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Author Topic: Female Sub-Deacons and Readers  (Read 26308 times) Average Rating: 5
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Donna Rose
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« Reply #45 on: October 03, 2005, 02:57:21 PM »

Cautiously stepping in here with another female perspective...

When I first inquired into the Orthodox Church, not very long ago I grant you, I was coming from a Roman Catholic background in which I served the altar and did the readings. I needed understanding of why women are not allowed behind the iconostasis before I proceeded on my path towards Orthodoxy. For me, the understanding came in the following form: there is an order to the universe as God has created it. Many people in the world I interact in each day, especially my 3 years at NYU, seek to obliterate this order, or pretend it doesn't exist, and so it easily becomes the norm to lose sight of this order. If the universe is God's creation, it is safe to say that the order he established for us here on earth is a mere reflection of the divine order that exists in the Kingdom of Heaven (think of the various ranks of angels and principalities for an example). The Church, in turn, is a reflection of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.

So, basically, the reason women are not allowed behind the iconostasis is because it identifies us as women to not be allowed to do so. It is our right and our feminine identity to remain on this side of the iconostasis. But more importantly, for me at least, the Church is a place where, as I said, I find the natural order which has been lost in my secular life. The fact that I have gotten used to things as they have been allowed to become on the outside is a sign of laziness of the spirit, for me. So, the simple act of accepting my place in the order of things (which for me happens to be singing with the choir in the kliros, but *not* going behind the iconostasis and controlling any desire to do so) while at church is a spiritual exercise that I am in great need of.

I will end with an example of my struggling in this regard, so you get an idea of what I mean. I, too, chant alone pretty often at my parish. I did it for the first time at a weekday liturgy, and my priest was so pleased with how I did it that he continues to encourage me to do so. However, there is also a man at my parish who is an ordained reader. I am not, nor do I aspire to be one. If he is present, he chants. I accept this. Furthermore, on the pre-communion canon, which needs 2 people, I helped the reader for several weeks. I then was absent from my parish for a few weeks due to trips I took and such. When I returned, someone else had stepped up to help him...was I to say: "well, Father wants me to do it whenever I am here, so now I'm back?" Absolutely not. The role was being filled, and to be honest, in some ways I enjoy chanting just a bit too much for my own good, so it's healthy for me when I am forced to step down and let someone else do it. Furthermore, I should be grateful that we have so many people willing and able to help in this regard at my parish - we are a very blessed parish.

So, I'm not sure where I'm going with all of this. I just know that the idea of a woman who is a layperson (i.e. not a monastic) participating in some of the ways described above makes me feel like our rightful place in the order of the Church would be lost, and I would begin to feel *less* like a female as a result of some of those changes. All those small tasks that keep being discussed *do* get done each week, whether by men or women, and that is what matters, not whether those people are cassocked or whether they have a title for the work they do.

Xaira, I have nothing against you personally, so please don't construe any of this in that light. If you are able to have a sound understanding of order within the Kingdom of Heaven on earth (i.e. the Church), and have it be compatible with the various examples you outlined above, then God bless you. I, however, cannot reconcile the two.

In Christ,
Donna Mary
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« Reply #46 on: October 03, 2005, 03:07:07 PM »

CANON XLIV of the 60 CANONS:
That women must not enter the sacrificial Altar.
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« Reply #47 on: October 03, 2005, 03:11:23 PM »

Donna Mary brings up a wonderful point.

Far too often nowadays we are striving for the example of someone who is not us... I think this would not be an issue if the Church was better about not making it seem like the Orders are some sort of pyramidal hierarchy...

Remember, there are plenty of the fathers who hold up the roles and responsibilities of women and mothers higher than the clergy... and you know what - they're right.
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« Reply #48 on: October 03, 2005, 03:11:56 PM »

Is that really the biggest font size that you've got?
I'm not impressed... hahaha.
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« Reply #49 on: October 03, 2005, 03:42:51 PM »

On the one hand, women are often allowed in the altar to clean or to serve in a women's monastery.  I think the canon Robert cites is obviously referring to women serving in general though and I think it settles the issue. Men aren't really supposed to go back there if they don't have a reason to be back there either.
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« Reply #50 on: October 03, 2005, 04:19:20 PM »

Has anyone in this thread even suggested that women serve in the altar? The only thing that came close was xaira's reference to women cleaning the altar, which as Anastasios rightfully points out, does not violate the intended purpose of that canon...am i missing something here?

I also fail to see why people have a problem with the whole concept of a "sub-deaconess" on the basis such a position has never existed; of what relevance or significance is it if it didn't exist in the ancient church as a position in its own right; what defines the position after all? Is it the name of the position - whether it be "sub-deaconess" or "assisstant deaconess" or XYZ - or the function it entails? The functions for which xaira is suggesting be adopted by the creation of a new position are grounded in tradition. So what's the problem, honestly?

The only problem I can reasonable perceive in xaira's whole position, is that a) it seems to be motivated by a desire for "female recognition" i.e. there is underlying feminist cause, b) it may be considered superfluous in the context she wishes to see such a position established. In Egypt, the service of females in the deaconate, and the subsequent division of that "female deaconate" into three orders, one order being that of the "assisstant deaconess", has been for the sole purpose of practicality, and not for the sake of "female recognition" within the service of the Church.

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« Reply #51 on: October 03, 2005, 04:40:44 PM »

I also fail to see why people have a problem with the whole concept of a "sub-deaconess" on the basis such a position has never existed; of what relevance or significance is it if it didn't exist in the ancient church as a position in its own right; what defines the position after all? Is it the name of the position - whether it be "sub-deaconess" or "assisstant deaconess" or XYZ - or the function it entails? The functions for which xaira is suggesting be adopted by the creation of a new position are grounded in tradition. So what's the problem, honestly?

The relevance is that the ancient Church understood better then what our practice fails to see now: that the Liturgy, and the players involved in the Liturgy, reflect the eschatological Liturgy, and in fact link us to it.  The functions described that are truly liturgical (and let me define "truly liturgical" here: reading, chanting, petitions, liturgical assistance of the bishop, co-celebration or chief-celebration; they do not include cleaning, keeping order in the Church, "guarding the doors," etc) have liturgical beings attached to them, and these liturgical beings (readers, acolytes, cantors, subdeacons, deacons, presbyters, bishops, and deaconesses) have their counterparts in the heavenly liturgy (as I described above).

So in the practice of having women readers and cantors (again, a practice which my bishop encourages) you cover all the liturgical functions, and therefore don't need other offices added to justify or solemnify or sanctify the other functions.  We should fulfill our roles within the church, no matter what they be, without seeking recognition.

I can understand an argument to resurrect the deaconess (whether or not I agree with it I haven't decided); but creating a new liturgical position for the heck of it doesnt sit well with me.  And, yes, the name given to the position means a lot - for it should reflect not only the function of the role but also the responsibility that goes with it.
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« Reply #52 on: October 03, 2005, 04:45:04 PM »

I still think Donna hit the nail on the head.  The idea that one thing needs to exist for one group because the other group has it is against our ecclesiology and against our eschatology (I hopefully made enough connections between the 2 earlier). 

E.G. No role of humanity is exalted more than childbirth; the Virgin Mary is the greatest Saint we have.  I cannot aspire, nor do I, to bear children; not because of some bias agaisnt it (far from the truth - at times I am envious of the bond between mother and child that is impossible for fathers to have), but rather because it is not in the order of things that I bear children.  Instead, I aspire to be the fullest that God has planned for me, the fullest that my role in life can fulfill.
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« Reply #53 on: October 03, 2005, 05:04:01 PM »

CANON XLIV of the 60 CANONS:
That women must not enter the sacrificial Altar.



Gic would be impressed!  Grin
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« Reply #54 on: October 03, 2005, 05:56:41 PM »

The relevance is that the ancient Church understood better then what our practice fails to see now: that the Liturgy, and the players involved in the Liturgy, reflect the eschatological Liturgy, and in fact link us to it.ÂÂ  The functions described that are truly liturgical (and let me define "truly liturgical" here: reading, chanting, petitions, liturgical assistance of the bishop, co-celebration or chief-celebration; they do not include cleaning, keeping order in the Church, "guarding the doors," etc) have liturgical beings attached to them, and these liturgical beings (readers, acolytes, cantors, subdeacons, deacons, presbyters, bishops, and deaconesses) have their counterparts in the heavenly liturgy (as I described above).

So in the practice of having women readers and cantors (again, a practice which my bishop encourages) you cover all the liturgical functions, and therefore don't need other offices added to justify or solemnify or sanctify the other functions.ÂÂ  We should fulfill our roles within the church, no matter what they be, without seeking recognition.

I can understand an argument to resurrect the deaconess (whether or not I agree with it I haven't decided); but creating a new liturgical position for the heck of it doesnt sit well with me.ÂÂ  And, yes, the name given to the position means a lot - for it should reflect not only the function of the role but also the responsibility that goes with it.

Just to point out, this thread started with a reference to the Coptic Church having deaconesses etc... In the Coptic Church though women don't even do the things you've just listed as non-liturgical.  The Korbon (bread) must be made by chanters, readers, or higher (not women or non-ordained men, except in the past in convents), the sanctuary must be cleaned by someone of the rank of doorkeeper, chanter, reader, etc, a man who is not ordained may not enter.  The readings are done by chanters or readers, unless these is no one present who can do it in which case a non-ordained male would.  I have heard of females chanting Pascha Psalms, and of course females fully participate in the prayers of the Liturgy like everyone.

So my point being, it doesn't make sense to start with saying look, the Coptic church has deaconesses, lets have this order that is responsible for keeping order during the Liturgy etc, and vests, and goes in processions... If your church goes in that direction it's none of my business, but the Coptic practices isn't something to copy for that.  The role of our deaconesses is one of service, administration, and of course prayer... visiting the sick, schooling children, serving the poor, etc. 

To me the whole idea of having someone in charge of keeping order in the church doesn't make much sense... parents should be keeping thier children in line, and everyone should be treating one another with Christian respect, without any need to place anyone in authority over the others to accomplish this.  If authority is needed it should be coming from someone with real authority, the preist coming down and saying cut it out or something rather than people appointed to watch over the others for the purpose of keeping order.

Why the need to vest, and go in entrance processions?  Doesn't everyone male and female go in the processions that the whole church go on?  What's the big deal about walking in at the start of Church?

I wish I didn't have to dress on Sundays, and get caught up in all the drama and requirments, that I could just go and pray.  And the servants I respect the most are the ones who go about their service so quietly that hardly anyone notices that they do it, except for God.  That's what we should all be striving for, doing what needs to be done while drawing as little attention to ourselves as possible, not looking for recognition and institutionalizing every service.
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« Reply #55 on: October 03, 2005, 07:49:00 PM »

Wow, the responses here have become better on the whole........nice to see.

Few points:

1) female deacon vs. deaconesses. When Paul calls Phoebe a deacon he calls her a "deacon". Not a "deaconess". The word "deaconess" does not appear in Greek as far as I am aware. Are the Greek now using the feminine declension when referring to female diakonis? Seems logical, though since I do not read Modern Greek I don't really know. Nonetheless, as far as it is biblical, I use the words "deaconess" and "female deacon" pretty interchangebaly. And no, I do not have any secret plan or ulterior motive to equate such a thing with the male counterparts. Nor do I see this linguistic gymnastics as really necessary. In a lot of churches the altar boys (yes, a horrible term) are simply referred to as "deacons" in a shorthand fashion. Everyone knows by this that they are not equating the 10-year-old boy with the real deacon who is standing next to the priest. So why not when deacon is used when referring to a female that everyone knows that she has a different function than the male deacon standing behind the iconostasis? This whole -ess thing in English seems pretty superfluous to me, even more so because it is dropping out of colloquial English, and in a hundred years I dare say the -ess ending will become unintelligible to most English speakers anyways.

2) Yes, I am fully aware of the canon forbidding women in the altar. I am also fully aware of the fact the it is in the job description of the female deacon/deaconess (  Wink ) that she is permitted to clean the altar area and repair, clean, and make ready its furnishings. Makes it pretty clear that the canon means during liturgical services and not just altogether. Seeing as this is not the issue at hand in the first place I don't know why it was even brought up, much less in such a large font.

3) Let's get some terms straightened out. According to this list, http://www.orthodoxed.org/article.php?id=63 , the Reader and Sub-deacons are Minor Orders. I take this to mean that everyone who chants prayers and/or reads Scripture in Church in a liturgical fashion are one of these orders (or higher). My OP was to point out the females already chant and read in church, hence they are already doing the functions of these minor orders. So unlike the higher orders, such as bishop or priest, we really don't seem to have any problem at all with having females carry out the functions of these orders. So, as I see it, there is no problem in having a female actually be one of these orders. Because to be one of these orders simply means doing something which they already do. And since they are already doing the function of these orders, ordaining females to these is not "creating" something, for the something is already quite real and present. It's simply recognizing something which is already going on. And while deaconesses are a recognized order, it has always been my assumption, at least on a practical level, that this is a higher order, and higher orders presume also a lower order, whether everyone has to pass through lower to get to higher is local issue. But it is expected, at least on an unofficial basis at the moment I presume, that before a women is made a deaconess she has a "training time" when she is evaluated on the basis of her spiritual life, character, and liturgical abilities. Why can't the females who are already acting as Readers and Chanters acts as low-level deaconesses? Very few females meet the requirements for a deaconess, and very few can serve full-time in that capacity. But to read and chant is something which any normal person has time to do, and females can, and do, do that. Just as full deaconesses do. So not only is there the precedent for ordained female sub-deacons/deaconesses in that they already do those roles, they also have precedent in that a higher ordained order of females also do those roles. Yet the women who only fulfill those roles on a "part-time" basis are differentiated from those who do it on a full-time basis, hence the "sub" distinction. This is, obviously, similiar to the situation of the male counterparts, a full deacon is, technically, a full-time job. Males who are only part-time are sub-deacons, they do most of the things of a full deacon, but with notable exceptions.

On the ecclesiological level, having people, any person whether male or female or aliens, doing the function of one of these orders of Reader or sub-deacon without being actually in the order itself, gives rise to confusion and strife. Which is why the orders are there in the first place to ordain people to. If we just let anyone do the readings or chant then we wouldn't have these orders and we would not have to ordain people to them. But we do have the orders, simply because the church the priest and the bishop needs to be able to "check out" that the person doing them is doing them correctly and continue to be a role-model to the church while serving in such a visible position. Having females "just doing" the function of these orders without the permission of the church, priest and bishop is pretty risky. If someone is going to stand up in church and pray as my represenative or tell me the words if Scripture I want to know them, I want to know that my priest knows that person and that they are of good spiritual character and moral standing, and I want to know that my bishop is aware that they are serving the church and that he does not have any objections. When a random female (or male for that matter) gets up there chanting or reading I don't know that. And this is wrong.

4) Keeping order in the church was the ancient function of the female deacon/subdeaconess. And I only wish more parents would keep their kids behaving properly in church. If the parent is not keeping their kids in line they need to be quietly reminded, and having one of the deacons run out of the iconostasis to "talk" to them during the service isn't helpful. Neither is the other approach of the priest simply stopping the service until the noise level dies down. And no, I am not making those examples up. So yes, the function of keeping the church orderly is something that is needed, and yes, this is an ordained liturgical function. As it should be, I've seen my share of old women trying to "do" this role by running around the church making nasty and rude comments to everyone whose phone happens to vibrate. The priest needs to appoint someone he can trust to be both kind and firm, someone who is both a role model and spiritually discerning enough to get people who are being disruptive to stop without sending them off in anger to the closest Protestant church (again, not making it up).

5) I do realize that the function of deaconesses in the Coptic Church is mostly related to social service work. However, there is plenty of evidence that in the ancient church deaconesses fulfilled a regular liturgical function as well, just look at St. Olympia. I am also aware that in the Coptic Church there are local movements to make females epsaltos, which is the Coptic equivalent of chanters, and which I believe would fall under the category of sub-deacon. So yes, in the Coptic Church there are, in fact, female sub-deacons.

6) Why should female deacones/sub-deacons deaconesses/sub-deaconsses be given a liturgical garment? To this question I would pose another question: why do any of the clerical orders wear liturgical garments? Our bishops are supposed to be like Christ in their humility, yet we give them crowns and flowing robes and bow down to them, and give them staffs and rugs signifying their authority. I can blab all day about how I think it is wrong that bishops wear these things because they should be humble and wearing these colorful robes draws too much attention to themselves, but you'll all laugh at me. You'll say "dude, it's not about the color of the robe and the big crown with jewels, it's about their liturgical function, all that signifies their position in the church". And that's the same answer I give to why females who are sub-deacons/sub-deaconesses should also be robed. It's not about the recognition or wearing a pretty curtain, it's about their function in the church, so that everyone who reads Holy Scripture or who stands to pray to God for us may be arrayed in the Glory which is coming from their lips. Add on to this the totally mundane reasons of erasing the problem of what the female may be wearing cause a distraction, as well as the problem that I find myself distracted when someone who isn't robed get up to chant or read, simply because everyone else who does those things all look the same but the female is sporting a trendy skirt and colorful shirt (I think this is the reason why the Armenians give all their female sub-deacons robes as one Armenian girl told me "yeah, the shirt, it's just to make all of us more uniform"), and it all adds up to a vast liturgical and practical value which I just can't dismiss. And like I made quite clear in my OP I do none of the functions church which deserve me to be even a Reader, much less robed, so I'm most emphatically not asking this for myself. Though plenty of other people here seem very interested in telling me how they are secretly humble and unnoticed in a quite unsecret and loud way.............

Perhaps many have just become accustomed to church "the way it is". I just want to urge people to consider church carefully next sunday, and look at things which go wrong, not getting done, and how the women interact with the life of the church. I've been thinking about this for quite a few months now, and ever week I see something going on which a female sub-deacon/deaconess, properly trained, could handle and smooth out in an instant, but week in and week out the same problems recur and recur making everyone uptight and the deacons overstressed. The ancient church had an answer to these problems, the female diaconate, and every week and wish more and more that my church had at least one.
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« Reply #56 on: October 03, 2005, 08:45:49 PM »

Wow, the responses here have become better on the whole........nice to see.

I'm glad to see they meet with your approval.......

1) female deacon vs. deaconesses. When Paul calls Phoebe a deacon he calls her a "deacon". Not a "deaconess". The word "deaconess" does not appear in Greek as far as I am aware. Are the Greek now using the feminine declension when referring to female diakonis? Seems logical, though since I do not read Modern Greek I don't really know. Nonetheless, as far as it is biblical, I use the words "deaconess" and "female deacon" pretty interchangeably. And no, I do not have any secret plan or ulterior motive to equate such a thing with the male counterparts. Nor do I see this linguistic gymnastics as really necessary. In a lot of churches the altar boys (yes, a horrible term) are simply referred to as "deacons" in a shorthand fashion. Everyone knows by this that they are not equating the 10-year-old boy with the real deacon who is standing next to the priest. So why not when deacon is used when referring to a female that everyone knows that she has a different function than the male deacon standing behind the iconostasis? This whole -ess thing in English seems pretty superfluous to me, even more so because it is dropping out of colloquial English, and in a hundred years I dare say the -ess ending will become unintelligible to most English speakers anyways.

Well, you are absolutely right about Paul in Rom 16:1; and in the Greek (Nestle-Aland), he uses deacon.  But, of course, that begs the question "what was the role of the deacon in Paul's time" - because its clear that Acts speaks of deacons only as ones who minister to the community so that the overseers (the Apostles) can have the time to preach, teach, and heal.  So I'm not sure if the argument can be used applied to the writings of Paul, since at his time the deaconesses probably did do the exact thing the deacons did, only to the female crowd.  I don't make the whole deaconess vs. "female deacon" to play around, I'm saying that we should be careful about our use of language so that we give proper credit where it is due and not give false impressions as to what is going on.  And I certainly don't like "altar boys" being called deacons - but that's not the fault of the people, that's the fault of those who know about the history and function of the Church who have not educated people rightly about it.

But I do agree that in a hundred years the -ess will probably be useless... but by then we'll be speaking a different language (if GiC had his way, probably binary code).

2) Yes, I am fully aware of the canon forbidding women in the altar. I am also fully aware of the fact the it is in the job description of the female deacon/deaconess (  Wink ) that she is permitted to clean the altar area and repair, clean, and make ready its furnishings. Makes it pretty clear that the canon means during liturgical services and not just altogether. Seeing as this is not the issue at hand in the first place I don't know why it was even brought up, much less in such a large font.

I haven't invoked the canon for a good reason: the canons can only be enforced by a spiritual father or a competent ecclesiastical body (such as the spiritual court of first instance).  But I am a big fan of large fonts.

3) Let's get some terms straightened out. According to this list, http://www.orthodoxed.org/article.php?id=63 , the Reader and Sub-deacons are Minor Orders. I take this to mean that everyone who chants prayers and/or reads Scripture in Church in a liturgical fashion are one of these orders (or higher). My OP was to point out the females already chant and read in church, hence they are already doing the functions of these minor orders. So unlike the higher orders, such as bishop or priest, we really don't seem to have any problem at all with having females carry out the functions of these orders. So, as I see it, there is no problem in having a female actually be one of these orders. Because to be one of these orders simply means doing something which they already do. And since they are already doing the function of these orders, ordaining females to these is not "creating" something, for the something is already quite real and present. It's simply recognizing something which is already going on.

"Minor Orders" is a term of western influence; again, it insinuates a pyramidal hierarchy which is not in the true Orthodox understanding.  And as to your point about having women as readers and cantors, I happen to agree with you at the moment (again, since my bishop has no problem with it).

And while deaconesses are a recognized order, it has always been my assumption, at least on a practical level, that this is a higher order, and higher orders presume also a lower order, whether everyone has to pass through lower to get to higher is local issue. But it is expected, at least on an unofficial basis at the moment I presume, that before a women is made a deaconess she has a "training time" when she is evaluated on the basis of her spiritual life, character, and liturgical abilities. Why can't the females who are already acting as Readers and Chanters acts as low-level deaconesses? Very few females meet the requirements for a deaconess, and very few can serve full-time in that capacity. But to read and chant is something which any normal person has time to do, and females can, and do, do that. Just as full deaconesses do. So not only is there the precedent for ordained female sub-deacons/deaconesses in that they already do those roles, they also have precedent in that a higher ordained order of females also do those roles. Yet the women who only fulfill those roles on a "part-time" basis are differentiated from those who do it on a full-time basis, hence the "sub" distinction. This is, obviously, similar to the situation of the male counterparts, a full deacon is, technically, a full-time job. Males who are only part-time are sub-deacons, they do most of the things of a full deacon, but with notable exceptions. 

A few flaws I see in the argument.  1. members of the ecclesiastical community don't get "training time," even if that is the perceived purpose of some of the orders of the Church.  We don't make people subdeacons as deacon-trainees, nor deacons as priest-trainees.  People are ordained into an order with a particular function.  And they are to fulfill that function while they are in that order, until they either a. die, b. are expelled from the order, or c. are moved into a different order.  2. what is a "low-level deaconess?"  I am not familiar with coptic practice, but in the EO you're either a deaconess or not.  A deaconess can not only read/chant as the readers and cantors can do, but they (in the old practice) have the right to assist the priest with female baptism and with the distribution of the gifts to convents, shut-ins, widows, etc.  Readers and cantors do not have those rights.  If a church is ordaining deaconesses that cannot perform those functions, then they should just call the people readers and cantors.  And I agree that there is a precedent for women to be readers and cantors, but there are no women who fulfill the roles of the subdeacon, thus leaving no "de-facto" subdeaconesses that need to be merely formalized.  At this point, maybe we just have a different definition of the roles of a subdeacon, which is why we might be engaging in this linguistic dance again.

And as for the subdeacons who do most of the roles of a deacon, that is actually a partial perversion of the original role of the deacon.  I'm not in favor of overturning this though; the church works in the way it does for a reason.  But its the wrong perspective to look at it like that.  The subdeacon and the deacon happen to have similar liturgical functions at time, but its not like the one is half the other or something; they are distinct people with distinct roles.  Its when we use these persons outside their intended times (like having subdeacons with no bishop) that we get into muddy waters.

On the ecclesiological level, having people, any person whether male or female or aliens, doing the function of one of these orders of Reader or sub-deacon without being actually in the order itself, gives rise to confusion and strife. Which is why the orders are there in the first place to ordain people to. If we just let anyone do the readings or chant then we wouldn't have these orders and we would not have to ordain people to them. But we do have the orders, simply because the church the priest and the bishop needs to be able to "check out" that the person doing them is doing them correctly and continue to be a role-model to the church while serving in such a visible position. Having females "just doing" the function of these orders without the permission of the church, priest and bishop is pretty risky. If someone is going to stand up in church and pray as my representative or tell me the words if Scripture I want to know them, I want to know that my priest knows that person and that they are of good spiritual character and moral standing, and I want to know that my bishop is aware that they are serving the church and that he does not have any objections. When a random female (or male for that matter) gets up there chanting or reading I don't know that. And this is wrong.

I agree with you.  If the Church's position is that women can read and chant, then they should be made readers and cantors.  If they are cleaning in the Church, then the bishop should read the prayer blessing them to enter the sanctuary to clean.

4) Keeping order in the church was the ancient function of the female deacon/subdeaconess. And I only wish more parents would keep their kids behaving properly in church. If the parent is not keeping their kids in line they need to be quietly reminded, and having one of the deacons run out of the iconostasis to "talk" to them during the service isn't helpful. Neither is the other approach of the priest simply stopping the service until the noise level dies down. And no, I am not making those examples up. So yes, the function of keeping the church orderly is something that is needed, and yes, this is an ordained liturgical function. As it should be, I've seen my share of old women trying to "do" this role by running around the church making nasty and rude comments to everyone whose phone happens to vibrate. The priest needs to appoint someone he can trust to be both kind and firm, someone who is both a role model and spiritually discerning enough to get people who are being disruptive to stop without sending them off in anger to the closest Protestant church (again, not making it up). 

First of all, for the sake of logical consistency, you mix terms at the beginning, with "female deacon/subdeaconess."  There was no ancient subdeaconess.  The Deaconess did, in fact, help keep order in the Church.  But this was a side function, not a liturgical one.  Her liturgical functions involved, again, distribution of communion and assistance in baptism.  But keeping physical order in the Church is not a liturgical function; even when it was the subdeacon's job to do this, it was not a "liturgical function" per se.  It is necessary, though, which is why the priests need to spend time with the designated people who are going to fulfill this role (parish council, ushers, someone) and train them properly.  If your Church has a deaconess for the right reasons (as specified above), then having her do these roles during the Liturgy would be totally acceptable.


5) I do realize that the function of deaconesses in the Coptic Church is mostly related to social service work. However, there is plenty of evidence that in the ancient church deaconesses fulfilled a regular liturgical function as well, just look at St. Olympia. I am also aware that in the Coptic Church there are local movements to make females epsaltos, which is the Coptic equivalent of chanters, and which I believe would fall under the category of sub-deacon. So yes, in the Coptic Church there are, in fact, female sub-deacons.

In the EO practice, cantors are not subdeacons.  Subdeacons have a different role with a different ordination.  Cantors are a rank of their own, with their own liturgical function.


6) Why should female deaconess/sub-deacons deaconesses/sub-deaconesses be given a liturgical garment? To this question I would pose another question: why do any of the clerical orders wear liturgical garments? Our bishops are supposed to be like Christ in their humility, yet we give them crowns and flowing robes and bow down to them, and give them staffs and rugs signifying their authority. I can blab all day about how I think it is wrong that bishops wear these things because they should be humble and wearing these colorful robes draws too much attention to themselves, but you'll all laugh at me. You'll say "dude, it's not about the color of the robe and the big crown with jewels, it's about their liturgical function, all that signifies their position in the church". And that's the same answer I give to why females who are sub-deacons/sub-deaconesses should also be robed. It's not about the recognition or wearing a pretty curtain, it's about their function in the church, so that everyone who reads Holy Scripture or who stands to pray to God for us may be arrayed in the Glory which is coming from their lips. Add on to this the totally mundane reasons of erasing the problem of what the female may be wearing cause a distraction, as well as the problem that I find myself distracted when someone who isn't robed get up to chant or read, simply because everyone else who does those things all look the same but the female is sporting a trendy skirt and colorful shirt (I think this is the reason why the Armenians give all their female sub-deacons robes as one Armenian girl told me "yeah, the shirt, it's just to make all of us more uniform"), and it all adds up to a vast liturgical and practical value which I just can't dismiss. And like I made quite clear in my OP I do none of the functions church which deserve me to be even a Reader, much less robed, so I'm most emphatically not asking this for myself. Though plenty of other people here seem very interested in telling me how they are secretly humble and unnoticed in a quite unsecret and loud way.............

I actually don't like a lot of the trappings of the bishop - they came from the Patriarchal Office and from when the bishops had to act as regional governors.  The crown and staff were political symbols that the bishops were often times forced to take upon themselves.  Often, the responsibilities expected of them meant death because of this.  But they do have parallels in the heavenly Liturgy, which is why I don't advocate throwing them out.  We wouldn't have a problem with them if every one of the men wearing them were humble.

And I agree that if you have an office of the Church, it should have a corresponding garment or dress code.  Here at school, when anyone goes to the chant-stands, they must follow the code (whether seminarian or not): males must wear anderi (if seminarian) or black robe or black clothes, females must wear black robe or black clothes.  It is a reasonable expectation that sets apart those serving a liturgical function from those not.


Perhaps many have just become accustomed to church "the way it is". I just want to urge people to consider church carefully next sunday, and look at things which go wrong, not getting done, and how the women interact with the life of the church. I've been thinking about this for quite a few months now, and ever week I see something going on which a female sub-deacon/deaconess, properly trained, could handle and smooth out in an instant, but week in and week out the same problems recur and recur making everyone uptight and the deacons overstressed. The ancient church had an answer to these problems, the female diaconate, and every week and wish more and more that my church had at least one.

I agree we cannot be accustomed to the "way it is."  We cannot, though, just change for change's sake, either (and I know this is not what you're advocating).  The proper role of women in the Church would not be a question of concern if the clergy taught and ministered the way they should; we would be in whatever ideal state there is and there would be no question.  But instead, thanks to some time of mismanagement and mis-shepherding, we do need to evaluate the roles.  But I, for one, don't see the current need in the EO for the subdeaconess.  Now, as far as the deaconess goes, if the Church at large (not just small portions of it) actually started doing full immersion on every adult baptism, and if the Church's workers began to minister to its shut-ins and widows like we should, then I can see an argument.  But that decision should be left to the synod; for each bishop represents his local church, and the local church supports their bishop.   When the bishops make an agreement, and their local churches back them up, the Holy Spirit works its will in the life of the Orthodox Church and things go according to God's plan.
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« Reply #57 on: October 03, 2005, 11:24:52 PM »

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I am also aware that in the Coptic Church there are local movements to make females epsaltos, which is the Coptic equivalent of chanters, and which I believe would fall under the category of sub-deacon. So yes, in the Coptic Church there are, in fact, female sub-deacons.

This is not entirely accurate.  Although there may be movements such as these, there are no female sub-deacons in the Coptic Orthodox Church.  The order of chanter (psaltos) is not the same as that of sub-deacon (epodiakon) o reader (anagnostis).  I personally could understand a movement for female chanters, but the order of sub-deacon has more to do with liturgical function nowadays (as opposed to his function in centuries past).

I wonder, sister Xaira- How did you hear about these movements?
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« Reply #58 on: October 04, 2005, 01:46:51 AM »

I am one of those people who support bringing women back into the role of the church as deacons.  Although, I never heard of female deacons having any rank higher than an epsaltos (singer) considering that this is an extremely minor rank.

If anyone of you knew Sarah, she has no ulterior motive.  She is only concerned about bringing an ancient practice that will get the church more involved with the congregation for a better service.  And this is a pious attempt.  No one is trying to get recognition here.  Sometimes, I feel however, (and this is the Coptic Church, I do not know about other churches) that the boys like to get more recognition in a way.  So I personally don't know what's going on.

Anways, here's an interesting radio program about the Role of Women in the Church (it takes a while till it reaches the special guest):

http://receive.org/index.php?menu=3&submenu=23&id=36

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #59 on: October 04, 2005, 01:56:46 AM »

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I've been thinking about this for quite a few months now, and ever week I see something going on which a female sub-deacon/deaconess, properly trained, could handle and smooth out in an instant, but week in and week out the same problems recur and recur making everyone uptight and the deacons overstressed.

Could you give an example of something that they could help with on the practical, among-the-people, level? I've often wondered whether they could indeed be a great asset in fulfilling the ancient rule of helping to teach the women (and especially ones new to the Church) proper conduct... but then--maybe I'm just cynical-- I always end up thinking that the girls would probably just roll their eyes, or even tell them off. Like "I can't wear lipstick and kiss the icon? What are you talking about? That's why the glass is there! To protect the icon! Who do you think you are, judging me like that?" Anyway, so I guess (to state things another way) I was wondering what a girl might be able to do in certain situations that the already-present Deacons can't do?
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« Reply #60 on: October 04, 2005, 02:03:29 PM »

Hmm....when i first posted I had no idea there were so many linguistic gymnastic connected to this topic........maybe I should be more clear on my terms. By sub-deacon I, generally, mean the ranks lower than full deacon, just as a catch-all category. There seems to be some confusion in general about the differences between Reader and Sub-deacon, so I just collapse them together, maybe that's wrong, but it just makes my life simpler. Because the Deaconess seems to have been, in general, on liturgical par with the Deacon (though with different functions, yes) then a female who is doing lower ranks than the deaconess is a sub-deaconess. Since Deaconesses also chant and read and take care of other liturgical functions the sub-deaconesses also has the right to chant and read, though with notable differences from the full role of a deaconess. The rules and strictures put upon a full deaconess makes it pretty impossible for most women to qualify for that role, just as the rules for a real full Deacon are also very strict. Normal women and men who want to serve in the church do not qualify for full deacon or deaconess. So they are given more minor tasks (minor meaning that they are not so incredibly central to the celebration of the Eucharist, such as the Deacon and Priest) and are called sub-deacons and sub-deaconesses. In my view sub-deaconesses can both read and chant, as they already do, and, of course, if they are simply a Reader then they are simply a Reader, though they should be actually ordained and act as such, but they can also do some of the functions which a full deaconesses does, such as keeping order and being a spiritual advisor to women.

Also, epsaltos wear the tonya, hence they are a form of deacon/sub-deacon. Yes, in the Coptic church epsaltos technically are the chanters/choir but the wearing of the tonya and place in the church denotes something more than just singing. Everywhere I've read clearly lists epsaltos as within the ranks of the diaconate. I believe it was in the Southern US diocese that females being epsaltos and wearing tonya and walking on processions is being revived. But I don't live there, I've never seen it first hand.

And yes, having a female teach the girls not to wear lipstick when kissing icons is much better. When a guy says it he usually says it all wrong, and it is embarrasing and humiliating. Many women are attached to their lipstick for their self worth (don't ask me why) being yelled at over it can be very traumatizing. Hearing it gently from a woman who is known for her kindness and piety will actually accomplish something.
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« Reply #61 on: October 04, 2005, 02:24:28 PM »

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And yes, having a female teach the girls not to wear lipstick when kissing icons is much better. When a guy says it he usually says it all wrong, and it is embarrasing and humiliating. Many women are attached to their lipstick for their self worth (don't ask me why) being yelled at over it can be very traumatizing. Hearing it gently from a woman who is known for her kindness and piety will actually accomplish something.

The girls always seem to be cordial when I tell them not to wear their lipstick..Wink


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« Reply #62 on: October 04, 2005, 02:40:32 PM »

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5) I do realize that the function of deaconesses in the Coptic Church is mostly related to social service work. However, there is plenty of evidence that in the ancient church deaconesses fulfilled a regular liturgical function as well, just look at St. Olympia. I am also aware that in the Coptic Church there are local movements to make females epsaltos, which is the Coptic equivalent of chanters, and which I believe would fall under the category of sub-deacon. So yes, in the Coptic Church there are, in fact, female sub-deacons.

Chanters and Readers are among "the seven orders of the Church of God" (doorkeeper, chanter, reader, monk, virgin, widdow, exorcist), which the subdeacon is part a level of the priesthood (subdeacon, deacon, priest, bishop), so saying a female chanter is very different than saying a female subdeacon, which is like saying a female priest.  There's nothing wrong with having a group of females set aside to lead the woman in hymns, chantresses, which is nothing like having a female subdeacon.  I understand what you're saying now that you've clarified, but it's really not just a matter of technical wording, one is at the level of a person commissioend by the church to do something, the other is at the level of a person participating in the priesthood.

Yes, chanters are currently allowed to serve in the Sanctuary because few churches have deacons.  This seems like a very strange thing to me.  The ranks of chanter and reader are so confused right now in the Coptic Church that few people know the difference, and I'll bet that has something to do with why it's like that.  Readers can give the sermon while chanters can't, and of course a woman can only fill that role in a convent where she is teaching women.

Right now the priestess is in a position to gently correct females in that kind of thing, without any vestment.  I don't see how vested females would be any more able to offer gentle correction, if anything it seems most women ignorant enough to be being disrespectful in the first place would be more resentful of correction from a woman in authority given the job to keep them in line.
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« Reply #63 on: October 04, 2005, 04:23:15 PM »

I don't see how vested females would be any more able to offer gentle correction, if anything it seems most women ignorant enough to be being disrespectful in the first place would be more resentful of correction from a woman in authority given the job to keep them in line.

Just a simple question but are  you resentful of vested males with authority meant to keep you in line? Wink
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« Reply #64 on: October 04, 2005, 05:24:26 PM »

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I believe it was in the Southern US diocese that females being epsaltos and wearing tonya and walking on processions is being revived. But I don't live there, I've never seen it first hand.

I am a tonsured reader within the Southern US diocese, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, under H.G. Bishop Youssef.ÂÂ  I have yet to see this as well, though I don't know how I would react if there was a vested woman at my particular parish, let alone one peforming active duties during liturgical services.  It's a foreign concept to the vast majority of our parishoners.
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« Reply #65 on: October 04, 2005, 05:36:33 PM »

Hmm....when i first posted I had no idea there were so many linguistic gymnastic connected to this topic........maybe I should be more clear on my terms. By sub-deacon I, generally, mean the ranks lower than full deacon, just as a catch-all category. There seems to be some confusion in general about the differences between Reader and Sub-deacon, so I just collapse them together, maybe that's wrong, but it just makes my life simpler. Because the Deaconess seems to have been, in general, on liturgical par with the Deacon (though with different functions, yes) then a female who is doing lower ranks than the deaconess is a sub-deaconess. Since Deaconesses also chant and read and take care of other liturgical functions the sub-deaconesses also has the right to chant and read, though with notable differences from the full role of a deaconess. The rules and strictures put upon a full deaconess makes it pretty impossible for most women to qualify for that role, just as the rules for a real full Deacon are also very strict. Normal women and men who want to serve in the church do not qualify for full deacon or deaconess. So they are given more minor tasks (minor meaning that they are not so incredibly central to the celebration of the Eucharist, such as the Deacon and Priest) and are called sub-deacons and sub-deaconesses. In my view sub-deaconesses can both read and chant, as they already do, and, of course, if they are simply a Reader then they are simply a Reader, though they should be actually ordained and act as such, but they can also do some of the functions which a full deaconesses does, such as keeping order and being a spiritual advisor to women. 

First of all, your opening statement confirms my initial thought: that we are using the same terminology in different ways.  So let me begin by stating how I am using the term subdeacon: I mean subdeacon in the narrow, technical sense i.e. the specific rank of subdeacon.  I tend not to use blanket statements for the ranks of clergy such as "lower orders" or the use of subdeacon to mean all those "below a deacon" probably because I grew up in a clergy family and am now currently studying in the seminary; but I do not disparage the practice.

The best I could offer as far as how I see the office of subdeacon is a rewording of Jonathan's post:
You have the orders of the priesthood: Bishop, Presbyter, Deacon, Subdeacon.  You have the orders of the Church (many of which have fallen out of usage): doorkeeper, virgin, widow, cantor, reader, monk, exorcist.  Then you have the Royal Priesthood: all those Chrismated in the Orthodox Church.
{ NOTE: I began to continue on my train of thought, and suddenly this paragraph became a behemouth paragraph on the liturgical functions of every order... needless to say I won't post that part because it is unnecessary to the current conversation}

Now the assumption that any woman doing "less" than a deaconess is a "subdeaconess" works if you are using the phrases as blanket statements; but as a technical term, it is not true, since the assumption would be that if the formal rank of "subdeaconess" exsted, it would have functions related to the subdeacon.  In your hypothetical system, though, the technical terms of reader, cantor, doorkeeper, virgin, monk, and widow would still be applicable (I'm not sure about exorcist, since currently most exorcists are priests anyway).  My only point of caution would be that, while the bishop has the right to ordain just about whomever he wishes in his diocese, it would be best if he consulted with the synod about things that maybe aren't universal practices at the time (like I know of many bishops who will not ordain any women; so its best if a bishop wants to make women readers, cantors, etc consults with them; I don't remember which canon speaks of the one and the many with regards to episcopal action, but it certainly applies here). 

Also, epsaltos wear the tonya, hence they are a form of deacon/sub-deacon. Yes, in the Coptic church epsaltos technically are the chanters/choir but the wearing of the tonya and place in the church denotes something more than just singing. Everywhere I've read clearly lists epsaltos as within the ranks of the diaconate. I believe it was in the Southern US diocese that females being epsaltos and wearing tonya and walking on processions is being revived. But I don't live there, I've never seen it first hand. 

Could you let me know what the "tonya" is (since I am admittedly unfamiliar with Coptic practice and terminology).  Once I know what it is, I'll comment.

And yes, having a female teach the girls not to wear lipstick when kissing icons is much better. When a guy says it he usually says it all wrong, and it is embarrasing and humiliating. Many women are attached to their lipstick for their self worth (don't ask me why) being yelled at over it can be very traumatizing. Hearing it gently from a woman who is known for her kindness and piety will actually accomplish something. 

I can tell you this is often true. {edit} Superfluous portion of paragraph removed {/edit}
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« Reply #66 on: October 04, 2005, 05:52:17 PM »

Just a simple question but areÂÂ  you resentful of vested males with authority meant to keep you in line? Wink

I observe that the male youth are often resentful of the not much older 'deacons' who order them around when they're out of line and then turn around and act like hypocrites... to fill that role you can't just be a chanter or reader a little older playing in charge... it takes someone who is really blameless and deserves respect, ie the traditional role of a deacon, which is why I don't see these minor orders, male or female, as being a solution to this problem.ÂÂ  The whole reason they're minor orders is because the people aren't worthy of being actual deacons... we treat chanters and readers like deacons because they're all we've got, but they just aren't, and I don't follow the logic that deacons are supposed to keep order in the chuch, these chanters and readers are filling the roles of deacons, so it's appropriate for them to try to do so, and we should have female equivalents doing the same... a real deacon or deaconess ok, but someone who is really just another member of the congregation trying to impose order is often going to lead to resentment

Quote
Could you let me know what the "tonya" is (since I am admittedly unfamiliar with Coptic practice and terminology).  Once I know what it is, I'll comment.
I think the western word is an albe... I don't know what else to call it... maybe a (white) tunic. 
A chanter wears a tonya, a reader wears a tonya with a stole with both ends down the front, a subdeacon wears a tonya with a stole with one end down the front and one down the back over the left sholder, a deacon wears the same but over the other sholder and with a galabeya (cassik) undernearth and a hat when not serving, a priest wears a tonya with a priest's stole.
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« Reply #67 on: October 04, 2005, 05:58:50 PM »

I am a tonsured reader within the Southern US diocese, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, under H.G. Bishop Youssef.ÂÂ  I have yet to see this as well, though I don't know how I would react if there was a vested woman at my particular parish, let alone one peforming active duties during liturgical services.ÂÂ  It's a foreign concept to the vast majority of our parishoners.

I think it's the L.A. Dioceese where this is happening, not the South U.S. dioceese.  Last I'd heard though there were only female choirs, not chantresses, although H.G. wanted them... are there chantresses now?
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« Reply #68 on: October 05, 2005, 01:22:54 PM »

Going way way back to Jim's comment on the 60 canons (you remember, in the big font?), that was from a regional synod.  Regional synods are not binding.  But I could be mistaken.  I just wanted to point out that it was a Regional Synod, and in its list of what constitutes the Canon, it leaves out the Apocalypse of John (Revelation).

Anywho, go women!  (Of course I don't mean this in an anti-Traditional way).
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« Reply #69 on: October 05, 2005, 02:37:47 PM »

I have been silent until now on this subject but in reading the discussion I think it is important to bring to light some aspects that some of you might not be getting.

There are 4 different traditions (Oriental, Latin, Rum[aka Greek] and Slavic) being compared to each other. The subdeacon is very different in how they are percieved and what their function is in each of these traditions and in such each are equally valid in the role they play within their tradition. Please keep this in mind when you are talking about the role of the subdeacon because in reading some of the post it is getting confusing on what tradition you are talking about.
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« Reply #70 on: October 05, 2005, 06:05:59 PM »

Going way way back to Jim's comment on the 60 canons (you remember, in the big font?), that was from a regional synod. Regional synods are not binding. But I could be mistaken. I just wanted to point out that it was a Regional Synod, and in its list of what constitutes the Canon, it leaves out the Apocalypse of John (Revelation). 

Actually, this isnt totally true.  There are certain regional synods that are binding, when they are ratified by an Ecumenical Synod.
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« Reply #71 on: October 05, 2005, 07:23:18 PM »

Actually, this isnt totally true.  There are certain regional synods that are binding, when they are ratified by an Ecumenical Synod.

And they are certainly binding in the local churches so participating.
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« Reply #72 on: October 05, 2005, 07:58:57 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=7250.msg95434#msg95434 date=1128554598]
And they are certainly binding in the local churches so participating.
[/quote]

Quite true.  The decisions of one's local synod are certainly binding on the local Church.

{ A quick note to remember, though: unless the competent authorities (technical term; when used for the canons, it refers to the spiritual fathers and the Spiritual Courts/Bishops) are willing to enforce the canons, then they have no weight.  The canons are not pre-emptive (in their stated intent), they are reactive and pastoral, meant to assist those who have already offended to get back on the right path. }
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« Reply #73 on: October 06, 2005, 12:36:32 PM »

Cleveland,

Quote
The relevance is that the ancient Church understood better then what our practice fails to see now: that the Liturgy, and the players involved in the Liturgy, reflect the eschatological Liturgy, and in fact link us to it.ÂÂ  The functions described that are truly liturgical (and let me define "truly liturgical" here: reading, chanting, petitions, liturgical assistance of the bishop, co-celebration or chief-celebration; they do not include cleaning, keeping order in the Church, "guarding the doors," etc) have liturgical beings attached to them, and these liturgical beings (readers, acolytes, cantors, subdeacons, deacons, presbyters, bishops, and deaconesses) have their counterparts in the heavenly liturgy (as I described above).

I understand what you’re saying, and this idea is one inherent to Coptic Orthodox ecclesiology: His Grace Bishop Mettaous of the COC states:

Quote
“The Church, being a heavenly assembly, is the icon of heaven on earth. All Church rituals and symbols are an earthly representation of the heavenly world.” (The Spirituality of the Rites of the Holy Liturgy in the Coptic Orthodox Church, page 9).

As far as I’m concerned however, this is has no practical implications to the recognition of a lower-than-full-deaconess position, for the heavenly liturgy always mirrors the earthly liturgy regardless of the people involved or their respective ranks or positions.

According to the rite of the assisstant deaconesses consecration, the function of their position is briefly outlined in the set of prayers said; they are “to help the deaconess with several services specified for them, to serve You [God] with faithfulness and purity to the last breath...” Regardless of what has been said here, the “assistant deaconess” is indeed a stepping stone towards one being a full deaconess i.e. one must have had experience as an assistant deaconess first, as H.G. Bishop Mettaous states: “The assistant deaconess is promoted to deaconess after five years of her consecration as assistant deaconess. This promotion is done according to her good manners, obedience, dedication, experience in service, the efficiency of her work and her readiness to complete the way of consecration to the end, with her commitment to a life of virginity or widowhood to the last breath. The promotion to the rank of a complete deaconess is decided by the high committee of affairs of consecrated women.”

Peace.
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« Reply #74 on: October 06, 2005, 04:07:35 PM »

As far as I’m concerned however, this is has no practical implications to the recognition of a lower-than-full-deaconess position, for the heavenly liturgy always mirrors the earthly liturgy regardless of the people involved or their respective ranks or positions.

 <sic>

Regardless of what has been said here, the “assistant deaconess” is indeed a stepping stone towards one being a full deaconess i.e. one must have had experience as an assistant deaconess first.   

This would then be a disagreement in ecclesiology that has developed between the two traditions then, wouldn't it?

I do have to state, though, that even in the EO there are plenty of hierarchs and clergymen who see the different ranks of clergy as stepping stones.  I consider it to be quite unfortunate.

As far as the heavenly liturgy always reflecting the earthly one, we have to be careful as to how we approach that question, being mindful not to adopt an anthropocentric position on the nature of the Heavenly Liturgy.  We know exactly what the heavenly liturgy is like: Christ, (His Mother), the Apostles, the Angels, and the Faithful.  And we have our parallels: The Bishop, (The Theotokos isnt represented), the Presbyters, the Deacons, the Laos (the chrismated people of God).  Because of this, we are weary of adding ranks to the ordained clergy.  Who knows, maybe the Spirit wants EO and OO to have assistant deaconesses or subdeaconesses or whatever - then the SPirit will work through the Church; no one can stop the work of God.  But for the moment, as we see it, there is no need in our tradition to add ranks that didn't exist before; we would just like to get back to realizing the full ministry of the existing ranks first!  From this dialogue, I am sensing that in the Coptic Church you already have a sense of this; the presence of multiple deacons, deaconesses, subdeacons, and the like leads me to believe that you already have a full clergy ministry; in our tradition, because of the socio-historical situations, we haven't realized that fullness in a few centuries.
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« Reply #75 on: October 06, 2005, 07:57:16 PM »

Quote
From this dialogue, I am sensing that in the Coptic Church you already have a sense of this; the presence of multiple deacons, deaconesses, subdeacons, and the like leads me to believe that you already have a full clergy ministry; in our tradition, because of the socio-historical situations, we haven't realized that fullness in a few centuries.

I have to say, I agree with Cleveland.  This is why I prefer to say "orders" instead of "ranks" when referring to the ordained services.  Once one starts to believe that the heirarchy of the ordained is a system of "stepping stones," so that for instance a sub-deacon is "greater than" a reader, and a reader likewise "greater than" a chanter, then one misunderstands the reasoning behind the orders.  It is more or less for organization and for the proper appropriation of individual skill that the orders exist.     
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« Reply #76 on: October 06, 2005, 09:05:36 PM »

I have to say, I agree with Cleveland. This is why I prefer to say "orders" instead of "ranks" when referring to the ordained services. Once one starts to believe that the heirarchy of the ordained is a system of "stepping stones," so that for instance a sub-deacon is "greater than" a reader, and a reader likewise "greater than" a chanter, then one misunderstands the reasoning behind the orders. It is more or less for organization and for the proper appropriation of individual skill that the orders exist.

You just articulated it all better than I did.  Thanks.
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« Reply #77 on: October 06, 2005, 09:14:14 PM »

Quote
This would then be a disagreement in ecclesiology that has developed between the two traditions then, wouldn't it?

Well I have only noticed this “pre-requisite” condition of having experience in another order, with respect to the order of the deaconess. I know of a few in my own Church (males) who were ordained to the full deaconate without ever having being an epsaltos even.

In the end however, it is just a matter of the Church siding with caution and practicality: In the name of the former, the Church wants women who are absolutely committed to, and appropriate for the service, and hence takes them through a process by which they build up the necessary experience and values, such that if — upon their being examined by the Bishop and the relevant committee - they have shown themselves to be responsible, virtuous, prepared and committed, they are then entrusted with this significant lifetime responsibility. In the name of the latter, the Church recognises (as xaira pointed out) that the strictures imposed upon the “full” deaconess are of the type that would not enable many females these days to qualify; the position of assistant deaconess on the other hand, allows a female to nonetheless carry out the services of a deaconess, albeit on a limited level, without such strictures; it’s simply a matter of effective and pracitcal ministry.

Quote
We know exactly what the heavenly liturgy is like: Christ, (His Mother), the Apostles, the Angels, and the Faithful.  And we have our parallels: The Bishop, (The Theotokos isnt represented), the Presbyters, the Deacons, the Laos (the chrismated people of God).  Because of this, we are weary of adding ranks to the ordained clergy.

According to the rites of the COC, neither the deaconess nor the assistant deaconess are priestly services, and hence they are not “ordained clergy”, but rather particular orders within the female laity; hence the enforcement of the Nicaean canon prohibiting their ordination via the laying of hands; they are simply initiated or consecrated into their positions during a special service where a set of particular prayers are said, and the sign of the cross thrice made upon them.

Peace.
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« Reply #78 on: October 06, 2005, 09:57:42 PM »

Well I have only noticed this “pre-requisite” condition of having experience in another order, with respect to the order of the deaconess. I know of a few in my own Church (males) who were ordained to the full deaconate without ever having being an epsaltos even. 

And in pure theory, that's how it should be.  Of course, my church doesn't even do this, so the theory doesn't matter at the moment.

In the end however, it is just a matter of the Church siding with caution and practicality: In the name of the former, the Church wants women who are absolutely committed to, and appropriate for the service, and hence takes them through a process by which they build up the necessary experience and values, such that if — upon their being examined by the Bishop and the relevant committee - they have shown themselves to be responsible, virtuous, prepared and committed, they are then entrusted with this significant lifetime responsibility. In the name of the latter, the Church recognises (as xaira pointed out) that the strictures imposed upon the “full” deaconess are of the type that would not enable many females these days to qualify; the position of assistant deaconess on the other hand, allows a female to nonetheless carry out the services of a deaconess, albeit on a limited level, without such strictures; it’s simply a matter of effective and pracitcal ministry. 

I can understand the wanting to be cautious and careful.  That's why we do economia - so that we can make practical and pastoral application of the Church's faith in ways that meet the needs of the Church at the time, while not changing the standards so that we can aspire to one day get back to them.

According to the rites of the COC, neither the deaconess nor the assistant deaconess are priestly services, and hence they are not “ordained clergy”, but rather particular orders within the female laity; hence the enforcement of the Nicaean canon prohibiting their ordination via the laying of hands; they are simply initiated or consecrated into their positions during a special service where a set of particular prayers are said, and the sign of the cross thrice made upon them. 

Now here's the important piece of info - this changes the whole discussion.  As you have it, the way you described it, then I can't see any debate about whether or not to have "assistant deaconesses" or "subdeaconesses" - its within a different ecclesiastical framework.  This was the point that I didn't get before - the way the discussion had gone earlier, I had just assumed that the deaconess was an ordination (laying on) in your church.

As we would say in Greek - sumfonoume - "we agree."
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« Reply #79 on: October 07, 2005, 12:15:30 AM »

As we would say in Greek - sumfonoume - "we agree."

Wow; I never thought the day would come when I would be able to end a dialogue on this forum on a note like that...lol

sumfonoume!

Peace.
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« Reply #80 on: October 07, 2005, 01:18:09 PM »

Uhhh, yeah, but I think it's pretty clear that the Nicene Canon of reference is referring to Pricillian women being non-ordained, not Orthodox women (to blow the wind out of a cozy moment......sorry).

I have to admit I am not intimately familiar with the ecclesiological structure and perspective of every juridstiction represented here, and yes, I seem to have confused and offended many with my terminology, sorry.

Basic point: women fulfilling certain tasks should be ordained to those tasks. However, today the line between doing a task and being ordained to it is pretty fuzzy. Not only do we have very few full deacons in the parishes (except for the Armenians who apparently relaxed some of the diaconal rules) we have few tonsured Readers as well, so we "get by" with having the readings done by non-ordained people standing from someplace else in the church and changing their blessing to "blessed be you who read".  Roll Eyes So now when women do these things we "justify" it by placing them into integral parts of this mess of being a Reader who is not a Reader. My point of view is that we should just be true to ourselves, and just ordain Readers, whether they be men or women, and if we can't do that then the priest should just all the readings. But that's my point of view.

And is there anything, actually, in the duties of chanter or reader which makes us uneasy about women doing them "entering the altar"? I mean, besides the things which they shouldn't be doing? I really don't think so, so I don't see what the beef is with actually be made such. As for a female form of "sub-deacon", I see it more as a expansion upon the spiritual ministry of a Reader and a minor ministry of the full deaconess (to use the -ess ending, though can we stay away from terms like chantress, and readeress? please?). Being recognized as an "assisstant" to the priest, again, this does not have to apply to entering the altar area at all, but assisstanting from the nave in various ways other than simply reading or chanting, and this can include, and should include, being a spiritual helper to women. We have the precedent of women being ordained to such a ministy at Chalcedon, so I fail to see the whole ordination of women thing a problem. Women were ordained to a major order, that being a deaconess. It is clear enough from how deaconesses were viewed in the church structure that they were considered major. For example, they are to be in line in processions and venerations behind the deacons and before the readers. Making, then, deaconesses, the least of the major orders, if we want to use terminology of major and minor and levels of ordination like that.........

As for vesting, I talked about that before, but in many churches it is possible to enter the vestry without entering the altar area. In the Coptic Church, for example, women are (often) allowed to enter 1/3 of behind the iconostasis on the side of the vestry. In church architecture which makes this impossible creativity needs to come into play, but its not an insurmountable problem.

And no, I don't have a problem taking orders from men  Wink But I do see very many women who feel that everytime they enter church they are being ordered around by "men who don't understand me". I'm not saying this is right, such people need to learn humility and obedience, but they need to learn by example. What's more, they need to know who's example they are to look to. If all they see on Sunday morning in church is men running around giving orders and taking orders, and all the women they see are the ones in the kitchen all service gossiping about "those men", they're going to miss the women standing in the back who can give them the right example of obedience and spiritual life. The church could, imo, be much more dynamic and full of spiritual growth if it would both recognize and develop such women into being the servants of God that they can be, and present them to the community as examples to look towards.

As for other recurring problems I see, besides the fact that I usually only see 5 year old girls trying to bring out the tables and pour the hot wine, or the times when such a large crowd assembles in the narthex during the service that even with the doors closed the noise is still quite loud, the biggest problem is when I see adolecent girls struggling to find spiritual role models who are not men (without going into Freudian complexes, adolecent and teen girls feel very uncomfortable about sharing their confused problems with a man, even if they have known him all their life). Some female psyches never make it past this adolocent stage, so this applies equally to others who are not of the adolcent age. Having a (in some way) ordained women in the church to go to, even if it's just to ask "I sometimes think like this, is this something I should confess to Father about? And how can I do that?" would make a lot more girls more sure about their own spiritual life and help them continue to grow in it. As it is, many girls I see either bottle it up inside or connect to a women as their "spiritual advisor" on a mere emotional level, and if their emotions chose wrong (as they usually do) then it gives rise to more emotional complexes and you can bet that girl enters adulthood wondering why she is even a Christian. Girls need to be given more choices on who to go to rather than just the priest's wife (if there is even one) and the lady who got thrown into being their sunday school teacher at the last minute, and they need to be told who is an acceptable person to go to by seeing (and noticing) the women who are themselves actively involved in church, and they need to understand that these women are good choices for them to go to with questions. While this is most important for adolecent and teen girls, imo, it is helpful for all women to be able to see that the old widow of the church who has walked faithfully with God all of her life is both recognized for her spiritual life and given the appropriate tasks in the church whereby she can pass on her spiritual life to others.
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« Reply #81 on: October 07, 2005, 10:13:59 PM »

xaira,

His Grace Bishop Metteaous of the COC makes it quite clear that the process of ordaining via the laying of hands is for those of the priestly service; the deaconess is not a priestly service, therefore, neither the deaconess nor the assisstant deaconess are ordained via the laying of hands. You can find his article here; His Grace states:

Quote
During the Holy Synod meeting on the feast of Pentecost in 1992, the Synod established certain rites and conditions, pertaining to the order of Consecration for the Consecrated Deaconess. The following are some points:

It is well known that the rank of deaconess is not a priestly rank. There is no Priesthood for women. St. Mary the mother of the Incarnate God and the Lady of the heavenly and earthly did not have any priestly rank, although she was a spiritual mother for the apostles and was accompanying them in service.

Whether you want to dispute or disagree with this is not my problem; I am only representing the true Coptic position here, and Coptic practise simply does not justify your position, as you would have us believe. Even the article that you initially referred us to made an explicit point regarding the fact that the three orders of the deaconess are NOT consecrated via the laying of hands, according to the instructions of the Holy Coptic Synod. You did read your own article didn't you?

Peace.
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« Reply #82 on: October 09, 2005, 08:28:37 AM »

The modern Coptic practice is, as far as my research tells me, an abberration based upon a misreading of the afore-mentioned Nicene Canon, more than one canonist throughout the ages have made it clear that this has more to do with the fact that the Pricillianists did not ordian women to the diaconate, so when such women having the position of diaconate in the Pricillian church came to an Orthodox church they could not continue to be a deaconess since they had not been ordained. If you take the Nicene Canon to forbid all ordinations of women then you have the odd situation in Syria where they obviously fully ordained deaconesses into the 6th century, the ordination rite was practically identical to the rite for male deacons, except that they did not serve the eucharist but took the chalice from the bishop and returned it to the altar (they obviously had no problems with women in the altar area either...). And I fail to see why HG makes a big deal about "priestly functions". I thought it was obvious that, as so many here say, we are all "ordained" to the royal priesthood at our baptism and that the diaconate is not a "stepping-stone" to be a priest. Nonetheless, my point was merely that in the COC females are being made epsaltos (in some places), and I think it is a good practice, seeing as many females can chant the hymns very well and there is nothing in their duties which offends our (purely) modern sensibilities of women in the altar area.
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« Reply #83 on: October 09, 2005, 04:44:40 PM »

I'm not commenting on the current suject matter of the thread, simply because I haven't had the time to formulate a response yet, but there is something that I'd like to try:

A particular canon has come up, and a statement that the canon is not being used according to its original intent.  I know that in all things we try to ascertain the original context and useage of the Canons (just as we try to do the same with the scripture), in the end the Church is the living Tradition, and if it sees fit to interpret the canons in a different way, then so be it.  Even if it's a misinterpretation of  the original intent, the Church is the body which decides, through its instruments (the bishops working in cooperation, who represent the body of believers) as to the proper use and interpretation of the canons.
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« Reply #84 on: October 09, 2005, 11:16:58 PM »

Xaira,

First of all, neither the Holy Coptic Synod nor His Grace Bishop Mettaous explicitly appealed to the Nicaean canon to justify their decision; I drew the connection myself. In any event, your remarks pertaining to what may possibly or even probably have been the initial intent of that particular canon are irrelevant, for the Holy Coptic Synod is vested with the authority from none other than Christ Himself to either re-apply a certain canon according to their own re-interpretation of it (as Cleveland has himself pointed out more than once in this thread), or even to produce their own canons regardless. So I fail to see your point, for the fact remains that you do not have precedent to support your notion of an ordained sub-deaconess in Coptic practice. Period.

Quote
And I fail to see why HG makes a big deal about "priestly functions". I thought it was obvious that, as so many here say, we are all "ordained" to the royal priesthood at our baptism

You do understand the distinction between the royal priesthood and the ministerial priesthood don’t you? The only orders recognised by the Coptic Church as those pertaining to the ministerial priesthood are: Deacon (as opposed to deaconess), Presbyter, and Bishop. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III wrote a whole book explaining why the COC does not allow the ordination of females or homosexuals into the priesthood.

Again, I repeat: You cannot appeal to the COC to support your position - as you initially attempted to do so. Period.

Peace.
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« Reply #85 on: October 11, 2005, 12:02:29 AM »

I would probably go out on a limb and say that the protection of the identity and sanctity of the "priestly functions" is just a reflection of the role within society and the gifts needed to perform them; we are equally protective of the "medical functions," to the point where it is illegal to practice medicine without a MD and a licence; same with "legal functions" and "accounting functions."  The CHurch has recognized the spiritual dangers and perils involved, and so it becomes very defensive about the "priestly functions."

NOTE: the above is not a description of reasons against a "female priesthood" but rather a logic train behind the big deal made about the "priestly functions."
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« Reply #86 on: October 18, 2005, 01:49:40 PM »

...for the Holy Coptic Synod is vested with the authority from none other than Christ Himself to either re-apply a certain canon according to their own re-interpretation of it (as Cleveland has himself pointed out more than once in this thread), or even to produce their own canons regardless.

WHOA[/i]. So, in other words, the Coptic Synod is the Vicar of Christ on Earth and whenever they speak it is ex cathedra and infallible?? Umm, I smell a HUGE problem with that. Honestly. If this is so then in every point in which the other Orthodox churches do not agree with the Coptic Synod (and there exists more than a few issues) then it would logically follow that the other Orthodox churches do not have the Holy Spirit. Either that or we call the Holy Spirit a hopelessly confused psychopath. Not to mention the fact that if this is the case then the Coptic Orthodox Church will thereby cease to be Traditional and Apostolic, and hence cease to be Orthodox, and become nothing more than the Coptic Church, an organization with as much authority as the nearest Protestant church, the only difference being is that they have some vague sense of being "Egyptian". Have you talked to your bishop about this issue?

So I fail to see your point, for the fact remains that you do not have precedent to support your notion of an ordained sub-deaconess in Coptic practice. Period.

My point, as I believe I made myself absolutly clear when I brought this up, is that there is a growing pracitce of vesting females as epsaltos. If they are not actually blessed and ordained as such then it is the same problem as exists in the EO churches at the moment. But I suppose that neither of us really now the details of this practice since neither of us live in the diocese where it takes place. What I do know, speaking from personal experience, is that I once, in the presence of a Coptic archbishop, had a tonya put on me and walked in a procession. Make of that what you will.

First of all, neither the Holy Coptic Synod nor His Grace Bishop Mettaous explicitly appealed to the Nicaean canon to justify their decision; I drew the connection myself. In any event, your remarks pertaining to what may possibly or even probably have been the initial intent of that particular canon are irrelevant,

And as I made abundantly clear you applied the canon quite wrongly, which is why I grow more convinced day by day that canons should only be dealt with by either skilled canonists or priests in pastoral issues. And there is no "possibly" or "probably", Canon 19 in full says:

CANON XIX.

CONCERNING the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.

NOTES.

ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XIX.

Paulianists must be rebaptised, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let then, be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the laity.
http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/Canon%20Law/Nicea/CanonsCouncilNiceae.htm#CANON%20XIX.

But I wonder why you appealed to the canon anyways, since you obviously believe that such canons are irrelevent because the only infallible statements come from the Coptic Synod, the only source on all truth.

You do understand the distinction between the royal priesthood and the ministerial priesthood don’t you? The only orders recognised by the Coptic Church as those pertaining to the ministerial priesthood are: Deacon (as opposed to deaconess), Presbyter, and Bishop. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III wrote a whole book explaining why the COC does not allow the ordination of females or homosexuals into the priesthood.

There is amply evidence from the early church that deaconesses/female deacons were also a ministerial. The assissted at the baptism of women and distributed the Eucharist to women who couldn't come to church (which in those days likely meant that they touched the Body in some way). Not even Readers can do these things! Let's be clear on what we mean here and not reject facts because of over-generalizations. Having deaconesses be ministerial does not mean that they are a Priest, they never prayed the epiclesis and took little part in the prayers done at the altar, but that fact alone does not mean that they were not "ministerial". The did minister, and they were fully ordained to that ministry. Hence the statement, "Women were never ordained" is simply not true. A true statement would be "Women were never ordained as priests". Not that this would seem to matter to you since you believe the Traditional practice of the Christian faith is only very secondary to what a modern meeting of a few bishop in Cairo say.


Moving on:

An EO professor of dogmatics recently uncovered for me the reason why women are not ordained as Readers. This is because in the Book of Needs the ordination service for Readers includes the line,"Child, the first degree of the Priesthood is that of Reader. Therefore it is fitting for you to read every day in the Divine Scriptures...." (The Great Book of Needs vol. 1, St. Tikhon's Monastery, p. 242). Now, the popular voice on this thread raised a loud cry when my OP implied that higher orders imply lower orders, since the general thought it that each order is self-sufficient to itself and not "stepping-stones". Yet here in the Book of Needs this is exactly what it says! And this is why women aren't ordained as Readers?  Huh  The self-same dogmatics professor stated himself that this line is very wrong, himself being "just a Reader" going on 28 years, and that it  comes from the same place where we get the "I absolve you" in the absolution of Confession, and that such clericalism should be eradicated completely. Until, however, such is done, it is my suggestion to make a "different" service for the ordination of a female reader, where all is the same except this line is changed to something like "Child, the order of Reader is a service to the Church. Therefore is is fitting for you to read every day in the Divine Scriptures...." This is, likely, closer to the original wording of this service anyways.

I found something interesting on the web the other day, simply as an appendix to a paper, but it raises interesting points which should be given further study:
"Epilogue: Women as Readers and Cantors
Whether in the early Church there were women in the offices of lector or cantor is
(perhaps surprisingly) a subject of some debate. From the point of view of the Orthodox
Church as it is today, in which even the fairly well-known office of deaconess has largely
fallen into disuse, the minor clergy are associated so closely with the major clergy that
one might assume that women were never to be seen serving in the office of reader or
cantor, especially after they came to be understood as set apart offices rather than simply
a ministry by literate laymen.

Apparently the Arabic version of the Canons of the Apostles indicates that lectoral
duties could be performed by women:
In this work, we find the enumeration of deaconesses, subdeaconesses and
lectresses. One and the same person very often performed the offices of
both cantor and lector, as was quite natural in the smaller churches. It is
thus entirely plausible that the lectresses were also cantors (Quasten, 80-
81).

Quasten also notes, however, that “the singing of women in church did not enjoy the
same good favor everywhere. The protests that forbade it became increasingly louder
until such singing ceased completely” (ibid., 81). Patristic literature is replete with the
prohibition against women singing in church, largely, as Quasten points out, due to the
association of women singing with pagan worship and immorality.

Those looking to the ancient record for direct comment on whether women should
be allowed to sing in church today or even to be regarded as readers or cantors will
probably be frustrated if a thorough examination is made. Certainly, one can find many
direct prohibitions on women participating in such roles, but there are also plenty of
witnesses to their participation being considered normal. Aside even from that variety,
the cultural context in which participation or the forbidding thereof no longer exists in
our world. That is, a woman singing is not usually assumed in the modern world to be a
prostitute or pagan priestess.

The question goes much deeper, however, than the relatively surface issue of
whether to permit women to serve in these roles. Even the debate over whether to
tonsure them is fairly meaningless in the light of the traditional understanding of
Orthodox spirituality—that is, it is practical and existential rather than legal and
formalist. (If they are going to serve in these public roles, what existential difference
does it make whether they are tonsured?)

The depth of the question is regarding the nature of the minor orders. Can we
hearken back to the ancient days of the Church and “deformalize” the minor orders,
regarding them essentially as practical offices which serve a functional purpose? After
all, they are not orders instituted directly by Christ or His Apostles, and they certainly
have changed over the years, their duties even being permitted in some places to be
performed by catechumens! A further complication in the Church today is that the order
of cantor is regarded by some as an “official” minor order, while in more chorally focused
traditions, only two minor orders are recognized, subdeacon and reader. Even then, there
are “blessed subdeacons” as distinct from “ordained subdeacons,” with the accompanying
debate as to whether they should be allowed to marry. The other path that may be taken
is to associate the minor orders more closely with the major clergy, which would certainly
thus bar women from their inclusion but may also serve to foster clericalism in the
Church.

In any event, the historical and present reality is that, while all Orthodox
Christians agree on what it means to be a bishop, priest, or deacon, the minor orders are
and historically have been much more fluid in their function, understanding, and even
vesting, especially regarding the orders associated with Church music. Perhaps this
question may be raised at the long-awaited great synod of the Orthodox churches, and the
issue of what and who exactly constitutes a reader or cantor could be either universally
decreed or left to the particular tradition of each church. May God grant our hierarchs
wisdom!"
http://www.chrysostom.org/andrew/texts/Readers-and-Cantors.pdf

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« Reply #87 on: October 18, 2005, 04:21:54 PM »

WHOA[/i]. So, in other words, the Coptic Synod is the Vicar of Christ on Earth and whenever they speak it is ex cathedra and infallible?? Umm, I smell a HUGE problem with that. Honestly. If this is so then in every point in which the other Orthodox churches do not agree with the Coptic Synod (and there exists more than a few issues) then it would logically follow that the other Orthodox churches do not have the Holy Spirit. Either that or we call the Holy Spirit a hopelessly confused psychopath. Not to mention the fact that if this is the case then the Coptic Orthodox Church will thereby cease to be Traditional and Apostolic, and hence cease to be Orthodox, and become nothing more than the Coptic Church, an organization with as much authority as the nearest Protestant church, the only difference being is that they have some vague sense of being "Egyptian". Have you talked to your bishop about this issue? 

I don't recall where he said that (Vicar of Christ and all that)... but EA did say that the Coptic Synod is the final authority on the application and use of the canons within their jurisdiction; this is nothing new to Orthodox ecclesiology, as the bishops are elected and represent the people of the diocese in synod, and there they together work to manifest the will of the Spirit; the Canons are not "law" that stands alone as its own  structure, but rather a document used by the Church, and the synod of the Church is the body which determines the fair use.

My point, as I believe I made myself absolutly clear when I brought this up, is that there is a growing pracitce of vesting females as epsaltos. If they are not actually blessed and ordained as such then it is the same problem as exists in the EO churches at the moment. But I suppose that neither of us really now the details of this practice since neither of us live in the diocese where it takes place. What I do know, speaking from personal experience, is that I once, in the presence of a Coptic archbishop, had a tonya put on me and walked in a procession. Make of that what you will. 

If the bishop is there and he approves, then that's what it is.  And if what he did is improper, then it is up to either the people of the diocese and/or the synod to  correct him; since that doesn't seem to have happened, then what's the problem?

And as I made abundantly clear you applied the canon quite wrongly, which is why I grow more convinced day by day that canons should only be dealt with by either skilled canonists or priests in pastoral issues. And there is no "possibly" or "probably", Canon 19 in full says:

CANON XIX.

CONCERNING the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.

NOTES.

ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XIX.

Paulianists must be rebaptised, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let then, be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the laity.
http://faculty.cua.edu/pennington/Canon%20Law/Nicea/CanonsCouncilNiceae.htm#CANON%20XIX.

But I wonder why you appealed to the canon anyways, since you obviously believe that such canons are irrelevent because the only infallible statements come from the Coptic Synod, the only source on all truth.   

The epitome of the Canon very specifically states that the Deaconesses are "not sharers of ordination" - which is a very important point that is relevant to the discussion.  (The original Canon states "since they have no imposition of hands.")

There is amply evidence from the early church that deaconesses/female deacons were also a ministerial. The assissted at the baptism of women and distributed the Eucharist to women who couldn't come to church (which in those days likely meant that they touched the Body in some way). Not even Readers can do these things! Let's be clear on what we mean here and not reject facts because of over-generalizations. Having deaconesses be ministerial does not mean that they are a Priest, they never prayed the epiclesis and took little part in the prayers done at the altar, but that fact alone does not mean that they were not "ministerial". The did minister, and they were fully ordained to that ministry. Hence the statement, "Women were never ordained" is simply not true. A true statement would be "Women were never ordained as priests". Not that this would seem to matter to you since you believe the Traditional practice of the Christian faith is only very secondary to what a modern meeting of a few bishop in Cairo say. 

I don't think the fact that early deaconesses did minister to the women of the Church - distributing communion and assisting with baptisms.  This is clearly documented and was pre-schism.

Moving on:

An EO professor of dogmatics recently uncovered for me the reason why women are not ordained as Readers. This is because in the Book of Needs the ordination service for Readers includes the line,"Child, the first degree of the Priesthood is that of Reader. Therefore it is fitting for you to read every day in the Divine Scriptures...." (The Great Book of Needs vol. 1, St. Tikhon's Monastery, p. 242). Now, the popular voice on this thread raised a loud cry when my OP implied that higher orders imply lower orders, since the general thought it that each order is self-sufficient to itself and not "stepping-stones". Yet here in the Book of Needs this is exactly what it says! And this is why women aren't ordained as Readers? Huh The self-same dogmatics professor stated himself that this line is very wrong, himself being "just a Reader" going on 28 years, and that it comes from the same place where we get the "I absolve you" in the absolution of Confession, and that such clericalism should be eradicated completely. Until, however, such is done, it is my suggestion to make a "different" service for the ordination of a female reader, where all is the same except this line is changed to something like "Child, the order of Reader is a service to the Church. Therefore is is fitting for you to read every day in the Divine Scriptures...." This is, likely, closer to the original wording of this service anyways. 

"The first degree of the Priesthood" does not imply a stepping-stone or a point on a ladder.  Don't read into the text what isn't there.  Even if this was the intent of the person who inserted it into the book, it isn't in any Greek text that I have read... which is kind of funny, considering that much of the "clericalism" is often associated with the Greek Church.
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« Reply #88 on: October 18, 2005, 05:12:06 PM »

If I enter the workforce as a jr software developper, I expect that I will in time earn a promotion to intermediate, and if I am competent, in time senoir.  If I just stay as a jr developper for my whole career, something is wrong.  That means at reveiw after review I've been found to have made no progress, to have failed to increase in experience.  In fact, besides remaining stagnent in an entry level position, I'd be in danger of being fired to make room for someone more competent who will rise up and move on to better things.

It's not like that in the Church.  If someone is ordained a doorkeeper it doesn't imply that in time, if they're found to be competent they should move on to be a chanter, or a chanter on to a reader, or a reader to a subdeacon, or a subdeacon to a deacon to a priest... If someone is meant to fill to roll of doorkeeper or chanter or reader or whatever, there they will stay, and there is no shame in it.  There are no anual reviews at which so many chanter are picked as the best and made reader, one simply does not lead to the other, they are distinct services.

At the same time, a priest must first serve as a deacon must first serve as a reader must first serve as a chanter.  That doesn't make these orders stepping stones, since those called to each order will remain there.  But while one order does not lead to another, that doesn't not change the fact that there is a very clear hierarchy, with one order being above another in authority, responsibility, etc.
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« Reply #89 on: October 18, 2005, 05:50:26 PM »

I don't recall where he said that (Vicar of Christ and all that)... but EA did say that the Coptic Synod is the final authority on the application and use of the canons within their jurisdiction; this is nothing new to Orthodox ecclesiology, as the bishops are elected and represent the people of the diocese in synod, and there they together work to manifest the will of the Spirit; the Canons are not "law" that stands alone as its ownÂÂ  structure, but rather a document used by the Church, and the synod of the Church is the body which determines the fair use.

No, EA said the Coptic Synod was above all Canons and the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit. Sure, the church can re-use old canons, but to simple "re-apply according to own re-interpretation" is putting a local group of bishops over and above the Traditions of the Church.

If the bishop is there and he approves, then that's what it is.ÂÂ  And if what he did is improper, then it is up to either the people of the diocese and/or the synod toÂÂ  correct him; since that doesn't seem to have happened, then what's the problem?

The problem comes with having people do ordained services in the church when they are not ordained. That's been the subject of this thread ever since I started it.

The epitome of the Canon very specifically states that the Deaconesses are "not sharers of ordination" - which is a very important point that is relevant to the discussion.ÂÂ  (The original Canon states "since they have no imposition of hands.")

And the Epitome, when read with the canon itself, makes it quite clear and evident that they did not have ordination simply because the Paulicians did not ordain them. So when they became Orthodox they could not be received as ones being ordained. It does not say that it is wrong for women to be ordained. And as I pointed out earlier, the canons at Chalcedon speaks quite clearly of the "ordination of deaconesses". I don't expect EA to respect that canon, of course, but I would expect more from you.

I don't think the fact that early deaconesses did minister to the women of the Church - distributing communion and assisting with baptisms.ÂÂ  This is clearly documented and was pre-schism.

Sorry, confused as to what you're trying to say here.

"The first degree of the Priesthood" does not imply a stepping-stone or a point on a ladder.ÂÂ  Don't read into the text what isn't there.ÂÂ  Even if this was the intent of the person who inserted it into the book, it isn't in any Greek text that I have read... which is kind of funny, considering that much of the "clericalism" is often associated with the Greek Church.

Everyone knows that the Slavic rite got changed more during the so-called "western captivity" than the Greek rite. This is exactly where the "first-degree of the priesthood" phrase comes in. And, as the self-same dogmatics professor pointed out to me, this clericism of degrees leading up to the priesthood effectivly disbars women from becoming Readers since they can't be priests then its silly to ordain them to the "first degree of priesthood". Since I think we all here clearly understand that such a "stepping-stone" mentality is wrong, so we can then clearly see that ordaining women to be Readers does not have anything at all to do with the priestly ordination. Did I not say this same thing in my OP? Why are we discussing this on page 6??



But then some here seem convinced to kill this idea no matter how illogical and self-contradictory their reasoning..............
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