Author Topic: Is the Roman Catholic church ever going to turn its altar tables back around?  (Read 38884 times)

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Offline Sabbas

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I have recently become more and more interested in the small percentage of people in Roman Catholicism who cling to the Latin Mass particularly because my older sister is one of them and is in SSPX. http://www.unavoce.org/ Una Voce seems to believe that there will be some grand re-discovery of the Latin Mass in the future and that someday things will be back to normal. While I know this happened to my older sister, who grew up with the Novus Ordo, I have a hard time believing this will happen with many RCs. http://www.latin-mass-society.org/ These people are very dedicated and have a lot of beautiful pictures of various Latin Masses though I was shocked by this picture http://www.latin-mass-society.org/images/oxford/oxfordcc27.jpeg Who would of thought Latin Mass on a basketball court? But seriously I do commend these people for holding on to Tradition.

What I am curious about is why the majority of Roman Catholics have blinded themselves to what happened at Vatican II and why do they often ridicule the few people who cling to the Latin mass?

A few weeks ago I got into a big discussion at college with a professor in the theology department about why I felt that Vatican II was a liturgical disaster. Her first rebuttal was that people, such as my father, who had a falling out experience after Vatican II because of the Novus Ordo mass, are just clinging to things that made them feel comfortable but that the celebration of the Eucharist has been celebrated in many ways throughout history. My response was that while there has been organic development there has never been sweeping changes that alter and even remove the very basis of Liturgical Theology and went on to explain that the Altar table being turned around was the most blasphemous offense of all next to having women hand out communion. Of course this really urked her as she is Catholic, devoted to reform, and an Ecumenist. She rebutted that the turning of the altar table does take away the old meaning or beliefs that were implicit and even explicit in the symbolism of the Tridentine Mass. Then the conversation took a down turn with her unwilling to admit that the turning around of the altar might have been wrong or that the Novus Ordo mass weakens and deters piety rather than strengthening it.

Another question I have for RCs is why do you sit back when you know that the altar table has NEVER in the history of the Church been turned to face the congregation? Why do you sit back while young women are 'eucharistic ministers.' This endlessly bothered my father because when he first come back home from serving in Vietnam and attended church right after the Novus Ordo hit and his aunt was one of the women handing out communion. He told me he leaned over to his dad and said, "I am not going to take communion from Ruth (his aunt's name.)" Was he wrong for being bothered by this?

Also have any of you considered that what happened at Vatican II has been the biggest hindrance to Roman Catholic and Orthodox dialogue?
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Offline Nacho

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I feel ya man. The Novus Ordo has to be the most uninspiring thing I have ever seen in the whole world. For awhile I really considered converting to Catholicism but whenever I got excited and had goosebumps about how great the RC was I always had that little voice in my head telling me to head to a local parish to see the reality of what I was contemplating joining and that would usually do the trick. I was also really disgusted by the very unchristian people that I would see at mass throwing dollar bills in the tithing basket which is an utter insult to God (I live by more wealthy parishes) and leisurely going about their Sunday morning as if they were about to watch a movie or something. That most of all along with the terrible Liturgy was enough for me to say I want nothing to do with the RC.     
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Offline Sabbas

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You see it is that type of experience that makes me wonder why some conservative RCs adamantly believe Vatican II was a good thing. They will say that it was about liturgical renewal and a call to holiness. Well if that is indeed the case why are more and more people leaving the mainstream Roman church than ever before?

What was the justification for turning the altar table around? When I was a kid my dad still went to mass now and then trying to restore his faith in the Roman church. My mother is a nominal Methodist so I was never forced to go to mass with my dad but for a long time I was genuinely interested in becoming Roman Catholic particularly because so many of my close relatives are so I would go. Well I could never get over the feeling that the priest facing the congregation not only was not drawing the people in but rather cutting the people off and turning church into a show. It was like everyone was coming to watch the priest perform a show for them.

What bugs me most is that Roman Catholics will occasionally say that turning the altar table around was revolutionary! How? It was capitulation to Protestant liturgical ideas. What was the first thing the Protestants did? Turn the altar table around or remove it completely. What did the Polish National Catholic church do in 1931? turn the altar table around.

But you know what amazes me? The Anglican Use Liturgy http://www.cin.org/anguse.html that allows former Anglicans coming into the Roman Catholic church to use the traditional Anglican Mass with the priest facing the altar. So former Anglicans get to be traditional but not mainstream Catholics? This just amazes me!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2005, 10:47:50 PM by Sabbas »
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Offline Elisha

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[Tan]Another general Catholic bitching:  Can someone please tell me what I never see ANY RC clergy with facial hair (and I mean a beard not just some Disney-ish moustache)?  I realize the laxness on following the canons for facial hair was probably around the same time as the celibate priests decree (1100ish?), but it seems as if it is flat out forbidden!  What gives?!?[/Tan]

Offline TomS

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Offline catholickid

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I am a Roman Rite Catholic and an altar boy who has been fortunate enough to grow up in a parish where the Novus Ordo Mass has not been abused. We still use Latin in every mass (Vatican II did not do away with it), the patent is still used (as John PaulII demanded we do), and the mass is beautiful! I have seen tears in the priests eyes at consecration! I have seen people at communion who were radiating holiness. When I visit a parish that doesen't, I cringe. It just reminds me to Love Him all the more, and to make reperation for the sins of my fellow Catholics. O sublime humilty of God in the Eucharist! How some abuse Him! GOD have mercy.

Though Catholics that clinging to Tradition & Magesterium are very few in number, the gates of Hell HAVE NOT prevailed.

Praised be Jesus Christ!
« Last Edit: May 13, 2005, 09:36:09 AM by catholickid »

Offline Sabbas

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[Tan]Another general Catholic bitching: Can someone please tell me what I never see ANY RC clergy with facial hair (and I mean a beard not just some Disney-ish moustache)? I realize the laxness on following the canons for facial hair was probably around the same time as the celibate priests decree (1100ish?), but it seems as if it is flat out forbidden! What gives?!?[/Tan]
Up until Vatican II there were canons in the Roman church that forbade clerics from having facial hair with special exceptions having been made for various monastic orders such as the Capuchins who require their monks to have beards. For this reason many RC clerics consider it traditional to not have facial hair or just do not want to have facial hair anyway.
"What goes around, comes around"
What? Are you saying that eventually the Orthodox should turn their altar tables around and remove the iconostasis?
I am a Roman Rite Catholic and an altar boy who has been fortunate enough to grow up in a parish where the Novus Ordo Mass has not been abused. We still use Latin in every mass (Vatican II did not do away with it), the patent is still used (as John PaulII demanded we do), and the mass is beautiful! I have seen tears in the priests eyes at consecration! I have seen people at communion who were radiating holiness.  When I visit a parish that doesen't, I cringe. It just reminds me to Love Him all the more, and to make reperation for the sins of my fellow Catholics. O sublime humilty of God in the Eucharist! How some abuse Him! GOD have mercy.

Though Catholics that clinging to Tradition & Magesterium are very few in number, the gates of Hell HAVE NOT prevailed.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Which way does the altar face? I am glad that you go to a more traditional church and I did too, St.Mary's, a huge gothic church in Iowa City with a very ornate altar, plaster saint statues, traditional stations of the Cross, etc., but I still could not get over the altar table being turned the wrong way. Perhaps I am wrong but somehow this just looks better
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Offline Elisha

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Up until Vatican II there were canons in the Roman church that forbade clerics from having facial hair with special exceptions having been made for various monastic orders such as the Capuchins who require their monks to have beards. For this reason many RC clerics consider it traditional to not have facial hair or just do not want to have facial hair anyway.

Interesting....I never knew.  That just sounds soooo weird...considering how we have canons opposite this.  It's almost as if they created an Anti-Constantinople canon 1000 years ago just to spite them. 

Offline Rilian

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Another question I have for RCs is why do you sit back when you know that the altar table has NEVER in the history of the Church been turned to face the congregation? Why do you sit back while young women are 'eucharistic ministers.'

Sabbas, it's because that's what the vast majority of them want.  That is why it is truly scary, it is not something being foisted on them.

Offline Jakub

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That is a beautiful pic, but the newer churches resemble a auditorium and the N.O. is a mirror of a Luthern service.

My 1954 Roman Missal has pictures of a bearded priest celebrating.

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Offline lpap

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[Tan]Another general Catholic bitching: Can someone please tell me what I never see ANY RC clergy with facial hair (and I mean a beard not just some Disney-ish moustache)? I realize the laxness on following the canons for facial hair was probably around the same time as the celibate priests decree (1100ish?), but it seems as if it is flat out forbidden! What gives?!?[/Tan]

There is an old Greek proverb that says: "beard hairs are not sufficient for a true priest".
« Last Edit: May 13, 2005, 07:12:16 PM by lpap »
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Offline coptic orthodox boy

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Forgive my ignorance, but wasn't there a time when the Russian Orthodox Church made all their monks shave their beards?  I remember reading something close to this somewhere, and I can remember seeing beardless schema-monks (wearing the Russian style of the schema) on www.orthodoxphotos.com.  Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Forgive my ignorance, but wasn't there a time when the Russian Orthodox Church made all their monks shave their beards? I remember reading something close to this somewhere, and I can remember seeing beardless schema-monks (wearing the Russian style of the schema) on www.orthodoxphotos.com. Please correct me if I am wrong.
copticorthodoxboy

I do believe that it was the tsar, and not the Church, who had all Russians shave their facial hair.
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Thanks for the correction.  Yes, I recall it was the czar now.
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Offline Irish Hermit

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The new Pope Benedict may issue instructions that Roman Catholic altars face the East again.

See chapter three of his "Spirit of the Liturgy.

"THE ALTAR AND THE DIRECTION OF LITURGICAL PRAYER"
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Dossier/2000-10/article.html


Offline Irish Hermit

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I do believe that it was the tsar, and not the Church, who had all Russians shave their facial hair.

Clergy were exempt from the Tsar's ruling against facial hair.

Offline Kizzy

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A few weeks ago I got into a big discussion at college with a professor in the theology department about why I felt that Vatican II was a liturgical disaster. Her first rebuttal was that people, such as my father, who had a falling out experience after Vatican II because of the Novus Ordo mass, are just clinging to things that made them feel comfortable but that the celebration of the Eucharist has been celebrated in many ways throughout history. My response was that while there has been organic development there has never been sweeping changes that alter and even remove the very basis of Liturgical Theology and went on to explain that the Altar table being turned around was the most blasphemous offense of all next to having women hand out communion. 

Sabbas, Your professor was right on some things....  for most of the beginning of Christianity- the first several centuries, the liturgy was celebrated secretly  in the home at the dinner table, where women officiated the liturgy.  Women were priests, as discovery of inscribed tombstones indicate.  Women were able to move more easily/inconspicuously  through society- since they were 'invisible'..considered 'of no importance'  and therefore were  more able to hold worship services than men, without getting 'caught' by Roman guards.   An issue was that  those who wished to be celibate were seen as rebellious youth... because women were supposed to marry according to the wishes of their parents. And female slaves were required to be mistresses to their masters.   Thecla's story is just one example. Thecla was a disciple of St. Paul who refused her 'betrothed' to preach the Gospel.  She became persona non grata because she refused to marry according to her parents wishes... which was a BIG Deal...  however, she was a disciple and instrumental in the early church, for which she was martyred.   

In Catholicism there were two moves that worked against the image of women as being able to participate in clergy: the Immaculate Concepcion, which basically made The Theotokos beyond a human female and therefore non-aspirational, and St. Mary Magdalene, who for a long time was portrayed as a prostitute (later rescinded). 

To me, it is not the concept of women handing out communion that is an issue, but the concept of 'anyone'- male or female-  handing out communion that is an issue.... A woman who has devoted her life to Christ is very different from anyone on the block... and that is what at least Vat. II appears to have done.... maybe not as intended, but it looks like that's how it turned out... out of necessity, with limited priests and huge congregations... and in RC nearly all  receive HC ( not like in the EO, where only a group usually receive). 
I remember reading in the paper about a year or 2 ago that the RC church was instructing  people to reinstitute some of the older traditions such as limiting lay servers and also specifying  genuflection  in prep for receiving Holy Communion.  So clearly they recognized something was 'amiss'... but they need to do more.. and I really think Pope B. will at least try...

In XC, Kizzy


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Offline yBeayf

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for most of the beginning of Christianity- the first several centuries, the liturgy was celebrated secretly in the home at the dinner table, where women officiated the liturgy. Women were priests, as discovery of inscribed tombstones indicate.

 :bs: Do you have a reputable, peer-reviewed, published cite for this claim?

Regarding the orientation of the altar, it should be noted that priests are still allowed to say the mass ad orientem, if they so choose, and that the altar table of St. Peter's basilica has always faced the people.

Offline Orthodoc

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 [and in RC nearly all  receive HC ( not like in the EO, where only a group usually receive).]

Kizzy:

This may be true within the Greek Orthodox Church.  But it certainly is not true within most parishes within the OCA, Antiochian, Carpatho Russian parishes I have attended.  On any given Sunday in my parish which usually has an average of 160+ attendees at least 75% of the congregation receives Communion.  About 95% or more of these receive on a regular basis.  And receive Confession and Absolution prior to receiving.  Communion usually takes from 10 to 15 minutes.

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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Our Carpatho-Russian parish has about 80% weekly communing. Our Greek parish...the same.
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Offline Irish Hermit

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In our Russian parish we can look at the weekly figures for communicants in two ways...

1. 33% of our active membership

2. Less than 2% of our total membership.

Offline Jakub

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Communion from anyone other than a priest or deacon is a hot topic on most RC forums, just speaking for myself it is only received from a priest or deacon.

It truly amazes me the # recieveing never matches the # seen at confession, there must be a lot of righteous people out there today.

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Offline Fr. David

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for most of the beginning of Christianity- the first several centuries, the liturgy was celebrated secretly in the home at the dinner table, where women officiated the liturgy. Women were priests, as discovery of inscribed tombstones indicate.

You're referring to the term "presbytera" on those gravestones.  That has never meant, nor does it now mean, "female priest."  It's the term for "priest's wife," as I'm sure you know, being Greek Orthodox...
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Offline Arystarcus

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It truly amazes me the # recieveing never matches the # seen at confession, there must be a lot of righteous people out there today.

I have noticed that as well. Amazing, isn't it?  :scratch: :dunno:
« Last Edit: May 16, 2005, 05:06:51 PM by Arystarcus »

Offline Carpatho-Rusyn

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The new Pope Benedict may issue instructions that Roman Catholic altars face the East again.

See chapter three of his "Spirit of the Liturgy.

"THE ALTAR AND THE DIRECTION OF LITURGICAL PRAYER"
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Dossier/2000-10/article.html



Well he certainly has a grasp of the issue. It will be interesting to see if he does anything about it and how the bishops, the American ones in particular, will comply.
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Offline Kizzy

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You're referring to the term "presbytera" on those gravestones. That has never meant, nor does it now mean, "female priest." It's the term for "priest's wife," as I'm sure you know, being Greek Orthodox...

That is how we use it today, not what it meant almost 2000 years ago. Presbytera was the female form of presbyter which was:
1. among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably
2.the twenty four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God

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Offline Kizzy

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 :bs: Do you have a reputable, peer-reviewed, published cite for this claim?

quote]

The information is from interviews with current leaading Biblical sholars including Eliz. Clark, Elaine Pagels, and Karen King.  - you can access the interviews at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/roles.html  The interviews reference work they have published on in their research on the very beginnings of the church, pre- Constantine I  Eliz. Clark is the editor of one of the peer-reviewed journal of Early Christian Studies. 

Elizabeth Clark:An authority in the fields of women in the early church, Professor Clark is the author of numerous articles and eleven books, including Women in the Early Church, ...She is the past president of the North American Patristic Society, the past president of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society of Church History, the senior editor of Church History, and the co-editor of the Journal of Early Christian Studies.

Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton.

In XC, Kizzy
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Offline yBeayf

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1. The linked interview is not peer-reviewed, nor do the interviewees provide any citations for their assertions.

2. The linked interview says nothing about women holding the priesthood; rather, it says they were influential leaders in the early church and served as deacons, neither of which is disputed. That does not mean they were priestesses.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2005, 06:56:41 PM by Beayf »

Offline yBeayf

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That is how we use it today, not what it meant almost 2000 years ago.

Once again, cite?

Quote
Presbytera was the female form of presbyter which was:
1. among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably
2.the twenty four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God

Presbytera can also mean, simply, eldress; it is no indication that the woman in question held the sacramental priesthood.

Offline Carpatho-Rusyn

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MY APOLOGIES. THIS WAS POSTED ON ANOTHER THREAD.

Sadly the RCC is dealing with this type of abuse. It is both liturgical and architectural.
You need Quicktime to see this:

http://www.churchbuilding.com/interactive/swf/html/sn_procession.html

« Last Edit: May 16, 2005, 07:30:59 PM by Carpatho-Rusyn »
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Offline yBeayf

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Interestingly, that video of the dancing priest didn't faze me as much as it seems to have some of y'all. While the architecture was hideous, the music is poo, and the dancing and applause are both totally inappropriate in the Roman liturgy, the actual procession reminded me somewhat of the dancing with the Torah that Jews do at Simchat Torah -- liturgical dance is not totally unknown in our history, though of course never in the Graeco-Roman rites.

Offline coptic orthodox boy

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I believe there are still religious dances in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  I saw something on the tele a few days ago, and they were really getting into it (not like pentacostals, however).
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Offline Kizzy

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1. The linked interview is not peer-reviewed, nor do the interviewees provide any citations for their assertions.

2. The linked interview says nothing about women holding the priesthood; rather, it says they were influential leaders in the early church and served as deacons, neither of which is disputed. That does not mean they were priestesses.

Beayf:
The reason these Professors hold the title of scholars on this subject is because they have extensively published in peer reviewed journals on the topic of the early church and are pioneers in research in the area, including the role of women, for which it says they officiated the Eucharist at services in the home before the days when they could worship in public.   

Here is one of the  references: 

Elizabeth A. Clark, "Holy Women, Holy Words: Early Christian Women, Social History, and the ‘Linguistic Turn,’" Journal of Early Christian Studies 6 (1998) 413-430.

Another reference:
2. "a tombstone from late fifth-century southern Italy: 'Leta, the priest (presbytera), lived 40 years, 8 months, 9 days. Her husband set this up for her'.   Or a Latin inscription from Salona in Dalmatia, dated earlier in the same century: 'I Theodosius purchased this grave plot from the holy priest (presbytera sancta) Flavia Vitalia for three gold pieces'";Women and the Early Church
Magazine article by Brent Shaw; History Today, Vol. 44, February 1994  This has been referenced in numerous articles of study, i only note one.   Note that Leta's husband did not refer to himself as clergy. 

The point is, the church dogma was written by the 'victors' and left out what they did not want.  So the Orthodox church decided not to accept women into the clergy... However in the very early church...when it was 'in infancy' bubbling along in the villages and homes, women were  leaders.  They stood by Christ when his disciples left him, and were the first to proclaim the resurrection  and told  the 'men' what to do... the Pascha stichera and katavasie, although chanted by men these days, were  1st the proclamations of women. I think we can accept the Orthodox current tradition of all male clergy, however, we must recognize the early history that went on before the councils decided what it wanted and didn't in it's hierarchy.   

In XC, Kizzy


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Offline yBeayf

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The reason these Professors hold the title of scholars on this subject is because they have extensively published in peer reviewed journals on the topic of the early church and are pioneers in research in the area, including the role of women, for which it says they officiated the Eucharist at services in the home before the days when they could worship in public.

I don't doubt that they are very well-regarded in their field; that does change the point that, until cites are produced, their assertions are just that: assertions.

Quote
Elizabeth A. Clark, "Holy Women, Holy Words: Early Christian Women, Social History, and the ‘Linguistic Turn,’" Journal of Early Christian Studies 6 (1998) 413-430.

I thank you for providing a citation. Unfortunately, I have just called it up and read it (ah, the magic of the internet!), and it does not make the claim that women held the sacramental priesthood.

Quote
Another reference:
2. "a tombstone from late fifth-century southern Italy: 'Leta, the priest (presbytera), lived 40 years, 8 months, 9 days. Her husband set this up for her'. Or a Latin inscription from Salona in Dalmatia, dated earlier in the same century: 'I Theodosius purchased this grave plot from the holy priest (presbytera sancta) Flavia Vitalia for three gold pieces'";Women and the Early Church
Magazine article by Brent Shaw; History Today, Vol. 44, February 1994 This has been referenced in numerous articles of study, i only note one. Note that Leta's husband did not refer to himself as clergy.

Of course, neither of these inscriptions prove, or (considering the time period and the weight of Church tradition) even suggest that women ever held the sacramental priesthood.

Quote
So the Orthodox church decided not to accept women into the clergy... However in the very early church...when it was 'in infancy' bubbling along in the villages and homes, women were leaders. They stood by Christ when his disciples left him, and were the first to proclaim the resurrection and told the 'men' what to do... the Pascha stichera and katavasie, although chanted by men these days, were 1st the proclamations of women.

Indeed, women were important and strong leaders in the early Church. They were not, however, priests.

Offline prodromos

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I think we can accept the Orthodox current tradition of all male clergy, however, we must recognize the early history that went on before the councils decided what it wanted and didn't in it's hierarchy.


Kizzy, the councils did not decide what the church did and didn't want in its hierarchy, they defended that which had been handed down to them from the Apostles against that which had not.

In Greek culture, the wife of a professional received honor for her husband's position, so a teacher's wife was addressed as Mrs Teacher, a doctor's wife was addressed as Mrs Doctor and a priest's wife was addressed as Mrs Priest. I will admit that there were female priests, however they were in sects that had broken off from the Church or were pagan. There have never been female priests in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Those who ordained women to the priesthood seperated both themselves and those they ordained from the Body of Christ.

John
« Last Edit: May 17, 2005, 03:19:49 AM by prodromos »

Offline catholickid

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Question? Did Jesus say the first mass facing the people or away from them?
Both ways are beautiful if done properly.

Offline yBeayf

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Question? Did Jesus say the first mass facing the people or away from them?

Very likely Jesus was facing the same direction as His apostles. It was the custom at the time for everybody to recline on the same side of the table.

Offline Carpatho-Rusyn

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Question? Did Jesus say the first mass facing the people or away from them?
Both ways are beautiful if done properly.

I am glad to see you go so far back to tradition to defend the Novus Ordo Liturgy. For consistency sake I hope you would publicly advocate that your priests be allowed to marry, as were most of those who attended "the first mass" were.

In all honesty, you know your question is a phantom question....as "the first mass" was also done without vestments, microphones, pews, altar girls, etc., etc.....

The Liturgy developed very carefully and the Fathers were very conscious of its connection to the Temple, synagogue worship, and the Last Supper. 
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Offline optxogokcoc

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The answer on topic question:

Never ever, not even then.

Offline Rilian

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I can say I learned two things before I came in to the church.

The Pagels crowd are not non-partial academics.  They have an agenda.  They reach conclusions and then search for the evidence.  The evidence they have is scant and open to varying interpretations.  It depends on things like deciphering isolated tombstones or mosaics (Theodora, Priscialla and Leta being favorites), or simply giving alternate readings to sections of sacred scripture.  The only hard evidence of priestesses is in the heretical sects (Marcionites, Montanists).  All the documentary evidence is that the church has condemned the priesting of women.  The people who soak this up are the modern day heretics who want to justify their deviations from tradition.

Whenever you hear somebody say something like Jesus did or said {blank}, and you know that {blank} runs counter the to traditions of the church, it is a good indication they are trying to justify something they know full well is a deviation.  They are grasping at straws.

Offline Sabbas

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the altar table of St. Peter's basilica has always faced the people.
But the Mass was not said facing the people till Vatican II.

Quote from: Irish Hermit on Sun, May 15, 2005, 09:38 PM
The new Pope Benedict may issue instructions that Roman Catholic altars face the East again.

See chapter three of his "Spirit of the Liturgy.

"THE ALTAR AND THE DIRECTION OF LITURGICAL PRAYER"
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Dossier/2000-10/article.html

I read the booklet and I found this quote interesting
Quote
The liturgical renewal in our own century took up this alleged model and developed from it a new idea for the form of the liturgy. The Eucharist — so it was said — had to be celebrated versus populum (towards the people). The altar — as can be seen in the normative model of St. Peter’s — had to be positioned in such a way that priest and people looked at each other and formed together the circle of the celebrating community. This alone — so it was said — was compatible with the meaning of the Christian liturgy, with the requirement of active participation. This alone conformed to the primordial model of the Last Supper.

These arguments seemed in the end so persuasive that after the Council (which says nothing about “turning to the people”) new altars were set up everywhere, and today celebration versus populum really does look like the characteristic fruit of Vatican II’s liturgical renewal. In fact it is the most conspicuous consequence of a re-ordering that not only signifies a new external arrangement of the places dedicated to the liturgy, but also brings with it a new idea of the essence of the liturgy —the liturgy as a communal meal.

Misunderstanding the Meaning of the Meal
This is, of course, a misunderstanding of the significance of the Roman basilica and of the positioning of its altar, and the representation of the Last Supper is also, to say the least, inaccurate. Consider, for example, what Louis Bouyer has to say on the subject:

The idea that a celebration facing the people must have been the primitive one, and that especially of the last supper, has no other foundation than a mistaken view of what a meal could be in antiquity, Christian or not. In no meal of the early Christian era, did the president of the banqueting assembly ever face the other participants. They were all sitting, or reclining, on the convex side of a C-shaped table, or of a table having approximately the shape of a horse shoe. The other side was always left empty for the service. Nowhere in Christian antiquity, could have arisen the idea of having to ‘face the people’ to preside at a meal. The communal character of a meal was emphasized just by the opposite disposition: the fact that all the participants were on the same side of the table (Liturgy and Architecture, pp. 53-54).
In any case, there is a further point that we must add to this discussion of the “shape” of meals: the Eucharist that Christians celebrate really cannot adequately be described by the term “meal.” True, Our Lord established the new reality of Christian worship within the framework of a Jewish (Passover) meal, but it was precisely this new reality, not the meal as such, which he commanded us to repeat. Very soon the new reality was separated from its ancient context and found its proper and suitable form, a form already predetermined by the fact that the Eucharist refers back to the Cross and thus to the transformation of Temple sacrifice into worship of God that is in harmony with logos.

Thus it came to pass that the synagogue liturgy of the Word, renewed and deepened in a Christian way, merged with the remembrance of Christ’s Death and Resurrection to become the “Eucharist,” and precisely thus was fidelity to the command “Do this” fulfilled. This new and all-encompassing form of worship could not be derived simply from the meal, but had to be defined through the interconnection of Temple and synagogue, Word and Sacrament, cosmos and history. It expresses itself in the very form that we discovered in the liturgical structure of the early Churches in the world of Semitic Christianity. It also, of course, remained fundamental for Rome. Once again let me quote Bouyer:

Never and nowhere before [that is, before the sixteenth century] have we any indication that any importance, or even attention, was given to whether the priest should celebrate with the people before him or behind him Professor Cyrille Vogel has recently demonstrated it, the only thing ever insisted upon, or even mentioned, was that he should say the eucharistic prayer, as all the other prayers, facing East . . . Even when the orientation of the church enabled the celebrant to pray turned toward the people, when at the altar, we must not forget that it was not the priest alone who, then, turned East: it was the whole congregation, together with him” (pp. 55-56).
I definitely think Pope Benedict wants to turn the altar table back around but I have serious doubts he will.
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Offline Sabbas

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Forgive my ignorance, but wasn't there a time when the Russian Orthodox Church made all their monks shave their beards? I remember reading something close to this somewhere, and I can remember seeing beardless schema-monks (wearing the Russian style of the schema) on www.orthodoxphotos.com. Please correct me if I am wrong.
copticorthodoxboy
Actually the picture you are referring to http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/cgi-bin/photo.pl?path=Monasticism&file=37.jpg is actually of Schema-Nuns as far as I can tell.
That is a beautiful pic, but the newer churches resemble a auditorium and the N.O. is a mirror of a Luthern service.

My 1954 Roman Missal has pictures of a bearded priest celebrating.

james
I was not aware that there were Catholic priest with beards before Vatican II. Still I am almost positive I was told that up to the twentieth century there were canons against RC priests having facial hair and that these canons were strictly enforced.

Interesting....I never knew. That just sounds soooo weird...considering how we have canons opposite this. It's almost as if they created an Anti-Constantinople canon 1000 years ago just to spite them.
To my knowledge clergy were required to shave because of the issue of cleanliness but I am not sure. I am also unsure how closely these canons were followed throughout history. There were Popes who had beards during the Counter-Reformation but as far as I know the norm in the West by the 9th century was for clergy to be without facial hair and the majority of popes that I have seen pictures of were without facial hair.
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Offline Sabbas

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Kizzy, the councils did not decide what the church did and didn't want in its hierarchy, they defended that which had been handed down to them from the Apostles against that which had not.

In Greek culture, the wife of a professional received honor for her husband's position, so a teacher's wife was addressed as Mrs Teacher, a doctor's wife was addressed as Mrs Doctor and a priest's wife was addressed as Mrs Priest. I will admit that there were female priests, however they were in sects that had broken off from the Church or were pagan. There have never been female priests in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Those who ordained women to the priesthood seperated both themselves and those they ordained from the Body of Christ.

John
That is true but I don't think Kizzy would agree with you that because they separated themselves from the Church that their Mysteries became invalid.
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Offline yBeayf

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But the Mass was not said facing the people till Vatican II.

In St. Peter's basilica, it was indeed said facing the people. Because of the local geography, the basilica had to be built facing west, so for the celebrant to serve facing east, he would have had to face the people. See here for a photograph.

Quote
I was not aware that there were Catholic priest with beards before Vatican II.

Most Catholic clergy were forbidden facial hair, but Capuchins have always been allowed to wear beards. Additionally, the prohibition on facial hair has been enforced with varying strictness at different periods and in different places.

Offline Kizzy

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I can say I learned two things before I came in to the church.

The Pagels crowd are not non-partial academics. They have an agenda. They reach conclusions and then search for the evidence. The evidence they have is scant and open to varying interpretations. It depends on things like deciphering isolated tombstones or mosaics (Theodora, Priscialla and Leta being favorites), or simply giving alternate readings to sections of sacred scripture. The only hard evidence of priestesses is in the heretical sects (Marcionites, Montanists). All the documentary evidence is that the church has condemned the priesting of women. The people who soak this up are the modern day heretics who want to justify their deviations from tradition.

Whenever you hear somebody say something like Jesus did or said {blank}, and you know that {blank} runs counter the to traditions of the church, it is a good indication they are trying to justify something they know full well is a deviation. They are grasping at straws.

Actually this crowd says it like it is soup to nuts, they state that Orthodoxy did not accept certain practices, which is very true and acknowledge Holy Tradition as the stated reason.   The problem is that Orthodoxy has some difficulty stating why things were so, other than that's the way it was via Holy  tradition.   But church tradition includes alot of things that are considered unacceptable today, such as slavery, and ill treatment of women- Slavery is still a practice in some cultures and so is ill treatment of women  (In some cultures genital mutilation is still a practice- and Orthodoxy might find a hard way to teach against it with the subservient role women have via Holy tradition. and we can still remember how the Taliban treated their women. This was their 'holy tradition'.)  So the 'tradition' answer is a bit of a weak response in this day and age  because in puts the Orthodox church on a level with other such 'traditions', rather than elevating it, as it should be.   

When we consider that in history women were either pregnant, giving birth, post partum, hemmoraghing, lactating, or dying from any of these- all the time, no wonder they had the treatment they did throughout history in all cultures...  It was  in the early church, before the hierarchy became well established and 'public' via Constantine I, that women lead the services  in the home- which was their exclusive domain.   If one looks at iconography in the early days, one will see Christ depicted as a 'peer' common folk, and not as a King on a throne as in the days of Constantine I.  Moving services from the home to a public church and Christ to a Throne was the big transformation in the church and canons then were issued to 'stop' certain practices already happening, not to say proactively how the church would practice. They were always retrospective- which is why they are not always easy to apply to current events.  To write in canons  that women could not be clergy is indication that it was an issue to be addressed.  So the home remained their domain... and the men were recognized in the church.

We need  to recognize that men have been playing 'game sealed' in all aspects of life and religion and justifying it with the word 'tradition'.  The Disciples and Church Fathers were not immune to this culture- they were after all, still human and male and the Orthodox Church has that within it.  However, we know that S. MMag. and the Theotokos are hard to 'dispute' in terms of their role.. but one is hard pressed to find much on either of them written in the Holy Bible...but what little their is, is highly significant.

in XC, Kizzy

   
 
In XC, Kizzy