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Re: Economy

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  • Fr. John Whiteford
    John Manutes wrote: Women may practice this of their own accord but I would guess it has developed this way over many centuries from previous restrictions
    Message 1 of 27 , Sep 30, 2003
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      John Manutes wrote:

      "Women may practice this of their own accord but I would guess it has
      developed this way over many centuries from previous restrictions
      spelled out in canon law. The law resulted from a view that one type
      of defilement (there are two types) was the result of contact with a
      person considered polluted and impure by nature. This type of
      defilement was not affected by a repentant member or the original
      intent of the subject. All the canonical commentators say
      menstruation introduces impurity by nature, which on cannot repent
      from."

      Me: The canons speak in the same way about nocturnal emmissions,
      though the time frames that one was considered "unclean" was shorter,
      for obvious reasons. No father ever suggested that menstruation was
      a sin, only that it was a natural uncleaness. In the days prior to
      sanitary napkins, the reasons for this are not hard to imagine.

      According to Balsamon, the canon of St. Dionysius did not prevent
      such women from entering the narthex. One could spend a lot of time
      on this, but as things have developed over time, the practical
      distinction between the narthex and the nave of the Church has
      changed, and the restrictions that in earlier times were applied to
      the nave have generally been moved back to the Iconostasis... which
      is not unrelated to the development of high iconostases. Just as we
      no longer (outside of very strict monasteries) require catechumens to
      depart, and prohibit non-Orthodox from entering the Church -- but
      continue to prohibit either from entering the Altar, likewise,
      menstruating women are not prevented from entering the nave of the
      Church, but continue to be prohibited from entering the altar.

      JM: "By the 15th c. menstruating women were excluded from other
      mysteries as well."

      Me: On what basis do you make this statement?

      JM: "These exclusions lead the Fathers to abolish the ordination
      of deaconesses and denied women access to the altar area."

      Me: Deaconesses had to be at least 40 years old, and either a widow
      or a virgin vowed to celibacy. And their duties had nothing to do
      with the altar. The end of the use of deaconesses had nothing to do
      with their mentruating, but rather had to do with the conversion of
      the general population of the Empire -- which for the most part did
      away with adult catechumens. You will also note that we no longer
      baptize adults in the nude... these two facts taken together
      eliminated the need for deaconesses... whose primary job was to
      administer the actual baptism of adult women behind a screen for the
      sake of modesty.

      http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-14/Npnf2-14-23.htm

      JM: "Now, I am not "railing" against menstruating women, but, I cite
      it as an example of old canons that need to be reevaluated. Your
      statement implies that there is something pious or holy about women
      who practice not going to services or partaking of the Eucharist
      because they are menstruating. As I said it is more likely left over
      from years of restricions within the Church. Menstruating women who
      stay away from the Church may believe they are being pious, but it is
      a baseless tradition (small "t"). "

      Me: Do you think we should revise the Scriptures too, while we are at
      it?

      -Fr. John Whiteford

      P.s. I had previously stated that this discussion needed to come to
      an end. If your posts start disappearing prior to being distributed,
      please do not e-mail me to inquire as to why that is.
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