It's not uncle so-an-so up in arms... it was the Pope!
No, that's not what I was saying.
His Holiness the Pope was right to be up in arms about readers, chanters, and altar-servers - especially little kids - playing the role of the deacon liturgically, up to and including censing. With all respect to His Holiness, however (may he pray for my weakness), I don't see how the nuclear option was the best option in this case. Granted, full deacons are rare, but why strip them of what has always been their liturgical role in order to prevent others from usurping it? Why not just declare that readers, chanters, and altar servers should no longer be doing certain things and that these things are reserved for the (admittedly rare) full deacons?
To my mind, this is like saying that boy scouts have been acting like cops, so now cops can no longer act like cops, instead of just telling the boy scouts to fall back.
As far as Uncle Whoever being up in arms about his kids no longer being able to do everything he'd like to see them do, I mean the dude who thinks he's real important in the church, so even though Abouna says no "deacons" can vest after a certain time, he routinely comes in well after that point and sends his sons up to the altar, tonias in hand, confident that no priest (short of H.G. Anba Makarios - may God preserve his life!) will have the guts to send them back to the pew.
Even very knowledgable priests, when a rare full deacon does visit, they don't appreciate that they're a deacon and the kids aren't, they leave the kids to "be deacons" and leave the real deacon hanging around. Restoring the diaconate is no simple thing.
Okay, so where do we start? As per usual, I'd suggest that education of the laity is the best place. Just leaving our full deacons declawed and neutered is not an option.
As for theories of how it changes... well, vestments were respected until H.H. Pope Shenouda III was the Pope... Pope Shenouda barred priests from wearing stoles when bishops were present, and they started to get used to not wearing them, and feel like they were dressing up like bishops if they did... When I asked my priest why they can't wear stoles when the bishop was around, he said that you have to dress one step less than the bishop, so you don't upstage them. Deep theology there. Pope Shenouda was often seen celebrating with only a tonia, something unknown before his time.
Wow. Can't "upstage" the bishop by wearing what's proper to a priest? Dressing up like bishops by wearing what every other Orthodox priest in the world wears? I love the humility of the Copts, but this is another area where a little education could make all the difference.
So all that said, we're talking about a mere four decades here. What's stopping us from having a renaissance concerning all things liturgical and returning to the most positive aspects of times still within living memory?
You know what I'd love to see? If the bishops revive this liturgical dress:
Bishop St. Yousab al Abah (+1826)
Pope St. Kyrillos VI alone had a variety of different liturgical dresses, (this one is my favorite):
Agreed on both counts! The Syrians still wear something similar to this, and it is beautiful!
Here's a good pic summarizing the liturgical garbs of bishops in Egypt. From left to right Pope Kyrillos V (similar to St. Yousab the Abah with the 12 apostles), Pope Macarius III, Pope Kyrillos VI, and Pope Shenouda III
And another one with Pope Youannes XIX (predecessor to Pope Macarius III) with the crown
Wow. The earlier the pic, the more gorgeous the vestments. Like I said, we need a renaissance! Things like this (sights, sounds, smells) engage all the senses and help people to appreciate the glory and majesty of the Liturgy.
How many times have you heard Copts lament that they feel like "poor cousins" after attending Byzantine liturgies? That wouldn't be the case if we rediscovered the heavenly grandeur of our own tradition! Coptic renaissance now!