only, but to women as well; Lord, look now upon this Your servant and call her to the work of Your ministry (es to ergon tis diakonia sou). Send down upon her the rich gift of Your Holy Spirit. Preserve her in the Orthodox faith, that she may fulfill her ministry in blameless conduct according to what is well pleasing to You. For to You are due all honor, glory and worship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


And, as the ordination service continues, the bishop offers this prayer prior to vesting of the deaconess with the diaconal stole.

    O Lord and Master, You do not reject women who are willing to offer themselves, in so far as it is fitting, to minister in Your holy houses, but rather You accept them into the rank of ministers (en taxei leitourgon). Grant the grace of Your Holy Spirit also to this Your servant who desires to offer herself to You and fulfill the grace of Your ministry, just as You gave the grace of Your ministry (charin tis diakonias sou) to Phoebe, whom You called to the work of ministry (ergon tis leitourgias).9


While a full analysis of the service of ordination of the woman deacon is beyond the scope of this paper, studies of these and other prayers clearly indicate that the witness of the liturgical life of the Church does not limit this particular visitation of the Holy Spirit to men only, nor to certain privileged women who lived during a certain time in history, never again to be repeated. There are no constraints imposed upon the Holy Spirit in these prayers! These prayers tell us that the Lord accepts women "into the rank of ministers" with no restrictions as to time and place.

Certainly, there are a number of issues related to the order of the woman deacon that must be studied. Among these are the disciplinary canons that set various ages and conditions of life for the prospective deacon. Yet, these studies should not prevent us from seeing the great good that the rejuvenation of the order of the woman deacon would be for the Church today. We need only look around us and see the spiritual needs that exist within the parishes and in the larger society. Even with the assistance of the most devoted laypersons, our priests cannot be expected to meet the many demands of parish life. Therefore, it can be argued that the present situation requires that we also consider rejuvenating this special ministry for qualified women who, following a genuine discernment of their call, would be willing to make a permanent commitment to the ordained ministry of the Church. A decision by the Church to rejuvenate the order of the women deacons would certainly not be an action contrary to Scripture and Tradition. Rather, such an action would be in complete harmony with the Scripture and Tradition of the Church.

Those who have discussed the possible rejuvenation of the order of the woman deacon do not appear to have a clear perception with regard to how this might take place. Would it be possible, for example, for a particular diocesan bishop to simply begin to ordain women as deacons? This appears to be precisely what St. Nektarios did. He ordained at least two deaconesses for the convent on the island of Aegina for which he was the spiritual father.10 Or, some may argue, it may be necessary for a particular local church, rather than the pastoral initiative of an individual bishop, to make the decision to rejuvenate the order of the deaconess.11 Indeed, some may argue that the decision would have to be made by the entire Orthodox Church. Clearly, the issue is related to an even deeper one regarding the manner in which the Orthodox Church, either locally or internationally, is to act upon important questions that affect her life in the twentieth century.

Women and "Uncleanness"

This issue is probably the most difficult and sensitive topic to be discussed. This is so because of two basic reasons. First, the issue of the pastoral understanding of menstruation is one that personally affects every Orthodox woman during part of her life. And second, it is an issue of pastoral theology that has not been fully explored by Orthodox theologians. Because of this, it is an issue that is little understood and often associated with a form of superstition that frequently passes for Church teaching. Contemporary Orthodox women who are knowledgeable about the functions of their bodies understand the menstrual cycle to be a normal and natural part of their biological identity. These same women, however, are often taught by persons in the Church that the menstrual period is essentially evil and, therefore, unnatural. These women are prohibited by some from receiving Holy Communion during their period of menstruation. There are even those who claim that women during their menstrual period should not attend church, should not receive the blessed bread (antidoron), and should not even venerate icons.

As we have already said, this topic is one that certainly deserves greater examination. However, it is clear that even a cursory examination of the historical evidence indicates that there are divergences of opinion with regard to this issue. Central to this issue, however, appears to be the question of the proper Orthodox interpretation of the Old Testament view that regarded the menstruous woman to be ritually "unclean" because of her loss of blood.

There are two rather obscure canons that deal directly with this topic. These canons were not directly promulgated at an ecumenical synod. Rather, they belong to a collection introduced into the broader canonical corpus through canon 2 of the Council in Trullo in 692. The first is canon 2 of Archbishop Dionysios of Alexandria, a pupil of Origen, who lived during the mid-third century. Apparently answering the question asked of him, Dionysios states in his canon: "Menstruous women ought not to come to the Holy Table, or touch the Holy of Holies, nor come to churches, but pray elsewhere."12 He gives no explanation for his observation. The second canon is also a response to a question put to Archbishop Timothy of Alexandria who lived during the end of the fourth century. In response to the question, "Can a menstruous woman communicate?" Timothy responds, "Not until she is clean."13 Again, as in the first response, there is no reason given for the opinion. Subsequent Orthodox commentators, however, have related these responses to the practices of the ancient Israelites as expressed in the Old Testament.14

Let us compare these canons with other authoritative Church documents. In his commentary on Titus, focusing on the apostolic words "to the pure all things are pure" (Tit. 1:15), St. John Chrysostom condemns those who propagate a superstitious adherence to the uncleanness taboo that would include the restrictions directed against women during their period of menstruation. He goes so far as to accuse these persons of being supporters of myths. In this third homily on Titus, St. John Chrysostom compares many examples of the uncleanness taboo that the Church, under the new, or rather, the fulfillment of the law in Christ, need not follow anymore because, "things . . . are not clean or unclean from their own nature, but from the disposition of him who partakes of them." Further on in this discussion, St. John states that for the Christian:

    all things are pure. God made nothing unclean, for nothing is unclean except for sin only. For [sin] reaches the soul and defiles it. . . . [And] when the soul is unclean, it thinks all things unclean. Therefore, scrupulous observances are no mark of purity, but it is the part of purity to be bold in all things. . . moral. What is unclean? Sin, malice, covetousness, wickedness.


While his discussion on this issue is a general one and does not specifically call attention to a woman’s period of menstruation, St. John Chrysostom’s teaching, nevertheless, seeks to address all of the practices associated with the uncleanness taboo. He affirms that all such observances from the Old Testament period are inappropriate for Christians to follow. With regard to these, St. John relates that, "many forms of uncleanness would be found, if it were necessary to recount them all. But these things are not now required of us." Even more noteworthy, St. John Chrysostom makes no exceptions in this discussion, not even for a woman’s period of menstruation. He even goes so far as to discuss the uncleanness taboo as related to the female birth cycle, that concerns both the generation of life as well as the loss of blood. Referring to the Old Testament practices, he states:

   You see how many forms of uncleanness there are. The woman in child bed is unclean. Yet God made childbirth and the seed of copulation. Why then is the woman unclean, unless something further is intimated? He intended to produce piety in the soul, and to deter it from fornication. . . . But these things now are not required of us. But all [concern] is transferred to the soul.15

This discussion is intimately tied to the Orthodox understanding of natural body functions. If a woman’s period of menstruation is ultimately a good andnecessary aspect of human physiology, then the canonical Epistle of St. Athanasios to the Monk Ammos (Epistle 48) may offer us a more appropriate approach to this issue. It states that natural body functions are not sinful. To this, the text continues with the following discussion on bodily emissions:

    For what sin or uncleanness can any natural excrement have in itself? Think of the absurdity of making a sin of the wax which comes from the ears or of the spittle from the mouth. Moreover, we might add many things and explain how the excretions from the belly are necessary to animal life. But if we believe that man is the work of God’s hand, as we are taught in Holy Scripture, how can it be supposed necessary that we perform anything impure? And if we are the children of God, as the holy Acts of the Apostles teaches, we have nothing in us unclean.16


This fundamental principle related to us by St. Athanasios, that for Christians, "we have nothing in us unclean," may actually prove to be a more solid guideline for us; for if involuntary nocturnal pollutions are not considered sinful or unclean, neither should menstruation be considered unclean. It would seem that admonitions concerning all bodily emissions must be applied evenhandedly to both men and women.17

Women and the Sanctuary

Another issue that is often discussed but seldom reflected upon theologically is that of the apparent restriction of women from the sanctuary. There are those who fervently believe that women are not allowed in the sanctuary merely because they are women and "unclean." And conversely, there are those who with equal ardor believe that men, simply because they are men (sometimes even if they are not Orthodox believers), may enter the sanctuary virtually at will. Both views, of course, are incorrect.

The appropriate restriction placed upon women and men from entering the sanctuary area is actually directed to the laity in general. This is based upon two canons; the first comes to us from a local council held in the fourth century at Laodicea of which Canon 44 relates that, "The altar must not be approached by women." A second canon comes from the Sixth Ecumenical Synod and states that, "No layman except the emperor shall go up to the altar" (Canon 69).18 While some have related this prohibition expressed toward women to reasons of biological uncleanness,19 the more accurate practice applies these restrictions to all those who had no appropriate liturgical or practical business for being in the altar area. This particularly pertains to the offering of the holy gifts during the Divine Liturgy. Because "all lay persons are forbidden such action as lay persons."20

Those men and women who have both ecclesial approval and appropriate reason (e.g. for assisting the clergy with the services or for preparing the sanctuary for worship) are not prohibited from entering the altar area. What was originally intended as a practice to maintain good order and promote piety within the whole worshipping congregation, has all too often been used by some as a way of encouraging attitudes that devalue the vocation of women and their equality before God, merely because they are women.

As with every issue that we have mentioned, it is also necessary for us to consider this concern with full appreciation for the Tradition of the Church as a whole and not simply with an eye upon relatively recent local practices. Thus, we will find that there is more at stake than may have been at first anticipated. As we have already discussed in this study, we have the tradition of women deacons. They were not only ordained at the altar, but also received Holy Communion as members of the clergy within the sanctuary. Also, we have the striking example of St. Gorgonia, the sister of St. Gregory of Constantinople. She was praised by her brother for her courage and faith in God. St. Gregory notes also that when she was "dangerously ill of a malignant disease," she clutched the holy altar and prayed for God to deliver her from her illness. In telling this story, St. Gregory remembers her "declaring that she would not loosen her hold until she was made whole."21 While the story of St. Gorgonia may be somewhat unusual, the very fact that St. Gregory records the incident is a vivid reminder that we must be willing to broaden our appreciation of the various elements of the tradition of the Church that may enable us to see contemporary issues in a better light.

There are some very significant pastoral as well as liturgical concerns that center upon this issue. The first has to do with the Service of the Forty Days at which the newborn child is formally brought to the church. Why in the churching rite of infants, do most priests customarily take male infants into the sanctuary and circle the altar and only bring female infants as far as the royal doors? While some may claim that this is the "traditional" practice, it is necessary to raise the question of whether there is a valid doctrinal reason for the practice. Or is the practice simply conditioned by a cultural view that exalted the male child and devalued the female child?

Some may have heard clergy justify these actions by stating that there is always a chance that the male infant could one day serve at the holy altar as a priest. Others may state that the practice is in accord with the canon that prohibits women from entering the sanctuary. Upon closer investigation, however, both of these arguments have little merit. First, as we have already noted, is the canon that prohibits all laypersons (except the emperor) from entering the sanctuary. Thus, it would appear that even the practice of bringing a male child into the sanctuary violates the letter of the canon. And second, with regard to the "future" of the child, who is to say that perhaps the female infant could one day serve within the holy altar as a deaconess?

Such argumentation both for the male infant and for the female infant, however, leaves much to be desired. Simply stated, the arguments generally put forward in this regard appear to reflect an attitude that is culturally determined and not doctrinally based. The practice of prohibiting female infants from being brought into the sanctuary at the time of their presentation may well be an act of discrimination. Since we view both the female and the male infants as being equally valuable and equally treasured by God, then it would appear that our liturgical practices must reflect this reality.

This leads us to the issue of young girls serving as acolytes. The issue has already been boldly faced by Metropolitan Emilianos of Silybria. He recommends that more women "be admitted to the minor orders such as lectors and acolytes."22 Based upon what has already been said in this paper, especially with regard to the tradition of female deacons, there does not seem to be any doctrinal reason that would prevent girls from serving as acolytes and women as serving as lectors. Indeed, the present custom may be contrary to the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person, and the fundamental equality of the male and female persons.

Certain members of the Church’s leadership may consider the issue of altar girls as unimportant. It is a topic, however, that is discussed by many mothers and their young daughters. This issue is very important to them. Since it is a serious matter for them, so it also must be treated as an important topic by us as well.

Some of the other significant questions we will have to ask regarding this include: how necessary is it for young girls to feel just as much a part of the liturgical life as young boys? How much would an increase in the ways young girls could participate in ecclesial worship affect their future life in the Church? How would this affect the rest of their lives? This is indeed a very important pastoral challenge that we as the Church militant must face.


Conclusions

I have identified in this paper a number of issues that relate directly to the position and the ministry of women in the Orthodox Church today.* Each of them is an issue of great importance and pastoral concern that cannot be ignored. While this paper in no way assumes to be a complete investigation or analysis of these topics, it has been my intention to introduce some of the more important issues.

I would like briefly to conclude these observations by stating that the concern for orthopraxia [right practice] is at the heart of this discussion. Is our praxis as fully Christian as it can be? Do our present actions begin to reflect the full reality of who we are as the body of Christ? Do our current liturgical practices totally correspond to the full Orthodox understanding of masculine and feminine persons? We may need to reflect upon these questions very carefully. If women saw the Lord and ministered to Him, if they were the first witnesses of the crucifixion and resurrection, if they were equally visible in the life of the apostolic Church, then our present constraints on women may reflect a theology very much bound to the assumptions of past cultures. We must be able to reach a point where we can recognize the difference between culturally bound assumptions and those convictions based upon Christian doctrine.

Notes.

1. For an interesting sidelight on this topic, see Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books, 1980), pp. 467-506.

2. Elizabeth Behr-Sigel, "The Meaning of the Participation of Women in the Life of the Church," Orthodox Women: Their Role and Participation in the Orthodox Church, edited by Constance Tarasar and Irma Kirillova (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1977), pp. 26-27; Bishop Chrysostomos, "Women in the Orthodox Church: Brief Comments from a Spiritual Perspective," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 26:2 (1989); Metropolitan Emilianos Timiadis, "The Concern for Women in the Orthodox Tradition," Diakonia 12:1 (1977); Alexander Golubov, "On Deacons and the Diaconate: A Response," One Church 5 (1986), pp. 194-200; Sergei Hackel, "Mother Maria Skobtsova: Deaconess Manqué?" Eastern Churches Review 1:3 (1967), pp. 264-266; Bishop Kallistos Ware, "Man, Woman, and the Priesthood of Christ," pp. 32-34; Constance Tarasar and Irma Kirillova, eds., Orthodox Women: Their Role and Participation in the Orthodox Church, p. 50; Evangelos Theodorou, Heroines of Christian Love (in Greek) (Athens, 1949); idem, The ‘Ordination’ of ‘Appointment’ of Deaconesses (in Greek) (Athens, 1954); Militsa Zernov, "Women’s Ministry in the Church," Eastern Churches Review 7 (1975), pp. 34-39. See also my study on this topic in "The Characteristics and Nature of the Order of the Deaconess," Women and the Priesthood, edited by Thomas Hopko (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1983), pp. 75-96. Appreciation for research assistance is expressed to Protodeacon Michael Roshak and Hierodeacon Peter of New Skete Monastery.

3. His highly significant work, The ‘Ordination’ or ‘Appointment’ of Deaconesses (in Greek), and an earlier study, Heroines of Christian Love (in Greek), have become standard texts concerning the study of this issue.

4. Theodorou, The ‘Ordination’ (in Greek), pp. 40-65.

5. E.g. Didascalia Apostolorum (Syriac Version), edited and translated by Richard Connolly (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1929) 4.3.12, p.146, and 4.3.13, p.148.

6. Theodorou, The ‘Ordination’ (in Greek), pp. 55-56.

7. Ibid., pp. 37, 95-96.

8. Tarasar and Kirillova, Orthodox Women, p.50. For an interesting discussion on the nature of the diaconate, see Louis Bouyer, Women in the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1979), pp. 82-87.

9. See "The Ordination Rite of the Byzantine Deaconess," in Theodorou, The ‘Ordination’ (in Greek), pp. 55-56. This service dates from the eighth to the tenth centuries and is taken from the Barberion Codex and the Bessarionos Codex. I have offered a translation of this service in "Characteristics," pp. 93-95.

10. Theodorou, The ‘Ordination’ (in Greek), p. 96.

11. In this case, we note the example of the Armenian Apostolic Church in America, more specifically, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, that recently accepted to authorize the ordination of women deacons: "Diocese of the Armenian Church of America Seeks Ordination of Women to the Diaconate," The Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, News Release, July 7, 1986. Cf. "Restoring Women to Their Proper Role in the Armenian Church," Yedvard Gulbekian, Outreach 8 (October 6, 1985).

12. Canonical Letter of Dionysios of Alexandria in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (henceforth NPNF) (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmanns, 1956), p. 600. However, in Canon 4 he leaves it up to the discretion of the man whether or not to commune, after he had experienced "involuntary nocturnal pollutions."

13. Canonical Answers of Timothy of Alexandria, in NPNF, 14, p.613. I have slightly adapted this and subsequent texts to a more readable style that conforms more readily with the spirit of the original Greek texts.

14. E.g. Leviticus 12:1-5 and 15:19-30.

15. St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Epistle to Titus, Homily 2, NPNF, 13, pp. 529-531. Cf. Women and Men in the Church (New York, 1983), pp. 40-46.

16. Canonical Epistle of St. Athanasios to the Monk Ammos, NPNF,14, pp. 602-603; cf. Leviticus 15.

17. Constance Tarasar, "Woman, Handmaid to the Lord: The Role of Woman in the Church Viewed in Dogmatic and Historical Perspective" (M.Div. thesis, St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary), p. 262.

18. NPNF, 14, pp. 153 and 396 respectively.

19. E.g. Zonaras’ comment regarding Canon 44 of the Council of Laodicea, NPNF, 14, p. 153.

20. Women and Men in the Church, p. 45.

21. Gregory the Theologian, On His Sister Gorgonia, NPNF, 7, p. 243.

22. Timiadis, "The Concern for Women," p. 19.

*Editors' note: Some of the other issues that were covered in the original paper included: Orthodox women and administrative life; women in theology; and theology of the priesthood.

Article can be found at http://stnina.org/journal/art/3.2.2
Emphasis is all mine.


I know I bolded a lot of the article, and I apologize.  But I think she directly refutes and dispells all of the mythology regarding these issues.  When re-reading this, I could not help but notice... The Church has irrefutably declared that women, too, are called to serve the Lord, as Pr. Kyriaki evidenced in the section on the ordination of the female deacon, with special respect paid to the prayers of ordination themselves.  If this is the case, why must women defend so vehemently their desire to serve?  Why is it questioned?  When a man desires to serve, no one says, "well, does he want to serve out of pride?"  Why do we say this of women?  The Church has spoken and said that women are called to service as well.  Who are we to question that?
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« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2009, 12:02:05 PM »

Dear Presbytera,

I'll try not to create too much of a megapost but just resond to a handful (apparaently a double handful) of your responses to my responses:
Yeah, my posts tend to be really long.  I'm sorry.  I'll just respond to a couple points and ask that you read the article by Pr. Kyriaki Fitzgerald that I posted.  I think it answers a lot of the points that have been offered.

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Honestly, I've no idea if I should have a problem with it or not. I know it is done. And as for chanting at the chant stand...where else are you supposed to to it?  Trying to stand alone and fumbling with the books would strike me as potentially distracting.
LOL!!!  I love this!  Smiley

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What you must understand about my posts on this subject is that I want the Tradition preserved and followed regardless whether all its reasons and nuances are well understood. Granted it is better if there is understanding, but the Tradition doesn't change just because I might have no clue as to its "whys".
I often tend to feel that way as well... I acknowledge very clearly that I don't have all the answers and want the proper traditions to be preserved, whether I know why or not.  But the key word there is "proper."  If a tradition was developed (or lost, for that matter) erroneously, then we should correct, not ignore.  Would you agree?

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But the "who" which is available to assist in the altar is not quite the same between a monastery and a parish.
Maybe I am misunderstanding you here, please correct me if I am.  If we say that difference between a monastery and a parish is the degree of piety of the women (the nuns being more pious and thus more worthy to serve in the altar), then this must also be extended to men, would you agree?  In which case, no one in the parish, male or female, is able to serve in the altar.  What you are implying is that, because there are no tonsured nuns in the parish, women should not be allowed to serve (in other words as far as women, ONLY tonsured nuns are holy enough for the altar, but as far as men, any man, tonsured monk or not, is acceptable).  But non-tonsured men (not monks) SHOULD be allowed?  This sets up a double standard, if it is what you are implying.  You are implying that on the totem pole of holiness, non-tonsured women are at the bottom (the women in the parish), next up would be non-tonsured men (the men in the parish), then tonsured nuns, then (presumably) tonsured monks.  We cannot set up this hierarchy of holiness.  It is not theologically correct and goes back to the baseless and theologically INcorrect argument that men are somehow holier than women.  Am I making sense?  What say you?

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I have not heard that the female diaconate distributed communion and would need some better reference to accept this point. As for assisting with a baptism, or carrying a fan that does not require tonsure (so far as I know).  
She did indeed distribute communion.  Again, I'll direct you to Pr. Kyriaki's article.  But I will also say that my husband is a liturgist (and the guys on here who know him will tell you he knows what he's talking about--- help me out here, Serb1389 Smiley  ), and I have asked him about these things, and in fact he has helped me do some research.  She definitely distributed communion (there is no doubt about this and theologians will tell you that as well), and they participated in baptisms in the manner that the contemporary priest does (the way the deacon then, or now, for that matter, if he's present, would).  That definitely requires ordination.  Further, carrying a fan, or any other thing done in service within the altar, SHOULD be done by one who is tonsured, in a perfect world.  Tonsuring, of course, being a MINOR form of ordination, and thus theologically allowed for women (as the diaconate, a MAJOR order of ordination, was/is allowed for women, it follows that nothing would be wrong with the lesser orders, and indeed, the canons do not forbid it).


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Forgive me again. This is just an "artifact" of forum posting. If we were having a face to face conversation, you could have corrected my impressions or your statements where they got off track, but in forums conversation is taken by turns...and operating assumptions cannot be corrected or modified midpost based on input from others in the conversation. So there can be mulitple points based on that assumption that get included which might not otherwise.
I totally agree with you.  No forgiveness necessary, my friend.

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This is one of those I get where you are coming from and can agree to a point but not totally. Yes, you should listen to the counsel of your spiritual father.  That said, this is not a purely private spiritual matter, it is a question dealt with specifically within the canons and Tradition of the Church.  Understanding the why's of the applicable canons and the Traditoin certainly shapes how they are applied in our time and circumstance, but we do not get to simply disregard them because they are no longer PC or pershaps not well understood.
I'm not afraid of the issue not being PC.  I'll just direct you to what Pr. Kyriaki says in her article.  Please note what St. John Chrysostom said on the subject, as well as St. Athanasios.  I think that answers the question pretty clearly.  I, too, stick with St. John Chrysostom.  Smiley



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I can't forget what I've never read or even heard of to read. The Theotokos may well have replaced Eve as the paradigm of womanhood, but the biological realities of being a woman have not changed so far as I know, not yet. And until those realities that impose certain canonical restrictions at certain times in a woman's life are healed then there is no good reason to discard the Tradition concerning them.
Sorry, I wasn't clear.  I meant the idea when I said, "in case you've forgotten," not Nonna Harrison's exact words.  My bad.  Again, I'll just direct you to the article.

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I mean it is an idea that I find as disturbing as you do.  Women are not less than men. Men and women are different but comeplementary and have different though overlapping sets of responsibilities.
Gotcha.  Agreed.


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On issues that I don't quite understand I tend to agree with St. John Chrysostom, "Is it the Tradition? Ask no further." What God wants me to know He will lead me to in His own time.
I like this.  Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2009, 12:21:55 PM »

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Maybe I am misunderstanding you here, please correct me if I am.  If we say that difference between a monastery and a parish is the degree of piety of the women (the nuns being more pious and thus more worthy to serve in the altar), then this must also be extended to men, would you agree?  In which case, no one in the parish, male or female, is able to serve in the altar.  What you are implying is that, because there are no tonsured nuns in the parish, women should not be allowed to serve (in other words as far as women, ONLY tonsured nuns are holy enough for the altar, but as far as men, any man, tonsured monk or not, is acceptable).  But non-tonsured men (not monks) SHOULD be allowed?  This sets up a double standard, if it is what you are implying.  You are implying that on the totem pole of holiness, non-tonsured women are at the bottom (the women in the parish), next up would be non-tonsured men (the men in the parish), then tonsured nuns, then (presumably) tonsured monks.  We cannot set up this hierarchy of holiness.  It is not theologically correct and goes back to the baseless and theologically INcorrect argument that men are somehow holier than women.  Am I making sense?  What say you?

I'm saying that at a monastery, if a priest is present and needs help in the altar then only those who are present are available to help. In a women's monastery, this would be women. In a parish both sexes are present (or should be) and the service of the altar as rule is undertaken by men.

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She did indeed distribute communion.  Again, I'll direct you to Pr. Kyriaki's article.  But I will also say that my husband is a liturgist (and the guys on here who know him will tell you he knows what he's talking about--- help me out here, Serb1389   ), and I have asked him about these things, and in fact he has helped me do some research.  She definitely distributed communion (there is no doubt about this and theologians will tell you that as well), and they participated in baptisms in the manner that the contemporary priest does (the way the deacon then, or now, for that matter, if he's present, would).  That definitely requires ordination.  Further, carrying a fan, or any other thing done in service within the altar, SHOULD be done by one who is tonsured, in a perfect world.  Tonsuring, of course, being a MINOR form of ordination, and thus theologically allowed for women (as the diaconate, a MAJOR order of ordination, was/is allowed for women, it follows that nothing would be wrong with the lesser orders, and indeed, the canons do not forbid it).

That would be an interesting article to see. The article that you referenced above was interesting as well. I would certainly agree that the diaconate is a full order unto itself and not just a stepping stone to priesthood. If the ancient rites did indeed follow the same basic model for ordination of deacons with the Bishop laying on hands, then it would seem immenantly reasonable that female deacons would be entrusted to distribute the Holy Eucharist as well. And where there was a requirement to visit elderly or shut in widows in that time it would have certainly reduced the potential appearance of scandal should lone male deacons go to take the Eucharist to them or minister in some other needful way.

I do wonder though what would be the proper vesture for a deaconess, would it include some kind or monasitic like veil or head covering such as an abbess might wear? 

And that said, chavanistic, mysogenistic or not at a personal gut level I am much more comfortable with the idea of ordained deaconesses and tonsured chanters than I am with the idea of altar girls and female readers...at least for the epistles in the Liturgy.  Other scripture readings at other time doen't strike me that way...but that may just be me. call me crazy.
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« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2009, 12:53:17 PM »


I'm saying that at a monastery, if a priest is present and needs help in the altar then only those who are present are available to help. In a women's monastery, this would be women. In a parish both sexes are present (or should be) and the service of the altar as rule is undertaken by men.
Ahhhh... I did misunderstand you.  Thank you for clarifying.  I think it can be said, though, that considering the example of the female deacon, the service of the altar was not ALWAYS left only to men.  That is precisely the point.  And Pr. Kyriaki notes that there is no canon DISSOLVING that service.  There is not even a clear reason as to why the role of the deaconess faded out.  But I think she makes good points as to why it should fade back in.


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That would be an interesting article to see. The article that you referenced above was interesting as well.
Yes, the article I have been discussing is the one that I posted in post #90, directed at Serb1389.  I encourage you to read it.

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I would certainly agree that the diaconate is a full order unto itself and not just a stepping stone to priesthood. If the ancient rites did indeed follow the same basic model for ordination of deacons with the Bishop laying on hands, then it would seem immenantly reasonable that female deacons would be entrusted to distribute the Holy Eucharist as well. And where there was a requirement to visit elderly or shut in widows in that time it would have certainly reduced the potential appearance of scandal should lone male deacons go to take the Eucharist to them or minister in some other needful way.
It was indeed a full ordination inside the altar, at the altar table, with the full laying on of hands by the Bishop at the Eucharist.  Yes, I think there are many good reasons to resurrect the office of the deaconess.  The most obvious two being the assistance during baptisms and, as you said, visitation of female shut ins/elderly.  This can be extended as well... The priest must visit the elderly/shut ins when confession is desired.  But having a deaconess with them would also reduce the risk of the appearance of impropriety.  The same can be said when a person comes to the church for confession.  I say this as the wife of a priest, who often has to accompany her husband on visits, or stick around the church "after hours" (so to speak) while her husband meets with people.  It would be nice to have a person who can more appropriately fill that role than me.  Those are just a couple reasons. 

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I do wonder though what would be the proper vesture for a deaconess, would it include some kind or monasitic like veil or head covering such as an abbess might wear? 
The drawings that I have seen (and let us not forget icons of the women deaconesses, such as that of Phoebe), she wears a head covering much like a nun, and she wears an orarion (like a deacon).  Interestingly, I have seen an icon of Olympiada the deaconess (with whom I am not familiar and about whom I would really like to know more) wearing an epitrachelion (which is, of course, the stole worn by the priest).  I am going to try and find out more about her, and see if I can figure out why she's wearing an epitrachelion.

Here is an example of those two icons (Phoebe and Olympiada):



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And that said, chavanistic, mysogenistic or not at a personal gut level I am much more comfortable with the idea of ordained deaconesses and tonsured chanters than I am with the idea of altar girls and female readers...at least for the epistles in the Liturgy.  Other scripture readings at other time doen't strike me that way...but that may just be me. call me crazy.
This doesn't surprise me.  Even I, who am a woman and trying to educate myself further in these matters, feel the same way.  I often question myself, when at the chant stand or reading the Epistle (which I do quite often, and have done in the presence of many bishops over the years, none of whom have ever said anything but praise).  But I remind myself that I have to rise above the feelings of inadequacy as a woman (in my case, not yours), and rise above what I have been conditioned to feel.  I have to rise up to meet my full potential in Christ.  I have to rise up to what I know to be theologically correct, blessed by the Church, and encouraged by my bishop (and other bishops).  I have to rise above even when it means stepping out of my comfort zone.  I try to remember the Theotokos (for whom I am named) as my role model for everything in life.  And I know she was most definitely out of her comfort zone when she responded to the angel, "be it done to me according to your word."  I try to remember this.  Obedience to the will of God and the Church, even when I am uncomfortable, unsure, or even frightened. 

Just as a pleasant side note, I will say that my greatest joy of late was standing side by side with my beloved bishop at the chant stand during some of the Lenten services, with him teaching and guiding me in my chanting.  What a humbling joy and a blessing!
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« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2009, 02:37:09 PM »

For this same reason, I have to agree that men/women don't mix - especially in the Altar.  Even with the best of intentions...why risk the chance of tempting each other - even if it be unintentional?
Out of curiosity, what would you say, then of men and women worshiping together to begin with?  I mean, I agree that there is always a temptation, but what is the distinction of being in the altar?

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For years I felt excluded.  That this is a "man's" world.  I understood that Christ picked only male disciples, however, it still stung when I saw men, that I knew had questionable moral standards, go in and out of the Altar, and I could only gaze in awe from the outside.  However, as I matured, I realized, as was mentioned above, that the Altar is ONLY for those who are serving.  MEN are also excluded if they have no business to conduct in the Altar.  In other words, if they are not the bishop, priest, deacon or altar server, they have as little right to be in there as do I.
It's not about having a right to be in the altar.  No one has a "right."  We are all equally unworthy.  But you are correct that men are equally barred from the altar if they have no business there.  This is a distinction that is almost always lost, and is a huge part of the problem. 

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Needless to say, in time I realized that there is plenty for me to do, outside the Altar.  You don't have to actively "serve" in the Altar to do God's work.  Certainly that is the most visible mean, however, God's work is done in the smallest of tasks.  I have taken on a number of things, that keep me so busy that I sometimes wonder how to do it all. 
I agree with you here.  I personally serve in many capacities outside the altar, my favorite way (where you'll usually find me) is at the chant stand.  But just because I don't feel a personal call to serve in the altar or as a female deacon doesn't mean that all women don't, and I won't discount or devalue that calling.  The Church blessed that calling (see the article I posted in post #90 by Presbytera Kyriaki Fitzgerald for the prayers blessing this calling).  Why would we devalue that or question it in women with a sincere desire to serve?

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As for the menstruation thing....I personally, respect Christ enough that I would not dare to approach Him, lest I were prepared.  This means, clean.  Clean conscience.  Bathed, in clean clothes, clean hair, clean nails, and smelling fresh as a daisy.  Unless I am dying, and am in dire need of Communion, I can wait a week.
Again, please read that article.  The idea that menstruation is somehow sinful and unclean is a sad, mistaken, and theologically incorrect one.  St. John Chrysostom said that (it's in the article, so I won't repeat it here), and the idea of saying God's creation is somehow imperfect or unclean is one I find thoroughly disturbing, personally.  As far as dying and being in dire need of Communion, are we not all dying and in dire need of the Eucharist at all times?  It disturbs me to see the Eucharist flippantly thrown aside (and I don't mean personally by you, just in general) in such a way as this issue causes.  We should all strive to receive the Holy Gifts as often as possible.

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Why look for issues?  How many women actually Commune EACH and every Sunday?  For that fact, how many MEN do?  So, why argue about every 4th Sunday's eligibility?
Very many women do actually prepare themselves through confession, fasting, and prayer to commune every Sunday.  I know many priests (my own spiritual father being one of them) who specifically tell their spiritual children that, unless they have done something to warrant abstaining from receiving (such as breaking the fast), they are to receive at every possible opportunity, so long as they are prepared (which, of course, it is up to the spiritual father to determine if they are prepared).  And personally, I still think it's a fruitless argument, as it should be left up to one's spiritual father (as in ALL things).

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Communion is a privilege, not a right.
Communion is a blessing, that has been given to us by God's grace.  To abstain from it BECAUSE of God's blessing (yes, a woman's menstruation is a blessing), is like slapping God's hand away and saying, "no thanks, I don't think what you created is clean and good enough to receive you."

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I have to admit that I am brokenhearted if that time of month falls on a Sunday, especially on Holy Week (barring me from venerating the Holy Shroud-Plashchanitsia)....but, I get over it...
Liza, honestly, I say all of these things in love, not in an attempt to attack you or create an adversarial atmosphere, or to pontificate or set myself above.  So I ask that you please not take it that way.  But reading this almost made me cry.  Whether you receive when you menstruate or not is, of course, between you and your spiritual father, as is your veneration of the Holy Shroud.  But please, please, discuss this with your spiritual father.  There is NO canonical, traditional, patristic, or dogmatic reason WHATSOEVER for you to abstain from venerating the Holy Shroud while menstruating.  It saddens me so deeply to think that any woman was taught this. 

Just out of curiosity... Do you think that any of the Myrrh bearing women were menstruating when they went to anoint the body of Christ?  We don't know... why don't we know?  Because it wasn't important.  If it was important, if it had some bearing, we would have been told.  We were told of the woman with the flow of blood.  She is mentioned in her uncleanness (because Christ cured her and actually barred her from going through the routine of cleaning herself-- He set the precedent right there, by the way, that the OT laws regarding cleanliness were no longer to be adhered to, and St. John Chrysostom says the same). 

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It's not a curse.  It's just life....and it's MY choice to keep my distance.  Nobody knows which woman is menstruating...and nobody dares instruct them whether they may/may not approach. It's the woman's own conscience....her own appreciation of What she is approaching that holds her back.
I'm afraid I can't agree with this.  I would personally say it is NOT our choice.  For starters, Christ set the precedent by healing the woman with the flow of blood.  Secondly, the Fathers clearly said that the OT laws regarding such things were not to be adhered to.  Thirdly, if it is up to anyone, it is up to our spiritual father.  Our job is to obey.  We don't make decisions regarding our salvation on our own.  That is a Protestant way of thinking. We make decisions only in consultation and with the blessing of our spiritual father.  Then we obey.  I hope you'll forgive me if I'm being too direct.  I've rewritten this like three times because I'm trying to make sure that my words read clearly, and not with a harsh tone, because that is not how I mean them.

Further, to set up our bodies against our souls in this way borders on the Gnostic heresy of dualism, wherein there is a dichotomy between body and soul.  The body is lowered and considered sinful and dirty, the soul elevated.  But we know that by being incarnated, Christ sanctified matter, sanctified our bodies, sanctified His creation, elevated it, and united it with the divine.  Therefore this dichotomy does not exist.  Dualism renders our bodies and souls incompatible, which is exactly what happens as a result of this issue.  Our soul is sacrificed (in that we are barred from receiving the Eucharist) to the perceived sinfulness and uncleanliness of our bodies.  This is wrong.

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Makes me appreciate it more when I am able to partake of the Privilege.
Again, I find this troubling.  The idea that we are somehow punished (that we cannot receive once a month) merely for being women... that no matter how sincerely a woman desires to receive, no matter how well she prepares herself through prayer, fasting, confession, and almsgiving, she STILL will not be allowed to receive simply because her body is functioning the way God intended... It smacks of the idea that women are being eternally punished for Eve's transgression, which of course is not true, as the Theotokos has fulfilled and wiped away the transgression of Eve through her obedient birthgiving to God. 

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Besides, I don't think a person's "judgement" will hinge on whether she Communed or kissed the cross or went to church, etc. 
My friend, of course our salvation rests on our participation in the sacraments.  Otherwise, why do we participate?  God has offered Himself for us through His glorious sacrifice and offers Himself to us every week that we may be united with Him.  And yet, because WE (not God, but WE) have judged that HIS creation (meaning us, our bodies, our bodily functions) is somehow sinful and unclean, we stand before His Holy Altar once a month and REFUSE Him?  We stand and say, "no, I don't think your creation is worthy of you?  I think it is unclean, and therefore I will not come to your table and eat as you have invited me?"

Here's a metaphor that will hopefully describe what I mean more clearly (albeit an oversimplified one).  I go to my friend Rachel's house for dinner.  She makes a beautiful dinner for me, having sacrificed her whole day to cooking, slaving over the stove, and giving from the bottom of her heart.  She set out her most beautiful china (which she paid a LOT of money for) and her beautiful crystal.  I walk into the dining room, and, seeing the table set with this beautiful banquet, I look at her china and say, "you know, I really appreciate the gesture.  Really, I do.  I'm grateful that you did this for me.  But, your china is just not pretty enough.  It's just not good enough quality.  And look, there's a scratch here and a spot there.  I'm sorry, but I'm not going to participate, I'm not going to partake of this amazing meal you made for me.  I'm not going to honor your sacrifice."  Would we do that in our best friend's home?  Never.  Why would we do that before God?

I am familiar with the rebuttal to this scenario.  The common rebuttal is, "well it's not her china that isn't good enough.  It's my china.  My china isn't good enough and I don't feel proper about it."  So I have two questions in response.  Number one... Is it our china?  No, it's God's.  He created it, He bought it, and He lives in it.  It's His.  Number two... even if that were true, that my china just isn't good enough or clean enough, can it EVER be good or clean enough?  Of course not.  Why would we voluntarily throw up another imagined barrier between ourselves and God?  Assuming, on the other hand, that it is our china.... we approach humbly, with our broken, chipped, scratched, spotted old china as best as we can get it, and we ask for His forgiveness for our inability to make ourselves truly worthy, and we accept the sacrifice He has made with gratitude in our hearts, tears in our eyes, and with love.  Hope that makes sense.

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We will be judged on how we lived and how we expressed our love, not just for each other, but, for Christ....which is manifested in our daily lives and our daily actions.
This is, of course true, and beautifully said!

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Just my opinion.

Please nobody take offense.

Peace.
Again, this is only my opinion as well, and I pray you are not offended.  I just noticed this is my third or fourth lengthy post here today.  LOL.  I have some extra time today, thank God.  I sincerely pray I'm not offending you with my words.  I humbly ask for your forgiveness if I am.  I pray you have a beautiful Holy Week and Pascha!

Forgive me a sinner,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2009, 02:42:52 PM »

With respect to the icon of St. Olympiada and the particularities of her vesture these thoughts occur to me:

1.Maybe there is a technical inaccuracy in the icon.

2. Maybe it is not really an epitrachelion but an orarion worn in a way we are no longer accustomed to seeing. Perhaps wearing it diagonally on a women presents certain anatomical issues...depending on the woman and it was deemed more modest for deaconesses to wear theirs a bit differently. I'm not sure the emphasis given by the 1/2 or full cross your heart bra look in the middle of church would have garnered much approval back in the days of St. Basil or earlier.

3. Maybe at the time of St. Olympiada some aspects of vesture were a little more fluid than they became in later eras.

That's all that occurs to me at the moment.

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« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2009, 03:02:37 PM »

Presbytera Mari, I'm so thankful for your imput on this topic of women communing at a "certain time". I was totally dumbfounded upon becoming Orthodox to learn that Orthodox women weren't allowed to receive communion, venerate icons, etc. during their periods! I am not a big fan of modernism, but this seemed to be from the dark ages!!! My parish sounds a lot like Liza's in this regard. My friends linger in the back of the church and whisper to me that they are currently "unclean" and may not venerate icons, etc. At first these seemed like the weirdest conversation to be having in church!! And, I am discovering, there are all sorts of other "interesting" ideas adrift amongst the good women of the church: I was once informed I may not take an expectant friend of mine to visit art galleries, because she might happen to see a picture of a naked human being, which would then cause the unborn child to become in future, a lustful, passion-driven person...sigh...sorry, such notions, belong to the dark ages, i'm afraid...
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« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2009, 03:20:24 PM »

Presbytera Mari, I'm so thankful for your imput on this topic of women communing at a "certain time".
Glory to God!  Please pray for me!

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I was totally dumbfounded upon becoming Orthodox to learn that Orthodox women weren't allowed to receive communion, venerate icons, etc. during their periods! I am not a big fan of modernism, but this seemed to be from the dark ages!!! My parish sounds a lot like Liz's in this regard. My friends linger in the back of the church and whisper to me that they are currently "unclean" and may not venerate icons, etc. At first these seemed like the weirdest conversation to be having in church!! And, I am discovering, there are all sorts of other "interesting" ideas adrift amongst the good women of the church: I was once informed I may not take an expectant friend of mine to visit art galleries, because she might happen to see a picture of a naked human being, which would then cause the unborn child to become in future, a lustful, passion-driven person...sigh...sorry, such notions, belong to the dark ages, i'm afraid...

Wow... that's UNREAL!  That's yiayialogy rearing it's ugly head, I'm afraid!
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« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2009, 03:31:15 PM »

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... yiayialogy...

I love it! What's the russian version for this word, I wonder? Aside from "sueveriye"-superstition? Babushology? Babushkisims?
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« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2009, 03:33:03 PM »

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... yiayialogy...

I love it! What's the russian version for this word, I wonder? Aside from "sueveriye"-superstition? Babushology? Babushkisims?

Oooo, I LIKE Babushkisms!!!!!     laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh
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« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2009, 03:53:21 PM »

This is a slightly different topic but regarding the baptism of adult women-I checked out a link on this forum to the recent National Geographic article on the Russian Orthodox Church. There was a picture of an adult women being baptised wearing nothing but a hot pink bikini! I was totally astounded that any woman would dress that way for baptism-in a church and in front of a man not her husband, but kept my peace, not wanting to appear too "outdated". Sure enough, some non-orthodox acquaintances of mine saw the article and  believe  me, that picture did nothing to boost their opinion of the Church...they called me up and wondered what was  with the Orthodox church for allowing such immodesty. I was very embarrassed.

When I was baptised, I wore a very loose, modest and opaque white gown made for me by my godmother. She actually made a second one for me to change into after the immersion, for modesty's sake. I also discouraged men from attending the baptism, for reasons of modesty.

Why would a woman wear nothing but a bikini for baptism, or want to appear in church in such attire before a man who was not her husband???  Shocked Huh

My wife was baptised in an MP church. She has her blue baptismal bikini from that day in a box along with her baptismal certificate. My relation to wearing the bikini is that it is the closest you can get to being fully immersed naked without actually being naked. Christ was not baptised fully clothed. Neither are children baptised fully clothed. Are you saying that a 40 day old girl or boy is immodest because she or he is baptised without clothes?

The symbolism of nakedness is referential to our state in the Garden of Eden which is where baptism is essentially returning us to. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked:

Genesis 2:25. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." (KJ version)
Genesis 3:7, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." (again KJ version)

If Adam and Eve were not ashamed why are we? It wasn't until they sinned and fell from their state of perfection that they were ashamed of their nakedness. Baptism is representative of taking off the old self and putting on the new self where the new self is a clean and spotless one with no blemishes.

Now I agree the hot pink might have been over the top, but as for the bikini, I can definately rationalize the symbolism. In addition, the person was not being baptised infront of a "man" as you put, but rather you are being baptised by Christ through his representative on earth. are you receiving communion from a "man" or having your sins forgiven by a "man"? The presence of Christ in the priest transcends being a "man" in this instance.

-Nick
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« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2009, 04:18:03 PM »

Sorry, I don't buy that "logic" for one minute. The priest is still a real, live human being just like the rest of us. I've heard of cases of priests who were tormented with lust years after baptizing women-if Christ's presence so thoroughly transcends him then why did he suffer from such lust? I for one would not want to be guilty of causing lust unnecessarily in a man. It is my duty as a Christian woman to be modest and chaste as much as possible-which is why we dress in long skirts with long sleeves and headcoverings in church. I have actually never worn nor owned a bikini in my life-why would I suddenly be so immodest for my baptism?  Was your wife commanded to wear a bikini at her baptism? What if she had asked permission to wear a modest, long, full white gown? Would they have refused to honour her resquest? Why is it that at my parish, even adult MEN wear long, full, loose white gowns? We're not a bunch of weird, puritanical americans, either. We're so Russian you hardly know you're on this side of the ocean...

I would not compare an infant's nakedness to that of an adult human being as far as the potential to create lust in the opposite sex is concerned. Of course, there are no doubt exceptions unfortunately, but for the most part, I would not say it would be equivalent.
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« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2009, 04:23:10 PM »

Sorry, I don't buy that "logic" for one minute. The priest is still a real, live human being just like the rest of us. I've heard of cases of priests who were tormented with lust years after baptizing women-if Christ's presence so thoroughly transcends him then why did he suffer from such lust? I for one would not want to be guilty of causing lust unnecessarily in a man. It is my duty as a Christian woman to be modest and chaste as much as possible-which is why we dress in long skirts with long sleeves and headcoverings in church. I have actually never worn nor owned a bikini in my life-why would I suddenly be so immodest for my baptism?  Was your wife commanded to wear a bikini at her baptism? What if she had asked permission to wear a modest, long, full white gown? Would they have refused to honour her resquest? Why is it that at my parish, even adult MEN wear long, full, loose white gowns? We're not a bunch of weird, puritanical americans, either. We're so Russian you hardly know you're on this side of the ocean...

I would not compare an infant's nakedness to that of an adult human being as far as the potential to create lust in the opposite sex is concerned. Of course, there are no doubt exceptions unfortunately, but for the most part, I would not say it would be equivalent.

So then by your logic we shouldn't go to confession and confess our sins to a man because he can't forgive sins, only God can.

-Nick
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Faith: Eastern Orthodox
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« Reply #44 on: April 09, 2009, 04:28:36 PM »

I always understood that the priest was actually a witness to our confession and that it is God who forgives. But there is a verse about "binding and loosing sins" which is applicable. In general, I view the priest as a witness when I go to confession.

Anyhow, I would be interested in hearing if your wife would have been granted a more modest option for her baptism, had she requested it.

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+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +
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