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Author Topic: Female Altar Servers??  (Read 16197 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 18, 2009, 08:42:33 PM »

Does Orthodoxy allow for the use of female altar servers?  I was under the impression that the answer was no.  do altar serves go inside the altar area behind the iconastasis?  I was looking at pictures at the Orthodox cathedral I am planning on attending (OCA), and there were pictures of a young girl, with the caption "our newest altar server".
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2009, 08:46:05 PM »

ok I lied, the picture is of a young boy with long blonde hair,  Grin

So Orthodoxy does NOT allow female altar servers, right?

Almost had a heart attack... laugh
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2009, 09:12:25 PM »

The only female altar servers which have had any basis in longstanding Orthodox tradition are in female monasteries, where older nuns (aged over 40), and abbesses, have been given a blessing by their bishop to enter the altar and serve.

There is no similar tradition in Orthodox parishes. There have been some instances in individual Orthodox parishes of allowing young girls (of similar age to altarboys) serving, but this is extremely rare, and, in my experience, has not gone down too well with the laity or wider clergy. There are very rare instances where females have been given a specific blessing to enter the altar area, either to clean it, or, in the case of one parish of which I have personal experience, for a female iconographer to enter it to paint the icons on the walls of the apse. It must be stressed that such instances are quite specific, and are not in any way an imprimatur allowing women free entry into the sanctuary.

If one looks at the vestments worn by altarboys in the Greek tradition, they are essentially the same as those worn by subdeacons. Food for thought.

It must also be said that even males require a blessing to enter the sanctuary; it is not enough that being male automatically entitles one to enter this hallowed space.
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2009, 10:38:29 PM »

The only female altar servers which have had any basis in longstanding Orthodox tradition are in female monasteries, where older nuns (aged over 40), and abbesses, have been given a blessing by their bishop to enter the altar and serve.

There is no similar tradition in Orthodox parishes. There have been some instances in individual Orthodox parishes of allowing young girls (of similar age to altarboys) serving, but this is extremely rare, and, in my experience, has not gone down too well with the laity or wider clergy. There are very rare instances where females have been given a specific blessing to enter the altar area, either to clean it, or, in the case of one parish of which I have personal experience, for a female iconographer to enter it to paint the icons on the walls of the apse. It must be stressed that such instances are quite specific, and are not in any way an imprimatur allowing women free entry into the sanctuary.

If one looks at the vestments worn by altarboys in the Greek tradition, they are essentially the same as those worn by subdeacons. Food for thought.

It must also be said that even males require a blessing to enter the sanctuary; it is not enough that being male automatically entitles one to enter this hallowed space.

Very nice run down.  I have also seen women do some interesting liturgical things in one church, where they held candles around the icon of the Theotokos during Salutations in Lent.  They were wearing white robes and there were about 12 of them. 
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« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2009, 11:45:42 PM »

No, but they should be.
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2009, 01:10:45 AM »

This may be a silly question, but why are women not allowed to do this?
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2009, 01:56:46 AM »


This may be a silly question, but why are women not allowed to do this?

There's probably no legitimate theological reason...
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2009, 02:55:48 AM »

I'll admit, I kind of like Orthodoxy being a man's club compared to some of the effeminate, emasculated forms of Christianity I've encountered over the years.  But then again, I'm not a woman and I'm not the one being denied certain things.  Although I can't go behind the altar either, as I am ineligible to serve as a catechumen.
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2009, 03:11:00 AM »

While the privilege (or burden, more often) of receiving Holy Orders of bishop, presbyter or deacon cant' be discussed at all (the Canons deal very clearly with this issue and a church abolishing this restriction becomes uncanonical), there should be more openness in the case of minor orders. As for subdeacons, they are de facto in the same condition as the High Orders (i.e. their canonical status has the same requirements as a deacon), but readers and acolytes shouldn't be considered on the same level. I have nothing contrary to a restitution of the old order of deaconesses, which has been since the Apostolic time the office of some women of contributing in liturgical affairs (such as baptising). I also know of some kind of ministry of women in the altar area which is now in disuse, but can't remember the name. Anyway, the absence of deaconesses in modern times is to me a little lack; of course, this is a minor problem, since Orthodoxy has preserved everything else intact over 2000 years!

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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2009, 05:03:04 AM »

This may be a silly question, but why are women not allowed to do this?

It isn't said that women aren't allowed:

The only female altar servers which have had any basis in longstanding Orthodox tradition are in female monasteries, where older nuns (aged over 40), and abbesses, have been given a blessing by their bishop to enter the altar and serve. 

Unless a nun doesn't count as a woman! Wink
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2009, 07:46:39 AM »

While the privilege (or burden, more often) of receiving Holy Orders of bishop, presbyter or deacon cant' be discussed at all (the Canons deal very clearly with this issue and a church abolishing this restriction becomes uncanonical), there should be more openness in the case of minor orders. As for subdeacons, they are de facto in the same condition as the High Orders (i.e. their canonical status has the same requirements as a deacon), but readers and acolytes shouldn't be considered on the same level. I have nothing contrary to a restitution of the old order of deaconesses, which has been since the Apostolic time the office of some women of contributing in liturgical affairs (such as baptising). I also know of some kind of ministry of women in the altar area which is now in disuse, but can't remember the name. Anyway, the absence of deaconesses in modern times is to me a little lack; of course, this is a minor problem, since Orthodoxy has preserved everything else intact over 2000 years!

In Christ,   Alex

Ah yes! The restorative spirit of Vatican 2!!  Somewhere in history it was done, we're not sure exactly the context but we'll bring it back anyway and guess how it works!  Seriously things fall out of disuse for reasons and restoring certain things because "they did it in the early church" is a concept which has failed the Roman Catholic Church since the early 1960's.  Liturgical reform must be done with common sense and not based on a whim of "that's how they did it in the old days."  If one is a believer then one must accept the church as it is organically in the present moment.  To say the Church was more perfect in the past is to say the church in the present is faulty.....
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2009, 01:06:53 PM »

While the privilege (or burden, more often) of receiving Holy Orders of bishop, presbyter or deacon cant' be discussed at all (the Canons deal very clearly with this issue and a church abolishing this restriction becomes uncanonical), there should be more openness in the case of minor orders. As for subdeacons, they are de facto in the same condition as the High Orders (i.e. their canonical status has the same requirements as a deacon), but readers and acolytes shouldn't be considered on the same level. I have nothing contrary to a restitution of the old order of deaconesses, which has been since the Apostolic time the office of some women of contributing in liturgical affairs (such as baptising). I also know of some kind of ministry of women in the altar area which is now in disuse, but can't remember the name. Anyway, the absence of deaconesses in modern times is to me a little lack; of course, this is a minor problem, since Orthodoxy has preserved everything else intact over 2000 years!

In Christ,   Alex

Ah yes! The restorative spirit of Vatican 2!!  Somewhere in history it was done, we're not sure exactly the context but we'll bring it back anyway and guess how it works!  Seriously things fall out of disuse for reasons and restoring certain things because "they did it in the early church" is a concept which has failed the Roman Catholic Church since the early 1960's.  Liturgical reform must be done with common sense and not based on a whim of "that's how they did it in the old days."  If one is a believer then one must accept the church as it is organically in the present moment.  To say the Church was more perfect in the past is to say the church in the present is faulty.....

And the problem is?

I agree that "Liturgical reform must be done with common sense and not based on a whim of "that's how they did it in the old days." I cannot see how you then proceed to negate what you just said with the pronouncement that "If one is a believer then one must accept the church as it is organically in the present moment."

Again, what is exactly the problem if one believes the church at the present is faulty? To see what I mean please go back in time to various critical points in our history, for example during the time that the vast majority of the members of His Body were adherents of Arius. Even today, you have some divisions in the Church over things like the use of a calendar; how are we to know which is "organically" correct? Look, I am all for proceeding cautiously. I just cannot understand your counsel to consider or do nothing.

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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2009, 11:35:55 PM »

Personally I don't think that anyone has legitimately dealt with the theological issue of Christ being an Icon.  He is the iconic role of the priesthood.  as an icon he is a window into the priesthood.  as a window, he is one that looks like a man..any other window is not a window but something else.  fairly simple to me...
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2009, 01:00:58 AM »

This thread is about female altar servers, not the female priesthood.  I have yet to see any solid theological reason behind females not being allowed to serve.
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2009, 01:41:24 AM »

I have yet to see any solid theological reasons why women should be allowed to serve.
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« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2009, 10:08:46 AM »

This thread is about female altar servers, not the female priesthood. 

Laypeople are not permitted to serve in the altar (although it frequently happens). Those serving in the altar should be ordained to one of the minor orders of the clergy. The minor orders of the clergy, like the three major orders, are male.
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« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2009, 10:28:03 AM »


In our church...the boys are altar servers...but, the girls play a very minimal role...and as they are still too young to grasp the awesomeness of the Liturgy, they often get bored and feel left out, as they watch their brothers serve.

We've tried to incorporate girls as often (but, not too much) as possible into various ceremonies.

This is most evident during Lent and Holy Week.  The girls all wear white dresses and walk together in the processions; and later holding candles, stand guard around the Plashchanitsia on Holy Friday.

On Sunday morning, they again lead the way in the procession.  On the third turn around the church, as they near the doors, one girl starts showering the sidewalk and steps with flower petals, so as the priest ascends to the doors he walks on a carpet of flowers.  Then everyone else who enters after the joyous news has been announced, enters the church walking on the flower petals.  It's nothing much, but, the girls feel important.

We've had some folks even complain about this...that the girls should not be standing by the the Plashchanitisia on Holy Friday...to which I reminded them of the Holy Myrrhbearers.

If the bishop is visiting, or there's a special event at church, we have the girls (and the little boys from school) hold candles during the reading of the Gospel.

We also post the girls in the back of the church, in the doorway, to pass out any fliers, church bulletins, etc. for that week.

These are all little and insignificant acts, however, they make the girls feel like they are participating.

So, there are many ways in which to include girls in our church services. 

The Altar is simply off limits.  Not just to the girls, but, to everyone, who does not have the blessing of priest or bishop to be there.


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« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2009, 12:03:09 PM »


In our church...the boys are altar servers...but, the girls play a very minimal role...and as they are still too young to grasp the awesomeness of the Liturgy, they often get bored and feel left out, as they watch their brothers serve.

We've tried to incorporate girls as often (but, not too much) as possible into various ceremonies.

This is most evident during Lent and Holy Week.  The girls all wear white dresses and walk together in the processions; and later holding candles, stand guard around the Plashchanitsia on Holy Friday.

On Sunday morning, they again lead the way in the procession.  On the third turn around the church, as they near the doors, one girl starts showering the sidewalk and steps with flower petals, so as the priest ascends to the doors he walks on a carpet of flowers.  Then everyone else who enters after the joyous news has been announced, enters the church walking on the flower petals.  It's nothing much, but, the girls feel important.

We've had some folks even complain about this...that the girls should not be standing by the the Plashchanitisia on Holy Friday...to which I reminded them of the Holy Myrrhbearers.

If the bishop is visiting, or there's a special event at church, we have the girls (and the little boys from school) hold candles during the reading of the Gospel.

We also post the girls in the back of the church, in the doorway, to pass out any fliers, church bulletins, etc. for that week.

These are all little and insignificant acts, however, they make the girls feel like they are participating.

So, there are many ways in which to include girls in our church services. 

The Altar is simply off limits.  Not just to the girls, but, to everyone, who does not have the blessing of priest or bishop to be there.




I'll admit, I kind of like Orthodoxy being a man's club compared to some of the effeminate, emasculated forms of Christianity I've encountered over the years.  But then again, I'm not a woman and I'm not the one being denied certain things.  Although I can't go behind the altar either, as I am ineligible to serve as a catechumen.

Are you being ordained? Otherwise you are being denied certain things.

Being divorced, the ordained priesthood is denied me (although many tried to talk me into ordination before I was married, and during).  I'm quite fine with that (and I'm sure plenty on this board are too Tongue).

and the Church isn't an ordained man's club either: otherwise the interdict of a priest celebrating DL without a congregation wouldn't be in place.
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« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2009, 03:17:27 PM »

As was said before, men have to receive a blessing to serve in the altar and laymen are generally not allowed in the altar either. Only those who have a liturgical function receive the blessing to serve in the altar.

It seems very practical to me - if you have something to do that requires you to be in the altar (liturgically, priest, acolyte, deacon, subdeacon) or in the case of someone whose responsibility is to clean the altar or the case of the iconographer, then you receive the blessing and permission to go and serve.
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« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2009, 03:24:57 PM »

In our church...the boys are altar servers...but, the girls play a very minimal role...and as they are still too young to grasp the awesomeness of the Liturgy, they often get bored and feel left out, as they watch their brothers serve.
At my OCA parish, girls can volunteer to be "Handmaidens", who receive the blessed loaves outside of the iconostasis and take it to a small room off the church to cut it up. They also distribute the bread and wine on two small tables (one to either side of the altat) during Communion.
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« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2009, 03:27:44 PM »

Are you being ordained? Otherwise you are being denied certain things.

To be fair, I am not allowed to cover my head in the temple.  As of now, I am also not allowed to do anything but sing along during the first half of the liturgy.  I've actually been considering leaving at the dismissal of the catechumen, because the entire second half of the service is really about getting ready for the Eucharist, or songs about how everyone has just had the Eucharist.  I feel pretty out of place anymore.
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« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2009, 04:35:49 PM »

While the privilege (or burden, more often) of receiving Holy Orders of bishop, presbyter or deacon cant' be discussed at all (the Canons deal very clearly with this issue and a church abolishing this restriction becomes uncanonical), there should be more openness in the case of minor orders. As for subdeacons, they are de facto in the same condition as the High Orders (i.e. their canonical status has the same requirements as a deacon), but readers and acolytes shouldn't be considered on the same level. I have nothing contrary to a restitution of the old order of deaconesses, which has been since the Apostolic time the office of some women of contributing in liturgical affairs (such as baptising). I also know of some kind of ministry of women in the altar area which is now in disuse, but can't remember the name. Anyway, the absence of deaconesses in modern times is to me a little lack; of course, this is a minor problem, since Orthodoxy has preserved everything else intact over 2000 years!

In Christ,   Alex

Ah yes! The restorative spirit of Vatican 2!!  Somewhere in history it was done, we're not sure exactly the context but we'll bring it back anyway and guess how it works!  Seriously things fall out of disuse for reasons and restoring certain things because "they did it in the early church" is a concept which has failed the Roman Catholic Church since the early 1960's.  Liturgical reform must be done with common sense and not based on a whim of "that's how they did it in the old days."  If one is a believer then one must accept the church as it is organically in the present moment.  To say the Church was more perfect in the past is to say the church in the present is faulty.....

I feel truly OFFENDED by your accusations. Everybody on this forum knows how I left my Catholic origins for Orthodoxy because of the recent innovations post-Vatican II and that I'm maybe one of the most conservative on this board. My comment has never doubted theentirety of  Orthodoxy, in fact I wrote "this is a minor problem, since Orthodoxy has preserved everything else intact over 2000 years!". I also acknowledge that deaconesses have never been ruled out by Canon Law or by the Ecumenical Council, and we all know that deaconesses have been ordered in Orthodox monasteries - even some of them are honoured as saints in our calendars. Also, I never said that deaconesses are on the same level as deacons: they're minor orders, no doubt. How could I be denying anything in the Orthodox faith?

In Christ,  Alex
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« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2009, 04:48:33 PM »

Are you being ordained? Otherwise you are being denied certain things.

To be fair, I am not allowed to cover my head in the temple.  As of now, I am also not allowed to do anything but sing along during the first half of the liturgy.  I've actually been considering leaving at the dismissal of the catechumen, because the entire second half of the service is really about getting ready for the Eucharist, or songs about how everyone has just had the Eucharist.  I feel pretty out of place anymore.

Not allowed to do anything but worship God and pray?
Poor you!
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« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2009, 05:52:14 PM »

Not allowed to do anything but worship God and pray? Poor you!

I didn't mean it like that!  I wasn't complaining or anything, I was just pointing out that it is not as if females are the only ones with certain limitations.  I am limited in many ways myself.  Not all limitations are somehow bad, as we don't have to get everything we want all at once; sometimes we never get it.  The last little bit was really just me thinking "out loud."  I was lamenting that I have yet to taste of the Lord's true Body and Blood.  Sometimes being on the outside looking in is painful.  I was just stating that in many ways a departure at the dismissal might be more appropriate, as I really don't belong as a catechumen during the second half of the service.

Just so we are all clear here, I am not for or against female altar servers.  I was just asking for some reasoning behind the prohibition.
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« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2009, 06:19:35 PM »

I have no problems with no female alter servers, deacons or priests.  After all, women are set apart to be child-bearers-  no man can do that. I realize not all women will have children for a variety of reasons, just as not all men will be priests for a variety of reasons. I never have seen that as being sexist at all.
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« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2009, 10:23:35 AM »

Not allowed to do anything but worship God and pray? Poor you!

I was just stating that in many ways a departure at the dismissal might be more appropriate, as I really don't belong as a catechumen during the second half of the service.
I can think of several reasons for remaining (and I was a catechumen for a long time):
to pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ - who are receiving
to receive the blessings of being in the presence of Christ
to receive the antidoron and the priest's blessing

And that's just off the top of my head.
Just a suggestion, perhaps you might want to think about why you think leaving the Divine Liturgy is more appropriate and that you really don't belong. Perhaps your priest would be able to help you with this.

Quote
Just so we are all clear here, I am not for or against female altar servers.  I was just asking for some reasoning behind the prohibition.
People who have a reason to be in the altar are there.
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« Reply #26 on: September 25, 2009, 02:26:33 PM »

As Orthodox Christians, we must start with the understanding that God created us male and female, intending for us to take different roles in the divine economy. These roles are apparent in our bodily differences and clearly set forth in Scripture and Tradition. We are expected to respect the distinction of male and female and to teach it to our young, raising them to act as godly men or godly women according to their sex.

Part of the male role is headship. With headship goes public management of worship. Thus only males can be bishops, priests, and deacons. Women were at one time made deaconesses, but their role was very limited, bore little resemblance to the role of deacons, and was occasioned by the Church’s respect for the distinction of gender through separation and physically modesty. Deaconesses could attend to women in private without running the risk of scandal. They also assisted in baptism to shield men from the nakedness of the women being baptized, and they guarded the women’s entrances to the church building. The roles of reader and chanter were also restricted to men, except in female monasteries. Women in “city” churches were expected to sing along with the people but not to lead the people in singing.

Altar servers were required to be male for several reasons, but principally because serving in the altar was the primary training ground for higher orders. Another important reason was that male clergy naturally considered women and girls a significant distraction when they were trying to lay aside all earthly cares. A third reason was that boys are naturally more fidgety than girls and need to be given something to do, lest they grow restless and unruly. All of these reasons still exist, and thus altar servers are still male.

This will no doubt disappoint people today who have been brought up to not respect the distinction of male and female and to expect equality of the sexes, but a large part of our salvation depends on accepting what God has ordained, what He has made us in the beginning, and what He wants us to become.

In Christ,

Dn. Patrick

P.S. I use my true title and true name not because I want to lay down the law, but because I want to hold myself publicly accountable for what I say, and because I dislike giving myself names. It is so unnatural. We are not meant to name ourselves, but to accept the names we are given.
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« Reply #27 on: September 25, 2009, 03:03:46 PM »

In the Western Rite we have female Alter Guild members. They are authorized to help prepare the alter and also assist in cleanup after liturgy. They are very helpful and dedicated women of God.
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« Reply #28 on: September 25, 2009, 03:33:07 PM »

In the Western Rite we have female Alter Guild members. They are authorized to help prepare the alter and also assist in cleanup after liturgy. They are very helpful and dedicated women of God.

Interesting that the Altar Guild members are not in the altar area during services, but before and after. I do not see a problem with this as their presence does nothing to contradict any of the reasons that Deacon Patrick and others have offered.

As for deacons and deaconesses in general, too much of the discussion is on their liturgical functions. We should consider the existence of permanent deacons who become ordained to the office not as a stepping stone to the priesthood but to fulfill a specific "serving' vocation. Same with deaconesses, in addition to female chanters and readers, who could do specific functions that are not specifically liturgical. I am thinking more in terms of ministries of the church that do not require ordination but could benefit from permanent deacons/deaconesses who do not have any other calling. For example: running the hospice, working at the school, serving at the soup kitchen, etc...
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« Reply #29 on: September 25, 2009, 05:12:18 PM »

Dear Second Chance,

All orders in the Church are essentially sacramental, not merely liturgical. The orders of bishop, priest, deacon, deaconess, subdeacon, reader, chanter, and even doorkeeper were all created to perform certain functions during the Church’s sacramental worship. What you are proposing is that we create an order without a sacramental purpose. But in that case, the order of deaconess would be strictly honorary, which no order is. The role you have in mind for deaconesses is not an order but an assortment of possible offices. But women don’t need to be ordained as deaconesses to fill nonsacramental offices.

Perhaps you are looking to ordination as a way to confer rank and authority on women, so they aren’t left out of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. There are two problems with that: One is that the ecclesiastical hierarchy is essentially a sacramental order, and unless deaconesses have a sacramental purpose they have no place in the hierarchy. The other problem is that inserting deaconesses into the ecclesiastical hierarchy grants them headship over men of lower rank. This is one of the reasons for the disappearance of deaconesses: Their ordination, in both appearance and practice, often violated the ordination of the man as head of the woman. (The other reason was the disappearance of their sacramental purpose.)

Maybe you don’t believe in the ordination of the man as head of the woman. Maybe you believe the Apostle Paul is only speaking of married couples in 1 Cor. 11 and Eph. 5. But the Church has always taught that such an order indeed exists between the sexes — that God indeed ordained things so.

In Christ,

Dn. Patrick
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« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2009, 05:38:49 PM »

I really wanted to stay out of this one, but...

All orders in the Church are essentially sacramental, not merely liturgical. The orders of bishop, priest, deacon, deaconess, subdeacon, reader, chanter, and even doorkeeper were all created to perform certain functions during the Church’s sacramental worship.

Fr. Deacon, please use caution in your choice of language.  The orders of bishop, priest, and deacon were not "created to perform certain functions during the Church's sacramental worship," and I would go so far as to state that any assertion like that has no basis or foundation in history.  The office of bishop comes directly from the Apostolic office, which was not created for a liturgical purpose, and the office of deacon was created specifically as an administrative servant (it's right there in Acts).  Their liturgical functions flow from the essence & nature of the offices, but the offices were not created to perform liturgical functions.  Now subdeacon, doorkeeper, reader, etc. - those were created organically to function within the liturgical life of the Church.
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« Reply #31 on: September 25, 2009, 06:04:03 PM »

Dear Second Chance,

All orders in the Church are essentially sacramental, not merely liturgical. The orders of bishop, priest, deacon, deaconess, subdeacon, reader, chanter, and even doorkeeper were all created to perform certain functions during the Church’s sacramental worship. What you are proposing is that we create an order without a sacramental purpose. But in that case, the order of deaconess would be strictly honorary, which no order is. The role you have in mind for deaconesses is not an order but an assortment of possible offices. But women don’t need to be ordained as deaconesses to fill nonsacramental offices.


Dear Father Deacon Patrick,

My thinking is indeed contrary to the actual practice of the Church for the vast majority of centuries since Pentecost. I was actually harking back to the Apostolic Church, where Acts Chapter 6 relates that "1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (my emphasis)

Of course, you know that deacons were so important that Saint Paul crafted a list of their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3.
 
In addition, I think the following from the Wiki is fairly accurate:

"Anciently, the Eastern Churches ordained deaconesses. This practice fell into desuetude in the second millennium, but has been revived (not without controversy) in some churches. Saint Nectarios of Pentapolis was reputed to have ordained a number of nuns as deaconesses in convents. It should be noted that historically, deaconesses were never considered to hold the same position in the hierarchy as deacons. Deaconesses would assist in anointing and baptising women, and in ministering to the spiritual needs of the women of the community, but would not serve within the Holy Altar. After the church ceased ordaining deaconesses, these duties largely fell to the nuns and to the priests' wives."

What I said had nothing to do with your point about the headship of man or to confer authority to women. My point, rather question, is whether it is possible to have permanent deacons and deaconesses in our time, as it was done during the Apostles' time. In fact, by having two distinct tracts (one permanent and another leading up to the priesthood, or if you prefer, one liturgical and the other not), most of your reservations would me met. You know that lay persons today exercise many ministries in the Church: run Sunday School, direct the choir, prepare the offerings, serve on Church Councils, etc.. I purposely offered additional ministries (such as running a soup kitchen or hospices) to highlight that the work of the Church goes way beyond the liturgical or the Church Temple itself. And, of course all of these ministries are sacramental, as is the participation of the laity in the life of the Church. I think my intent is to look at this without necessarily conflating the sacramental with the liturgical, or the pursuit of vocations with currently defined orders. To me ordination means what it means at its core: to set aside. Now, how can we do this?
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« Reply #32 on: September 25, 2009, 09:12:38 PM »

Thank you, Cleveland, for your thoughtful reply. You raise good points, but I think I am on fairly solid ground in saying the orders of the Church are essentially sacramental. I just need to explain things a bit more.

Let me start by granting that everything we do is or at least should be sacramental. But some things we do together as the Church are clearly recognized as sacramental (which is why we call them sacraments), and for those things the Church has indeed created the orders named. The calling of apostle was not one of these orders. Christ called the Apostles first of all to be evangelists – to go out into the world and preach the Gospel. That remains the definitive vocation of the apostle. Over the centuries, the Church has honored many people with the title “Equal to the Apostles” because they took the Gospel to new lands. Not all of these new apostles were priests or bishops. Some were in fact women. 

Bishops, however, were created by the Apostles to “oversee” local flocks, and the principal concern of their oversight was communal worship. That worship very early on involved a communal meal – the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup, in imitation of the Last Supper, as Our Lord commanded. The breaking of bread and sharing of the cup were preceded by prayers by president (originally the Apostles, then the bishops or elders). After both had been blessed with prayers, they needed to be distributed, to the growing crowd of believers. Acts 6 actually refers to this Eucharistic meal. It was not as formalized as it is today, but it was essentially sacramental from the very beginning, even though some people present may not have comprehended this.

So the sacramental function of the bishops, priests, and deacons was there from the beginning, and it was their most important function, not merely one of their many duties.

Now, to Second Chance: Thank you also for your thoughtful post. (I’m not just saying this; so many people seem to post the first thing that pops into their heads.) Thank you also for the intellectual honesty to recognize that what you are proposing is not what the Church has done for most of her life. But as I have explained above, the Apostolic Church did not create the order of deacons for nonsacramental administrative duties. So, no, it is not possible to have two distinct tracks for deacons, one sacramental and one administrative, because administrative duties do not warrant holy orders. (Unlike the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox did not distinguish “permanent deacons” from deacons destined for the priesthood; we are all just deacons, and God decides whether we remain so.)

As I granted above, everything that we do is or should be sacramental, and certainly singing in a choir or directing a choir in church is sacramental, as are many other duties men and women perform in church. But the problem with “setting aside” these duties for “ordination” is that it’s hard to see where they would fit in the “order.” Where would choir directors rank, compared to subdeacons and readers? And what if the choir director is female? Wouldn’t that present the same problem as deaconesses? To avoid conflict and contention, and the temptation to pride that afflicts all of us, the Church has limited holy orders to the major three and the minor three.

I find no fault with the Wiki entry on deaconesses, but I would add that deaconesses were never generally accepted in the West even when it was Orthodox. Something about the Roman or Celtic mind resisted elevating women to that level. I would also add deaconesses in the East were ordained like subdeacons and readers, received no more of the oblations after the Liturgy than subdeacons and readers, and communed before widows and virgins but after all men in holy orders, including subdeacons, readers, chanters (who were all male), and male ascetics (according to the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions).

In Christ,

Dn. Patrick

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« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2009, 10:47:57 PM »


As I granted above, everything that we do is or should be sacramental, and certainly singing in a choir or directing a choir in church is sacramental, as are many other duties men and women perform in church. But the problem with “setting aside” these duties for “ordination” is that it’s hard to see where they would fit in the “order.” Where would choir directors rank, compared to subdeacons and readers? And what if the choir director is female? Wouldn’t that present the same problem as deaconesses? To avoid conflict and contention, and the temptation to pride that afflicts all of us, the Church has limited holy orders to the major three and the minor three.

Dear Father Deacon Patrick,

I think a fundamental difference in our views is the importance that we place on internal hierarchical order. Obviously it is very important for you. As for me, not so much. I look at the bishop, as the head of the local church (the church that really matters), at priests as his deputies, deacons as his and priests' assistants, and everybody else as everything and everybody else that the church needs and does. Everybody is equal as believers/disciples; they just have different offices or functions.

By the way, when you worried about a woman being the choir director, I was surprised. I had thought that the important things in all of these ministries are the talents given by God, the calling issued by the Lord or the Holy Spirit, and the acceptance of both by the disciple. I never thought that, apart from bishops, priests and deacons, women could not be considered just because of their gender. I really do not think that this is theologically supportable or pastorally the best approach.
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« Reply #34 on: September 26, 2009, 10:34:04 AM »

I know one woman, who runs one mission. She is the choir director, teaches in Sunday school, organises most of the social events. The only one thing that she does not is serving the Liturgy Smiley

I find no fault with the Wiki entry on deaconesses, but I would add that deaconesses were never generally accepted in the West even when it was Orthodox. Something about the Roman or Celtic mind resisted elevating women to that level. I would also add deaconesses in the East were ordained like subdeacons and readers, received no more of the oblations after the Liturgy than subdeacons and readers, and communed before widows and virgins but after all men in holy orders, including subdeacons, readers, chanters (who were all male), and male ascetics (according to the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions).
In Christ,

Dn. Patrick



I can send you an essay about Deaconesses, their ordaining and functions. There is described the rite of their ordination which was served after the anaphora. There is also a description that deaconess communed herself as all mayor orders do. The article is written by PhD of Theology (got on St. Serge's), Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church's spokesman and seminary's lecturer. It is published on Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church' official website.

The only one problem is that you would have to find a reliable translator, because it is in Polish. It's not long, though.
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« Reply #35 on: September 26, 2009, 03:35:04 PM »

Thank you, Cleveland, for your thoughtful reply. You raise good points, but I think I am on fairly solid ground in saying the orders of the Church are essentially sacramental. I just need to explain things a bit more.

Let me start by granting that everything we do is or at least should be sacramental. But some things we do together as the Church are clearly recognized as sacramental (which is why we call them sacraments), and for those things the Church has indeed created the orders named. The calling of apostle was not one of these orders. Christ called the Apostles first of all to be evangelists – to go out into the world and preach the Gospel. That remains the definitive vocation of the apostle. Over the centuries, the Church has honored many people with the title “Equal to the Apostles” because they took the Gospel to new lands. Not all of these new apostles were priests or bishops. Some were in fact women. 

Bishops, however, were created by the Apostles to “oversee” local flocks, and the principal concern of their oversight was communal worship. That worship very early on involved a communal meal – the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup, in imitation of the Last Supper, as Our Lord commanded. The breaking of bread and sharing of the cup were preceded by prayers by president (originally the Apostles, then the bishops or elders). After both had been blessed with prayers, they needed to be distributed, to the growing crowd of believers. Acts 6 actually refers to this Eucharistic meal. It was not as formalized as it is today, but it was essentially sacramental from the very beginning, even though some people present may not have comprehended this.

So the sacramental function of the bishops, priests, and deacons was there from the beginning, and it was their most important function, not merely one of their many duties. 

I'm not arguing that sacramental function wasn't present from the beginning, I'm arguing that you do a disservice to others and propagate an untrue statement when you say (emphasis mine) "The orders of bishop, priest, deacon, deaconess, subdeacon, reader, chanter, and even doorkeeper were all created to perform certain functions during the Church’s sacramental worship," especially when the evidence indicates otherwise.  The phrase "were all created to perform" indicates (a) the Apostles first intent in creating each position was to perform a sacramental function, or (b) the positions were created when they saw that sacramental functions needed to be fulfilled. 

I would argue that either way the statement is wrong; St. James, first Bishop of Jerusalem, was chosen to be the Elder - this included presiding at gatherings/meetings, administering the work of the Church there, and sacramental functions, all of which together were likely in the minds of the Apostles, but one cannot argue that any one took precedence, especially when there is no source to indicate such. 

I believe it is impossible to find any source that indicates that sacramental function was primarily in the minds of the Apostles when they formed the deaconate, simply because the context you see in Acts 6 isn't supported by the scripture or other writings themselves, especially when you consider the full ministry of the early Church which included daily distribution of food and money to the poor, widows, and orphans, while the Eucharistic service was still being performed weekly on Sunday.

If this is not your intent, then you should be more careful in how you craft your statement; if it is your intent, then I'm afraid you're going to need to provide some source material to support your claim.  Your statement "So the sacramental function of the bishops, priests, and deacons was there from the beginning, and it was their most important function, not merely one of their many duties" does not actually address my point (which goes to intent), and quite frankly infers a lot which is not evidence from the sources (i.e. their most important function).  While the eternal significance of the Eucharist, and its preeminent place in the Church, are not being debated, it can still be described as "one of their many duties" since they were on the other days performing acts which Christ Himself said will gain one entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven ("as you did it to one of the least of my brethren..."), and acts which He Himself mandated (arguably with equal importance to the Eucharist) through the Great Commission.
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« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2009, 05:12:05 PM »

Dear Second Chance:

Hierarchy has been very important to the Church for a very long time. I myself would argue that it has been too important. Elsewhere I have distinguished between hierarchy and mere “archy.” Archy, I would argue, is the order that exists within the Trinity --- three equal Persons ordered as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit --- and the order that existed originally between the man and the woman and among men (human beings) generally. The fall, however, necessitated a temporary, economical subjection of some men to other men, as well as of the woman to the man, and that order we call hierarchy. It is, as I said, temporary, but it is still in force because we are yet still in the fallen state. In the next life, we will live together archically, but, I would argue, not hierarchically. (Here is where I differ with Dionysios the Areopagite and many other fathers, who seen hierarchy among human beings as the natural state, now and later.) I have a 40-page paper on this topic under review by St. Vladimir Theological Quarterly; it has already received favorable comment from some noted Orthodox scholars, and maybe in a year or so it will be out there for all to read.

As for gender, it is only very recently (within the last 50 to 100 years) that gender has been no longer considered relevant to duties outside the altar such as choir director and reader. Until this past century, Orthodox Christians respected the tradition of the Apostles and Saints that women were not to teach or exercise authority over men and were to remain silent in church, singing along with the congregation but not speaking, reading, or singing alone. (1 Co. 14:33-40, 1 Tim. 2:11-14) Unfortunately, this tradition has lately been abandoned by some Orthodox, largely as a result of ignorance. We have stopped teaching the Orthodox regard for gender, partly because we haven’t felt that we’ve had a very good explanation of it. Indeed, we haven’t, because, until now, we haven’t needed one. The paper mentioned above should help with that.

But remember, gender is itself a calling. And the truly important thing is not what the world calls “self-actualization,” with everyone exercising his gifts to the fullest. The important thing is respecting the truth (including the truth about gender and about the traditions that govern the genders) and being what God wants us to be, which is always partly what He has already made us, male or female.

Dear Mike:

Thanks, but there are already several works in English on deaconesses, and they do not substantially contradict anything I have said.

Dear Cleveland:

You seem to have missed the centrality of the sacraments to the life of the Church, which is odd for an Orthodox Christian. We are so often accused of being only about the sacraments, and participating in the sacraments is indeed most of what many Orthodox Christians do as members of the Church. It should not be all that they do, but the Church is principally an assembly for worship, not a marketing campaign, not a social service agency, and not a political party. It is from our worship that our works of evangelism, social service, and political witness flow. As is often said, when we come together for worship, we constitute the Kingdom --- we become what we are most meant to be, if only for a time.

As for Acts, you need look no further than the Orthodox Study Bible to see that my reading of Acts is ancient. There were other ancient ways of reading it, but Eucharistic churches have tended to prefer my way because it explains why they do what they do and why the Eucharist is so essential. In contrast, non-Eucharistic churches have tended to read Acts your way, taking “the breaking of bread” to mean nothing more than eating together. In the faith-filled time of the Apostles, this Eucharistic breaking of bread was done daily, as is still the custom in Orthodox monasteries (and some Roman Catholic parishes). Ask yourself, why would St. Luke have made a point of saying that the early Christians in Jerusalem continued daily “breaking bread” and “partaking of food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46) unless there was something truly special about these mundane activities? People eat everyday. Always have. What’s special about that to warrant its mention? What’s special is that they were then eating with a new awareness of the sacramental dimension of their partaking, that their bread was the Body of Christ and their wine was the Blood of Christ.

If you don’t accept this reading, how do you explain the origin of our Eucharist, and how do you explain the complete absence of any mention of it in Acts? You might say that the Eucharistic was a secret, a mystery that was liable to being misunderstood, and therefore St. Luke said nothing about it. That does indeed explain why he is not more explicit about this breaking of bread. He is speaking cryptically so that those in the know will recognize “breaking bread” as the Eucharistic meal.

As for authorities to back me up, this reading is so common I hardly think authorities are needed, unless someone is wont to be contentious. It didn’t take me long to find support in the OSB, or to find this passage in a book on my shelf by a Protestant scholar:

“Under this rubric, ‘the breaking of (the) bread,’ we find also that the Eucharist was celebrated on a weekly basis, perhaps at first on a daily basis (daily, Acts 2:45; 5:42; weekly, Acts 20:7). Paul is our first witness that it was a primary feature of worship, to be carried out with frequency (1 Cor. 11:26), not annually like the Pesach. At first it was probably in small groups in private houses, but later, as the church grew, in more spacious houses that could accommodate the larger numbers (1 Cor. 11:22), that is, in houses of the well-to-do members (Philem. 2, 22). [Allen Cabaniss, Pattern in Early Christian Worship, Mercer University Press, 1989]

If you need more, look around. I’m sure you won’t have to look long.

In Christ,

Dn. Patrick

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« Reply #37 on: September 27, 2009, 07:33:41 PM »

Dear Cleveland:

Here's some more off-the-shelf support for my sacramental interpretation of Acts:

From Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, Penguin edition, 1991:

P. 21: “Ignatius laid emphasis upon two things in particular, the bishop and the Eucharist; he saw the Church as both hierarchical and sacramental. … And it is the bishop’s primary and distinctive task to celebrate the Eucharist, ‘the medicine of immortality.’”

From W.H.C. Frend’s The Early Church, Fortress Press edition, 1982:

P. 26: “Soon it was necessary to recognize the existence of Greek-speaking Christians by the appointment of ‘deacons’ to serve at the communal meal.”

P. 40: “The deacon was a subordinate, whether he served the saints at table in Jerusalem, or helped the bishops at the cult meal, or, like Phoebe at Cenchraea, kept house for necessitous Christians in a busy port.” [Frend is allowing for various interpretations here, including yours and mine. It is, of course, not certain that Phoebe was a deaconess, ordained like a male deacon by the laying-on of hands; she may have been simply someone who served her fellow Christians.]

P. 40, regarding the appointment of bishops: “This development took place not only for administrative grounds but also for more important reasons arising out of the needs of the Eucharist. A bishop must be not only a virtuous man, husband of one wife, etc., but a person fitted to represent Jesus, himself both priest and victim, at the solemn moment of the Eucharist before the sacramental meal eaten by each community before dawn on the ‘Day of the Lord’ (Sunday).”

Need more? Or is this enough?

In Christ,

Dn. Patrick

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« Reply #38 on: September 27, 2009, 08:44:25 PM »

As for gender, it is only very recently (within the last 50 to 100 years) that gender has been no longer considered relevant to duties outside the altar such as choir director and reader. Until this past century, Orthodox Christians respected the tradition of the Apostles and Saints that women were not to teach or exercise authority over men and were to remain silent in church, singing along with the congregation but not speaking, reading, or singing alone. (1 Co. 14:33-40, 1 Tim. 2:11-14) Unfortunately, this tradition has lately been abandoned by some Orthodox, largely as a result of ignorance.

Dear Father Deacon Patrick,

So glad that you cited Saint Paul as authority. I believe this is the same Apostle who said that a bishop is to be a married man, no? I suppose that the Fathers of Trullo, as many others before and after that time, chose to disregard Saint Paul's dictat to Timothy because of something that was compelling. Oh yes, it was to prevent further scandal amongst the believers. I say, also for the same reason, that it is a shame and a scandal that women are prevented from exercising their calling in the ministries of the Church (of course, with the exception of the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon). I say this not on  the basis of ignorance but because the Gospel calls all of us to be essentially equal. I will not bother with the citations; they are many and well known. By the way, if you are going to appeal to specific quotations, you must know that you are open to nitpicking, such as the fact that Saint Paul only forbade women from speaking, not the permutations that you cited without scriptural justification. And, no I do not consider leading a choir to constitute having authority over a man. Finally, if we are to take your counsel to heart, it would not do for a mother to exercise authority over her male children either.

Seriously, Father Deacon you are confusing situational leadership with formal leadership. Yes, the man is the head, but if he does not lead, should the whole family become leaderless? Yes, the man is the formal leader, but if in a flash of wisdom he recognizes that his wife is better at a family function, is he wrong to delegate situational leadership to his wife? You resemble the early disciples who would not believe that Jesus had arisen because the news came from mere women. Come on Father Deacon: it is one thing to remind us of the importance of man's headship, it is another to carry it to extremes.

Respectfully.
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« Reply #39 on: September 28, 2009, 07:00:47 AM »

A man is the head of the family, a women is the neck, which channel the head on her own will.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 07:00:59 AM by mike » Logged

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« Reply #40 on: September 28, 2009, 07:17:41 AM »

A man is the head of the family, a woman is the neck, which channel the head on her own will.

Yup. Show me a wise mother or mother-in-law of Slavic, Greek, Jewish, Italian, or, honestly, any other stock, who hasn't given this advice to her sons or daughters.

That being said, altargirls have no place in Orthodox praxis, other than older nuns in female monasteries which I mentioned earlier in this thread. Female readers and singers, no problem, though it would be more difficult for the ladies to read or sing in a Greek church where singing and reading is still a male-only occupation. Choirmistresses in Slavic churches? Again, why should there be a problem? It is not an ordained position, so why get all het up about it? Even regarding readers, few parishes (Greek or Slavic) that I've been involved with over many years have tonsured readers.
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« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2009, 07:33:09 AM »

Need more? Or is this enough?  

You're a funny guy, Dn. Patrick.  You presume to lecture one who has spent a great deal of time studying the Liturgy; and not only do that, but do so poorly.  I won't spend time being insulted by your tone, speaking to me as though I were an Orthodox neophyte or some nominal Christian; I'm actually quite amused by your presumption.

First, I don't know why you're attempting to argue about scriptural references to "breaking of the bread" with me; I'm well aware that they point to the Eucharistic service.  However, your assertion that the formation of deacons in Acts 6 is due to a Eucharistic purpose is flawed, and likely based on an English translation of the scripture, not the original, which says nothing of bread, only that the widows were being neglected in the daily service/ministry (ὅτι παρεθεωροῦντο ἐν τῇ διακονίᾳ τῇ καθημερινῇ αἱ χῆραι αὐτῶν. = {literally} because overlooked/neglected in the service the daily the widows of them = because their widows were being neglected/overlooked in the daily service/ministry).

I think you completely overlooked what I actually said in my last post; here's a reminder:

I'm not arguing that sacramental function wasn't present from the beginning,

Or maybe what I posted just after that:

While the eternal significance of the Eucharist, and its preeminent place in the Church, are not being debated,

Oh, by the way: Preeminent: Having paramount rank, dignity, or importance: OUTSTANDING, SUPREME.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/preeminent

In the end, I think your non-addressing of my point is actually because you have misunderstood it, a tragic problem for someone who presumes to speak for the Church and do so authoritatively.  It's funny, because you're attempting to argue theologically a point that is largely semantic and historical, and you're doing so without the benefit of the sources.  Let's get back to my original point:

You said that the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon (and if you're going to be arguing historical origins, you may as well as "presbyter" rather than "priest," since the former is the actual ancient term, and the latter actually biases the discussion toward liturgical function) were created for sacramental function - and your sentence structure + context indicate "only created for sacramental function."  I'm saying they were created for more than just that, and your statement should have reflected that, as one attempting to instruct others; again, unless you want to mislead people.

Since you have decided, however, to take the tone you did with me, I'm going to have to return to your original statement, which I think is loaded with both gems and dangers, and make sure you clarify a point or two that I don't think you have the source material to support.

What you are proposing is that we create an order without a sacramental purpose.

No, what is being proposed generally by those who support Deaconesses is the restoration of an order that has a sacramental purpose.  Don't tell me you belong to the historical-revisionist school that denies that deaconesses had no liturgical function.  I once had that mindset erroneously.

The other problem is that inserting deaconesses into the ecclesiastical hierarchy grants them headship over men of lower rank. This is one of the reasons for the disappearance of deaconesses: Their ordination, in both appearance and practice, often violated the ordination of the man as head of the woman. (The other reason was the disappearance of their sacramental purpose.)

You're going to need to provide a source to back up the first part of the statement.  The parenthetical statement is borne out by the source material, but everything else seems to be conjecture at best.  Try to stick to primary source material, and not other people's conjecture.

I don't have the time now to continue this.  But I will return to the subject later.
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« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2009, 07:45:55 AM »

Dear Mike:

Thanks, but there are already several works in English on deaconesses, and they do not substantially contradict anything I have said.


Actually the work I wanted to share with you clearly contradict this:


I would also add deaconesses in the East were ordained like subdeacons and readers (...) and communed before widows and virgins but after all men in holy orders, including subdeacons, readers, chanters (who were all male), and male ascetics (according to the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions).
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« Reply #43 on: September 28, 2009, 11:58:00 AM »

I would also add deaconesses in the East were ordained like subdeacons and readers, received no more of the oblations after the Liturgy than subdeacons and readers, and communed before widows and virgins but after all men in holy orders, including subdeacons, readers, chanters (who were all male), and male ascetics (according to the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions). 

You obviously haven't read the Barberini Euchologion, ca. 790ad, which states that the Deaconess is ordained with the traditional double-formula of the prayer "The divine grace..." and the specific prayer for her order (with petitions in between them), is vested by the bishop, receives communion from the bishop in the Altar, and is handed the chalice by the bishop.  The subdeacon is ordained like the other "lower" orders, with one ordination prayer, without the prayer "The divine grace..." or the petitions.
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« Reply #44 on: September 28, 2009, 12:07:55 PM »

There is quite a lot I could say in response, but why bother? Some of you are obviously in grip of passion and are not amenable to reason. I will say this though:

To Second Chance: “Husband of one wife” has long been understood to mean that a bishop must not have been married more than once, not that bishops are required to be married.

To Cleveland: Regarding the sacramental basis for the orders of bishop and deacon, you asked me for authorities and I cited several, but you yourself have CITED NONE.

To Mike: I cited the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions and do not deny that things were done differently later.

To LBK: Repeating myself, you have to start with the understanding that God meant male and female to take different roles. Those roles are very well defined in Church tradition, and only very recently have the Orthodox stopped respecting them, following the world instead of the fathers. That’s the sad truth. If you want more truth, read The Scandal of Gender: Early Christian Teaching on the Man and the Woman, published by Regina Orthodox Press in 1998. There’s a chapter on silence, a chapter on authority, a chapter on head-coverings, and much else — all based on the writings of the Apostles and Fathers, with ample quotations. I wrote it some time ago and need to correct one point on the nature of gender, but the rest still stands.

To all: The order of the Church is first and foremost — indeed, essentially — an order of worship; the ranks themselves are distinguished by what they are and are not to do in worship, not by their additional duties. When deaconesses were no long needed in worship, the Church stopped ordaining them. The duties that have been suggested recently for deaconesses are things that could be done by anyone and therefore do not warrant ordination.

With that, I leave you. But I will pray for you all.

In Christ,

Dn. Patrick
« Last Edit: September 28, 2009, 12:14:58 PM by Dn Patrick » Logged
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