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#1 Christophoros

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 02:10 AM

CONCERNING THE TRADITION OF LONG HAIR AND BEARDS
(Orthodox Life - Vol. 46, No. 5 - October 1996)

The question of the appropriateness of long hair and beards is frequently put to traditional Orthodox clergy. A comprehensive article appeared in Orthodox Life concerning clergy dress in the J./F. 1991 issue. At this time we would like to address the topic of clergy appearance, i.e. hair and beards.

Anyone looking at photographs and portraits of clergy in Greece, Russia, Rumania, and other Orthodox countries taken in the early twentieth century will notice that almost without exception both the monastic and married clergy, priests and deacons, wore untrimmed beards and hair. Only after the First World War do we observe a new, modern look, cropped hair and beardless clergy. This fashion has been continued among some of the clergy to our own day. If one were to investigate this phenomenon in terms of a single clergyman whose life spanned the greater part of our century one would probably notice his style modernize from the first photographs up through the last.

There are two reasons given as an explanation for this change: it is said, "One must conform with fashion, we cannot look like peasants!" Or even more absurd, "My wife will not allow it!". Such reasoning is the "dogmatic" line of modernists who either desire to imitate contemporary fashion (if beards are "in," they wear beards, if beards are "out," they shave), or are ecumenically minded, not wanting to offend clergy in denominations outside the Orthodox Church. The other reason is based on a passage of Holy Scripture where Saint Paul states, Both not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Cor. 11:14) In answer to the first justification, Orthodox tradition directly condemns Modernism and Ecumenism. It is necessary however to deal in more detail with the argument that bases its premise on Holy Scripture.

Orthodox Christian piety begins in the Holy Tradition of the Old Testament. Our relationship to the Lord God, holiness, worship, and morality was formed in the ancient times of the Bible. At the time of the foundation of the priesthood the Lord gave the following commandments to the priests during periods of mourning, And ye shall not shave your head for the dead [a pagan practice] with a baldness on the top; and they shall not shave their beard... (Lev. 21: 5), and to all men in general, Ye shall not make a round cutting of the hair of your head, nor disfigure your beard (Lev. 19:27). The significance of these commandments is to illustrate that the clergy are to devote themselves completely to serving the Lord. Laymen as well are called to a similar service though without the priestly functions. This out ward appearance as a commandment was repeated in the law given to the Nazarene, a razor shall not come upon his head, until the days be fulfilled which he vowed to the Lord: he shall be holy, cherishing the long hair of the head all the days of his vow to the Lord... (Numbers 6:5-6).

The significance of the Nazarene vow was a sign of God's power resting on the person who made it. To cut off the hair meant to cut off God's power as in the example of Samson (see Judges 16:17-19). The strength of these pious observances, transmitted to the New Testament Church, were observed without question till our present times of willfulness and the apostasy resulting from it. Why, one might ask, do those Orthodox clergymen, while rejecting the above pious ordinances about hair, continue to observe the custom of granting various head coverings to clergy, a practice which also has its roots in the ancient ordinances of the Old Testament (cf. Ex. 24:4-6) and the tradition of the early Church (see Fusebius and Epiphanius of Cyprus concerning the miters worn by the Apostles John and James)?

The Apostle Paul himself wore his hair long as we can conclude from the following passage where it is mentioned that "head bands," in Slavonic, and "towels" touched to his body were placed on the sick to heal them. The "head bands" indicate the length of his hair (in accor dance with pious custom) which had to be tied back in order to keep it in place (cf. Acts 19:12). The historian Egezit writes that the Apostle James, the head of the church in Jerusalem, never cut his hair (Christian Reading, Feb. 1898, p.142, [in Russian]).

If the pious practice among clergy and laity in the Christian community was to follow the example of the Old Testament, how then are we to understand the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians cited earlier (I Cor. 11:14)? Saint Paul in the cited passage is addressing men and woman who are praying (cf. I Cor. 11:3-4). His words in the above passages, as well as in other passages concerning head coverings (cf. I Cor. 11: 4-7), are directed to laymen, not clergy. In other passages Saint Paul makes an obvious distinction between the clerical and lay rank (cf. I Cor. 4:1, I Tim. 4:6, Col. 1:7, and others). He did not oppose the Old Testament ordinance in regard to hair and beards since, as we have noted above, he himself observed it, as did Our Lord Himself, Who is depicted on all occasions with long hair and beard as the Great High Priest of the new Christian priest hood.

In our passage noted previously, Both not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Cor. 11:14) Saint Paul uses the Greek word for "hair." This particular word for hair designates hair as an a ornament (the notion of length being only secondary and suggested), differing from the anatomical or physical term for hair.1 Saint Paul's selection of words emphasizes his criticism of laymen wearing their hair in a stylized fashion, which was contrary to pious Jewish and Christian love of modesty. We note the same approach to hair as that of Saint Paul in the 96th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council where it states: "Those therefore who adorn and arrange their hair to the detri ment of those who see them, that is by cunningly devised intertwinings, and by this means put a bait in the way of unstable souls".

In another source, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, we read the follow ing concerning the Old Testament practice: "To an extent, hair style was a matter of fashion, at least among the upper classes, who were particularly open to foreign [pagan] influence. Nevertheless, long hair appears to have been the rule among the Hebrews (cf. Ezek. 8:3), both men and women"2 (cf. Cant 4:1; 7:5). Thus we observe that cropped or stylized hair was the fashion among the pagans and not acceptable, especially among the Christian clergy from most ancient times up to our contemporary break with Holy Tradition. It is interesting to note that the fashion of cropped or stylized hair and shaved beards found its way into the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds. So important had this pagan custom be come for Roman clergy by the 11th Century that it was listed among the reasons for the Anathema pronounced by Cardinal Humbert on July 15, 1054 against Patriarch Michael in Constantinople which precipitated the Western Church's final falling away from the Orthodox Church: "While wearing beards and long hair you [Eastern Orthodox] reject the bond of brotherhood with the Roman clergy, since they shave and cut their hair." [!]~

Igumen Luke


Footnotes:
1) Joseph Thayer D. D., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 354.
2) A. C. Myers ed., The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p.455
3) The Rudder, tranS. D. Cummings, p.403.
4) N. N. Voekov, The Church, Russia, and Rome, (in Russian), p. 98.

#2 Alice

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 11:30 AM

CONCERNING THE TRADITION OF LONG HAIR AND BEARDS
(Orthodox Life - Vol. 46, No. 5 - October 1996)

The question of the appropriateness of long hair and beards is frequently put to traditional Orthodox clergy. A comprehensive article appeared in Orthodox Life concerning clergy dress in the J./F. 1991 issue. At this time we would like to address the topic of clergy appearance, i.e. hair and beards.

Anyone looking at photographs and portraits of clergy in Greece, Russia, Rumania, and other Orthodox countries taken in the early twentieth century will notice that almost without exception both the monastic and married clergy, priests and deacons, wore untrimmed beards and hair. Only after the First World War do we observe a new, modern look, cropped hair and beardless clergy. This fashion has been continued among some of the clergy to our own day. If one were to investigate this phenomenon in terms of a single clergyman whose life spanned the greater part of our century one would probably notice his style modernize from the first photographs up through the last.

There are two reasons given as an explanation for this change: it is said, "One must conform with fashion, we cannot look like peasants!" Or even more absurd, "My wife will not allow it!". Such reasoning is the "dogmatic" line of modernists who either desire to imitate contemporary fashion (if beards are "in," they wear beards, if beards are "out," they shave), or are ecumenically minded, not wanting to offend clergy in denominations outside the Orthodox Church. The other reason is based on a passage of Holy Scripture where Saint Paul states, Both not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Cor. 11:14) In answer to the first justification, Orthodox tradition directly condemns Modernism and Ecumenism. It is necessary however to deal in more detail with the argument that bases its premise on Holy Scripture.

Orthodox Christian piety begins in the Holy Tradition of the Old Testament. Our relationship to the Lord God, holiness, worship, and morality was formed in the ancient times of the Bible. At the time of the foundation of the priesthood the Lord gave the following commandments to the priests during periods of mourning, And ye shall not shave your head for the dead [a pagan practice] with a baldness on the top; and they shall not shave their beard... (Lev. 21: 5), and to all men in general, Ye shall not make a round cutting of the hair of your head, nor disfigure your beard (Lev. 19:27). The significance of these commandments is to illustrate that the clergy are to devote themselves completely to serving the Lord. Laymen as well are called to a similar service though without the priestly functions. This out ward appearance as a commandment was repeated in the law given to the Nazarene, a razor shall not come upon his head, until the days be fulfilled which he vowed to the Lord: he shall be holy, cherishing the long hair of the head all the days of his vow to the Lord... (Numbers 6:5-6).

The significance of the Nazarene vow was a sign of God's power resting on the person who made it. To cut off the hair meant to cut off God's power as in the example of Samson (see Judges 16:17-19). The strength of these pious observances, transmitted to the New Testament Church, were observed without question till our present times of willfulness and the apostasy resulting from it. Why, one might ask, do those Orthodox clergymen, while rejecting the above pious ordinances about hair, continue to observe the custom of granting various head coverings to clergy, a practice which also has its roots in the ancient ordinances of the Old Testament (cf. Ex. 24:4-6) and the tradition of the early Church (see Fusebius and Epiphanius of Cyprus concerning the miters worn by the Apostles John and James)?

The Apostle Paul himself wore his hair long as we can conclude from the following passage where it is mentioned that "head bands," in Slavonic, and "towels" touched to his body were placed on the sick to heal them. The "head bands" indicate the length of his hair (in accor dance with pious custom) which had to be tied back in order to keep it in place (cf. Acts 19:12). The historian Egezit writes that the Apostle James, the head of the church in Jerusalem, never cut his hair (Christian Reading, Feb. 1898, p.142, [in Russian]).

If the pious practice among clergy and laity in the Christian community was to follow the example of the Old Testament, how then are we to understand the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians cited earlier (I Cor. 11:14)? Saint Paul in the cited passage is addressing men and woman who are praying (cf. I Cor. 11:3-4). His words in the above passages, as well as in other passages concerning head coverings (cf. I Cor. 11: 4-7), are directed to laymen, not clergy. In other passages Saint Paul makes an obvious distinction between the clerical and lay rank (cf. I Cor. 4:1, I Tim. 4:6, Col. 1:7, and others). He did not oppose the Old Testament ordinance in regard to hair and beards since, as we have noted above, he himself observed it, as did Our Lord Himself, Who is depicted on all occasions with long hair and beard as the Great High Priest of the new Christian priest hood.

In our passage noted previously, Both not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Cor. 11:14) Saint Paul uses the Greek word for "hair." This particular word for hair designates hair as an a ornament (the notion of length being only secondary and suggested), differing from the anatomical or physical term for hair.1 Saint Paul's selection of words emphasizes his criticism of laymen wearing their hair in a stylized fashion, which was contrary to pious Jewish and Christian love of modesty. We note the same approach to hair as that of Saint Paul in the 96th canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council where it states: "Those therefore who adorn and arrange their hair to the detri ment of those who see them, that is by cunningly devised intertwinings, and by this means put a bait in the way of unstable souls".

In another source, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, we read the follow ing concerning the Old Testament practice: "To an extent, hair style was a matter of fashion, at least among the upper classes, who were particularly open to foreign [pagan] influence. Nevertheless, long hair appears to have been the rule among the Hebrews (cf. Ezek. 8:3), both men and women"2 (cf. Cant 4:1; 7:5). Thus we observe that cropped or stylized hair was the fashion among the pagans and not acceptable, especially among the Christian clergy from most ancient times up to our contemporary break with Holy Tradition. It is interesting to note that the fashion of cropped or stylized hair and shaved beards found its way into the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds. So important had this pagan custom be come for Roman clergy by the 11th Century that it was listed among the reasons for the Anathema pronounced by Cardinal Humbert on July 15, 1054 against Patriarch Michael in Constantinople which precipitated the Western Church's final falling away from the Orthodox Church: "While wearing beards and long hair you [Eastern Orthodox] reject the bond of brotherhood with the Roman clergy, since they shave and cut their hair." [!]~

Igumen Luke


Footnotes:
1) Joseph Thayer D. D., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 354.
2) A. C. Myers ed., The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, p.455
3) The Rudder, tranS. D. Cummings, p.403.
4) N. N. Voekov, The Church, Russia, and Rome, (in Russian), p. 98.


I humbly, because I am no one, offer, that perhaps externals in and of themselves will not get us into Heaven, but rather how loving our hearts are--and in that love, we are also told by our Lord and all the Fathers not to be judgemental of others.

Just a simple thought,
Agape,
Alice

#3 Christophoros

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 05:16 PM

When there is a respect for small things, there will be an even greater respect towards the bigger things. When there is no respect for small things, then neither will there be for the bigger ones. This is how the Fathers maintained Tradition.

- Blessed Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

#4 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 06:04 PM

Is there a point to this thread? Or is it just an excuse to push an agenda about the so called "traditional appearance" of clergy? If you have a question or a comment please post it rather than just citing a long outdated article (the author has not been an igumen in a long time and is now the newly installed abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery)

Fr David Moser

#5 Christophoros

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 08:04 PM

Is there a point to this thread? Or is it just an excuse to push an agenda about the so called "traditional appearance" of clergy? If you have a question or a comment please post it rather than just citing a long outdated article (the author has not been an igumen in a long time and is now the newly installed abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery)

Fr David Moser


Long-outdated article? 1996? Either you're showing your age, or we have very different understandings of the term "long outdated"!

I thought it was an interesting article on the traditional understanding on clergy appearance from a canonical source. I have no agenda Father, and frankly suprised by your defensive tone.

FWIW, my GOA parish is served by a fine priest who has short hair and a finely trimmed goatee, and no one judges him - least of all me - on that account.

#6 Father David Moser

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 08:49 PM

Long-outdated article? 1996? Either you're showing your age, or we have very different understandings of the term "long outdated"!

I thought it was an interesting article on the traditional understanding on clergy appearance from a canonical source.


A lot has happened in the Russian Church in the past 12 years. While Fr Luke's comments are ageless and not likely to change in 12 years or 12 centuries, the context since their original writing has changed. My age is a matter of public record so I guess you can determine whether or not my comments are symptomatic of showing it or not.

It is an interesting article, however, the root issue still remains - is there question or comment about this topic or is this essay just kind of thrown out here to see how many crochety tired old priests (not to mention defensive priests) will react? By itself the article is out of context - what drew your interest to it, what was your motivation in posting it on this discussion list, do you agree or disagree, ... Give us some context for a reasonable discussion.

Oh, and why the big emphasis on "canonical source". Is this a reference to some non-canonical source of which I am not aware? Fr Luke is a priest of long experience and is also intelligent and well written - however he is not himself a "canonical source" but he does speak as a respected senior clergyman of the Russian Orthodox Church (which we assume is the "canonical source" that you reference, although his comments were neither endorsed nor condemned nor judged in any way by the Synod of Bishops) nor could be classed as a "patristic source".

So again, what is the context here? Do you have a question or comment relating to the subject of this article that you posted?

Fr David Moser

#7 Christophoros

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 10:46 PM

Fr. David,

I posted the article for the same reason I posted:

On the Psychology of Schism
http://www.monachos....read.php?t=5406

Overcoming Divisions
http://www.monachos....read.php?t=3801

The Cessation of Commemoration of Mt. Athos
http://www.monachos....read.php?t=3480

among others. I found the article interesting and worthy of discussion in itself. In this case, particularly in the context of American Orthodoxy, where the majority of clergy have chosen to disregard, for whatever reason, the traditional outlook of the Church regarding clerical appearance.

You claim the article is "out of context." In what way? Is there text missing?

My emphasis on canonical sources is more a commentary on how such issues are often perceived. Too many people associate the advocacy of "traditional Orthodoxy" with dissident groups such as the Greek Old Calendarists. Thank God, this slowly changing. It is also intended as a compliment to Orthodox Life, which I consider one of the best Orthodox publications available today.

In Christ,
Chris

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 12:31 AM

Orthodox clergy should look like Orthodox clergy and not cut their hair and beards. I cringe when I see a photo of some priest or - even worse - a bishop with a tiny bit of stubble on the end of his chin: a pathetic token towards Tradition.

#9 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 01:02 PM

Orthodox clergy should look like Orthodox clergy and not cut their hair and beards. I cringe when I see a photo of some priest or - even worse - a bishop with a tiny bit of stubble on the end of his chin: a pathetic token towards Tradition.


Many of our past bishops in ACROD were clean-shaven. And yet they have been able to lead a people back to Orthodoxy. According to my Metropolitan, beards are "not necessary" for his clergy, and he is a good and holy man in my humble estimation. He does have a neatly trimmed beard. I have always had a beard, but I keep it trimmed because he would chide me (gently) that I was trying to look like a monk even though I am married if I let it grow out.

Appearances matter, but evidently they are not the end-all and be-all of spirituality, they are no guarantee. Appearances can be deceiving. I have known some very traditional-looking priests who were defrocked for very untraditional behavior. Let us remember to look at the "whole picture" and not simply focus on one aspect.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#10 Rick H.

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 01:50 PM

FWIW, my GOA parish is served by a fine priest who has short hair and a finely trimmed goatee, and no one judges him - least of all me - on that account.


This matches the description of the most Orthodox priest that I have ever met. If you live in the Buffalo area, by any chance, then I know you are blessed with this priest.

But, in the end, as it relates to the big picture as well as judging by appearances, how can there be any conclusion of the whole matter other than this?:

Appearances matter, but evidently they are not the end-all and be-all of spirituality, they are no guarantee. Appearances can be deceiving. I have known some very traditional-looking priests who were defrocked for very untraditional behavior. Let us remember to look at the "whole picture" and not simply focus on one aspect.



#11 Christophoros

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 03:16 PM

PRIESTLY ATTIRE

by a priest of a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

(Orthodox Life, Vol. 41, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1991, pp. 26-29.)

In issue no. 6 of The Russian Pastor, an article by Archpriest Boris Kizenko, "Do not associate yourself with this age," was printed. There he touched upon the question of whether or not priests should wear their cassocks or riasa. I would like to share a few thoughts on this matter.

Very often in the sphere of Church laws and traditions we, for one reason or another, allow ourselves to compromise these laws. In our society today, the reasons and circumstances for such compromises can seem very justifiable. However, the danger lies in the fact that any compromise can become habitual, and the compromised behavior then becomes the norm, giving rise to further compromises and a general degradation of standards. Fr. Boris very aptly describes this progression in his article. At a time when we are perhaps at risk of completely losing the ideal in the realm of priestly attire, it is fitting to review the Church rules and directives concerning the attire of a priest, as well as look at some examples from contemporary life which shed light on this question.

1) The 27th Canon of the 6th Ecumenical Council states: "None who is counted with the clergy should dress inappropriately, when in the city, nor when travelling. Each should use the attire which was appointed for clergy members. If someone breaks this rule, may he be deprived of serving for one week."

Here everything is clear. If you do not wish to wear a priest's clothing, do not dare to stand before the altar of God.

2) The great interpreter of Church Canons, Balsamon, in his interpretation of the 14th canon of the 7th Ecumenical Council, which speaks of the ordination of readers, notes: "He who has put on black attire with the purpose of entering the clergy, cannot remove it, for he has stated his intent of serving God and therefore cannot break his promise to God and ridicule this holy image, as other ridiculers do."

If constant wearing of "black attire" is expected of the first rank of the priesthood, the reader, then all the more does it refer to those who are fully in the rank of the priesthood.

3) In the questioning period of the candidate before the ordination, the candidate to the priesthood, in the presence of his spiritual father makes the following promise: "I promise to wear the clothing appropriate to my priestly rank, not to cut my hair nor my beard... for through such unseemly behavior I risk belittling my rank and tempting believers" (Promise #5).

It is important to note here that, in confirmation of his promise the candidate kisses the Gospel and the Cross and signs his name.

4) The 16th rule for the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad says: "A priest, who is fully supported by his parish, and is given the opportunity not to work at a secular job, should have the appearance of an Orthodox priest, that is, should have long hair, a beard, a riasa, wear a cross of a proper style, and not one he has thought of himself and in his external appearance fully exemplify a true pastor."

We must remember that if the Church canons and laws were not important, the Church would not have written them.

Physician heal thyself. I must admit, that I am a young priest, and at times find it very difficult to follow the above rules. There are times when one's nerves are raw, and I want to go somewhere with my Matushka and children and not stand out, i.e., be "one of the crowd." I am overweight, and in the summer it is hard to bear the heat in my cassock. Yet all this merely exposes my weakness, my lack of desire to constantly be a confessor of my faith; my lack of desire to suffer for Christ even to the most microscopic degree. In my battle with this weakness, I have found inspiration in a few true life accounts, which I would like to share.

The Matushka of one priest, who serves in one large American city, where pagan and Satanic cults are rampant, told me of this incident:

Batiushka always wore either his cassock or riasa with his cross. After his arrival in the city, he grew accustomed to the fact that, when walking along a street, or in stores, some people reacted to him with hatred. Some even hissed at him openly as they walked by, others would actually spit at him. All this Batiushka interpreted as attacks of servants of Satan, upon a priest of Christ. Once it happened that he and Matushka were walking along the sidewalk in the main business district of the city. Suddenly, a woman who looked like a witch jumped out in front of him. She started to scream at him with a frightening voice of a sickly cat, and gestured threateningly with her arms, as if she wanted to scratch out his eyes. Then she immediately disappeared into the crowd. The priest and his wife made the sign of the cross and continued on their way, having grown accustomed to such occurrences. But then Matushka realized something. This time, for some reason, Batiushka was in secular attire. Nothing in his external appearance showed that he was an Orthodox priest. Even his long hair and beard were nothing exceptional in contemporary circumstances.

It is clear that a priest in a spiritual plane is always a priest, even when he is not dressed properly. The evil powers feel this and most probably are pleased with our "compromises."

A certain priest decided to have a photograph of himself made. He put on his coat and hat. For some reason he was embarrassed to be photographed with a cross on. He took the cross off and put it into his left coat pocket. The photograph was taken, developed and printed. To the amazement of both the photographer and the priest, on the photograph there was a huge ray (by shadows one can see that this ray is not from the sun), which pointed to the pocket, where the hidden cross lay. Batiushka asked to have this published after his death.

In a small parish of the Russian Church Abroad, because of the size of the congregation, the rector holds a secular job. He works as a nurse in a local hospital. I was certain that he removes his cassock when he goes to work. However to my surprise, I discovered that this Batiushka works in his cassock, putting a lab coat on top of it. This is regarded with respect by both medical personnel and the patients. Often many patients even request that the "priest-nurse" take care of them.

Concerned about the question, "should and can a priest possible always wear a cassock?", I began asking the grown children of elderly or deceased pastors, whether or not their fathers always wore a cassock. Almost everyone has answered in the affirmative, recalling that they rarely saw their father-priest without a cassock. There are even cases where the children said that they never saw their father without a cassock. This means that the requirement of the Church is possible to fulfill with God's help. One only needs to try.

#12 Rick H.

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 11:15 AM

"Do not associate yourself with this age,"


Sometimes expressions, like the above, as well as some like "The religion of the future" provide helpful distinctions that must be made and maintained.

Other times they just get in the way and provide barriers to the Good for all concerned.

#13 Christophoros

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 04:51 PM

3) In the questioning period of the candidate before the ordination, the candidate to the priesthood, in the presence of his spiritual father makes the following promise: "I promise to wear the clothing appropriate to my priestly rank, not to cut my hair nor my beard... for through such unseemly behavior I risk belittling my rank and tempting believers" (Promise #5).

Does anyone know if candidates for ordination continue to make this promise, or has it been altered or removed within those American churches that don't commonly have clergy with uncut beards?

#14 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 05:02 PM

3) In the questioning period of the candidate before the ordination, the candidate to the priesthood, in the presence of his spiritual father makes the following promise: "I promise to wear the clothing appropriate to my priestly rank, not to cut my hair nor my beard... for through such unseemly behavior I risk belittling my rank and tempting believers" (Promise #5).

Does anyone know if candidates for ordination continue to make this promise, or has it been altered or removed within those American churches that don't commonly have clergy with uncut beards?


What is your source for this questioning?

I know that as a priest - after my ordination - I signed a promise that I would abide by various standards of behavior and remain loyal to my bishop and his synod and this promise included the provision regarding hair and clothing, however, the bishop realizing that I would have to work and live "in the world" gave a blessing to cut my hair and wear "civvies" as needed for my employment, etc.

But I think that this promisory note is not a part of the requirements of the priesthood and is simply something that is required by the local synod or ruling bishop and thus may not be anything even remotely traditional in all jurisdictions.

Fr David Moser

#15 Christophoros

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 07:30 PM

What is your source for this questioning?


Fr David Moser



It is quoted in the second article I posted from Orthodox Life, entitled "Priestly Attire." It's a few posts back.

#16 Father David Moser

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 08:09 PM

It is quoted in the second article I posted from Orthodox Life, entitled "Priestly Attire." It's a few posts back.


Yes, I see it now. As I mentioned before such details are most often specific to the diocesan bishop (yes, within ROCOR). Although I did sign an promise to maintain a certain standard of moral behavior and of loyalty and obedience to my bishop, my ordination did not involve the ritual described (and the bishop who ordained me could never be said to be liberal or innovationist or anything but the most traditional). The priest who writes this article describes his own experience. If one were to go to the quote in the article from the "Guidelines for clergy"

4) The 16th rule for the priests of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad says: "A priest, who is fully supported by his parish, and is given the opportunity not to work at a secular job, should have the appearance of an Orthodox priest, that is, should have long hair, a beard, a riasa, wear a cross of a proper style, and not one he has thought of himself and in his external appearance fully exemplify a true pastor."

we see the very important caveat at the outset that this only applies to those who are not working a "secular job". This indicates to us that the priestly attire is not an absolute rule but rather an expectation or standard by which (ROCOR) clergy evaluate themselves and their behavior. One will not find all clergy all the time in ROCOR in podriasnik and riassa but rather in clothing appropriate to their task. When possible, I do in fact wear the podriasnik, however, there are many times when I do not. In fact there is a photo (actually more than one if you count family pix) available on the internet showing me as a priest in overalls, a t-shirt and baseball cap (but then I was in the midst of a construction project for the Church). The point of this guideline is not to prescribe a certain mandatory uniform, but rather to proscribe inappropriate clothing. One must use common sense here. Even to go to the grocery in many cases it is not appropriate to wear a podriasnik but rather to dress modestly and unremarkably.

Fr David Moser

#17 S. Rey

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 12:00 AM

If I may express my humble opinion on the matter, I would just like to say that men, at the very least in Mediterranean cultures, have always had beard (The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans at time, etc.). Since the original Christian faith developped in the Mediterranean context, it has kept a lot of these usages, and no one has even ever spoken about beards until the 19th century, because it was simply the custom. Once the Church met with the West (and its cultural arrogance), beards came to be regarded, in the Orthodox world as elsewhere in the world, Asia for instance, as 'primitive' and 'caveman-like', an expression sadly addressed to me several times because I have a small beard (and I am not even in the holy orders!). Beards, like the calendar, and other issues, have become issues after contact with the West and its culture, and so have become cultural and, in a sense, political symbols. On this I will say no more.

In Christ.

#18 Christophoros

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 01:05 PM

An interesting blog entry from the The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas on beards in early 20th century American Orthodoxy:

http://orthodoxhisto...r-not-to-shave/

#19 Kosta

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 06:17 AM

Orthodox priests should keep their beards and stop making themselves look like roman priests with roman collars. Unfortunately western culture is more powerful than our tradition. sigh.

#20 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 11:53 AM

If I may express my humble opinion on the matter, I would just like to say that men, at the very least in Mediterranean cultures, have always had beard (The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans at time, etc.). Since the original Christian faith developped in the Mediterranean context, it has kept a lot of these usages, and no one has even ever spoken about beards until the 19th century, because it was simply the custom. Once the Church met with the West (and its cultural arrogance), beards came to be regarded, in the Orthodox world as elsewhere in the world, Asia for instance, as 'primitive' and 'caveman-like', an expression sadly addressed to me several times because I have a small beard (and I am not even in the holy orders!). Beards, like the calendar, and other issues, have become issues after contact with the West and its culture, and so have become cultural and, in a sense, political symbols. On this I will say no more.

In Christ.


Peter the Great of Russia is an example of this. For many Russians today, the rot set in in that country with than man's reign.




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