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Ordained Women Deacons

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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/14 00:02:37 (permalink)
Denying the sins of Church Fathers will not make them go away. Subjugation of women is a sin against women and God. Advocating 2000 years of denigrating the female sex by subjecting them to men is a sin. Those who support such misogynist practices are guilty of this sin and will be held accountable by God.
 
Denying women the sacrament of Holy Orders is a sin against women and against God.
God does not support sexism, man does.
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/25 01:00:26 (permalink)
Today July 25 in both the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church
and the Eastern Orthodox Church is
the feast day of Saint Olympias the Deaconess.



Life of Saint Olympias the Deaconess
from "The Prologue from Ohrid"
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch
© San Martin Fine Art, USA - Lazarica Press, UK

Olympias was born in Constantinople of very eminent parents. Her father, Anysius Secundus, was a senator and her mother was the daughter of the famous aristocrat Eulavius, who is mentioned in the life of St Nicolas the Wonderworker. When Olympias was fully grown, she was betrothed to a nobleman who died before his marriage to this honoured maiden. The Emperor and others exhorted her to take another husband, but in vain; she refused them all and devoted herself to a life pleasing to God, giving of her inherited wealth great gifts to the Church and alms to the poor.

She served in the Church as a deaconess, first in the time of Patriarch Nectarius and, after his death, under St John Chrysostom. When Chrysostom went into exile, he advised Olympias to remain in the Church as before and serve it, whichever Patriarch should succeed him. But, immediately after the exile of this great hierarch, someone set fire to a large church, and the conflagration took hold of many of the public buildings in the capital. Chrysostom's enemies accused this holy woman of being a malicious fire-raiser.

Olympias was exiled from Constantinople to Nicomedia, where she entered into rest in 408, leaving instructions that her body be placed in a coffin and cast into the sea, and that she be buried wherever the waves threw the coffin up. The coffin was cast up at a place called Vrochthoi, where there was a church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas. Great miracles of healing have been performed through the centuries by her relics.

The exiled Chrysostom wrote beautiful letters to the exiled Olympias, which to this day serve to give support to all who suffer for God's justice. Among other things, Chrysostom wrote to Olympias: 'Now I am deeply joyful, not only because you have been delivered from sickness, but even more because you are bearing adversities with such fortitude, calling them trifles - a characteristic of a soul filled with power and abounding in the rich fruits of courage. You are not only enduring misfortune with fortitude, but are making light of it in a seemingly effortless way, rejoicing and triumphing over it - this is a proof of the greatest wisdom'(Letter 6 of the seventeen that have come down to us)
post edited by Sophie - 2007/07/25 17:36:48
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/25 01:48:49 (permalink)
Dear friends,

The ancient diaconate of women was a sacrament.  (It is recently being restored in the Greek Orthodox Church... see: the view from the Greek Orthodox Church.) In his article Facing Up to Women in Holy Orders: Deacons in the Past, Priests for Now, our Academic Advisor Dr. Wijngaards observes:


In the discussion on admitting women to Holy Orders, the ordination of the first millennium women deacons has assumed a new role. For one of the key arguments the Vatican handles against the ordination of women is the assertion that women were never admitted to Holy Orders. Well, they are wrong. Women did receive a valid ‘sacramental’ ordination to the diaconate.

In this article he reviews:
  • the historical reality of ordained women deacons
  • the Ordination Rite for women deacons
  • early women deacons and the sacrament of holy orders
  • the setting of the ordination
  • the public character of the ordination
  • the 'Divine Grace' proclamation
  • the calling down of the Spirit
  • the second ordination prayer
  • parallelism in all essentials with the ordination of male deacons

Dr. Wijngaards shares the observation that all the symbolism surrounding the imparting of ordination to the women signified its being a real sacrament:
  1. its setting in the heart of the eucharist,
  2. the presence of the clergy and the faithful,
  3. the proclamation of divine election through the hallowed ‘Divine Grace’ formula,
  4. the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit on the ordinand
  5. and the addition of the second, ekphonese prayer of ordination.

Through this symbolism the ordaining bishop indicated, both to the ordinand and to the assembled congregation, his unmistakable intention to impart a full, sacramental diaconate ordination to the woman. If it was not a full sacrament, then neither was the ordination of bishops, priests and male deacons.

Dr. Wijngaards' conclusion: "Since women in the past did receive the sacrament of the diaconate, they are obviously capable of receiving holy orders as such, that means: also the priesthood and episcopacy." You can reach the complete article via this link: http://www.womenpriests.org/deacons/hobart.asp.  If you have any questions, please let me know.
 
with love and blessings,
~Sophie~
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/25 02:04:50 (permalink)
Olympias, ordained woman deacon



Saint Olympias


Olympias was a friend of St John Chrysostom. She was ordained a deacon by him and was put in charge of all the deacons assigned to the great Church of St Sophia in Constantinople. She supported John when he was exiled by the Emperor on false charges. John addressed his letters to her as: “the reverend God-Loved deacon Olympias
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/25 02:15:29 (permalink)
DEACONESSES

Saint Olympiada or Olympias, whose memory we celebrate on July 25, was a deaconess in the early church. The office of deaconess is described in the New Testament and Phoebe was called a deaconess in Romans 16: 1. This office is codified in the "Didascalia" written in the first half of the 3rd century and in the "Apostolic Constitutions" written in the later part of the 4th century. It is also mentioned at the 4th Ecumenical Council which met in Chalcedon in 451.

At first, only widows who had been married only once were admitted to the office. Later, virgins were also admitted. The age of admission varied through the years from 40-60 years of age. Once admitted they were not allowed to marry.

Deaconesses were ordained in the altar by a bishop by the imposition of hands. They were robed in a stichar and an orarion (deacon's stole). They were addressed as "reverend", "Most honorable" or "most pious". The episcopal prayers of ordination of a deaconess have not been revoked by the Orthodox Church and they can still be found in the books.

The deaconess had specific duties. Among them was to instruct privately female candidates for baptism, to assist at their baptism which was by total immersion, they did the anointing with oil at the baptism as it was not considered proper for the male clergy to touch a woman, they visited and cared for the sick, they were present at interviews of women with the bishops or priests, they dismissed women catechumens from the church and kept general order in the women's section of the church (men and women were segregated as they were up to about 25 years ago in our churches in America), and they did other duties delegated by the bishop like helping the poor. They were in a sense the educators of women in the faith and social workers. Deaconesses were ordained in the Eastern Church as late as the 12th century. The office was disused in the Western Church somewhat earlier.

Saint Olympiada born in 366 in Constantinople to the Senator Secunda was to become a deaconess.

At eighteen she married a prefect of the city. One of the gifts she received was a letter of advice written in verse to her by St. Gregory Nazianzius. Unfortunately she was widowed in less than two years. As she was an attractive, young, extremely wealthy widow, Emperor Theodosius tried to get her to marry his cousin, Elpida. Olympidia wrote the Emperor a letter in which she said: "If God willed me to live in a married state, He would not have taken my husband whom I dearly loved."

Theodosius was angered by her reply and took action against her. He named administrators to take charge of her immense wealth until she was thirty years old.

However, when she was 25, she was able to persuade the emperor to return control of her assets to her. She had begun to give her whole life to works of Christianity from the time of her widowhood. With the return of her money she increased her charitable giving. She gave to churches and monasteries, to homes for the homeless, to alleviate suffering in prisons, and to homes for exiles. Soon, she was besieged by requests and many took advantage of her kindnesses even some of those whom she had already helped. Saint John Chrysostom, who was impressed by her charity felt need to write to her highly instructive letters warning her to be more discriminating in her benefactions. These letters survive.

As for herself, she lived an austere lifestyle with other deaconesses. She renounced earthly pleasures and gave most of her time over to prayer and charitable works.

She had been ordained a deaconess earlier by the bishop of Constantinople. Among her other duties, he consulted her on matters concerning the church.

She served Saint John Chrysostom as she would a father and ultimately she was one of the few faithful who remained loyal to him when he endured his banishments from Constantinople. She had to endure severe persecutions starting with rumors and finally exile for supporting his cause and refusing to recognize the intruded successor to Saint John Chrysostom at the Cathedral. She was charged with conspiring to burn the cathedral, she was heavily fined and from that time matters became almost intolerable. the enemies of Saint John became her enemies. She didn't have anyone to turn to for advice, solace, or protection. Her properties and wealth were ultimately seized, she was robbed and everything she had left was confiscated.

Her last days were spent in a monastery which she had founded, but even here she did not escape harassment. She died in 408 at 42 years of age.

-Taken from the Orthodox Herald, Hunlock Creek, PA, July 1988, Vol. 37 No. 3 Issue 434 - Reprinted with permission
Sophie
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/25 02:45:23 (permalink)

from wikipedia.org re Deaconess:

Evidence from the early 2nd century, within a letter from Pliny of Bithynia to the emperor Trajan, attests to the role of the deaconesses. Pliny refers to “two maid-servants” as deaconesses whom he tortures to find out more about the Christians. This reinforces the existence the office of the deaconesses in parts of the eastern Roman Empire. In addition, within the Didascalia of the Apostles, further mention of the female deacons is found...

...in the fourth century, the deaconesses were mentioned in the Council of Nicea in 325 which implies their clerical, ordained status. Olympias, one of the closest friends and supporters of the archbishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, was known as a wealthy and influential deaconess during the 5th century.[1] Even Justinian's legislation regarding clergy at the great imperial churches of Hagia Sophia and Blachernae in the mid-sixth century included female deacons. He also included female deacons among the clergy whose numbers he regulated for the Great Church of Hagia Sophia, listing male and female deacons together, and later specifying one hundred male and forty female deacons. Furthermore, from the luminal period of the eighth century, the Barberini Codex, containing a liturgical manual, provides an ordination rite for a female deacon which is virtually identical to the male deacons' rite. The deaconesses continued to exist after the middle Byzantine period predominantly in the capital city as well as many monastic communities. Evidence of continuing liturgical and pastoral roles is provided by Constantine Porphyrogenitus' 10th century manual of ceremonies (De Ceremoniis), which refers to a special area for deaconesses in the Hagia Sophia.[1]
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/28 03:30:48 (permalink)
In the Eastern Church, today July 28
is the feast day of  ordained woman deacon
Saint Irene of Chrysovolantou
 

Saint Irene of Chrysovolantou
Ordained woman deacon
Feast day July 28
 
During the first nine centuries of the Church’s history, tens of thousands of women were ordained deacons to instruct women catechumens and assist in baptising them. Their ordination was substantially identical to that of the male deacon. The bishop would impose hands on them, invoking the Holy Spirit to grant them the ministry of the diaconate.
 
Copies of the ordination rite have been preserved in ancient manuscripts, like in the Barberini manuscript gr 336 (780 AD), part of which is displayed below.

Imposing his hands on the woman, the bishop prays:
Dedicate her to the task of you holy diaconate, and pour out into her the rich and abundant giving of your Holy Spirit.” “Preserve her so that she may always perform her ministry with orthodox faith and irreproachable conduct.
post edited by Sophie - 2007/07/28 04:08:58
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/28 03:31:21 (permalink)

 
IRENE THE RIGHTEOUS
Most Gracious Abbess of the Sacred Monastery of Chrysovalantou

 
July 28th
Troparion:



Leaving all the world behind with its impermanent glory, thou wast wedded unto Christ, the King immortal and holy, bringing Him as precious dowry thy maiden beauty and thy trophies won through abstinence over demons. O Irene, our righteous Mother, entreat thy Bridegroom to show His mercy to us. 


St. Irene was a beautiful noblewoman, of Cappadocia, who was to be wed to Michael the heir to the imperial throne. She was on her way to Constantinople and she determined to be wed only to the King of Kings. She was relieved upon arriving at the city to learn that Michael had married someone else. She gave up her wealth and joined the Chrysovolantos monastery. Even as a novice, she devoted herself to an extremely strict discipline of prayer. She brought many to the faith and persuaded many to become nuns. Many times she cast out demons and prophesied. One night the demons were so upset by her prayers, they set her clothes on fire. An angel appeared above her with her crown, but some of the nuns came with water and extinguished the fire. Her skin healed in a few days. When the Abbess was about to die, she expressed her wish that Irene succeed her. Patriarch Methodius did not know of that , but was led of the Spirit to come to the monastery and ordain Irene as Deaconess and Abbess. The three golden apples she holds in her hands were delivered to her by a sailor who said that he had received them from St. John the Theologian for her. They were fruit of Paradise. St. Irene loved to spend all night in prayer. One night she was outside praying and one of the other sisters went to look for her. She saw her standing high in the air and several cypress trees were bowed down toward her. The nun thought perhaps she had just seen a vision, but when she went to the clearing by daylight, she saw handkerchiefs tied to the very tops of these tall cypress trees. She lived to be 101 and reposed in the 10th century.
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/28 03:31:58 (permalink)
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/28 03:38:42 (permalink)
Saint Irene of Chrysovolantou
Ordained woman deacon
Commemorated on July 28

"The Patriarch ordained St. Irene a deaconess, then clothed her as an abbess."
 
 
St. Irene was the daughter of a noble family from Cappadocia. The Empress Theodora sent her messengers out in search of a bride for her son Michael, then twelve years old. The messengers found in St. Irene everything they could hope for in a future empress. St. Irene gathered together her servants and belongings and began the journey to Byzantium. En route she stopped at Mt. Olympos to receive the blessing of the hermit who lived there, St. Ioannikos the Great. He hailed her as a bride of Christ, prophesying her entrance into the convent of Chrysovolantou.
 
When the bridal party reached Byzantium, they learned Michael had that very day married another girl. St. Irene was now free to act on St. Ioannikos' prophecy. She freed her servants, gave her dowry to the poor, and disposed of all her goods before entering the convent of Chrysovolantou dressed as a novice in a habit of plain sackcloth.
 
Before the end of her first year there, St. Irene acquired the gift of standing all night keeping vigil in prayer. She ate only bread and water with some herbs or vegetables. The only thing she owned was her one habit. Every year at Pascha she received a new one, cleaning the old one and giving it to the poor. This former noblewoman chose as her duty in the convent the cleaning of its toilets. She was renowned for her humility and obedience.
 
When the abbess was dying, she called together all the nuns except St. Irene and told them to accept only St. Irene as their new abbess and obey her. After the abbess' death, the nuns appealed to the Patriarch Methodius the Confessor for his guidance. Having heard nothing of the abbess' instructions, he asked if there was a nun among them named Irene. She should be their choice. The nuns were amazed to hear the abbess' order confirmed. The Patriarch ordained St. Irene a deaconess, then clothed her as an abbess.
 
St. Irene prayed for the gift of clairvoyance so she could better discern the nature of her nuns' struggles and guide them according to their true needs. God sent a guardian angel to stand at her side, listening to the nuns' troubles and especially to their Confessions. The angel in turn counseled St. Irene as to the best remedies for the nuns' afflictions. For this St. Irene has been given the title "Converser with Angels."
One night a demon tipped over a candle and set St. Irene ablaze as she stood deep in prayer. A nun passing by smelled the burning and rushed in to put the fire out. St. Irene hadn't noticed anything, questioning the nun on her concern for worldly pain even while the nun picked the bits of charred clothing from St. Irene's burned skin. The smell of myrrh filled the convent. In just a few days St. Irene was whole again, and even stronger in her ability to prophesize.
 
St. Irene was involved in a number of situations where miraculous help was delivered in response to her prayers. One of the most impressive involves the Emperor Basil, the successor to Emperor Michael. A nobleman related to St. Irene had been wrongly imprisoned by the Emperor Basil. The family appealed to St. Irene for her help. She appeared to the Emperor in a dream, telling him who she was and charging him to release the man whom he knew to be innocent. The Emperor refused to believe the truth of his dream. St. Irene repeated her warning, then struck the Emperor across the face. When he woke up in the morning, the mark on his cheek convinced him he hadn't been dreaming. He questioned the nobleman again, satisfied himself as to the man's innocence, and released him. He then sent his court artist to the convent of Chrysovolantou in order to get a glimpse of the abbess. When the artist returned with the sketch he'd made, the Emperor knew without a doubt St. Irene had indeed appeared to him. He wrote to her begging her forgiveness and prayers.
 
The event that inspired the icon most often written of St. Irene involved another miracle. One night a novice was awakened by a bright light shining out in the courtyard. When she went to investigate, she found St. Irene out there praying, standing up as usual with her hands upraised. The novice was astounded to see St. Irene floating a full meter off the ground! What's more, the pine trees around her had bowed their tops down to the ground in reverence. In order to make sure this wasn't some delusion of the Devil, the novice tied her handkerchief to the top of one tree. In the morning, there it was, way up at the top of the straightened tree.
 
There is an apple orchard at the convent of Chrysovolantou. That orchard can trace its roots back to the very fields of Heaven itself. One day a sailor on a boat heading for the Greek islands saw a man standing on the nearby shore, beckoning to him. The sailor hailed him, and the man came walking across the water to the boat. He gave the sailor three apples and told him to take them to the abbess of Chrysovolantou, telling her they were a gift from the servant of God John. St. Irene received these apples with great joy. The first she ate bit by bit with small sips of water. The second she later divided up and shared with all the nuns in the convent. The third she consumed much later, in anticipation of her death. The seeds from these apples were kept and used to plant the orchard that now grows in the convent grounds.
 
Just as the previous abbess had done, St. Irene called all the nuns to her and named her successor. At the age of more than one hundred years, St. Irene went to her rest on the day after the Feast of St. Panteliemon, the Great Martyr and Healer. Even today, people from all over the world write letters to the convent of Chrysovolantou, imploring St. Irene's help. She is known in particular for helping with matters of fertility and childbearing.
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/28 04:03:11 (permalink)
"Patriarch Methodios the Confessor was a leader of great courage...offered incense as thanks to the Lord, and ordained Irene deaconess. After advising her in the ways of administering and guiding the sisterhood, the patriarch clothed her as abbess..."
 
 
 
Saint Irene of Chrysovolantou
Ordained woman deacon
Feast day July 28
 
Our venerable mother Irene of Chrysovalantou was the abbess of the monastery of Chrysovalantou. Her feast day is on July 28.
 
Originally slated to wed the Emperor, she went to the monastery of Chrysovalantou, and immediately engaged herself in vigils and prayer. She then replaced the Abbess very early on, and increased her spiritual struggles, with great trust in God to guide the community properly. She developed the gifts of foresight and exorcism.
 
Her prayer through the night continued in the courtyard of the monastery, and caused herself to levitate and the cypress trees to bend towards her. She was granted three apples from St John the Theologian, visions of angels, and appeared in a vision to the Emperor to release an unjustly convicted man. After her death at 102 years, she continued to be a wonderworker.
 
Saint Irene, Abbess of the Monastery of Chrysovalantou
The Royal Wedding
 
Irene was born in Cappadocia to an aristocratic family. She had a sister who would later marry Empress Theodora's brother Vardas. Empress Theodora, who ruled the empire after the death of Theophilus as regent for her son, re-established Orthodoxy and removed the iconoclasts. On her son Michael's twelfth birthday, Empress Theodora sent messengers to find a suitably beautiful, virtuous, and refined girl for Michael's wife. Coming across Irene, they offered and she accepted to wed Michael, and they (along with some of Irene's family) set off for Constantinople for the wedding.
 
During the journey to Constantinople they passed Mt. Olympos, and Irene asked to visit Ioannikos the recluse to receive his blessing. The hermit's spiritual insight allowed him to foresee the arrival of the group, and also Irene's future, and he said, "Welcome Irene, Servant of God. Proceed to the Imperial City in joy because the convent of Chrysovalantou needs you in the community." Irene, amazed by his prophetic power, prostrated and begged his blessing. Ioannikos lifted her up, gave her strength with spiritual thoughts and gave his blessing, and Irene joyfully continued the journey to Constantinople. On her arrival, she was received with great ceremony by relatives, patricians, senators, and poor.
 
But, the wedding was not to be: Michael had already been married. Irene was not upset, but rather gave thanks to God; turning down many marriage proposals from outstanding men in Byzantium, she set off for the Monastery of Chrysovalantou.
 
Sister of Chrysovalantou
 
Irene was impressed by the monastery's atmosphere and the sisterhood's way of life, so much so that she freed her slaves, gave her inherited wealth and dowry to the poor and entered the community, wearing a habit of sackcloth. With humility and obedience she served the sisterhood, cheerfully and attentively performing the most lowly and despised tasks, and never using worldly sophistries or aristocratic indignation. The abbess of Chrysovalantou noticed that Irene was following Christ's words that "without Me, you can do nothing. Anyone who remains in Me as I remain in him will bear much fruit" (John 15:5); and the novice was admired by all for her obedience, humility, love, and enthusiasm; her community went so far as to say that she had the spirit of a freed slave.
 
In her cell she read the lives of the saints, learning from St. Arsenios the night-long prayer. Irene asked for a blessing to embark on this, and the abbess, recognising Irene's humility, granted her request before the end of her first year of the novitiate. Irene was able to stand from morning to night with hands raised, sometimes standing for full days without movement, much to the amazement of the abbess. Irene would do this for three years, and the evil one was unable to divert her because of Irene's success in subduing earthly thoughts and temptations through abstinence and obedience. Her food was bread and water, with occasional supplements from herbs or vegetables; her habit was replaced only every Easter, and she would only clean it to give to the poor during Lent. Her obedience was cleaning the bathroom. Any wayward thoughts or signs of the evil one's activity were immediately confessed to the abbess, with Irene's exercises recommenced.
 
After this, Irene had only to cross herself as successful defense against the evil one; however, on one occasion she was so shaken with doubt that she fell to the ground, shedding tears of prayer to the Lord, His holy Mother, all the saints and the archangels (to whom the monastery was dedicated). "O Blessed Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), everlasting God, at the intercession of Your most holy Mother and in the presence of the archangels, their armies, the celestial powers and all Your saints, help Your servant. Deliver me from the assaults of the devil."
 
After many tears in many nights, she was able to overcome these doubts, and in her renewed devotion she appeared transfigured to many people whom she led to the Lord, renewing the faith of rich and poor and causing many unmarried women enter the monastery. After some time, the abbess became weak and near the time of her repose. The sisterhood was filled with sorrow on realising this, while Irene shed many tears. On her last day, many nuns had gathered in her cell, but Irene was not there; the abbess noted this, and said to them: "Do not lament my departure for in my successor you have a leader who is wiser than I. Be obedient to her, this daughter of light, lamb of Christ and vessel of the Holy Spirit. Do not accept anyone but Irene." Then, with the words "Glory to You, O Lord, in Your mercy," she reposed. Irene was not told of these disclosures for the sake of her humility, but the sisterhood prayed that the Lord's will would be done, and then sought the patriarch's advice. Patriarch Methodios the Confessor was a leader of great courage, and, through the iconoclasts, had the stigmata of Christ, and also had the gift of foresight. When the patriarch asked who should be the superior, they responded that the patriarch should decide, guided by the Holy Spirit. Patriarch Methodios asked if there was a humble nun named Irene; and if so, that she was the choice pleasing in the sight of God. The sisterhood was filled with such joy at the workings of the Holy Spirit that Methodios rose and offered incense as thanks to the Lord, and ordained Irene deaconess. After advising her in the ways of administering and guiding the sisterhood, the patriarch clothed her as abbess and gave the sisterhood his blessing as farewell.
 
Abbess of Chrysovalantou
 
When the sisterhood arrived at the monastery, they held a great celebration for the friends and spiritual children of the monastery. Irene was joyless because she felt herself to be utterly inadequate for the task, however, the sisterhood reassured her. In her cell she constantly prayed, saying: "Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of Your sheep, help Your servant and this, my flock, because we have no power of our own to resist the assaults of the demons. Leave us not without Your grace." To which she received the reply: "Watch and pray without ceasing for from this day you will have the responsibility of the spiritual welfare of many for whom our Lord was incarnate and shed His precious blood, souls that He has committed to your care. Take care that the 'blind do not lead the blind' so that both fall into the ditch."
 
In receiving this command, Irene redoubled her spiritual exercises and was given great wisdom and revelations in how to lead the flock. With this strength from God, she told her sisterhood: "I know, beloved sisters in Christ, that it was not logical that I, your humble, unworthy, and illiterate servant, should be called to teach you, but the ways of God are mysterious. If it is by His grace that I am your superior, then I pray that you will obey me. Surely if we do not obey the laws (promised before God and His angels) of the habit we wear, we achieve nothing. For it is said: 'faith without works is dead' (James 2:17). Why have we left the unreal and temporal world? To disobey His commandments? If so, like the foolish virgins we also will lose the eternal kingdom. (Matthew 25:1-13) The soul cannot be divided so as to have both pride and humility, unrestricted pleasure and abstinence. Therefore let us rid our soul of worldly desire and seek only purity, humility, patience, and love (prayer of St. Isaac the Syrian) lest we lose not only ourselves but others also."
 
The more Irene was respected for her judgment, holy way of life, and miracles, the more she humbled herself. She identified with the unrepentant thief such that, at the offering of Eucharist, she had to hide her face to prevent people from seeing her tears. Sometimes Irene would remain in prayer and contemplation for as long as a week without ceasing, taking only uncooked vegetables and water for sustenance.
 
Wonder-worker of Chrysovalantou
 
Gift of Foresight
 
One of Irene's gifts was that of foresight. Irene asked God that she might be given the gift of foresight so that she could have knowledge of the sisters' impending trials so that she would be better able to advise them. A guardian angel greeted her, saying, "Hail, fruitful servant of God, the Lord has sent me that more might be saved through your guidance. I am to remain at your side and disclose the events of the future." He disappeared, but remained with her, continually revealing the hidden problems of the nuns and all others who sought her advice. Irene was able to use her gift to correct confessions, never to reprimand or humiliate. Giving thanks to God, regardless of how many would seek her advice, she increased in humility.
 
Prince Varda's Death
 
Irene's sister, wife of Prince Varda, sent her eunuch to see Irene. Irene informed him of a recent revelation that the prince would soon die at the wish of the Emperor Michael, and that the emperor himself would immediately lose his life and kingdom. Even though this disclosure was confidential, Prince Varda was told everything by his wife; however, due to Prince Varda's pride and faithlessness, he dismissed the idea. As the saint predicted, Prince Varda was killed in battle, closely followed by the Emperor. Irene continued to serve the Church in the reign of Basil the Macedonian, the successor to the throne.
 
The Magician's Wiles
 
A young and beautiful girl came to the monastery of Chrysovalantou and became a novice. To fight this, the evil one incited her ex-fiancé such that he sought the help of a magician in Cappadocia. The magician's spells made the novice lose her mind and threaten to drown herself. Irene lamented her neglect and received the power to defy the evil one in this struggle. Gathering her community together, she explained the situation and ordered a week-long period of fasting, daily 100 prostrations, and the continual prayer for an understanding of God's will. On the third night, St. Basil appeared to Irene, advising her to take the novice to the convent of Vlachernae, where the Mother of God would heal her. Taking two senior nuns with her, on arrival they fell asleep during their first all-night vigil from exhaustion. Irene's vision continued while she slept: a pilgrim procession appeared in white and golden robes, shining with a strange and unearthly light, scattering flowers and incense on the path. Irene asked their purpose, to be told that the Mother of God was coming. The Mother of God arrived at that moment, surrounded by hosts of angels, so radiant that none could look upon her; she visited the sick, then came to Irene, who prostrated in fear. While prostrate, Irene heard the Mother of God tell St. Basil of Caesarea to cure the young girl from Caesarea, saying, "My Son and God has given you this power." Irene then awoke with the message, "Return to your convent and within three days your novice will be healed." She disclosed her vision to her companions and they departed with joy, arriving in time for Friday's Vespers.
 
After Vespers, Irene instructed her sisterhood to lift up their eyes and hands to heaven and cry, "Lord, have mercy;" after many hours and many tears, Sts. Basil and Anastasia said to Irene, "Stretch out your hand, accept the gift, and do not trouble us any more." The gift was the magician's aids, including model idols of the nun and her ex-fiancé. Giving thanks to God during the all-night vigil, in the morning they sent the novice to Vlachernae with holy bread and all the magician's aids. After the Divine Liturgy at Vlachernae, the priest anointed her and solemnly burnt the magician's aids. As the aids were burnt, the suffering novice was released from her bonds, and the idols made sounds like pigs anticipating slaughter. The novice, and all those present, were filled with holy fear and gave thanks to the Lord.
 
Destroyer of Demons
 
Nicholas was a young man, responsible for the vineyard of the monastery. He fell in love with one of the nuns, such that he lay awake at night listening to the suggestions of the demons to hear how he might satisfy his lust. One night he fell unconscious as a result of this. The following morning Irene heard of this, and said, "Blessed be God who has allowed us to be the objects of the devil's attention," and gave orders for Nicholas to be taken to the Church of St. Anastasia so that Irene would not receive the credit for Nicholas' healing. However, St. Anastasia appeared to Irene and told her not to lay aside the responsibility for healing her own servant.
 
Irene decided to confine Nicholas in a straightjacket tied to one of the pillars of the church. Once after the Great Entrance, Nicholas was so consumed with fury that he broke the chains, rushed to the Holy Doors and began to bite the flesh of the priest, so much so that Irene had to leave her stall and order Nicholas to be still; an order so powerful that he was immediately calm. He tried to move back, but he could not move. After the Liturgy Irene prostrated herself beside Nicholas and prayed to God for his health. After some time, she stood up and ordered the demon to leave Nicholas, who was seized and hurled to the ground, after which Nicholas was cured. He was sent back to work with a strict rule of life, was advised to pray for the protection of the holy angels to avoid such a thing happening in the future, and left praising God.
 
Handkerchiefs of the Cypress Trees
 
On great feasts it was the custom of Irene to keep vigil in the courtyard of the monastery, giving thanks for the awesome beauty of creation. During one of these vigils one of the nuns, who was unable to sleep, left her cell and entered the courtyard. The nun was blessed to see Irene motionless, in prayer and levitated a metre off the ground, with two cypress trees bent to the ground before her. After Irene had finished, she blessed the trees and they returned to standing upright.
 
At first, the nun thought this to be a vision of the evil one. Afterwards, when others of the sisterhood noticed handkerchiefs at the top of those trees, the nun who saw Irene related what she saw. In response to this the whole sisterhood was so excited that Irene rebuked them, focusing on the need for concentration of their own prayer rule and ordering them not to relate any miracles until after Irene's repose.
 
Apples of St. Basil
 
Irene kept the feast of St. Basil especially holy because they both came from Cappadocia. After the feast day of St. Basil, during the third watch of the night, she heard a voice saying, "Welcome the sailor who brings fruit to you today and eat it with joy; let your soul rejoice;" followed by a similar voice during Matins saying, "Go to the door and bring in the sailor who is visiting you." She invited the sailor in and greeted one another, and stayed until the end of the Liturgy. After Liturgy, Irene enquired after the sailor's journey, to which he replied, "I am a sailor from Patinas and I joined a boat coming to this town for business. As we were passing the coast of that island, we saw a very old man on the shore who called to us to wait for him. We could not because we were near the rocks, so with a good wind behind us we left. He then shouted all the more loudly ordering the boat to stop. This it did at once. Then he came to us walking on the waves and soon entered the boat. Then taking three apples from beneath his cloak, he gave them to me saying, 'When you go to the capital, give these to the patriarch and tell him that the Almighty sends them to him from His beloved disciple, John.' After that he took another three and asked that these be presented to you, the abbess of Chrysovalantou. To you he said, 'Eat these and all that your beautiful soul desires will be granted you because this gift comes to you from John in Paradise.' Having said this he blessed God, wished us well, and disappeared."
 
Irene offered a prayer of thanksgiving, with tears of joy, for St. John the Theologian, the Apostle, Evangelist, and beloved disciple of Christ. The sailor asked for a blessing and left the monastery. Irene fasted for a week, thanking God for the apples. After this, she ate small pieces of the first apple daily, without any other form of sustenance, for forty days; when she ate, she smelt as if she was exuding myrrh; during this time, the remaining apples became more beautiful and aromatic. On Holy Thursday, she directed her sisterhood to receive Communion; after the Liturgy, the second apple was divided between them; when eaten, so sweet was the taste that the sisters felt as if their souls were being fed. The third apple was kept until Irene would know what to do with it.
 
On Holy Friday, during the singing of the hymns of the Passion, Irene had a vision of countless radiant angelic beings entering the church: some with stringed instruments, singing beautiful hymns to God; others with goblets of myrrh, to be poured onto the altar, which filled the monastery with a wonderful fragrance. Among these beings was a particularly majestic man, a face radiant like the sun, who was treated with devotion. He approached the altar and, taking the shroud offered to him by the other beings, covered the now-fragrant alter.
 
The angel who stood by the altar, with great sadness, cried out to the majestic one, "Until when, O Lord?" to which a voice replied, "Until the second Solomon, when the heights will be united with the depths and all will be one. Then the Lord will be exalted and the memory of Irene will be glorified." Irene took this as confirmation of her teaching that no one, whether herself or another of the sisters, could be glorified until they achieved the Kingdom in death. Irene gathered the community, reiterating the necessity of running from worldly honour to achieve and behold the glory of God.
 
The Emperor's Vision
 
Irene had a noble relative who was unjustly convicted of conspiracy to kill the emperor, who then sentenced the noble relative to drown at sea. Friends and relatives of the convicted ran to Irene for intervention. She comforted them and told them to return home and to have faith in God. She then went to her cell to intercede for the unjustly condemned man.
 
God allowed for Irene to appear before the emperor in a dream. Irene threatened the emperor, saying "O King, get up immediately and release the prisoner condemned through jealousy. If you do not listen to me I will request the King of Kings to cause your death and the deliverance of your worthless body to wild animals." The Emperor, angered, asked who threatened him; she responded, "I am the abbess of  Chrysovalantou. Irene is my name," and hit him so hard that he awoke and she disappeared. The emperor demanded from the guards an explanation as to how the woman had escaped. The guards pleaded their ignorance, and he realised that he had received a vision.
 
The next day, the condemned was questioned and proved his loyalty to the emperor's satisfaction. The emperor asked him if he knew of an Irene of Chrysovalantou. "Of course," was his response. "She is a relative of mine, a most virtuous and God-fearing abbess, so humble that she never leaves her monastery and only rarely receives visitors." The emperor sent his nobles, along with an artist, to go to Chrysovalantou monastery, so that the artist could paint a portrait of Irene after he had left the monastery; all this was revealed to Irene. After Matins she returned to the church with the sisterhood, telling them to bring the visitors to her immediately. When they arrived to her, she became so radiant that they fell to the floor, unable to behold such a presence. Irene immediately told them, "Do not be afraid. I am also a fallible creature. But why does your skeptical master put you to all this trouble? Tell him to do as I said and release the prisoner, or else all that I prophesied will befall him." The nobles agreed to report this to the emperor, but asked to stay with her, ostensibly to hear more words from her, but also for the artist to be able to paint her likeness.
 
The artist painted a portrait, but when it was shown to the emperor the whole company was overwhelmed by a great light. Blinded, the emperor said the beginning of Psalm 50, and to his amazement, his blindness passed. He looked at the portrait and realised that it was the same person he had seen in the vision. The prisoner was released with full honours, and a message of thanks was sent to Irene for intervening. He asked for her presence to bless himself and the empress, but she responded, "Thanks be to God who desires not the death of a sinner but his repentance. Do not thank me, glorify Him," and, "It is neither right for your majesties to enter the convent nor for me to visit you. You do not need the blessing of a sinful woman when you have the holy patriarch and spiritual directors of the great monasteries to advise you. Do as they say and you will rule this empire with wisdom. Please attend to what I say and may the right hand of God watch over you."
 
After these events, the royal house, as well as the family of the former prisoner, were attentive to the example and teaching of the monastery of Chrysovalantou; in return for this, the monastery received numerous gifts. Among many others, Irene became known for her ability to predict death. Using this gift from God, she was able to strengthen many people in their last hours.
 
Repose of the Venerable Irene
 
In accordance with angelic prophecy, that Irene would repose on the day after St. Panteleimon's feast day, the monastery kept the day before St. Panteleimon as a feast to celebrate the anniversary of the monastery's founding.
 
Irene spent the whole week prior to that in preparation. She spent all of her days in meditation and fasting, drinking water and eating only small pieces from the last remaining apple, eaten because she felt her time of repose to be near. As soon as she ate the first fragment all enmity disappeared from the monastery, and the monastery was filled with fragrance from the apple. In a moment of doubt Irene cried out with great anguish. The sisterhood ran to her, and Irene recovered her composure, saying, "Today, my children, I depart from this world and you will see me no more. For the time has come for me to pass to eternal life. Therefore elect as your superior Sister Mary, for I know that she has already been chosen by God. I know that she will lead you according to His Will and keep you on the narrow path so that you will also attain to the broad avenues of paradise. Hate the world and all that is in it, for as our Lord and Master has said, 'Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, there is no love for the Father in him' (I John 2:15), because all these temporal things are vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Never follow the will of the flesh but only the Will of God because it is He who gave you all things that you may return them to Him in that day."
 
And so, after her last instructions and nominating the next abbess of Chrysovalantou, she raised her hands and eyes to the heavens and prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, the Good Shepherd who has saved and fed us with Your own most precious Blood, I deliver in Your Holy Hands this little flock. Hide it under the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 90), protect it from the wiles of the devil for Yours is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory and to You we give thanks for ever and ever."
 
After she finished this prayer she sat up and smiled at the sight of the angels who greeted her, and her face was radiant. She closed her eyes and fell asleep in the Lord.
 
Funeral
 
At the all-night vigil, there were so many people?rich and poor?that the monastery gates had to be closed by force. The next day, at the funeral, the even larger congregation was amazed at the beauty of Irene, who was over 102 years old. Throughout the funeral and burial there was an unexplainable and indescribable fragrance filling the monastery.
 
St. Irene the Wonder-worker
 
Countless miracles surround St. Irene. First of these was the smell, the same present at the funeral, which continued at the saint's grave for years. Countless miracles occur at the site, and many prayers for St. Irene's intercessions are continually answered. One such series of miracles is for mothers who are unable to conceive: after asking for St. Irene's intercessions, often a child is born, and the parents will name their child Chrysovalanti or Chrysovalantou.
 
Hymns
 
Apolytikion in the Plagal of Tone One (Tone 5)
modeled on 'Ton Synarnarhon Logon (Co-eternal with the Father)'
 
Not a temporal kingdom on earth didst thou obtain,
but Christ, thy most comely Bridegroom, vouchsafed thee heavenly crowns,
and thou reignest as a queen with Him eternally;
for thou didst dedicate thyself unto Him with all thy soul,
O Irene, our righteous Mother,
thou boast of Chrysovalantou, and mighty help of all the Orthodox.
 
Kontakion in Tone Three
modeled on 'I Parthenou Simeron (Today the Virgin)'
Leaving all the world behind with its impermanent glory,
thou wast wedded unto Christ, the King immortal and holy,
bringing Him as precious dowry thy maiden beauty
and thy trophies won through abstinence over demons.
O Irene, our righteous Mother, entreat thy Bridegroom to show His mercy to us.
 
External links and sources:
  • St. Irene Chrysovolantou (OCA)
  • The Life Of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou translated by Mother Xenia in Jerusalem, compiled by Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
  • Our Holy Mother Irene, Most Gracious Abbess of the Sacred Monastery of Chrysovalantou
  • Irene the Righteous of Chrysovalantou (GOARCH)
  • Icon of St. Irene of Chrysovolantos
en.orthodoxwiki.org/index.php?title=Special:PdfPrint&page=Irene_Chrysovalantou - Supplemental Result
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/07/28 04:39:27 (permalink)


St. Irene Chrysovalantou
Ordained woman deacon
 
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/03 21:13:53 (permalink)

Holy martyr Lydia.

Today August 3 is the feast day of St. Lydia.  Ancient tradition venerates her as a deacon.

When Paul came to Philippi in Macedonia, Lydia the seller of purple goods heard him preach. She was converted and was baptised along with all her household. She invited Paul to use her home as his headquarters (Acts 16:7-5).

Lydia Purpuraria

Born at Thyatira (Ak-Hissar) in Asia Minor in the first century, Saint Lydia was born in a town famous for its dye works. She was a seller of purple dye, when she became Saint Paul's first convert at Philippi (Acts 16:14-15), Macedonia, and in Europe. She and her entire household were baptized, which probably included young children. Thereafter, Paul made his home with her while in Philippi (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).

 
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/04 02:40:34 (permalink)


 
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/04 02:46:38 (permalink)
When Paul on his second missionary journey carried his preaching out of Asia and into Europe, he began at the city of Phillipi in Macedonia (north of Greece).
 
His first European convert was a woman named Lydia, a merchant who dealt in purple-dyed goods. (Purple dye, made from a certain mollusk, was extremely expensive. One use of it was for the stripes in the togas of Roman senators. Lydia's occupation suggests that she had considerable capital.)
 
She and her household wer baptized, and she invited Paul, with Luke and his other companions, to make her house their headquarters in Phillippi.
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/15 02:39:24 (permalink)
August 13 is the feast day of ordained deaconess Saint Radegunde (587)

Wife of Clotaire I, son of Clovis; she left the court and became a deaconess, then an abbess in Poitiers. She had two vitae written about her: one by Baudoniva, a nun in the convent of Poitiers, and the other by the poet and bishop Venantius Fortunatus (Translations of these two vitae can be found in Jo Ann McNamara, ed. Sainted Women of the Dark Ages, Durham and London, 1992.)
 
 
Den hellige Radegunde av Poitiers (~518-587)
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/15 02:41:25 (permalink)
Saint Radegunde, ordained woman deacon

She was born to royalty in the 6th century in Thuringia (Germany.) Her father was murdered and she was taken as a prisioner. She was forced to marry Clothaire of Gaul. She devoted her life to the poor. When her husband became violent, she ran away from him. She was ordained a deacon by Bishop Medardus of Noyon “who laid hands on her”. She founded a ‘free convent’ at Poitiers, that is free from political or ecclesiastical interference.
 
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/15 02:46:51 (permalink)
Radegund /Radegunda /Radegundis (520/5-587)
           Baudonivia (fl. 600-602)
=========================================================================
"DAUGHTERS, I CHOSE YOU."
=========================================================================
Radegund was born in Thuringia (an area of Germany between the Rhine and the Elbe). As a small child, she lived in the household of an uncle who had killed her king-father in battle over control of the area. When Clothar (also called Clotaire or Lothar), King of the Franks, conquered Thuringia in 531 (and killed most members of the royal house), he, then in his 40s, took the child Radegund and her only surviving brother as his share of the booty; Radegund was to be raised as his future wife, thus legitimizing his claim to Thuringia.

Radegund lived quietly in Picardy until 538, when she was married to Clothar. For over ten years they lived together but had no children. In 550 Clothar had her brother killed; shortly after that, Radegund fled his court. Although Clothar would make sporadic and unsuccessful attempts to bring Radegund back, he would support her financially until his own death in 561; afterwards, his four sons, among whom the kingdom had been divided, would do the same.

For a while Radegund lived at a villa at Saix; by the mid-550s, she had decided to found a monastery in the city of Poitiers. Clothar provided the land and the buildings, and an abbess at Arles provided a copy of a religious Rule for women that had been recently written by Caesarius, the Bishop of Arles.The monastery was established according to the Caesarian Rule, and Radegund entered it (perhaps after Clothar's death) not as abbess but as its "guiding spirit."

The courtier/poet Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) was an early visitor to the Poitiers monastery, and he became a close friend of Radegund and of her abbess, Agnes. The two poems that are attributed to Radegund are published with Fortunatus' works; although some scholars believe that he had written the poems in her voice and others believe that they are Radegund's alone, the consensus now seems to be that they are in fact collaborations between the two writers. Both poems, De excidio Thoringiae and Ad Artachis, are presented as letters to Radegund's surviving relatives, describing the loss of her family and homeland and the isolation she had known all of her life.

According to Gregory, bishop of Tours, Radegund, worried about what might happen to her monastery of about 200 nuns after her death, wrote (perhaps in the mid-560s) a letter to the bishops of her area asking (demanding?) that they and their successors prevent anyone from disturbing the nuns, changing the Rule, or alienating the monastery's property. One may question whether the two verse epistles are in fact Radegund's; with the prose letter, there seems little question --- the voice is definitely that of a strong queen.

Sometime after Radegund's death (perhaps after he became bishop of Poitiers in 590), Fortunatus wrote a courtier-like vita. Later, the nuns chose one of their own, Baudonivia, to complement his work. Baudonivia's memoir of Radegund, written between 600 and 602, has the full hagiographic set of miracles, but it also shows the foundress as only her fellow-nuns could have seen her --- dealing with her husband's quarreling sons and with recalcitrant bishops, acting as a spiritual guide to the women around her, and living the kind of religious life that Baudonivia could only hope would be continued in the future.
 
from Other Women's Voices
http://home.infionline.net/~ddisse/radegund.html
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/17 03:13:08 (permalink)
Dear friends,

Several years ago, our Academic Advisor and founder, Dr. Wijngaards was invited by BBC Radio to participate in a discussion with opponent to women's ordination, Joanna Bogle, of the Association of Catholic Women exploring the issue of ordained women deacons.

Although at times it was difficult for anyone but Ms. Bogle to get a word in edgewise, the short discussion (it is about 8 minutes long,) moderated by BBC Radio host of the programme The Woman's Hour , is available on the internet. If you are interested in listening, the link to it is here.

with love and blessings,
~Sophie~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Women Deacons in the Early Church
Friday 13 December 2002

Listen to this item

It is an issue which has dogged the Roman Catholic Church for centuries - whether women can be ordained as priests.

One priest who has devoted himself to campaigning for women priests has now assembled what he believes is concrete historical evidence showing that women were ordained in the early Church.


John Wijngaards joins Martha to tell her why this precedent leaves the Vatican with no choice but to ordain women - a view staunchly opposed by writer Joanna Bogle of the Association of Catholic Women.

No Women in Holy Orders? The Women Deacons of the Early Church by John Wijngaards, published by Canterbury Press; ISBN: 185311507X

They are reconstructing the ancient ordination rite, to demonstrate that it was a true ordination for women. The function will take place on Saturday 18 January 2003, 12.00 noon - 14.30 pm at St. James Piccadilly in the centre of London.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/2002_50_fri_04.shtml
post edited by Sophie - 2007/08/17 17:08:57
Sophie
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RE: Women in the Ordained Diaconate 2007/08/17 03:16:42 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
ps:  the radio programme also provides a glimpse of what it can be like to work on the front lines as an agent for change...

hmmm...grateful to all those who have gone before us in the work for women priests.  We know their paths were not easy.
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