The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
LionHippo44, Evan Gallagher, Lizzy VH, thomisticgamer, DesertPrayer
5,708 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
1 members (1 invisible), 65 guests, and 73 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Church of St Cyril of Turau & All Patron Saints of Belarus
Byzantine Nebraska
Byzantine Nebraska
by orthodoxsinner2, December 11
Church of the Holy Trinity (UGCC) - Brazil
Church of the Holy Trinity (UGCC) - Brazil
by Santiago Tarsicio, March 17
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
by JLF, November 10
Upgraded Russian icon corner
Upgraded Russian icon corner
by The young fogey, October 20
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics34,958
Posts413,428
Members5,708
Most Online3,380
Dec 29th, 2019
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4
#385266 08/26/12 04:37 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 174
Member
OP Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 174
Slava Isusu Khrestu

I am interested in this subject. I want to be able to provide an answer for many people who disagree that women should not be altar servers. I have heard Cardinal Arinze explain that it was just a tradition to provide a possible vocation for boys to the Priesthood and a tradition that was established in Rome.

I respect this but I think that it goes much deeper than this, and that it is not just a tradition but carries with it a theological reason why only men are to be allowed on the altar.

Could anyone explain why only men are allowed on the altar or to be altar servers? I would really appreciate your help because I disagree with [Edit: women ] altar servers serving in any rite of the Church. I use to think it was ok and not a theological barrier but nonetheless a confusing barrier that could cause harm.

Wheely




Last edited by Wheelbarrow; 08/26/12 04:44 PM.
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 174
Member
OP Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 174
forgive me I meant ''I disagree with women altar servers serving in any rite of the Church.''

ouch lol.

Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 844
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 844
Well, in some Latin Rite churches, this is true, there is a mixture of girl servers as well as male servers, mainly of school age (for the exception of certain funeral masses, and/or some holy day masses, then it's male adult servers, at least at the Latin Rite Church I attended before returning to the Eastern Rite). However, I believe that in the Eastern Rite, it is male servers only. I know I was an altar boy back in the early '90s, and it was all male in both Rites, iirc, even though back then I was serving in the Byzantine Catholic Rite.

Last edited by 8IronBob; 08/26/12 05:15 PM.
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,680
Moderator
Member
Offline
Moderator
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 1,680
Wheelbarrow,

you asked the right question, in the Eastern Churches of Byzantine tradition, subdeacons were set aside and blessed to assist those in major orders (bishop, presbyter, and deacon). When the subdeaconate fell into disuse, young men/teen age boys filled the role as "altar servers."

Young men/boys at the altar are a concession to fill a pastoral need. No doubt someone had to come up with a justification to employ boys when men were no longer set aside permanently as a subdeacon.

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
The Melkites appear perfectly willing to allow people to remain in the sub-diaconate as long as they wish. They also have what amounts to professional readers who also fulfill the role of the cantor in the Ruthenian tradition. For the most part, altar servers are fulfilling the role originally performed by ordained acolytes, the number of whom is never sufficient to meet the number required by the liturgy.

Acolytes, readers and subdeacons receive the "Lesser Ordination" (Cheirothesia), while deacons, presbyters and bishops receive the "Greater Ordination" (Cheirotonia). In the East, members of the minor orders are truly ordained, not merely appointed or commissioned.

Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 38
S
Member
Offline
Member
S
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 38
Originally Posted by Wheelbarrow
Slava Isusu Christi

it was just a tradition to provide a possible vocation for boys to the Priesthood


With all respect for Cardinal Arinze (who I like), no, no, no and no.

The celebrant (normally the bishop, but these days also the priest/presbyter) is supposed to have other ministers with him at the altar - deacons, subdeacons, acolytes - because these folks all chosen from among the people of God to perform specific functions in the church. In better "Byzantine" churches this is quite evident in the iconography of the nave roof or in the dome: Christ is the celebrant, angels carry the epitaphios, the gifts, candles, march in the procession, etc. This is because Christ is a king and kings are accompanied in the midst of the people by his retinue. The eucharist is the the work of the people, who assist in different degrees, and is for lack of a better word "finally done" by the celebrant.

So, the position is intimately linked to the eucharist and explanations like the Carindal's trivialize the non-celebrants and exaggerate the role of the celebrant. Since the celebration of the eucharist is linked to the male sex (though this is beyond the scope of the OP) the tradition is that those chosen from the people to attend to the celebrant during the eucharist are men (with I'm told exceptions in some women's monasteries). IMO, this is especially fitting because chosen for any of those ranks, from bishop down to subdeacon, should ideally be chosen from those who are in the immediately lower position.

SK, who admittedly has never served at the altar.

Last edited by Soson Kyrie; 08/27/12 01:35 AM.
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 324
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 324
I also disagree with Cardinal Arinze (with the utmost respect); vocations are not the purpose of service at the altar. Most boys who serve as "altar boys" (a term that grates on my nerves) never grow up to become priests.

In my opinion, service at the altar should be considered an adult ministry and those who serve should be well trained to execute their functions in an edifying ceremonial manner.

Perhaps it is for good reason that service at the altar should be considered an exclusively male ministry, nevertheless at the Ukrainian Catholic Church I usually go to, there is sometimes a female who serves. It has never really vexed me, however.

Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,710
Likes: 8
Moderator
Member
Offline
Moderator
Member
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,710
Likes: 8
Quote
in the Eastern Churches of Byzantine tradition, subdeacons were set aside and blessed to assist those in major orders (bishop, presbyter, and deacon). When the subdeaconate fell into disuse, young men/teen age boys filled the role as "altar servers."

Young men/boys at the altar are a concession to fill a pastoral need. No doubt someone had to come up with a justification to employ boys when men were no longer set aside permanently as a subdeacon.


Deacon John:

This was also the position and teaching of the Latin Church not too many years ago. It's the explanation I received when I was trained to serve during the years immediately following Vatican II.

Bob

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 382
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 382
According to the mediaeval 'ordines Christi', liturgical functions in church are iconographically representative of the person and work of Christ. The same arguments must therefore apply to any sort of serving at the Altar as to the priesthood itself.

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 308
C
Member
Offline
Member
C
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 308
Isn't that Roman understanding of altar server is meant to emphasize on the hierarchy of the Church? Every level of ordination is made to look like a promotion. That is why they have "Permanent" Deacons. It is as if to say, "whoa buddy, this is it. No more promotions for you."

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 450
D
Member
Offline
Member
D
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 450
In the first millenium, did the Deaconness serve at the altar during the Divine Liturgy, in the East?


Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 450
D
Member
Offline
Member
D
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 450
Since none of this is dogma, but is relegated to tradition (small t), then wouldn't it be possible to have girls as altar servers in the case of pastoral need with the ok of the Bishop? I know that this issue is a big deal for some, but I've never understood why it is such a big deal. I don't get it.

Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 426
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 426
They did have deaconesses, back in the day. So I don't know at one point that stopped, or did they put the same thing under a different name.

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 382
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 382
Deaconesses assisted with the baptism of women (issues like white gowns in water could present problems...), and with their pastoral care. There is no evidence of deaconesses playing a liturgical role at the Altar.

As far as getting the bishop's 'okay' in the case of pastoral need goes, I suppose it is always possible. After all, I have seen recent photo evidence from Damascus that shows the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch serving Liturgy with girl servers. The problems, though, are at least two-fold:

1. When things are permitted for pastoral reasons, they soon become mandated. Just ask any Roman Catholic that has to suffer some of the post 1969 liturgical abuses.

2. You either believe that specific liturgical functions of certain ministers in the Church play a role in iconographically representing Christ, or you don't. If you do, then you will believe that allowing unnecessary changes will mar the icon; if you don't, then it won't matter, but your understanding of what happens in the Liturgy may be different from that of the Church through the centuries.

Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 450
D
Member
Offline
Member
D
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 450
I'm not trying to conflate the issue, but I've heard people make the claim that the ordained deaconess mar the icon as well, yet the Church in the East ordained them.

The question becomes; does the female altar server mar that icon to such a degree that it changes one's understanding of what happens in the liturgy. Clearly, for the priest, the answer is yes, but for the altar server?

I'm just asking the question. I'm not trying to say what the answer should be. It is one thing to prohibit something based on the fact that it changes the theology of something. But it is another to prohibit something based on the, "we've always done it that way so it's become sacrosanct" reason.

So, I guess what I'm getting at, is what is at the heart of the matter here? Is it the former or the latter?

Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4

Moderated by  Alice, Father Deacon Ed, theophan 

Link Copied to Clipboard
The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2020 (Forum 1998-2020). All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5