Female saints who disguised themselves as men
Posted 16 September 2011 - 02:26 PM
Posted 16 September 2011 - 04:24 PM
Some fathers have interpreted this as because they went beyond the limits of the weakness/ boundaries of the female sex, subjecting themselves to strict asceticism usually seen in male monastics.
Your wife cannot be a monk on Athos as previous women have been stopped by the Mother of God herself.
Posted 16 September 2011 - 08:16 PM
Isn't that bad blurring the lines of gender? And cannot the female monastics do that too with out having to deceive? I am having a hard time with this.
Oftentimes when we read Saints' lives, we find some Saints who do things that are outside the norm for most Christians. Women dressing as men and going to a men’s monastery is an example. There are others:
Sometimes we hear of married couples deciding to go off to separate monasteries and live as monastics. This is certainly not the calling for many married people. Indeed, in most cases, to do so would probably be seen as abandoning your spouse and vows!
Sometimes we read of others who abandon family members to go to the desert, leaving parents, or spouses, or even children. Obviously, 99% of this time, this would be sinful.
Or look at the Fools for Christ. They do not provide for themselves, or work, or otherwise support themselves or their families. This is unacceptable for the majority of us, and would be slothful.
And on and on. But these people are Saints, and God carved out a special place for them. Saints are an example to us to show us how to live, but they are also above and beyond us. As the apostle says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” They see past the rules and doctrines put in place to help us, and so sometimes they seem to do things contrary to what is “right.” Nevertheless, this is not so, for they do these things because they see and live beyond those structures. Many commandments are given to guide us to God. But if the Saint has already attained divinization, some of the commandments, for them, no longer serve the purposes they once did.
So don’t worry, there is obviously cause for wonder at what they do, but no need to be scandalized. We laypeople stick to the basics, and leave the rest to the Saints. They know what they are doing.
Posted 16 September 2011 - 08:34 PM
The Church certainly does not encourage women to dress as men, it doesn't encourage men to live on top of poles either, but it has declared certain people who do both things to be saints. Then again, monastic garb, at least for the Orthodox, is not all that different between men and women. More than how she dressed is the fact that she took on a difficult challenge to live like the male monastics. Ultimately it was the fruit that is produced as holy people that mattered most, not the rules that were bent.
Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.
Herman the Pooh
Posted 17 September 2011 - 12:37 AM
Posted 17 September 2011 - 01:36 PM
In past tradition when a woman showed up as a man in a men's monastery this was due to humility- to hide who she was for modesty's sake or for some other appropriate reason.
However if she appeared this way as a cross dresser- then you've got a problem!
Anyway- that's what abbots are for- to spot the difference and act accordingly.
Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:55 PM
As I dig into Orthodoxy I find myself putting things up on shelves so that I can just accept the churches teachings on everything. Well my self broke about two days ago, I had too much stuff on it. I will over time unload my shelf on your guys to hopefully explain to me how I am misunderstanding things.
LOL. Nice way to put it. God bless you, Michael.
Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:19 PM
Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:09 PM
St. Theodora's situation was unique. If she wanted to be a nun, she would probably have to get permission from some male authority figure (ie her father). Since she was still married, that would be trouble. I think men had much more autonomy in these questions.
St Theodora was not the only woman who lived a male monastic life. There is also St Appolinaria of Egypt, who was known to the monks as Dorotheos. And there may be one or two more, if memory serves.
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