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Originally Posted by Slavophile

In the 1970s, the churches were rife with folk masses. I remember one in which they played Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind' as a hymn.

I think we can agree that the things that happened in the 1970's and 80's were way out of line, and inappropriate for a liturgy. So I agree with you on that concept (that there are things that do not belong in the liturgy).
So the question becomes what is proper to liturgy and what isn't.
While I think there is a general consensus that folk masses are not proper, I'm not sure that the role of women as servers is quite on that same level. Bob Dylan seems cut and dry. Women, not so much. Now, I am not saying that it is ok to fully blur the lines, so we should be ordaining women as priests. Not at all.
I'm no liturgist, by any stretch. I think that the question, though, deserves an honest look. Where it is possible for women to serve, they should be able to.
We just need to determine where it is possible so that it is proper to the expression of liturgy.


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Originally Posted by Soson Kyrie
Originally Posted by StuartK

Remember, too, that the liturgical role of the deacon evolved later than its original charism of service, and service remains the primary role of the diaconate.


This is also, as I recall, in Afanasiev's dissertation on ecclesiology (Church of the Holy Spirit), as well Father Deacon John Chryssavgis' recent book on the Diaconate.

IMO, this needs to be foot stomped especially in discussions like this: a deacon is not just a dude who stands next to the priest at liturgy, or even someone who's defined by a strictly liturgical role.

Rather, his main "function" is service and even leadership role in non-liturgical work of the church. The very idea of this function is IMO unfortunately absent in the consciousness of most people in the Catholic Church.

This is in direct contrast with acolytes (as well as readers), whose ministry is strictly liturgical.


Then if this is the case, it seems that the role of a woman as an ordained deacon for the service of the community should not be a problem. Therefore, if the Church is to return to this model, it might make sense to have men serving at the altar and women being sacramentally ordained to the diaconate.
Everybody gets something, in this way.

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IMO, this needs to be foot stomped especially in discussions like this: a deacon is not just a dude who stands next to the priest at liturgy, or even someone who's defined by a strictly liturgical role.


Metropolitan Kallistos stressed this strongly in his discussion at Orientale Lumen on the restoration of the Diaconate within the Orthodox Church (apparently, outside the United States, many Orthodox Churches have vestigialized the Diaconate, in some cases, only the cathedral actually having one). He noted that the principal charism of the deacon is service, that his liturgical role is secondary, and that the deacon should be one of the principal ways in which the Church interacts with the the faithful and with the world.

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Now, I am not saying that it is ok to fully blur the lines, so we should be ordaining women as priests. Not at all.

I'm no liturgist, by any stretch. I think that the question, though, deserves an honest look. Where it is possible for women to serve, they should be able to.


Two comments.

First, female deacons had no role in the Divine Liturgy (except that they may have assisted at female monasteries when a (male) priest came to celebrate the Eucharist). The did receive at the altar with the higher clergy, but their principal role, other than to assist at the baptism of adult female catechumens, was to distribute the Eucharist to sick, infirm and cloistered women, as well as to look out for the welfare of women and children, particularly widows, consecrated virgins, and orphans.

Second, as Metropolitan Kallistos noted, the question of whether women did, can and should serve as deacons in no way pre-judges the Church's position on ordination to the presbyterate. The mindset that thinks of the diaconate as an "intermediate step" on the Cursus Honorum, rather than as a Holy Order in its own right, with its own ministry, is largely responsible for thinking that the ordination of women as deacons inevitably will result in the ordination of women as presbyters. The solution is two-fold: full restoration of the diaconate as an independent Holy Order; and the development of a coherent, internally consistent, and convincing argument for the male exclusivity of the presbyterate. Until this is done, whether there are female deacons or not, the problem of women's ordination to the presbyterate will continue to pop up. Appeal to authority (or lack thereof) will not do; neither will half-dashed attempts at theological rationales that do not hold water.

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I am aware of historical precedent for the female diaconate, and in light of what has been said subsequently on this thread as to its non-liturgical function - indeed the non-liturgical function of diakonia, generally - do not see it as contradicting what I first asserted concerning Liturgy. The OP's question was originally about female servers at the Altar; not about ways in which women could serve in the Church.

Originally Posted by StuartK
Appeal to authority (or lack thereof) will not do; neither will half-dashed attempts at theological rationales that do not hold water.


I neither appealed to authority, nor is my 'attempt at theological rationales' 'half-dashed', though if you really think they are, I would ask you to point out precisely where they 'do not hold water'.

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If you want female clergy and Bishops - go the the Episcopal or Anglican Church - there are plenty of them there.

Children like them better but I am more inclined to believe God chose a male jew as our First High Priest for a reason - and perhaps men serving is better.

In an above mentioned Anglican Church I attended - a female priest gave communion and 2 lay ministers administered oil in an annointing of the sick of sorts - I'm not sure how long they allowed even male lay ministers to administer Annointings.

Boy - that was hard to watch -

perhaps I'm just a sexist pig - but it will take me a long time to want female priests and female bishops - upbringing I suppose.

Female Diaconate? why not just use the abundant supply of men to fill the role of the Diaconate?

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I neither appealed to authority, nor is my 'attempt at theological rationales' 'half-dashed', though if you really think they are, I would ask you to point out precisely where they 'do not hold water'.

What makes you think I was referring to you--unless you're the Pope, to whom I was referring.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
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I neither appealed to authority, nor is my 'attempt at theological rationales' 'half-dashed', though if you really think they are, I would ask you to point out precisely where they 'do not hold water'.

What makes you think I was referring to you--unless you're the Pope, to whom I was referring.


Sorry. Fatigue-induced defensiveness. That, and I often get mistaken for the pope.

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Oh, your holiness. Lol

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I certainly am no liberal but am only asking questions related to females at the altar. Obviously only Christ served at the Last Supper and at the Sacrifice on the Cross. No woman can re-present this. However, I believe that it was common for women to assist in serving (Passover) meals and women did assist at the Cross by their presence and helping take His body for preparation for the grave. The server assists the priest; he does not act in his stead.
I have reached a milestone--this is my 100th post!

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Originally Posted by Dr. Henry P.
I certainly am no liberal but am only asking questions related to females at the altar. Obviously only Christ served at the Last Supper and at the Sacrifice on the Cross. No woman can re-present this. However, I believe that it was common for women to assist in serving (Passover) meals and women did assist at the Cross by their presence and helping take His body for preparation for the grave. The server assists the priest; he does not act in his stead.
I have reached a milestone--this is my 100th post!


What took you so long? I was able to reach that in a little over a month. wink

Anyway, I know that times like these, we need to perhaps show a little leniency towards girls serving, I mean, this is being done in the Latin Church, where you have girls of junior high and high school age serving the priests. Although it might be a long time before the Eastern Rite and the Orthodox take to this, I'm quite sure.

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In my humble opinion, "male-only" is one of those small "t" traditions of society that have been confused for God's eternal truths, Christ's traditions.

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Well, good thing it's just your humble opinion, because you're wrong.

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As though the Latin Church isn't feminized enough? A number of sociological studies have shown that men--and boys of a certain age--desperately need and search out roles and activities that are exclusively male. Other studies have shown that when female participation in a traditionally male occupation reach 15%, men start fleeing in droves--that's why it is now necessary to say "male nurse". Look at the Protestant seminaries, and you will see that a large majority of the students preparing for DDs are women (of a certain age)--men are becoming scarce as hen's teeth.

In many ways, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: "We need to admit women, because we don't have enough men"--or in this case, "We need girl servers because so few boys are volunteering". It never occurs to anyone that the girls are the reason the boys aren't volunteering. Why, after all, would a boy put up with the hassle of serving at the altar (particularly in frilly Latin vestments), if there is not something that denotes this as a uniquely male office of service? "If girls want to dress up like that and play church, let them, but I'm not going to do this because it makes me look silly".

Sometimes the Church is absolutely clueless about male psychology. Odd, for an institution run exclusively by men. A good discussion of this problem can be found in Leon Podles book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity .

It's precisely because the Eastern Churches do not allow women to serve at the altar (and because altar service is indeed something rigorous and difficult) that there seems to be little difficulty in attracting boys to serve--and continue serving, even after they go off to college.

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This is one of those matters where you will not be greeted in Heaven joyously, or rejected outright. IN the issues facing the Sons and daughters of God, this is one of those astounding non-issues, the "leavened vs. unleavened bread" debate of the 21st century.

The cherubim are not going to roll out a red carpet in the Kingdom at our arrival because we ensured women stayed off the altar. What a severe waste of energy, truly.

God bless.

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