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#387148 - 10/11/12 07:34 PM Does the priest represent the Father or the Son?
danman916 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 463
Loc: Illinois
So I am getting really confused and I hope someone can help explain it to this Latin.

Does the priest, at the altar represent Christ, or the Father?
I was taught that the priest stands in persona Christi offering the sacrifice of the mass.
But i am reading that Orthodox theology teaches that the priest represents the Father in the Divine Liturgy.

Can someone help me understand this? Why the difference?
Thanks

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#387156 - 10/11/12 11:24 PM Re: Does the priest represent the Father or the Son? [Re: danman916]
StuartK Offline
Member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 7394
Loc: Falls Church, VA
Neither. In Byzantine theology, liturgically, the priest is standing in persona ecclesia: he represents the Church. Everything that happens at the altar is actually the work of Christ the High Priest through the descent and action of the Holy Spirit. As the Fathers noted, the priest only lends his hands and his tongue. Christ is the offeror and the offering, the priest and the sacrifice. See Metropolitan Kallistos' outstanding lecture, The Eucharistic Sacrifice: Who Offers What to Whom?

Typologically, the Fathers viewed the bishop as representing God the Father, the presbyters were the Heavenly Host, and the deacons represented Christ, "who came to serve". Remember, originally presbyters were just elders and advisors of the bishops, without any liturgical role, while the deacons were the servants and confidants of the bishop, and the bridge between him and the people.


Edited by StuartK (10/11/12 11:25 PM)

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#387166 - 10/12/12 12:49 PM Re: Does the priest represent the Father or the Son? [Re: danman916]
danman916 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 463
Loc: Illinois
Thank you Stuart.

The reason I asked this question is that i saw it on the orthowiki.org website about women's ordination. (maybe anything wiki should not be taken as authoritative)
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ordination_of_Women

In particular, they reference this under the heading, "Arguments Against":
Quote:
In Orthodoxy, it's not Jesus, but the Father whom those serving at the altar represent, and whatever else a woman can be (and, in Orthodoxy, she can be anything else: choir director, lector, teacher, head of the parish council) she cannot be a Father.


I would be interested in your comments of this statement.

Meanwhile, I will look up the article from Metropolitan Kallistos. Thanks.

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#387168 - 10/12/12 02:24 PM Re: Does the priest represent the Father or the Son? [Re: danman916]
StuartK Offline
Member

Registered: 11/09/01
Posts: 7394
Loc: Falls Church, VA
It's a video, well worth watching.

Actually, OrthodoxWiki gives only one of many explanations of the role or symbolic purpose of the priest in the liturgy found in Orthodox liturgical commentaries. This is what makes arguments for ordination of women to the presbyterate resistant to simple rebuttals--the simple answers are either internally or externally inconsistent, or inapplicable in an Orthodox context, or are simple appeals to authority. This is why the issue needs to be addressed by the Church council (a Pan-Orthodox Council, one hopes), before it can be put to rest permanently.

That said, I think the "fatherhood" approach is, ultimately, the right one--but not based on who the priest represents at the altar. Rather, it is the role the priest (acting as deputy of the bishop) fulfills as father to his flock that makes male presbyters essential: a woman can be a mother, but only a man can be a father.

The argument is often made that God is both male and female, therefore the presbyterate should be open to both men and women. But this has it backwards: in creating human beings as men and women, God deliberately split those aspects of the divine nature and particularized them in human beings, so that only man and woman together could manifest the nature of God (hence the need for marriage). As God's Fatherhood is represents the male aspect of his nature, it is manifested in human beings only in men; hence only men can be fathers, just as only women can be mothers (and attempts to invert the roles are usually sad, hilarious and tragic all at once). As the Bishop (and his deputies the presbyters) are the fathers of the local Church, they must be male.

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#387297 - 10/16/12 03:23 PM Re: Does the priest represent the Father or the Son? [Re: danman916]
danman916 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/07
Posts: 463
Loc: Illinois
Stuart,
I've only listened to about the first 15 minutes as I get time.
I like the pace. It's slow, but it's good for those who want to let it sink in.

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#387311 - 10/16/12 07:46 PM Re: Does the priest represent the Father or the Son? [Re: StuartK]
8IronBob Offline
Member

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 847
Loc: Parma, Ohio, USA
Originally Posted By: StuartK
Neither. In Byzantine theology, liturgically, the priest is standing in persona ecclesia: he represents the Church. Everything that happens at the altar is actually the work of Christ the High Priest through the descent and action of the Holy Spirit. As the Fathers noted, the priest only lends his hands and his tongue. Christ is the offeror and the offering, the priest and the sacrifice. See Metropolitan Kallistos' outstanding lecture, The Eucharistic Sacrifice: Who Offers What to Whom?

Typologically, the Fathers viewed the bishop as representing God the Father, the presbyters were the Heavenly Host, and the deacons represented Christ, "who came to serve". Remember, originally presbyters were just elders and advisors of the bishops, without any liturgical role, while the deacons were the servants and confidants of the bishop, and the bridge between him and the people.


This is true, and the subdeacons, and altar servers were considered the Apostles, if I'm not mistaken, unless there's another way of thinking about those that work under the deacon of the DL.

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