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Dismas
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« on: December 20, 2003, 12:53:52 PM »

For you that are not shy about getting the message of orthodoxy out...try this new form of communication. It is free.

I have created 2 blogs.

At Google:
http://orthotracts.org/santablog.html

and at joeuser.com

http://santablog.joeuser.com

There are probably others...

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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2003, 01:52:31 AM »

I wonder what it means that no one has replied to this subject.  There are a goodly number of blogs by Orthodox people, some of whom are very articulate about the faith.  Check out some of the following.  From there you'll find more links.

http://karlthienes.blogspot.com/
http://www.chattablogs.com/aionioszoe/
http://www.doxos.com/weblog.php
http://sundaytosunday.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2005, 11:44:07 PM »

The multi-faceted Blog of Bishop Seraphim Sigrist (retired Bishop from Japan, now living in the States, helping out with the OCA)

http://www.livejournal.com/users/seraphimsigrist/
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2005, 12:42:15 PM »

I advise you not to read Bishop Seraphim's blog.  If you do, proceed with caution.

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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2005, 08:16:47 PM »

I advise you not to read Bishop Seraphim's blog. If you do, proceed with caution.


Dear r0bb0c0p,

What is it in Bishop Seraphim's blog that causes you to issue such an advice? He is obviously in good standing with the Church, serving Liturgy as a retired bishop in both OCA churches and monasteries and in the Church of Russia when he visits Russia in connection with his philanthropic work.
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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2005, 08:56:22 PM »

There are a lot of people who are in 'good standing' with their church who do things out of the ordinary. The OCA had not idea that Bp Seraphim was running around with priests having altar girls until some people showed them the picture. Do we know that his Church of Japan and MP Synods know what he is really up to? I find some of the stuff on his blog to be very interesting and some of it is profound but I think Robert's advice is applicable: be cautious. Bp Seraphim is definitely--in my opinion-- not in the Orthodox mainstream.

Since I am not Robert I would say he can give you examples of what bothers him in the blog. I will refrain from any examples because I need to maintain balance and I have already criticized ecumenism today so I don't feel like being overly negative.

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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2005, 09:35:19 PM »


 Bp Seraphim is definitely--in my opinion-- not in the Orthodox mainstream.

But how to define mainstream? I see that he is a frequent guest at New Skete. This monastery actively promotes the cult of Francis and Clare of Assisi, celebrating their feast days and selling their icons. Shocked I believe that this is a stauropighial monastery and comes under the direct authority of the Primate of the OCA. Plainly such a departure from Orthodoxy cannot have escaped his attention and he must give his blessing for it, especially for such a significant change in the Menaion. So we have to ask: what is mainstream? Where is the stream?  Are the bishop and the metropolitan in it or out of it? Huh
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2005, 09:48:03 PM »

(retired Bishop from Japan, now living in the States, helping out with the OCA)


"Helping out with the OCA"?  Perhaps you can clarify this.

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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2005, 10:24:02 PM »

In case anyone gets confused like me, Bp. Seraphim of Canada is not the same as Bp. Seraphim (Sigrist) who is also known as Bp. Seraphim of Sendai. :-";"xx
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2005, 11:23:07 PM »

Wrong Bishop.

His Grace Seraphim, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada - http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/dioceses/CA/index.htm , was the Bishop that received the most votes.

Bishop Seraphim of Sendai is not part of the Holy Synod and is not listed as either an active or retired bishop - http://www.oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/episcopacy/index.html .

A copy of the press release concerning the election can be found here: http://biserica.org/Publicatii/2002/NoVII/XIV_index.html
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2005, 11:34:21 PM »

.
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2005, 11:42:52 PM »



This whole thread is about Bp Seraphim of Sendai, not Bp Seraphim of Canada (a really great bishop).

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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2005, 11:55:52 PM »



This whole thread is about Bp Seraphim of Sendai, not Bp Seraphim of Canada (a really great bishop).

Anastasios
Bishop Seraphim Sigrist  == Bp Seraphim of Sendai?  That would explain my confusion (as I've never met either bishop, I didn't realize they were different).  I guess bishop names get re-used a lot. Wink  Thanks for the clarification...I'll update my post.
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2005, 01:09:32 AM »

I suggest you start by reading his book:

Theology of Wonder.

Then I will start giving examples from his blog.

R
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2005, 08:15:00 PM »

"Helping out with the OCA"? Perhaps you can clarify this.

Bishop Seraphim Sigrist assists in providing festal Liturgies at both New Skete and at Holy Mryyhbearers Monastery in Ortego.
Photos are here
http://www.holymyrrhbearers.com/Monastery_events.htm

and also many photos on his Blog and in his collection of web photos which are varied and interesting
http://voyager.smugmug.com/
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2005, 09:17:02 PM »



Bishop Seraphim Sigrist assists in providing festal Liturgies at both New Skete and at Holy Mryyhbearers Monastery in Ortego.
Photos are here
http://www.holymyrrhbearers.com/Monastery_events.htm

and also many photos on his Blog and in his collection of web photos which are varied and interesting
http://voyager.smugmug.com/


I am familiar with this, he comes here at Pascha.  I don't think it should be called "helps out" though. 
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2005, 09:21:48 PM »

I am familiar with this, he comes here at Pascha. I don't think it should be called "helps out" though.

It's the term he uses in his Blog, when speaking of Services at Holy Myrrhbearers. Perhaps it is a bit of a working-class term to fall from episcopal lips Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2005, 09:25:35 PM »



It's the term he uses in his Blog, when speaking of Services ay Holy Myrrhbearers.

Perhaps they don't have a priest.
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« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2005, 04:36:50 AM »

A web page which gives a small number of blogs and other things

http://www.orthodoxwiki.org/Online_Orthodox_Communities
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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2005, 11:33:50 PM »



Perhaps they don't have a priest.

Actually from this picture it appears they have 2 (which the bishops in question serves as) along with Altar Girls, but unfortunately no Iconostasis yet.
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« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2005, 12:21:44 AM »

Quote
Actually from this picture it appears they have 2 (which the bishops in question serves as) along with Altar Girls, but unfortunately no Iconostasis yet.

The issue with the female altar servers has been resolved, please see the press release here:

http://www.oca.org/news.asp?ID=678&SID=19

Quote
Statement Concerning Liturgical Practices in Parishes

To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

Recently, questions have arisen on numerous internet forums concerning the position of the Orthodox Church in America with regard to those who serve in the Holy Altar in parishes. The questions and ensuing controversy arose as a result of photographs appearing on two parish web sites depicting robed girls performing duties traditionally delegated to males. This has led to a great deal of confusion and discussion as to the policy of the Orthodox Church in America in this regard.

In their concern for maintaining the integrity of the Church and its traditions, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, meeting at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, October 18-21, 2004, reaffirms the ancient practice of the Orthodox Church that only males are to be admitted to service within the holy altar. Any practice to the contrary in this regard is strictly forbidden.

While reaffirming the Orthodox Church's practice concerning sacred ministers and others called to serve within and care for the holy altar, the Holy Synod of Bishops also wishes to encourage all Orthodox Christians to offer their services to Christ's Holy Church, in keeping with their baptismal vocation.

Thanking you for your generous and devoted service to the Church, I remain

In Christ,

Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick, Chancellor
Orthodox Church in America
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« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2005, 12:40:14 AM »



Actually from this picture it appears they have 2 (which the bishops in question serves as) along with Altar Girls, but unfortunately no Iconostasis yet.

Deacon Nikolai,

Not quite. That photo you posted is from a NYC OCA parish, St. Mary Magdalene to be precise. IrishHermit saiys in his post above that bishop SERAPHIM (Sigrist) uses the language "helps out" to refer to him serving at Holy Myrrhbearers in Otego. Not the same place. Not the same situation.


http://www.holymyrrhbearers.com/   <<<Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery

http://www.saintmarymagdalen.com/  <<<St. Mary Magdalene NYC

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« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2005, 12:45:42 AM »

The issue with the female altar servers has been resolved, please see the press release here:
http://www.oca.org/news.asp?ID=678&SID=19

Thank you. Do you know if any such follow-up statement was made by the GOA after Eve Tibbs was tonsured a Reader by Metropolitan Anthony?

A picture of that is posted at http://euphrosynoscafe.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=24884#24884 if anyone is interested.
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« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2005, 01:00:26 AM »

Quote
Thank you. Do you know if any such follow-up statement was made by the GOA after Eve Tibbs was tonsured a Reader by Metropolitan Anthony?

No problem, Father Deacon Nicholas.  Smiley  I don't keep up with things in the GOA, so I am afraid I can't be of any help. Perhaps someone else on the forum may know...

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« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2005, 01:39:14 AM »

Thank you. Do you know if any such follow-up statement was made by the GOA after Eve Tibbs was tonsured a Reader by Metropolitan Anthony?

Dear Father Deacon,

If the Revolution had not caused chaos with the Moscow Council it seems that your own Russian Church may have approved the ordination of deaconesses in 1917. The possibility of the restoration of the office of deaconess in the Russian Orthodox church was seriously discussed at the 1917-1918 local council. Do you believe that your Church will continue the work of the interrupted Council of 1917 and introduce deaconesses now that you are free of the chaotic conditions created by the atheistic regime?

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« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2005, 03:52:31 AM »

Dear Hermit, I have no issue with them in a convent or a place where they are truly needed. The council may have decided either way, who is to know? But their need really went away when we stopped Baptizing people fully nude and we stopped having catechumens live is sex-separated homes on the church property.
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« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2005, 05:01:13 AM »

Dear Hermit, I have no issue with them in a convent or a place where they are truly needed. The council may have decided either way, who is to know? But their need really went away when we stopped Baptizing people fully nude and we stopped having catechumens live is sex-separated homes on the church property.

Do you know then why your Church was considering their restoration at the 1917 Council in Moscow? What reasons were advanced?

I would imagine that the Russian Orthodox Church at that time had no Baptisms of naked women adults and nor did they they have the sex-separated homes. Yet they came very close to approving deaconesses and were interrupted in their deliberations by the 1917 Revolution. So the reasons which you advance for not having deaconesses cannot have carried any weight with your bishops in 1917.
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« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2005, 09:21:48 AM »

How close they were seems to be a bone of contention. Some say it was only being considered for convents, others say for only extreme reasons. Having not read all of the minutes I could not tell you exactly how close or far the were, but obviously had they approved it - whether in limited form or otherwise - I am sure there would have been a proper explanation. But since they did not approve the return, I do not worry of what might have, could have, been had things been different.

That being said, were the number of female catechumens to increase so significantly that the return of the office were being considered, I would not be against this, but when the Church allows certain traditions to die out like married Bishops, she does so for a reason. Nonetheless none of this approves female Readers being tonsured.
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« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2005, 12:46:56 PM »

I think under "religion", you may be looking for -+-ü-ü-+-¦-ü-¦-¦-Å -ƒ-Ç-¦-¦-+-ü-+-¦-¦-+-¦-Å -É-¦-é-+-+-+-+-+-¦-Å -ª-¦-Ç-¦-+-¦-î, unless for some reason you wanted it in its current case.
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« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2005, 06:18:30 PM »

none of this approves female Readers being tonsured.

Why is there a problem? Are not women tonsured at Baptism? Are they not tonsured, a total of three times, when they accept the multiple stages of the holy monastic life? Are not women tonsured as readers in your monasteries? It is an old tradition in Serbia where, in the monasteries for women, nuns are the Readers for the Apostol and they also perform other minor liturgical functions such as standing with the Priest at Proskomedia and assisting him with the reading of the names. There are very many of these. The lists can go back for several centuries.
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« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2005, 06:23:16 PM »

That being said, were the number of female catechumens to increase so significantly that the return of the office were being considered, I would not be against this

I am puzzled very much. I understand thast you are a deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church? You must know that there are literally hundreds of female catechumens now requiring Baptism. I was talking with my friend who is an archpriest at the Theophany Cathedral in Irkutsk and he and the other two priests were exhausted at the feast of Theophany. They baptized 60 adults on the feast itself and on the following day of Saint John the Forerunner.
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« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2005, 04:51:17 AM »


I am puzzled very much.  I understand thast you are a deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church?


Dear Hermit,

Deacon Nikolai is a deacon in the -+-ü-ü-+-¦-ü-¦-¦-Å -ƒ-Ç-¦-¦-+-ü-+-¦-¦-+-¦-Å -É-¦-é-+-+-+-+-+-¦-Å -ª-¦-Ç-¦-+-¦-î (ROAC), not the Russian Orthodox church (MP or ROCOR)

His church website -> http://www.russianorthodox-roac.com/

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« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2005, 05:33:52 AM »


Deacon Nikolai is a deacon in the -+-ü-ü-+-¦-ü-¦-¦-Å -ƒ-Ç-¦-¦-+-ü-+-¦-¦-+-¦-Å -É-¦-é-+-+-+-+-+-¦-Å -ª-¦-Ç-¦-+-¦-î (ROAC), not the Russian Orthodox church (MP or ROCOR)

That's fascinating. May we learn which Church granted this new Church its autonomy and to which it is presumably still responsible in the choice of its first hierarch, although these days I have come across autogenic Churches which use the term 'autonomous' in their titles without an understanding of how it is used or what it means in the Orthodox world.
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« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2005, 11:31:53 AM »

Dear Hermit,

I do not wish to be polemic, but in describing the history of the Church in Russia I unfortunately will have to in order to explain the conditions that created our hierarchy. I hope you will forgive me for this.

The link you were given will give you a more in-depth answer, but let me answer briefly since I am at work.

The Russian Orthodox Church was granted Autonomy from the Greek Church long ago in a somewhat controversial way. However when Stalin co-opted relgion to help control the people in the Soviet Union he created a new entity known as the Moscow Patriarcate. ROCA/ROCOR was the 'continuing' Russain Church in the diaspora and in the Soviet Union the 'continuing' Church was the catacomb church. When ROCA had Saint Philaret at its helm, ROCA began secretly giving the Catacomb Churches bishops. Over time some clergy also left the Soviet created MP and joined as well.

When the Soviet Union became Russia again and under Perestroika some freedoms were restored to Churches and the people. This grouping of catacomb and ex-MP clergy and churches registered as the Russian Orthodox Church. The MP objected and in court when the judgement came down they had to instantly come up with a new name so they came up with Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church on the fly. This group, often also known as the free Russian Orthodox Church was in communion with ROCA until 1995 when it broke communion for a number of issues which are gone into in depth at the site mentioned above, but one of the reasons is the same reason that the GOC also broke communion with ROCA, their communion with the CYprian TOC.

I hope this very brief description that does not hit all the important points gives at least a small glimpse fo the history of our Church and you can look at the site to read even more. My hope is truly that this thread will not devolve in to a bunch of polemics, especially in the week of Cheesefare just before Great Lent begins.
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« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2005, 12:13:22 PM »

Quote
but one of the reasons is the same reason that the GOC also broke communion with ROCA, their communion with the CYprian TOC.

This is inaccurate. The ROCOR broke communion with the GOC in 1976 over the John Rosha consecration.  Nevertheless, communion on a personal level has continued until now.  In 1994, the Cyprian issue caused a further distancing of the GOC and ROCOR but really they hadn't been in communion in a technical sense since 1976.

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« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2005, 12:18:09 PM »

Well when the GOC and ROCOR split happened seems to be told differently depending on who you ask. I was told this by a few GOC priests and laity, but if your information comes from Metropolitan Pavlos and Bishop Christodulos, I should deem it more accurate since bishops should know who his Church is in communion with. (Bishop Gabriel's statements on the Serbians and JP notwithstanding, LOL!)

Of course of the personal ekonomias, I know all about that of course with my personal experiences, as you know.
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« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2005, 12:50:18 PM »


The Russian Orthodox Church was granted Autonomy from the Greek Church long ago in a somewhat controversial way. However when Stalin co-opted relgion to help control the people in the Soviet Union he created a new entity known as the Moscow Patriarcate.

Not going to get into the rest of the post, because as Deacon Nicholas probably knows, I disagree with most of it. I would like to point out though that the Patriarchate was abolished under Peter the Great and restored under Tsar Nicholas II, at which time St. Tikhon became Patriarch. A patriarchate centered in Moscow. What do you mean by "[Stalin] created a new entity known as the Moscow Patriarchate"?  What was new about it?
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« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2005, 01:19:38 PM »

The MP was not the ROC. The ROC existed in pieces. In the diaspora it was the ROCA and inside Russia it was in the Catacombs. Sergius headed a new organization, one controlled by a Godless regime that martyred the saints of the ROC. Many Catacombniks were told they could live and no longer be prosecuted if only they would join this MP including Saint Basil of Kineshma.
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« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2005, 01:21:57 PM »

Well when the GOC and ROCOR split happened seems to be told differently depending on who you ask. I was told this by a few GOC priests and laity, but if your information comes from Metropolitan Pavlos and Bishop Christodulos, I should deem it more accurate since bishops should know who his Church is in communion with. (Bishop Gabriel's statements on the Serbians and JP notwithstanding, LOL!)

Of course of the personal ekonomias, I know all about that of course with my personal experiences, as you know.

The situation with Metropolitan Petros and the GOC in America is a bit different than  the official GOC-ROCOR relations were; I will elaborate that privately to you the next time we speak as I am not prepared to publicly release any information.  My sources on the break of communion in 1976 are documents I obtained in my search of the ROCOR archive, where it is quite clear that ROCOR no longer concelebrates with the GOC after 1976.

What could be the case is that in 1994 the GOC reaffirmed the breach with ROCOR, or perhaps the GOC even after 1976 considered itself one with ROCOR.  This is highly doubtful though as the Free Serb Union of 1981 would have most likely broken ROCOR away from the GOC in any event, had such communion been continuing. Also, in 1985, when Metropolitan Paisios received Fr Anthony Grabbe after his ROCOR deposition, they simply received him and claimed competence to do it; if they had been in communion, this would not have occurred (I know your take on Fr Anthony, now Bp Anthony, will be different; I am merely reporting as I see the documents in the archive without prejudice to his "ontological status').

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« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2005, 01:38:44 PM »

The MP was not the ROC. The ROC existed in pieces. In the diaspora it was the ROCA and inside Russia it was in the Catacombs. Sergius headed a new organization, one controlled by a Godless regime that martyred the saints of the ROC. Many Catacombniks were told they could live and no longer be prosecuted if only they would join this MP including Saint Basil of Kineshma.

On whose authority do you claim that all those bishops unable or unwilling to die as martyrs were not part of the Church?  Also, I'm not sure if you've read the writings of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, or any other ROCOR statements on its relationship to the Church in Russia(official and unofficial church), but they are very interesting. None of them seem to put the Moscow Patriarchate outside of the Church. In fact, ROCOR used harsher language on Met. Evlogy's group, calling them schismatic and outside the Church. Yet they never seemed to use the same severity of language with the MP. It's interesting. I suggest you read these documents. Also interesting is the life of Metropolitan Sergei, as partly chronicled by Nathaniel Davis. You'd think someone so close to Stalin would have been given some perks, when in fact Met.(later Patriarch) Sergei died alone and in poverty.
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« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2005, 01:47:41 PM »

While we both know very well that the other points are issues of serious contention, especially when it comes to the indiviual writings of the the bishops and saints of ROCA, we do know that the official statements of the ROCA do say that the 'hierarchy' of the MP was not a legal hierarchy and as thus had no moral power to tell anyone what to do.
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« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2005, 05:32:05 PM »


My hope is truly that this thread will not devolve in to a bunch of polemics, especially in the week of Cheesefare just before Great Lent begins.


Father Deacon, I'm not sure the note under your avatar helps much in this regard.

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« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2005, 05:57:01 PM »

Quote
ROCA/ROCOR was the 'continuing' Russain Church in the diaspora and in the Soviet Union the 'continuing' Church was the catacomb church. When ROCA had Saint Philaret at its helm, ROCA began secretly giving the Catacomb Churches bishops. Over time some clergy also left the Soviet created MP and joined as well.

Is this newly formed autogenic Church conceived as the continuation and confluence of both the Catacomb Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad together? Does this Church recognise the ROCA as its mother or does it look upon her with matricidal passion? Does it recognise other extant Catacomb Churches in Russia itself or does it admit of none other than itself? If it does recognise them, then with which ones does it concelebrate and commune? If it is not the only existent Catacomb Church, why has it taken a title to itself which excludes the other Catacomb Churches?

I still do not understand how a Church can take the title of "Autonomous." Your explanations involing the civil law have no real importance. We are concerned only with ecclesial truth and reality and not with external secular requirements. There is a canonical meaning to "autonomous" - it requires a Mother Church which grants this status and which selects/approves its first hierarch. On both counts your Church would seem to fail this definition and to be outside the canonical order established by the Ecumenical Councils?

Quote
but let me answer briefly since I am at work.

I see that your profile lists your place of residence as Suzdal Russia.  If it is not an intrusive question, what work do you do, deacon?



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« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2005, 12:20:14 PM »

What does any of this have to do with BLOGS?

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« Reply #44 on: March 10, 2005, 07:40:35 PM »

The Church Messenger / February 27, 2005

  Published by the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the
  U.S.A., Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

  The Office of the Deaconess

  By Very Rev. Protopresbyter Lawrence Barriger

  "I commend unto you Phoebe, our sister, who is a deacon of the Church
  which is in Cenchrea: that you receive her in the Lord, as becomes
  saints, and that you assist her in whatsoever business she has need of
  you; for she has been a helper of many, and of myself also" (Romans
  16:1-2).

  Recently, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece voted to restore, at
  least in limited circumstances, the ancient Office of Deaconess. For the
  present the ordinations of deaconesses are to be confined to "remote
  monasteries" where there is a shortage of clergy. But it is not unlikely
  that the practice and the office may spread to other areas and churches.

  The office of deaconess, like that of the deacon, is certainly of Apostolic
  origin. The Greek noun "diakonos" from which our word "deacon" is
  taken is a gender inclusive noun that includes men and women.

  The origin of the "deaconess" like that of the deacon, was undoubtedly
  bound up with the idea of service in the Church in the matter of
  everyday affairs. The word "diakonos" originally meant a servant who
  worked out of love and not out of compulsion. It is often rendered into
  English as "minister." Jesus Himself used the term to desribe His work: I
  am among you as one that serves, (Luke 22:27) literally, "I am among
  you as a deacon."

  The first deacons were ordained with prayer and the laying on of hands
  by the Apostles out of a practical necessity: "So the Twelve gathered all
  the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect
  the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers,
  chose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit
  and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give
  our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:2-4).

  There can be no doubt that as the Church grew the necessity also arose
  specifically for women who were also set aside with the laying on hands
  and prayer for ministry in the Church.

  We must remember that in antiquity, especially those places influenced
  by Hellenistic culture, women of a respectable sort did not move freely
  about in society. Marriage were generally arranged for social or financial
  gain and women were generally confined to the gyneceum -- the
  women's quarters in the house where they were expected to live quiet
  and secluded lives.

  The need for women to minister to other women in situations where it
  would have been improper for men to do so most likely arose very early
  in the Church. We know from the Gospel stories that the Lord Himself
  and the disciples were ministered to by women and that at the
  Crucifixion "the women who had followed Him from Galilee were
  standing at a distance looking on." One of these women, Mary
  Magdalene, would be among the first witnesses of the Resurrection and
  indeed tradition places her in the presence of the Roman Emperor,
  greeting him with a red-dyed egg and the words, "Christ is risen!"

  Although the Book of Acts only speaks about the ordination of the first
  male deacons -- whose role was not primarily liturgical in the early
  Church but administrative -- within a short amount of time we find
  women who are referred to with the same term as in St. Paul's reference
  to Phoebe in the passage above -- who apparently was undergoing a
  journey from Ephesus (Cenchrea was a village near that city) to Rome
  and most probably was the bearer of St. Paul's letter to the Roman
  Church.

  In any case there are references to the office of "deaconess" through the
  Letters of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul in I Timothy 3:8-12
  speaks of the qualifications for deacons and then apparently the
  "deaconess." This is seen if the passages are placed side by side:

  Likewise must the deacons  Likewise must women
  be grave,   be grave,
  not double-tongued   not slanderers,
  not given to much wine   sober,
  not greedy of filthy lucre,   GǪ.
  holding the mystery of  full of faith in all things.
  the faith in a pure conscience.

  The word used in verse 11 here -- gynaikas -- is often rendered into
  English as "their wives" but there is no possessive pronoun in the Greek
  here -- it seems that the Apostle in giving the qualifications for the men
  who are deacons then lists the qualifications for the women who serve as
  "deacons" as well. At least this is how St. Clement of Alexandria (+220
  A.D.) interpreted this passage.

  The first reference to the office of deaconess outside of the New
  Testament is found in the Letter of Pliny the Younger to the Roman
  Emperor Trajan. Pliny describes how he put to torture two women who
  were called by the Christians "ministrae" that is the Latin translation of
  "deaconesses" in order to learn more about the Christian faith. The letter
  was written in 112 A.D.

  The office of the deaconess was well known in the ancient Church and
  many famous deaconesses are revered as saints in the Church such as St.
  Gorgonia, St. Macrina, St. Melania the Younger and St. Olympias to
  name only a few.

  The function of these women is witnessed to in surviving writings. A
  Church "Typicon" or directory of Church Order from the worship from
  about the year 300 A.D. instructs:

  "Wherefore, O Bishop, you shall appoint unto you laborers of
  righteousness, helpers with you unto life. Those that seem good to you
  out of all the people you shall choose and appoint Deacons, a man for
  the doing of many things that are needed, and a woman to minister to the
  women. For there are houses where you cannot send the Deacon unto
  women because of the unbelievers; but you shall send the Deaconess.
  For also in many other things the Office of a woman [that is, a
  Deaconess] is required" (Apostolic Teachings ch. 17).

  Other similar documents portray the task of the deaconess to assist in the
  anointing at Baptsim and to receive the newly baptized women after they
  left the baptismal font. They carried the Eucharist to private homes,
  especially to other women. They instructed other women in the faith and
  oversaw order in the women's side of the Church. (many of our older
  readers will still recall when the Church was divided into the "men's
  side and the "women's side.")

  In short the deaconess was to assist the Bishop in making the mystery of
  the Church present to other women as necessity and propriety dictated.

  The service for the ordination of a deaconess, still found in the Orthodox
  Euchologion is a true ordination and not simply a "setting apart" as is
  the case with a reader or subdeacon. The deaconess is vested in the
  sticharion and orarion and receives Holy Communion at the altar.

  However, it must be pointed out that unlike the deacon the deaconess
  did not have a liturgical function in the Church beyond assisting at
  Baptism and the taking of Holy Communion to other women.

  The rise of infant baptism in the Early Middle Ages was most likely one
  of the contributing reasons that the office of deaconess fell into disuse.
  There were no issues of propriety with the Baptism of infants. Women's
  monasteries, which became widespread in the early Middle Ages,
  seemingly absorbed the other functions of the deaconess, provided
  places of refuge and spiritual instruction for the female members of the
  Church even if they were not residents.

  From time to time though women were ordained to the office but it
  seems that it was often conferred as an honor or mark of respect rather
  than out of any perceived necessity.

  In the nineteenth century there were attempts to revive the order of
  deaconess in Russia on a large scale for social work among society at
  large bu they never really were able to gain support.

  In modern times St. Nectarios of Aegina ordained a nun to the order of
  deaconess to assist in the monastery. His actions disturbed many people
  and he felt constrained to make a report to the Archbishop of Athens. He
  explained that this ordination was more the setting apart of a subdeacon
  to assist in the sanctuary at the Liturgy and other services due to a lack
  of male clergy.

  Some other hierarchs in the Greek Church followed the example of St.
  Nectarious and set aside "monastic deaconesses" to serve essentially as
  altar serers in monasteries where there were few male clergy. They were
  also given the ministry of taking Holy Communion to sick nuns.

  The decision of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece is limited for
  the time being to ordaining women to be "altar servers" in women's
  monasteries. But some of the bishops present echoed the call of several
  Pan-Orthodox conferences and voiced their opinions that the office of
  deaconess should be restored as an office of service and ministry to the
  Church in society.

  It is perhaps tragic that such calls are often greeted with fear and
  misunderstanding. This is most likely because the office of deacon itself
  has come to be seen as a step to the priesthood and the deacon as some
  sort of inferior priest. its orginal purpose as being an office of ministry to
  others having been forgotten. Because of this the mere mention of the
  word "deaconess" often fills people with visions of women in Byzantine
  diaconal garb intoning the Great Litany, swinging censers and clamoring
  for ordination to the priesthood.

  Often the greatest concern of those studying for the diaconate in the
  Church is the correct manner of serving liturgical services rather than
  understanding the Gospel and sharing it with the members of the
  Church. (In spite of the common perception that they are simply
  "liturgical mechanics" it must be stated that in our diocese in particular
  and in the Church in general we have been blessed with many deacons
  who have undertaken the office as a serious ministry to the Church, and
  we pray their numbers increase.)

  In the early Church the liturgical ministry was the least important task of
  the deacon. Th deacons were the servants of the bishop's ministry that
  pertained to society and those in need in the Church. They were often
  referred to as the Bishop's "eyes and ears" because it was they who saw
  the needs to be filled and listened with compassion to those who were
  troubled.

  It was the deacons of the Church who were especially charged with
  administering charity to the poor and comforting those in persecution or
  in any suffering. They did this through the administration of both money
  collected by the Church and the Eucharist taken from the Liturgy.

  During times of persecution the authorities often targeted deacons since
  those knew them as the ministers of funds of the Church for those in
  need. St. Lawrence of Rome, martyred on August 10, 256 A.D. was
  brought before the magistrates and ordered to turn over the treasure of
  the Roman Church. He pleaded for three days to gather it together. On
  the third day be brought with him a large crowd of poor people and
  informed the magistrate: "Here is the treasure of the Roman Church." St.
  Lawrence was summarily sentenced to death. The magistrates feared the
  love and respect that the common people had for him as their "deacon."

  Imagine how the magistrates would have reacted if St. Lawrence would
  have answered the question of "Show us the treasure of the Roman
  Church" by putting on a demonstration of the property way to swing a
  censer; the correct intonation of petitions and gave an explanation of
  how the orarion is to be arranged at different points of the Liturgy. They
  would most likely have laughed him out of their presence.

  If the office of deacon itself was to undergo renewal as an office
  primarily of ministry to others; if deacons were trained to be ministers of
  the Gospel and not just liturgical functionaries, then the restoration of
  the office of deaconess would be viewed not as an attempt to the
  backdoor ordination of women but as a vital and needed office in the life
  of the Church.

  * * *


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