Oh Ouch.

CNN Don Lemon interview with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.  It drives me nuts when the news commentator/interviewer says “Don’t talk over me.” and then turns around and talks over the interviewee.

Watch it right here.

 

 

CHURCH CONDUCT

Written by and posted by FR. THEODORE PARASKEVOPOULOS·FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016 on his FB page.
When attending Divine Services we all have the responsibility of maintaining proper decorum and atmosphere in the church. The very first thing to keep in mind is that we are to be at Divine Services on time. Remember! The church is the House of God. Reverence and good manners are required at all times. No irreverent or irrelevant conversations should go on in the Narthex or in the church proper. There are certain times during the Divine Services when no one should be moving about or entering the church or being seated at a pew. Wherever a person happens to be at these moments, he or she should stop and stand reverently until the proper moment to be seated. These times are:
1. During the Doxology, while the priest is censing.
2. During the Small Entrance – The procession of the priest and altar boys with the Holy Gospel.
3. When the priest censes the Altar, icons, and congregation throughout the Divine Liturgy.
4. During the reading of the Epistle and Gospel.
5. During the sermon.
6. During the Great Entrance – the procession of the priest and altar boys with the Holy Gifts.
7. During the recitation of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer.
8. During the Consecration of the Holy Gifts. (Se Imnoumen)
9. During Holy Communion. To receive Holy Communion the faithful should come forth from the side
aisles and exit via the center aisle to return to their pew.
10. When receiving any sacrament of the church, use your baptismal/chrismation name.
11. During any special services such as Memorials or Artoclasia, special doxologies, etc.
The general rule is that whenever the priest is outside the Holy Altar either with the censer or for giving a blessing, there should be no movement in the church. Also, we remind everyone that we should attend the Divine Liturgy and all services of divine worship from the beginning. Please remember that Parish Council members are obligated to maintain order and decorum in the church during worship. Please try to understand us. Cooperate with us. If you know of someone who falls under the aforementioned categories, please let us know. We will do everything in our power to be useful and reinstate them in the Church. We, the priests, are here to serve you. Your cooperation in following these regulations will help us greatly in offering you assistance in all your spiritual needs.

THE CANONS OF RITUAL UNCLEANNESS AND WOMEN IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

This article was shared by FR. THEODORE PARASKEVOPOULOS·TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016 on his FB page.  I am posting it here for easy reference.
By: Maria-Fotini Polidoulis Kapsalis*
Introduction
For the majority of girls born and raised in the Orthodox tradition, puberty marks the time when our mothers not only set us down to discuss with us the facts of life, the changes that God intended our bodies to experience, and the hope of someday becoming mothers, but also marks the time when our mothers expose us to the tradition of “Ritual Impurity” and the teachings of “Uncleanness”. Pious Orthodox mothers all explain to their young impressionable daughters that while they are experiencing the blood of life, they are in a period of uncleanness, and therefore, must never touch anything at all related to the worship of God. This, mothers inform their daughters, includes reading the Sacred Scriptures, venerating icons, lighting candles or lanterns, baking the bread of offering, kissing the hand of a priest, and especially not participating in any Sacrament, most importantly that of Holy Communion. For some girls, this is calmly accepted as a fact of womanhood. For most, it becomes an obstacle to spiritual growth, causing disdain for church practices which to the present day educated woman do not make sense. If God created women to experience the flow of blood at puberty in order to make their bodies capable of bringing forth life, and thus working with God in synergy in His creative energy, why would God then banish women from all forms of worship and piety while experiencing their “blood of life”?
The Old Testament Laws
The Ritual Impurity Laws were first written in the Book of Leviticus, the third book of Moses, found in the Old Testament Canon. The first law dealing with the purification of women of childbirth is found in Leviticus 12. One immediately notices three things about this particular law composing a whole chapter in the book of Leviticus. First, there is a preference to male offspring as a mother is unclean with a male child for the first seven days, and then for thirty-three days following his circumcision, rendering her unclean for a total of forty days. For a female child, she will be unclean for fourteen days plus an additional sixty-six days, for a total of eighty days. Thus, those women bearing a female offspring are to be unclean for twice as long as those bearing a male. Second, women during their period of uncleanness are not allowed to enter the holy tent, the place of worship. They must bring their offering to the door, and meet the priest there. Lastly, being unclean is considered to be equivalent to sin, as she needs to bring in addition to the sacrificial offering, a sin offering. Thus, according to this Old Testament Law of Moses, women who bring forth children are considered sinful, until after they have been cleansed from their blood flow.
The second Old Testament law dealing with Ceremonial Uncleanness is found in Leviticus 15: 16-33. This Law deals with uncleanness in both men and women. There are a few interesting points here, which must be mentioned. First, and most importantly, men are not exempt for the laws of ritual impurity. Any man who has a discharge of semen whether from intercourse or a nocturnal emission is unclean until the following sunset (evening). Also if any man is in contact with a woman who is experiencing her monthlies, or anything that she has touched, whether it be her seat or bed, he is to be unclean again until evening. If a man lies with a woman during her monthlies, and comes into contact with her blood, he is to be unclean for seven days, like a menstruating woman, and every thing that he then comes into contact with will be unclean until evening. However, if he not only lies but also has intercourse with a woman during her monthlies, he is to be cut off from his people (Leviticus 20:18). The next point to note is that a woman during her regular monthly period is unclean for seven days, and everything and everyone that comes into contact with her is unclean until evening (sunset). A woman, however, who is experiencing a flow of blood which exceeds the seven days allotted for her regular monthly period or who experiencesn a haemorrhage which is not a monthly period, or at a time when she does not expect her period (i.e. any anomaly to her cycle) is not considered clean until seven additional days have passed. On the eighth day after her affliction she is required to take two turtle doves or two young pigeons, and bring them to the priest, (like a woman after delivery) to the door of the tent of meeting. The priest will offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, as a woman having an issue of blood greater than her regular cycle is considered to be ill and thus sinful, in need of atonement. Thus, we note, in the Old Testament, there is a strong connection between physical uncleanness, sickness and sin.
The Canons of the Early Church Fathers
This Jewish practice later crept into the New Testament world, and can be found in the Canons of the early Church Fathers. It seems almost incredible that Old Testament Leviticus laws would infiltrate the Church of Christ, especially after the Lord’s strong teaching against viewing the letter of the Law as a means to salvation rather than the spirit of the Law,1 and after St. Paul’s strong exhortation against Judaizing Christians. 2 Yet, for reasons of practicality, the Church has in its wisdom comprised canons to help in its proclamation of the truth, and in its governing practices. The Canons of the Early Church Fathers can be found in various collections and text, however I have chosen to use the most recent collection of canons of the Orthodox Church known as The Rudder3, compiled and edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain in the late 17th Century, in order to examine these early Patristic writings. There are several canons dealing with the issue of ritual impurity in this collection, and we will examine them in order. The first canon dealing with our topic is the Second Canon of St. Dionysius, the thirteenth Archbishop of Alexandria, who lived, in the mid-third Century. He states: Concerning menstrous women, whether they ought to enter the temple of God while in such a state, I think it superfluous even to put the question. For I opine, not even they themselves, being faithful and pious, would dare when in this state either to approach the Holy Table or to touch the body and blood of Christ. For not even the woman with a twelve years’ issue would come into actual contact with Him, but only with the edge of His garment, to be cured. There is no objection to one’s praying no matter how he may be or to one’s remembering the Lord at any time and in any state whatever, and petitioning to receive help; but if one is not wholly clean both in soul and in body, he shall be prevented from coming up to the Holies of Holies. (Letter, Canon #2) St. Dionysius declares that not even women, themselves would dare to approach the Chalice while experiencing their “monthlies”. However, no explanation as to why is given. Two questions thus arise from this statement: first, did the women of this period hesitate to attend Services and approach the Chalice when experiencing their “monthlies” because of the poor hygiene of their times? Or were these women greatly influenced by the Judaizers of whom Paul had written, who desired to keep the Law? Though Paul argued strongly against this by addressing Circumcision of the male body, still, many women may have been told of these female impurity laws in private, (as my mother had told me,) and thus were passed in this manner into New Testament times. I propose that as poor hygiene practices made women uncomfortable in entering Church buildings and receiving the Sacraments, a canon was written not so much to ban women, but more so to excuse them from not receiving, as Christians in those days received at every Liturgy. Women living in that historical period were bound to their bed or seat until their periods were over. Their hygiene practices were to stay in one place for seven days to avoid physically defiling areas with which they would come into contact. Had it not been for modern hygiene practices, I am sure women of today would also hesitate to attend Church services or exit their homes like the women in the third century. Lack of sanitary hygiene would seem to be the most probable reason for women in any society hesitating to approach the Chalice.
Women today are most fortunate, being able to come and go as they please while their “monthlies” remain undetected. If Dionysius’ reasoning is due to hygiene practices, then his reasoning in today’s society would no longer be valid, and the Church would need to re-examine its position dealing with ritual impurity. If, however, his reasoning is due to the Leviticus Law, then the Church has to seriously examine the theological implications this canon puts on the Orthodox teaching of Salvation by Grace. The Church must seriously examine to see if Dionysius’ interpretations with regards to ritual impurity is in harmony with the Church’s teaching on Creation, and Redemption, not to mention its Sacramental theology, especially dealing with Holy Communion.
Dionysius’ argument based on the haemorrhaging woman touching the garment of Christ, and not His actual person is unfounded, as women at the time of Christ were not even allowed to speak to men in public, let alone touch their flesh. It must be remembered that this woman was bound to the Old Law, and everything she touched became unclean. Even though she touched only Christ’s garment, that in itself was more than enough to render the Rabbi, “ritually impure” until evening (Lev. 15:19-30). St. Chrysostom’s homily about the haemorrhaging woman mentions that in Luke 8:46, Jesus states that He knew He was touched as power went out from Him. His body was definitely affected, and according to the Law, he must have known that as a man he was “impure”. Yet, Christ didn’t hide this event. He brought it forward, and then proceeded to go to raise the ruler’s daughter from the dead (Matt. 9:18-25). Could a ritually impure person do such a deed? No. But then Dionysius would probably say, that Christ was not simply a man, but also fully God, and nothing can defile God. True. Why then should women not approach the Chalice, if they cannot defile God? The Chalice holding within it the great mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ can only heal and purify.
Chrysostom’s words are so beautiful here, and so loving. He says in his 31st Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew, about the haemorrhaging woman: For though she was bound by her affliction, yet her faith had given her wings. And mark how He comforts her, saying, Thy faith hath saved thee. Now surely, had He drawn her forward for display, He would not have added this; but He said this, partly teaching the ruler of the synagogue to believe, partly proclaiming the woman’s praise, and affording her by these words delight and advantage equal to her bodily health…. For this cause He brought her forward, and proclaimed her praise, and cast out her fear, (for she came, it is said, even trembling); and He caused her to be of good courage, and together with health of body, He gave her also other provisions for her journey, in that He said, Go in peace. Christ was not defiled, nor did He send this woman away scolding her for not upholding the purification laws. She was accepted as “Daughter.” Also, of great interest is that Jesus made no mention of her condition being sinful? He made no comment to her to go and provide atonement for her sin to the priests, as the Leviticus law prescribes. When healing lepers He does send them to the priests. Why then the omission in the case of the woman? The other question, which is perplexing, is the state in which Dionysius believed one should approach the Chalice of Communion. He said that no one who is not wholly clean in both soul and body should approach and receive. Who then could receive? Is not the Body and Blood of Christ intended to cleanse those who are sinful? If only pious, virtuous and perfect people can approach the Holies of Holies, then why do they need to approach at all? They are already clean, are they not? Yet we know that no one save Christ was wholly clean, therefore, according to Dionysius, no one should dare approach the Chalice. I am sure this is not what St. Dionysius is proclaiming, and that he intends those who approach to be fighting the good fight, and approach the Chalice with the “fear (awe) of God”, however, why should one’s natural functions affect one’s spiritual growth, and reverence for God?
Reading the Prolegomena of the Canons of St. Dionysius, one will discover that he was a pupil of Origen. This is quite interesting, as Origen was condemned due to his unorthodox views of the human body, and sexuality. Nevertheless, this Canon, inspired and written by one man was “indefinitely confirmed by c. I of the 4th, and definitely by c. II of the Sixth Ecum. C.; and by virtue of this confirmation it acquired what amounts in a way to ecumenical force.” Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria, in the latter part of the forth century, wrote 18 Canons, also known as “The Questions and Answers”. Question 7 asks: “If a woman finds herself in the plight peculiar to her sex, ought she to come to the Mysteries on that day, or not?” Timothy’s answer was very short, “She ought not to do so, until she has been purified.” The editor Nicodemus interprets and says that this Canon is in agreement with Dionysius. However, what do these Canon writers mean by “purified”? There is no purification practice for a woman undergoing a normal menstrual period in the Leviticus Law. Purification practices as we have read above, existed only for a woman with unusual flows (Lev. 15:30). Did Timothy view her purification to be that of having simply finished her “monthlies”, or did he like the Old Testament prophets view her as needing a rite of purification from sin? Did the Fathers view this natural body experience as sinful? The last Canons which deal with the issue of ritual impurity in The Rudder are by St. John the Faster, who lived in the late sixth century. St. John also makes mention of ritual impurity for men experiencing nocturnal emissions. Canon 6 states: Anyone, who has been polluted in sleep by reason of an emission of semen, shall be denied communion for one day; but after chanting the fiftieth Psalm and making forty-nine metanies, it is believed that he will thus be purified. Thus, according to the Canons of the Early Church Fathers, men also have periods of ritual impurity, and unlike women have a purification rite. Interestingly enough though, unlike most young girls who are told of the “uncleanness law” at puberty, most boys reaching puberty are not told anything7 Canon 17 of St. John dealing with women’s ritual impurity is based on Dionysius’ Canon, but with an interesting twist. It states: As for women occupying a separate seat, let them not touch holy things for as many as seven days, the second Canon of St. Dionysius, but in particular the seventh canon of Timothy bids. This is also what the old Law ordered but neither did it permit them to have any sexual intercourse with men; for it happens on this account that the seeds sown become weak and evanescent. Hence it was that divine Moses ordered the father of a defective to be stoned to death, on the ground that on account of his intemperance he failed to await the purification of his wife. But as for a woman, who has been so scornful of the same uncleanness during this period and has touched the divine Mysteries, they bid her to be excommunicated for forty days.
In 1989 while attending Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology I surveyed the male students living on Campus if they were told at puberty of this canon and if they followed it. To my surprise none of the men had been told such a thing by their fathers. Those who even knew of the canon, were told about it years later. Some had just heard of it when they started Seminary. I was shocked to discover that Canons dealing with male ritual impurity were not strictly followed, even by the most devoted of the Orthodox males, while those Canons dealing with female ritual impurity were kept alive through mothers quietly passing it down to their daughters. Where men may purify themselves by chanting the fiftieth Psalm and make forty-nine metanies, and then possibly receive Communion, women who dare to receive while on their periods are to be given penance by being excommunicated for forty days. Interestingly enough this is the same penance given for masturbation, and other such sins of physical immorality. It is shocking and perplexing to read that partaking of the divine Mysteries, while experiencing this natural God given function could be equated with physical immorality, which according to Eph. 5:5 and 1 Cor. 6:9-10 deprives one of ever seeing the Kingdom of God. There is obvious misunderstanding on the part of the canon writers on the nature of women’s menses, its God given purpose, and the way it affects the spiritual and psychological state of women. This is the time when women need God most of all, as this is the time when they experience pre-menstrual syndrome, physical pain, panic attacks, crying spells, and other hormonal anomalies. This is the time when the soul needs to be doctored by the healing powers of Christ. To punish a woman in need of spiritual healing and nourishment at the time when she needs it most for daring to approach or to touch Christ by banishing her from him for an additional forty days, is not only an act devoid of any Christian compassion, but goes contrary to the very teachings of Christ, Himself.
Can the Canons of the Fathers then be refuted? The Church of Christ only follows the teaching of the Fathers when they are all found to be in agreement. Interestingly enough, there are Fathers of the Church, such as St. John Chrysostom, who championed strongly against superstition and impurity laws (see below).
The Rudder’s Footnote
The footnote in The Rudder, which seems to have been written by the collection’s compiler and editor Nicodemus, attempts to explain why these canons dealing with ritual uncleanness exist. It begins by defining the term “menstruous,10 (Also see Lev. 15:19 Lev. 15:25) and then addresses the question, “Why did God call this natural function which he himself created for woman unclean? The Hand of God created woman, with all her bodily functions, good in the Garden of Eden and thus no part of a woman’s physical composition can be considered either as sin or as uncleanness. St Chrysostom, (p. 1059 of vol. I of the series), and Theodore, or Diodorus, (ibid. 1032) both agree with the Apostolic Injunctions (Book VI, Ch. 26) which assert that only impiety and unlawful acts can separate one from the Holy Spirit (in Book VI, Ch. 26). Why then the attitude among the Fathers that Menses is unclean? As mentioned above, Leviticus 15 describes male and female bodily impurities. Verses 1 to 15 describe how unnatural bodily discharges defile the male. According to numerous modern Commentaries, and St. Chrysostom, these unnatural male discharges were a result of Venereal Diseases or Gonorrhoea. In order to be cleansed, seven days had to pass, and an atonement of two pigeons had to be given. The same applied for the case of menstruous women. Thus, these unnatural bodily discharge caused by wilful promiscuity are equated with a natural involuntary bodily discharge whose function is to bring forth life. Further reading reveals that the Father’s probably intended to prevent men from having intercourse with their wives during their monthlies. It was believed that children conceived during a woman’s flow were thought to be sickly, or worse carriers of diseases, more specifically, of leprosy. Accordingly, He made it a law that lepers should be chased out of cities and kept away from all association with human beings, as Isidore says, in order that He might prevent parents from having intercourse at such a time, on account of the uncleanness and the leprosy and the ostracism of their children to be born thereafter. … Proceeding further forward, God even commands that men who sleep with their wives when the latter are having the menses shall be put to death and exterminated…. (Lev. 20:18)…. (Ezek. 18:6). So for all these reasons, wishing to instill reverence and fear not only unto women, but much more into the impetuous vehemence of the natural instinct of men,11 both of old and now again through His saints, God has prohibited these women from coming into the temple proper and partaking of the divine Mysteries…
At this point, it must be stated that medically speaking leprosy is not a genetic illness that is acquired by one’s parents engaging in intercourse during the woman’s “monthlies.” Even those who were conceived “properly” were still susceptible to catching the leprosy bacterium. Dionysius’ argument has no medical foundation, as leprosy is an infectious disease caused by the organism “Mycobacterium leprae” and has no connection whatsoever with the method of conception. Secondly, it is amazing to note how restrictions are put on one gender, to solve problems supposedly caused by the other. It is illogical to put the blame on women for this supposed male lack of control, by labelling women unclean during the time when they experience the blood of life. Thirdly, the phrase “impetuous vehemence of the natural instinct of men” is very harsh not to mention groundless when referring to the male sex. It excuses, condones and labels as normal violent sexual behaviour, which is sinful, rather than promoting virtuous behaviour as found in men who have accepted Christ and have control over themselves. Theodoret may view this canon as honouring women, as protecting them from the approaches of their uncontrollable husbands, yet in truth, such men are more monsters than husbands are. By expecting all men to be “impetuously vehement” where is the call to love and respect one’s spouse which St. Paul writes about in Eph. 5:25-28? Women are not honoured here, but rather, this explanation has made them the scapegoats for certain men, who are ruled by their passions. This explanation may satisfy Nicodemus; however, this cannot be the real reason behind the writing of this canon, for it contradicts basic biblical teachings. The comment made next in the Footnote by Nicodemus holds within it what I feel to be the real reason behind these canons: i.e. the issue of hygiene. In agreement with these divine Canons, Novel 17 of Leo the Wise also makes a decree providing that women in childbirth as well as those in menstruation, if unbaptized, shall not be baptized; and if baptized, they shall not participate in communion unless they first be cleansed and purified, except only in case they should incur a deadly disease. What is meant here by “women in childbirth” are women who have just given birth and are discarding the blood, which nurtured their babies for the past nine months. This canon obviously is based on Leviticus 12 mentioned above.
It is interesting how the Church is willing to make a concession to baptize and Commune a menstruous woman who has been labelled in different places as being “sinful”, “dirty” and “unclean”, when on her deathbed out of love and compassion. And rightfully so, however, if baptism and Communion is permitted on a woman’s deathbed out of compassion, it should also be permitted during life out of compassion. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is needed for us in this life. It was meant to heal us spiritually in this life. If, however, the issue is that of hygiene, then logically as in the case for Communion, a woman experiencing her flow should wait until her flow stops, same as a person with bladder control problems, or one suffering from incontinence of stool, should wait until they are again in control of their body functions, before entering the baptismal font. Not found in The Rudder, is another second century Canon which is accepted as an authentic, authoritative document by our Orthodox Christian Church, the Canon of the Holy Apostles, which pre-dates any of the above mentioned Canons, and it states as follows: For if thou think, O woman, that in the seven days of thy flux thou art void of the Holy Spirit; if thou die in those days, thou wilt depart empty and without hope. But if the Holy Spirit is always in thee, without just impediment dost thou keep thyself from prayer and from the Scriptures and from the Eucharist? For if the Holy Spirit is in thee, why dost thou keep thyself from approaching the works of the Holy Spirit? Wherefore, beloved, flee and avoid such observances: for you have received release, that you should no more bind yourselves; and do not load yourselves again with that which our Lord and Saviour has lifted from you. And do not observe these things, nor think them uncleanness; and do not refrain yourselves on their account, nor seek after sprinklings, or baptisms, or purifications for these things. This Canon understands that the only way one can make women feel full of the Spirit is to allow them to participate fully in the New Life of Christ, including participation in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Naturally, women when continuously told that they are unclean during their monthlies, and are categorised among the unrighteous, would not want to pray, or read a divine book, or practice any aspect of their faith because they have been told that they are unclean and thus unworthy to approach God, and even if they dared to reach out to Him at that time, would not be accepted. Thus, women’s behaviour through antiquity has become that of the spiritually wounded. The Church needs to reexamine the effects such canons have on the spiritual growth of women, and Spiritual Fathers/Father Confessors must use their God given gift of discernment when dealing with their female spiritual children. The author of the above Syrian Canon realized the spiritual damage being done, and made a conscious effort to heal these wounds. In this canon one also finds the answer to the question of a purification rite for women. As women are not made unclean from their monthlies, it tells them not to seek purification for these things, and thus does not provide a purification rite for this situation. Interestingly enough, Nicodemus’ Footnote to Dionysius Canon, addresses the second century Syrian Canon which was mentioned above, and agrees with it only in part, refuting its permission to women to receive Communion stating that it was a later addition. Notice that the divine Apostles permit such women only to pray and to remember God, just as this Canon of Dionysius also contains these two permissions verbatim. They do not, however, permit them also to participate in communion or to go to church. For what is written on the side in the margin (in other manuscripts it says, “partake of the Eucharist”) has very little if any force, as not being found in the text proper of the Injunctions. This position, however, raises numerous contradictions. First, all Fathers are in agreement that women who have their “monthlies” are not devoid of the Holy Spirit. All affirm that woman was created by God and must not cease to pray to her Maker. This is in agreement with what was mentioned above, that which God created cannot be unclean. Yet, the writer of this Footnote turns and contradicts himself by stating that even though women are still full of the Spirit during their monthlies, entrance into the Church proper and participation in the Mysteries are forbidden. In other words, the Spirit which dwells within these women is forbidden to enter its own house in which the Spirit moves and guides, and is forbidden to Grace the Spirit dwells with its gift of Communion. Yet the Spirit we believe cannot be limited, the Spirit moves where it will, and is free to bring all to Salvation. If the Spirit is present within these women, then the Spirit will move them to a full life in Christ, and that includes participation in Holy Communion. As for that unfortunate insertion in the margin of the original second century Canon of the Holy Apostles, the writer is assuming it is a later insertion. I claim that the possibility exists that it was an original statement which was later removed for unfounded reasons, and again inserted in the margin by someone who realized that the Spirit wherever present moves one to a full life in Christ.
It is amazing how the next section of the Footnote attempts to eliminate any question or argument to this “banning” position, which Dionysius’ Canon has taken. It states: We reply to them with this true and surer answer that we have but one obligation, to obey and follow the Canons with implicit obedience, and not to sit as judges and examiners of what has been commanded by the Holy Spirit, and to keep saying why this? And why that? Lest we incur the exceedingly horrible penalties imposed upon those transgressing the Canons. It is obvious, that even in its time, there was controversy surrounding this Canon. Otherwise, the author of the footnote would not try to argue against those who were saying “why this? And why that?” His final appeal is to the authority of the Holy Spirit. Yet, if it were truly by the Holy Spirit that this Canon was written, then it would not have so many contradictions, which would prohibit the freedom of the same Spirit. Are not Christians told to test the Spirit to ensure that it is genuinely from God? (1 John 4:1) And how can any one who truly understands these things equate the emissions of men caused by what the Fathers believed to be lascivious dreams, from a spirit full of desire, with the God given blood of life of women.
It is also of interest to note, that he who judged the earlier second century Syrian canon and attempted to refute its validity, would then turn around and state that we must not “sit as judges and examiners…” What if the earlier Canon, written within a hundred years after Christ, expresses a more accurate teaching of our Lord and Saviour? We are not called to follow human opinion. We are called to seek the Truth, and to discern from among the teachings of the Fathers, that which is human and that which is by the Holy Spirit. We must revere the Fathers of our Church, and hold them in high regard. However, we must also remember that they were fallible men who were products of their times. Times in which I believe sanitary hygiene played an important role. As the only logical reason for not permitting women to enter a Church building and participate in the Sacraments was to prevent them from physically dirtying the house of the Lord, and for no other apparent theological reason, and as these issues of hygiene are no longer relevant in this particular day and age, these canons need to be re-examined by the Church. We must understand that these canons were practical for their time period, however, for our society, whose understanding of the body is more advanced, and whose hygiene practices allow women to come and go “clean”, the usefulness of these Canons fall under question. It is time that we as a Church put the spiritual needs of women experiencing the blood of life in the forefront. It is time for our Clergy and Spiritual Fathers to use discernment in interpreting these as well as other Canons and to put the spiritual health of all their spiritual children in the fore. Forbidding Communion is a serious and grave thing, which causes not only spiritual, but also psychological and emotional harm. If their spiritual children have cleansed themselves on the inside, repenting and confessing their sins, and if they truly thirst for Christ, then Spiritual Fathers should show mercy and compassion by allowing them “with faith, love and the fear of God, to draw near” to our Saviour’s divine mystery.
*Maria-Fotini Polidoulis Kapsalis obtained her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto in 1988. She then attended Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass. where she graduated in 1990 with a Master of Theological Studies degree. Returning to Toronto, she attended the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Education and in 1991 graduated with a Bachelor of Education Degree, and obtained Ontario Teacher’s Certification. Presently, she is working part-time for the Scarborough Board of Education as an Occasional Teacher and is also enrolled as a full time Doctoral student at the Toronto School of Theology, at St. Michael’s College. Fotini Kapsalis lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband John, and their baby girl Evangeline.

Fr.TEDTalks EP05 – Why is Church Boring?

Fr.TEDTalks EP04 – Christianity vs Pop Culture

Fr.TEDTalks EP03 – Evolution vs Religion?

Fr.TEDTalks EP02 – Raising Kids in Mixed Marriages

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