Deaconess and sacrament of holy orders

Does the ordination of a deaconess confer the sacrament of holy orders to her?

I know that the deacon and deaconess are ordained to different roles, the former to assist in the service of the holy mysteries, and the latter to service in the community, but is that ordination the sacrament?

And if so, then isn’t the sacrament of orders the same for Bishop, Priest, and Deacon? So where does the deaconess fit in?

How does one reconcile this apparent contradiction?

Thanks

My own personal opinion is that deaconess is a purely lay function perhaps similar to the lay ministries of the latin church today. As far as honorifics go, it was considered a higher honor then sub deacon, but lower then Deacon.

No. The Deaconesses that we read about in the Early Church served the Church in only certain specific functions (many of which might not have been fitting a male deacon or priest participate in as in preparing an adult woman for full immersion baptism (but not actually administering the sacrament).

Deaconesses did not in any way receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders as regular deacons do.

But here is where the question lies:

How does one then explain the imposition of the hands by the bishop,
the calling of the holy spirit in the rite
and the fact that the deaconess receives the cup as the deacon does behind the iconostasis?

it becomes difficult to reconcile this being not sacramental, does it not?

Here is the classic Byzantine service still printed in some Orthodox books.

anastasis.org.uk/ordinations.htm

Read it, compare it with the order for for ordaining a deacon, and draw your own conclusions.

Is it a sacrament? I think so.

Is it purely a non-liturgical ministry? Not in the byzantine tradition. The liturgical role is similar to a subdeacon; the extra-liturgical role is similar to that of the deacon.

It it a female Deacon? No. Nor is it a female subdeacon.

Is it a major order: by virtue of ordination by laying on of hands, yes. By virtue of institution within the 1st century, as with Deacons, presbyters and the epsicopacy? yes; Phoebe was a deaconess, and is mentioned in Paul’s writings. By virtue of institution by Christ? no, but then neither is the deaconate; both were established by the Apostles to fill specific needs in the community, and the role evolved from there.

In the west, it was almost purely an honorific; in the modern Eastern Orthodox east, it is a liturgical ministry in the churches that have used it (Greek and Russian), allowing a priest to have a deacon for liturgy in women’s monasteries, and for presanctified in the absence of priests. (The Russians seem to not be currently using them, and the greeks only recently started doing so.)

In the Oriental Orthodox, they are minor orders, ordained by acclimation and investure, not imposition of hands, and do not have any liturgical ministry (but are EMHC’s to women who are in need of viaticum), having instead public ministries, especially to women and children.

I would not object to Deaconesses as major orders, provided that it goes no further. They are not and can not be transitional; it is a ministry of its own.

I think there is also a risk of false anachronism when a practice has fallen into disuetude for so long that the actual cultural, practical, and ministerial context of the office have been lost for well over a millenia, and “scholars” attempt to reconstruct what essentially cannot be anymore understood in the same way. Especially in this day and age where the women’s ordination movement is poised to pounce on such an opportunity.

Even in the context of an abbess or a nun assiting in a women’s monastic community where visits by a priest might be limited because of location, the abbess by virtue of her monastic profession and through a very personal and specific blessing from the Bishop can do certain tasks (cense during the Hours, etc.) that do not require any further cheirotonia such as ordination to major orders.

Several ancient texts continued in the various versions of the Euchologion as well as other liturgical books centuries after the practice had fallen out of use.
FDRLB

Catholic Encyclopedia:

in the more explicit 19th canon of the Council of Nicaea, which last distinctly lays down that deaconesses are to be accounted as lay persons and that they receive no ordination properly so called

It follows from what has been said that the Church as a whole repudiated the idea that women could in any proper sense be recipients of the Sacrament of Order. None the less in the East, and among the Syrians and Nestorians much more than among the Greeks (Hefele-LeClercq, Conciles, II, 448), the ecclesiastical status of deaconesses was greatly exaggerated.

I have encountered the strange useage of the word “deaconess” as the wife of a deacon. Certainly not biblical or according to the normal use of the word.
As someone hs pointed out, women can be ordained when men can have babies.

except that the citation from Nicea points to the Paulican heretics, in that their deaconesses order are invalid. The issue didn’t settle whether or not a deaconess was a lay or ordained. The issue revolved around whether or not the sacraments of the Paulicans were valid upon their admittance into the Church.

In the Coptic Church, the role has revived significantly since the early 90’s. But I cannot comment on the Eastern Byzantine practice of ordaining deaconnesses. I am unfamiliar with it, nor do I understand its rationale. In the Coptic Church, deaconesses are not ordained, but consecrated. The bishop does the consecration, and only the bishop can do so, but there is no laying on of hands - hence, it is not an ordination, but a consecration.

Blessings,
Marduk

The wife of a deacon is a “deaconessa” – not deaconess. Two different words and functions.

Deacon Ed

One of the problems we have with attempting to use modern terms with regard to the ancient church is that terms have been developed. Our sacramental theology is certainly quite different from that of the early Church. As my brother deacon Diak has said, the desuetude into which this function has fallen makes it impossible to determine what it was intended to be.

Deacon Ed

The Catholic Church has painted herself into a corner over this one. The historical evidence is in favor of deaconesses having received sacramental ordination, but the theological evidence is against women being able to receive Holy Orders in any grade.

My prediction is that the Church will not touch this issue with a ten-foot pole any time soon. So there will be no pronouncements, infallible or otherwise, that women cannot be ordained as permanent deacons. Nor will the Church change canon law to allow such ordination. The status quo will remain unchanged.

19th Canon of the Council of Nicea:

Paulianists must be rebaptized, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let them be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconnesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the Laity.

If the translation is at all correct, the referrence to deaconesses here refer to those Catholics who held the office before following the teachings of Paul of Samosata, hence, when the council fathers say that they do not share in orders, they mean that Catholic deaconnesses in no way received the sacrament of orders.

9th Canon of the Council of Nicea:

Quote:
Paulianists must be rebaptized, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let them be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconnesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the Laity.
If the translation is at all correct, the referrence to deaconesses here refer to those Catholics who held the office before following the teachings of Paul of Samosata, hence, when the council fathers say that they do not share in orders, they mean that Catholic deaconnesses in no way received the sacrament of orders.


But there’s a canon from Chalcedon that reckons Deaconnesses as clergy.

Furthermore, some writers have spoken of the Diaconissate as the “ierosynis tis yinaikes”–the priesthood of women.

Greetings (bows)

Here’s something for your consideration. In the Old and New Testaments, God has female prophetesses (ala Debrah, Hulduh, and Anna).

Prophetess is already feminine, but you’re right.

In fact, it was the prophetess Hulda who determined the authentic text of the Torah.

And the women you mentioned are among those mentioned in the prayers of ordaining a deaconess.

In Genesis, God said, "Let us create man in Our image and likeness, and God created man, male and female He created them"
At one time women were told they were not made in God’s image because Jesus is male. But, God’s image is male and female.
As a woman, I and most women are used to men thinking they are the human race, and women are the Ladies Auxilliary.
But, with our ability to think well with both sides of our brains, we would do well to let women administer governments and let men do the heavy work. This worked for the Native Americans until they saw how the white men treated women.
Men are superior to women in only one aspect - physical strength. If that is the criteria for superiority, than a gorilla is superior to any man.
Anyway, it felt good to vent.

In the Italo-Greek Catholic Church, Deaconessa is the term of respect given to the wife of an Archdeacon. It has no sacramental meaning.

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