Tradition Thursday- #53

A recent topic du jour has been the role of women with regards to teaching. Given this, I think it appropriate to quote from some of Saint John Chrysostom’s homilies on the subject. First we have 1 Timothy 2:

Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in [through the] child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Great modesty and great propriety does the blessed Paul require of women, and that not only with respect to their dress and appearance: he proceeds even to regulate their speech. And what says he? Let the woman learn in silence; that is, let her not speak at all in the church; which rule he has also given in his Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says, It is a shame for women to speak in the church 1 Corinthians 14:35; and the reason is, that the law has made them subject to men. And again elsewhere, And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home. 1 Corinthians 14:35 Then indeed the women, from such teaching, kept silence; but now there is apt to be great noise among them, much clamor and talking, and nowhere so much as in this place. They may all be seen here talking more than in the market, or at the bath. For, as if they came hither for recreation, they are all engaged in conversing upon unprofitable subjects. Thus all is confusion, and they seem not to understand, that unless they are quiet, they cannot learn anything that is useful. For when our discourse strains against the talking, and no one minds what is said, what good can it do to them? To such a degree should women be silent, that they are not allowed to speak not only about worldly matters, but not even about spiritual things, in the church. This is order, this is modesty, this will adorn her more than any garments. Thus clothed, she will be able to offer her prayers in the manner most becoming.

But I suffer not a woman to teach. I do not suffer, he says. What place has this command here? The fittest. He was speaking of quietness, of propriety, of modesty, so having said that he wished them not to speak in the church, to cut off all occasion of conversation, he says, let them not teach, but occupy the station of learners. For thus they will show submission by their silence. For the sex is naturally somewhat talkative: and for this reason he restrains them on all sides. For Adam, says he, was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

If it be asked, what has this to do with women of the present day? It shows that the male sex enjoyed the higher honor. Man was first formed; and elsewhere he shows their superiority. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. 1 Corinthians 11:9 Why then does he say this? He wishes the man to have the preeminence in every way; both for the reason given above, he means, let him have precedence, and on account of what occurred afterwards. For the woman taught the man once, and made him guilty of disobedience, and wrought our ruin. Therefore because she made a bad use of her power over the man, or rather her equality with him, God made her subject to her husband. Your desire shall be to your husband? Genesis 3:16 This had not been said to her before.

This brings us to Titus 2:

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness.

That is, that in their very dress and carriage they exhibit modesty.

Not false accusers, not given to much wine.

For this was particularly the vice of women and of old age. For from their natural coldness at that period of life arises the desire of wine, therefore he directs his exhortation to that point, to cut off all occasion of drunkenness, wishing them to be far removed from that vice, and to escape the ridicule that attends it. For the fumes mount more easily from beneath, and the membranes (of the brain) receive the mischief from their being impaired by age, and this especially causes intoxication. Yet wine is necessary at this age, because of its weakness, but much is not required. Nor do young women require much, though for a different reason, because it kindles the flame of lust.

Teachers of good things.

And yet you forbid a woman to teach; how do you command it here, when elsewhere you say, I suffer not a woman to teach? 1 Timothy 2:12 But mark what he has added, Nor to usurp authority over the man. For at the beginning it was permitted to men to teach both men and women. But to women it is allowed to instruct by discourse at home. But they are nowhere permitted to preside, nor to extend their speech to great length, wherefore he adds, Nor to usurp authority over the man.

Ver. 4. That they may teach the young women to be sober.

Observe how he binds the people together, how he subjects the younger women to the elder. For he is not speaking there of daughters, but merely in respect of age. Let each of the elder women, he means, teach any one that is younger to be sober.

To love their husbands.

This is the chief point of all that is good in a household, A man and his wife that agree together. Sirach 25:1 For where this exists, there will be nothing that is unpleasant. For where the head is in harmony with the body, and there is no disagreement between them, how shall not all the other members be at peace? For when the rulers are at peace, who is there to divide and break up concord? As on the other hand, where these are ill disposed to each other, there will be no good order in the house. This then is a point of the highest importance, and of more consequence than wealth, or rank, or power, or anything else. Nor has he said merely to be at peace, but to love their husbands. For where love is, no discord will find admittance, far from it, other advantages too spring up.

So the teaching here seems to be that:

  1. Women cannot preach or teach as part of the Liturgy
  2. Women may teach at home, principally to other women
  3. Women may not teach in a way such as to usurp authority over man

Part of me thinks I’ve mentioned these before, but since it has been a while a refresher seems appropriate. If I get a chance I will look for other writings by the Saints and Church Fathers on these matters and post them as well.

 

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20 responses to “Tradition Thursday- #53

  1. Pingback: Tradition Thursday- #53 – Manosphere.com

  2. Reblogged this on To our bodies turn we then and commented:
    Good post by Donal. I had forgotten how good St. John Chrysostom’s homilies were.

  3. So the teaching here seems to be that:

    1. Women cannot preach or teach as part of the Liturgy
    2. Women may teach at home, principally to other women
    3. Women may not teach in a way such as to usurp authority over man

    4. Women should remain quiet **in every way** while Mass is going on.

    I always took Paul’s words literally to the point that I don’t say anything at church while the liturgy is going on. Responses and prayers are best kept under the breath than spoken aloud. This was a “just in case” thing; I wasn’t totally certain of whether I was taking it too far or not, but figured it would be better to be safe than sorry. But this affirms to me that silence really does mean silence, so thanks for posting this Donal.

  4. Michael Kozaki

    Women should remain quiet **in every way** while Mass is going on.

    Liturgical dancing! That can be done quietly, right?
    OK, that was just to get all the trads riled up… 🙂

  5. @ Cassie

    I believe that singing/chanting along with the Congregation is permitted. That is not the same as speaking, and I believe that historical evidence supports this. For example, prior to the Schism a Council of Eastern Bishops passed, among other resolutions, a ban on women singing during the Liturgy. All the same, it could be investigated further I should think.

  6. @ Donal

    I believe that singing/chanting along with the Congregation is permitted. (….) prior to the Schism a Council of Eastern Bishops passed, among other resolutions, a ban on women singing during the Liturgy.

    I’m confused… :-/

  7. Cassie, the practice existed before. That Council (the “Robber Council” I believe), tried to end it. It is recognized by the EO but not the Catholic Church. Want to say it is the Quinisext Council.

  8. Mrs. C

    God as creator is masculine in relation to His creation. Life and the Word originates and goes forth from Him. Male and female as creatures are feminine in relation to God. We receive from and respond to God. The priest in the Liturgy is the initial first giver of the Word. (Scripture, Homily, Eucharist) He is masculine in relation to the congregation. He is also feminine in relation to God in that He leads us by offering prayers and praise to God. The Liturgy has built in responses for the congregation during Mass. These responses are good and proper ways of responding to the Word we have been given. (Amen. Thanks be to God. Lord, have Mercy. …and with your Spirit.) The feminine doesn’t just receive but affirms that what was received was true, good and beautiful and gives praise in response. Why would women, being the embodiment of the feminine, not give the feminine response during Mass? Why would only the men respond?

    Women should not be in the masculine role of the priest as the initiator and giver of the Word. However, there is nothing wrong with women giving the feminine response to the Word during the Mass as part of the congregation and body of the Church.

  9. How are women the embodiment of the feminine in your view? Men appear to be just as feminine as women in your explanation.

  10. From what I’ve seen at the traditional mass only the altar servers give responses on everyone else’s behalf. I did see one time after a pilgrimage walk everyone gave the responses, men and women both. But everyone was pretty riled up and enthusiastic after completing the pilgrimage, and that was the only time.

  11. Mrs. C

    @Patrick “How are women the embodiment of the feminine in your view? ”

    The woman’s body by design is ordered to actively receive the male, (not in a starfish, passive manner but joyful, welcoming reception), she nurtures that which is received, and gives back to the male the fruit of what she has received and nurtured. His child.

    When we receive the Word at Mass (Scripture, teaching, Eucharist), we respond as is proper. We also leave Mass and bear fruit for God by how we live our lives.

    “Woman is the archetype of humanity,” St. John Paul II.

    Men appear to be just as feminine as women in your explanation.”

    It depends on what you mean by feminine. I’m certainly not advocating men mincing around in high heels and speaking with soft voices. However, in relation to God, all of humanity is feminine.(or relates from the feminine principle. We are in submission to Him) God has the primacy in acting first as creator and in self-donation to save us. His relation to us is masculine. As a man, you go to Mass to receive and respond to the Word, not to be the primary, first giver of the Word.

  12. Mrs. C

    @ Patrick “From what I’ve seen at the traditional mass only the altar servers give responses on everyone else’s behalf. ”

    I’ve never been to a traditional mass although I hope to find one to go to someday. However, I have read about them. If you are familiar with Fr. Z. and his blog, he addresses the question of response at traditional Mass. Here is a quote from the post and a link to his full answer.

    “In a nutshell, before the Council (Vatican II), it was strongly encouraged that people make responses, especially at Solemn and Sung Masses. This applied often to Low Masses as well, the so-called dialogue Mass. Is there a good reason why not to respond? Why not to respond “Et cum spirit tuo“, for example? It is hard for me to think of one.”

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/05/quaeritur-should-people-make-responses-during-the-traditional-latin-mass/

    Also, if I’m not mistaken, it was also allowed that people could quietly pray other devotions such as the rosary during Mass but that was not the requirement.

    “So varied and diverse are men’s talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.” (Pope Pius XII, “Mediator Dei”, 1947 A.D.)

    Here is another blog post, (not Fr. Z, different blog), about women speaking at Mass. It’s not an official teaching but it is in line with St. John Chrysostom’s explanation above.

    http://mundacormeum.weebly.com/blog/should-women-keep-silent-in-church

  13. I take all of that rhetoric with a grain of salt. JPII especially since he tried to destroy the husband/father as the head of the family in Church teaching.

    There’s nothing feminine about bearing children once masculinity has been obliterated. If all of mankind is “feminine,” male and female, then men are as feminine as women and equally embody “femininity” in relation to God. Unless you want to go into some kind of dualism where men’s bodies aren’t actually who they are. Like all humans are women inside, but half of us have masculine bodies.

    I think this is just feminist rhetoric intended to undermine men’s sense of themselves as masculine and to wreck masculinity by redefinition. The same people who speak of God being masculine in relation to mankind will speak of God as feminine when it’s a convenient route to undermining men.

  14. Mrs. C

    I disagree with you about JP II destroying the husband/father as head of the family but I won’t argue the point here because the discussion is about women speaking in Church. I was mainly talking about DG’s and Cassie’s dialog of whether women should speak the responses at all.

    The Church is the Bride of Christ and the Body of Christ. In the Liturgy, speaking the responses of the Body is not forbidden to women because they are the good and appropriate ways to respond to the Word at Mass. What is not appropriate is personal, disruptive conversations, loud prophesying with many people talking at once, or asking questions about Scripture or things that one is unsure of. As Chrysostom points out, women at this Corinthian Church were talking as if they were at the marketplace and as a result, they were learning nothing. If they learn nothing, they will be easily deceived as Eve.

    It is an error to take “women are to be silent in Church” to the degree that they don’t participate or speak the responses of the Mass. To speak the responses is in keeping with the good order at Mass and the people are encouraged to do it or if they choose, they can quietly pray another devotion during Mass and join their prayers with the Church.

    As far as the “rhetoric” of God as masculine in relation to His creation and humanity (or each soul, if you will) as feminine in relation to Him, we have to be careful in rejecting this. To do away with this idea out of some fear that it will harm men’s sense of themselves as men (it should not) is to also leave open a door for calling God Mother or for women standing in persona Christi as priests.

    We have to be careful not to mix up that the soul is to be open to receiving God’s Word and bearing fruit (the feminine principle) with acting like a woman or a man being effeminate. This is not what this means. We are talking about humanity’s posture before God, which is to not be independent of Him but to acknowledge our dependence on Him and our willingness to receive everything from His hand. Women, by design, are the embodiment of this posture, which is why I said that when they are at Liturgy, it is proper for them to speak the responses given as they are in order with the Mass. To speak these responses are not to “usurp” the authority of the priest. They are to affirm the goodness of God’s Word both in Scripture and the Eucharist.

  15. I don’t reject it. I take it with a grain of salt precisely because it receives so much emphasis today. It’s a symbol in my opinion.

    JPII already called God mother. That door got blown off a long time ago. Everyone who emphasizes God-masculine/mankind-feminine also says God is feminine. He must logically be just as feminine as He is masculine. And what would that mean for humanity? I just don’t it means anything profound. It probably came up because feminists didn’t like that He’s called He and Him in the Bible.

    JPII did destroy the father as the head of the family by saying husband and wife are mutually subject, which is another way of saying no one is in authority.

  16. Mrs. C

    @Patrick I don’t reject it. I take it with a grain of salt precisely because it receives so much emphasis today. It’s a symbol in my opinion.

    Fine. You take God masculine/humanity feminine as a symbol and you aren’t fond of JP II which, as I said I won’t argue here but disagree with your conclusions about him.

    Do you have an opinion on whether women should speak the responses at Mass? Christ as Bridegroom/Church as Bride, rather than masculine/feminine, is imagery given by Scripture. I would say women as brides, not to mention Paul saying wives represent Church to their husband’s representing Christ, would show that speaking the responses at Mass is appropriate and does not usurp the priest’s role. Men and women at Mass aren’t relating to each other, but the Body (comprised of men and women) stands in relation to the priest in persona Christi. Why would women (who really are Bride and Church) not participate in that role?

  17. “Do you have an opinion on whether women should speak the responses at Mass?”

    No. Like I said, most of the time nobody but the altar boy speaks the responses, so it’s moot. But the one time I have seen others speak the responses everyone did, men and women both. Women also sing in the choir and if there’s a song at the end, everyone sings.

    This question doesn’t interest me as much as the other.

  18. In more than one place, but especially in his homily on 1 Cor 11, St. Chrysostom denies that men may beat their wives. The vigor of his denunciation bothers me. Oddly, it’s to him I look for support for the very reason I disagree: that women are best treated somewhat like children, as he says in his homily on Ephesians 5. Can you, DG, or anyone else, shed some light on this topic?

  19. Ioannes,

    I can shed some light, although it may take a few days before I can do so.

  20. Pingback: Tradition Thursday- #54 | Donal Graeme

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