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Archive for July, 2010

Missing the Point

I’d like to thank Mrs. Webfoot for reminding me why I quit blogging in the first place.  After this post, I’m not going to waste one more minute of my time trying to respond to what she said on her blog.  I’m just going to take my toys and go home.

I’d like to make the following points, and then I am going to go home.

1. The Orthodox do not hold to anything like the heretical doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son.

2. I did not change a single word quoted in any of the descriptions I posted about the lives of these incredible women.  I posted a link to where I got the information.  I simply cut and paste, so if anyone takes issue with the use of the word “hierarch” instead of Patriarch, they can take it up with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese or the Orthodox Church in America.

3. I am not egalitarian feminist and I never have been.  I’m sure I’ve given off that impression at some point.  Maybe I was leaning toward that position at one point… but eventually, I moved toward an apathetic position.  I just don’t care either way.  I’m so over participating in this discussion.  I’m weary of how it makes me feel to read people twisting my words and me wanting to respond but knowing that its futile and foolish to engage.

4. I’m not a Patriarchalist.   I belong to a tradition of Christianity where men are in charge of most things.  So what?  I never had a problem with that, as I as I can recall.  But that doesn’t make me a Patriarchalist., at least not in the complementarian or Vision Forum sense.  I guess if you want to call me one, you can.  Its a free country.  But please don’t expect me to point out where we are talking about two totally different things.

5. My point in highlighting the lives of these women was to show that they did NOT fit into the Vision Forum “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” mold of how and where women should be.  And yet, they are venerated as Saints by the most ancient tradition in Christianity.  I kind of thought that was obvious, but I can be pretty dense sometimes, so maybe I thought too hi0ghly of myself.

6. St. John Chrysostom was a Bishop, not a Patriarch.  Yes, there is a difference.  If you want to call the Church Fathers the Patriarchs of the Church, I guess you could do that.  But we actually do have an office of Patriarch which is probably why we use the term Father- it differentiates them.  Not all Fathers were Patriarchs and not all Patriarchs were/are Fathers of the Church.  I’m sorry if the difference between them is confusing.  These aren’t terms I made up.

7. I’d like to thank Mrs. Webfoot for not trying to engage me here on this blog.  I would never have even known about her writing if I hadn’t checked the referrers.  I made it clear that I wasn’t going to debate about Orthodoxy here and, as far as I can tell, she respected that, and took her thoughts to her own blog.  I really do appreciate that.  I left one comment saying that I felt she was so far off the mark, I didn’t know where to begin… so I wouldn’t.  I guess I gave a little response here, but to engage any further is just a waste of time.

I don’t think I’m going to write anymore.  I don’t have the big girl underpants needed to survive in the cutthroat world of Christian women blogging.  I find that my tendency toward snark and sarcasm is too big to stifle, God forgive me, and I think that removing the temptation is better than facing it- since the temptation is 100% in my control.

Peace of Christ to all,

Cally

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Paraskevi, the Righteous Martyr of Rome

“Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskeva of Rome was the only daughter of Christian parents, Agathon and Politia, and from her early years she dedicated herself to God. She spent much of her time in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents St Paraskeva distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. Emulating the holy Apostles, she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity.

She was arrested during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161) because she refused to worship the idols. She was brought to trial and fearlessly confessed herself a Christian. Neither enticements of honors and material possessions, nor threats of torture and death shook the firmness of the saint nor turned her from Christ. She was given over to beastly tortures. They put a red-hot helmet on her head and threw her in a cauldron filled with boiling oil and pitch. By the power of God the holy martyr remained unharmed. When the emperor peered into the cauldron, St Paraskeva threw a drop of the hot liquid in his face, and he was burned. The emperor began to ask her for help, and the holy martyr healed him. After this the emperor set her free.

Traveling from one place to another to preach the Gospel, St Paraskeva arrived in a city where the governor was named Asclepius. Here again they tried the saint and sentenced her to death. They took her to an immense serpent living in a cave, so that it would devour her. But St Paraskeva made the Sign of the Cross over the snake and it died. Asclepius and the citizens witnessed this miracle and believed in Christ. She was set free, and continued her preaching. In a city where the governor was a certain Tarasius, St Paraskeva endured fierce tortures and was beheaded in the year 140.

Many miracles took place at the saint’s tomb: the blind received sight, the lame walked, and barren women gave birth to children. It is not only in the past that the saint performed her miracles, but even today she helps those who call on her in faith.”

~excerpted from the Orthodox Church in America

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Saint Olympias, DEACONESS of Constantinople

“Saint Olympias the Deaconess was the daughter of the senator Anicius Secundus, and by her mother she was the granddaughter of the noted eparch Eulalios (he is mentioned in the life of St Nicholas). Before her marriage to Anicius Secundus, Olympias’s mother had been married to the Armenian emperor Arsak and became widowed. When St Olympias was still very young, her parents betrothed her to a nobleman. The marriage was supposed to take place when St Olympias reached the age of maturity. The bridegroom soon died, however, and St Olympias did not wish to enter into another marriage, preferring a life of virginity.

After the death of her parents she became the heir to great wealth, which she began to distribute to all the needy: the poor, the orphaned and the widowed. She also gave generously to the churches, monasteries, hospices and shelters for the downtrodden and the homeless.

Holy Patriarch Nectarius (381-397) appointed St Olympias as a deaconess. The saint fulfilled her service honorably and without reproach.

St Olympias provided great assistance to hierarchs coming to Constantinople: Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium, Onesimus of Pontum, Gregory the Theologian, St Basil the Great’s brother Peter of Sebaste, Epiphanius of Cyprus, and she attended to them all with great love. She did not regard her wealth as her own but rather God’s, and she distributed not only to good people, but also to their enemies.

St John Chrysostom (November 13) had high regard for St Olympias, and he showed her good will and spiritual love. When this holy hierarch was unjustly banished, St Olympias and the other deaconesses were deeply upset. Leaving the church for the last time, St John Chrysostom called out to St Olympias and the other deaconesses Pentadia, Proklia and Salbina. He said that the matters incited against him would come to an end, but scarcely more would they see him. He asked them not to abandon the Church, but to continue serving it under his successor. The holy women, shedding tears, fell down before the saint.

Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria (385-412), had repeatedly benefited from the generosity of St Olympias, but turned against her for her devotion to St John Chrysostom.She had also taken in and fed monks, arriving in Constantinople, whom Patriarch Theophilus had banished from the Egyptian desert. He levelled unrighteous accusations against her and attempted to cast doubt on her holy life.

After the banishment of St John Chrysostom, someone set fire to a large church, and after this a large part of the city burned down.

All the supporters of St John Chrysostom came under suspicion of arson, and they were summoned for interrogation. They summoned St Olympias to trial, rigorously interrogating her. They fined her a large sum of money for the crime of arson, despite her innocence and a lack of evidence against her. After this the saint left Constantinople and set out to Kyzikos (on the Sea of Marmara). But her enemies did not cease their persecution. In the year 405 they sentenced her to prison at Nicomedia, where the saint underwent much grief and deprivation. St John Chrysostom wrote to her from his exile, consoling her in her sorrow. In the year 409 St Olympias entered into eternal rest.

St Olympias appeared in a dream to the Bishop of Nicomedia and commanded that her body be placed in a wooden coffin and cast into the sea. “Wherever the waves carry the coffin, there let my body be buried,” said the saint. The coffin was brought by the waves to a place named Brokthoi near Constantinople. The inhabitants, informed of this by God, took the holy relics of St Olympias and placed them in the church of the holy Apostle Thomas.

Afterwards, during an invasion of enemies, the church was burned, but the relics were preserved. Under the Patriarch Sergius (610-638), they were transferred to Constantinople and put in the women’s monastery founded by St Olympias. Miracles and healings occurred from her relics.”

~excerpted from the Orthodox Church in America

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Martyr Christina of Tyre

“Saint Christina was from Tyre in Syria, the daughter of a pagan named Urban. Enlightened in her heart to believe in Christ, she broke her father’s idols, made of gold and silver, and distributed the pieces to the poor. When her father learned this, he punished her ruthlessly, then cast her into prison. The rulers subjected her to imprisonments, hunger, torments, the cutting off of her breasts and tongue, and finally impalement, in the year 200, during the reign of the Emperor Septimius Severus.”

~excerpted from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

How St. Christina broke the mold:

1. She did not work to further her father’s vision.  She didn’t endure his paganism in silence and submission.  She broke his idols and gave the pieces to the poor.

2. There is a much more detailed account of her life here .  Christina was a visionary daughter all right- the only Christian in a house full of pagans.  And she gave her life for Christ.

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Are You Saved?

I’ve written a pages long testimony of how I came to accept the Orthodox Faith.  I’m working on condensing it for posting here.  My journey is an extremely personal one and while I’m willing to share with anyone who is interested, all that I’ve written down thus far has been a personal account of the circumstances of my conversion.  I really want to get at the theological reasons, but that will take time.  Until then, take a look at this video and you’ll get a sense of the Church I have so eagerly and yet humbly embraced.

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Their Feet Were Not at Home

“Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.  And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities- Mary called Magdelene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.”

Luke 8:1-3

Today is the Feast of Saint Mary Magdelene, the Myrrhbearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles.  The Church’s lectionary for today includes the reading above.  Luke speaks of Mary, Joanna, and Susanna by name, as well as “many others” who provided for Christ from their own substance.  The typical explanation that I’ve heard is that these women supported Jesus financially.  Obviously, they left their homes and followed Him, just as his male disciples did.  Some of them, like Joanna, had husbands and the Holy Scriptures make no mention of these men being disciples of Jesus.  Why didn’t Jesus tell these women to go home and have a quiverfull of children?

Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin state that we have no examples of female missionaries in the Bible:

“We should give godly people honor for the worthy things they did and learn from their examples. But we should recongnize that these godly women do not in fact feature in the Bible.” So Much More, pg. 262

Here, they are talking about contemporary female missionaries and how they went about doing a good thing in the wrong way.  In other words, God can work good through sin.  They go on to state that we do not see female missionaries in the Bible.  Am I misunderstanding the quote?  They seem to ignore Church history with this statement as we know of many “biblical” women who went on to proclaim the Good News or to serve Christ’s Church in a position of leadership:

Mary the Mother of God, Mary Magdelene, Joanna, Susanna, Photini (the Samaritan woman at the well), Priscilla, Junia, Salome, Mary and Martha of Bethany, and Phoebe the Deaconess to name a few.

And they certainly ignore the hundreds of women canonized by the Church within its first 1,000 years of existence.  Part of what I am trying to do here is to show that women played a major role in the founding of the Church, its spread, and its continued existence. 

Such emphasis is placed on varying points in history where women behaved as patriocentrists think they should- the Reformation, the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the Antebellum South… but like it or not, there WAS a church before Martin Luther came on the scene.  I would like to see any patriocentrist stand before any one of the women I’ve mentioned here and tell them that their lives flew in the face of the “gospel-centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy.”  Tell that to those women whom Christ allowed to travel with Him and fund His ministry.  Tell that to those women whom the Apostles’ sent out as missionaries or ordained as deaconesses.  Tell that to the women who were in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues in the same manner as the men.

Now, I am NOT trying to argue that any of these women were egalitarian feminists or that they would even agree with either side of the whole comp/egal debate.  Not at all!  What I am trying to say is that they don’t fit the patriarchal paradigm.  They would likely be rejected by these patriarchal groups or cast aside as “non-normative.”

I like what Anne has to say about this- “I refuse to make women something less than my God does.”  He made some of them “equal-to-the-apostles.”  The Twelve made some of them missionaries and deaconesses.  The Holy Spirit made some of them martyrs.

 We are all members of One Body and we are not all meant to be the same body part.  I think its a shame that patriarchalists think women should all be the same body part while men fill in all the other body parts.  I guess I missed that section in Paul’s epistles.

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The Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicitas and those with them. Vibia Perpetua was from a patrician family, and lived in Carthage. She came to believe in Christ, and was baptized after her arrest as a Christian. A few days later, the twenty-two-year-old woman was taken to prison with her infant son. Arrested with her were her brother Saturus, the servants Felicitas, Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, who were also catechumens.

Despite the exhortations of her father, who persistently appealed to her maternal feelings, the widowed St Perpetua refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods.

Before their execution, Sts Perpetua and Saturus had visions from God, which strengthened their souls.

St Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, gave birth to a baby girl while in prison. She rejoiced because now she would be permitted to die with her companions. There was a law forbidding the execution of pregnant women.

The martyrs were led from the prison into the amphitheatre. Saturninus and Revocatus had to face a leopard and a bear. Sts Perpetua and Felicitas were brought to the arena in nets, and they were pitted against a wild heifer. After being tossed to the ground by the heifer, the two women were led out of the arena. Saturus was bitten by a leopard, but did not die. The martyrs were then led to a certain spot to be killed by the sword. The young gladiator who was to execute St Perpetua was inexperienced and did not kill her with the first blow. She herself took his hand and guided it to her throat, and so she received the crown of martyrdom. This occurred in about the year 203.

The amphitheatre where these saints perished is located a few miles from the city of Tunis. In 1881, a room was discovered opposite the modern entrance into the arena. Some say this was a cell where the victims waited to be brought into the arena.

To more about the martyrdom of these great mothers, click here.

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