Due to an ongoing health crisis in the family, blogging will be 'on and off' as time and circumstances permit for the foreseeable future. I also beg your indulgence if I am slow in responding to emails. New posts will appear below this notice.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What's wrong with these pictures?


These pictures (originally posted at Rorate Caeli) are from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Poland.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! That's a good example of the effects of latinization. Do you know whether female altar servers in Orthodoxy are actually uncanonical rather than just being untraditional?

Josephus Flavius said...

Your blatant sexism? I kid. :)

I guess if the Greek Orthodox can have deaconesses...

Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

If you spend the day shoveling manure, you come home smelling like it. Now try getting rid of them.

And this is the true church?

Very Funny Protestant said...

I know, I know! All those altar servers have boobies!

The young fogey said...

Before now I thought this was only a North American aberration - I've seen photos from Canada.

These churches are really mainstream RC wannabes.

Josephus Flavius said...

The byzcath forum is not too happy.

http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/topic/19064

Ad Orientem said...

Josephus Flavius,
Just for the record the so called deaconesses of the Greek Orthodox Church do not serve at the altar. They are not the female equivalent to a male Deacon. The deaconess is a lay person (not an ordained religious) who in ancient times aided priests in certain mundane duties and also helped with instructing female catechumens. They also aided with baptizing females since in those days it was still the custom to be baptized au naturale.

Liberals constantly misunderstand or misrepresent what deaconesses are. While the Greek Church is certainly within its right to revive this ancient lay office, I must question why they chose to do so. The move was mildly controversial within Orthodoxy not because it was in any way uncanonical, but rather because it seemed rather unnecessary. The reasons for their existence are long gone.

Josephus Flavius said...

My first posting was entirely tongue-in-cheek; both mocking perceived exclusion of women by modern liberal mindsets and lamenting the reality of those photos.

Rooting out latinizations is something both the Eastern Catholics and (less so) Orthodox will be doing for quite a while. Read any Schmemann book and try and go 20 pages without mention of Western practice or thought having crept into Orthodoxy (to his great distress).

Conor said...

Female altar-servers are not Latinisations. They are Protestantisations. They are just as much of a blight on the RCC.

Anonymous said...

"And this is the true church?"

Oh, please. I've seen female altar servers in an OCA parish with my own two eyes.

Ad Orientem said...

Really? Which one?

Josephus Flavius said...

An issue as late as 3 years ago it seems:

http://stnina.org/journal/onl/feat/AltarServers

"
October, 2004
An Altar Girl
An Altar Girl

To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

Recently, questions have arisen on numerous internet forums concerning the position of the Orthodox Church in America [OCA] with regard to those who serve in the Holy Altar in parishes. The questions and ensuing controversy arose as a result of photographs appearing in two parish web sites depicting robed girls performing duties traditionally delegated to males. This has led to a great deal of confusion and discussion as to the policy of the Orthodox Church in America [OCA] in this regard.

In their concern for maintaining the integrity of the Church and its traditions, the Holy Synod of the Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America [OCA], meeting at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, October 18-21, 2004, reaffirms the ancient practice of the Orthodox Church that only males are to be admitted to service within the holy altar. Any practice to the contrary in this regard is strictly forbidden.

While reaffirming the Orthodox Church's practice concerning sacred ministers and others called to serve within and care for the holy altar, the Holy Synod of Bishops also wishes to encourage all Orthodox Christians to offer their services to Christ's Holy Church, in keeping with their baptismal vocation.

Thanking you for your generous and devoted service to the Church,

I remain
In Christ,

Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick, Chancellor
Orthodox Church in America [OCA]"

JGurrea said...

If they insist on rebelling against the longstanding customs handed down by our ancestors in the Faith, the least they can do is show reverence to the Holy Altar by observing modesty. Why aren't their heads veiled? I suppose it is easier to trample one tradition after you've already trampled another lesser one.

Ad Orientem said...

JGuerrea,
I know of no Orthodox Churches that require women to be veiled. That said obviously altar service is crossing a theological line.

Anonymous said...

I am not Orthodox and am confused as to why this is important. Please explain how girl altar servers are crossing a theological line. I have read quite sophisticated theological arguments why only males can be priest, and I respect that. But I have never read a theology of altar servers. What is the theological significance of a male altar server? I am genuinely curious. I find the open hostility quite baffling.

- Steve

Anonymous said...

I think jgurrea meant that these girls should have their heads covered rather than that they should be veiled.

JGurrea said...

"I think jgurrea meant that these girls should have their heads covered rather than that they should be veiled."

Of course. I thought it would be obvious since being "veiled" usually refers to head coverings in Orthodox hymnography and popular language. For example: the protecting "veil" of the Theotokos does not refer to something that covers her whole face (just look at the iconography) and when a woman goes to a convent and "takes the veil", they don't wear a ninja mask... just a covering for their head. Most Orthodox women I know where a handkerchief type thing tied on their head, but some (like my mother) use a lace mantilla. I always referred to it as a veil and I don't see why that terminology is inaccurate.

As for whether head coverings are *mandatory*... I guess technically they are not. In other words, if we mean that they are a necessity and that if you don't wear one you'll be excommunicated or barred from Communion... then no, they aren't mandatory. But in that case, fasting is also not *required* of Orthodox Christians. If it was then I would be excommunicated all those times that I've fallen short and "cheated" during Lent. But just as we won't deny that things like venerating icons by kissing them and crossing yourself when you pass by a Church are "traditions" within the Orthodoxy, showing reverence by covering your head (if you are woman) in Church is also a very important pious custom in Church.

Many American women I've spoken to see this as "degrading". Funny thing is, if I refused to take my baseball cap off when we are praying in the Church hall or when I came into the Nave of the Church, I'd be seen as rude. Can I also resort to the silly accusation that I am being descriminated against and that the Church is being closed-minded and "anti-male"?

Lilathe said...

My daughters and myself wear head coverings to our Latin Mass. The first time we wore them, our priest yelled at two of my teenaged daughters and told them they were not to cover their heads during Mass because it went against "tradition". One of my daughters cried off and on for 4 days because she had offended the priest but she also truly believed that covering her head was being obedient. She had studied much on this before coming to a decision to cover her head during Mass.
Today, he told them that they could not serve in Mass if their heads were covered because our church was not a religious order.