On the other hand, I have a feeling that we are somehow restricting the liturgical functions to the clergy only. If I remember my Schmemann correctly, the laity also has a liturgical function--that is, most prayers are completed by the "amen" or assent of the laity. Besides, the very word "liturgy" denotes the worship actions of the entire laos and not only a small fraction of it. In any case:
- since the deacon typically represents the entire laos, "Let us...",
- the choir in response also represents the laos, "Lord have mercy," etc.,
- every Orthodox is part of the Royal Priesthood,
- and there is no difference between clergy and laity, men and women, or children and adults before the Holy Chalice
Therefore, the current arrangements are by and large amenable to change, as long as the change is done in good order and it does not scandalize the faithful.
I'm not sure I understand your argument, Carl. I agree more or less with your premises, but don't see how you got to your conclusion.
For example, I think it's silly to talk about (re)instituting the female diaconate when, in large parts of the Orthodox world, choirs and chanters have usurped the liturgical role of the laity, rendering them a congregation of mute, "spiritual" participants. For the average Orthodox, a liturgical function is something that requires you not to be one of those mute, "spiritual" worshipers, but to actually "do something". If the people were taught how essential their liturgical role is precisely as laity
, that they "concelebrate" with the clergy in offering and consuming the sacrifice on behalf of all creation, would there be as much talk about how liturgical roles are limited to clergy or men, how we need to involve more women and young people, etc.?
There are things we can do here and now to improve and enhance popular participation in the Liturgy. But if even that is an uphill struggle, why talk about bringing back a female diaconate and making it something it never was when it was more common? This approach to problem-solving seems widespread among our Churches, even if it hasn't really accomplished much.