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Re: Deaconesses #63599 05/24/04 08:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,544
theophan Offline
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,544

I believe that we two are on the same page. Perhaps my points haven't been as well articulated as I wished.

I understand that the deaconess descended into the font with the adult women. But my point is two-fold: how many adult women are baptized in the Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox Churches in a given year; and would you want someone ordained to have the occasional baptism? Could you hear the secular media if someone ordained decided to go to Dan Rather and do a story on discrimination against women?

I think that for the order to be restored we have to decide what it is we are restoring and what it is we want to restore it for.

When I was an undergraduate, a colleague who had been raised Baptist asked to be received into the Orthodox Church. He had never been baptized. They closed the church Sunday afternoon to everyone except the priest, his matushka, the other sponsor, and this candidate. He was baptized in his underwear--his story. He stood up in the large copper font that the church had and had the water poured over him because the church had no font big enough for an adult. So if a woman had to be baptized, would it be any different? There wasn't enough room for another person in that font with this guy.

I stress that this and a few small other duties would soon wear thin for a woman who had an education and was raised in a western culture where such seemingly minor duties would be quickly viewed as both demeaning and discriminatory.

So beyond the woman herself one has to wonder about the potential damage to the Church Herself. Would this actually hurt the overall evangelization effort in a culture that so badly needs Christ and His Message?

Beyond that, why can the sponsor not go down into the font with the candidate if that is necessary?

I have read that the role of deaconess never really caught on in the Western Church. I suspect that it may have been the Church's reaction in the East to cultures that still today see women as defiling a man when he is at prayer or worship. Look no further than the Arab reaction to the female American soldiers being near naked Iraqi men.

I guess I'm looking at the "why" behind the action and the office and trying to link it to the culture in which it was born and disappeared as a point of comparison to our culture which takes such a radically different approach to the way men and women relate.


Re: Deaconesses #63600 10/14/04 06:24 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 657
OrthoMan Offline
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 657

Apostolic Constitution compiled c. 390:

7.431 - Ordain also a deaconess who is faithful and holy for the ministrations towards women for sometimes the bishop cannot send a deacon (who is a man) to the women, on account of unbelievers. You should therefore send a woman, a deaconess, on account of the imaginations of the bad. For we stand in need of a woman, a deaconess, for many necessities. For example, in the baptism of women, the deacon will anoint only their forhead with the holy oil. And after him, the deaconess will anoint them. For there is no necessity that a woman should be seen by the men.

7.494 - A deaconess does not bless, nor does she perform anything belonging to the office of presbyters or deacons. Rather, she is only to keep the doors and to minister to the presbyters in the baptising of women, for the saake of decency.

7.410 - Let not any woman addresss herself to the deacon or bishop without the deaconess.

7.457 - Let the deaconess be a pure virgin. Or, at the minimum, let her be a widow who has been married only once and who is faithful and well esteemed.



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