The Orthodox Church proclaims equality between men and women. They have, however, different roles to perform within the context of the Church. Women, as the Church emphasizes, are the backbone of the Church in that they are the backbone in their respective parishes and homes. It is well known that churches cannot continue to be strong units in the Church unless their families and children, the nucleus of any given parish, are raised and cared for in a Christian manner and according to Christ’s teachings. Chrysostom asserts that “the home is the little church” (Homilies on Ephesians, Homily XX), where all Christian education starts and ends. Nowadays, more than ever, women play an essential and indispensable role in the family. They are caring wives, nurturing mothers, valuable parish leaders and workers, and productive contributors in the workplace of our modern society. One might note that men play very similar roles in all mentioned segments! That would be absolutely true. Nevertheless, roles vary in different fields according to the gifts granted by God to each sex.
Yes, I am an Antiochian woman. We (we women, that is) are all Antiochian Women. You may be saying to yourself, “Is she referring to me?”; “I don’t belong to our women’s chapter organization – I sing in the choir”; “I teach Sunday School”; “I belong to the Fellowship of St. John the Divine”; “I make altar cloths and help clean the church.” My dear sisters in Christ, by virtue of your baptism and chrismation into the Antiochian Orthodox Church, you are an Antiochian woman.
As mothers, daughters , grandmothers, we are by nature nurturers, caregivers, and comforters of the sick and infirm. Whether we help cook for the church, fundraise for worthwhile church projects, make altar cloths, volunteer at a homeless shelter, or support battered women and their families, we are all serving God. In doing so, we are following in the footsteps of many pious, humble and faithful women who served the Lord with their whole beings, women such as the Virgin Mary, the ointment-bearers, the deaconesses who served Christ and the church, Martha who prepared and served Jesus a meal, and her sister, Mary, who, “took a very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair” (John 12:3). Each of these women with their many gifts cared for the Lord in her own way.
by Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky
from The Word, April 1968
“Now on the first day of the week at early dawn, they came to the sepulcher bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold two men stood by them in dazzling garments; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’. . . And they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” (ST. LUKE 24:1)
SOMETIMES we are too hasty and pass lightly from our Lord’s crucifixion to the resurrection. Before the joy and the victory of the good news that “He is risen,” Jesus’ followers felt total despair that accompanied the tragedy of failure.
For two reasons we cannot afford to forget the disciples’ sense of abandonment on that unique Sabbath: if ye dare assume that by baptism we have been adopted into the family of His followers, we must make their emotions our own; secondly, by empathy with those in the Upper Room, by knowing their fear and confusion after the One person who gave their lives meaning, direction and beauty had been murdered, we can begin to deal with tragedy when it enters our personal lives.
by Lynette A. Smith
Not All By Herself
Orthodox believers of both the Eastern and Western Rites celebrate major feast days in honor of the events of the Theotokos’ life. St. Luke records three of these important occurrences: the Annunciation, March 25 (1:26-38), the Visitation, July 2 (1:39-56), and the Presentation, February 2 (2:21-39). One of the features these three stories have in common is that our Lady is never alone; rather, other people share in the events of her life.
We know that Mary deliberately goes to be with her cousin Elizabeth after Mary’s annunciation. Nor is Mary is alone at the Temple when she presents the infant Jesus, because the Gospel tells us that at least her husband, Joseph, the priest, and Saints Simon and Anna are there for the occasion. Mary’s annunciation itself, however, seems a little different. Yes, the archangel Gabriel comes to her, but he leaves after delivering his message, and we do not read that she has anyone else with her. Or, does she?
In fact, those who attend Orthodox Western Rite parishes discover in the lectionary readings for the Feast of the Annunciation that five women from the Old Testament spiritually join with the Blessed Virgin Mary. These women, in order of their liturgical appearance, are Eve, Sarah, the Psalmist’s royal Queen, the conceiving Virgin in Isaiah, and Hannah.