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Author Topic: Orthodox Parish allowing Altar Girls?  (Read 6919 times) Average Rating: 0
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88Devin12
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« on: July 03, 2012, 05:02:02 PM »

What are we to think about something like this?

http://stjohnthedivinejax.org/parish-information/youth-portal/acolyte-program

I don't want to immediately jump to conclusions, but this GOA parish seems to actually be allowing altar girls, which is not allowed in our church. I've seen wonderful "handmaiden" or "myrrh-bearer" programs where girls learn to take care of vestments, prosphora and other things, but I've never seen an example of girls actually being allowed to wear sticharion and serve in the altar as altar girls?

Is this a case of the Priest not knowing that this isn't allowed, or willing disobedience? Or is it even (God forbid) a Bishop allowing this?
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« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012, 05:05:14 PM »


It doesn't actually say the girls are in the altar.

Perhaps they hold candles, are in charge of the antidoron, etc...
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2012, 05:16:07 PM »


It doesn't actually say the girls are in the altar.

Perhaps they hold candles, are in charge of the antidoron, etc...

Yet they are wearing sticharion which is a clerical vestment reserved for those serving at the altar.
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 05:23:29 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


It doesn't actually say the girls are in the altar.

Perhaps they hold candles, are in charge of the antidoron, etc...

I was going to say the same thing, did the OP actually investigate to see what services the girls actually perform? There is plenty they can do without going into the alter.  Young ladies help out during our Liturgy all the time, and no one but the clergy either go in the Altar or even handle the Holy Communion in any way.  Perhaps it is merely a semantics misunderstanding Smiley


It doesn't actually say the girls are in the altar.

Perhaps they hold candles, are in charge of the antidoron, etc...

Yet they are wearing sticharion which is a clerical vestment reserved for those serving at the altar.

That is a pretty big inference. I've made similar blunders about those who serve in the Coptic Church but are not actually deacons.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 05:24:43 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 05:27:49 PM »


It doesn't actually say the girls are in the altar.

Perhaps they hold candles, are in charge of the antidoron, etc...

Yet they are wearing sticharion which is a clerical vestment reserved for those serving at the altar.
And they are called altar servers on the web page. I think it's odd and I don't see any need for it. I've never seen women in sticharia before.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 05:32:22 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


It doesn't actually say the girls are in the altar.

Perhaps they hold candles, are in charge of the antidoron, etc...

Yet they are wearing sticharion which is a clerical vestment reserved for those serving at the altar.
And they are called altar servers on the web page. I think it's odd and I don't see any need for it. I've never seen women in sticharia before.

In Christ,
Andrew

So is someone going to email the priest there and inquire or are we going to just rubber neck like at a car crash and live on our assumptions?

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 05:36:10 PM »

The only people that I've seen wearing sticharions have been serving-- either in the altar or at the kliros, and in the ROCOR tradition Readers are the only ones who wear the sticharions at the kliros. Not sure what the Greek tradition is but having girls dress the same way as boys wearing liturgical vestments is counterproductive and plain wrong.
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 05:51:41 PM »

The only people that I've seen wearing sticharions have been serving-- either in the altar or at the kliros, and in the ROCOR tradition Readers are the only ones who wear the sticharions at the kliros. Not sure what the Greek tradition is but having girls dress the same way as boys wearing liturgical vestments is counterproductive and plain wrong.

In the Greek tradition, readers will only wear sticharia when serving in the altar. If they're just reading, they will wear a black exorasson.

I have seen girls wearing sticharia in Antiochian churches. They were carrying candles, but not sure if they actually entered the altar.
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 06:00:57 PM »

Cool.
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 06:16:00 PM »

We have women ushers at my parish. They are adults.
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 06:17:36 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 06:23:55 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 06:26:57 PM »

We have women ushers at my parish. They are adults.


Ushers isn't a big deal like having a "handmaiden" or "myrrh-bearers" program isn't a big deal. But placing them in sticharions, calling them altar-girls and putting them behind the altar is a much bigger deal.
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2012, 06:30:48 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 06:31:39 PM by Michał Kalina » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 06:33:22 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2012, 06:33:45 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop* is not allowed in the altar.

* or the Priest (with exceptions based on other qualifications)

There are cases where Nuns and others are able to go back there, but it isn't permanent and very short term (usually to retrieve something at a woman's monastery)
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2012, 06:40:43 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

You messed churching with baptism. And you are wrong too. Some priests bring girls to the altar.

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop* is not allowed in the altar.

* or the Priest (with exceptions based on other qualifications)

We both were wrong. Only the emperor can allow non clergy into the altar.

http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P3X.HTM#4C
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 06:43:22 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

Actually nobody, male or female, is allowed in the altar without permission from bishop/clergy.

Men are not allowed to enter "just because" they want to.

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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2012, 06:45:56 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

You messed churching with baptism. And you are wrong too. Some priests bring girls to the altar.

The Priest do it wrongly, they have to stop at the doors of the altar, and typically lay the girl in front of the Royal Doors.
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2012, 06:46:09 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

You messed churching with baptism. And you are wrong too. Some priests bring girls to the altar.

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop* is not allowed in the altar.

* or the Priest (with exceptions based on other qualifications)

We both were wrong. Only the emperor can allow non clergy into the altar.

http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0835/_P3X.HTM#4C

Last paragraph on the EO section - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_server
Women may not serve in the altar except in women's monasteries. In that case they do not receive the clerical tonsure (though they must be tonsured nuns), and do not vest in the sticharion, but wear their normal religious habit for attending services, and serve at a certain distance from the actual altar table. Normally, only older nuns may serve in the altar; but the Hegumenia (Abbess) is permitted to enter even if she is younger.

So yes I was wrong, but in the case of women's monasteries.  Otherwise I've always been told they were NOT supposed to be in the altar area.
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2012, 06:47:18 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

You messed churching with baptism. And you are wrong too. Some priests bring girls to the altar.

The Priest do it wrongly, they have to stop at the doors of the altar, and typically lay the girl in front of the Royal Doors.

This is EXACTLY how I've seen it done a bunch of times.   Boys are taken back, girls are not.   Perhaps jurisdictional difference here??? I don't know.
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2012, 06:47:28 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

Actually nobody, male or female, is allowed in the altar without permission from bishop/clergy.

Men are not allowed to enter "just because" they want to.



This is very true, but just because a Priest permits "altar-girls" in doesn't make it okay or permissible. I've heard of this happening in mission churches without young men, but obviously this church has plenty of boys and young men serving and they have no excuse for having altar girls.
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« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2012, 06:48:19 PM »

I wouldn't mind female altar servers.

How does that work out since they aren't allowed in the altar?

Everyone that has not a blessing from the bishop is not allowed in the altar.
Females are not allowed in the altar.

This is one reason why baby boys at the completion of baptism are brought through the altar and girls are not.

You messed churching with baptism. And you are wrong too. Some priests bring girls to the altar.

The Priest do it wrongly, they have to stop at the doors of the altar, and typically lay the girl in front of the Royal Doors.

This is EXACTLY how I've seen it done a bunch of times.   Boys are taken back, girls are not.   Perhaps jurisdictional difference here??? I don't know.

Sounds more like Priests not knowing proper protocol or willingly defying Orthodox tradition for the sake of "equality". Or maybe they've just been reading the heterodox site "St. Nina's" too much.
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« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2012, 07:07:29 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We have women ushers at my parish. They are adults.


Ushers isn't a big deal like having a "handmaiden" or "myrrh-bearers" program isn't a big deal. But placing them in sticharions, calling them altar-girls and putting them behind the altar is a much bigger deal.

Again, you're going to have actually have to prove that these girls are being put behind the altar.  While I agree it is in poor taste and untraditional to have them wear the sticharions and also have the title altar-girl loosely applied, but theologically speaking, I think our only legitimate gripe could be if these girls are actually serving in the altar rather than merely dressing the part.  Until we know this is the case, throwing speculative stones seems premature.

Considering from their website the parish seems fairly upright and legitimate, I would assume they are as offended at women serving in the altar as the folks on this thread, so I could only imagine it isn't happening and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt on this one. 

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #24 on: July 03, 2012, 07:09:47 PM »

So who here has tried to contact the church to get clarification?  police
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« Reply #25 on: July 03, 2012, 07:11:19 PM »

The Priest do it wrongly, they have to stop at the doors of the altar, and typically lay the girl in front of the Royal Doors.

That's actually fairly recent, and there are sources that indicate girls were also taken into the altar area during churching (though the earlier practice was to not take anyone in at all). Entry to the altar has nothing to do with gender, it has to do with purpose and order. If you haven't been ordained/tonsured to one of the orders of the priesthood, or at least been given a special blessing, having a penis does not grant you automatic access to the holy of holies.

As you said, such a blessing is occasionally given to women when there is a need (in convents, for example).
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« Reply #26 on: July 03, 2012, 07:14:51 PM »

Women may not serve in the altar except in women's monasteries. In that case they do not receive the clerical tonsure

What is a clerical tonsure?
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« Reply #27 on: July 03, 2012, 07:59:57 PM »

Women may not serve in the altar except in women's monasteries. In that case they do not receive the clerical tonsure

What is a clerical tonsure?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonsure
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« Reply #28 on: July 03, 2012, 09:01:28 PM »

i emailed the priest at the adress listed on the site. if he responds i'll let y'all know.
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« Reply #29 on: July 03, 2012, 09:17:33 PM »

And it is really supposed to be subdeacons on up serving at the altar, but there doesn't seem to be too much support for kicking out everyone else...
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« Reply #30 on: July 03, 2012, 09:17:33 PM »

I'm so glad we have posters on OC.net who are willing to correct the errors of bishops who do things like permit altar girls, most likely with the knowledge of other bishops in their synods, when the synod is too stupid or heretical to be bothered with the correction.

Praise God from the heavens, praise him for OC.net where we are all able to be properly taught the truth, where our bishops have failed.
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« Reply #31 on: July 03, 2012, 10:19:59 PM »

Why can't human beings who are female enter the altar?  Are they considered unclean?  Unworthy of participating in the divine services offered to God?
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« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2012, 10:27:29 PM »

Why can't human beings who are female enter the altar?  Are they considered unclean?

Depends on who you're asking and how you're asking. What is ritual "uncleanness"?
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« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2012, 10:31:40 PM »

And it is really supposed to be subdeacons on up serving at the altar, but there doesn't seem to be too much support for kicking out everyone else...

The service for appointing a "taper-bearer" is now combined with the tonsuring of a reader, so readers may serve in the altar in that capacity. I know plenty of priests who support kicking everyone else out, but who don't want to cause needless scandal over what is a relatively trivial issue.
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« Reply #34 on: July 03, 2012, 10:32:21 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Why can't human beings who are female enter the altar?  Are they considered unclean?  Unworthy of participating in the divine services offered to God?

In the Jewish traditions from the Old Testament Temple rituals, it was actually a bit of the opposite. Women, because they can give birth to new life, are actually considered a bit holier than men.  What men did as priests was atonement, repentance, redemption for sins and shortcomings.   This is what I think Paul meant when he said, "Women shall be saved through childbearing" in 1 Timothy 2:15.  The Jewish priests weren't punishing women by not allowing them in the Temple during menstruation, or by enforcing gendered segregation in Courts and the Temple services, these were there if anything in benefit to the women.  After all, separation is not always a punishment is it? The altar itself is sacred, separate, distinctive, is this a punishment for the altar? Further, if anything, NOBODY serves the day to day functions of the world more than women, so considering that the altar is service, isn't it a benefit of women to be removed from this service? After all, women have to do just about EVERY thing else in the world, often unappreciated and out of obligation, so why should they necessarily also want the burden of ministry and responsibility for other peoples' sins? Whether in the Temple or today in the Church, the priests aren't just up their singing pretty songs.  Priesthood is a service, a duty, an obligation, and honestly, it seems women already have enough obligations as it is.  If men were to give up the priesthood, we'd devolve to the laziest of species Wink

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #35 on: July 03, 2012, 10:38:46 PM »

Wow, it seems like there's a lot of anger and "you're wrong"s here. Tongue

I'm a 15 year old cradle EO girl. I've occasionally wished I could serve in the altar like the boys may, but I eventually figured that was just envy and it needed to stop. In my church, 4th and 5th graders are allowed to be myrrh-bearers in the Holy Friday service. I was lucky enough to be able to participate from grades 3-5. I used to say that if I were a boy, I'd never have to question my career choice, because I would be a priest. Even as I said this, I never really questioned the doctrine that girls are not allowed to become priests or altar servers. It's complicated, and my sister and I have actually had casual debates about it, but I just feel within me that it isn't how it should be. It's difficult for me to even explain. I'm confident that the Lord knows my path, and I'm excited to see where I'm led.
At my church, at the 40-Day Blessing, boys are brought into the altar and held to the Cross, while girls are simply brought up on the Solea, right by the Royal Doors. Girls are never allowed to enter the altar. I remember debates about it being unfair, but I felt priviledged to enter the debate as a girl and say that I felt our traditions were correct.
My jurisdiction is the GOAA, and I've never heard of anything like this. From everything I read on the Archdiocese webpage and all the information I get from my parish, nothing has changed. As for vestments of any kind--I remember in 5th grade my Sunday School teacher was granted permission to use a set of my priest's vestments and show them in class. She allowed one student to wear some of them (I'm not sure if this was even allowed, so please don't attack me Smiley), but the student had to be a boy. Since none of us were priests, I wasn't sure why it mattered. I'd second what Asteriktos said: we're not sure about the actual circumstances.
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« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2012, 10:41:32 PM »

Why can't human beings who are female enter the altar?  Are they considered unclean?  Unworthy of participating in the divine services offered to God?

A lay person may enter the altar with a blessing when there is a need (i.e. when there is no properly ordained member of the minor orders to do the job). Common practice, though much abused and misunderstood, is for lay men to be preferred over lay women since they may be appointed to one of the minor orders in future, while a woman may not. However, where there is a need, such as in convents, women may enter the altar.

If your question is why women can't be ordained to holy orders (the female subdeaconate was not a liturgical role), this has to do with revelation, prophecy and iconography in the Liturgy, which make use of the maleness of Christ the Bridegroom vs. the female nature of the Church.

But again, entering the altar is a question of priesthood vs. laity, not male vs. female. A layman has no more right to enter the altar than a laywoman.
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« Reply #37 on: July 03, 2012, 10:43:29 PM »

Why can't human beings who are female enter the altar?  Are they considered unclean?  Unworthy of participating in the divine services offered to God?


If your question is why women can't be ordained to holy orders...

Nope, not my question, but the rest of your post answered my question.  Thank you.
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« Reply #38 on: July 03, 2012, 10:49:34 PM »

Good grief guys you need to settle down. This is one of the parishes I regularly attend and the girls do not enter the altar. They sit in the front pew with lamps, meet the procession during the Great Entrance and then go right back over and sit down.
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« Reply #39 on: July 03, 2012, 10:51:24 PM »

Why can't human beings who are female enter the altar?  Are they considered unclean?  Unworthy of participating in the divine services offered to God?

A lay person may enter the altar with a blessing when there is a need (i.e. when there is no properly ordained member of the minor orders to do the job). Common practice, though much abused and misunderstood, is for lay men to be preferred over lay women since they may be appointed to one of the minor orders in future, while a woman may not. However, where there is a need, such as in convents, women may enter the altar.

If your question is why women can't be ordained to holy orders (the female subdeaconate was not a liturgical role), this has to do with revelation, prophecy and iconography in the Liturgy, which make use of the maleness of Christ the Bridegroom vs. the female nature of the Church.

But again, entering the altar is a question of priesthood vs. laity, not male vs. female. A layman has no more right to enter the altar than a laywoman.

/\ This.

Too many folks think that it's simply a male/female thing. It is not, as we can see from the monastic allowing of abbesses and older nuns to serve in the altar. And, in my neck of the woods, a woman was given a blessing to paint the icons on the walls of the apse of the altar, as she had a particular talent for painting on curved surfaces. The jurisdiction she belonged to, and that of the parish whose church she painted, were, and are, not known for being liberal.

OTOH, the idea of altargirls just turns my stomach, just as the idea of female priests does.
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« Reply #40 on: July 03, 2012, 10:53:28 PM »

Good grief guys you need to settle down. This is one of the parishes I regularly attend and the girls do not enter the altar. They sit in the front pew with lamps, meet the procession during the Great Entrance and then go right back over and sit down.

Nice to know that the girls don't enter the inner sanctum. But there's still the problem of them wearing stikharia.  Tongue
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« Reply #41 on: July 03, 2012, 10:54:06 PM »

Quote
OTOH, the idea of altargirls just turns my stomach, just as the idea of female priests does.
It doesn't turn mine.But " de gustibus..."
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« Reply #42 on: July 03, 2012, 10:59:12 PM »

the idea of altargirls just turns my stomach
To quote Futurama: "I think that steamed carrot was a little too spicy for me."
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« Reply #43 on: July 03, 2012, 10:59:45 PM »

greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Good grief guys you need to settle down. This is one of the parishes I regularly attend and the girls do not enter the altar. They sit in the front pew with lamps, meet the procession during the Great Entrance and then go right back over and sit down.
thanks for the clarification, I figured as much was the case Smiley

 I could only imagine it isn't happening and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt on this one. 



stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #44 on: July 03, 2012, 11:27:30 PM »

I'm so glad we have posters on OC.net who are willing to correct the errors of bishops who do things like permit altar girls, most likely with the knowledge of other bishops in their synods, when the synod is too stupid or heretical to be bothered with the correction.

Praise God from the heavens, praise him for OC.net where we are all able to be properly taught the truth, where our bishops have failed.

Yes, praise him.  If it were not for the laity and the monks, the Bishops would have led us into apostasy centuries ago.
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