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Author Topic: Women in the Holy Altar  (Read 44770 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ghazar
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« on: July 22, 2006, 11:01:38 PM »

Dear Brethren in Christ,

I'm doing a study on the question of women serving on the Holy Altar and needed a little help. Does anyone know, from the Eastern (or Orthodox) perspective, why it is that women are not allowed to serve on the Altar? Any help would be appreciated including studies or esssays on this question. I'm especially looking for this from an Eastern Christian perspective. I'm also looking for the answer of "how do we know they are not allowed (canonically)" as well as "what is the historic reason they have not been allowed for nearly two millenia of Christian history.

Thank you,
Wm. Ghazar
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2006, 11:29:55 AM »

While I certainly do not know all the historical reasons for women not being permitted to serve in the altar in the Eastern Orthodox Church, I do know that this is universal Orthodox practice. In the rubrics of the service books, this is clearly indicated. For example in Isabel Florence Hapgood's translation of the Service Book of the Orthodox Church, it says "no woman may enter the Sanctuary at any time." (p.xxxii).  However, you cannot assume from this that any male can simply wander back in the altar at any time he chooses. Such is not the case. In fact, even the males that serve back there are not supposed to set foot in the altar without the specific blessing of the priest. I will give you an example. I once visited St. Tikhon's Monastery Church in South Canaan, PA.  It is a breathtakingly beautiful place. The curious part of me (and I am a male) would have loved to go behind the iconostasis and explore the altar area and seen everything up close. However, I did no such thing. I didn't even ask if I could do such a thing, because I had no reason nor blessing to go back there. If I had asked to serve as an altar server during a Liturgy, I might have been given a blessing for that, but even that was not guaranteed. But simply to wander around back there and explore, no way. It is considered disrespectful to do that. Now, having said all that and said that no women are ever permitted back there, that is true, except for the case of Orthodox nuns in a convent chapel. Certain nuns in a convent are given permission by the Abbess and a blessing by the priest to serve as acolytes during the Divine Liturgy. They serve in exactly the same way as male altar servers do in a parish church. I have been told that the reason for this is practical, as there simply are no boys or men present in a convent to do what needs to be done, and the priest does need some assistance in the Liturgy. I think the bottom line here is that this issue is simply one of praxis and not of dogma. Hope that helps.
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2006, 05:12:50 PM »

Dear Tikhon,

That does help.  Thanks for your reply.  Here is my dilema.  Our bishop, based on what you have written, has determined that he will allow girls to do in our diocese just what you have written has been done in convents because of a lack of boys or men.  Only now the reason is different.  To be honest, I don't know what the reason is.  But apparently he has his reasons.  The question is, as I study this issue, how do I view this decision?  Is the bishop within his bounds and authority to decide such a thing.  Is there no canon forbiding such a thing and just a matter of praxis as you wrote?  I am soon to be ordained a subdeacon and one of my tasks will be to train new acolytes (which now include girls).  So I kind of want to get this straight in my head.  Christian and even ecclesiastical obedience tells me that I should just obey and do what's asked of me.  But atleast I would like to come to a point in my own understanding where I know if what I'm doing is an abberation or something which is really no big deal.  Any other thoughts you have would be appreciated.
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 01:50:30 PM »

If it was me, I'd obey the bishop.  As stated above, it isn't a matter of dogma...rather, it is an issue of praxis, and the canons regarding praxis are subject to the bishop's discretion. 

In Christ,

Michael
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 02:07:47 PM »

In convents certain women are permitted to enter, assist, and clean within the Sanctuary.  As Michael mentioned, it is up to the discretion of the Bishop.
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 02:22:47 PM »

Lol, this all reminds me of a funny story that happened in February.  Our church was not designed to be an Orthodox Church, and as a result things can get a bit cumbersome at times, the most unfortunate aspect being that the heater is behind the altar!  So I(a 17 year old male catechumen) was at church early one FREEZING Saturday morning for an iconography class, which was composed entirely of women save for me and a 10 year old boy.  10 year old boy was late that day, and so we were all turning into icicles, as the heat was only not on, but the building is about 90 years old and has no insulation.  So we spent a good 30 minutes arguing who should go behind the altar to turn the heat on, my point being that all the other people present were Orthodox and I was not, while all the women were like "Noooooooooooo...it doesn't matter! Women can NEVER go behind the altar! You should go back because you're a man!"  And it just went on like that, "You go behind the altar", "No, YOU go behind the altar".  And keep in mind that these are all adult women, lol.  But then after about a half an hour of that, 10 year old altar boy came and saved us from turning into snowmen......The End...

Oh, and later I found out that our teacher(a woman) has pretty much all the American bishop's blessings to go behind church altars(since she's an iconographer and has to work back there...) but she just thought our whole "incident" was just too funny....
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 02:39:48 PM »

At a female baptism, from what I remember (it's been a long time since I've been to one), the priest does not take the baby girl into the altar like he does baby boys. My girlfriend said her priest takes any baby, boy or girl, into the altar at baptism.
What is the norm on this issue? What is the priest really suppose to do in this situation?
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 02:52:20 PM »

At a female baptism, from what I remember (it's been a long time since I've been to one), the priest does not take the baby girl into the altar like he does baby boys. My girlfriend said her priest takes any baby, boy or girl, into the altar at baptism.
What is the norm on this issue? What is the priest really suppose to do in this situation?

Technically they're supposed to take any baby, male or female, to the altar (i.e. infront of the altar)...nothing is in the rubrics about taking the child into the altar. Canonically, no layman save the Emperor is allowed to enter the Altar so it is inappropriate to take child of either sex into the altar. In practice they often are taken into the altar, whether the priest takes only male children or both male and female children into the altar generally varies from priest to priest...most priests I have seen in the Greek Archdiocese will take both into the altar.
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2006, 07:04:54 PM »

The subject of the person/role of the Emperor was placed here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=9612.0
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2006, 08:23:26 PM »

Thanks to all for the advice.  Zebu:  That was a funny story.  Thanks for sharing.

So are you all saying to your knowledge, there is actually no canon forbidding women from serving on the Altar?  I came across the 44th of Laodocea:

CANON XLIV.
Women may not go to the altar.
NOTES.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLIV.
The altar must not be approached by women.

Its hard to say whether this would encompass women Altar service but even if it does would it be right to say that the bishop is in his rights to enforce or relax this canon?
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2006, 09:35:31 PM »

Thanks to all for the advice.  Zebu:  That was a funny story.  Thanks for sharing.

So are you all saying to your knowledge, there is actually no canon forbidding women from serving on the Altar?  I came across the 44th of Laodocea:

CANON XLIV.
Women may not go to the altar.
NOTES.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLIV.
The altar must not be approached by women.

This canon was discussed in length in the thread about the ordination of women a few weeks (or maybe even a few months now?, time flies) back. Suffice it to say that the 'Canons' of Laodocea are not actually canons, they are only headings to the ancient canons of said council which are, sadly, lost to us. The interpretations of the Canon generally insist it refers to laywomen who lack imperial honour only, and is usually cross referenced with VI 69: 'Let it not be permitted to anyone among all the laity to enter within the sacred altar, with the exception that the Imperial power and authority is in no way or manner excluded therefrom whenever it wishes to offer gifts to the Creator, in accordance with a certain most ancient tradition.' For no one would deny any of imperial authority, be they male or female, access to the Altar for to do so would be contrary to ancient canons and practice. Furthermore, this only applies to laity for in accordance with Nicephorus' 15th Canon 'Nuns must enter the holy bema in order to light a taper or candle, and in order to sweep it.'

Quote
Its hard to say whether this would encompass women Altar service but even if it does would it be right to say that the bishop is in his rights to enforce or relax this canon?

If they are not tonsured either as monastics or for the purpose, yes it would include women Altar service, but this is equally true of men who technically should not enter the altar if they are not tonsured or ordained. By economy the Episcopacy has allowed men who are not properly tonsured to enter the Altar to serve, the same authority has the right, if it so wishes, to grant this economy to women as well.
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2006, 11:49:15 PM »

Here's a link that may be of some assistance:

http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/deac_alt.asp

A Woman Deacon's service at the altar
It is true that the assistance of the Bishop at the altar was the duty of the male deacon, rather than that of the woman deacon. It is also true that in the course of the centuries, women deacons may have been progressively more pushed away from the sanctuary, on account of the imagined stigma of menstruation. Yet women deacons were, at least in the beginning, not totally barred from the sanctuary.

Not only was a woman deacon ordained in the sanctuary itself, we know from ancient texts that during the solemn liturgy women deacons, as well as the priests and deacons, surrounded the Bishop during the offering of the Eucharist ‘inside the veil of the sanctuary’ (see Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ (late 4th cent. AD), Book 1, § 23.)

From records in the Syrian Church, we know that, with permission of the Bishop, women deacons could fulfil the functions of a male deacon at the altar. “With permission of the bishop, the deaconess may pour wine and water into the chalice.” (John Telo, Canonical Resolutions, § 38.) Though the rule is from the 9th century, it obviously reflects an earlier tradition.

The we know from similar sources that women deacons were often in charge of maintaining the sanctuary area, as well as the altar cloths.

“The deaconess looks after and washes the altar linen.” (John Telo, Canonical Resolutions, § 36.)
“The deaconess has the authority to sweep the sanctuary and light the sanctuary lamp, and this even when the priest or deacon is not there.“ (James of Edessa, Canonical Resolutions, § 24; the same rule is also found in the Jacobite Pontifical and in the Nomocanon of Bar-Hebraeus).
The Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ (5th cent. AD) states that widows, among which deaconesses take the pride of place (I, § 40), sit next to the Bishop during the liturgical service (I, § 19). If pregnant women cannot attend the service on a Sunday or feast day, they take them holy communion at home (II, § 20). See James Cooper & Arthur Maclean (ed.), The Testament of our Lord, Edinburgh 1902.

After clearly stating that women deacons have no duties at the altar, and should not touch the altar (notice the fear of pollution through menstruation!!), James of Edessa (end of the 6th cent. AD) records the ancient rule that women deacons may distribute communion to their women companions, if they live in convents: “If a deaconess lives in a in a community of nuns, and there is no priest or deacon, she may take the holy sacrament from the tabernacle and distribute this to the women who are her companions, or to children who happen to be there”. (James of Edessa, Canonical Resolutions, § 24). The same tradition was still known in the Middle Ages, when abbesses had taken over some of the privileges of ‘deaconesses’. They distributed communion and read out the Gospel in their own chapels; see Huguccio (Summa, 1188 AD).
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2006, 01:01:15 AM »

I'm in a helpful mood, so I'll post some other threads where this has been touched on before:


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8859.0


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=359.0


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=4386.0


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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2006, 01:04:54 AM »

The subject gets touched upon more or less in these two threads as well:

"Women sub-deacons"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=7250.0

"Ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8894.0
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2006, 01:37:33 AM »

One of the problems with womenpriests.org is that they are advocating in favor of female priests.  The fact that they are using the tradition of deaconesses to argue in favor of a female priesthood exemplifies why I am not in favor of expanding the use of deaconesses outside of monasteries.  In other words, they are saying that if women can be deacons, they should be able to be priests as well.  It is a slippery slope situation.  If women are allowed to serve at the altar as deaconesses, it is only natural for people to assume they should be allowed to be priests also.

The fact is, historically women have only been able to serve as deaconesses in certain limited situations.  For instance in women's monasteries, where the presence of men should be limited.  Also, in the early centuries of Christianity deaconesses helped with the baptism of adult women.  It is my understanding that people used to be baptised with no clothing on at all.  In that situation, one could see how the Church would ordain women to help.  It would save the bishop or priest some embarrassment and possibly scandal.  Another situation, already mentioned, was ministering to women in their homes.  Again, this was probably done to save the priest from any appearance of impropriety.  In any event, I have never heard of deaconesses historically having the same liturgical function as male deacons. 
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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2006, 01:48:18 AM »

One of the problems with womenpriests.org is that they are advocating in favor of female priests.  The fact that they are using the tradition of deaconesses to argue in favor of a female priesthood exemplifies why I am not in favor of expanding the use of deaconesses outside of monasteries.  In other words, they are saying that if women can be deacons, they should be able to be priests as well.  It is a slippery slope situation.  If women are allowed to serve at the altar as deaconesses, it is only natural for people to assume they should be allowed to be priests also.

Heaven forbid 2000 years of discrimination and injustice is rectified.

Quote
The fact is, historically women have only been able to serve as deaconesses in certain limited situations.  For instance in women's monasteries, where the presence of men should be limited.  Also, in the early centuries of Christianity deaconesses helped with the baptism of adult women.  It is my understanding that people used to be baptised with no clothing on at all.  In that situation, one could see how the Church would ordain women to help.  It would save the bishop or priest some embarrassment and possibly scandal.  Another situation, already mentioned, was ministering to women in their homes.  Again, this was probably done to save the priest from any appearance of impropriety.  In any event, I have never heard of deaconesses historically having the same liturgical function as male deacons.

There is some dispute about the role of the deaconess, they definately were involved in female baptism and in taking the eucharist and alms to women outside of the Church, but are also documents that imply a broader liturgical role. But yes, the deaconess was always placed in a secondary posistion thanks to a misogynistic culture. But fortunately things change with time and our culture has advanced substantially in this regard, so also I pray that the wills of the episcopacy change to recrify this ancient injustice.

But ultimately this is the prerogative of the bishop, if he does not wish to rectify the situation then it should not, and indeed cannot, be rectified; however, if the bishops did choose to rectify this ancient injustice, then it would be schism to oppose them.
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« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2006, 03:45:20 PM »

greekischristian,

I respect your beliefs about female ordination, even though I strongly disagree.  I would, however, like to better understand your point of view.  Do you believe the "injustice" against women extends further than the exclusively male priesthood?  Specifically, do you believe it has been unjust to women to refer to God in male terms--Father, Son, Holy Spirit?  Do you believe that rectifying the injustice would include allowing female terms for God, like "Mother, Daughter and Womb," which the Presbyterians have recently allowed?  I don't mean to be nosey.  Your beliefs are a matter of your own privacy and I don't want to pry or make you feel uncomfortable.  I am just trying to understand this viewpoint.  It has baffled me and I think it needs better explaining.

Thanks
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2006, 07:05:04 PM »

I respect your beliefs about female ordination, even though I strongly disagree.  I would, however, like to better understand your point of view.  Do you believe the "injustice" against women extends further than the exclusively male priesthood?

First of all I would like to make a minor correction in regard to my views, I am not saying that a male priesthood per se is a great injustice, but rather that it was the result of an unjust culture and for this reason promulgates this injustice. However, it should also be noted that the primary mission of the Church is a salvific one, not one of social justice. So if the Church must choose between that which is just and that which fulfills the primary mission of the Church, that of a salvific witness, then the latter should be chosen. And since, by participating in this injustice, the salvific mission of the Church was advanced by maintaining it's credibility and influence in a misogynistic society, the proper course of action was taken. What I argue is that this benifit no longer exists and that, within the next 100 years, the opposite will be true, thus making the ordination of women as essential to the mission of the Church as denying it to them once was. While I may be splitting hairs here, I believe these details to be significant from a sacramental and ecclesiological perspective.

Quote
Specifically, do you believe it has been unjust to women to refer to God in male terms--Father, Son, Holy Spirit?

Injustice is perpetrated against people, not against ideas or concepts. And while I can see the motivation behind objections to patriarchal structures, a motivation with which I sympathize, there is a fundamental problem with regarding the traditional trinitarian formula as a patriarchal structure.

Quote
Do you believe that rectifying the injustice would include allowing female terms for God, like "Mother, Daughter and Womb," which the Presbyterians have recently allowed?

As I see it the problem with such a formula is two fold. First, while God is Mother as much as he is Father and while, in his Divinity, the Son could be said to be Daughter as much as he is Son, the terms 'Mother' and 'Daughter' in the above formula did not originate as cultural terms to describe God by analogy as 'Father' and 'Son' did; rather, they originated in contrast to 'Father' and 'Son.' Thus, while 'Father' and 'Son' is simply the use of cultural concepts to describe, by analogy, the relationship between the One and the Logos, the terms 'Mother' and 'Daughter' set up a Matriarchal Structure because of the context of the development of these terms. Furthermore, by using the formula 'Mother' and 'Daughter' in contrast to the terms 'Father' and 'Son,' which are relational in nature, the latter are turned into gender terms, thus establishing a Patriarchal Structure. However, neither patriarchal nor matriarchal structures are appropriate in reference to the trinity, for the Divinity lacks Gender and simultaneously encompasses all Gender, be it male or female or that of the Angels, which is neither male nor female; Divinity transcends Gender as it transcends all Creation.

The second problem concerns the analogy of the womb in relation to Mother or Daughter, it reminds me of Augustine who said that the Holy Spirit was the bond of Love between the Father and the Son. But these analogies undermine the Hypostatic reality of the Holy Spirit and are dubious at best. The logical implication is either ditheism, with the Father and the Son being two separate Gods linked by a common entity, or Pneumatomachianism which establishes a 'trinity' of two (a 'dinity' perhaps?) with the Holy Spirit being a sub-hypostatic entity with a relationship to the Father and the Son comprable to what the Arians believed the Son's relationship to the Father to be (and even this latter option tends towards ditheism because by denying the full Hypostatic nature of the Spirit you subordinate the Spirit to the Son, thus establishing the Pre-Eternal Logos as a source of the Spirit and making him a second God independent of the Father.)

So, in short, no, I don't think that the particular trinitarian formula you mention is appropriate...lol.

Quote
I don't mean to be nosey.  Your beliefs are a matter of your own privacy and I don't want to pry or make you feel uncomfortable.  I am just trying to understand this viewpoint.  It has baffled me and I think it needs better explaining.

Oh, don't worry, I was pretty agressive in my last post...I didn't really want to bring up the subject of women's ordinatin again, but one thing led to another and here we are. LOL.
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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2006, 07:38:39 PM »

Something I just noticed, shouldn't this discussion be entitled 'Women IN the Holy Altar' or even 'Women AT the Holy Altar.' The title being used conjures up images of ancient Mesopotamian religious rituals that our modern cultural customs and rules of decorum prohibit even the mention of in polite company, to say nothing of the discussion of the prayers and rubrics. I am presuming that the introduction of said rituals into the Orthodox Liturgy is not what is at issue...though I am perhaps the only one here who is sufficently degenerate to realize the alternate reading of the original post and, by extension, the significance of adpositions in this case. Or at the very least the only one here who is sufficently depraved and contumacious as to point it out. Grin
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2006, 07:56:00 PM »

Didn't mean to over-step, but I went back and changed all the titles from "on the Holy Altar" to "in the Holy Altar."  Nice catch, GiC.
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2006, 07:59:22 PM »

Didn't mean to over-step, but I went back and changed all the titles from "on the Holy Altar" to "in the Holy Altar."ÂÂ  Nice catch, GiC.

It's amazing the things three years in seminary will help you accomplish...LOL Wink
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« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2006, 01:10:56 AM »

It's amazing the things three years in seminary will help you accomplish...LOL Wink

Does that training in seminary also include a willful and heretical breaking with and disregard for the tradition of the Holy Church and Faith? 

Just curious...

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« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2006, 01:24:15 AM »

Could we please avoid accusing others of "heresy" when they have not opposed the doctrines of the Orthodox Church? When there is a clear doctrine or Canon which states that women cannot be Priests in the Orthodox Church, the accusation may be warranted if someone opposes it, but until then, it isn't warranted.
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« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2006, 01:24:32 AM »

*sigh* If you're going to sling about ad hominems (which by the way are not permitted), please use ones that are applicable.  If he's advocating the ordination of women (which he has) I don't see which dogmatic teaching of the Church it violates, so heretical doesn't really apply... You can accuse him of breaking with Tradition, and in doing so trying to separate himself from the CHurch of Christ, but don't say his thoughts are "heretical" when the term probably doesn't apply.

As for "unworthy" servant of the Lord, I will put the term in quotes since you decided you were "worthy" enough to pass judgment on your Brother in our Lord and God and Saviour.
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« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2006, 01:32:01 AM »

Does that training in seminary also include a willful and heretical breaking with and disregard for the tradition of the Holy Church and Faith? 

Just curious...

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But I have not broken with the Church, if you actually read my post you would see that my posistion is actually one of submission to the authority of the Church:

But ultimately this is the prerogative of the bishop, if he does not wish to rectify the situation then it should not, and indeed cannot, be rectified; however, if the bishops did choose to rectify this ancient injustice, then it would be schism to oppose them.
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« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2006, 01:39:51 PM »

I see cooler heads have prevailed here.  GOA seminarian, forgive me for my standoffishness (sp) and rudeness and accusations.  Forgive the zeal of a convert. I could make excuses such as not wanting our HOly Orthodox Faith to be watered down and diluted by those whom God has called.  I see that is not the case with you. Again, I implore your forgiveness and the others to whom I have caused pain.

 God grant you many years!

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« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2006, 05:40:42 PM »

Two sections

Women in the Holy Altar

Only people who have a blessing can go into the Altar.ÂÂ  If a woman has a blessing, for whatever reason, she may enter in the same way as for a man.ÂÂ  Current practice says that women on the whole do not enter the Altar but there is no teaching of the Church which forbids this.

Ordination of Women

The Orthodox Church has chosen not to ordain women.ÂÂ  There are a few arguements put up against the ordination of women but they are easily countered (see below).ÂÂ  What we can say is that thus far the Church has not ordained women and that until we set our theologians to work out the differences between men and women (are they just phyical or is there a spiritual aspect too?ÂÂ  If so, what are the spiritual differences?ÂÂ  Are they significant?ÂÂ  Why are they significant?) we cannot change to practice of the Church.

Ax


Arguements against ordination of women (and an arguement against it)

"We've never had women priests"
This only tells us that in the past we haven't ordained women, we do not know about the future.ÂÂ  Tradition is not dead and being preserved as is forever but alive and guided by the Holy Spirit - it can, to a certain extent, change.

"Christ chose only men"
But he didn't say that they were to chose only men as leaders forever.

"Christ was male so priests should be male"
Christ was Jewish, so why aren't all priests Jewish too?
Christ became human, this is what we confess in the Creed (if the Creed you read says "became man" this is from the old fashioned English where 'man' means 'human', i.e. it includes women)
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« Reply #27 on: August 10, 2006, 06:01:54 PM »


Ordination of Women

The Orthodox Church has chosen not to ordain women.ÂÂ  There are a few arguements put up against the ordination of women but they are easily countered (see below).ÂÂ  What we can say is that thus far the Church has not ordained women and that until we set our theologians to work out the differences between men and women (are they just phyical or is there a spiritual aspect too?ÂÂ  If so, what are the spiritual differences?ÂÂ  Are they significant?ÂÂ  Why are they significant?) we cannot change to practice of the Church.

Ax


Arguements against ordination of women (and an arguement against it)

"We've never had women priests"
This only tells us that in the past we haven't ordained women, we do not know about the future.ÂÂ  Tradition is not dead and being preserved as is forever but alive and guided by the Holy Spirit - it can, to a certain extent, change.

Then it ceases to be tradition.  You cannot have a radical break as you suggest and still call it tradition when, in fact, it is antithetical to the very nature of tradition itself!

"Christ chose only men"
But he didn't say that they were to chose only men as leaders forever.

Men and women can have administrative leadership in the congregations and I've found that not a few women are in charge of local congregation. But there is a difference between that kind of authority and the sacramental authority entrusted only to priests.

"Christ was male so priests should be male"
Christ was Jewish, so why aren't all priests Jewish too?
Christ became human, this is what we confess in the Creed (if the Creed you read says "became man" this is from the old fashioned English where 'man' means 'human', i.e. it includes women)

However, I will counter that there have never been women priests in Judaism.   Rabbis, whether male or female, (if that is what you are referring to)  of modern Judaism are not the same as priests.

This topic should be relegated to another board and seeing how riled I became when this topic was brought up in another post in which I made a fool of myself, I will end by posting a link to the following article written by Fr. Schmemann on the subject:  http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/SchmemannOrdination.php

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« Reply #28 on: August 10, 2006, 07:37:04 PM »

Because something has not been banned does not imply consent. 

Women are not part of the priesthood. 

As the late Bishop Basil Rodzianko once told me -  the Theotokos was not called to be an apostle, not because she was inferior, but that God had chosen men for this job.  The Theotokos is higher than the apostles, n'est pas?   I know some of you are absorbed in your text books, but take a break and consider that the practice of the Church is not always codified according what the books say.  The canons are  a guide to be interpreted by our pious leaders, who hopefully (Tom S) are holy people.
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« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2006, 08:22:02 PM »

Before this thread becomes another debate on the ordination of women, check out the tread were it was discussed ad nauseum.
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=8894.0
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« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2006, 11:17:43 PM »

However, I will counter that there have never been women priests in Judaism.  ÃƒÆ’‚ Rabbis, whether male or female, (if that is what you are referring to)  of modern Judaism are not the same as priests.

Axios,

I TOTALLY misread what you wrote (I need more sleep!) and posted, in response, faultilly.  Forgive the error!

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« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2006, 03:14:50 AM »

Please note that there are differences between 'women IN the altar' and 'women AT the altar'.

As far as I know only ordained clergy may stand AT the atlar which means no laymen (or women).
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« Reply #32 on: August 16, 2006, 08:33:43 PM »

I have a scenario which recently happened that i'd love to get some opinions on:

At a retreat recently for high school kids we used Roman Catholic facilities and so for Matins and Vespers they put an "Orthodox" Gospel on the table. 

This being said, we (the children, etc.) gathered around the table in a chapel, and participated in the service.  At one point the priest said "does anyone want to help the priest during the service?"  There was a long pause.  Then the priest said "Any altar boys want to help out?" 

After he said this and one of the young men got up to help, a girl next to me asked "why didn't he say young women?"  I really didn't know what to tell her.  Why DIDN'T he say "young women" and give them the opportunity to serve? 

At first I thought the problem was whether or not it was an "Orthodox" altar, having been "transformed" by the "orthodox" Gospel on the table. 

Now after some thought, I think it goes beyond this.  But that's a seperate question.

My question is, would the PRIEST have had the AUTHORITY to allow a girl to serve, without having asked the Bishop prior to the event?? 

I think he does in that situation, but i'm open to other ideas  Wink
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« Reply #33 on: August 16, 2006, 09:04:59 PM »

At first I thought the problem was whether or not it was an "Orthodox" altar, having been "transformed" by the "orthodox" Gospel on the table.   
I actually think that it does make a difference. The table was not a temporary "Holy Table" since the Antimension was not on it. The presence of the Antimension would have meant that anything that took place there would have to be in accordance with the Bishop who signed the Antimension. So in this situation (of the absence of the Antemension), I would agree that the Priest would have the authority (as "Economos") to decide how the service would take place.
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« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2006, 11:09:52 PM »

I felt the same way.  There was no Antiminsion, so I figured it was fair game. 

But then again they did "create" an altar.  So is it an Orthodox one?  Technically, yes.  Technically, no. 

I think it goes both ways. 

More importantly, the question is why was the girl not allowed to serve?
Any canons, etc.?  I think not, but i'm not that well versed in this stuff...
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« Reply #35 on: August 16, 2006, 11:11:59 PM »

I also had a priest tell me and the girl who was asking questions something else:

I said that one of the reasons for not allowing women into the altar is because of Menstruation. 

He basically said this was because they didn't have women hygene products back then and blood would be everywhere at random times (sorry for the graphic writing - his words not mine). 

Now that there ARE women hygene problems there's no problem anymore with women recieving Communion on their period, or being in the altar, etc. 

Any thoughts?
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« Reply #36 on: August 17, 2006, 06:04:30 AM »

More importantly, the question is why was the girl not allowed to serve?
Any canons, etc.?  I think not, but i'm not that well versed in this stuff...

No, there are no Canons about this. A female simply needs a blessing to serve, in the same way that in female monasteries, the nuns serve Matins, Vespers and the Hours in the absence of a Priest or Deacon. In the absence of clergy, the nuns cense the Altar and the Church, read the Readings etc.
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« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2006, 09:40:57 AM »

No, there are no Canons about this. A female simply needs a blessing to serve, in the same way that in female monasteries, the nuns serve Matins, Vespers and the Hours in the absence of a Priest or Deacon. In the absence of clergy, the nuns cense the Altar and the Church, read the Readings etc.

But there were men present at these canonical offices.  My feeling is that if there were no men, then serving would be opened up to women per economia.  I'm not well versed in this either, i.e. canon law, but from what I read in the context of the whole situation the Orthodox in every parish need to do a better job of preparing young men to serve at the altar as well as getting them to WANT to serve during the hours and Liturgy.

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« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2006, 11:06:20 AM »

George, Scamandrius,

I'm wondering after your guys' comments if there not being enough "men" to help serve is a good enough excuse.  I know that i've been at a monastery PLENTY of times and the nuns are "serving" in the altar. 

Why not come out and ask me to serve?  Because I don't have a blessing to be in there?  The priest could change that X-factor real quick (couldn't he?). 

I think that there's more to this.  Perhaps we need to look deeper at the involvement of women in the serving of the Church services... Huh
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