September 3rd was the feast of Phoebe of Cenchraea, mentioned by Paul in Romans 16. I am very fond of St. Phoebe.
You see, five years ago (maybe longer? It seems like a very long time ago) I was booted from the church of childhood for publically suggesting that Pheobe was ordained to the diaconate. I thought this was a reasonable conclusion based on a number of points, not the least of which is Paul’s use of the term “deacon of the church at Cenchraea” to describe Phoebe. At the time, the vehement reaction against this simple assertion left me shell-shocked. Looking back, it was blessing – a nudge toward a fuller, richer and more thoughtful Christian tradition.
And so I give thanks to God for Phoebe, diakonos of God, of St. Paul and of the Cenchreaen church.
The Eastern Church offers this troparion in honor of Phoebe:
Enlightened by grace And taught the Faith by the chosen vessel of Christ, You were found worthy of the diaconate; And you carried Paul’s words to Rome. O Deaconess Phoebe, pray to Christ God that his Spirit may enlighten our souls!