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Author Topic: Differences between Oriental Orthodox Churches  (Read 5998 times) Average Rating: 0
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Arystarcus
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« on: May 12, 2004, 06:41:41 PM »

Greetings all!

I've been searching out info on the internet about the Coptic Orthodox Church and in so doing, I have also been looking at information about the Oriental Orthodox Church itself, which would also include the Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and the Malankara Indian Churches.

While reading up on a few Coptic sites, I have become aware that the Coptic Church has some very strict regulations in regards to fasting, as well as receiving the Most Holy Sacrament.

A few some to mind:

that women may not partake of the Eucharist when they are cycling, that men are to receive the Eucharist before women and that men and women are seperate from one another in the church.

Are these same rules and regulations above the same across the whole spectrum of the Oriental Orthodox Churches?

For instance, would the Armenians (or Syrians, Malankara Orthodox, etc.,) refuse a woman from receiving the eucharist because she is cycling, would they also seperate the sexes while in the church and do they also commune men before women?

I am curious to know if these are practices exclusive the Coptic Church and if they are, why don't the rest follow these traditions?

I would also like to know if the Oriental Orthodox share the exact same Calendar of Saints and feast days/days of fasting.

I ask these questions respectfully because I am eager to learn more about the traditions and practices of the Oriental Churches.

I eagerly await your responses!

In Christ,
Aaron


Ps- I am sure there are of course, other rules about approaching the Holy Sacrament, as well as information about fasting and the various fasts. Where might I find this information online?

I am looking for something straightforward and to the point and that also goes into detail.

Thanks again!  Cheesy
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2004, 08:10:03 PM »

A few some to mind:

that women may not partake of the Eucharist when they are cycling, that men are to receive the Eucharist before women and that men and women are seperate from one another in the church.

Are these same rules and regulations above the same across the whole spectrum of the Oriental Orthodox Churches?

For instance, would the Armenians (or Syrians, Malankara Orthodox, etc.,) refuse a woman from receiving the eucharist because she is cycling, would they also seperate the sexes while in the church and do they also commune men before women?

This is the practice in the Indian Church, with the proviso that you cannot really ban a woman from receiving during her monthly cycle unless she tells you she is  cycling, and so this is very much left to the conscience of the woman.  No one is going to ask you.  Men and women stand on separate sides of the church, and generally, men receive before women.  

Quote
I would also like to know if the Oriental Orthodox share the exact same Calendar of Saints and feast days/days of fasting.

The calendars of saints are different for each local Church, but all saints of each Church are recognised by the others, of course.  For fasting, it is more similar, but there is still some variation.
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2004, 10:22:21 PM »

Wow....what is the reason behind not allowing women to recieve the Eucharist during her monthly "cycle" ?
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2004, 11:20:19 PM »

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Wow....what is the reason behind not allowing women to recieve the Eucharist during her monthly "cycle" ?

Ben,

I believe the reason is because of Chris't body and blood being absorbed into your system and that one might bleed Christ's blood. It is for this same reason that anyone with an open cut or wound would also be discouraged from communing.

I may be mistaken, and if so, please don't hesitate to correct me!

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2004, 11:29:19 PM »

I don't want to hijack an Oriental thread (I 'd like the answers myself!), but many of these practises noted above - monthly cycles and separation of gender - are not exclusive to the Oriental communion; we EO's have them also.

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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2004, 11:37:28 PM »

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I don't want to hijack an Oriental thread (I 'd like the answers myself!), but many of these practises noted above - monthly cycles and separation of gender - are not exclusive to the Oriental communion; we EO's have them also.

The Eastern Orthodox also discourage women on their cycles from communing?

This would be the first time I've ever heard that! Not saying that they don't teach it, I've just never heard that before.

Insofar as seperation in churches, I have seen this at Eastern Orthodox churches before, but only in the ROCOR and GOC (Chrysostomos II Synod).

Once again, I am not saying that others do not practice it, I am just saying that I have only prsonally seen this in the churches that I listed above.

I have visited Orthodox Churches of the AOC, OCA, UOC and GOA and it was not practiced in any of those parishes.

I haven't yet visited any of the Serbian parishes by me, so I can't speak for those.

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2004, 12:12:15 AM »

I don't know whats wrong with me!  Shocked

Aaron you are totally right, about why women, and even those with cuts, are prevented from recieveing holy communion.

I have also heard this is the pratice of the EO. And I have been told it was once the pratice of the Catholic Church, but I'll have to ask my priest.

Also, I wanted to mention that the Roman Catholic Canon Law of 1917 says Men and should Women sit seperate in church, it's not a must, but it is heavily prefered.
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2004, 10:31:55 AM »

It's more "ueberdoxy" at this point, I think, relating to communicating during menstruation.  I have never heard of that being enforced in any way in any of the parishes I have been associated with, and I have seen women parishioners communicating every week.
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2004, 10:55:19 AM »

It's more "ueberdoxy" at this point, I think, relating to communicating during menstruation.  I have never heard of that being enforced in any way in any of the parishes I have been associated with, and I have seen women parishioners communicating every week.

I think you will find the prevailing attitude is not one of the priest enforcing this but of the communicant respecting it.
As to separation of gender in church - not done generally in the US, still found in some parts of the"old countries".

Modernisms?  Shocked (just joking)

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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2004, 04:59:17 PM »

In the Coptic Orthodox forums I belong to the matter of refraining at certain times seems almost universally to be supported by the Coptic sisters and also as a matter of no great controversy.

Coptic Orthodox tend to keep sexes separate.

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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2004, 05:10:55 AM »

In the Roman Catholic Church before the radical and tragic post-Vat II reforms, women covered their hair in while in church, most comonly with white or black lace. When one attends a Traditional Latin Mass Roman Catholic chapel they will find women with such head coverings.

Now, I remember stopping by a ROCOR parish after Divine Lituegy and seeing women with head coverings, looked like a scarf or something similar.

So, I am wondering if women wear head coverings in NC parishes, or if this has ever been the tradition in the NC Churches.
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2004, 08:30:12 AM »

Yes in Coptic Orthodox, Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches I have been in all women will veil their heads.

You must remember that the Coptic/Eritrea/Ethiopian Orthodox are among the most traditional of all Orthodox.
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2004, 09:02:41 AM »

It is also the tradition in Indian/Syriac churches.
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2004, 07:12:24 PM »

I know that in many Coptic and Eritrean Churches, there's a division in the church, a part for women and a part for men, and that they take their shoes off before entering church, and also that the services are held on friday and not on sunday as we do, here.

Is it an Islamic influence? (it seems so).

I was also told that among Ethiopian Christians there are several practices borrowed from the Old Testament followers.
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2004, 02:18:18 PM »

From what I've heard, it is common in the Middle East to have services on Fridays as well as possibly Sundays, and for the Friday services to be more well attended than the Sunday services--not everyone is off on Sunday, but most are on Friday.  When my uncle was in Kuwait, they had their services on Friday and Sunday, but the Sunday services were attended by less.
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2004, 02:57:19 PM »

I know that in many Coptic and Eritrean Churches, there's a division in the church, a part for women and a part for men, and that they take their shoes off before entering church, and also that the services are held on friday and not on sunday as we do, here.

Is it an Islamic influence? (it seems so).


Hardly an Islamic influence. The separation of the sexes is merely another small tradition Mohammed borrowed from Christianity and, perhaps, Judaism. I don't know about the shoe-thing in the Byzantine churches, but the separation of the sexes in the temple was (and in places, still is) common in the EO temples. Can't fault my OO friends here (if I have any left).

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« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2004, 08:21:19 PM »

In the oriental specially(Eritrean, Coptic and ethiopian orthdox church, some of the Tradition and church adminstrations are Jedusim. That the reason of women not to take Communion during cycling if I'm not mistaking is the old levticas laws If I am correct the book of Detro. chp 6 mantions about a women cycling and when to enter to the holy place(Church).
As far as some of the church tradition goes to the midel-east and the influance of the coptic church as well some of  St.Pauls taching how women suppos to address her self in congrgation. The oriental churchs view the old testament practice as good practice, and some of the tradition are influenced by that.
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2004, 10:14:10 AM »

Correction not the Book of Deut,but its the book of Lev 12 that was the reason for women not to communion during cycling.
Lev 12:2-7
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilledGǪ

Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This [is] the law for her that hath born a male or a female.
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« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2005, 04:17:22 AM »

Hi,

Yes, that is true when "cycling" we do not take the communion, because we follow the examples of Virgin Mary. Virgin Mary was the "care taker" of the temple; it was considered unclean to enter the temple when "cycling".... in my traditions and Church, Men and Women are in the same line taking the communion, however, although we are supposed to wear a veil in Church and during communion, but in this day of age
almost all do not practice veil wearing church services. I have only seen it by the women elders in the Greek and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

I hope this gives some enlight.

Hadel
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« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2005, 05:19:12 AM »

Dear Brother in Christ, Ben

Yes  Some women in the new Calendar (revised Julian Calendar) EO Churches do wear head coverings.  The Priests and for the most part the Bishops leave it to the women whether they will cover or not cover their heads.  I know that the traditional practice is taught, but if it has no meaning to the woman it is not enforced. In other words  the woman by her use of free will choses to do so rather than being forced to do so---for those who do cover their heads, it has great spiritual meaning.  In my household, all the women know the scriptural injuction of St Paul and have chosen to pray with their heads covered and have done so since our chismation into the Orthodox Church 18 years ago. In my "new Calendar" parish about 40% of the women cover their heads in the church when they pray---the others feel it was a cultural not a current practice. My wife says she covers her head in obedience to the apostolic teaching and in her desire to emulate the Mother of God as her example of humility and obedience.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2005, 09:03:31 PM »

A Coptic friend of mine, used to remove his shoes always before going up to receive Holy Communion. This he explained was a reminder of how Moses removed his sandals while standing in God's presence on Holy ground.

We Armenians still ask our women to cover their heads before receiving Communion. But we don't sit separate. The old teaching about women not receiving during their cycle is known in our Church also. But as I mentioned on the thread on this topic, there's a good article which argues this was mostly for sanitational purposes.
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2005, 11:56:28 PM »

In Indian tradition, there is strict seperation between men and women in the church. Men stand on the left side of the central aisle and women on the right. There is always a large lamp at the center of the aisle. People must remove shoes before entering an Indian Orthodox parish. Women cover head with traditional Indian dress, which was pure white in the past, but now using colored also. Traditionally Indian men and women wear only white while attending the church.

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« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2005, 12:28:10 AM »

I firmly believe that the OO practises are NOT influenced by Old Testament practises. What we have is purely new testament explanation. It is all linked to our faith in Christ and nothing else.

Peace

Paul
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« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2005, 12:14:34 PM »

Hi all, I am Desertrose,
O.K.-I've been reading your discussion this week and though I am a newbie, I'll jump in with my usual 2 left feet! I have been a lifelong protestant (of many
denominational flavors-Methodist, Presbyterian and most recently Southern Baptist) I am a catechumen and am  joyfully in the process of converting to Oriental Orthodoxy. I am to be received by Chrismation on Easter Sunday. My very precious, little mission parish is a blend of Syrian/Indian Orthodox traditions. I am aware that my parish is a little -unconventional in practice, while remaining Orthodox in doctrine. We have the two sexes sit together, we take off our shoes upon entering the church "gathering room", and I am assuming a "don't ask, don't tell " policy of women receiving the sacrament while on their monthly cycle.  I say this  :angel:because it has not been mentioned in my Catechism classes-it may also not the be the best info to share with 21st century women before they become part of your church.  My parish is made up of mostly converts to Orthodoxy we are an ecletic bunch-we have 4 cradle Orthodox members 2 Russian, 1 Greek and 1 Malankara/Indian Orthodox. Our Preist was a Roman Catholic for 35 years before he converted.  I am thankful for the convert-friendly environment because if I had been told that I could not receive the sacrament while I was on my monthly cycle, I would have seriously FREAKED OUT!  I would of course have observed the restriction if visiting in a parish where this is the practice, if I had been aware. At this time, I am a partaker of the Burc'tho-blessed bread only. I am sincerely glad to know that this is the practice of some of my soon-to-be bretheren and sisters, because I would not want to offend anyone-though honestly, it takes a while to make up a scenario where  anyone would even know any of this info. It needs to be a matter between a woman and God. Like the gentile converts to Christianity in the early New Testament Church , I feel that God makes allowances for cultural issues. For example Peter's vision regarding clean and unclean food. I have lived my  life  since age 12 while having a monthly cycle. raising our children, serving in churches and Christian Schools and Christian organizations in the U.S. and abroad. I will admit that though a good part of God's creation  that cycle can be a bother but I have a real problem with whole unclean idea.  Ideas? Comments? Encouragement about my upcoming reception into the Orthodox faith? I am not really an abrasive person, I am afraid that this issue and the discussion on it made me squirm mostly on a cultural level. Many thanks for reading and responding!

Desertrose (Perhaps, I should change that to Cactus?!javascript:void(0);
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« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2005, 03:03:13 AM »

Hi DesertRose,

Welcome to the Orthodox Church... as a woman, as well as other women in my family, yes we follow this, because it is our choice. First, for and example from Virgin Mary and two, reminder, the woman in the bible who was "bleeding" most of her life touched Jesus to heal and Jesus felt the "unclean" woman and she was healed. In the end, it is your choice... I am a very spiritual person so I choose to follow this religious tradition... no one will know or ask, in the end it is between God and you. To tell you it is right or wrong, I can not, however, it is the right thing to do for me. Its your own spiritual journey and your spiritual decision. I say speak to other women in your church and discuss it among yourselves. In the University at a Greek Orthodox Church I joined while studying for my degree; all the women I spoke with understood the religious tradition and followed it as far as I know. In my mother's time, she never even entered the Church when cycling, however, I enter the Church I just do not take the communion neither kiss the Icons, but bow in front of the Icons. Please, do not panic, there are alot of religious traditions and teachings, trust me, you will find the path that is right for you. "Been there, done that. Smiley"

Blessings and I hope you find the path for you.

Regards,
Hadel
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« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2005, 02:37:32 PM »

Hadel,
Thanks for your welcome, your blessing and your forthright answer to my slightly hysterical question. Your advice is sound and I will talk with my sponsor/godmother and see what she believes. There are not very many younger women (for whom this would be an issue) with whom to discuss this. I am 47 and there are 2 other women aged 15 and 30ish in our parish, all the other women are 60+ and none of them are cradle orthodox so we have no spiritual mothering to draw upon. Thanks again !
Blessings,
Desertrose
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« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2005, 02:16:55 AM »

The practice in Syriac Orthodox Church in Middle East and Diaspora is not uniform.

- Traditionally in the in SOC in the Middle East, women stand behind men. This was also the case in Malankara in many older parishes apparently even as late as the 1950s.

- In Europe women stand on the North side and men on the South (opposite of our Malankara practice).

- In the US, like in other western churches, there is no separation.

- On Shoes - In most Syriac orthodox Churches outside Malankara shoes are not removed - at least in Europe and the US. This is also the case in the Middle East; I once asked a doctor from Middle east about it and he said in the Middle East it was considered a Muslim practice. But we in Malankara do remove the shoes as it is our Hindu cultural tradition.

- Women cover their heads everywhere in SOC tradition. In the Near East they expose only the face (similar to, but not exactly like Muslim women). In the East and Malankara, they just use a veil.
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Tags: proper behavior Oriental Orthodox menstruation head coverings Coptic Orthodox Church Armenian Church Indian Orthodox Syriac Orthodox Ethiopian Orthodox Church 
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