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Posted By: Wheelbarrow Only Men on the altar - 08/26/12 04:37 PM
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



Posted By: Wheelbarrow Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/26/12 04:43 PM
forgive me I meant ''I disagree with women altar servers serving in any rite of the Church.''

ouch lol.
Posted By: 8IronBob Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/26/12 05:14 PM
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.
Posted By: Deacon John Montalvo Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/26/12 10:25 PM
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/26/12 10:53 PM
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.
Posted By: Soson Kyrie Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/27/12 01:33 AM
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.
Posted By: Roman Interloper Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/27/12 03:57 AM
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.
Posted By: theophan Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/27/12 01:10 PM
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
Posted By: Slavophile Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/27/12 01:40 PM
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.
Posted By: ConstantineTG Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/27/12 06:09 PM
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."
Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 01:20 PM
In the first millenium, did the Deaconness serve at the altar during the Divine Liturgy, in the East?

Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 01:23 PM
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.
Posted By: Lester S Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 01:51 PM
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.
Posted By: Slavophile Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 02:40 PM
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.
Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 03:27 PM
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?
Posted By: Dr. Henry P. Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 04:16 PM
If liturgical functions are representative of the work of Christ, then why not have female servers. After all, His mother served at the wedding in Cana; Peter's mother-in-law waited on Jesus at her house; the woman at the well sat at the foot of Jesus and was instructed by Him. Women assisted Him on His travels throughout Judea; Martha and Mary waited on Jesus; women were with Him at his passion and death when most of His disciples deserted Him. Finally, women went to His grave to anoint Him and were the first witnesses of His resurrection. Why not serve at the altar?
Posted By: Wheelbarrow Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 04:32 PM
Originally Posted by danman916
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?


No women deaconess's were not ''ordained'', that is a mistake backed up by St.Irenaeus himself when he said that women deacons were to assist the priest in baptisms only but were not to be ordained.

Posted By: Paul B Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 05:07 PM
Originally Posted by Deacon John Montalvo
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.


I love the Church and would give my life for Christ, but I believe the Church compromised its argument for male only altar servers when it allows non-ordained acolytes to serve. In my opinion the Church should either allow females or deanery level training with episcopal ordination of male only acolytes. That would remove the gray area and legitimate controversy which it has created.

Fr Deacon Paul
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 05:17 PM
Quote
No women deaconess's were not ''ordained'', that is a mistake backed up by St.Irenaeus himself when he said that women deacons were to assist the priest in baptisms only but were not to be ordained.


Incorrect, at least to the extent that the Church of Constantinople was concerned. Deaconesses were indeed ordained by Cheirotoneia, using the same prayers used to ordain male deacons; they were declared to be ordained clergy in conciliar degrees as well as imperial novellae of Justinian the Great. They received communion at the altar after the male deacons, in the same method as the male deacons.

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. The ancient typos of the Church equated the bishop with God the Father, the presbyters with the heavenly hosts, and the deacon with Christ, "who came to serve".

The usage of the Western Church was different, but should not be considered normative. Remember, in the Eastern Churches, acolytes, readers and subdeacons are all ordained (by Cheirothesia), while in the West, they are considered merely "appointments".
Posted By: Slavophile Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 06:13 PM
Originally Posted by Dr. Henry P.
If liturgical functions are representative of the work of Christ, then why not have female servers. After all, His mother served at the wedding in Cana; Peter's mother-in-law waited on Jesus at her house; the woman at the well sat at the foot of Jesus and was instructed by Him. Women assisted Him on His travels throughout Judea; Martha and Mary waited on Jesus; women were with Him at his passion and death when most of His disciples deserted Him. Finally, women went to His grave to anoint Him and were the first witnesses of His resurrection. Why not serve at the altar?


There are two dimensions to the Liturgy and, simply put, serving at the Altar belongs to the liturgical reditus, while serving elsewhere belongs to the exitus.

Liberals always confuse the two.
Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 07:22 PM
I don't get it. How are they confused, and why is it that liberals do this?
It sounds, to me, like ad hominem.
Posted By: Slavophile Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 07:39 PM
danman916, sorry if it sounds ad hominem. Not at all.

Let me give you an analogy to explain the liberals thing.

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.

Now, I happen to think that there is nothing wrong with Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind'. But even back then, I was sure that there was something wrong with playing it in the context of the Mass. The liberals (or whatever you want to call them) had, in this instance, imported something that was perfectly acceptable to listen to in the 'Liturgy of the World' to the 'Liturgy of the Altar'.

To suggest that because women served as our Lord served is to correctly identify the role women play in the economy of salvation. At the Last Supper, and where Christ is most fully known - in the Sacrifice on Calvary - however, women did not serve. Only our Lord did. And it is this precise act, and its eternal reality in heaven, that is re-presented in the Liturgy of the Altar. So, as he undertook this work in his incarnate form as a man, we the Church, continue to re-present it the same way.

We can carry whatever positive - even holy - reality from the Liturgy that unfolds in the world into the Liturgy that unfolds at the Altar, but then we less faithfully represent the eternally-established nature of the Sacrifice.
Posted By: Wheelbarrow Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 09:34 PM
Originally Posted by StuartK
Quote
No women deaconess's were not ''ordained'', that is a mistake backed up by St.Irenaeus himself when he said that women deacons were to assist the priest in baptisms only but were not to be ordained.


Incorrect, at least to the extent that the Church of Constantinople was concerned. Deaconesses were indeed ordained by Cheirotoneia, using the same prayers used to ordain male deacons; they were declared to be ordained clergy in conciliar degrees as well as imperial novellae of Justinian the Great. They received communion at the altar after the male deacons, in the same method as the male deacons.

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. The ancient typos of the Church equated the bishop with God the Father, the presbyters with the heavenly hosts, and the deacon with Christ, "who came to serve".

The usage of the Western Church was different, but should not be considered normative. Remember, in the Eastern Churches, acolytes, readers and subdeacons are all ordained (by Cheirothesia), while in the West, they are considered merely "appointments".


Could you perhaps point me to book, chapter and verse of anywhere ( the early fathers perhaps? ) that could verify what you have said. Because I find it very hard to believe that women were ordained in the Major orders like that of male deacons.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, it is not meant to come across that way. I strive to trust in God but always test everything so I hope you respect that. I'm sure you do.

Slavophile I couldn't agree more.

God bless
Posted By: Wheelbarrow Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 09:41 PM
Just found this by apologist Michelle Arnold - Although there is some historical evidence that deaconesses were specially charged with their ministry in a manner resembling the ordination of deacons, it is certain that there was a fundamental difference in the rites. By their ordination deacons receive the sacrament of holy orders, although in a lesser degree than priests and bishops, a sacrament that women cannot validly receive. If there indeed was a special liturgical rite for deaconesses, it likely resembled the non-sacramental "investiture" ceremonies held in conjunction with a Mass that charge extraordinary ministers of holy Communion with their responsibilities.

Is this what you mean Stuart?
Posted By: Fr. Deacon Lance Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 10:28 PM
That is modern Latin apologetics.

The ordination rite in the Byzantine Church was nearly identical to the ordination of deacon. Compare:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/deacon.htm

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/woman_deacon.htm

The real proof is in the following prayer which is only used in ordination to major orders:

Divine grace, which always heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking, ordains N., the most devout (insert order), as (insert order). Let us therefore pray for him/her, that the grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him/her.



Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 10:30 PM
I recommend to you Kyriaki Karidoyanes Fitzgerald's Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church , which includes, in addition to a history of the development, role, and decline of the office of the female diaconate, the full text of the Rite or Ordination for a Female Deacon.

A side-by-side comparison of this rite, with the Rite of Ordination for a Deacon, shows both to be essentially identical, differing only in the saints invoked (male deacons in the case of the Rite for a male deacon, deaconesses in the case of the rite for a female deacon). Both are indubitably the "Great Ordination" or Cheirotoneia, as opposed to the "Lesser Ordination" (Cheirothesia) employed in the case of acolytes, readers and subdeacons. In the case of the ordination of deaconesses, the laying on of hands takes place not in the nave, but in the sanctuary before the Angel of Peace litany and the Lord's Prayer. It includes this critical and distinctive prayer, which is the mark of Cheirotoneia as opposed to Cheirothesia:

Quote
The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, ordains N.__, beloved of God, as deacon. Let us pray for her, that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come upon her.

Meanwhile, she bows her head and the bishop places his hands on her head. He makes the sign of the Cross three times and prays the following:

O God, the Holy and Mighty, who sanctified woman through the birth in the flesh of your only-begotten Son and our God from the Virgin; and bestowed the grace and advent of your Holy Spirit not to men alone, but also to women; look now, Lord, upon this your servant, and call her to the work of your diaconate, send down upon her the abundance of your Holy Spirit. Preserve her in your Orthodox faith, in blameless conduct, always fulfilling her ministry according to your pleasure, because to You is due all honor, glory and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the Ages of Ages, Amen
.

During a subsequent litany, the bishop does the following:

Quote
And while this prayer is being said by the deacon, the bishop, still keeping his hand in the same position upon the head of the woman being ordained, prays as follows:

Sovereign Lord, You who do not reject women offering themselves and desiring to minister in your holy houses, in accordance with that which is fitting, but rather receive them into an order of ministers; bestow the grace of your Holy Spirit also upon this your servant, who desires to offer herself to You, and fill her with the grace of the diaconate, just as you gave the grace of your diaconate to Phoebe, whom you called to the work of ministry. O God, grant that she may persevere blamelessly in your holy temples, to cultivate appropriate conduct, especially prudence; and make you servant perfect so that she, standing at the judgment seat of your Christ, may receive the worthy reward of her good conduct. Through the mercy and love for mankind of your only-begotten Son with whom You are blessed, together with Your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto Ages of Ages, Amen.

After the Amen, he places the diaconal orarion around her neck under the maphorion, bringing the two ends forward. The deacon then stands on the Ambon and says,

Having commemorated all the saints, etc.

After she has accepted the Holy Body and Holy Blood the bishop gives her the Chalice, which she accepts and places on the Holy Altar.


I don't know what you could possibly call this, other than full and complete ordination into the same Order of the Diaconate to which men are called.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 10:38 PM
Quote
That is modern Latin apologetics.


Oh, so true! Martimort bites again. Of course, he started with the conclusion that women, by definition could never be ordained to anything because Holy Orders are reserved exclusively to men, and then worked backwards, carefully cherry picking the evidence to conclude (wait for it!), that indeed, women had never been ordained to the diaconate.

I think we must conclude that the usage of the different Churches in the Patristic period and down to the 13th century at least, varied from place to place. This different usage was known and accepted, in the same way that other differences in usage were accepted.

It is a fact that the Order of the Female Diaconate was never abolished in the Orthodox Church, but simply faded from desuetude after the Latin sack of Jerusalem left the Church too impoverished to maintain the number and variety of ministers it supported in its heyday. We last hear of deaconesses in Constantinople in the 13th century, and not thereafter (though there have been isolated instances of bishops ordaining women to serve as deacons in isolated female monasteries right down to the 20th century).

For the last three decades or so the Orthodox Church has been discussing whether and how to restore the order, but no conclusion has been reached as yet.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 10:39 PM
Quote
If there indeed was a special liturgical rite for deaconesses, it likely resembled the non-sacramental "investiture" ceremonies held in conjunction with a Mass that charge extraordinary ministers of holy Communion with their responsibilities.

Is this what you mean Stuart?

Very short answer: No. I have written what I have written.
Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/30/12 11:32 PM
Stuart pointed out something, in a thread here somewhere, some time last year that makes a lot of sense, and becomes the problem in discussing the topic. one can't take a 20th century ecclesiology and apply it to a 6th century Church. We need to investigate from an open perspective basing on what the texts say. Not starting from the position of Michelle Arnold that they were likely investiture ceremonies.
I agree that Martimort starts with the premise that women cannot be ordained and then goes on to demonstrate that based on the premise, instead of simply letting the evidence fall where it may.
Posted By: Soson Kyrie Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/31/12 11:23 AM
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.
Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/31/12 12:28 PM
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.

Posted By: danman916 Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/31/12 12:34 PM
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/31/12 01:53 PM
Quote
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/31/12 02:02 PM
Quote
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.
Posted By: Slavophile Re: Only Men on the altar - 08/31/12 10:06 PM
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'.
Posted By: haydukovich Re: Only Men on the altar - 09/01/12 12:06 AM
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?
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 09/01/12 12:23 AM
Quote
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.
Posted By: Slavophile Re: Only Men on the altar - 09/01/12 07:07 AM
Originally Posted by StuartK
Quote
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.
Posted By: rome1453 Re: Only Men on the altar - 09/01/12 08:14 AM
Oh, your holiness. Lol
Posted By: Dr. Henry P. Re: Only Men on the altar - 09/04/12 03:52 PM
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!
Posted By: 8IronBob Re: Only Men on the altar - 09/30/12 01:37 AM
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.
Posted By: BenjaminRH Re: Only Men on the altar - 10/11/12 12:14 AM
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 10/11/12 03:13 AM
Well, good thing it's just your humble opinion, because you're wrong.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 10/11/12 03:23 AM
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.
Posted By: BenjaminRH Re: Only Men on the altar - 10/15/12 04:57 AM
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.
Posted By: StuartK Re: Only Men on the altar - 10/15/12 07:22 PM
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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.


So you may think, but by their fruits shall ye know them, and the fruits of women's ordination have been bitter, indeed.
Posted By: Slavipodvizhnik Re: Only Men on the altar - 10/15/12 09:56 PM
Originally Posted by BenjaminRH
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.



... Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived. All this is enough to stir the pity of men who have learnt the love of Christ; but, compared with the actual state of things, words fall very far short...

Saint Basil the Great


Alexandr
Posted By: KevinM09 Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/14/13 05:13 PM
I belong to Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton, Ma. We do not have female altar servers. I can see that there is a stronger sense of community between the servers, especially the Latin Mass community.
Posted By: 8IronBob Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/14/13 08:05 PM
Yeah, some RC parishes can be pretty liberal about this idea... At least in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions, we keep to tradition. I don't think we'd be changing this any time soon.
Posted By: theophan Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/14/13 09:17 PM
Glory be to Jesus Christ!!

I re-read this thread since it has recently been resurrected and wondered if the difference in how Orders is viewed has something to do with the differences in theology and practice between East and West. There is certainly a big difference between the Augustinian and Cyrillian view of Orders, as we saw in the discussion of the reception by the Chaldean Catholic Church of a defrocked bishop of the Church of the East. Augustine saw Orders as something that has a permanent, personal character that stayed with an individual, while Cyril held that Orders were a function of the Church and the Church could remove one back to the lay state and no trace of clerical functions could remain. We see that in the fact that a laicized priest of the Catholic Church can still perform certain functions in an extreme emergency but a similarly laicized Orthodox priest cannot.

And does this carry over into the thinking and practice of the diaconate? The West sees the diaconate as being Major Orders akin to the priesthood and episcopate: having a permanent character that women cannot have. Is this maybe the reason that there does not seem to be as big a problem with female deaconesses in the limited cases mentioned above? And somewhere on this board it was once mentioned that the Coptic Orthodox Church might have been restoring this order. Fr. Kyrillos?

Bob
Posted By: 8IronBob Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/14/13 10:33 PM
Well, I ran across this video, and scratched my head in terms of what I saw. This really just...wow, I don't get it:
http://youtu.be/0mt_TyP4Hw4
Posted By: lmier Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/14/13 11:37 PM
Why is it when feminists rage they almost always want people to use the feminine term. So I say we should call them what they are priestesses NOT priests. There is no such beast in the English language as female priest, it is priestess. Abuse of language it an abuse of power as Joseph Pieper stated.
Posted By: theophan Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/16/13 01:34 AM
8IronBob:

Okay, you have a video of a sacrilege. If you check the Internet, there are plenty of them. My sister-in-law, a Catholic nun, sent me a clip of one of her former students who is now an "Eastern bishop" in some sect. Her "ordination" was really a blend of rituals, but apparently they couldn't afford the full set of episcopal vestments and she was vested in a worn, blue epitralhilion, together with a klobuk. Gave me chills. Her "DL" was a mix of East and Weest--I thought it might be because she'd probably never seen a DL.

But what do you think the Good Lord will say when they arrive in front of Him?

That's the question we all have to ask ourselves when we think we can do it better than those to whom He has passed authority through his Apostles and their successors.

Bob
Posted By: JimG Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/16/13 03:10 AM
I can tell you one thing, my virus checker does not like women priests. I tried to watch the video listed here and before that lady made it to the stop step I got a message that a malicious URL was detected and closed. so much for womyn priestesses.
Posted By: Dr. Eric Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/16/13 10:00 PM
Maybe I'm missing something, but the Ordination to the Diaconate has this part:

Quote
Divine grace, which always heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking, ordains N., the most devout Subdeacon, as Deacon. Let us therefore pray for him, that the grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.


The Rite for the Deaconess, omits this part.
Posted By: RuthC Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/16/13 10:17 PM
[quote=8IronBob]Well, I ran across this video, and scratched my head in terms of what I saw. This really just...wow, I don't get it:
http://youtu.be/0mt_TyP4Hw4 [/quote]

That is one of the most horrible things to watch. One or two seconds of that and it was enough.
Posted By: Fr. Deacon Lance Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/16/13 11:42 PM
Originally Posted by Dr. Eric
Maybe I'm missing something, but the Ordination to the Diaconate has this part:

Quote
Divine grace, which always heals what is infirm and completes what is lacking, ordains N., the most devout Subdeacon, as Deacon. Let us therefore pray for him, that the grace of the All-Holy Spirit may come upon him.


The Rite for the Deaconess, omits this part.


No it doesn't.

"ORDER FOR THE ORDINATION OF A WOMAN DEACON

After the completion of the holy Anaphora and the opening of the doors, before the Deacon says, Having commemorated all the Saints,the one to be ordained is brought before the Bishop. As he declaims the invocation, Divine grace, etc., she bows her head, on which he lays his hand."


http://www.anastasis.org.uk/woman_deacon.htm
Posted By: 8IronBob Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/17/13 12:08 AM
Originally Posted by RuthC
Originally Posted by 8IronBob
Well, I ran across this video, and scratched my head in terms of what I saw. This really just...wow, I don't get it:
http://youtu.be/0mt_TyP4Hw4


That is one of the most horrible things to watch. One or two seconds of that and it was enough.


Totally agreed... I only looked as that as an ugly example, and thought about reporting the guy that uploaded that to Youtube. But I thought, well, maybe this would serve as an example of what would be wrong with how today's society wants to think of so called "equal rights to clergy" if you will.
Posted By: Otsheylnik Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/20/13 05:05 AM
I was reflecting during my recent marriage on this topic. In the Byzantine rite of Crowning, the hymns sung during the three circuits around the "altar" in the centre of the church mirror those sung during the three circuits around the altar during ordinations. My hypothesis is that the table in the church at the wedding service replaced the altar proper, and that originally the coupled circled the altar itself as a kind of "ordination". Given that, as well as extant services for the ordination of deaconesses at the altar with the same rubrics, I think that we can assume that women did go to the altar in the east at least some of time.
Posted By: 8IronBob Re: Only Men on the altar - 03/20/13 08:03 PM
Well, I remember sharing those videos from the UGCC visit to Hong Kong a while back in the thread "Weird Iconostases" I think, and there they had altar girls serving, even though it was an RC Church, they were serving in the Eastern Tradition. So I'm not sure what to say about that one.
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