7 ecumenical councils - THE SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS
If any one in sickness has been subjected by physicians to a surgical operation, or if he has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy; but, if any one in sound health has castrated himself, it behoves that such an one, if [already] enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who wilfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men the Canon admits to the clergy.
Ancient Epitome1 Of Canon I.
Eunuchs may be received into the number of the clergy, but those who castrate themselves shall not be received.
The divine Apostolic Canons xxi., xxii., xxiii., and xxiv., have taught us sufficiently what ought to be done with those who castrate themselves, this canon provides as to what is to be done to these as well as to those who deliver themselves over to others to be emasculated by them, viz., that they are not to be admitted among the clergy nor advanced to the priesthood.
(Smith & Cheetham, Dict. Christ. Ant.)
The feeling that one devoted to the sacred ministry should be unmutilated was strong in the Ancient Church .... This canon of Nice, and those in the Apostolic Canons and a later one in the Second Council of Arles (canon vii). were aimed against that perverted notion of piety, originating in the misinterpretation of our Lord’s saying (Mt 19,12) by which Origen, among others, was misled, and their observance was so carefully enforced in later times that not more than one or two instances of the practice which they condemn are noticed by the historian. The case was different if a man was born an eunuch or had suffered mutilation at the hands of persecutors; an instance of the former, Dorotheus, presbyter of Antioch, is mentioned by Eusebius (H. E. 7,, c. 32); of the latter, Tigris, presbyter of Constantinople, is referred to both by Socrates (H. E. 6,16) and Sozomen (H. E. vi. 24) as the victim of a barbarian master.
We know, by the first apology of St. Justin (Apol. c. 29) that a century before Origen, a young man had desired to be mutilated by physicians, for the purpose of completely refuting the charge of vice which the heathen brought against the worship of Christians. St. Justin neither praises nor blames this young man: he only relates that he could not obtain the permission of the civil authorities for his project, that he renounced his intention, but nevertheless remained virgo all his life. It is very probable that the Council of Nice was induced by some fresh similar cases to renew the old injunctions; it was perhaps the Arian bishop, Leontius, who was the principal cause of it.2
Constantine forbade by a law the practice condemned in this canon. “If anyone shall anywhere in the Roman Empire after this decree make eunuchs, he shall be punished with death. If the owner of the place where the deed was perpetrated was aware of it and hid the fact, his goods shall be confiscated.” (Const. M). 0pera. Migne Patrol. vol. viii., 396).
The Nicene fathers in this canon make no new enactment but only confirm by the authority of an Ecumenical synod the Apostolic Canons, and this is evident from the wording of this canon. For there can be no doubt that they had in mind some earlier canon when they said, “such men the canon admits to the clergy.” Not, ou|to" oJ kanw;n, but oJ kanw;n, as if they had said “the formerly set forth and well-known canon” admits such to the clergy. But no other canon then existed in which this provision occurred except apostolical canon xxi. which therefore we are of opinion is here cited). [In this conclusion Hefele also agrees.]
This law was frequently enacted by subsequent synods and is inserted in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Decretum Gratiani. Pars. I. Distinctio LV., C vij.
Excursus on the Use of the Word “Canon.”
(Bright: Notes on the Canons, Pp. 2 and 3).
Kanw;n, as an ecclesiastical term, has a very interesting history. See Westcott’s account of it, On the New Testament Canon, p. 498 if. The original sense, “a straight rod” or “line,” determines all its religious applications, which begin with St. Paul’s use of it for a prescribed sphere of apostolic work (2Co x. 13, 15), or a regulative principle of Christian life (Ga 6,16). It represents the element of definiteness in Christianity and in the order of the Christian Church. Clement of Rome uses it for the measure of Christian attainment (Ep. Cor. 7). Irenaeus calls the baptismal creed “the canon of truth” (i. 9, 4): Polycrates (Euseb. 5,24) and probably Hippolytus (IB 5,28) calls it “the canon of faith;” the Council of Antioch in a.d. 269, referring to the same standard of orthodox belief, speaks with significant absoluteness of “the canon” (IB 7,30). Eusebius himself mentions “the canon of truth” in 4,23, and “the canon of the preaching” in 3,32; and so Basil speaks of “the transmitted canon of true religion” (Epist. 204–6). Such language, like Tertullian’s “regula fidei,” amounted to saying, “We Christians know what we believe: it is not a vague ‘idea’ without substance or outline: it can be put into form, and by it we ‘test the spirits whether they be of God.’” Thus it was natural for Socrates to call the Nicene Creed itself a “canon,” 2,27. Clement of Alexandria uses the phrase “canon of truth” for a standard of mystic interpretation, but proceeds to call the harmony between the two Testaments “a canon for the Church,” Strom. 6,15, 124, 125. Eusebius speaks of “the ecclesiastical canon” which recognized no other Gospels than the four (vi. 25). The use of the term and its cognates in reference to the Scriptures is explained by Westcott in a passive sense so that “canonized” books, as Athanasius calls them (Fest. Ep 39), are books expressly recognized by the Church as portions of Holy Scripture. Again, as to matters of observance, Clement of Alexandria wrote a book against Judaizers, called “The Churches Canon” (Euseb. 6,13); and Cornelius of Rome, in his letter to Fabius, speaks of the “canon” as to what we call confirmation (Euseb. 6,43), and Dionysius of the “canon” as to reception of converts from heresy (IB 7,7). The Nicene Council in this canon refers to a standing “canon” of discipline (comp. Nic. 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18), but it does not apply the term to its own enactments, which are so described in the second canon of Constantinople (see (below), and of which Socrates says “that it passed what are usually called ‘canons’” (i. 13); as Julius of Rome calls a decree of this Council a “canon” (Athan. Apol. c. Ari. 25); so Athanasius applies the term generally to Church laws (Encycl. 2; cp. Apol. c. Ari. 69). The use of kanw;n for the clerical body (Nic. 16, 17, 19; Chalc. 2) is explained by Westcott with reference to the rule of clerical life, but Bingham traces it to the roll or official list on which the names of clerics were enrolled (i. 5, 10); and this appears to be the more natural derivation, see “the holy canon” in the first canon of the Council of Antioch, and compare Socrates (i. 17), “the Virgins enumerated ejn tw`/ tw`n ejkklhsiw`n kanovni,” and (IB 5,19) on the addition of a penitentiary “to the canon of the church;” see also George of Laodicea in Sozomon, 4,13. Hence any cleric might be called kanonikov", see Cyril of Jerusalem, Procatech. 4; so we read of “canonical singers.” Laodicea, canon 15,The same notion of definiteness appears in the ritual use of the word for a series of nine “odes” in the Eastern Church service (Neale, Introd. East. Ch. if. 832), for the central and unvarying element in the Liturgy, beginning after theTersanctus (Hammond, Liturgies East and West, p. 377); or for any Church office (Ducange in 5,); also in its application to a table for the calculation of Easter (Euseb. 6,29; 7,32); to a scheme for exhibiting the common and peculiar parts of the several Gospels (as the “Eusebian canons”) and to a prescribed or ordinary payment to a church, a use which grew out of one found in Athanasius’ Apol. c. Ari. 60.
In more recent times a tendency has appeared to restrict the term Canon to matters of discipline, but the Council of Treat continued the ancient use of the word, calling its doctrinal and disciplinary determinations alike “Canons.”
Forasmuch as, either from necessity, or through the urgency of individuals, many things have been done contrary to the Ecclesiastical canon, so that men just converted from heathenism to the faith, and who have been instructed but a little while, are straightway brought to the spiritual layer, and as soon as they have been baptized, are advanced to the episcopate or the presbyterate, it has seemed right to us that for the time to come no such thing shall be done. For to the catechumen himself there is need of time and of a longer trial after baptism. For the apostolical saying is clear, “Not a novice; lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into condemnation and the snare of the devil.” But if, as time goes on, any sensual sin should be found out about the person, and he should be convicted by two or three witnesses, let him cease from the clerical office. And whoso shall transgress these [enactments] will imperil his own clerical position, as a person who presumes to disobey the great Synod.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
Those who have come from the heathen shall not be immediately advanced to the presbyterate. For without a probation of some time a neophyte is of no advantage (kakov"). But if after ordination it be found out that he had sinned previously, let him then be expelled from the clergy.
It may be seen by the very text of this canon, that it was already forbidden to baptize, and to raise to the episcopate or to the priesthood anyone who had only been a catechumen for a short time: this injunction is in fact contained in the eightieth (seventy-ninth) apostolical canon; and according to that, it would be older than the Council of Nicaea. There have been, nevertheless, certain cases in which, for urgent reasons, an exception has been made to the rule of the Council of Nicaea—for instance, that of S. Ambrose. The canon of Nicaea does not seem to allow such an exception, but it might be justified by the apostolical canon, which says, at the close: “It is not right that any one who has not yet been proved should be a teacher of others, unless by a peculiar divine grace.” The expression of the canon of Nicaea, yukiko;n ti aJmavrthma, is not easy to explain: some render it by the Latin words animale peccatam, believing that the Council has here especially in view sins of the flesh; but as Zonaras has said, all sins are yukika; aJmarthvmata. We must then understand the passage in question to refer to a capital and very serious offence, as the penalty of deposition annexed to it points out.
These words have also given offence, eij de; proi>ovnto" tou` crovnon; that is to say, “It is necessary henceforward,” etc., understanding that it is only those who have been too quickly ordained who are threatened with deposition in case they are guilty of crime; but the canon is framed, and ought to be understood, in a general manner: it applies to all other clergymen, but it appears also to point out that greater severity should be shown toward those who have been too quickly ordained.
Others have explained the passage in this manner: “If it shall become known that any one who has been too quickly ordained was guilty before his baptism of any serious offence, he ought to be deposed.” This is the interpretation given by Gratian, but it must be confessed that such a translation does violence to the text. This is, I believe, the general sense of the canon, and of this passage in particular: “Henceforward no one shall be baptized or ordained quickly. As to those already in orders (without any distinction between those who have been ordained in due course and those who have been ordained too quickly), the rule is that they shall be de posed if they commit a serious offence. Those who are guilty of disobedience to this great Synod, either by allowing themselves to be ordained or even by ordaining others prematurely, are threatened with deposition ipso facto, and for this fault alone.” We consider, in short, that the last words of the canon may be understood as well of the ordained as of the ordainer.
The great Synod has stringently forbidden any bishop, presbyter, deacon, or any one of the clergy whatever, to have a subintroducta dwelling with him, except only a mother, or sister, or aunt, or such persons only as are beyond all suspicion.
Ancient Epitome of Canon III.
No one shall have a woman in his house except his mother, and sister, and persons altogether beyond suspicion.
Who these mulieres subintroductae were does not sufficiently appear . . . but they were neither wives nor concubines, but women of some third kind, which the clergy kept with them, not for the sake of offspring or lust, but from the desire, or certainly under the pretence, of piety.
For want of a proper English word to render it by, I translate “to retain any woman in their houses under pretence of her being a disciple to them.”
Translates: And his sisters and aunts cannot remain unless they be free from all suspicion.
Fuchs in his Bibliothek der kirchenver sammlungen confesses that this canon shews that the practice of clerical celibacy had already spread widely. In connexion with this whole subject of the subintroductae the text of St. Paul should be carefully considered. 1Co 9,5.
It is very terrain that the canon of Nice forbids such spiritual unions, but the context shows moreover that the Fathers had not these particular cases in view alone; and the expression suneivsakto" should be understood of every woman who is introduced (suneivsakto") into the house of a clergyman for the purpose of living there. If by the word suneivsakto" was only intended the wife in this spiritual marriage, the Council would not have said, any suneivsakto", except his mother, etc.; for neither his mother nor his sister could have formed this spiritual union with the cleric. The injunction, then, does net merely forbid the suneivsakto" in the specific sense, but orders that “no woman must live in the house of a cleric, unless she be his mother,” etc.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Distinc. XXXII., C. xvj.
It is by all means proper that a bishop should be appointed by all the bishops in the province; but should this be difficult, either on account of urgent necessity or because of distance, three at least should meet together, and the suffrages of the absent [bishops] also being given and communicated in writing, then the ordination should take place. But in every province the ratification of what is done should be left to the Metropolitan.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
A bishop is to be chosen by all the bishops of the province, or at least by three, the rest giving by letter their assent ; but this choice must be confirmed by the Metropolitan.
The present Canon might seem to be opposed to the first canon of the Holy Apostles, for the latter enjoins that a bishop ordained by two or three bishops, but this by three, the absent also agreeing and testifying their assent by writing. But they are not contradictory; for the Apostolical canon by ordination (ceirotonivan) means consecration and imposition of hands, but the present canon by constitution (katavstasin) and ordination means the election, and enjoins that the election of a bishop do not take place unless three assemble, having the consent also of the absent by letter, or a declaration that they also will acquiesce in the election (or vote, (yhvfw/) made by the three who have assembled. But after the election it gives the ratification or completion of the matter—the imposition of hands and consecration—to the metropolitan of the province, so that the election is to be ratified by him. He does so when with two or three bishops, according to the apostolical canon, he consecrates with imposition of hands the one of the elected persons whom he himself selects.
Also understands kaqivstasqai to mean election by vote.
The Greek canonists are certainly in error when they interpret ceirotoniva of election. The canon is akin to the 1st Apostolic canon which, as the canonists admit, must refer to the consecration of a new bishop, and it was cited in that sense at the Council of Chalcedon—Session 13,(Mansi., 7,307). We must follow Rufinus and the old Latin translators, who speak of “ordinari” “ordinatio” and “manus impositionem.”
The Council of Nice thought it necessary to define by precise rules the duties of the bishops who took part in these episcopal elections. It decided (a) that a single bishop of the province was not sufficient for the appointment of another; (b) three at least should meet, and (c)they were not to proceed to election without the written permission of the absent bishops; it was necessary (d) to obtain afterward the approval of the metropolitan. The Council thus confirms the ordinary metropolitan division in its two most important points, namely, the nomination and ordination of bishops, and the superior position of the metropolitan. The third point connected with this division—namely, the provincial synod—will be considered under the next canon.
Meletius was probably the occasion of this canon. It may be remembered that he had nominated bishops without the concurrence of the other bishops of the province, and without the approval of the metropolitan of Alexandria, and had thus occasioned a schism. This canon was intended to prevent the recurrence of such abuses. The question has been raised as to whether the fourth canon speaks only of the choice of the bishop, or whether it also treats of the consecration of the newly elected. We think, with Van Espen, that it treats equally of both,—as well of the part which the bishops of the province should take in an episcopal election, as of the consecration which completes it.
This canon has been interpreted in two ways. The Greeks had learnt by bitter experience to distrust the interference of princes and earthly potentates in episcopal elections. Accordingly, they tried to prove that this canon of Nice took away from the people the right of voting at the nomination of a bishop, and confined the nomination exclusively to the bishops of the province.
The Greek Commentators, Balsamon and others, therefore, only followed the example of the Seventh and [so-called] Eighth (Ecu-menical Councils in affirming that this fourth canon of Nice takes away from the people the right previously possessed of voting in the choice of bishops and makes the election depend entirely on the decision of the bishops of the province.
The Latin Church acted otherwise. It is true that with it also the people have been removed from episcopal elections, but this did not happen till later, about the eleventh century; and it was not the people only who were removed, but the bishops of the province as well, and the election was conducted entirely by the clergy of the Cathedral Church. The Latins then interpreted the canon of Nice as though it said nothing of the rights of the bishops of the province in the election of their future colleague (and it does not speak of it in a very explicit manner), and as though it determined these two points only; (a) that for the ordination of a bishop three bishops at least are necessary; (b) that the right of confirmation rests with the metropolitan.
The whole subject of episcopal elections is treated fully by Van Espen and by Thomassin, in Ancienne et Nouvelle Discipline de l’ Église, P. II. 1. 2.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I. Dist. LXIV. c. j).
Concerning those, whether of the clergy or of the laity, who have been excommunicated in the several provinces, let the provision of the canon be observed by the bishops which provides that persons cast out by some be not readmitted by others. Nevertheless, inquiry should be made whether they have been excommunicated through captiousness, or contentiousness, or any such like ungracious disposition in the bishop. And, that this matter may have due investigation, it is decreed that in every province synods shall be held twice a year, in order that when all the bishops of the province are assembled together, such questions may by them be thoroughly examined, that so those who have confessedly offended against their bishop, may be seen by all to be for just cause excommunicated, until it shall seem fit to a general meeting of the bishops to pronounce a milder sentence upon them. And let these synods be held, the one before Lent, (that the pure Gift may be offered to God after all bitterness has been put away), and let the second be held about autumn.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
Such as have been excommunicated by certain bishops shall not be restored by others, unless the excommunication was the result of pusillanimity, or strife, or some other similar cause. And that this may be duly attended to, there shall be in each year two synods in every province—the one before Lent, the other toward autumn.
There has always been found the greatest difficulty in securing the regular meetings of provincial and diocesan synods, and despite the very explicit canonical legislation upon the subject, and the severe penalties attached to those not answering the summons, in large parts of the Church for centuries these councils have been of the rarest occurrence. Zonaras complains that in his time “these synods were everywhere treated with great contempt,” and that they had actually ceased to be held.
Possibly the opinion of St. Gregory Nazianzen had grown common, for it will be remembered that in refusing to go to the latter sessions of the Second Ecumenical he wrote, “I am resolved to avoid every meeting of bishops, for I have never seen any synod end well, nor assuage rather than aggravate disorders.”1
Gelasius has given in his history of the Council of Nice, the text of the canons passed by the Council; and it must be noticed that there is here a slight difference between his text and ours. Our reading is as follows: “The excommunication continues to be in force until it seem good to the assembly of bishops (tw/ koinw`/) to soften it.” Gelasius, on the other hand, writes: mevkri" a[n tw`/ koinw`/ h[ tw`/ ejpiskovpw/, k.t.l., that is to say, “until it seem good to the assembly of bishops, or to the bishop (who has passed the sentence),” etc.
...Dionysius the Less has also followed this vacation, as his translation of the canon shows. It does not change the essential meaning of the passage; for it may be well understood that the bishop who has passed the sentence of excommunication has also the right to mitigate it. But the variation adopted by the Prisca alters, on the contrary, the whole sense of the canon: the Prisca has not tw/ koinw`/, but only ejpiskovpw/: it is in this erroneous form that the canon has passed into the Corpus jurisc an.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XI, Quaest. III., Canon lxxiij., and the latter part in Pars I., Distinc. XVIII., c. iij.
Excursus on the Word Prosfevrein.
(Dr. Adolph Harnack: Hist. of Dogma [Eng. Tr.] Vol. 1P 209).
The idea of the whole transaction of the Supper as a sacrifice, is plainly found in the Didache, (c. 14), in Ignatius, and above all, in Justin (I. 65f). But even Clement of Rome presupposes it, when (in cc. 40–44) he draws a parallel between bishops and deacons and the Priests and Levites of the Old Testament, describing as the chief function of the former (44.4) prosfevrein. This is not the place to enquire whether the first celebration had, in the mind of its founder, the character of a sacrificial meal; but, certainly, the idea, as it was already developed at the time of Justin, had been created by the churches. Various reasons tended towards seeing in the Supper a sacrifice. In the first place, Malachi 1,11, demanded a solemn Christian sacrifice: see my notes on Didache, 14.3. In the second place, all prayers were regarded as a sacrifice, and therefore the solemn prayers at the Supper must be specially considered as such. In the third place, the words of institution tou`to poiei`te, contained a command with regard to a definite religious action. Such an action, however, could only be represented as a sacrifice, and this the more, that the Gentile Christians might suppose that they had to understand poiei`n in the sense of quvein. In the fourth place, payments in kind were necessary for the “agapae” connected with the Supper, out of which were taken the bread and wine for the Holy celebration; in what other aspect could these offerings in the worship be regarded than as prosforaiv for the purpose of a sacrifice? Yet the spiritual idea so prevailed that only the prayers were regarded as the qusiva proper, even in the case of Justin (Dial. 117). The elements are only dw`ra, prosforaiv, which obtain their value from the prayers, in which thanks are given for the gifts of creation and redemption, as well as for the holy meal, and entreaty is made for the introduction of the community into the Kingdom of God (see (Didache, 9. 10). Therefore, even the sacred meal itself is called eujcaristiva (Justin, Apol. I. 66: hJ trofh; au\(th kalei`tai parAE hJmi`n eujcaristiva). Didache, 9. 1: Ignat)., because it is trafh; eujcaristhqei`sa. It is a mistake to suppose that Justin already understood the body of Christ to be the object of poiei`n,2 and therefore thought of a sacrifice of this body (I. 66). The real sacrificial act in the Supper consists rather, according to Justin, only in the eujcaristivan poiei`nwhereby thekoino;" a[rto" becomes the a[rto" th`" eujcaristiva".3 The sacrifice of the Supper in its essence, apart from the offering of alms, which in the practice of the Church was closely united with it, is nothing but a sacrifice of prayer: the sacrificial act of the Christian here also is nothing else than an act of prayer (See Apol. I. 14, 65–67; Dial. 28, 29, 41, 70, 116–118).
Harnack (lib. cit. Vol. II. chapter III. p. 136) says that “Cyprian was the first to associate the specific offering, i.e. the Lord’s Supper with the specific priesthood. Secondly, he was the first to designate the passio Domini, nay, the sanguis Christi and the dominica hostia as the object of the eucharistic offering.” In a foot-note (on the same page) he explains that “Sacrificare, Sacrificium celebrare in all passages where they are unaccompanied by any qualifying words, mean to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.” But Harnack is confronted by the very evident objection that if this was an invention of St. Cyprian’s, it is most extraordinary that it raised no protest, and he very frankly confesses (note 2, on same page) that “the transference of the sacrificial idea to the consecrated elements which in all probability Cyprian already found in existence, etc.” Harnack further on (in the same note on p. 137) notes that he has pointed out in his notes on the Didache that in the “Apostolic Church Order” occurs the expression h\( prosfora; tou` swvmato" kai; tou` ai\(mato").
Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop. If, however, two or three bishops shall from natural love of contradiction, oppose the common suffrage of the rest, it being reasonable and in accordance with the ecclesiastical law, then let the choice of the majority prevail.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.
The Bishop of Alexandria shall have jurisdiction over Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis. As also the Roman bishop over those subject to Rome. So, too, the Bishop of Antioch and the rest over those who are under them. If any be a bishop contrary to the judgment of the Metropolitan, let him be no bishop. Provided it be in accordance with the canons by the suffrage of the majority, if three object, their objection shall be of no force.
Many, probably most, commentators have considered this the most important and most interesting of all the Nicene canons, and a whole library of works has been written upon it, some of the works asserting and some denying what are commonly called the Papal claims. If any one wishes to see a list of the most famous of these works he will find it in Phillips’s Kirchenrecht (Bd. 2,S. 35). I shall reserve what I have to say upon this subject to the notes on a canon which seems really to deal with it, confining myself here to an elucidation of the words found in the canon before us.
Hammond, W. A.
The object and intention of this canon seems clearly to have been, not to introduce any new powers or regulations into the Church, but to confirm and establish ancient customs already existing. This, indeed, is evident from the very first words of it: “Let the ancient customs be maintained.” It appears to have been made with particular reference to the case of the Church of Alexandria, which had been troubled by the irregular proceedings of Miletius, and to confirm the ancient privileges of that see which he had invaded. The latter part of it, however, applies to all Metropolitans, and confirms all their ancient privileges.
(Dict. Christ. Antiq. voceCouncil of Nicaea).
The first half of the canon enacts merely that what had long been customary with respect to such persons in every province should become law, beginning with the province where this principle had been infringed; while the second half declares what was in future to be received as law on two points which custom had not as yet expressly ruled. ... Nobody disputes the meaning of this last half; nor, in fact, would the meaning of the first half have been questioned, had it not included Rome. ... Nobody can maintain that the bishops of Antioch and Alexandria were called patriarchs then, or that the jurisdiction they had then was co-extensive with what they had afterward, when they were so called. ... It is on this clause [“since the like is customary for the Bishops of Rome also”] standing parenthetically between what is decreed for the particular cases of Egypt and Antioch, and in consequence of the interpretation given to it by Rufinus, more particularly, that so much strife has been raised. Rufinus may rank low as a translator, yet, being a native of Aquileia, he cannot have been ignorant of Roman ways, nor, on the other hand, had he greatly misrepresented them, would his version have waited till the seventeenth century to be impeached.
The sense of the first words of the canon is as follows: “This ancient right is assigned to the Bishop of Alexandria which places under his jurisdiction the whole diocese of Egypt.” It is without any reason, then, that the French Protestant Salmasius (Saumaise), the Anglican Beveridge, and the Gallican Launoy, try to show that the Council of Nice granted to the Bishop of Alexandria only the rights of ordinary metropolitans.
I do confess there was something peculiar in the case of the Bishop of Alexandria, for all the provinces of Egypt were under his immediate care, which was Patriarchal as to extent, but Metropolical in the administration).
This authority (ejxousiva) is that of a Metropolitan which the Nicene Fathers decreed to be his due over the three provinces named in this canon, Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis, which made up the whole diocese of Egypt, as well in matters civil as ecclesiastical.
On this important question Hefele refers to the dissertation of Dupin, in his work De Antiqua Ecclesioe Disciplina. Hefele says: “It seems to me beyond a doubt that in this canon there is a question about that which was afterward calm the patriarchate of the Bishop of Alexandria; that is to say that he had a certain recognized ecclesiastical authority, not only over several civil provinces, but also over several ecclesiastical provinces (which had their own metropolitans);” and further on (p. 392) he adds: “It is incontestable that the civil provinces of Egypt, Libya, Pentapolis and Thebais, which were all in subjection to the Bishop of Alexandria, were also ecclesiastical provinces with their own metropolitans; and consequently it is not the ordinary fights of metropolitans that the Sixth Canon of Nice confers on the Bishop of Alexandria, but the rights of a superior Metropolitan, that is, of a Patriarch.”
There only remains to see what were the bounds of the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Antioch. The civil diocese of Oriens is shown by the Second Canon of Constantinople to be conterminous with what was afterward called the Patriarchate of Antioch. The see of Antioch had, as we know, several metropolitans subject to it, among them Caesarea, under whose jurisdiction was Palestine. Justellus, however, is of opinion that Pope Innocent I. was in error when he asserted that all the Metropolitans of Oriens were to be ordained by him by any peculiar authority, and goes so far as to stigmatize his words as “contrary to the mind of the Nicene Synod.”1
Excursus on the Extent of the Jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome Over the Suburbican Churches.
Although, as Hefele well says, “It is evident that the Council has not in view here the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over the whole Church, but simply his power as a patriarch,” yet it may not be unimportant to consider what his patriarchal limits may have been.
(Hefele, Hist. Councils, Vol. 1P 397).
The translation of this [VI.] canon by Rufinus has been especially an apple of discord). Et ut apud Alexandriam et in urbe Roma vetusta consuetudo servetur, ut vel ille Egypti vel hic suburbicariarum ecclesiarum sollicitudinem gerat. In the seventeenth century this sentence of Rufinus gave rise to a very lively discussion between the celebrated jurist, Jacob Gothfried (Gothofredus), and his friend, Salmasius, on one side, and the Jesuit, Sirmond, on the other. The great prefecture of Italy, which contained about a third of the whole Roman Empire, was divided into four vicariates, among which the vicariate of Rome was the first. At its head were two officers, the proefectus urbi and the vicarius urbis. The proefectus urbi exercised authority over the city of Rome, and further in a suburban circle as far as the hundredth milestone, The boundary of the vicarius urbis comprised ten provinces—Campania, Tuscia with Ombria, Picenum, Valeria, Samnium, Apulia with Calabria, Lucania and that of the Brutii, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. Gothfried and Salmasius maintained, that by the regiones suburbicarioe the little territory of the proefectus urbi must be understood; while, according to Sirmond, these words designate the whole territory of the vicarius urbis. In our time Dr. Maasen has proved in his book,2 already quoted several times, that Gothfried and Salmasius were right in maintaining that, by the regiones suburbicarioe, the little territory of the proefectus urbi must be alone understood.
Hefele thinks that Phillips “has proved” that the Bishop of Rome had patriarchal rights over places outside the limits of the ten provinces of the vicarius urbis; but does not agree with Phillips in thinking Rufinus in error. As a matter of fact the point is a difficult one, and has little to do with the gist of the meaning of the canon. One thing is certain: the early Latin version of the canons, called the Prisca, was not satisfied with the Greek wording and made the Canon read thus: “It is of ancient custom that the bishop of the city of Rome should have a primacy (principatum), so that he should govern with care the suburban places, And All His Own Province.”3 Another interesting reading is that found in several mss. which begins, “The Church of Rome hath always had a primacy (primatum),” and as a matter of fact the early date of this addition is evinced by the fact that the canon was actually quoted in this shape by Paschasinus at the Council of Chalcedon.
Hefele further on says, “The Greek commentators Zonaras and Balsamon (of the twelfth century) say very explicitly, in their explanation of the Canons of Nice, that this sixth canon confirms the rights of the Bishop of Rome as patriarch over the whole West,” and refers to Beveridge’s Syodicon, Tom. I., pp. 66 and 67. After diligent search I can find nothing to warrant the great amplitude of this statement. Balsamon’s interpretation is very vague, being simply that the Bishop of Rome is over the Western Eparchies (tw`n eJsperivwn ejpavrciwn) and Zonaras still more vaguely says that tw`n eJsperivwn a[rcein e[qo" ejkravthse. That the whole West was in a general way understood to be in the Roman Patriarchate I have no doubt, that the Greek scholiasts just quoted deemed it to be so I think most probably the case, but it does not seem to me that they have said so in the particular place cited. It seems to me that all they meant to say was that the custom observed at Alexandria and Antioch was no purely Eastern and local thing, for a similar state of affairs was found in the West.
Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Aelia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honoured, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honour.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
Let the Bishop of Aelia be honoured, the rights of the Metropolis being preserved intact.
There would seem to be a singular fitness in the Holy City Jerusalem holding a very exalted position among the sees of Christendom, and it may appear astonishing that in the earliest times it was only a suffragan see to the great Church of Caesarea. It must be remembered, however, that only about seventy years after our Lord’s death the city of Jerusalem was entirely destroyed and ploughed as a field according to the prophet. As a holy city Jerusalem was a thing of the past for long years, and it is only in the beginning of the second century that we find a strong Christian Church growing up in the rapidly increasing city, called no longer Jerusalem, but Aelia Capitolina. Possibly by the end of the second century the idea of the holiness of the site began to lend dignity to the occupant of the see; at all events Eusebius1 tells us that “at a synod held on the subject of the Easter controversy in the time of Pope Victor, Theophilus of Caesarea and Narcissus of Jerusalem were presidents.”
It was this feeling of reverence which induced the passing of this seventh canon. It is very hard to determine just what was the “precedence” granted to the Bishop of Aelia, nor is it clear which is the metropolis referred to in the last clause. Most writers, including Hefele, Balsamon, Aristenus and Beveridge consider it to be Caesarea; while Zonaras thinks Jerusalem to be intended, a view recently adopted and defended by Fuchs;2 others again suppose it is Antioch that is referred to).
Excursus on the Rise of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The narrative of the successive steps by which the See of Jerusalem rose from being nothing but Aelia, a Gentile city, into one of the five patriarchal sees is sad reading for a Christian. It is but the record of ambition and, worse still, of knavery. No Christian can for a moment grudge to the Holy City of the old dispensation the honour shewn it by the Church, but he may well wish that the honour had been otherwise obtained. A careful study of such records as we possess shews that until the fifth century the Metropolitan of Caesarea as often took precedence of the Bishop of Jerusalem as vice versa, and Beveridge has taken great pains to shew that the learned De Marca is in error in supposing that the Council of Nice assigned to Jerusalem a dignity superior to Caesarea, and only inferior to Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. It is true that in the signatures the Bishop of Jerusalem does sign before his metropolitan, but to this Beveridge justly replies that the same is the case with the occupants of two other of his suffragan sees. Bishop Beveridge’s opinion is that the Council assigned Jerusalem the second place in the province, such as London enjoys in the Province of Canterbury. This, however, would seem to be as much too little as De Marca’s contention grants too much. It is certain that almost immediately after the Council had adjourned, the Bishop of Jerusalem, Maximus, convoked a synod of Palestine, without any reference to Caesarea, which consecrated bishops and acquitted St. Athanasius. It is true that he was reprimanded for doing so,3 but yet it clearly shews how lie intended to understand the action of Nice. The matter was not decided for a century more, and then through the chicanery of Juvenal the bishop of Jerusalem.
(Canon Venables, Dict. Christ. Biography).
Juvenalis succeeded Praylius as bishop of Jerusalem somewhere about 420 a.d. The exact year cannot be determined. The episcopate of Praylius, which commenced in 417 a.d., was but short, and we can hardly give it at most more than three years. The statement of Cyril of Scythopolis, in his Life of St. Euthymius (c. 96), that Juvenal died “in the forty-fourth year of his episcopate,” 458 a.d., is certainly incorrect, as it would make his episcopate begin in 414 a.d., three years before that of his predecessor. Juvenal occupies a prominent position during the Nestorian and Eutychian troubles towards the middle of the fifth century. But the part played by him at the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, as well as at the disgraceful lh/strikh; suvnodo" of 449, was more conspicuous than creditable, and there are few of the actors in these turbulent and saddening scenes who leave a more unpleasing impression. The ruling object of Juvenal’s episcopate, to which everything else was secondary, and which guided all his conduct, was the elevation of the see of Jerusalem from the subordinate position it held in accordance with the seventh of the canons of the council of Nicaea, as suffragan to the metropolitan see of Caesarea, to a primary place in the episcopate. Not content with aspiring to metropolitan rank, Juvenal coveted patriarchal dignity, and, in defiance of all canonical authority, he claimed jurisdiction over the great see of Antioch, from which he sought to remove Arabia and the two Phoenicias to his own province. At the council of Ephesus, in 431, he asserted for “the apostolic see of Jerusalem the same rank and authority with the apostolic see of Rome” (Labbe, Concil. 3,642). These falsehoods he did not scruple to support with forged documents (“insolenter ausus per commentitia scripta firmare,” Leo. Mag). Ep. 119 92), and other disgraceful artifices. Scarcely had Juvenal been consecrated bishop of Jerusalem when he proceeded to assert his claims to the metropolitan rank by his acts. In the letter of remonstrance against the proceedings of the council of Ephesus, sent to Theodosius by the Oriental party, they complain that Juvenal, whose “ambitious designs and juggling tricks” they are only too well acquainted with, had ordained in provinces over which he had no jurisdiction (Labbe, Concil. iii. 728). This audacious attempt to set at nought the Nicene decrees, and to falsify both history and tradition was regarded with the utmost indignation by the leaders of the Christian church. Cyril of Alexandria shuddered at the impious design (“merito perhorrescens,” Leo). u. s.), and wrote to Leo, then archdeacon of Rome, informing him of what Juvenal was undertaking, and begging that his unlawful attempts might have no sanction from the apostolic See (“ut nulla illicitis conatibus praeberetur assensio,” u. s.). Juvenal, however, was far too useful an ally in his campaign against Nestorius for Cyril lightly to discard. When the council met at Ephesus Juvenal was allowed, without the slightest remonstrance, to take precedence of his metropolitan of Caesarea, and to occupy the position of vice-president of the council, coming next after Cyril himself (Labbe, Concil. 3,445), and was regarded in all respects as the second prelate in the assembly. The arrogant assertion of his supremacy over the bishop of Antioch, and his claim to take rank next after Rome as an apostolical see, provoked no open remonstrance, and his pretensions were at least tacitly allowed. At the next council, the disgraceful Latrocinium, Juvenal occupied the third place, after Dioscorus and the papal legate, having been specially named by Theodosius, together with Thalassius of Caesarea (who appears to have taken no umbrage at his suffragan being preferred before him), as next in authority to Dioscorus (Labbe, Concil. 4,109), and he took a leading part in the violent proceedings of that assembly. When the council of Chalcedon met, one of the matters whichcame before it for settlement was the dispute as to priority between Juvenal and Maximus Bishop of Antioch. The contention was long and severe. It ended in a compromise agreed on in the Seventh Action, meta; pollh;n filoneikivan. Juvenal surrendered his claim to the two Phoenicias and to Arabia, on condition of his being allowed metropolitical jurisdiction over the three Palestines (Labbe, Concil. 4,613). The claim to patriarchal authority over the Bishop of Antioch put forward at Ephesus was discreetly dropped. The difficulty presented by the Nicene canon does not appear to have presented itself to the council, nor was any one found to urge the undoubted claims of the see of Caesarea. The terms arranged between Maximus and Juvenal were regarded as satisfactory, and received the consent of the assembled bishops (1P 618). Maximus, however, was not long in repenting of his too ready acquiescence in Juvenal’s demands, and wrote a letter of complaint to pope Leo, who replied by the letter which has been already quoted, dated June 11, 453 a.d., in which he upheld the binding authority of the Nicene canons, and commenting in the strongest terms on the greediness and ambition of Juvenal, who allowed no opportunity of forwarding his ends to be lost, declared that as far as he was concerned he would do all he could to maintain the ancient dignity of the see of Antioch (Leo Magn). Ep. ad Maximum, 119 92). No further action, however, seems to have been taken either by Leo or by Maximus. Juvenal was left master of the situation, and the church of Jerusalem has from that epoch peaceably enjoyed the patriarchal dignity obtained for it by such base means.
Concerning those who call themselves Cathari, if they come over to the Catholic and Apostolic Church, the great and holy Synod decrees that they who are ordained shall continue as they are in the clergy. But it is before all things necessary that they should profess in writing that they will observe and follow the dogmas of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; in particular that they will communicate with persons who have been twice married, and with those who having lapsed in persecution have had a period [of penance] laid upon them, and a time [of restoration] fixed so that in all things they will follow the dogmas of the Catholic Church. Wheresoever, then, whether in villages or in cities, all of the ordained are found to be of these only, let them remain in the clergy, and in the same rank in which they are found. But if they come over where there is a bishop or presbyter of the Catholic Church, it is manifest that the Bishop of the Church must have the bishop’s dignity; and he who was named bishop by those who are called Cathari shall have the rank of presbyter, unless it shall seem fit to the Bishop to admit him to partake in the honour of the title. Or, if this should not be satisfactory, then shall the bishop provide for him a place as Chorepiscopus, or presbyter, in order that he may be evidently seen to be of the clergy, and that there may not be two bishops in the city.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
If those called Cathari come over, let them first make profession that they are willing to communicate with the twice married, and to grant pardon to the lapsed. And on this condition he who happens to be in orders, shall continue in the same order, so that a bishop shall still be bishop. Whoever was a bishop among the Cathari let him, however, become a Chorepiscopus, or let him enjoy the honour of a presbyter or of a bishop. For in one church there shall not be two bishops.
The Cathari or Novatians were the followers of Novatian, a presbyter of Rome, who had been a Stoic philosopher and was delivered, according to his own story, from diabolical possession at his exorcising by the Church before his baptism, when becoming a Catechumen. Being in peril of death by illness he received clinical baptism, and was ordained priest without any further sacred rites being administered to him. During the persecution he constantly refused to assist his brethren, and afterwards raised his voice against what he considered their culpable laxity in admitting to penance the lapsed. Many agreed with him in this, especially of the clergy, and eventually, in a.d. 251, he induced three bishops to consecrate him, thus becoming, as Fleury remarks,1 “the first Anti-Pope.” His indignation was principally spent upon Pope Cornelius, and to overthrow the prevailing discipline of the Church he ordained bishops and sent them to different parts of the empire as the disseminators of his error. It is well to remember that while beginning only as a schismatic, he soon fell into heresy, denying that the Church had the power to absolve the lapsed. Although condemned by several councils his sect continued on, and like the Montanists they rebaptized Catholics who apostatized to them, and absolutely rejected all second marriages. At the time of the Council of Nice the Novatian bishop at Constantinople, Acesius, was greatly esteemed, and although a schismatic, was invited to attend the council. After having in answer to the emperor’s enquiry whether he was willing to sign the Creed, assured him that he was, he went on to explain that his separation was because the Church no longer observed the ancient discipline which forbade that those who had committed mortal sin should ever be readmitted to communion. According to the Novatians he might be exhorted to repentance, but the Church had no power to assure him of forgiveness but must leave him to the judgment of God. It was then that Constantine said, “Acesius, take a ladder, and climb up to heaven alone.”2
If any of them be bishops or chorepiscopi they shall remain in the same rank, unless perchance in the same city there be found a bishop of the Catholic Church, ordained before their coming. For in this case he that was properly bishop from the first shall have the preference, and he alone shall retain the Episcopal throne. For it is not right that in the same city there should be two bishops. But he who by the Cathari was called bishop, shall be honoured as a presbyter, or (if it so please the bishop), he shall be sharer of the title bishop; but he shall exercise no episcopal jurisdiction.
Zonaras, Balsamon, Beveridge and Van Espen, are of opinion that ceiroqetoumevnou" does not mean that they are to receive a new laying on of hands at their reception into the Church, but that it refers to their already condition of being ordained, the meaning being that as they have had Novatian ordination they must be reckoned among the clergy. Dionysius Exiguus takes a different view, as does also the Prisca version, according to which the clergy of the Novatians were to receive a laying on of hands, ceiroqetoumevnou", but that it was not to be a reordination. With this interpretation Hefele seems to agree, founding his opinion upon the fact that the article is wanting before ceiroqetoumevnou", and that aujtou;" is added. Gratian3 supposes that this eighth canon orders a re-ordination.
Excursus on the Chorepiscopi.
There has been much difference of opinion among the learned touching the status of the Chorepiscopus in the early Church. The main question in dispute is as to whether they were always, sometimes, or never, in episcopal orders. Most Anglican writers, including Beveridge, Hammond, Cave, and Routh, have affirmed the first proposition, that they were true bishops, but that, out of respect to the bishop of the City they were forbidden the exercise of certain of their episcopal functions, except upon extraordinary occasions. With this view Binterim4 also agrees, and Augusti is of the same opinion.5 But Thomassinus is of a different mind, thinking, so says Hefele,6 that there were “two classes of chorepiscopi, of whom the one were real bishops, while the other had only the title without consecration.”
The third opinion, that they were merely presbyters, is espoused by Morinus and Du Cange, and others who are named by Bingham.7 This last opinion is now all but universally rejected, to the other two we shall now devote our attention.
For the first opinion no one can speak more learnedly nor more authoritatively than Arthur West Haddon, who writes as follows;
(Haddon, Dict. Christ. Antiq. s. 5, Chorepiscopus).
The chorepiscopus was called into existence in the latter part of the third century, and first in Asia Minor, in order to meet the want of episcopal supervision in the country parts of the now enlarged dioceses without subdivision). [They are] first mentioned in the Councils of Ancyra and Neo-Caesarea a.d. 314, and again in the Council of Nice (which is subscribed by fifteen, all from Asia Minor or Syria)). [They became] sufficiently important to require restriction by the time of the Council of Antioch, a.d. 341; and continued to exist in the East until at least the ninth century, when they were supplanted by e[xarkoi). [Chorepiscopi are] first mentioned in the West in the Council of Riez, a.d. 439 (the Epistles of Pope Damasus I. and of Leo. M. respecting them being forgeries), and continued there (but not in Africa, principally in France) until about the tenth century, after which the name occurs (in a decree of Pope Damasus II. ap. Sigeb). in an. 1048) as equivalent to archdeacon, an office from which the Arabic Nicene canons expressly distinguish it. The functions of chorepiscopi, as well as their name, were of an episcopal, not of a presbyterial kind, although limited to minor offices. They overlooked the country district committed to them, “loco episcopi,” ordaining readers, exorcists, subdeacons, but, as a rule, not deacons or presbyters (and of course not bishops), unless by express permission of their diocesan bishop. They confirmed in their own districts, and (in Gaul) are mentioned as consecrating churches (vide Du Cange). They granted eijrenikai;, or letters dimissory, which country presbyters were forbidden to do. They had also the honorary privilege (timwvmenoi) of assisting at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the mother city church, which country presbyters had not (Conc. Ancyr. can. xiii.; Neo-Caesar.can. xiv.; Antioch, can. x.; St. Basil M). Epist. 181; Rab. Maur). De Instit). Cler. 1,5, etc. etc).. They were held therefore to have power of ordination, but to lack jurisdiction, save subordinately. And the actual ordination of a presbyter by Timotheus, a chorepiscopus, is recorded (Pallad., Hist. Lausiac. 106)).
In the West, i.e. chiefly in Gaul, the order appears to have prevailed more widely, to have usurped episcopal functions without due subordination to the diocesans, and to have been also taken advantage of by idle or worldly diocesans. In consequence it seems to have aroused a strong feeling of hostility, which showed itself, first in a series of papal bulls, condemning them; headed, it is true, by two forged letters respectively of Damasus I. and Leo. M. (of which the latter is merely an interpolated version of Conc. Hispal. II). a.d. 619, can. 7, adding chorepiscopi to presbyteri, of which latter the council really treats), but continuing in a more genuine form, from Leo III. down to Pope Nicholas I. (to Rodolph, Archbishop of Bourges, a.d. 864); the last of whom, however, takes the more moderate line of affirming chorepiscopi to be really bishops, and consequently refusing to annul their ordinations of presbyters and deacons (as previous popes had done), but orders them to keep within canonical limits; and secondly, in a series of conciliar decrees, Conc. Ratispon. a.d. 800, in Capit. Lib. 4,c.1, Paris. a.d. 829, Lib. i.c. 27; Meld. a.d. 845, can. 44; Metens. a.d. 888, can. 8, and Capitul. 5,168, 6,119, 7,187, 310, 323, 324, annulling all episcopal acts of chorepiscopi, and ordering them to be repeated by “true” bishops; and finally forbidding all further appointments of chorepiscopi at all.
That chorepiscopi as such—i.e. omitting the cases of reconciled or vacant bishops above mentioned, of whose episcopate of course no question is made—were at first truly bishops both in East and West, appears almost certain, both from their name and functions, and even from the arguments of their strong opponents just spoken of. If nothing more could be urged against them, than that the Council of Neo-Caesarea compared them to the Seventy disciples, that the Council of Antioch authorises their consecration by a single bishop, and that they actually were so consecrated (the Antiochene decree might mean merely nomination by the word givnesqai, but the actual history seems to rule the term to intend consecration, and the [one] exceptional case of a chorepiscopus recorded [Actt. Episc. Cenoman. ap. Du Cange] in late times to have been ordained by three bishops [in order that he might be a full bishop] merely proves the general rule to the contrary)—and that they were consecrated for “villages,” contrary to canon,—then they certainly were bishops. And Pope Nicholas expressly says that they were so. Undoubtedly they ceased to be so in the East, and were practically merged in archdeacons in the West.
For the second opinion, its great champion, Thomassinus shall speak.
(Thomassin, Ancienne et Nouvelle Discipline de l’Église, Tom. I. Livre II. chap 1. § iii).
The chorepiscopi were not duly consecrated bishops, unless some bishop had consecrated a bishop for a town and the bishop thus ordained contrary to the canons was tolerated on condition of his submitting himself to the diocesan as though he were only a chorepiscopus. This may be gathered from the fifty-seventh canon of Laodicea.
From this canon two conclusions may be drawn, 1st. That bishops ought not to be ordained for villages, and that as Chorepiscopi could only be placed in villages they could not be bishops. 2d. That sometimes by accident a chorepiscopus might be a bishop, but only through having been canonically lowered to that rank.
The Council of Nice furnishes another example of a bishop lowered to the rank of a chorepiscopus in Canon 8,This canon shows that they should not have been bishops, for two bishops could never be in a diocese, although this might accidentally be the case when a chorepiscopus happened to be a bishop.
This is the meaning which must be given to the tenth canon of Antioch, which directs that chorepiscopi, even if they have received episcopal orders, and have been consecrated bishops, shall keep within the limits prescribed by the canon; that in cases of necessity, they ordain the lower clergy; but that they be careful not to ordain priests or deacons, because this power is absolutely reserved to the Diocesan. It must be added that as the council of Antioch commands that the Diocesan without any other bishop can ordain the chorepiscopus, the position can no longer be sustained that the chorepiscopi were bishops, such a method of consecrating a bishop being contrary to canon 19,of the same council, moreover the canon does not say the chorepiscopus is to be ordained, but uses the word gevnesqai by the bishop of the city (canon x).. The Council of Neocaesarea by referring them to the seventy disciples (in Canon XIV). has shown the chorepiscopi to be only priests.
But the Council of Ancyra does furnish a difficulty, for the text seems to permit chorepiscopi to ordain priests. But the Greek text must be corrected by the ancient Latin versions. The letter attributed to pope Nicholas, a.d. 864, must be considered a forgery since he recognises the chorepiscopi as real bishops.
If Harmenopulus, Aristenus, Balsamon, and Zonaras seem to accord to the chorepiscopi the power to ordain priests and deacons with the permission of the Diocesan, it is because they are explaining the meaning and setting forth the practice of the ancient councils and not the practice of their own times. But at all events it is past all doubt that before the seventh century there were, by different accidents, chorepiscopi who were really bishops and that these could, with the consent of the diocesan, ordain priests. But at the time these authors wrote, there was not a single chorepiscopus in the entire East, as Balsamon frankly admits in commenting on Canon 13,of Ancyra.
Whether in the foregoing the reader will think Thomassinus has proved his point, I do not know, but so far as the position of the chorepiscopi in synods is concerned there can be no doubt whatever, and I shall allow Hefele to speak on this point.
(Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. I. pp. 17, 18).
The Chorepiscopi (cwrepivskopoi), or bishops of country places, seem to have been considered in ancient times as quite on a par with the other bishops, as far as their position in synod was concerned. We meet with them at the Councils of NeoCaesarea in the year 314, of Nicaea in 325, of Ephesus in 431. On the other hand, among the 600 bishops of the fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon in 451, there is no chorepiscopus present, for by this time the office had been abolished; but in the Middle Ages we again meet with chorepiscopi of a new kind at Western councils, particularly at those of the French Church, at Langres in 830, at Mayence in 847, at Pontion in 876, at Lyons in 886, at Douzy in 871.
If any presbyters have been advanced without examination, or if upon examination they have made confession of crime, and men acting in violation of the canon have laid hands upon them, notwithstanding their confession, such the canon does not admit; for the Catholic Church requires that [only] which is blameless.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Whoever are ordained without examination, shall be deposed if it be found out afterwards that they had been guilty.
The crimes in question are those which were a bar to the priesthood—such as blasphemy, bigamy, heresy, idolatry, magic, etc.—as the Arabic paraphrase of Joseph explains. It is clear that these faults are punishable in the bishop no less than in the priest, and that consequently our canon refers to the bishops as well as to the presbuvteroi in the more restricted sense. These words of the Greek text, “In the case in which any one might be induced, in opposition to the canon, to ordain such persons,” allude to the ninth canon of the Synod of NeoCaesarea. It was necessary to pass such ordinances; for even in the fifth century, as the twenty-second letter to Pope Innocent the First testifies, some held that as baptism effaces all former sins, so it takes away all the impedimenta ordinationis which are the results of those sins.
Some say that as baptism makes the baptized person a new man, so ordination takes away the sins committed before ordination, which opinion does not seem to agree with the canons.
This canon occurs twice in the Corpus Juris Canonici). Decretum Pars I. Dist. 24,c. vij., and Dist. lxxxj., c. iv.
If any who have lapsed have been ordained through the ignorance, or even with the previous knowledge of the ordainers, this shall not prejudice the canon of the Church for when they are discovered they shall be deposed.
Ancient Epitome of Canon X.
Whoso had lapsed are to be deposed whether those who ordained and promoted them did so conscious of their guilt or unknowing of it.
The tenth canon differs from the ninth, inasmuch as it concerns only the lapsi and their elevation, not only to the priesthood, but to any other ecclesiastical preferment as well, and requires their deposition. The punishment of a bishop who should consciously perform such an ordination is not mentioned; but it is incontestable that the lapsi could not be ordained, even after having performed penance; for, as the preceding canon states, the Church requires those who were faultless. It is to be observed that the word proceirivzein is evidently employed here in the sense of “ordain,” and is used without any distinction from ceirivzein, whilst in the synodal letter of the Council of Nicaea on the subject of the Meletians, there is a distinction between these two words, and proceirivzein is used to signify eliger.
This canon is found in Corpus Juris Canonici). Decretum.Pars I. Dist. lxxxi. c.v.
Concerning those who have fallen without compulsion, without the spoiling of their property, without danger or the like, as happened during the tyranny of Licinius, the Synod declares that, though they have deserved no clemency, they shall be dealt with mercifully. As many as were communicants, if they heartily repent, shall pass three years among the hearers; for seven years they shall be prostrators; and for two years they shall communicate with the people in prayers, but without oblation.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XI.
As many as fell without necessity, even if therefore undeserving of indulgence, yet some indulgence shall be shown them and they shall be prostrators for twelve years.
On the expression “without oblation” (cwri;" prosfora`") see the notes to Ancyra, Canon V. where the matter is treated at some length.
The usual position of the hearers was just inside the church door. But Zonaras (and Balsamon agrees with him), in his comment on this canon, says, “they are ordered for three years to be hearers, or to stand without the church in the narthex.”
I have read “as many as were communicants” (oiJ pistoi;) thus following Dr. Routh). Vide his Opuscula. Caranza translates in his Summary of the Councils “if they were faithful” and seems to have read eij pistoiv, which is much simpler and makes better sense.
The prostrators stood within the body of the church behind the ambo [i.e. the reading desk] and went out with the catechumens.
Excursus on the Public Discipline or Exomologesis of the Early Church.
(Taken chiefly from Morinus, De Disciplina in Administratione Sacramenti Poenitentiae; Bingham, Antiquities; and Hammond, The Definitions of Faith, etc. Note to Canon XI. of Nice).
“In the Primitive Church there was a godly discipline, that at the beginning of Lent, such persons as stood convicted of notorious sin were put to open penance, and punished in this world that their souls might be saved in the day of the Lord; and that others, admonished by their example, might be the more afraid to offend.”
The foregoing words from the Commination Service of the Church of England may serve well to introduce this subject. In the history of the public administration of discipline in the Church, there are three periods sufficiently distinctly marked. The first of these ends at the rise of Novatianism in the middle of the second century; the second stretches down to about the eighth century; and the third period shews its gradual decline to its practical abandonment in the eleventh century. The period with which we are concerned is the second, when it was in full force.
In the first period it would seem that public penance was required only of those convicted of what then were called by pre-eminence “mortal sins” (crimena mortalia1 ), viz: idolatry, murder, and adultery. But in the second period the list of mortal sins was greatly enlarged, and Morinus says that “Many Fathers who wrote after Augustine’s time, extended the necessity of public penance to all crimes which the civil law punished with death, exile, or other grave corporal penalty.”2 In the penitential canons ascribed to St. Basil and those which pass by the name of St. Gregory Nyssen, this increase of offences requiring public penance will be found intimated.
From the fourth century the penitents of the Church were divided into four classes. Three of these are mentioned in the eleventh canon, the fourth, which is not here referred to, was composed of those styled sugklaivonte", flentes or weepers. These were not allowed to enter into the body of the church at all, but stood or lay outside the gates, sometimes covered with sackcloth and ashes. This is the class which is sometimes styled ceimozomevnoi, hybernantes, on account of their being obliged to endure the inclemency of the weather.
It may help to the better understanding of this and other canons which notice the different orders of penitents, to give a brief account of the usual form and arrangement of the ancient churches as well as of the different orders of the penitents.
Before the church there was commonly either an open area surrounded with porticoes, called mesauvlion or atrium, with a font of water in the centre, styled a cantharus or phiala, or sometimes only an open portico, or propuvlaion. The first variety may still be seen at S. Ambrogio’s in Milan, and the latter in Rome at S. Lorenzo’s, and in Ravenna at the two S. Apollinares. This was the place at which the first and lowest order of penitents, the weepers, already referred to, stood exposed to the weather. Of these, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus says: “Weeping takes place outside the door of the church, where the sinner must stand and beg the prayers of the faithful as they go in.”
The church itself usually consisted of three divisions within, besides these exterior courts and porch. The first part after passing through “the great gates,” or doors of the building, was called the Narthex in Greek, and Faerula in Latin, and was a narrow vestibule extending the whole width of the church. In this part, to which Jews and Gentiles, and in most places even heretics and schismatics were admitted, stood the Catechumens, and the Energumens or those afflicted with evil spirits, and the second class of penitents (the first mentioned in the Canon), who were called the ajkow`menoi, audientes, or hearers. These were allowed to hear the Scriptures read, and the Sermon preached, but were obliged to depart before the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, with the Catechumens, and the others who went by the general name of hearers only.
The second division, or main body of the church, was called the Naos or Nave. This was separated from the Narthex by rails of wood, with gates in the centre, which were called “the beautiful or royal gates.” In the middle of the Nave, but rather toward the lower or entrance part of it, stood the Ambo, or reading-desk, the place for the readers and singers, to which they went up by steps, whence the name, Ambo. Before coming to the Ambo, in the lowest part of the Nave, and just after passing the royal gates, was the place for the third order of penitents, called in Greek gonuklivnonte", or uJpopivptonte",and in Latin Genuflectentes or Prostrati, i.e., kneelers or prostrators, because they were allowed to remain and join in certain prayers particularly made for them. Before going out they prostrated themselves to receive the imposition of the bishop’s hands with prayer. This class of penitents left with the Catechumens.
In the other parts of the Nave stood the believers or faithful, i.e., those persons wire were in full communion with the Church, the men and women generally on opposite sides, though in some places the men were below, and the women in galleries above. Amongst these were the fourth class of penitents, who were called sunestw`te", consistentes, i.e., co-standers, because they were allowed to stand with the faithful, and to remain and hear the prayers of the Church, after the Catechumens and the other penitents were dismissed, and to be present while the faithful offered and communicated, though they might not themselves make their offerings, nor partake of the Holy Communion. This class of penitents are frequently mentioned in the canons, as “communicating in prayers,” or “without the oblation;” and it was the last grade to be passed through previous to the being admitted again to full communion. The practice of “hearing mass” or “non-communicating attendance” clearly had its origin in this stage of discipline. At the upper end of the body of the church, and divided from it by rails which were called Cancelli, was that part which we now call the Chancel. This was anciently called by several names, as Bema or tribunal, from its being raised above the body of the church, and Sacrarium or Sanctuary. It was also called Apsis and Concha Bematis, from its semicircular end. In this part stood the Altar, or Holy Table (which names were indifferently used in the primitive Church), behind which, and against the wall of the chancel, was the Bishop’s throne, with the seats of the Presbyters on each side of it, called synthronus. On one side of the chancel was the repository for the sacred utensils and vestments, called the Diaconicum, and answering to our Vestry; and on the other the Prothesis, a side-table, or place, where the bread and wine were deposited before they were offered on the Altar. The gates in the chancel rail were called the holy gates, and none but the higher orders of the clergy, i.e., Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, were allowed to enter within them. The Emperor indeed was permitted to do so for the purpose of making his offering at the Altar, but then he was obliged to retire immediately, and to receive the communion without.
(Thomassin). Ancienne et Nouvelle Discipline de l’Eglise. Tom. I. Livre II. chap. xvj. somewhat abridged)).
In the West there existed always many cases of public penance, but in the East it is more difficult to find any traces of it, after it was abolished by the Patriarch Nectarius in the person of the Grand Penitentiary.
However, the Emperor Alexis Comnenus, who took the empire in the year 1080, did a penance like that of older days, and one which may well pass for miraculous. He called together a large number of bishops with the patriarch, and some holy religious; be presented himself before them in the garb of a criminal; he confessed to them his crime of usurpation with all its circumstances. They condemned the Emperor and all his accomplices to fasting, to lying prostrate upon the earth, to wearing haircloth, and to all the other ordinary austerities of penance. Their wives desired to share their griefs and their sufferings, although they had had no share in their crime. The whole palace became a theatre of sorrow and public penance. The emperor wore the hairshirt under the purple, and lay upon the earth for forty days, having only a stone for a pillow.
To all practical purposes Public Penance was a general institution but for a short while in the Church. But the reader must be careful to distinguish between this Public Penance and the private confession which in the Catholic Church both East and West is universally practised. What Nectarius did was to abolish the office of Penitentiary, whose duty it had been to assign public penance for secret sin;3 a thing wholly different from what Catholics understand by the “Sacrament of Penance.” It would be out of place to do more in this place than to call the reader’s attention to the bare fact, and to supply him, from a Roman Catholic point of view, with an explanation of why Public Penance died out. “It came to an end because it was of human institution. But sacramental confession, being of divine origin, lasted when the penitential discipline had been changed, and continues to this day among the Greeks and Oriental sects.”4 That the reader may judge of the absolute can-dour of the writer just quoted, I give a few sentences from the same article: “An opinion, however, did prevail to some extent in the middle ages, even among Catholics, that confession to God alone sufficed. The Council of Chalons in 813 (canon xxxiij)., says: ‘Some assert that we should confess our sins to God alone, but some think that they should be confessed to the priest, each of which practices is followed not without great fruit in Holy Church. ... Confession made to God purges sins, but that made to the priest teaches how they are to be purged.’ This former opinion is also mentioned without reprobation by Peter Lombard (In Sentent.Lib. 4,dist. xvij)..”
As many as were called by grace, and displayed the first zeal, having cast aside their military girdles, but afterwards returned, like dogs, to their own vomit, (so that some spent money and by means of gifts regained their military stations); let these, after they have passed the space of three years as hearers, be for ten years prostrators. But in all these cases it is necessary to examine well into their purpose and what their repentance appears to be like. For as many as give evidence of their conversions by deeds, and not pretence, with fear, and tears, and perseverance, and good works, when they have fulfilled their appointed time as hearers, may properly communicate in prayers; and after that the bishop may determine yet more favourably concerning them. But those who take [the matter] with indifference, and who think the form of [not] entering the Church is sufficient for their conversion, must fulfil the whole time).
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII.
Those who endured violence and were seen to have resisted, but who afterwards yielded go wickedness, and returned to the army, shall be excommunicated for ten years. But in every case the way in which they do their penance must be scrutinized. And if anyone who is doing penance shews himself zealous in its performance, the bishop shall treat him more lentently than had he been cold and indifferent.
The abuse of this power, namely, of granting under certain circumstances a relaxation in the penitential exercises enjoined by the canons—led, in later times, to the practice of commuting such exercises for money payments, etc.
In his last contests with Constantine, Licinius had made himself the representative of heathenism; so that the final issue of the war would not be the mere triumph of one of the two competitors, but the triumph or fall of Christianity or heathenism. Accordingly, a Christian who had in this war supported the cause of Licinius and of heathenism might be considered as a lapsus, even if he did not formally fall away. With much more reason might those Christians be treated as lapsi who, having conscientiously given up military service (this is meant by the soldier’s belt), afterwards retracted their resolution, and went so far as to give money and presents for the sake of readmission, on account of the numerous advantages which military service then afforded. It must not be forgotten that Licinius, as Zonaras and Eusebius relate, required from his soldiers a formal apostasy; compelled them, for example, to take part in the heathen sacrifices which were held in the camps, and dismissed from his service those who would not apostatize.
This canon (which in the Prisca and the Isidorian version stands as part of canon 11) deals, like it, with cases which had arisen under the Eastern reign of Licinius, who having resolved to “purge his army of all ardent Christians” (Mason, Persec. of Diocl. p. 308), ordered his Christian officers to sacrifice to the gods on pain of being cashiered (compare Euseb). H. E. 10,8; Vit. Con. 1,54). It is to be observed here that military life as such was not deemed unchristian. The case of Cornelius was borne in mind. “We serve in your armies,” says Tertullian, Apol. 42 (although later, as a Montanist, he took a rigorist and fanatical view, De Cor. 11), and compare the fact which underlies the tale of the “Thundering Legion,”—the presence of Christians in the army of Marcus Aurelius. It was the heathenish adjuncts to their calling which often brought Christian soldiers to a stand (see (Routh). Scr. Opusc. 1,410), as when Marinus’ succession to a centurionship was challenged on the ground that he could not sacrifice to the gods (Euseb). H. E. 7,15). Sometimes, indeed, individual Christians thought like Maximilian in the Martyrology, who absolutely refused to enlist, and on being told by the proconsul that there were Christian soldiers in the imperial service, answered, “Ipsi sciunt quod ipsis expediat” (Ruinart, Act). Sanc. p. 341). But, says Bingham (Antiq. 11,5, 10), “the ancient canons did not condemn the military life as a vocation simply unlawful. ... I believe there is no instance of any man being refused baptism merely because he was a soldier, unless some unlawful circumstance, such as idolatry, or the like, made the vocation sinful.” After the victory of Constantine in the West, the Council of Aries excommunicated those who in time of peace “threw away their arms” (can. 2). In the case before us, some Christian officers had at first stood firm under the trial imposed on them by Licinius. They had been “called by grace” to an act of self-sacrifice (the phrase is one which St. Augustine might have used); and had shown “their eagerness at the outset” (“primum suum ardorem,” Dionysius; Philo and Evarestus more laxly, “primordia bona;” compare th;n ajgavphn sou th;n prwvthn Ap 2,4). Observe here how beautifully the ideas of grace and free will are harmonized. These men had responded to a Divine impulse: it might seem that they had committed themselves to a noble course: they had cast aside the “belts” which were their badge of office (compare the cases of Valentinian and Valens, Soc. 3,13, and of Benevoins throwing down his belt at the feet of Justina, Soz. 7,13). They had done, in fact, just what Auxentius, one of Licinius’ notaries, had done when, according to the graphic anecdote of Philostorgius (Fragm. 5), his master bade him place a bunch of grapes before a statue of Bacchus in the palace-court; but their zeal, unlike his, proved to be too impulsive—they reconsidered their position, and illustrated the maxim that in morals second thoughts are not best (Butler, Serm. 7), by making unworthy attempts—in some cases by bribery—to recover what they had worthily resigned. (Observe the Grecised Latinism benefikivoi" and compare the Latinisms of St. Mark, and others in Euseb. 3,20, 6,40, 10,5). This the Council describes in proverbial language, probably borrowed from 2 Pet. 2,22, but, it is needless to say, without intending to censure enlistment as such. They now desired to be received to penance: accordingly they were ordered to spend three years as Hearers, during which time “their purpose, and the nature (ei\do") of their repentance” were to be carefully “examined.” Again we see the earnest resolution of the Council to make discipline a moral reality, and to prevent it from being turned into a formal routine; to secure, as Rufinus’ abridgment expresses it, a repentance“fructuosam et attentam.” If the penitents were found to have “manifested their conversion by deeds, and not in outward show (schvmati), by awe, and tears, and patience, and good works” (such, for instance, Zonaras comments, as almsgiving according to ability), “it would be then reasonable to admit them to a participation in the prayers,” to the position of Consistentes, “with permission also to the bishop to come to a yet more indulgent resolution concerning them,” by admitting them to full communion. This discretionary power of the bishop to dispense with part of a penance-time is recognized in the fifth canon of Ancyra and the sixteenth of Chalcedon, and mentioned by Basil, Epist. 217, c. 74. It was the basis of “indulgences” in their original form (Bingham, 18,4, 9). But it was too possible that some at least of these lapsi might take the whole affair lightly, “with indifference” ajdiafovrw"-not seriously enough, as Hervetas renders—just as if, in common parlance, it did not signify: the fourth Ancyrene canon speaks of lapsi who partook of the idol-feast ajdiafovrw" as if it involved them in no sin (see (below on Ep 5, Chalc. 4). It was possible that they might “deem” the outward form of “entering the church” to stand in the narthex among the Hearers (here, as in c. 8, 19, sch`ma denotes an external visible fact) sufficient to entitle them to the character of converted penitents, while their conduct out of church was utterly lacking in seriousness and self-humiliation. In that case there could be no question of shortening their penance, time, for they were not in a state to benefit by indulgence: it would be, as the Roman Presbyters wrote to Cyprian, and as he himself wrote to his own church, a “mere covering over of the wound” (Epist. 30, 3), an “injury” rather than “a kindness” (De Lapsis, 16); they must therefore “by all means” go through ten years as Kneelers, before they can become Consistentes.
There is great difficulty about the last phrase and Gelasius of Cyzicus, the Prisca, Dionysius Exiguus, the pseudo-Isidore, Zonaras and most others have considered the “not” an interpolation. I do not see how dropping the “not” makes the meaning materially clearer.
Concerning the departing, the ancient canonical law is still to be maintained, to wit, that, if any man be at the point of death, he must not be deprived of the last and most indispensable Viaticum. But, if any one should be restored to health again who has received the communion when his life was despaired of, let him remain among those who communicate in prayers only. But in general, and in the case of any dying person whatsoever asking to receive the Eucharist, let the Bishop, after examination made, give it him.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII.
The dying are to be communicated. But ifany such get well, he must be placed in the number of those who share in the prayers, and withthese only.
It cannot be denied that antiquity used thename “Viaticum” not only to denote the Eucharist which was given to the dying, but also to denote the reconciliation, and imposition of penance, and in general, everything that could be conducive to the happy death of the person concerned, and this has been shown by Aubespine (lib. 1, Obs. cap. ii).. But while this is so, the more usual sense of the word is the Eucharist. For this cannot be denied that the faithful of the first ages of the Church looked upon the Eucharist as the complement of Christian perfection, and as the last seal of hope and salvation. It was for tiffs reason that at the beginning of life, after baptism and confirmation, the Eucharist was given even to infants, and at the close of life the Eucharist followed reconciliation and extreme unction, so that properly and literally it could be styled “the last Viaticum.” Moreover for penitents it was considered especially necessary that through it they might return to the peace of the Church; for perfect peace is given by that very communion of the Eucharist). [A number of instances are then cited, and various ancient versions of the canon.] Balsamon and Zonaras also understand the canon as I have done, as is evident from their commentaries, and so did Josephus Aegyptius, who in his Arabic Paraphrase gives the canon this title: “Concerning him who is excommunicated and has committed some deadly sin, and desires the Eucharist to be granted to him.”
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian, Decretum Pars. II. causa xxvi, Quaes. VI., c. ix.
Excursus on the Communion of the Sick.
There is nothing upon which the ancient church more strenuously insisted than the oral reception of the Holy Communion. What in later times was known as “Spiritual Communion” was outside of the view of those early days; and to them the issues of eternity were considered often to rest upon the sick man’s receiving with his mouth “his food for the journey,” the Viaticum, before he died. No greater proof of how important this matter was deemed could be found than the present canon, which provides that even the stern and invariable canons of the public penance are to give way before the awful necessity of fortifying the soul in the last hour of its earthly sojourn.
Possibly at first the Italy Sacrament may have been consecrated in the presence of the sick person, but of this in early times the instances are rare and by was considered a marked favour that such a thing should be allowed, and the saying of mass in private houses was prohibited (as it is in the Eastern and Latin churches still to-day) with the greatest
The necessity of having the consecrated bread and wine for the sick led to their reservation, a practice which has existed in the Church from the very beginning, so far as any records of which we are in possession shew.
St. Justin Martyr, writing less than a half century after St. John’s death, mentions that “the deacons communicate each of those present, and carry away to the absent the blest bread, and wine and water.”1 It was evidently a long established custom in his day.
Tertullian tells us of a woman whose husband was a heathen and who was allowed to keep the Holy Sacrament in her house that she might receive every morning before other food. St. Cyprian also gives a most interesting example of reservation. In his treatise “On the Lapsed” written in a.d. 251, (chapter xxvi), he says: “Another woman, when she tried with unworthy hands to open her box, in which was the Holy of the Lord, was deterred from daring to touch it by fire rising from it.”
It is impossible with any accuracy to fix the date, but certainly before the year four hundred, a perpetual reservation for the sick was made in the churches. A most interesting incidental proof of this is found in the thrilling description given by St. Chrysostom of the great riot in Constantinople in the year 403, when the soldiers “burst into the place where the Holy Things were stored, and saw all things therein,” and “the most holy blood of Christ was spilled upon their clothes.”2 From this incident it is evident that in that church the Holy Sacrament was reserved in both kinds, and separately.
Whether this at the time was usual it is hard to say, but there can be no doubt that even in the earliest times the Sacrament was given, on rare occasions at least, in one kind, sometimes under the form of bread alone, and when the sick persons could not swallow under the form of wine alone. The practice called “intinction,” that is the dipping of the bread into the wine and administering the two species together, was of very early introduction and still is universal in the East, not only when Communion is given with the reserved Sacrament, but also when the people are communicated in the Liturgy from the newly consecrated species. The first mention of intinction in the West, is at Carthage in the fifth century.3 We know it was practised in the seventh century and by the twelfth it had become general, to give place to the withdrawal of the chalice altogether in the West.4 “Regino (De Eccles. Discip. Lib. I. c. lxx). in 906, Burchard (Decr. Lib. V. cap. ix. fol. 95. colon. 1560). in 996, and Ivo (Decr. Pars. II. cap. 19,p. 56, Paris 1647) in 1092 all cite a Canon, which they ascribe to a council of Tours ordering ‘every presbyter to have a pyx or vessel meet for so great a sacrament, in which the Body of the Lord may be carefully laid up for the Viaticum to those departing from this world, which sacred oblation ought to be steeped in the Blood of Christ that the presbyter may be able to say truthfully to the sick man, The Body and Blood of the Lord avail thee, etc.’”5
The reservation of the Holy Sacrament was usually made in the church itself, and the learned W. E. Scudamore is of opinion that this was the case in Africa as early as the fourth century.6
It will not be uninteresting to quote in this connection the “Apostolic Constitutions,” for while indeed there is much doubt of the date of the Eighth Book, yet it is certainly of great antiquity. Here we read, “and after the communion of both men and women, the deacons take what remains and place it in the tabernacle.”7
Perhaps it may not be amiss before closing the remark that so far as we are aware the reservation of the Holy Sacrament in the early church was only for the purposes of communion, and that the churches of the East reserve it to the present day only for this purpose.
Those who wish to read the matter treated of more at length, can do so in Muratorius’s learned “Dissertations” which are prefixed to his edition of the Roman Sacramentaries (chapter XXIV) and in Scudamore’s Notitia Eucharistica, a work which can be absolutely relied upon for the accuracy of its facts, however little one may feel constrained to accept the logical justness of its conclusions.
Concerning catechumens who have lapsed, the holy and great Synod has decreed that, after they have passed three years only as hearers, they shall pray with the catechumens.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
If any of the catechumens shall have fallen for three years he shall be a hearer only, and then let him pray with the catechumens.
The people formerly were divided into three classes in the church, for there were catechumens, faithful, and penitents; but it is clear from the present canon there were two kinds of catechumens: one consisting of those who heard the Word of God, and wished to become Christians, but had not yet desired baptism; these were called “hearers.” Others who were of long standing, and were properly trained in the faith, and desired baptism—these were called “competentes.”
There is difference of opinion among the learned as to whether there was not a third or even a fourth class of catechumens. Bingham and Card. Bona, while not agreeing in particular points, agree in affirming that there were more than two classes. Bingham’s first class are those not allowed to enter the church, the ejxwqouvmenoi, but the affirmation of the existence of such a class rests only on a very forced explanation of canon five of NeoCaesarea. The second class, the hearers, audientes, rests on better evidence. These were not allowed to stay while the Holy Mysteries were celebrated, and their expulsion gave rise to the distinction between the “Mass of the Catechumens” (Missa Catechumenorum)and the “Mass of the Faithful” (Missa Fidelium). Nor were they suffered to hear the Creed or the Our Father. Writers who multiply the classes insert here some who knelt and prayed, called Prostrati or Genuflectentes (the same name as was given to one of the grades of penitence).
(Edw. H. Plumptre in Dict. Christ. Antiq. s. 5, Catechumens).
After these stages had been traversed each with its appropriate instruction, the catechumens gave in their names as applicants for baptism, and were known accordingly as Competentes sunaitouvnte". This was done commonly at the beginning of the Quadragesimal fast, and the instruction, carried on through the whole of that period, was fuller and more public in its nature (Cyril Hieros). Catech. 1,5; Hieron). Ep. 61, ad Pammach. c. 4:). To catechumens in this stage the great articles of the Creed, the nature of the Sacraments, the penitential discipline of the Church, were explained, as in the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, with dogmatic precision. Special examinations and inquiries into character were made at intervals during the forty days. It was a time for fasting and watching and prayer (Constt. Apost. 8,5; 4 C). Carth. c. 85; Tertull). De Bapt. c. 20; Cyril. 1. c). and, in the case of those who were married, of the strictest continence (August). De fide et oper. 5,8). Those who passed through the ordeal were known as the perfectiores teleiwvterotthe electi, or in the nomenclature of the Eastern Church as baptizovmenoi or fwtizovwenoi, the present participle being used of course with a future or gerundial sense. Their names were inscribed as such in the album or register of the church. They were taught, but not till a few days before their baptism, the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer which they were to use after it. The periods for this registration varied, naturally enough, in different churches. At Jerusalem it was done on the second (Cyril). Catech. iii)., in Africa on the fourth Sunday in Lent (August). Serm. 213), and this was the time at which the candidate, if so disposed, might lay aside his old heathen or Jewish name and take one more specifically Christian (Socrat). H. E. 7,21). . . .It is only necessary to notice here that the Sacramentum Catechumenorum of which Augustine speaks (De Peccat. Merit. 2,26) as given apparently at or about the time of their first admission by imposition of hands, was probably the eujlogivai or panis benedictus, and not, as Bingham and Augusta maintain, the salt which was given with milk and honey after baptism.
ON account of the great disturbance and discords that occur, it is decreed that the custom prevailing in certain places contrary to the Canon, must wholly be done away; so that neither bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. And if any one, after this decree of the holy and great Synod, shall attempt any such thing, or continue in any such course, his proceedings shall be utterly void, and he shall be restored to the Church for which he was ordained bishop or presbyter.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.
Neither bishop, presbyter, nor deacon shall pass from city to city. But they shall be sent back, should they attempt to do so, to the Churches in which they were ordained.
The translation of a bishop, priest, or deacon from one church to another, had already been forbidden in the primitive Church. Nevertheless, several translations had taken place, and even at the Council of Nice several eminent men were present who had left their first bishoprics to take others: thus Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, had been before Bishop of Berytus; Eustathius, Bishop of Antioch, had been before Bishop of Berrhoea in Syria. The Council of Nice thought it necessary to forbid in future these translations, and to declare them invalid. The chief reason of this prohibition was found in the irregularities and disputes occasioned by such change of sees; but even if such practical difficulties had not arisen, the whole doctrinal idea, so to speak, of the relationship between a cleric and the church to which he had been ordained, namely, the contracting of a mystical marriage between them, would be opposed to any translation or change. In 341 the Synod of Antioch renewed, in its twenty-first canon, the prohibition passed by the Council of Nice; but the interest of the Church often rendered it necessary to make exceptions, as happened in the case of St. Chrysostom. These exceptional cases increased almost immediately after the holding of the Council of Nice, so that in 382, St. Gregory of Nazianzum considered this law among those which had long been abrogated by custom. It was more strictly observed in the Latin Church; and even Gregory’s contemporary, Pope Damasus, declared himself decidedly in favour of the rule of Nice.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici). Decretum, Pars II. Causa VII, Q. 1,c. xix.
Excursus on the Translation of Bishops.
There are few points upon which the discipline of the Church has so completely changed as that which regulated, or rather which forbade, the translation of a bishop from the see for which he was consecrated to some other diocese. The grounds on which such prohibition rested were usually that such changes were the outcome of ambition, and that if tolerated the result would be that smaller and less important sees would be despised, and that there would be a constant temptation to the bishops of such sees to make themselves popular with the important persons in other dioceses with the hope of promotion. Besides this objection to translation, St. Athanasius mentions a spiritual one, that the diocese was the bishop’s bride, and that to desert it and take another was an act of unjustifiable divorce, and subsequent adultery.1 Canon XIV. of the Apostolic Canons does not forbid the practice absolutely, but allows it for just cause, and although the Council of Nice is more stringent so far as its words are concerned, apparently forbidding translation under any circumstances, yet, as a matter of fact, that very council did allow and approve a translation.2 The general feeling, however, of the early Church was certainly very strong against all such changes of Episcopal cure, and there can be no doubt that the chief reason why St. Gregory Nazianzen resigned the Presidency of the First Council of Constantinople, was because he had been translated from his obscure see Sasima (not Nazianzum as Socrates and Jerome say) to the Imperial City.3
From the canons of some provincial councils, and especially from those of the Third and of the Fourth Council of Carthage, it is evident that despite the conciliar and papal prohibitions, translations did take place, being made by the authority of the provincial Synods, and without the consent of the pope,4 but it is also evident that this authority was too weak, and that the aid of the secular power had often to be invoked.
This course, of having the matter decided by the synod, was exactly in accordance with the Apostolic Canon (no. xiv).. In this manner, for example, Alexander was translated from Cappadocia to Jerusalem, a translation made, so it is narrated, in obedience to heavenly revelation. It will be noticed that the Nicene Canon does not forbid Provincial Councils to translate bishops, but forbids bishops to translate themselves, and the author of the tract De Translationibus in the Jus Orient. (i. 293, Cit. Haddon. Art. “Bishop,” Smith and Cheetham, Dict. Chr. Antiq). sums up the matter tersely in the statement that hJ metavbasi" kekwvlutai, ouj mh;n h\( metavqesi": i.e., the thing prohibited is “transmigration” (which arises from the bishop himself, from selfish motives) not “translation” (wherein the will of God and the good of the Church is the ruling cause); the “going,” not the “being taken” to another see. And this was the practice both of East and West, for many centuries. Roman Catholic writers have tried to prove that translations, at least to the chief sees, required the papal consent, but Thomassinus, considering the case of St. Meletius having translated St. Gregory of Nazianzum to Constantinople, admits that in so doing he “would only have followed the example of many great bishops of the first ages, when usage had not yet reserved translations to the first see of the Church.”5
But the same learned author frankly confesses that in France, Spain, and England, translations were made until the ninth century without consulting the pope at all, by bishops and kings. When, however, from grounds of simple ambition, Anthimus was translated from Trebizonde to Constantinople, the religious of the city wrote to the pope, as also did the patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, and as a result the Emperor Justinian allowed Anthimus to be deposed.6
Balsamon distinguishes three kinds of translations. The first, when a bishop of marked learning and of equal piety is forced by a council to pass from a small diocese to one far greater where he will be able to do the Church the most important services, as was the case when St. Gregory of Nazianzum was transferred from Sasima to Constantinople, metavqesi"; the second when a bishop, whose see has been laid low by the barbarians, is transferred to another see which is vacant, metavbasi"; and the third when a bishop, either having or lacking a see, seizes on a bishopric which is vacant, on his own proper authority ajnavbasi"it is this last which the Council of Sardica punishes so severely. In all these remarks of Balsamon there is no mention of the imperial power.
Demetrius Chomatenus, however, who was Archbishop of Thessalonica, and wrote a series of answers to Cabasilas, Archbishop of Durazzo, says that by the command of the Emperor a bishop, elected and confirmed, and even ready to be ordained for a diocese, may be forced to take the charge of another one which is more important, and where his services will be incomparably more useful to the public. Thus we read in the Book of Eastern Law that “If a Metropolitan with his synod, moved by a praiseworthy cause and probable pretext, shall give his approbation to the translation of a bishop, this can, without doubt, be done, for the good of souls and for the better administration of the church’s affairs, etc.”7 This was adopted at a synod held by the patriarch Manuel at Constantinople, in the presence of the imperial commissioners.
The same thing appears also in the synodal response of the patriarch Michael, which only demands for translation the authority of the Metropolitan and “the greatest authority of the Church.”8 But, soon after this, translation became the rule, and not the exception both in East and West.
It was in vain that Simeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica, in the East raised his voice against the constant translations made by the secular power, and the Emperors of Constantinople were often absolute masters of the choice and translations of bishops; and Thomassinus sums up the matter, “At the least we are forced to the conclusion that no translations could be made without the consent of the Emperor, especially when it was the See of Constantinople that was to be filled.”
The same learned writer continues: “It was usually the bishop or archbishop of another church that was chosen to ascend the patriarchal throne of the imperial city. The Kings of England often used this same power to appoint to the Primatial See of Canterbury a bishop already approved in the government of another diocese.”9
In the West, Cardinal Bellarmine disapproved the prevailing custom of translations and protested against it to his master, Pope Clement VIII., reminding him that they were contrary to the canons and contrary to the usage of the Ancient Church, except in cases of necessity and of great gain to the Church. The pope entirely agreed with these wise observations, and promised that he would himself make, and would urge princes to make, translations only “with difficulty.” But translations are made universally, all the world over, today, and no attention whatever is paid to the ancient canons and discipline of the Church.10
Neither presbyters, nor deacons, nor any others enrolled among the clergy, who, not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor regarding the ecclesiastical Canon, shall recklessly remove from their own church, ought by any means to be received by another church; but every constraint should be applied to restore them to their own parishes; and, if they will not go, they must be excommunicated. And if anyone shah dare surreptitiously to carry off and in his own Church ordain a man belonging to another, without the consent of his own proper bishop, from whom although he was enrolled in the clergy list he has seceded, let the ordination be void.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVI.
Such presbyters or deacons as desert their own Church are not to be admitted into another, but are to be sent back to their own diocese. But if any bishop should ordain one who belongs to another Church without the consent of his own bishop, the ordination shall be cancelled.
“Parish” in this canon, as so often elsewhere, means “diocese.”
It seemed right that the clergy should have no power to move from city to city and to change their canonical residence without letters dimissory from the bishop who ordained them. But such clerics as are called by the bishops who ordained them and cannot be persuaded to return, are to be separated from communion, that is to say, not to be allowed to concelebrate sunierourgei`n with them, for this is the meaning of “excommunicated” in this place, and not that they should not enter the church nor receive the sacraments. This decree agrees with canon 15,of the Apostolical canons, which provides that such shall not celebrate the liturgy. Canon xvj. of the same Apostolical canons further provides that if a bishop receive a cleric coming to him from another diocese without his bishop’s letters dimissory, and shall ordain him, such a bishop shall be separated. From all this it is evident that the Chartophylax of the Great Church for the time does rightly in refusing to allow priests ordained in other dioceses to offer the sacrifice unless they bring with them letters commendatory and dimissory from those who ordained them.
Zonaras had also in his Scholion given the same explanation of the canon.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, divided into two). Decretum. Pars II, Causa VII. Quaest. I. c. xxiij.; and Pars I. Dist. LXXI., c. iij).
Forasmuch as many enrolled among the Clergy, following covetousness and lust of gain, have forgotten the divine Scripture, which says, “He hath not given his money upon usury,” and in lending money ask the hundredth of the sum [as monthly interest], the holy and great Synod thinks it just that if after this decree any one be found to receive usury, whether he accomplish it by secret transaction or otherwise, as by demanding the whole and one half, or by using any other contrivance whatever for filthy lucre’s sake, he shall be deposed from the clergy and his name stricken from the list.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVII.
If anyone shall receive usury or 150 per cent. he shall be cast forth and deposed, according to this decree of the Church.
Although the canon expresses only these two species of usury, if we bear in mind the grounds on which the prohibition was made, it will be manifest that every kind of usury is forbidden to clerics and under any circumstances, and therefore the translation of this canon sent by the Orientals to the Sixth Council of Carthage is in no respect alien to the true intent of the canon; for in this version no mention is made of any particular kind of usury, but generally the penalty is assigned to any clerics who “shall be found after this decree taking usury” or thinking out any other scheme for the sake of filthy lucre.
This Canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, in the first part of the Decretum, in Dionysius’s version. Dist. xlvii, c. ii, and again in Isidore’s version in Pars II, Causa 14,Quaes. iv., c. viii.
Excursus on Usury.
The famous canonist Van Espen defines usury thus: “Usura definitur lucrum ex mutuo exactum aut speratum;”1 and then goes on to defend the proposition that, “Usury is forbidden by natural, by divine, and by human law. The first is proved thus. Natural law, as far as its first principles are concerned, is contained in the decalogue; but usury is prohibited in the decalogue, inasmuch as theft is prohibited; and this is the opinion of the Master of the Sentences, of St. Bonaventura, of St. Thomas and of a host of others: for by the name of theft in the Law all unlawful taking of another’s goods is prohibited; but usury is an unlawful, etc.” For a proof of usury’s being contrary to divine law he cites Ex 22,25, and Dt xxiii. 29; and from the New Testament Lc 6,34. “The third assertion is proved thus. Usury is forbidden by human law: The First Council of Nice in Canon VII. deposed from the clergy and from all ecclesiastical rank, clerics who took usury; and the same thing is the case with an infinite number of councils, in fact with nearly all e.g. Elvira, ij, Arles j, Carthage iij, Tours iij, etc. Nay, even the pagans themselves formerly forbid it by their laws.” He then quotes Tacitus (Annal. Lib. 5,), and adds, “with what severe laws the French Kings coerced usurers is evident from the edicts of St. Louis, Philip IV., Charles IX., Henry III., etc.”
There can be no doubt that Van Espen in the foregoing has accurately represented and without any exaggeration the universal opinion of all teachers of morals, theologians, doctors, Popes, and Councils of the Christian Church for the first fifteen hundred years. All interest exacted upon loans of money was looked upon as usury, and its reception was esteemed a form of theft and dishonesty. Those who wish to read the history of the matter in all its details are referred to Bossuet’s work on the subject, Traite de l’Usure,2 where they will find the old, traditional view of the Christian religion defended by one thoroughly acquainted with all that could be said on the other side.
The glory of inventing the new moral code on the subject, by which that which before was looked upon as mortal sin has been transfigured into innocence, if not virtue, belongs to Jn Calvin! He made the modern distinction between “interest” and “usury,” and was the first to write in defence of this then new-fangled refinement of casuistry.3 Luther violently opposed him, and Melancthon also kept to the old doctrine, though less violently (as was to be expected); today the whole Christian West, Protestant and Catholic alike, stake their salvation upon the truth of Calvin’s distinction! Among Roman Catholics the new doctrine began to be defended about the beginning of the eighteenth century, the work of Scipio Maffei, Dell’ impiego dell danaro, written on the laxer side, having attracted a widespread attention. The Ballerini affirm that the learned pope Benedict XIV. allowed books defending the new morals to be dedicated to him, and in 1830 the Congregation of the Holy Office with the approval of the reigning Pontiff, Plus VIII., decided that those who considered the taking of interest allowed by the state law justifiable, were “not to be disturbed.” It is entirely disingenuous to attempt to reconcile the modern with the ancient doctrine; the Fathers expressly deny that the State has any power to make the receiving of interest just or to fix its rate, there is but one ground for those to take who accept the new teaching, viz. that all the ancients, while true on the moral principle that one must not defraud his neighbour nor take unjust advantage of his necessity, were in error concerning the facts, in that they supposed that money was barren, an opinion which the Schoolmen also held, following Aristotle. This we have found in modern times, and amid modern circumstances, to be an entire error, as Gury, the famous modern casuist, well says, “fructum producit et multiplicatur per se.”4
That the student may have it in his power to read the Patristic view of the matter, I give a list of the passages most commonly cited, together with a review of the conciliar action, for all which I am indebted to a masterly article by Wharton B. Marriott in Smith and Cheetham’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (s. 5, Usury).
Although the conditions of the mercantile community in the East and the West differed materially in some respects, the fathers of the two churches are equally explicit and systematic in their condemnation of the practice of usury. Among those belonging to the Greek church we find Athanasius (Expos. in Ps. xiv); Basil the Great (Hom. in Ps. xiv). Gregory of Nazianzum (Orat. 14,in Patrem tacentem). Gregory of Nyssa (Orat. cont. Usurarios); Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. 4,c. 37), Epiphanius (adv. Haeres. Epilog. c. 24), Chrysostom (Hom. 41,in Genes), and Theodoret (Interpr. in Ps. 14,5, and 54,11). Among those belonging to the Latin church, Hilary of Poitiers (in Ps. xiv); Ambrose (de Tobia liber unus). Jerome (in Ezech. 6,18); Augustine de Baptismo contr. Donatistas, 4,19); Leo the Great (Epist. 3,4), and Cassiodorus (in Ps 14,10).
The canons of later councils differ materially in relation to this subject, and indicate a distinct tendency to mitigate the rigour of the Nicaean interdict. That of the council of Carthage of the year 348 enforces the original prohibition, but without the penalty, and grounds the veto on both Old and New Testament authority, “nemo contra prophetas, nemo contra evangelia facit sine periculo” (Mansi, 3,158). The language, however, when compared with that of the council of Carthage of the year 419, serves to suggest that, in the interval, the lower clergy had occasionally been found having recourse to the forbidden practice, for the general terms of the earlier canon, “ut non liceat clericis fenerari,” are enforced with greater particularity in the latter, “Nec omnino cuiquam clericorum liceat de qualibet re foenus accipere” (Mansi, 4,423). This supposition is supported by the language of the council of Orleans (a.d. 538), which appears to imply that deacons were not prohibited from lending money at interest, “Et clericus a diaconatu, et supra, pecuniam non commodet ad usuras” (IB 9,18). Similarly, at the second council of Trullanum (a.d. 692) a like liberty would appear to have been recognised among the lower clergy (Hardouin, 3,1663). While, again, the Nicaean canon requires the immediate deposition of the ecclesiastic found guilty of the practice, the Apostolical canon enjoins that such deposition is to take place only after he has been admonished and has disregarded the admonition.
Generally speaking, the evidence points to the conclusion that the Church imposed no penalty on the layman. St. Basil (Epist. clxxxviii. can. 12), says that a usurer may even be admitted to orders, provided he gives his acquired wealth to the poor and abstains for the future from the pursuit of gain (Migne, Patrol. Groec. 32,275). Gregory of Nyssa says that usury, unlike theft, the desecration of tombs, and sacrilege iJerosuliva, is allowed to pass unpunished, although among the things forbidden by Scripture, nor is a candidate at ordination ever asked whether or no he has been guilty of the practice (Migne, IB 45,233). A letter of Sidonius Apollinaris (Epist. vi. 24) relating an experience of his friend Maximus, appears to imply that no blame attached to lending money at the legal rate of interest, and that even a bishop might be a creditor on those terms. We find also Desideratus, bishop of Verdun, when applying for a loan to king Theodebert, for the relief of his impoverished diocese, promising repayment, “cure usuris legitimis,” an expression which would seem to imply that in the Gallican church usury was recognised as lawful under certain conditions (Greg. Tur. Hist. Franc. iii. 34). So again a letter (Epist. 9,38) of Gregory the Great seems to shew that he did not regard the payment of interest for money advanced by one layman to another as unlawful. But on the other hand, we find in what is known as archbishop Theodore’s “Penitential” (circ). a.d. 690) what appears to be a general law on the subject, enjoining “Sie quis usuras undecunque exegerit . . . tres annos in pane et aqua” (c. 25,3); a penance again enjoined in the Penitential of Egbert of York (c. 2,30). In like manner, the legates, George and Theophylact, in reporting their proceedings in England to pope Adrian I. (a.d. 787), state that they have prohibited “usurers,” and cite the authority of the Psalmist and St. Augustine (Haddan and Stubbs, Conc. 3,457). The councils of Mayence, Rheims, and Chalons, in the year 813, and that of Aix in the year 816, seem to have laid down the same prohibition as binding both on the clergy and the laity (Hardouin, Conc. 4,1011, 1020, 1033, 1100).
Muratori, in his dissertation on the subject (Antichita, vol. i)., observes that “we do not know exactly how commerce was transacted in the five preceding centuries,” and consequently are ignorant as to the terms on which loans of money were effected.
IT has come to the knowledge of the holy and great Synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters, whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer. And this also has been made known, that certain deacons now touch the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be utterly done away, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them. Furthermore, let not the deacons sit among the presbyters, for that is contrary to canon and order. And if, after this decree, any one shall refuse to obey, let him be deposed from the diaconate).
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVIII.
Deacons must abide within their own bounds. They shall not administer the Eucharist to presbyters, nor touch it before them, nor sit among the presbyters. For all this is contrary to canon, and to decent order.
Four excesses of deacons this canon condemns, at least indirectly. The first was that they gave the holy Communion to presbyters. To understand more easily the meaning of the canon it must be remembered that the reference here is not to the presbyters who were sacrificing at the altar but to those who were offering together with the bishop who was sacrificing; by a rite not unlike that which to-day takes place, when the newly ordained presbyters or bishops celebrate mass with the ordaining bishop; and this rite in old times was of daily occurrence, for a full account of which see Morinus De SS. Ordinat. P. III. Exercit. viij. . . . The present canon does not take away from deacons the authority to distribute the Eucharist to laymen, or to the minor clergy, but only reproves their insolence and audacity in presuming to administer to presbyters who were concelebrating with the bishop or another presbyter....
The second abuse was that certain deacons touched the sacred gifts before the bishop. The vulgar version of Isidore reads for “touched” “received,” a meaning which Balsamon and Zonaras also adopt, and unless the Greek word, which signifies “to touch,” is contrary to this translation, it seems by no means to be alien to the context of the canon.
“Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let the bishop or the presbyter administer to them.” In these words it is implied that some deacons had presumed to receive Holy Communion before the presbyters, and this is the third excess of the deacon which is condemned by the Synod.
And lastly, the fourth excess was that they took a place among the presbyters at the very time of the sacrifice, or “at the holy altar,” as Balsamon observes.
From this canon we see that the Nicene, fathers entertained no doubt that the faithful in the holy Communion truly received “the body of Christ.” Secondly, that that was “offered” in the church, which is the word by which sacrifice is designated in the New Testament, and therefore it was at that time a fixed tradition that there was a sacrifice in which the body of Christ was offered. Thirdly that not to all, nor even to deacons, but only to bishops and presbyters was given the power of offering. And lastly, that there was recognized a fixed hierarchy in the Church, made up of bishops and presbyters and deacons in subordination to these.
Of course even at that early date there was nothing new in this doctrine of the Eucharist. St. Ignatius more than a century and a half before, wrote as follows: “But mark ye those who hold strange doctrine touching the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us, how that they are contrary to the mind of God. They have no care for love, none for the widow, none for the orphan, none for the afflicted,none for the prisoner, none for the hungry or thirsty. They abstain from eucharist (thanksgiving) and prayer, because they allow not that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which flesh suffered for our sins, and which the Father of his goodness raised up.”1
In one point the learned scholiast just quoted has most seriously understated his case. He says that the wording of the canon shews “that the Nicene fathers entertained no doubt that the faithful in the holy Communion truly received ‘the body of Christ.’” Now this statement is of course true because it is included in what the canon says, but the doctrinal statement which is necessarily contained in the canon is that “the body of Christ is given” by the minister to the faithful. This doctrine is believed by all Catholics and by Lutherans, but is denied by all other Protestants; those Calvinists who kept most nearly to the ordinary Catholic phraseology only admitting that “the sacrament of the Body of Christ” was given in the supper by the minister, while “the body of Christ,” they taught, was present only in the soul of the worthy communicant (and in no way connected with the form of bread, which was but the divinely appointed sign and assurance of the heavenly gift), and therefore could not be “given” by the priest.2
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Decretum.Pars I. Dist. XCIII., c. 14,
Concerning the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIX.
Paulianists must be rebaptised, and if such as are clergymen seem to be blameless let then, be ordained. If they do not seem to be blameless, let them be deposed. Deaconesses who have been led astray, since they are not sharers of ordination, are to be reckoned among the laity.
(Dict. Chr. Ant. s.v. Nicaea, Councils of). That this is the true meaning of the phrase o[ro" ejktevqeitai, viz. “a decree has now been made,” is clear from the application of the words o[ro" in Canon xvii., and w[risen, in Canon vi. It has been a pure mistake, therefore, which Bp. Hefele blindly follows, to understand it of some canon previously passed, whether at Aries or elsewhere.
Here ceiroqesiva is taken for ordination or consecration, not for benediction, . ..for neither were deaconesses, sub-deacons, readers, and other ministers ordained, but a blessing was merely pronounced over them by prayer and imposition of hands.
Their (the Paulicians’) deaconesses also, since they have no imposition of hands, if they come over to the Catholic Church and are baptized, are ranked among the laity.With this Zonaras and Balsamon also agree.
By Paulianists must be understood the followers of Paul of Samosata the anti-Trinitarian who, about the year 260, had been made bishop of Antioch, but had been deposed by a great Synod in 269. As Paul of Samosata was heretical in his teaching on the Holy Trinity the Synod of Nice applied to him the decree passed by the council of Arles in its eighth canon. “If anyone shall come from heresy to the Church, they shall ask him to say the creed; and if they shall perceive that he was baptized into the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost,1 he shall have a hand laid on him only that he may receive the Holy Ghost. But if in answer to their questioning he shall not answer this Trinity, let him be baptized.”
The Samosatans, according to St. Athanasius, named the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in administering baptism (Oral. ii, Contra Arian. No. xliii), but as they gave a false meaning to the baptismal formula and did not use the words Son and Holy Spirit in the usual sense, the Council of Nice, like St. Athanasius himself, considered their baptism as invalid.
There is great difficulty about the text of the clause beginning “Likewise in the case, etc.,” and Gelasius, the Prisca, Theilo and Thearistus, (who in 419 translated the canons of Nice for the African bishops), the PseudoIsidore, and Gratian have all followed a reading diakovnwn, instead of diakonissw`n.
This change makes all clear, but many canonists keep the ordinary text, including Van Espen, with whose interpretation Hefele does not agree.
The clause I have rendered “And we mean by deaconesses” is most difficult of translation. I give the original, AEEmnhvsqhmen de; diakonissw`n tw`n ejn tw`/ schvmati ejxetasqeiswn, ejpei; k.t.l. Hefele’s translation seems to me impossible, by schvmati he understands the list of the clergy just mentioned).
Excursus on the Deaconess of the Early Church.
It has been supposed by many that the deaconess of the Early Church had an Apostolic institution and that its existence may be referred to by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (xvi. 1) where he speaks of Phoebe as being a diavkono" of the Church of Cenchrea. It moreover has been suggested that the “widows” of 1Tm 5,9 may have been deaconesses, and this seems not unlikely from the fact that the age for the admission of women to this ministry was fixed by Tertullian at sixty years (De Vel. Virg. Cap. ix)., and only changed to forty, two centuries later by the Council of Chalcedon, and from the further fact that these “widows” spoken of by St. Paul seem to have had a vow of chastity, for it is expressly said that if they marry they have “damnation, because they have cast off their first faith” (1Tm 5,12).
These women were called diakovnissai, presbutivde" (which must be distinguished from the presbutevrai, a poor class referred to in the Apostolic Constitutions (ii. 28) who are to be only invited frequently to the love-feasts, while the presbutivde" had a definite allotment of the offerings assigned to their support), ch`rai, diaconissoe, presbyteroe, and viduce.
The one great characteristic of the deaconess was that she was vowed to perpetual chastity.2 The Apostolical Constitutions (vi. 17) say that she must be a chaste virgin (parqevno" ajgnh;) or else a widow. The writer of the article “Deaconess” in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities says: “It is evident that the ordination of deaconesses included a vow of celibacy.” We have already seen the language used by St. Paul and of this the wording of the canon of Chalcedon is but an echo (Canon xv). “A woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination. And if, after she has had hands laid on her, and has continued for a time to minister, she shall despise the Grace of God and give herself in marriage, she shall be anathematized and the man who is united to her.” The civil law went still further, and by Justinian’s Sixth Novel 6 those who attempted to marry are subjected to forfeiture of property and capital punishment. In the collect in the ancient office there is a special petition that the newly admitted deaconess may have the gift of continence.
The principal work of the deaconess was to assist the female candidates for holy baptism. At that time the sacrament of baptism was always administered by immersion (except to those in extreme illness) and hence there was much that such an order of women could be useful in. Moreover they sometimes gave to the female catechumens preliminary instruction, but their work was wholly limited to women, and for a deaconess of the Early Church to teach a man or to nurse him in sickness would have been an impossibility. The duties of the deaconess are set forth in many ancient writings, I cite here what is commonly known as the XII Canon of the Fourth Council of Carthage, which met in the year 398:
“Widows and dedicated women (sanctimoniales) who are chosen to assist at the baptism of women, should be so well instructed in their office as to be able to teach aptly and properly unskilled and rustic women how to answer at the time of their baptism to the questions put to them, and also how to live godly after they have been baptized.” This whole matter is treated clearly by St. Epiphanius who, while indeed speaking of deaconesses as an order (tavgma), asserts that “they were only women-elders, not priestesses in any sense, that their mission was not to interfere in any way with Sacerdotal functions, but simply to perform certain offices in the care of women” (Hoer. lxxix, cap. iij). From all this it is evident that they are entirely in error who suppose that “the laying on of hands” which the deaconesses received corresponded to that by which persons were ordained to the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate at that period of the church’s history. It was merely a solemn dedication and blessing and was not looked upon as “an outward sign of an inward grace given.” For further proof of this I must refer to Morinus, who has treated the matter most admirably. (De Ordinationibus, Exercitatio X).
The deaconesses existed but a short while. The council of Laodicea as early as a.d. 343–381, forbade the appointment of any who were called presbutivde" (Vide Canon xi); and the first council of Orange, a.d. 441, in its twenty-sixth canon forbids the appointment of deaconesses altogether, and the Second council of tile same city in canons xvij and xviij, decrees that deaconesses who married were to be excommunicated unless they renounced the men they were living with, and that, on account of the weakness of the sex, none for the future were to be ordained.
Thomassinus, to whom I refer tim reader for a very full treatment of the whole subject, is of opinion that the order was extinct in the West by the tenth or twelfth century, but that it lingered on a little later at Constantinople but only in conventual institutions. (Thomassin, Ancienne et Nouvelle Discipline de l’ Eglise, I Partie, Livre III).
Forasmuch as there are certain persons who kneel on the Lord’s Day and in the days of Pentecost, therefore, to the intent that all things may be uniformly observed everywhere (in every parish), it seems good to the holy Synod that prayer be made to God standing.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XX.
On Lord’s days and at Pentecost all must pray standing and not kneeling.
Although kneeling was the common posture for prayer in the primitive Church, yet the custom had prevailed, even from the earliest times, of standing at prayer on the Lord’s day, and during the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost. Tertullian, in a passage in his treatise De Corona Militis, which is often quoted, mentions it amongst other ohservances which, though not expressly commanded in Scripture, yet were universally practised upon the authority of tradition. “We consider it unlawful,” he says, “to fast, or to pray kneeling, upon the Lord’s day; we enjoy the same liberty from Easter-day to that of Pentecost.” De Cor. Mil. s. 3, 4. Many other of the Fathers notice the same practice, the reason of which, as given by Augustine; and others, was to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord, and to signify the rest and joy of our own resurrection, which that of our Lord assured. This canon, as Beveridge observes, is a proof of the importance formerly attached to an uniformity of sacred rites throughout the Church, which made the Nicene Fathers thus sanction and enforce by their authority a practice which in itself is indifferent, and not commanded directly or indirectly in Scripture, and assign this as their reason for doing so: “In order that all things may be observed in like manner in every parish” or diocese.
All the churches did not, however, adopt this practice; for we see in the Ac of the Apostles (xx. 36 and 21,5) that St. Paul prayed kneeling during the time between Pentecost and Easter.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici). Decretum, Pars III, De Cone. Dist. III. c. 10,
Excursus on the Number of the Nicene Canons.
There has come down to us a Latin letter purporting to have been written by St. Athanasius to Pope Marcus. This letter is found in the Benedictine edition of St. Athanasius’s works (ed. Patav. 2,599) but rejected as spurious by Montfaucon the learned editor. In this letter is contained the marvellous assertion that the Council of Nice at first adopted forty canons, which were in Greek, that it subsequently added twenty Latin canons, and that afterwards the council reassembled and set forth seventy altogether. A tradition that something of the kind had taken place was prevalent in parts of the East, and some collections did contain seventy canons.
In the Vatican Library is a ms. which was bought for it by the famous Asseman, from the Coptic Patriarch, John, and which contains not only seventy, but eighty canons attributed to the council of Nice. The ms. is in Arabic, and was discovered by J. B. Romanus, S. J., who first made its contents known, and translated into Latin a copy he had made of it. Another Jesuit, Pisanus, was writing a history of the Nicene Council at the time and he received the eighty newly found canons into his book; but, out of respect to the pseudo-Athanasian letter, he at first cut down the number to seventy; but in later editions he followed the ms. All this was in the latter half of the sixteenth century; and in 1578 Turrianus, who had had Father Romanus’s translation revised before it was first published, now issued an entirely new translation with a Proemium1 containing a vast amount of information upon the whole subject, and setting up an attempted proof that the number of the Nicene Canons exceeded twenty. His argument for the time being carried the day.
Hefele says, “it is certain that the Orientals2 believed the Council of Nice to have promulgated more than twenty canons: the learned Anglican, Beveridge,3 has proved this, reproducing an ancient Arabic paraphrase of the canons of the first four Ecumenical Councils. According to this Arabic paraphrase, found in a ms. in the Bodleian Library, the Council of Nice must have put forth three books of canons.. . .The Arabic paraphrase of which we are speaking gives a paraphrase of all these canons, but Beveridge took only the part referring to the second book—that is to say, the paraphrase of the twenty genuine canons; for, according to his view, which was perfectly correct, it was only these twenty canons which were really the work of the Council of Nice, and all the others were falsely attributed to it.”4
Hefele goes on to prove that the canons he rejects must be of much later origin, some being laws of the times of Theodosius and Justinian according to the opinion of Renaudot.5
Before leaving this point I should notice the profound research on these Arabic canons of the Maronite, Abraham Echellensis. He gives eighty-four canons in his Latin translation of 1645, and was of opinion that they had been collected from different Oriental sources, and sects; but that originally they had all been translated from the Greek, and were collected by James, the celebrated bishop of Nisibis, who was present at Nice. But this last supposition is utterly untenable.
Among the learned there have not been wanting some who have held that the Council of Nice passed more canons than the twenty we possess, and have arrived at the conclusion independently of the Arabic discovery, such are Baronius and Card. d’Aguirre, but their arguments have been sufficiently answered, and they cannot present anything able to weaken the conclusion that flows from the consideration of the following facts. (Hefele: History of the Councils, Vol. I. pp. 355 et seqq.[2ded.])
Let us see first what is the testimony of those Greek and Latin authors who lived about the time of the Council, concerning the number.
a. The first to be consulted among the Greek authors is the learned Theodoret, who lived about a century after the Council of Nicaea. He says, in his History of the Church: “After the condemnation of the Arians, the bishops assembled once more, and decreed twenty canons on ecclesiastical discipline.”
b. Twenty years later, Gelasius, Bishop of Cyzicus, after much research into the most ancient documents, wrote a history of the Nicene Council. Gelasius also says expressly that the Council decreed twenty canons; and, what is more important, he gives the original text of these canons exactly in the same order, and according to the tenor which we find elsewhere.
c. Rufinus is more ancient than these two historians. He was born near the period when the Council of Nicaea was held, and about half a century after he wrote his celebrated history of the Church, in which he inserted a Latin translation of the Nicene canons. Rufinus also knew only of these twenty canons; but as he has divided the sixth and the eighth into two parts, he has given twenty-two canons, which are exactly the same as the twenty furnished by the other historians.
d. The famous discussion between the African bishops and the Bishop of Rome, on the subject of appeals to Rome, gives us a very important testimony on the true number of the Nicene canons. The presbyter Apiarius of Sicca in Africa, having been deposed for many crimes, appealed to Rome. Pope Zosimus (417–418) took the appeal into consideration, sent legates to Africa; and to prove that he had the right to act thus, he quoted a canon of the Council of Nicaea, containing these words: “When a bishop thinks he has been unjustly deposed by his colleagues he may appeal to Rome, and the Roman bishop shall have the business decided by judices in partibus.” The canon quoted by the Pope does not belong to the Council of Nicaea, as he affirmed; it was the fifth canon of the Council of Sardica (the seventh in the Latin version). What explains the error of Zosimus is that in the ancient copies the canons of Nicaea and Sardica are written consecutively, with the same figures, and under the common title of canons of the Council of Nicaea; and Zosimus might optima fide fall into an error—which he shared with Greek authors, his contemporaries, who also mixed the canons of Nicaea with those of Sardica. The African bishops, not finding the canon quoted by the Pope either in their Greek or in their Latin copies, in vain consulted also the copy which Bishop Cecilian, who had himself been present at the Council of Nicaea, had brought to Carthage. The legates of the Pope then declared that they did not rely upon these copies, and they agreed to send to Alexandria and to Constantinople to ask the patriarchs of these two cities for authentic copies of the canons of the Council of Nicaea. The African bishops desired in their turn that Pope Boniface should take the same step (Pope Zosimus had died meanwhile in 418)—that he should ask for copies from the Archbishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch. Cyril of Alexandria and Atticus of Constantinople, indeed, sent exact and faithful copies of the Creed and canons of Nicaea; and two learned men of Constantinople, Theilo and Thearistus, even translated these canons into Latin. Their translation has been preserved to us in the acts of the sixth Council of Carthage, and it contains only the twenty ordinary canons. It might be thought at first sight that it contained twenty-one canons; but on closer consideration we see, as Hardouin has proved, that this twenty-first article is nothing but an historical notice appended to the Nicene canons by the Fathers of Carthage. It is conceived in these terms: “After the bishops had decreed these rules at Nicaea, and after the holy Council had decided what was the ancient rule for the celebration of Easter, peace and unity of faith were re-established between the East and the West. This is what we (the African bishops) have thought it right to add according to the history of the Church.”
The bishops of Africa despatched to Pope Boniface the copies which had been sent to them from Alexandria and Constantinople, in the month of November 419; and subsequently in their letters to Celestine I. (423–432), successor to Boniface, they appealed to the text of these documents.
e. All the ancient collections of canons, either in Latin or Greek, composed in the fourth, or quite certainly at least in the fifth century, agree in giving only these twenty canons to Nicaea. The most ancient of these collections were made in the Greek Church, and in the course of time a very great number of copies of them were written. Many of these copies have descended to us; many libraries possess copies; thus Montfaucon enumerates several in his Bibliotheca Coisliniana. Fabricius makes a similar catalogue of the copies in his Bibliotheca Groeca to those found in the libraries of Turin, Florence, Venice, Oxford, Moscow, etc.; and he adds that these copies also contain the so-called apostolic canons, and those of the most ancient councils. The French bishop Jn Tilius presented to Paris, in 1540, a ms. of one of these Greek collections as it existed in the ninth century. It contains exactly our twenty canons of Nicaea, besides the so-called apostolic canons, those of Ancyra, etc. Elias Ehmger published a new edition at Wittemberg in 1614, using a second ms. which was found at Augsburg; but the Roman collection of the Councils had before given in 1608, the Greek text of the twenty canons of Nicaea. This text of the Roman editors, with the exception of some insignificant variations, was exactly the same as that of the edition of Tilius. Neither the learned Jesuit Sirmond nor his coadjutors have mentioned what manuscripts were consulted in preparing this edition; probably they were manuscripts drawn from several libraries, and particularly from that of the Vatican. The text of this Roman edition passed into all the following collections, even into those of Hardouin and Mansi; while Justell in his Bibliotheca juris Canonici and Beveridge in his Synodicon (both of the eighteenth century), give a somewhat different text, also collated from mss., and very similar to the text given by Tilius. Bruns, in his recent Bibliotheca Ecclesiastica, compares the two texts. Now all these Greek mss., consulted at such different times, and by all these editors, acknowledge only twenty canons of Nicaea, and always the same twenty which we possess.
The Latin collections of the canons of the Councils also give the same result—for example, the most ancient and the most remarkable of all, the Prisca, and that of Dionysius the Less, which was collected about the year 500. The testimony of this latter collection is the more important for the number twenty, as Dionysius refers to the Groeca auctoritas.
f. Among the later Eastern witnesses we may further mention Photius, Zonaras and Balsamon. Photius, in his Collection of the Canons, and in his Nomocanon, as well as the two other writers in their commentaries upon the canons of the ancient Councils, quote only and know only twenty canons of Nicaea, and always those which we possess.
g. The Latin canonists of the Middle Ages also acknowledge only these twenty canons of Nicaea. We have proof of this in the celebrated Spanish collection, which is generally but erroneously attributed to St. Isidore (it was composed at the commencement of the seventh century), and in that of Adrian (so called because it was offered to Charles the Great by Pope Adrian I). The celebrated Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, the first canonist of the ninth century, in his turn attributes only twenty canons to the Council of Nicaea, and even the pseudo-Isidore assigns it no more.
I add for the convenience of the reader the captions of the Eighty Canons as given by Turrianus, translating them from the reprint in Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. II. col. 291. The Eighty-four Canons as given by Echellensis together with numerous Constitutions and Decrees attributed to the Nicene Council are likewise to be found in Labbe (ut supra, col. 318)).
The Captions of the Arabic Canons Attributed to the Council of Nice.
Insane persons and energumens should not be ordained.
Bond servants are not to be ordained.
Neophytes in the faith are not to be ordained to Holy Orders before they have a knowledge of Holy Scripture. And such, if convicted after their ordination of grave sin, are to be deposed with those who ordained them.
The cohabitation of women with bishops, presbyters, and deacons prohibited on account of their celibacy.
We decree that bishops shall not live with women; nor shall a presbyter who is a widower; neither shall they escort them; nor be familiar with them, nor gaze upon them persistently. And the same decree is made with regard to every celibate priest, and the sameconcerning such deacons as have no wives.And this is to be the case whether the womanbe beautiful or ugly, whether a young girl or beyond the age of puberty, whether great inbirth, or an orphan taken out of charity under pretext of bringing her up. For the devil with such arms slays religious, bishops, presbyters, and deacons, and incites them to the fires of desire. But if she be an old woman, and of advanced age, or a sister, or mother, or aunt, or grandmother, it is permitted to live with these because such persons are free from all suspicion of scandal.2
Of the election of a bishop and of the confirmation of the election.
That those excommunicated by one bishop are not to be received by another; and that those whose excommunication has been shown to have been unjust should be absolved by the archbishop or patriarch.
That provincial Councils should be held twice a year, for the consideration of all things affecting the churches of the bishops of the province.
Of the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, and of their jurisdiction.
Of one who solicits the episcopate when the people do not wish him; or if they do desire him, but without the consent of the archbishop.
How the bishop of Jerusalem is to be honoured, the honour, however, of the metropolitan church of Caesarea being preserved intact, to which he is subject.
Of those who force themselves into the order of presbyters without election or examination.
Of the bishop who ordains one whom he understands has denied the faith; also of one ordained who after that he had denied it, crept into orders.
Of one who of his own will goes to another church, having been chosen by it, and does not wish afterwards to stay there.
Of taking pains that he be transferred from his own church to another.
No one shall become a monk without the bishop’s license, and why a license is required.
That clerics or religious who lend on usury should be cast from their grade.
Of the honour to be paid to the bishop and to a presbyter by the deacons.
Of the system and of the manner of receiving those who are converted from the heresy of Paul of Samosata).
Of the system and manner of receiving those who are converted from the heresy the Novatians.
Of the system and manner of receiving those who return after a lapse from the faith, and of receiving the relapsed, and of those brought into peril of death by sickness before their penance is finished, and concerning such as are convalescent.
Of avoiding the conversation of evil workers and wizards, also of the penance of them that have not avoided such.
Of incestuous marriages contrary to the law of Spiritual relationship, and of the penance of such as are in such marriages.
[The time of penance fixed is twenty years, only godfather and godmother are mentioned, and nothing is said of separation.]
Of sponsors in baptism.
Men shall not hold females at the font, neither women males; but women females, and men males.
Of the prohibited marriages of spiritual brothers and sisters from receiving them in baptism.
Of him who has married two wives at the same time, or who through lust has added another woman to his wife; and of his punishment.
Part of the canon. If he be a priest he is forbidden to sacrifice and is cut off from the communion of the faithful until he turn out of the house the second woman, and he ought to retain the first.
That no one should be forbidden Holy Communion unless such as are doing penance.
Clerics are forbidden from suretyship or witness-giving in criminal causes.
Of avoiding the excommunicate, and of not receiving the oblation from them; and of theexcommunication of him who does not avoid the excommunicated.
How anger, indignation, and hatred should be avoided by the priest, especially because he has the power of excommunicating others.
Of not kneeling in prayer.
Of giving [only] names of Christians in baptism, and of heretics who retain the faith in the Trinity and the perfect form of baptism; and of others not retaining it, worthy of a worse name, and of how such are to be received when they come to the faith.
Of the system and manner of receiving converts to the Orthodox faith from the heresy of Arius and of other like.
Of the system of receiving those who have kept the dogmas of the faith and the Church’s laws, and yet have separated from us and afterwards come back.
Of the place of residence of the Patriarch, and of the honour which should be given tothe bishop of Jerusalem and to the bishop of Seleucia.
Of the honour to be given to the Archbishop of Seleucia in the Synod of Greece.
Of not holding a provincial synod in the province of Persia without the authority of the patriarch of Antioch, and how the bishops of Persia are subject to the metropolitans of Antioch.
Of the creation of a patriarch for Ethiopia, and of his power, and of the honour to be paid him in the Synod of Greece.
Of the election of the Archbishop of Cyprus, who is subject to the patriarch of Antioch.
That the ordination of ministers of the Church by bishops in the dioceses of strangers is forbidden).
Of the care and power which a Patriarch has over the bishops and archbishops of his patriarchate; and of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all.
Let the patriarch consider what things are done by the archbishops and bishops in their provinces; and if he shall find anything done by them otherwise than it should be, let him change it, and order it, as seemeth him fit: for he is the father of all, and they are his sons. And although the archbishop be among the bishops as an elder brother, who hath the care of his brethren, and to whom they owe obedience because he is over them; yet the patriarch is to all those who are under his power, just as he who holds the seat of Rome, is the head and prince of all patriarchs; in-asmuch as he is first, as was Peter, to whompower is given over all Christian princes, andover all their peoples, as he who is the Vicarof Christ our Lord over all peoples and over the whole Christian Church, and whoever shall contradict this, is excommunicated by the Synod.3
[I add Canon XXXVII. of Echellensis’s Nova Versio LXXXIV. Arabic. Canonum Conc. Nicoeni, that the reader may compare it with the foregoing.]
Let there be only four patriarchs in the whole world as there are four writers of the Gospel, and four rivers, etc. And let there be a prince and chief over them, the lord of the see of the Divine Peter at Rome, according as the Apostles commanded. And after him the lord of the great Alexandria, which is the see of Mark. And the third is the lord of Ephesus, which is the see of John the Divine who speaks divine things. And the fourth and last is my lord of Antioch, which is another see of Peter. And let all the bishops be divided under the hands of these four patriarchs; and the bishops of the little townswhich are under the dominion of the greatcities let them be under the authority of these metropolitans. But let every metropolitan of these great cities appointthe bishops of his province, but let none of the bishops appoint him, for he is greater than they. Therefore let every man know his own rank, and let him not usurp the rank of another. And whosoever shall contradict this law which wehave established the Fathers of the Synodsubject him to anathema.4
Of the provincial synod which should be held twice every year, and of its utility; together with the excommunication of such as oppose the decree.
Of the synod of Archbishops, which meets once a year with the Patriarch, and of its utility; also of the collection to be made for the support of the patriarch throughout the provinces and places subject to the patriarch.
Of a cleric or monk who when fallen into sin, and summoned once, twice, and thrice, does not present himself for trial.
What the patriarch should do in the case of a defendant set at liberty unpunished by the decision of the bishop, presbyter, or even of a deacon, as the case may be.
How an archbishop ought to give trial to one of his suffragan bishops.
Of the receiving of complaints and condemnation of an archbishop against his patriarch.
How a patriarch should admit a complaint; or judgment of an Archbishop against an Archbishop.
Of those excommunicated by a certain one, when they can be and when they cannot be absolved by another.
No bishop shall choose his own successor.
No simoniacal ordinations shall be made.
There shall be but one bishop of one city, and one parochus of one town; also the incumbent, whether bishop or parish priest, shall not be removed in favour of a successor desired by some of the people unless he has been convicted of manifest crime.
Bishops shall not allow the separation of a wife from her husband on account of discord—[in American, “incompatibility of temper”]).
Usury and the base seeking of worldly gain is forbidden to the clergy, also conversation and fellowship with Jews.
Marriages with infidels to be avoided.
Of the election of a chorepiscopus, and of his duties in towns, and villages, and monasteries.
How a chorepiscopus should visit the churches and monasteries which are under his jurisdiction.
Of how the presbyters of the towns and villages should go twice a year with their chorepiscopus to salute the bishop, and how religious should do so once a year from theirmonasteries, and how the new abbot of a monastery should go thrice.
Of the rank in sitting during the celebration of service in church by the bishop, the archdeacon and the chorepiscopus; and of the office of archdeacon, and of the honour due the archpresbyter.
Of the honour flue the archdeacon and the chorepiscopus when they sit in church during the absence of the bishop, and when they go about with the bishop.
How all the grades of the clergy and their duties should be publicly described and set forth.
Of how men are to be chosen from the diocese for holy orders, and of how they should be examined.
Of the honour due to the deacons, and how the clerics must not put themselves in their way.
The number of presbyters and deacons isto be adapted to the work of the church and to its means.
Of the Ecclesiastical Economist and of the others who with him care for the church’s possessions.
Of the offices said in the church, the night and day offices, and of the collect for all those who rule that church.
Of the order to be observed at the funeral of a bishop, of a chorepiscopus and of an archdeacon, and of the office of exequies.
Of taking a second wife, after the former one has been disowned for any cause, or even not put away, and of him who falsely accuseshis wife of adultery. If any priest or deacon shall put away his wife on account of her fornication, or for othercause, as aforesaid, or cast her out of doors for external good, or that he may change her for another more beautiful, or better, or richer, or does so out of his lust which is displeasing to God; and after she has been put away for any of these causes he shall contract matrimony with another, or without having put her away shall take another, whether free or bond; and shall have both equally, they living separately and he sleeping every night with one or other of them, or else keeping both in the same house and bed, let him be deposed. If he were a layman let him be deprived of communion. But if anyone falsely defames his wife charging her with adultery, so that he turns her out of doors, the matter must be diligently examined; and if the accusation was false, he shall be deposed if a cleric, but if a layman shall be prohibited from entering the church and from the communion of the faithful; and shall be compelled to live with her whom he has defamed, even though she be deformed, and poor, and insane; andwhoever shall not obey is excommunicated by the Synod.
[Note.—The reader will notice that by this canon a husband is deposed or excommunicated, as the case may be, if he marry another woman, after putting away his wife on account of her adultery. It is curious that in the parallel canon in the collection of Echellensis, which is numbered LXXI., the reading is quite different, although it is very awkward and inconsequent as given. Moreover, it should be remembered that in some codices and editions this canon is lacking altogether, one on the right of the Pope to receive appeals taking its place. As this canon is of considerable length, I only quote the interesting parts.]
Whatever presbyter or deacon shall put away his wife without the offence of fornica- tion, or for any other cause of which we have spoken above, and shall east her out of doors . . . such a person shall be east out of the clergy, if he were a clergyman; if a layman he shall be forbidden the communion of the faithful.. . . But if that woman [untruly charged by her husband with adultery], that is to say his wife, spurns his society on account of the injury he has done her and the charge he has brought against her, of which she is innocent, let her freely be put awayand let a bill of repudiation be written for her, noting the false accusation which had been brought against her. And then if she should wish to marry some other faithful man, it is right for he; to do so, nor does the Church forbid it; and the same permission extends as well to men as to women, since there is equal reason for it for each. But if he shall return to better fruit which is of thesame kind, and shall conciliate to himself the love and benevolence of his consort, and shall be willing to return to his pristine friendship, his fault shall be condoned to him after he has done suitable and sufficient penance.And whoever shall speak against this decree the fathers of the synod excommunicate him.
Of having two wives at the same time, and of a woman who is one of the faithful marrying an infidel; and of the form of receiving her to penance.[Her reception back is conditioned upon her leaving the infidel man.]
Of giving in marriage to an infidel a daughter or sister without her knowledge and contrary to her wish.
Of one of the faithful who departs from the faith through lust and love of an infidel; and of the form of receiving him back, or admitting him to penance.
Of the hospital to be established in every city, and of the choice of a superintendent and concerning his duties). [It is interesting to note that one of theduties of the superintendent is— “That if thegoods of the hospital are not sufficient for its expenses, he ought to collect all the time and from all Christians provision according to the ability of each.”]
Of the placing a bishop or archbishop in hischair after ordination, which is enthronization.
No one is allowed to transfer himself to another church [i.e., diocese] than that in which he was ordained; and what is to be done in the case of one cast out forcibly without any blame attaching to him.
The laity shall not choose for themselves priests in the towns and villages without the authority of the chorepiscopus; nor an abbot for a monastery; and that no one should give commands as to who should be elected hissuccessor after his death, and when this is lawful for a superior.
How sisters, widows, and deaconesses should be made to keep their residence in their monasteries; and of the system of instructing them; and of the election of deaconesses, and of their duties and utility.
How one seeking election should not be chosen, even if of conspicuous virtue; and how the election of a layman to the aforesaid grades is not prohibited, and that those chosen should not afterward be deprived before their deaths, except on account of crime.
Of the distinctive garb and distinctive names and conversation of monks and nuns.
That a bishop convicted of adultery or of other similar crime should be deposed without hope of restoration to the same grade; but shall not be excommunicated.
Of presbyters and deacons who have fallen only once into adultery, if they have never been married; and of the same when fallen as widowers, and those who have fallen, all the while having their own wives. Also of those who return to the same sin as well widowers as those having living wives; and which of these ought not to be received to penance, and which once only, and which twice.
Each one of the faithful while his sin is yet not public should be mended by private exhortation and admonition; if he will not profit by this, he must be excommunicated.
Of the election of a procurator of the poor, and of his duties).
Proposed Action on Clerical Celibacy.
[The Ac are not extant.]
Often the mind of a deliberative assembly is as clearly shown by the propositions it rejects as by those it adopts, and it would seem that thisdoctrine is of application in the case of the asserted attempt at this Council to pass a decree forbidding the priesthood to live in the use of marriage. This attempt is said to have failed. The particulars are as follows:
(Hist. Councils, Vol. I., pp. 435 et seqq).
Socrates, Sozomen, and Gelasius affirm that the Synod of Nicaea, as well as that of Elvira (can. 33), desired to pass a law respecting celibacy. This law was to forbid all bishops, priests and deacons (Sozomen adds subdeacons), who were married at the time of their ordination, to continue to live with their wives. But, say these historians, the law was opposed openly and decidedly by Paphnutius, bishop of a city of the Upper Thebais in Egypt, a man of a high reputation, who had lost an eye during the persecution under Maximian. He was also, celebrated for his miracles, and was held in so great respect by the Emperor, that the latter often kissed the empty socket of the lost eye. Paphnutius declared with a loud voice, “that too heavy a yoke ought not to be laid upon the clergy; that marriage and married intercourse are of themselves honourable and undefiled; that the Church ought not to be injured by an extreme severity, for all could not live in absolute continency: in this way (by not prohibiting married intercourse) the virtue of the wife would be much more certainly preserved (viz the wife of a clergyman, because she might find injury elsewhere, if her husband withdrew from her married intercourse). The intercourse of a man with his lawful wife may also be a chaste intercourse. It would therefore be sufficient, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, if those who had taken holy orders without being married were prohibited from marrying afterwards; but those clergymen who had been married only once as laymen, were not to be separated from their wives (Gelasius adds, or being only a reader or cantor).” This discourse of Paphnutius made so much the more impression, because he had never lived in matrimony himself, and had had no conjugal intercourse.Paphnutius, indeed, had been brought up in a monastery, and his great purity of manners had rendered him especially celebrated.Therefore the Council took the serious words of the Egyptian bishop into consideration, stopped all discussion upon the law, and left to each cleric the responsibility of deciding the point as he would.
If this account be true, we must conclude that a law was proposed to the Council of Nicaea the same as one which had been carried twenty years previously at Elvira, in Spain; this coincidence would lead us to believe that it was the Spaniard Hosius who proposed the law respecting celibacy at Nicaea. The discourse ascribed to Paphnutius, and the consequent decision of the Synod, agree very well with the text of the Apostolic Constitutions, and with the whole practice of the Greek Church in respect to celibacy. The Greek Church as well as the Latin accepted the principle, that whoever had taken holy orders before marriage, ought not to be married afterwards. In the Latin Church, bishops, priests, deacons. and even subdeacons, were considered to be subject to this law, because the latter were at a very early period reckoned among the higher servants of the Church, which was not the case in the Greek Church. The Greek Church went so far as to allow deacons to marry after their ordination, if previously to it they had expressly obtained from their bishop permission to do so. The Council of Ancyra affirms this (c. 10). We see thatthe Greek Church wishes to leave the bishop free to decide the matter; but in reference to priests, it also prohibited them from marrying after their ordination. Therefore, whilst the Latin Church exacted of those presenting themselves for ordination, even as subdeacons, that they should not continue to live with their wives if they were married, the Greek Church gave no such prohibition; but if the wife of an ordained clergyman died, the Greek Church allowed no second marriage. The Apostolic Constitutions decided this point in the same way. To leave their wives from a pretext of piety was also forbidden to Greek priests; and the Synod of Gangra (c. 4) took up the defence of married priests against the Eustathians. Eustathius, however, was not alone among the Greeks in opposing the marriage of all clerics, and in desiring to introduce into the Greek Church the Latin discipline on this point. St. Epiphanius also inclined towards this side. The Greek Church did not, however, adopt this rigour in reference to priests, deacons, and subdeacons, but by degrees it came to be required of bishops and of the higher order of clergy in general, that they should live in celibacy. Yet this was not until after the compilation of the Apostolic Canons (c. 5) and of the Constitutions; for in those documents mention is made of bishops living in wedlock, and Church history shows that there were married bishops. for instance Synesius, in the fifth century. But it is fair to remark, even as to Synesius, that he made it an express condition of his acceptation, on his election to the episcopate, that he might continue to live the married life. Thomassin believes that Synesius did not seriously require this condition, and only spoke thus for the sake of escaping the episcopal office; which would seem to imply that in his time Greek bishops had already begun to live in celibacy. At the Trullan Synod (c. 13). the Greek Church finally settled the question of the marriage of priests. Baro-nius, Valesius, and other historians, have considered the account of the part taken by Paphnutius to be apocryphal. Baronius says, that as the Council of Nicaea in its third canon gave a law upon celibacy it is quite impossible to admit that it would alter such a law on account of Paphnutius. But Baronius is mistaken in seeing a law upon celibacy in that third canon; he thought it to be so, because, when mentioning the women who might live in the clergyman’s house—his mother, sister, etc.—the canon does not say a word about the wife. It had no occasion to mention her, it was referring to the suneisavktoi whilst these suneisavktoi and married women have nothing in common. Natalis Alexander gives this anecdote about Paphnutius in full: he desired to refute Ballarmin, who considered it to be untrue and an invention of Socrates to please the Novatians. Natalis Alexander often maintains erroneous opinions, and on thepresent question he deserves no confidence. If, as St. Epiphanius relates, the Novatians maintained that the clergy might be married exactly like the laity, it cannot be said that Socrates shared that opinion, since he says, or rather makes Paphnutius say, that, according to ancient tradition, those not married at the time of ordination should not be so subsequently. Moreover, if it may be said that Socrates had a partial sympathy with the Novatians, he certainly cannot be considered as belonging to them, still less can he be accused of falsifying history in their favour. He may sometimes have propounded erroneous opinions, but there is a great difference between that and the invention of a whole story. Valesius especially makes use of the argument ex silentio against Socrates. (a) Rufinus, he says, gives many particulars about Paphnutius in his History of the Church; he mentions his martyrdom, his miracles, and the Emperor’s reverence for him, but not a single word of the business about celibacy. (b) The name of Paphnutius is wanting in the list of Egyptian bishops present at the Synod. These two arguments of Valesius are weak; the second has the authority of Rufinus himself against it, who expressly says that Bishop Paphnutius was present at the Council of Nicaea. If Valesius means by lists only the signatures at the end of the acts of the Council, this proves nothing; for these lists are very imperfect, and it is well known that many bishops whose names are not among these signatures were present at Nicaea. This argument ex silentio is evidently insufficient to prove that the anecdote about Paphnutius must be rejected as false, seeing that it is in perfect harmony with the practice of the ancient Church, and especially of the Greek Church, on the subject of clerical marriages. On the other hand, Thomassin pretends that there was no such practice, and endeavours to prove by quotations from St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, Eusebius, and St. Jn Chrysostom, that even in the East priests who were married at the time of their ordination were prohibited from continuing to live with their wives. The texts quoted by Thomassin prove only that the Greeks gave especial honour to priests living in perfect continency, but they do not prove that this continence was a duty incumbent upon all priests; and so much the less, as the fifth and twenty-fifth Apostolic canons, the fourth canon of Gangra, and the thirteenth of the Trullan Synod, demonstrate clearly enough what was the universal custom of the Greek Church on this point. Lupus and Phillips explained the words of Paphnutius in another sense. According to them, the Egyptian bishop was not speaking in a general way; he simply desired that the contemplated law should not include the subdeacons. But this explanation does not agree with the extracts quoted from Socrates, Sozomen, and Gelasius, who believe Paphnutius intended deacons and priests as well).
The Synodal Letter.
(Found in Gelasius, Historia Concilii Nicaeni, Lib. II, cap. 33,; Socr., H. E., Lib. I., cap. 6; Theodor., H. E., Lib. I., cap. 9).
To the Church of Alexandria, by the grace of God, holy and great; and to our well-beloved brethren, the orthodox clergy and laity throughout Egypt, and Pentapolis, and Lybia, and every nation under heaven, the holy and great synod, the bishops assembled at Nicea, wish health in the Lord.
Forasmuch as the great and holy Synod, which was assembled at Niece through the grace of Christ and our most religious Sovereign Constantine, who brought us together from our several provinces and cities, has considered matters which concern the faith of the Church, it seemed to us to be necessary that certain things should be communicated from us to you in writing, so that you might have the means of knowing what has been mooted and investigated, and also what has been decreed and confirmed.
First of all, then, in the presence of our most religious Sovereign Constantine, investigation was made of matters concerning the impiety and transgression of Arias and his adherents; and it was unanimously decreed that he and his impious opinion should be anathematized, together with the blasphemous words and speculations in which he indulged, blaspheming the Son of God, and saying that he is from things that are not, and that before he was begotten he was not, and that there was a time when he was not, and that the Son of God is by his free will capable of vice and virtue; saying also that he is a creature. All these things the holy Synod has anathematized, not even enduring to hear his impious doctrine and madness and blasphemous words. And of the charges against him and of the results they had, ye have either already heard or will hear the particulars, lest we should seem to be oppressing a man who has in fact received a fitting recompense for his own sin. So far indeed has his impiety prevailed, that he has even destroyed Theonas of Marmorica and Secundes of Ptolemais; for they also have received the same sentence as the rest.
But when the grace of God had delivered Egypt from that heresy and blasphemy, and from the persons who have dared to make disturbance and division among a people heretofore at peace, there remained the matter of the insolence of Meletius and those who have been ordained by him; and concerning this part of our work we now, beloved brethren, proceed to inform you of the decrees of the Synod. The Synod, then, being disposed to deal gently with Meletius (for in strict justice he deserved no leniency), decreed that he should remain in his own city, but have no authority either to ordain, or to administer affairs, or to make appointments; and that he should not appear in the country or in any other city for this purpose, but should enjoy the bare title of his rank; but that those who have been placed by him, after they have been confirmed by a more sacred laying on of hands, shall on these conditions be admitted to communion: that they shall both have their rank and the right to officiate, but that they shall be altogether the inferiors of all those who are enrolled in any church or parish, and have been appointed by our most honourable colleague Alexander. So that these men are to have no authority to make appointments of persons who may be pleasing to them, nor to suggest names, nor to do anything whatever, withoutthe consent of the bishops of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, who are serving under our most holy colleague Alexander; while those who, by the grace of God and through your prayers, have been found in no schism, but on the contrary are without spot in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, are to have authority to make appointments and nominations of worthy persons among the clergy, and in short to do all things according to the law and ordinance of the Church. But, if it happen that any of the clergy who are now in the Church should die, then those who have been lately received are to succeed to the office of the deceased; always provided that they shall appear to be worthy, and that the people elect them, and that the bishop of Alexandria shall concur in the election and ratify it. This concession has been made to all the rest; but, on account of his disorderly conduct from the first, and the rashness and precipitation of his character, the same decree was not made concerning Meletius himself, but that, inasmuch as he is a man capable of committing again the same disorders, no authority nor privilege should be conceded to him.
These are the particulars, which are of special interest to Egypt and to the most holy Church of Alexandria; but if in the presence of our most honoured lord, our colleague and brother Alexander, anything else has been enacted by canon or other decree, he will himself convey it to you in greater detail, he having been both a guide and fellow-worker in what has been done.
We further proclaim to you the good news of the agreement concerning the holy Easter, that this particular also has through your prayers been rightly settled; so that all our brethren in the East who formerly followed the custom of the Jews are henceforth to celebrate the said most sacred feast of Easter at the same time with the Romans and yourselves and all those who have observed Easter from the beginning.
Wherefore, rejoicing in these wholesome results, and in our common peace and harmony, and in the cutting off of every heresy, receive ye with the greater honour and with increased love, our colleague your Bishop Alexander, who has gladdened us by his presence, and who at so great an age has undergone so great fatigue that peace might be established among you and all of us. Pray ye also for us all, that the things which have been deemed advisable may stand fast; for they have been done, as we believe, to the well-pleasing of Almighty God and of his only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
On the Keeping of Easter.
From the Letter of the Emperor to all those not present at the Council.
(Found in Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib. iii., 18–20).
When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner? It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom [the calculation] of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom,1 we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter, which we have observed from the time of the Saviour’s Passion to the present day [according to the day of the week]. We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements, they frequently celebrate two passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error. How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? for to celebrate the passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible. But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews]. Besides, consider well, that in such an important matter, and on a subject of such great solemnity, there ought not to be any division. Our Saviour has left us only one festal day of our redemption, that is to say, of his holy passion, and he desired [to establish] only one Catholic Church. Think, then, how unseemly it is, that on the same day some should be fasting whilstothers are seated at a banquet; and that after Easter, some should be rejoicing at feasts, whilst others are still observing a strict fast. For this reason, a Divine Providence wills that this custom should be rectified and regulated in a uniform way; and everyone, I hope, will agree upon this point. As, on the one hand, it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord; and as, on the other, the custom now followed by the Churches of the West, of the South, and of the North, and by some of those of the East, is the most acceptable, it has appeared good to all; and I have been guarantee for your consent, that you would accept it with joy, as it is followed at Rome, in Africa, in all Italy, Egypt, Spain, Gaul, Britain, Libya, in all Achaia, and in the dioceses of Asia, of Pontus, and Cilicia. You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves, and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews. To sum up in few words: By the unanimous judgment of all, it has been decided that the most holy festival of Easter should be everywhere celebrated on one and the same day, and it is not seemly that in so holy a thing there should be any division. As this is the state of the case, accept joyfully the divine favour, and this truly divine command; for all which takes place in assemblies of the bishops ought to be regarded as proceedingfrom the will of God. Make known to your brethren what has been decreed, keep this most holy day according to the prescribed mode; we can thus celebrate this holy Easter day at the same time, if it is granted me, as I desire, to unite myself with you; we canrejoice together, seeing that the divine power has made use of our instrumentality for destroying the evil designs of the devil, and thus causing faith, peace, and unity to flourish amongst us. May God graciously protect you, my beloved brethren.
Excursus on the Subsequent History of the Easter Question.
(Hefele: Hist. of the Councils, Vol. I., pp. 328 et seqq).
The differences in the way of fixing the period of Easter did not indeed disappear after the Council of Nicea. Alexandria and Rome could not agree, either because one of the two Churches neglected to make the calculation for Easter, or because the other considered it inaccurate. It is a fact, proved by the ancient Easter table of the Roman Church, that the cycle of eighty-four years continued to be used at Rome as before. Now this cycle differed in many ways from the Alexandrian, and did not always agree with it about the period for Easter—in fact (a), the Romans used quite another method from the Alexandrians; they calculated from the epact, and began from the feria prima of January. (b). The Romans were mistaken in placing the full moon a little too soon; whilst the Alexandrians placed it a little too late. (c). At Rome the equinox was supposed to fall on March 18th; whilst the Alexandrians placed it on March 21st. (d). Finally, the Romans differed in this from the Greeks also; they did not celebrate Easter the next day when the full moon fell on the Saturday.
Even the year following the Council of Nicea—that is, in 326—as well as in the years 330, 333, 340, 341, 343, the Latins celebrated Easter on a different day from the Alexandrians. In order to put an end to this misunderstanding, the Synod of Sardica in 343, as we learn from the newly discovered festival letters of S. Athanasius, took up again the question of Easter, and brought the two parties (Alexandrians and Romans) to regulate, by means of mutual concessions, a common day for Easter for the next fifty years. This compromise, after a few years, was not observed. The troubles excited by the Arian heresy, and the division which it caused between the East and the West, prevented the decree of Sardica from being put into execution; therefore the Emperor Theodosius the Great, after the re-establishment of peace in the Church, found himself obliged to take fresh steps for obtaining a complete uniformity in the manner of celebrating Easter. In 387, the Romans having kept Easter on March 21st, the Alexandrians did not do so for five weeks later—that is to say, till April 25th—because with the Alexandrians the equinox was not till March 21st. The Emperor Theodosius the Great then asked Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria for an explanation of the difference. The bishop responded to the Emperor’s desire, and drew up a chronological table of the Easter festivals, based upon the principles acknowledged by the Church of Alexandria. Unfortunately, we now possess only the prologue of his work).
Upon an invitation from Rome, S. Ambrose also mentioned the period of this same Easter in 387, in his letter to the bishops of Aemilia, and he sides with the Alexandrian computation. Cyril of Alexandria abridged the paschal table of his uncle Theophilus, and fixed the time for the ninety-five following Easters—that is, from 436 to 531 after Christ. Besides this Cyril showed, in a letter to the Pope, what was defective in the Latin calculation; and this demonstration was taken up again, some time after, by order of the Emperor, by Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybaeum and Proterius of Alexandria, in a letter written by them to Pope Leo I. In consequence of these communications, Pope Leo often gave the preference to the Alexandrian computation, instead of that of the Church of Rome. At the same time also was generally established, the opinion so little entertained by the ancient authorities of the Church—one might even say, so strongly in contradiction to their teaching—that Christ partook of the passover on the 14th Nisan, that he died on the 15th (not on the 14th, as the ancients considered), that he lay in the grave on the 16th, and rose again on the 17th. In the letter we have just mentioned, Proterius of Alexandria openly admitted all these different points.
Some years afterwards, in 457, Victor of Aquitane, by order of the Roman Archdeacon Hilary, endeavoured to make the Roman and the Alexandrian calculations agree together. It has been conjectured that subsequently Hilary, when Pope, brought Victor’s calculation into use, in 456—that is, at the time when the cycle of eighty-four years came to an end. In the latter cycle the new moons were marked more accurately, and the chief differences existing between the Latin and Greek calculations disappeared; so that the Easter of the Latins generally coincided with that of Alexandria, or was only a very little removed from it. In cases when the idV fell on a Saturday, Victor did not wish to decide whether Easter should be celebrated the next day, as the Alexandrians did, or should be postponed for a week. He indicates both dates in his table, and leaves the Pope to decide what was to be done in each separate case. Even after Victor’s calculations, there still remained great differences in the manner of fixing the celebration of Easter; and it was Dionysius the Less who first completely overcame them, by giving to the Latins a paschal table having as its basis the cycle of nineteen years. This cycle perfectly corresponded to that of Alexandria, and thus established that harmony which had been so long sought in vain. He showed the advantages of his calculation so strongly, that it was admitted by Rome and by the whole of Italy; whilst almost the whole of Gaul remained faithful to Victor’s canon, and Great Britain still held the cycle of eighty-four years, a little improved by Sulpicius Severus. When the Heptarchy was evangelized by the Roman missionaries, the new converts accepted the calculation of Dionysius, whilst the ancient Churches of Wales held fast their old tradition. From this arose the well-known British dissensions about the celebration of Easter, which were transplanted by Columban into Gaul. In 729, the majority of the ancient British Churches accepted the cycle of nineteen years. It had before been introduced into Spain, immediately after the conversion of Reccared. Finally, under Charles the Great, the cycle of nineteen years triumphed over all opposition; and thus the whole of Christendom was united, for the Quartodecimans had gradually disappeared.2
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra Neocaesarea, Antioch and Laodicea
Which Canons Were Accepted and Received by the Ecu-Menical Synods).
Introductory Note to the Canons of the Provincial Synods
Which in This Volume are Interjected Between the First and the Second Ecumenical Councils.
The First Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Chalcedon, reads as follows: “We have judged it right that the canons of the Holy Fathers made in every synod even until now, should remain in force.” And the Council in Trullo, in its second canon, has enumerated these synods in the following words. “We set our seal to all the rest of the canons which have been established by our holy and blessed fathers, that is to say by the 318 God-inspired fathers who met at Nice, and by those who met at Ancyra, and by those who met at Neocaeesarea, as well as by those who met at Gangra: in addition to these the canons adopted by those who met at Antioch in Syria, and by those who met at Laodicea in Phry-gia; moreover by the 150 fathers who assembled in this divinely kept and imperial city, and by the 200 who were gathered in the metropolis of Ephesus, and by the 630 holy and blessed fathers who met at Chalcedon,” etc., etc.
There can be no doubt that this collection of canons was made at a very early date, and from the fact that the canons of the First Council of Constantinople do not appear, as they naturally would, immediately after those of Nice, we may not improbably conclude that the collection was formed before that council assembled. For it will be noticed that Nice, although not the earliest in date, takes the precedence as being of ecumenical rank. And this is expressly stated in the caption to the canons of Ancyra according to the reading in the Paris Edition of Balsamon. “The canons of the holy Fathers who assembled at Ancyra; which are indeed older than those made at Nice, but placed after them, on account of the authority aujqentivan of the Ecumenical Synod.”
On the arrangement of this code much has been written and Archbishop Ussher has made some interesting suggestions, but all appear to be attended with more or less difficulties. The reader will find in Bp: Beveridge, in the Prolegomena to his Synodicon a very full treatment of the point,1 the gist of the matter is admirably given in the following brief note which I take from Hammond. In speaking of this early codex of the Church he says: (Hammond, Definitions of Faith and Canons of Discipline, pp. 134 and 135).
That this collection was made and received by the Church previous to the Council of Chalcedon is evident from the manner in which several of the Canons are quoted in that Council. Thus in the 4th Action, in the matter of Carosus and Dorotheus, who had acknowledged Dioscorus as Bishop, though he had been deposed from his bishopric, “the holy Synod said, let the holy Canons of the Fathers be read, and inserted in the records; and Actius the Archdeacon taking the book read the 83d Canon, If any Bishops, etc. And again the 84th Canon, concerning those who separate themselves, If any Presbyter,” etc. These Canons are the 4th and 5th of Antioch. Again, in the 11th Action, in the matter of Bassianus and Stephanus who disputed about the Bishopric of Ephesus, both requested the Canons to be read, “And the Judges said, Let the Canons be read. And Leontius Bishop of Magnesia read the 95th Canon, If any Bishop, etc., and again out of the same book the 96th Canon, If any Bishop,” etc. These Canons are the 16th and 17th of Antioch. Now if we add together the different Canons in the Code of the Universal Church in the order in which they follow in the enumeration of them by the Council of Trullo and in other documents, we find that the 4th and 5th of Antioch, are the 83d and 84th of the whole Code, and the 16th and 17th of Antioch, the 95th and 96th. Nice 20, Ancyra 25, NeoCaesarea 14, Gangra 20; all which make 79. Next come those of Antioch, the 4th and 5th of which therefore will be respectively the 83d and 84th, and the 16th and 17th the 95th and 96th.
The fact of the existence of such a code does not prove by any means that it was the only collection extant at the time nor that it was universally known. In fact we have good reason, as we shall see in connexion with the Council of Sardica, to believe that in many codices, probably especially in the West, the canons of that council followed immediately after those of Nice, and that without any break or note whatever. But we know that the number of canons attributed to Nice must have been twenty or else the numbering of the codex read from at Chalcedon would be quite inexplicable. It would naturally suggest itself to the mind that possibly the divergence in the canonical codes was the result of the local feelings of East and West with regard to the decrees of Sardica. But this supposition, plausible as it appears, must be rejected, since at the Quinisext Council, where it is not disputed there was a strong anti-Western bias, the canons of Sardica are expressly enumerated among those which the fathers receive as of Ecumenical authority. It will be noticed that the code set forth by the Council in Trullo differs from the code used at Chalcedon by having the so-called “Canons of the Apostles” prefixed to it, and by having a large number of other canons, including those of Sardica, appended, of which more will be said when treating of that Council.
The order which I have followed my justly be considered as that of the earliest accepted codex canonum, at least of the East).
The Canons of the Council of Ancyra
Emperors.—Constantine and Licinius.
Soon after the death of the Emperor Maximin,1 a council was held at Ancyra, the capital of Galatia. Only about a dozen bishops were present, and the lists of subscriptions which are found appended to the canons are not to be depended on, being evidently in their present form of later authorship; as has been shewn by the Ballerini. If we may at all trust the lists, it would seem that nearly every part of Syria and Asia Minor was represented, and that therefore the council while small in numbers was of considerable weight. It is not certain whether Vitalis, (bishop of Antioch,) presided or Marcellus, who was at the time bishop of Ancyra. The honour is by the Libellus Synodicus assigned to the latter.
The disciplinary decrees of this council possess a singular interest as being the first enacted after the ceasing of the persecution of the Christians and as providing for the proper treatment of the lapsed. Recently two papyri have been recovered, containing the official certificates granted by the Roman government to those who had lapsed and offered sacrifice. These apostates were obliged to acknowledge in public their adhesion to the national religion of the empire, and then were provided with a document certifying to this fact to keep them from further trouble. Dr. Harnack (Preussische Jahrbucher) writing of the yielding of the lapsed says:
“The Church condemned this as lying and denial of the faith, and after the termination of the persecution, these unhappy people were partly excommunicated, partly obliged to submit to severe discipline. Who would ever suppose that the records of their shame would come doom to our time?—and yet it has actually happened. Two of these papers have been preserved, contrary to all likelihood, by the sands of Egypt which so carefully keep what has been entrusted to them. The first was found by Krebs in a heap of papyrus, that had come to Berlin; the other was found by Wessely in the papyrus collection of Archduke Rainer. ‘I, Diogenes, have constantly sacrificed and made offerings, and have eaten in your presence the sacrificial meat, and I petition you to give me a certificate.’ Who to-day, without deep emotion, can read this paper and measure the trouble and terror of heart under which the Christians of that day collapsed?”
(Found in Labbe and Cossart’s Concilia, and all Collections, in the Greek text together with several Latin versions of different dates. Also in Justellus and Beveridge. There will also be found annotations by Routh, and a reprint of the notes of Christopher Justellus and of Bp. Beveridge in Vol. IV. of the Reliquiae Sacrae, ed. alters, 1846).
With regard to those presbyters who have offered sacrifices and afterwards returned to the conflict, not with hypocrisy, but in sincerity, it has seemed good that they may retain the honour of their chair; provided they had not used management, arrangement, or persuasion, so as to appear to be subjected to the torture, when it was applied only in seeming and pretence. Nevertheless it is not lawful for them to make the oblation, nor to preach, nor in short to perform any act of sacerdotal function.
Ancient Epitome to Canons I. And II.
Presbyters and deacons who offered sacrifice and afterwards renewed the contest for the truth shall have only their seat and honour, but shall not perform any of the holy functions.
Of those that yielded to the tyrants in the persecution, and offered sacrifice, some, after having been subjected to torture, being unable to withstand to the end its force and intensity, were conquered, and denied the faith; some, through effeminacy, before they experienced any suffering, gave way, and lest they should seem to sacrifice voluntarily they persuaded the executioners, either by bribes or entreaties, to manifest perhaps a greater degree of severity against them, and seemingly to apply the torture to them, in order that sacrificing under these circumstances they; might seem to have denied Christ, conquered by force, and not through effeminacy.
It was quite justifiable, and in accordance with the ancient and severe discipline of the Church, when this Synod no longer allowed priests, even when sincerely penitent, to discharge priestly functions. It was for this same reason that the two Spanish bishops, Martial and Basilides, were deposed, and that the judgment given against them was confirmed in 254 by an African synod held under St. Cyprian.
The reader will notice how clearly the functions of a presbyter are set forth in this canon as they were understood at that time, they were “to offer” (prosfevrein), “to preach” (oJmileivn, and “to perform any act of sacerdotal function” (leitourgei`n ti tw`n iJeratikw`n leitourgiw`n).
This canon is in the Corpus Juris Canonici). Decretum.Pars I., Dist. 1., c. xxxii.
IT is likewise decreed that deacons who have sacrificed and afterwards resumed the conflict, shall enjoy their other honours, but shall abstain from every sacred ministry, neither bringing forth the bread and the cup, nor making proclamations. Nevertheless, if any of the bishops shall observe in them distress of mind and meek humiliation, it shall be lawful to the bishops to grant more indulgence, or to take away [what has been granted].
For Ancient Epitome see above under Canon I.
In this canon the work and office of a deacon as then understood is set forth, viz.: “to bring forth” (whatever that may mean) “bread or wine” (a[rton h[ pothvrion a[naferein) and “to act the herald” (khruvssein). There is considerable difference of opinion as to the meaning of the first of these expressions. It was always the duty of the deacon to serve the priest, especially when he ministered the Holy Communion, but this phrase may refer to one of two such ministrations, either to bringing the bread and wine to the priest at the offertory, and this is the view of Van Espen, or to the distribution of the Holy Sacrament to the people. It has been urged that the deacon had ceased to administer the species of bread before the time of this council, but Hefele shews that the custom had not entirely died out. If I may be allowed to offer a suggestion, the use of the disjunctive h[ seems rather to point to the administration of the sacrament than to the bringing of the oblations at the offertory.
The other diaconal function “to act the herald” refers to the reading of the Holy Gospel, and to the numerous proclamations made by the deacons at mass both according to the Greek and Latin Rite.
This canon is in the Corpus Juris Canonici united with the foregoing). Decretum., Pars I., Dist. 1., c. xxxii.
Those who have fled and been apprehended, or have been betrayed by their servants; or those who have been otherwise despoiled of their goods, or have endured tortures, or have been imprisoned and abused, declaring themselves to be Christians; or who have been forced to receive something which their persecutors violently thrust into their hands, or meat [offered to idols], continually professing that they were Christians; and who, by their whole apparel, and demeanour, and humility of life, always give evidence of grief at what has happened; these persons, inasmuch as they are free from sin, are not to be repelled from the communion; and if, through an extreme strictness or ignorance of some things, they have been repelled, let them forthwith be re-admitted. This shall hold good alike of clergy and laity. It has also been considered whether laymen who have fallen under the same compulsion may be admitted to orders, and we have decreed that, since they have in no respect been guilty, they may be ordained; provided their past course of life be found to have been upright.
Ancient Epitome of Canon III.
Those who have been subjected to torments and have suffered violence, and have eaten food offered to idols after being tyrannized over, shall not be deprived of communion. And laymen who have endured the same sufferings, since they have in no way transgressed, if they wish to be ordained, they may be, if otherwise they be blameless.
In the translation the word “abused” is given as the equivalent of periscisqevnta") which Zonaras translated, “if their clothes have been torn from their bodies,” and this is quite accurate if the reading is correct, but Routh has found in the Bodleian several mss. which had perisceqevnta". Hefele adopts this reading and translates “declaring themselves to be Christians but who have subsequently been vanquished, whether their oppressors have by force put incense into their hands or have compelled them, etc.” Hammond translates “and have been harassed by their persecutors forcibly putting something into their hands or who have been compelled, etc.” The phrase is obscure at best with either reading isreading.
This canon is in the Corpus Juris Canonici united to the two previous canons, Decretum, Pars I., Diet. 1., c. xxxii.
Concerning those who have been forced to sacrifice, and who, in addition, have partaken of feasts in honour of the idols; as many as were haled away, but afterwards went up with a cheerful countenance, and wore their costliest apparel, and partook with indifference of the feast provided; it is decreed that all such be hearers for one year, and prostrators for three years, and that they communicate in prayers only for two years, and then return to full communion).
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
Such as have been led away and have with joy gone up and eaten are to be in subjection for six years.
In the Greek the word for “full communion” is to; tevleion (“the perfection”), an expression frequently used by early writers to denote the Holy Communion.Vide Suicer, Thesaurus ad h. 5,
[The Holy Communion was so called as being] that sacred mystery which unites us to, Christ, and gives us the most consummate perfection that we are capable of in this world.
As many, however, as went up in mourning attire and sat down and ate, weeping throughout the whole entertainment, if they have fulfilled the three years as prostrators, let them be received without oblation; and if they did not eat, let them be prostrators two years, and in the third year let them communicate without oblation, so that in the fourth year they may be received into full communion. But the bishops have the right, after considering the character of their conversion, either to deal with them more leniently, or to extend the time. But, first of all, let their life before and since be thoroughly examined, and let the indulgence be determined accordingly.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
Those who have gone up in mourning weeds, and have eaten with tears, shall be prostrators for three years; but if they basic not eaten, then. for two years. And according to their former and after life, whether good or evil, they shall find the bishop gentle or severe, Herbst and Routh have been followed by many in supposing that “oblation” (prosfora; in this canon refers to the sacrament of the altar. But this seems to be a mistake, as the word while often used to denote the whole. act of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, is not used to mean the receiving alone of that sacrament. Suicer (Thesaurus s. 5,prosfora;) translates “They may take part in divine worship, but not actively,” that is, “they may not mingle their offerings with those of the faithful.”
But as those who cannot present their offerings during the sacrifice are excluded from the communion, the complete meaning of the canon is: “They may be present at divine service, but may neither offer nor communicate with the faithful.”
Concerning those who have yielded merely upon threat of penalties and of the confiscation of their goods, or of banishment, and have sacrificed, and who till this present time have not repented nor been converted, but who now, at the time of this synod, have approached with a purpose of conversion, it is decreed that they be received as hearers till the Great Day, and that after the Great Day they be prostrators for three years, and for two years more communicate without oblation, and then come to full communion, so as to complete the period of six full years. And if any have been admitted to penance before this synod, let the beginning of the six years be reckoned to them from that time. Nevertheless, if there should be any danger or prospect of death whether from disease or any other cause, let them be received, but under limitation.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.
A man who yielded to threats alone, and has sacrified, and then repented let him for five years be a prostrator.
But should any of those debarred from communion as penitents be seized with illness or in any other way be brought nigh to death, they may be received to communion; but in accordance with this law or distinction, that if they escape death and recover their health, they shall be altogether deprived again of communion until they have finished their six years penance.
“The Great Day,” that is, Easter Day. Thegreat reverence which the Primitive Church from the earliest ages felt for the holy festival of Easter is manifested by the application of the epithet Great, to everything connected with it. The preceding Friday, i.e., Good Friday, was called the Great Preparation, the Saturday, the Great Sabbath, and the whole week, the Great Week.
Concerning those who have partaken at a heathen feast in a place appointed for heathens, but who have brought and eaten their own meats, it is decreed that they be received after they have been prostrators two years; but whether with oblation, every bishop must determine after he has made examination into the rest of their life.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
If anyone having his own food, shall eat it with heathen at their feasts, let him be a prostrator for two years.
Several Christians tried with worldly prudence, to take a middle course. On the one hand, hoping to escape persecution, they were present at the feasts of the heathen sacrifices, which were held in the buildings adjoining the temples; and on the other, in order to appease their consciences, they took their own food, and touched nothing that had been offered to the gods. These Christians forgot that St. Paul had ordered that meats sacrificed to the gods should be avoided, not because they were tainted in themselves, as the idols were nothing, but from another, and in fact a twofold reason: 1st, Because, in partaking of them, some had still the idols in their hearts, that is to say, were still attached to the worship of idols, and thereby sinned; and 2dly, Because others scandalized their brethren, and sinned in that way. To these two reasons a third may be added, namely, the hypocrisy and the duplicity of those Christians who wished to appear heathens, and nevertheless to remain Christians. The Synod punished them with two years of penance in the third degree, and gave to each bishop the right, at the expiration of this time, either to admit them to communion, or to make them remain some time longer in the fourth degree.
Let those who have twice or thrice sacrificed under compulsion, be prostrators four years, and communicate without oblation two years, and the seventh year they shall be received to full communion.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
Whoever has sacrificed a second or third time, but has been led thereto by force, shall be a prostrator for seven years.
This canon shews how in the Church it was a received principle that greater penances ought to be imposed for the frequent commission of the same crime, and consequently it was then believed that the number of times the sin had been committed should be expressed in confession, that the penance might correspond to the sin, greater or less as the case may be, and the time of probation be accordingly protracted or remitted.
As many as have not merely apostatized, but have risen against their brethren and forced them [to apostatize], and have been guilty of their being forced, let these for three years take the place of hearers, and for another term of six years that of prostra- tors, and for another year let them communicate without oblation, in order that, when they have fulfilled the space of ten years, they may partake of the communion; but during this time the rest of their life must also be enquired into.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Whoever has not only sacrificed voluntarily but also has forced another to sacrifice, shall be a prostrator for ten years.
[It will be noticed that this epitome does not agree with the canon, although Aristenus does not note the discrepancy.]
From this canon we are taught that the circumstances of the sin that has been committed are to be taken into account in assigning the penance.
When the ten years are past, he is worthy of perfection, and fit to receive the divine sacraments. Unless perchance an examination of the rest of his life demands his exclusion from the divine communion.
They who have been made deacons, declaring when they were ordained that they must marry, because they were not able to abide so, and who afterwards have married, shall continue in their ministry, because it was conceded to them by the bishop. But if any were silent on this matter, undertaking at their ordination to abide as they were, and afterwards proceeded to marriage, these shall cease from the diaconate.
Ancient Epitome of Canon X.
Whoso is to be ordained deacon, if he has before announced to the bishop that he cannot persevere unmarried, let him marry and let him be a deacon; but if he shall have kept silence, should he take a wife afterwards let him be east out.
The case proposed to the synod and decided in this canon was as follows: When the bishop was willing to ordain two to the diaconate, one of them declared that he did not intend to bind himself to preserving perpetual continence, but intended to get married, because he had not the power to remain continent. The other said nothing. The bishop laid his hands on each and conferred the diaconate.
After the ordination it fell out that both got married, the question propounded is, What must be done in each case? The synod ruled that he who had made protestation at his ordination should remain in his ministry, “because of the license of the bishop,” that is that he might contract matrimony after the reception of the diaconate. With regard to him who kept silence thesynod declares that he should cease from his ministry.
The resolution of the synod to the first question shews that there was a general law which bound the deacons to continence; but this synod judged it meet that the bishops for just cause might dispense with this law, and this license or dispensation was deemed to have been given by the bishop if he ordained him after his protestation at the time of his ordination that he intended to be married, because he could not remain as he was; giving by the act of ordination his tacit approbation. Moreover from this decision it is also evident that not only was the ordained deacon allowed to enter but also to use matrimony after his ordination ... Moreover the deacon who after this protestation entered and used matrimony, not only remained a deacon, but continued in the exercise of his ministry.
On the whole subject of Clerical Celibacy in the Early Church see the Excursus devoted to that matter.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici). Decretum Pars I., Dist. xxviii, c. 8,
IT is decreed that virgins who have been betrothed, and who have afterwards been carried off by others, shall be restored to those to whom they had formerly been betrothed, even though they may have suffered violence from the ravisher.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XI.
If a young girl who is engaged be stolen away by force by another man, let her be restored to the former.
This canon treats only of betrothed women (of the sponsalia de futuro) not of those who are married (of the sponsalia de proesenti). In the case of the latter there could be no doubt as to the duty of restitution. The man who was betrothed was, moreover, at liberty to receive his affianced bride who had been carried off or not.
Here Balsamon puts in a very proper cave, viz.: If he to whom she was espoused demand her to be his wife.
Compare St. Basil’s twenty-second canon in his letter to Amphilochius, where it is so ruled.
IT is decreed that they who have offered sacrifice before their baptism, and were afterwards baptized, may be promoted to orders, inasmuch as they have been cleansed.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII.
Whoso has sacrificed before his baptism, after it shall be guiltless.
This canon does not speak generally of all those who sacrificed before baptism; for if a heathen sacrificed before having embraced Christianity, he certainly could not be reproached for it after his admission. It was quite a different case with a catechumen, who had already declared for Christianity, but who, during the persecution had lost courage, and sacrificed. In this case it might be asked whether he could still be admitted to the priesthood. The Council decided that a baptized catechumen could afterwards be promoted to holy orders.
IT is not lawful for Chorepiscopi to ordain presbyters or deacons., and most assuredly not presbyters of a city, without the commission of the bishop given in writing, in another parish.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII.
A chorepiscopus is not to ordain without the consent of the bishop.
If the first part of the thirteenth canon is easy to understand, the second, on the contrary, presents a great difficulty; for a priest of a town could not in any case have the power of consecrating priests and deacons, least of all in a strange diocese. Many of the most learned men have, for this reason, supposed that the Greek text of the second half of the canon, as we have read it, is incorrect or defective. It wants, say they, poiei`n ti, or aliquid agere, i.e., to complete a religious function. To confirm this supposition, they have appealed to several ancient versions, especially to that of Isidore: sed nec presbyteris civitatis sine episcopi proecepto amplius aliquid imperare, vel sine auctoritate literature ejus in unaquaque (some read ejn ejkavsth/ instead of ejn eJtevra/) parochia aliquid agere. The ancient Roman ms. of the canons, Codex Canonum, has the same reading, only that it has provincia instead of parochia. Fulgentius Ferrandus, deacon of Carthage, who long ago made a collection of canons, translates in the same way in his Breviatio Canonum: Ut presbyteri civitatis sine jussu episcopi nihil jubeant, nec in unaquaque parochia aliquid agant. Van Espen has explained this canon in the same way.
Routh has given another interpretation. He maintained that there was not a word missing in this canon, but that at the commencement one ought to read, according to several mss. cwrepiskovpoi" in the dative, and further down ajlla; mhvn mhde; instead of ajlla mhde; then presbutevrou" (in the accusative) povlew" and finally ejkavsth/ instead of eJtevre/, and that we must therefore translate, “Chorepiscopi are not permitted to consecrate priests and deacons (for the country) still less (ajlla; mh;n mhde;) can they consecrate priests for the town without the consent of the bishop of the place.” The Greek text, thus modified according to some mss., especially those in the Bodleian Library, certainly gives a good meaning. Still ajlla; mh;n mhde; does not mean, but still less: it means, but certainly not, which makes a considerable difference.
Besides this, it can very seldom have happened that the chorepiscopi ordained presbyters or deacons for a town; and if so, they were already forbidden, at least implicitly, in the first part of the canon.
IT is decreed that among the clergy, presbyters and deacons who abstain from flesh shall taste of it, and afterwards, if they shall so please, may abstain. But if they disdain it, and will not even eat herbs served with flesh, but disobey the canon, let them be removed from their order.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
A priest who is an abstainer from flesh, let him merely taste it and so let him abstain. But if he will not taste even the vegetables cooked with the meat let him be deposed (pepavusqw).
There is a serious dispute about the reading of the Greek text. I have followed Routh, who, relying on three mss. the Collectio of Jn of Antioch and the Latin versions, reads eij de; bdeluvssointo instead of the eij de; bouvlointo of the ordinary text, which as Bp. Beveridge had pointed out before has no meaning unless a mh; be introduced.
Zonaras points out that the canon chiefly refers to the Love feasts.
I cannot agree with Hefele in his translation of the last clause. He makes the reference to “this present canon,” I think it is clearly to the 53 52 of the so-called Canons of the Apostles, tw`/ kanovni “the well-known Canon.”
Concerning things belonging to the church, which presbyters may have sold when there was no bishop, it is decreed that the Church property shall be reclaimed; and it shall be in the discretion of the bishop whether it is better to receive the purchase price, or not; for oftentimes the revenue of the things sold might field them the greater value.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.
Sales of Church goods made by presbyters are null, and the matter shall rest with the bishop.
If the purchaser of ecclesiastical properties has realized more by the temporary revenue of such properties than the price of the purchase, the Synod thinks there is no occasion to restore him this price, as he has already received a sufficient indemnity from the revenue, and as, according to the rules then in force, interest drawn from the purchase money was not permitted. Besides, the purchaser had done wrong in buying ecclesiastical property during the vacancy of a see (sede vacante). Beveridge and Routh have shown that in the text ajnakalei`sqai and provsodon must be read.1
Let those who have been or who are guilty of bestial lusts, if they have sinned while under twenty years of age, be prostrators fifteen years, and afterwards communicate in prayers; then, having passed five years in this communion, let them have a share in the oblation. But let their life as prostrators be examined, and so let teem receive indulgence; and if any have been insatiable in their crimes, then let their time of prostration be prolonged. And if any who have passed this age and had wives, have fallen into this sin, let them be prostrators twenty-five years, and then communicate in prayers; and, after they have been five years in the communion of prayers, let them share the oblation. And if any married men of more than fifty years of age have so sinned, let them be admitted to communion only at the point of death.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVI.
Whoever shall have commerce with animals devoid of reason being younger than twenty, shall be a prostrator for fifteen years If he is over that age and has a wife when he falls into this wickedness he shall be a prostrator for twenty-five years. But the married man who shall do so when over fifty years of age, shall be a prostrator to his life’s end.
It is interesting to compare with this, as Van Espen does, the canon of the Church of England set forth in the tenth century under King Edgar, where, Part II., canon xvi., we read—
“If any one twenty years of age shall defile himself with a beast, or shall commit sodomy let him fast fifteen years; and if he have a wife and be forty years of age, and shall do such a deed let him abstain now and fast all the rest of his life, neither shall he presume until he is dying to receive the Lord’s body. Youths and fools who shall do any such fixing shall be soundly trounced.”
Defilers of themselves with beasts, being also leprous, who have infected others [with the leprosy of this crime], the holy Synod commands to pray among the hie-mantes.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVII.
A leper who goes in to a beast or even to leprous women, shall pray with the hybernantes.
Deprwvsanta" is from leprovw not from lepravw and therefore cannot mean “have been lepers,” but “have made others rough and scabby.” It is only in the passive and in Alexandrian Greek that it has the meaning to become leprous. Vide Liddell and Scott.
There seems but little doubt that the word is to be understood spiritually as suggested above.
The last word of the canon is also a source of confusion. Both Beveridge and Routh understand by the ceimazovmenoi those possessed with devils. Suicer however (Thesaurus) thinks that the penitents of the lowest degree are intended, who had no right to enter the church, but were exposed in the open porch to the inclemencies (ceimwvn) of the weather. But, after all it matters little, as the possessed also were forced to remain in the same place, and shared the same name.
Besides the grammatical reason for the meaning of leprwvsanta" given above there is another argument of Hefele’s, as follows:
It is clear that leprwvsanta" cannot possibly mean “those who have been lepers”; for there is no reason to be seen why those who were cured of that malady should have to remain outside the church among the flentes. Secondly, it is clear that the words leprou;" o[nta", etc. are added to give force to the expression ajlogeusavmenoi. The preceding canon had decreed different penalties for different kinds of ajlogeusavmenoi. But that pronounced by canon 17,being much severer than the preceding ones, the ajlogeusavmenoi of this canon must be greater sinners than those of the former one. This greater guilt cannot consist in the fact of a literal leprosy; for this malady was not a consequence of bestiality. But their sin was evidently greater when they tempted others to commit it. It is therefore levpra in the figurative sense that we are to understand, and our canon thus means; “Those who were spiritually leprous through this sin, and tempting others to commit it made them leprous.”
IF any who have been constituted bishops, but have not been received by the parish to which they were designated, shall invade other parishes and wrong the constituted [bishops] there, stirring up seditions against them, let such persons be suspended from office and communion. But if they are willing to accept a seat among the presbyterate, where they formerly were presbyters, let them not be deprived of that honour. But if they shall act seditiously against the bishops established there, the honour of the presbyterate also shall be taken from them and themselves expelled.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVIII.
If a bishop who has been duly constituted, is not received by the Church to which he was elected, but gives trouble to other bishops, let him be excommunicated.
If he wishes to be numbered among the presbyters, let him be so numbered. But if he shall be at outs with the bishops duly constituted there, let him be deprived of the honour of being even a presbyter.The word I have translated “suspended from office and communion” is ajforivzesqai. Suicer in his Thesaurus shews that this word does not mean only, as some have supposed, a deprivation of office and dignity (e. g., Van Espen), but also an exclusion from the communion of the Church.
IF any persons who profess virginity shall disregard their profession, let them fulfil the term of digamists. And, moreover, we prohibit women who are virgins from living with men as sisters.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIX.
Whoever has professed virginity and afterwards annuls it, let him be cut off for four years. And virgins shall not go1 to any as to brothers.
According to some of the ancient canons digamists were to be suspended from communion for one or two years, though Beveridge and others doubt whether the rule was not meant to apply to such marriages only as were contracted before a former one was dissolved. Bingham thinks that it was intended to discountenance marrying after an unlawful divorce. (Ant., Bk. xv, c. iv.,18).2
The first part of this canon regards all young persons—men as well as women—who have taken a vow of virginity, and who, having thus, so to speak, betrothed themselves to God are guilty of a quasi digamy in violating that promise. They must therefore incur the punishment of digamy (successiva) which, according to St. Basil the Great, consisted of one year’s seclusion.
This canon is found in Gratian’s Decretum (P. II., Causa xxvii., Q. i., c. xxiv). as follows: “As many as have professed virginity and have broken their vow and contemned theirprofession shall be treated as digamists, that is as those who have contracted a second marriage.”
Excursus on Second Marriages, Called Digamy.
To distinguish contemporaneous from successive bigamy I shall use throughout this volume the word “digamy” to denote the latter, and shall thus avoid much confusion which otherwise is unavoidable.
The whole subject of second, and even of third and fourth marriages has a great interest for the student of early ecclesiastical legislation, and I shall therefore treat the matter here (as I shall hope) sufficiently and refer the reader for its fuller treatment to books more especially upon the subject.
The general position of the Church seems to have been to discourage all second marriages, and to point to a single matrimonial connexion as the more excellent way. But at the same time the principle that the marriage obligation is severed by death was universally recognised, and however much such fresh marriages may have been disapproved of, such disapproval did not rest upon any supposed adulterous character in the new connexion. I cite a portion of an admirable article upon the subject by an English barrister of Lincoln’s Inn.
(J. M. Ludlow, in Smith and Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, sub voce Digamy). Although among the earlier Romans3 there was one form of marriage which was indissoluble, viz., that by confarreatio, still generally a second marriage either after death or divorce was by no means viewed with disfavour.Meanwhile an intensifying spirit of asceticism was leading many in the Church to a condemnation of second marriage in all eases. Minucius Felix (Octavius, c. 31,5) only professes on behalf of the Christians a preference for monogamy. Clement of Alexandria (a.d. 150–220) seems to confine the term marriage to the first lawful union (Stromata, Bk. ii)..... It would seem, however, that when these views were carried to the extent of absolute prohibition of second marriages generally by several heretical sects, the Montanists (see (Augustine, De Hoeresibus, c. xxvi)., the Cathari (ib., c. xxxviii)., and a portion at least of the Novatianists (see (Cotel., Patr. Apol., vol. i., p. 91, n. 16) the Church saw the necessity of not fixing such a yoke on the necks of the laity. The forbiddance of second marriage, or its assimilation to fornication, was treated as one of the marks of heresy (Augustin). u. s.; and see also his De Bono Vid., c. vi).. The sentiment of Augustine (in the last referred to passage) may be taken to express the Church’s judgment at the close of the fourth century: “Second marriages are not to be condemned, but had in less honour,” and see also Epiphanius, in his Exposition of the Catholic Faith.
To these remarks of Mr. Ludlow’s, I may add that St. Ambrose had written (De Viduis, c. xi)., “We do not prohibit second marriages, but we do not approve marriages frequently reiterated.” St. Jerome had spoken still more strongly (Ep. lxvii., Apol. pro libris adv. Jovin)., “I do not condemn digamists, or even trigamists or, if such a thing can be said, octagamists.” It does not seem that the penance which was imposed in the East upon those entering into second nuptials was imposed in the West. The Corpus Juris Canonici contains two decretals, one of Alexander III. and another of Urban III., forbidding priests to give the nuptial benediction in cases of reiterated marriage. In the East at second marriages the benediction of the crown is omitted and “propitiatory prayers” are to be said. Mr. Ludlow points out that in the “Sanctions and Decrees,” falsely attributed to the Council of Nice and found in Mansi (vol. ii., col. 1029) it is expressly stated that widowers and widows may marry, but that “the blessing of the crowns is not to be imparted to them, for this is only once given, at first marriages, and is not to be repeated. ... But if one of them be not a widower or widow, let such one alone receive the benediction with the paranymphs, those whom he will.”
IF the wife of anyone has committed adultery or if any man commit adultery it seems fit that he shall be restored to full communion after seven years passed in the prescribed degrees [of penance].
Ancient Epitome of Canon XX.
An adulteress and an adulterer are to be cut off for seven years.
The simplest explanation of this canon is “that the man or woman who has violated the marriage bond shall undergo a seven years’ penance”; but many reject this explanation, because the text says aujto;n tuvkein and consequently can refer only to the husband. Fleury and Routh think the canon speaks, as does the seventieth of Elvira, of a woman who has broken the marriage tie with the knowledge and consent of her husband. The husband would therefore in this case be punished for this permission, just as if he had himself committed adultery. Van Espen has given another explanation: “That he who marries a woman already divorced for adultery is as criminal as if he had himself committed adultery.” But this explanation appears to us more forced than that already given; and we think that the Greek commentators Balsamon and Zonaras were right in giving the explanation we have offered first as the most natural. They think that the Synod punished every adulterer, whether man or woman, by a seven years’ penance. There is no reason for making a mistake because only the word aujto;n occurs in the passage in which the penalty is fixed; for aujto;n here means the guilty party, and applies equally to the woman and the man: besides, in the preceding canon the masculine o\(soi ejpaggellovmenoi includes young men and young women also. It is probable that the Trullan Synod of 692, in forming its eighty-seventh canon, had in view the twentieth of Ancyra. The sixty-ninth canon of Elvira condemned to a lighter punishment—only five years of penance—him who had been only once guilty of adultery.
Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfil ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXI.
Harlots taking injurious medicines are to be subjected to penance for ten years.
The phrase “and to this some have assented” is the translation of Hervetus, Van Espen, and Hefele. Dr. Routh suggests to understand aJi and translate, “the same punishment will be inflicted on those who assist in causing miscarriages,” but this seems rather an unnatural and strained rendering of the Greek).
Concerning wilful murderers let them remain prostrators; but at the end of life let them be indulged with full communion.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXII.
A voluntary homicide may at the last attain perfection.1
It is noteworthy how singularly appositely Constantine] Harmenopulus the Scholiast in the Epitom. Canonum., Sect. 5,, tit. 3, tells the following story: “In the time of the Patriarch Luke, a certain bishop gave absolution in writing to a soldier who had committed voluntary homicide, after a very short time of penace; and afterwards when he was accused before the synod of having done so, he defended himself by citing the canon which gives bishops the power of remitting or increasing the length of their penance to penitents. But he was told in answer that this was granted indeed to pontiffs but not that they should use it without examination, and with too great lenity. Wherefore the synod subjected the soldier to the canonical penance and the bishop it mulcted for a certain time, bidding him cease from the exercise of his ministry.”
Concerning involuntary homicides, a former decree directs that they be received to full communion after seven years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees; but this second one, that they fulfil a term of five years.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXIII.
An involuntary homicide shall be subjected to penance for five years.
Of voluntary and involuntary homicides St. Basil treats at length in his Canonical Epistle ad Amphilochium, can. viii., 56,and lvii., and fixes the time of penance at twenty years for voluntary and ten years for involuntary homicides. It is evident that the penance given for this crime varied in different churches, although it is clear from the great length of the penance, how enormous the crime was considered, no light or short penance being sufficient.
They who practice divination, and follow the customs of the heathen, or who take men to their houses for the invention of sorceries, or for lustrations, fall under the canon of five years’ [penance], according to the prescribed degrees; that is, three years as prostrators, and two of prayer without oblation.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXIV.
Whoso uses vaticination and whoso introduces anyone into his house for the sake of making a poison or a lustration let him be subject to penance for five years.
I read ejqnw`n for krovnwn and accordingly translate “of the heathen.”
It is greatly to be desired that bishops and pastors to-day would take example from the fathers of Ancyra and devote their attention strenuously to eliminate superstition from the people, and would expound with animation to the people the enormity of this crime).
One who had betrothed a maiden, corrupted her sister, so that she conceived. After that he married his betrothed, but she who had been corrupted hanged herself. The parties to this affair were ordered to be received among the co-standers after ten years [of penance] according to the prescribed degrees.
Ancient Epitome to Canon XXV.
A certain body after being engaged to marry a young girl, violates her sister and then takes her to wife. The first is suffocated. All who were cognizant of the affair are to be subject to penance for ten years.
I have followed the usual translation “hanged herself,” which is the ordinary dictionary-meaning of ajpavgcw, but Hefele says that it signifies any and every variety of suicides.
In this case we have many nefarious crimes committed, fornication, unlawful marriage [i.e. with the sister of one’s mistress] and murder. In that case [mentioned by St. Basil in Canon lxxviij. where only seven years penance is enjoined] there is only a nefarious marriage [i.e. with a wife’s sister]).
The Council of Neocaesarea
a.d. 315 (circa).
(Hefele thinks somewhat later, but before 325).
(Zonaras and Balsamon prefix to the canons this note).
The Synod gathered together at Neocaesares, which is a city of Pontus, is next in order after that of Ancyra, and earlier in date than the rest, even than the First Ecumenical Synod at Nice. In this synod the Holy Fathers gathered together, among whom was the holy Martyr Basil, bishop of Amasea, adopted canons for the establishing of ecclesiastical order as follow—
The Canons of the Holy and Blessed Fathers Who Assembled at Neocaesarea
Which are Indeed Later in Date Than Those Made at Ancyra, But More Ancient Than the Nicene: However, the Synod of Nice Has Been Placed Before Them on Account of Its Peculiar Dignity.1
(Annotations by Routh, and reprint of the Notes of Christopher Justellus and of Bp. Beveridge will be found in Vol. 4,of the Reliquioe Sacroe).
IF a presbyter marry, let him be removed from his order; but if he commit fornication or adultery, let him be altogether east out [i.e. of communion] and put to penance.
Ancient Epitome of Canon I.
If a presbyter marries he shall be deposed from his order. If he commits adultery or whoredom he shall be expelled, and shall be put to penance.
A presbyter who marries is removed from the exercise of the priesthood but retains his honour and seat. But he that commits fornication or adultery is cast forth altogether and put to penance.
These fathers [i.e. of NeoCaesarea] shew how much graver seemed to them the sin of the presbyter who after ordination committed fornication or adultery, than his who took a wife. For the former they declare shall simply be deposed from his order or deprived of the dignity of the Priesthood, but the latter is to “be altogether cast out, and put to penance.” ... Therefore such a presbyter not only did they remove from the priestly functions, or the dignity of the priesthood, but perfectly or altogether east him out of the Church.
This canon Gratian has inserted in the Corpus Juris Canonici.Decretum. Pars I., Dist. xxviii., c. 9,Gratian has followed Isidore in adding after the word “penance” the words “among the laity” (inter laicos) which do not occur in the Greek, (as is noted by the Roman Correctors) nor in the version of Dionysius Exiguus; these same correctors fall however themselves into a still graver error in supposing that criminous clerks in the early days of the Church were sent out to wander over the country, as Van Espen well points out.
On the whole subject of the marriage of the clergy in the Early Church see the Excursus devoted to that subject.
IF a woman shall have married two brothers, let her be east out [i.e. of communion] until her death. Nevertheless, at the hour of death she may, as an act of mercy, be received to penance, provided she declare that she will break the marriage, should she recover. But if the woman in such a marriage, or the man, die, penance for the survivor shall be very difficult.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
A woman married to two brothers shall be expelled all her life. But if when near her death she promises that she will loose the marriage should she recover, she shall be admitted to penance. But if one of those coupled together die, only with great difficulty shall penitence be allowed to the one still living.
It will be carefully observed that this canon has no provision for the case of a man marrying two sisters. It is the prohibited degree of brother’s wife, not that of wife’s sister which is in consideration. Of course those who hold that the affinity is the same in each case will argue from this canon by parity of reasoning, and those who do not accept that position will refuse to do so.
In the Greek text of Balsamon (Vide Beveridge, Synod). after the first clause is added, “if she will not be persuaded to loose the marriage.”
The meaning of this canon seems to be that which Balsamon sets forth, to wit, that if a woman at the point of death or in extremis promises that if she gets better she will dissolve the marriage, or make a divorce, orabstain from the sacrilegious use of matrimony, then “she may be received to penance as an act of mercy”; and surely she is immediately absolved from the excommunication inflicted upon her when she was cast out and extruded from the Church. For it is certain that according to the discipline of the Fathers he was thought to be loosed from excommunication whoever was admitted to penance, and it is of this that the canon speaks;1 but he did not obtain perfect reconciliation until his penance was done.
To this performance of penance this woman was to be admitted if she got well and dissolved the marriage according to her promise made when she was in peril of death, as the Greek commentators note; and this too isthe sense given by Isidore.
Concerning those who fall into many marriages, the appointed time of penance is well known; but their manner of living and faith shortens the time.
Ancient Epitome of Canon III.
The time of polygamists is well known.A zeal for penance may shorten it.
As the Greek commentators have remarked, this canon speaks of those who have been married more than twice. It is not known what were the ancient ordinances of penitence which the synod here refers to. In later times digamists were condemned to one year’s penance, and trigamists from two to five years. St. Basil places the trigamists for three years among the “hearers,” and then for some time among the consistentes.
“The appointed time of penance is well known.” These words Zonaras notes must refer to a custom, for, says he, “before this synod no canon is found which prescribes the duration of the penance of bigamists [i.e. digamists].” It is for this reason that St. Basil says (in Epist. ad Amphilogium, Can. 4) in speaking of the penance of trigamists “we have received this by custom and not by canon, but from the following of precedent,” hence the Fathers received many things by tradition, and observed these as having the force of law.
From the last clause of this canon we see the mind of the Fathers of this synod, which agrees with that of Ancyra and Nice, that; with regard to the granting of indulgences, for in shortening the time of penance, attention must be paid to the penitence, and conversation, or “conversation and faith” of each one separately.
With this agrees Zonaras, whose remarks are worthy of consideration. On this whole subject of the commutation of the primitive penance and of the rise of the modern indulgences of the Roman Church Van Espen has written at length in his excursus De Indulgentiis (Jure Eccles., P. I. i., Tt vij). in which he assigns the change to the end of the XIth century, and remarks that its introduction caused the “no small collapse of penitential discipline.”1
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian, Decretum, Pars II., Causa xxxi., Quaest. i., c. viij. where for “conversio,” (ajnastrofh;) is read “conversatio,” and the Greek word is used in this sense in Polybius, and frequently so in the New Testament).
IF any man lusting after a woman purposes to lie with her, and his design does not come to effect, it is evident that he has been saved by grace.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
Whoso lusteth but doth not accomplish his pleasure is preserved of God.
Instead of ejpiqumhsai we must read, with Beveridge and Routh, who rely upon several mss., ejpiqumhvsa". They also replace met aujth`" by aujth`/.
The meaning of the canon appears to me to be very obscure. Hefele refers to Van Espen and adopts his view, and Van Espen in turn has adopted Fleury’s view and given him credit for it, referring to his Histoire Ecclesiastique, Lib. X., xvij. Zonaras’ and Balsamon’s notes are almost identical, I translate that of the latter in full.
In sins, the Fathers say, there are four stages, the first-motion, the struggle, the consent, and the act: the first two of these are not subject to punishment, but in the two others the case is different. For neither is the first impression nor the struggle against it to be condemned, provided that when the reason receives the impression it struggles with it and rejects the thought. But the consent thereto is subject to condemnation and accusation, and the action to punishment. If therefore anyone is assailed by the lust for a woman, and is overcome so that he would perform the act with her, he has given consent, indeed, but to the work he has not come, that is, he has not performed the act, and it is manifest that the grace of God has preserved him; but he shall not go off with impunity. For the consent alone is worthy of punishment. And this is plain from canon lxx. of St. Basil, which says; “A deacon polluted in lips (ejn ceivlesi)” or who has approached to the kiss of a woman “and confesses that he has so sinned, is to be interdicted his ministry,” that is to say is to be prohibited its exercise for a time. “But he shall not be deemed unworthy to communicate in sacris with the deacons. The same is also the case with a presbyter. But if anyone shall go any further in sin than this, no matter what his grade, he shall be deposed.” Some, however, interpret the pollution of the lips in another way; of this I shall speak in commenting on Canon lxx. of St. Basil.1
IF catechumen coming into the Church have taken his place in the order of catechumens, and fall into six, let him, if a kneeler, become a hearer and sin no more. But should he again sin while a hearer, let him be cast out.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
If a catechumen falls into a fault and if while a kneeler he sins no more, let him be among the hearers; but should he sin while among the hearers, let him be cast out altogether.
There are two sorts of catechumens. For some have only just come in and these, as still imperfect, go out immediately after the reading of the scriptures and of the Gospels. But there are others who have been for some time in preparation and have attained some perfection; these wait after the Gospel for the prayers for the catechumens, and when they hear the words “Catechumens, bow down your heads to the Lord,” they kneel down. These, as being more perfect, having tasted the good words of God, if they fall, are removed from their position; and are placed with the “hearers”; but if any happen to sin while “hearers” they are east out of the Church altogether).
Concerning a woman with child, it is determined that she ought to be baptized whensoever she will; for in this the woman communicates nothing to the child, since the bringing forward to profession is evidently the individual [privilege] of every single person.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.
If a woman with child so desires, let her be baptized. For the choice of each one is judged of.
That the reason of the canon may be understood it must be noted that in the first ages of the Church catechumens were examined concerning their faith before they were baptized, and were made publicly to confess their faith and to renounce openly the pomps of the world, as Albaspinaeus (Aubespine) observes on this canon, “A short while before they were immersed they declared with a loud voice that they desired baptism and wished to be baptized. And since these confessions could not be made by those still shut up in their parent’s womb, to them the thing (res) and grace of baptism could not come nor penetrate.” And altogether in accord with this is the translation of Isidore— “because the free will of each one is declared in that confession,” that is, in that confession he declares that he willingly desires to be baptized.
A Presbyter shall not be a guest at the nuptials of persons contracting a second marriage; for, since the digamist is worthy of penance, what kind of a presbyter shall he be, who, by being present at the feast, sanctioned the marriage?
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
A presbyter ought not to be present at the marriage of digamists.For when that one1 implores favour, who will deem him worthy of favour.
The meaning of the canon is as follows: “If the digamist, after contracting his second marriage, comes to the priest to be told the punishment he has to undergo, how stands the priest himself who for the sake of the feast has become his accomplice in the offence?”
The present canon again shews that although the Church never disapproved of, nor reputed second or still later marriages illicit, nevertheless the Fathers enjoined a penance upon digamists and those repeating marriage, because by this iteration they shewed their incontinence. As he that contracted a second marriage did not sin properly speaking, and committed no fault worthy of punishment, therefore whatever was amiss was believed to be paid off by a lighter penance, and Zonaras supposes that the canons inflicted a mulct upon digamists, for saith he, “Digamists are not allowed for one year to receive the Holy Gifts.”
Zonaras seems to indicate that the discipline of the canon was not in force in his time, for he says, “Although this is found in our writings, yet we ourselves have seen the Patriarch and many Metropolitans present at the feast for the second nuptials of the Emperor.”
IF the wife of a layman has committed adultery and been clearly convicted, such [a husband] cannot enter the ministry; and if she commit adultery after his ordination, he must put her away; but if he retain her, he can have no part in the ministry committed to him).
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
A layman whose wife is an adulteress cannot be a clergyman, and a cleric who keeps an adulteress shall be expelled.
Although the Eastern Church allows the clergy to have wives, even priests, and permits to them the use of marriage after ordination, nevertheless it requires of them the highest conjugal continency, as is seen by the present canon. For here it is evident that the Fathers wished even the smallest possible kind of incontinence to be absent from men dedicated to holiness.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxxiv., c. xi.
A Presbyter who has been promoted after having committed carnal sin, and who shall confess that he had sinned before his ordination, shall not make the oblation, though he may remain in his other functions on account of his zeal in other respects; for the majority have affirmed that ordination blots out other kinds of sins. But if he do not confess and cannot be openly convicted, the decision shall depend upon himself.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
If a presbyter confess that he has sinned,1 let him abstain from the oblation, and from it only. For certain sins orders remit. If he neither confess nor is convicted, let him have power over himself.
Therefore if he who before his ordination had committed a sin of the flesh with a woman, confess it after ordination, when he is already a priest, he cannot perform the priestly office, he can neither offer nor consecrate the oblations, even though after his ordination he has preserved uprightness of living and been careful to exercise virtue; as the words “zeal in other respects” (“studious of good”) Zonaras rightly interprets.
And since here the consideration is of a sin committed before ordination, and also concerning a presbyter who after his ordination was of spotless life, and careful to exercise virtue, the Fathers rightly wished that he should not, against his will, be deposed from the priestly office.
It is certainly curious that this canon speaks of ordination as in the opinion of most persons taking away all sins except consummated carnal offences. And it will be noted that the ajfievnai must mean more than that they are forgiven by ordination, for they had been forgiven long ago by God upon true contrition, but that they were made to be non-existent, as if they had never been, so that flier were no hinderance to the exercise of the spiritual office. I offer no explanation of the difficulty and only venture to doubt the satisfactory character of any of the explanations given by the commentators. Moreover it is hard to grasp the logical connexion of the clauses, and what this “blotting out” of ta; loipa; has to do with the matter I entirely fail to see. The kai; after polloi; may possibly suggest that something has dropped out.
This canon and the following are together in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa xv., Quaest. viii., c. i.
Likewise, if a deacon have fallen into the same sin, let him have the rank of a minister.
Ancient Epitome of Canon X.
A deacon found in the same crime shall remain a minister (uJphvreth").
By ministers (uJphvretai) are meant inferior officers of the Church—the so-called minor orders, often including the subdeacons).
This canon is in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa xv., Quaest. viii., united with canon ix., and in the following curious form: “Similiter et diaconus, si in eodem culpae genere fuerit involutus, sese a ministerio cohibebit.”
Let not a presbyter be ordained before he is thirty years of age, even though he be in all respects a worthy man, but let him be made to wait. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began to teach in his thirtieth year.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XI.
Unless he be 30,years of age none shall be presbyter, even should he be worthy, following the example of the baptism of our Saviour.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. lxxviii., c. iv.
( Ut supra, Nota).
This is the law, and we do not read that Christ, or Jn the Baptist, or Ezechiel, or some other of the Prophets prophesied or preached before that age. But Jeremiah and Daniel we read received the spirit of prophecy before they had arrived even at youth, and David and Solomon are found to have been anointed in their youth, also Jn the Evangelist, while still a youth, was chosen by the Lord for an Apostle, and we find that with the rest he was sent forth to preach: Paul also, as we know, while still a young man was called by the Lord, and was sent out to preach. The Church in like manner, when necessity compels, is wont to ordain some under thirty years of age.
For this reason Pope Zacharias in his Letter to Boniface the Bishop, number vi., which begins “Benedictus Deus” says,
C. 5,In case of necessity presbyters may be ordained at 25,years of age.
If men thirty years old cannot be found, and necessity so demand, Levites and priests may be ordained from twenty-five years of age upwards.
The power of dispensing was committed to the bishop, and at length it was so frequently exercised that in the space of one century [i.e. by the end of the xiith century] the law became abrogated, which was brought about by necessity, so that it passed into law that a presbyter could be ordained at twenty-five. And from this it may appear how true it is that there is no surer way of destroying discipline and abrogating law than the allowing of dispensations and relaxations. Vide Thomassinus, De Disc. Eccles., Pars. IV., Lib. I., cap. 46.
IF any one be baptized when he is ill, forasmuch as his [profession of] faith was not voluntary, but of necessity [i.e. though fear of death] he cannot be promoted to the presbyterate, unless on account of his subsequent [display of] zeal and faith, and because of a lack of men.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII.
One baptized on account of sickness is not to be made presbyter, unless in reward for a contest which he afterwards sustains and on account of scarcity of men.The word used in the Greek for “baptized” is “illuminated” (fwtisqh`/), a very commonexpression among the ancients.
(He that is baptised by reason of illness, and, therefore come to his illumination not freely but of necessity, shall not be admitted to the priesthood unless both these conditions concur, that there are few suitable men to be found and that he has endured a hard conflict after his baptism).
With this interpretation agree also Zonaras and Balsamon, the latter expressly saying, “If one of these conditions is lacking, the canon must be observed.” Not only has Isidore therefore missed the meaning by changing the copulative into the disjunctive conjunction (as Van Espen points out) but Beveridge has fallen into the same error, not indeed in the canon itself, but in translating the Ancient Epitome.
Zonaras explains that the reason for thisprohibition was the well-known fact that in those ages baptism was put off so as the longer to be free from the restraints which baptism was considered to impose. From this interpretation only Aubespine dissents, and Hefele points out how entirely without reason.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum., Pars. I., Dist. lvii., c. i.
Country presbyters may not make the oblation in the church of the city when the bishop or presbyters of the city are present; nor may they give the Bread or the Cup with prayer. If, however, they be absent, and he [i.e., a country presbyter] alone be called to prayer, he may give them.
Ancient Epitome of Canons XIII. And XIV.
A country presbyter shall not offer in the city temple, unless the bishop and the whole body of the presbyters are away. But if wanted he can do so white they are away.
The chorepiscopi can offer as fellow ministers, as they hold the place of the Seventy.
Routh reads the last clause in the plural, in this agreeing with Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore. In many mss. this canon is united with the following and the whole number given as 14.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Pars I., Diet. xcv., c. 12,And the Roman correctors have added the following notes.
(Gratian ut supra).
“Nor to give the sacrificed bread and to hand the chalice;” otherwise it is read “sanctified” [sanctificatum for sacrificatum]. The Greek of the council is a[rton didovnai ejn eujch`/but Balsamon has a[rton eujkh`", that is, “the bread of the mystic prayer.”
Instead of “let them only who are called for giving the prayer, etc.,” read kai; eij" eujchvn klhqh`/ movno" divdwsin, that is: “and only he that shall have been called to the mystic prayer, shall distribute.”
The chorepiscopi, however, are indeed after the pattern of the Seventy; and as fellow-servants, on account of their devotion to the poor, they have the honour of making the oblation.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
[Vide ante, as in many mss. the two canons are united in the Ancient Epitome.]
The reference to the Seventy seems to intimate that the Synod did not hold the chorepiscopi to be true bishops, as such were always reputed and called successors, not of the Seventy disciples but successors of the Twelve Apostles. It is also clear that their chief ministry was thoUght to be the care of the poor.
Zonaras and Balsamon would seem toagree in this with Van Espen. See on the whole subject the Excursus on the Chorepiscopi).
The deacons ought to be seven in number, according to the canon, even if the city be great. Of this you will be persuaded from the Book of the Acts.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.
Seven Deacons according to the Ac of the Apostles should be appointed for each great city. This canon was observed in Rome and it was not until the xith century that the number of the Seven Cardinal Deacons was changed to fourteen. That Gratian received it into the Decretum (Pars. I., Dist. XCIII., c. xij). is good evidence that he considered it part of the Roman discipline. Eusebius1 gives a letter of Pope Cornelius, written about the middle of the third century, which says that at that time there were at Rome forty-four priests, seven deacons, and seven subdeacons; and that the number of those in inferior orders was very great. Thomassinus says that, “no doubt in this the Roman Church intended to imitate the Apostles who only ordained seven deacons. But the other Churches did not keep themselves so scrupulously to that number.”2
In the acts of the Council of Chalcedon it is noted that the Church of Edessa had fifteen priests and thirty-eight deacons.3 And Justinian, we know, appointed one hundred deacons for the Church of Constantinople. Van Espen well points out that while this canon refers to a previous law on the subject, neither the Council itself, nor the Greek commentators Balsamon or Zonaras give the least hint as to what that Canon was.
The Fathers of NeoCaesarea base their limiting of the number of deacons to seven in one city upon the authority of Holy Scripture, but the sixteenth canon of the Quinisext Council expressly says that in doing so they showed they referred to ministers of alms, not to ministers at the divine mysteries, and that St. Stephen and the rest were not deacons at all in this latter sense. The reader is referred to this canon, where to defend the practice of Constantinople the meaning of the canon we are considering is entirely misrepresented).
The Council of Gangra.
With regard to the Synod of Gangra we know little beside what we learn from its own synodal letter. Three great questions naturally arise with regard to it.1. What was its date?2. Who was the Eustathius it condemned?3. Who was its presiding officer?I shall briefly give the reader the salient points with regard to each of these matters.
1. With regard to the date, there can be no doubt that it was after Nice and before the First Council of Constantinople, that is between 325 and 381. Socrates1 seems to place it about 365; but Sozomen2 some twenty years earlier. On the other hand, Remi Ceillier3 inconsistently with his other statements, seems to argue from St. Basil’s letters that the true date is later than 376. Still another theory has been urged by the Ballerini, resting on the supposition that the Eusebius who presided was Eusebius of Caesarea, and they therefore fix the date between 362 and 370. With this Mr. Ffoulkes agrees, and fixes the date,4 with Pagi, at 358, and is bold enough to add, “and this was unquestionably the year of the Council.” But in the old collections of canons almost without exception, the canons of Gangra precede those of Antioch, and Blondel and TilIemont5 have sustained this, which perhaps I may call the traditional date.
2. There does not seem to be any reasonable ground to doubt that the person condemned, Eustathius by name, was the famous bishop of Sebaste. This may be gathered from both Sozomen6 and Socrates,7 and is confirmed incidentally by one of St. Basil’s epistles,8 Moreover, Eustathius’s See of Sebaste is in Armenia, and it is to the bishops of Armenia that the Synod addresses its letter. It would seem in view of all this that Bp. Hefele’s words are not too severe when he writes, “Under such circumstances the statement of Baronius, Du Pin, and others (supported by no single ancient testimony) that another Eustathius, or possibly the monk Eutactus, is here meant, deserves no serious consideration, though Tillemont did not express himself as opposed to it”9
The story that after his condemnation by the Synod of Gangra Eustathius gave up wearing his peculiar garb and other eccentricities, Sozomen only gives as a report.10
3. As to who was the president, it seems tolerably certain that his name was Eusebius—if Sozomen11 indeed means it was “Eusebius of Constantinople,” it is a blunder, yet he had the name right. In the heading of the Synodal letter Eusebius is first named, and as Gangra and Armenia were within the jurisdiction of Caesarea, it certainly would seem natural to suppose that the Eusebius named was the Metropolitan of that province, but it must be remembered that Eusebius of Cappadocia was not made bishop until 362, four years after Mr. Ffoulkes makes him preside at Gangra. The names of thirteen bishops are given in the Greek text.
The Latin translations add other names, such as that of Hosius of Cordova, and some Latin writers have asserted that he presided as legate latere from the pope, e.g., Baronius12 and Binius.13 Hefele denies this and says: “At the time of the Synod of Gangra Hosius was without doubt dead.”14 But such has not been the opinion of the learned, and Cave15 is of opinion that Hosius’s episcopate covered seventy years ending with 361, and (resting on the same opinion) Pagi thinks Hosius may have attended the Synod in 358 on his way back to Spain, an opinion with which, as I have said, Mr. Ffoulkes agrees. It seems also clear that by the beginning of the sixth century the Synod of Gangra was looked upon at Rome as having been held under papal authority; Pope Symmachus expressly saying so to the Roman Synod of 504. (Vide Notes on Canons 7,and viii).
It remains only further to remark that the Libellus Synodicus mentions a certain Dius as president of the Synod. The Ballarini16 suggest that it should be Bivo" an abbreviation of Eusebius. Mr. Ffoulkes suggests that Dius is “probably Dianius, the predecessor of Eusebius.” Lightfoot17 fixes the episcopate of Eusebius Pumphili as between 313 and 337; and states that that of Eusebius of Caesarea in Cappadocia did not begin until 362, so that the enormous chronological difficulties will be evident to the reader.
As all the proposed new dates involve more or less contradiction, I have given the canons their usual position between NeoCaesarea and Antioch, and have left the date undetermined).
Synodical Letter of the Council of Gangra.
Eusebius, Aelian, Eugenius, Olympius, Bithynicus, Gregory, Philetus, Pappus, Eulalius, Hypatius, Proaeresius, Basil and Bassus,1 assembled in the holy Synod at Gangra, to our most honoured lords and fellow-ministers in Armenia wish health in the Lord.
Forasmuch as the most Holy Synod of Bishops, assembled on account of certain necessary matters of ecclesiastical business in the Church at Gangra, on inquiring also into the matters which concern Eustathius, found that many things had been unlawfully done by these very men who are partisans of Eustathius, it was compelled to make definitions, which it has hastened to make known to all, for the removal of whatever has by him been done amiss. For, from their utter abhorrence of marriage, and from their adoption of the proposition that no one living in a state of marriage has any hope towards God, many misguided married women have forsaken their husbands, and husbands their wives: then, afterwards, not being able to contain, they have fallen into adultery; and so, through such a principle as this, have come to shame. They were found, moreover, fomenting separations from the houses of God and of the Church; treating the Church and its members with disdain, and establishing separate meetings and assemblies, and different doctrines and other things in opposition to the Churches and those things which are done in the Church; wearing strange apparel, to the destruction of the common custom of dress; making distributions, among themselves and their adherents as saints, of the first-fruits of the Church, which have, from the first, been given to the Church; slaves also leaving their masters, and, on account of their own strange apparel, acting insolently towards their masters; women, too, disregarding decent custom, and, instead of womanly apparel, wearing men’s clothes, thinking to be justified because of these; while many of them, under a pretext of piety, cut off the growth of hair, which is natural to woman; [and these persons were found] fasting on the Lord’s Day, despising the sacredness of that free day, but disdaining and eating on the fasts appointed in the Church; and certain of them abhor the eating of flesh; neither do they tolerate prayers in the houses of married persons, but, on the contrary, despise such prayers when they are made, and often refuse to partake when Oblations are offered in the houses of married persons; contemning married presbyters, and refusing to touch their ministrations; condemning the services in honour of the Martyrs2 and those who gather or minister therein, and the rich also who do not alienate all their wealth, as having nothing to hope from God; and many other things that no one could recount. For every one of them, when he forsook the canon of the Church, adopted laws that tended as it were to isolation; for neither was there any common judgment among all of them; but whatever any one conceived, that he propounded, to the scandal of the Church, and to his own destruction.
Wherefore, the Holy Synod present in Gangra was compelled, on these accounts, to condemn them, and to set forth definitions declaring them to be cast out of the Church; but that, if they should repent and anathematize every one of these false doctrines, then they should be capable of restoration. And therefore the Holy Synod has particularly set forth everything which they ought to anathematize before they are received. And if any one will not submit to the said decrees, he shall be anathematized as a heretic, and excommunicated, and cast out of the Church; and it will behove the bishops to observe a like rule in respect of all who may be found with them).
The Canons of the Holy Fathers Assembled at Gangra
Which Were Set Forth After the Council of Nice.1
IF any one shall condemn marriage, or abominate and condemn a woman who is a believer and devout, and sleeps with her own husband, as though she could not enter the Kingdom [of heaven] let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon I.
Anathema to him who disregards legitimate marriage.
When one considers how deeply the early church was impressed with those passages of Holy Scripture which she understood to set forth the superiority of the virgin over the married estate, it ceases to be any source of astonishment that some should have run into the error of condemning marriage as sinful. The saying of our Blessed Lord with reference to those who had become “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,”2 and those words of St. Paul “He that giveth his virgin in marriage doeth well, but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better,”3 together with the striking passage in the Revelation of those that were “not defiled with women for they are virgins,”4 were considered as settling the matter for the new dispensation. The earliest writers are filled with the praises of virginity. Its superiority underlies the allegories of the Hermes Pastor;5 St. Justin Martyr speaks of “many men and women of sixty and seventy years of age who from their childhood have been the disciples of Christ, and have kept themselves uncorrupted,”6 and from that time on there is an ever-swelling tide of praise; the reader must be referred to SS. Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, Augustine, etc., etc. In fact the Council of Trent (it cannot be denied) only gave expression to the view of all Christian antiquity both East and West, when it condemned those who denied that “it is more blessed to remain virgin or celibate than to be joined in marriage.”7
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Distinc. xxx., c. 12,(Isidore’s version), and again Dist. xxxi., c. viii. (Dionysius’s version). Gratian, however, supposes that the canon is directed against the Manichaeans and refers to the marriage of priests, but in both matters he is mistaken, as the Roman Correctors and Van Espen point out.
IF any one shall condemn him who eats flesh, which is without blood and has not been offered to idols nor strangled, and is faithful and devout, as though the man were without hope [of salvation] because of his eating, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
Anathema also to him who condemns the eating of flesh, except that of a suffocated animal or that offered to idols.
This canon also, like the preceding one, is not directed against the Gnostics and Manicheans, but against an unenlightened hyper-asceticism, which certainly approaches the Ghostic-Manichean error as to matter being Satanic. We further see that, at the time of the Synod of Gangra, the rule of the Apostolic Synod with regard to blood and things strangled was still in force. With the Greeks, indeed, it continued always in force as their Euchologies still show. Balsamon also, the well-known commentator on the canons of the Middle Ages, in his commentary on the sixty-third Apostolic Canon, expressly blames the Latins because they had ceased to observe this command. What the Latin Church, however, thought on this subject about the year 400, is shown by St. Augustine in his work Contra Faustum, where he states that the Apostles had given this command in order to unite the heathens and Jews in the one ark of Noah; but that then, when the barrier between Jewish and heathen converts had fallen, this command concerning things strangled and blood had lost its meaning, and was only observed by few. But still, as late as the eighth century, Pope Gregory the Third 731 forbade the eating of blood or things strangled under threat of a penance of forty days.
No one will pretend that the disciplinary enactments of any council, even though it be one of the undisputed Ecumenical Synods, can be of greater and more unchanging force than the decree of that first council, held by the Holy Apostles at Jerusalem, and the fact that its decree has been obsolete for centuries in the West is proof that even Ecumenical canons may be of only temporary utility and may be repealed by disuser, like other laws.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XXX., c. xiii.
IF any one shall teach a slave, under pretext of piety, to despise his master and to run away from his service, and not to serve his own master with good-will and all honour, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon III.
Anathema to him who persuades a slave to leave his master under pretence of religion.
This canon is framed in accordance with the doctrine of the Apostle, in I. Timothy, chapter six, verse 1. “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” And again the same Apostle teaches his disciple Titus that he should “exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” (Titus 2,9 and 10).
These texts are likewise cited by Balsamon and Zonaras.
This Canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars. II., Causa XVII., Q. IV., c. xxxvij. in the version of Isidore, and again in c. xxxviij. from the collections of Martin Bracarensis (so says VanEspen) and assigned to a council of PopeMartin, Canon xlvii.
IF any one shall maintain, concerning a married presbyter, that is not lawful to partake of the oblation when he offers it, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
Anathema to him who hesitates to receive communion from presbyters joined in matrimony.
As is well known, the ancient Church, as now the Greek Church, allowed those clergy who married before their ordination to continue to live in matrimony. Compare what was said above in the history of the Council of Nicaea, in connection with Paphnutius, concerning the celibacy and marriage of priests in the ancient Church. Accordingly this canon speaks of those clergy who have wives and live in wedlock; and Baronius, Binius, and Mitter-Muller gave themselves useless trouble in trying to interpret it as only protecting those clergy who, though married, have since their ordination ceased to cohabit with their wives.
The so-called Codex Ecclesioe Romanoe published by Quesnel, which, however, as was shown by the Ballerini,1 is of Gallican and not Roman origin, has not this canon, and consequently it only mentions nineteencanons of Gangra.
IF any one shall teach that the house of God and the assemblies held therein are to be despised, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
Whoso styles the house of God contemptible, let him be anathema.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c.x. The commentators find nothing to say upon the canon, and in fact the despising of the worship of God’s true church is and always has been so common a sin, that it hardly calls for comment; no one will forget that the Prophet Malachi complains how in his days there were those who deemed “the table of the Lord contemptible” and said of his worship “what a weariness is it.” (Ml i., 7 and 13).
IF any one shall hold private assemblies outside of the Church, and, despising the canons, shall presume to perform ecclesiastical acts, the presbyter with the consent of the bishop refusing his permission, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.
Whoso privately gathers a religious meeting let him be anathema.
Both these canons, [V. and VI.] forbid the existence of conventicles, and conventicle services. It already appears from the second article of the Synodal Letter of Gangra, that the Eustathians, through spiritual pride, separated themselves from the rest of the congregation, as being the pure and holy, avoided the public worship, and held private services of their own. The ninth, tenth, and eleventh articles of the Synodal Letter give us to understand that the Eustathians especially avoided the public services, when married clergy officiated. We might possibly conclude, from the words of the sixth canon: mh; sunovnto" tou` presbupevrou kata; gnwvmhn tou` ejpiskovpou, that no priest performed any part in their private services; but it is more probable that the Eustathians, who did not reject the priesthood as such, but only abhorred the married clergy, had their own unmarried clergy, and that these officiated at their separate services. And the above-mentioned words of the canon do not the least contradict this supposition, for the very addition of the words kata; gnwvmhn tou` ejpiskovpou indicate that the sectarian priests who performed the services of the Eustathians had received no permission to do so from the bishop of the place. Thus did the Greek commentators, Balsamon, etc., and likewise Van Espen, interpret this canon.
The meaning of this canon is very obscure. The Latin reads non conveniente presbytero, de episcopi sententia; and Lambert translates “without the presence of a priest, with consent of the bishop.” Hammond differs from this and renders thus, “without the concurrence of the presbyter and the consent of the bishop.” I have translated literally and left the obscurity of the original).
IF any one shall presume to take the fruits offered to the Church, or to give them out of the Church, without the consent of the bishop, or of the person charged with such things, and shall refuse to act according to his judgment, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
Whoso performs church acts contrary to the will of a bishop or of a presbyter, let him be anathema.
IF anyone, except the bishop or the person appointed for the stewardship of benefactions, shall either give or receive the revenue, let both the giver and the receiver be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
Whoso gives or receives offered fruits, except the bishop and the economist appointed to disburse charities, both he that gives, and he that receives shall be anathema.
(In his Address to the Synod of Rome 504. Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, tom. iv., col. 1373).
In the canons framed by Apostolic authority [i.e., by the authority of the Apostolic See of Rome, cf. Ffoulkes, Smith and Cheetham, Dict. Christ. Antiq., art. Gangra] we find it written as follows concerning the offerings of fruits which are due to the clergy of the church, and concerning those things which are offered for the use of the poor; “If anyone shall presume, etc.” [Canon VII.] And again at the same council, “If anyone except the bishop, etc.” [Canon VIII.] And truly it is a crime and a great sacrilege for those whose duty it is chiefly to guard it, that is for Christians and God-fearing men and above all for princes and rulers of this world, to transfer and convert to other uses the wealth which has been bestowed or left by will to the venerable Church for the remedy of their sins, or for the health and repose of their souls.
Moreover, whosoever shall have no care for these, and contrary to these canons, shall seek for, accept, or hold, or shall unjustly defend and retain the treasures given to the Church unless he quickly repent himself shall be stricken with that anathema with which an angry God smites souls; and to him that accepts, or gives, or possesses let there be anathema, and the constant accompaniment of the appointed penalty. For he can have no defence to offer before the tribunal of Christ, who nefariously without any regard to religion has scattered the substance left by pious souls for the poor.
IF any one shall remain virgin, or observe continence, abstaining from marriage because he abhors it, and not on account of the beauty and holiness of virginity itself, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Whoso preserves virginity not on account of its beauty but because he abhors marriage, let him be anathema.
The lesson taught by this canon and that which follows is that the practice of even the highest Christian virtues, such as the preservation of virginity, if it does not spring from a worthy motive is only deserving of execration.
Virginity is most beautiful of all, and continence is likewise beautiful, but only if we fol- low them for their own sake and because of the sanctification which comes from them. But should anyone embrace virginity, because he detests marriage as impure, and keep himself chaste, and abstains from commerce with women and marriage, because he thinks that they are in themselves wicked, he is subjected by this canon to the penalty of anathema.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c. 5,, and again Dist. xxxi., c. ix.
IF any one of those who are living a virgin life for the Lord’s sake shall treat arrogantly the married, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon X.
Whoso treats arrogantly those joined in matrimony, let him be anathema.
On this point the fathers had spoken long before, I cite two as examples.
(Epist. I., 38, Lightfoot’s translation).
(So in our case let the whole body be saved in Christ Jesus, and let each man be subject unto his neighbour, according as also he was appointed with his special grace. Let not the strong neglect the weak; and let the weak respect the strong. Let the rich rain-later aid to the poor and let the poor give; thanks to God, because he hath given himone through whom his wants may be supplied. Let the wise display his wisdom, not in words, but in good works. He that is lowly in mind, let him not bear testimony to himself, but leave testimony to be borne to him by his neighbour. He that is pure in the flesh, let him be so,1 and not boast, knowing that it is Another who bestoweth his continence upon him. Let us consider, brethren, of what matter we were made; who and what manner of beings we were, when we came into the world; from what a sepulchre and what darkness he that moulded and created us brought us into his world, having prepared his benefits aforehand ere ever we were born. Seeing therefore that we have all these things from him, we ought in all things to give thanks to him, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Epist. ad Polyc. 5, Lightfoot’s translation).
Flee evil arts, or rather hold thou discourse about these, Tell my sisters to love the Lord and to be content with their husbands in flesh and in spirit. In like manner also charge my brothers in the name of Jesus Christ to love their wives, as the Lord loved the Church. If anyone is able to abide in chastity to the honour of the flesh of the Lord, let him so abide without boasting. If he boast, he is lost; and if it be known beyond the bishop, he is polluted. It becometh men and women, too, when they marry to unite themselves with the consent of the bishop, that the marriage may be after the Lord and not after concupiscence. Let all things be done to the honour of God.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XXX., c. iv.
IF anyone shall despise those who out of faith make love-feasts and invite the brethren in honour of the Lord, and is not willing to accept these invitations because he despises what is done, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XI.
Whoso spurns those who invite to the agape, and who when invited will not communicate with these, let him be anathema.
There are few subjects upon which there has been more difference of opinion than upon the history and significance of the Agape or Love-feasts of the Early Church. To cite here any writers would only mislead the reader, I shall therefore merely state the main outline of the discussion and leave every man to study the matter for himself.
All agree that these feasts are referred to by St. Jude in his Epistle, and, although Dean Plumptre has denied it (Smith and Cheetham, Dict., Christ. Antiq., S.V. Agapae), most writers add St. Paul in the First Epistle to the Corinthians 11,Estius (in loc). argues with great cogency that the expression “Lord’s Supper” in Holy Scripture never means the Holy Eucharist, but the love-feast, and in this view he has been followed by many moderns, but the prevalent opinion has been the opposite.
There is also much discussion as to the order in which the Agapae and the celebrations of the Holy Sacrament were related, some holding that the love-feast preceded others that it followed the Divine Mysteries. There seems no doubt that in early times the two became separated, the Holy Sacrament being celebrated in the morning and the Agapae in the evening.
All agree that these feasts were at first copies of the religious feasts common to the Jews and to the heathen world, and that soon abuses of one sort or another came in, so that they fell into ill repute and were finally prohibited at the Council in Trullo. This canon of Gangra is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xlii., c. i.
Van Espen is of opinion that the agapae of our canon have no real connexion with the religious feasts of earlier days, but were merely meals provided by the rich for the poor, and with this view Hefele agrees. But the matter is by no means plain. In fact at every point we are met with difficulties and uncertainties.
There would seem to be little doubt that the “pain beni” of the French Church, and the “Antidoron” of the Eastern Church are remains of the ancient Agapae.
The meaning, however, of this canon is plain enough, to wit, people must not despise, out of a false asceticism, feasts made for the poor by those of the faithful who are rich and liberal.1
IF any one, under pretence of asceticism, should wear a periboloeum and, as if this gave him righteousness, shall despise those who with piety wear the berus and use other common and customary dress, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII.
Whoso despises those who wear beruses, let him be anathema.
The bhvroi (lacernoe) were the common upper garments worn by men over the tunic; but the peribovlaia were rough mantles worn by philosophers to show their contempt for all luxury. Socrates (H. E., 2,43) and the Synodal Letter of Gangra in its third article say that Eustathius of Sebaste wore the philosopher’s mantle. But this canon in no way absolutely rejects a special dress for monks, for it is not the distinctive dress but the proud and superstitious over-estimation of its worth which the Synod here blames.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XXX., c. XV.
IF any woman, under pretence of asceticism, shall change her apparel and, instead of a woman’s accustomed clothing, shall put on that of a man, let her be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII.
Whatever women wear men’s clothes, anathema to them.
The synodal letter in its sixth article also speaks of this. Exchange of dress, or the adoption by one sex of the dress of the other, was forbidden in the Pentateuch (Dt xxii., 5), and was therefore most strictly interdicted by the whole ancient Church. Such change of attire was formerly adopted mainly for theatrical purposes, or from effeminacy, wantonness, the furtherance of unchastity, or the like. The Eustathians, from quite opposite and hyper-ascetical reasons, had recommended women to assume male, that is probably monk’s attire, in order to show that for them, as the holy ones, there was no longer any distinction of sex; but the Church, also from ascetical reasons, forbade this change of attire, especially when joined to superstition and puritanical pride.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c. vi.
IF any woman shall forsake her husband, and resolve to depart from him because she abhors marriage, let her be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
Women who keep away from their husbands because they abominate marriage, anathema to them.
This canon cannot in any way be employed in opposition to the practice of the Catholic Church. For though the Church allows one of a married couple, with the consent of the other, to give up matrimonial intercourse, and to enter the clerical order or the cloister, still this is not, as is the case with the Eustathians, the result of a false dogmatic theory, but takes place with a full recognition of the sanctity of marriage.
It would seem that the Eustathians chiefly disapproved of the use of marriage, and under pretext of preserving continence induced married women to abstain from its use as from something unlawful, and to leave their husbands, separating from them so far as the bed was concerned; and so the Greek interpreters understand this canon; for the Eustathians were never accused of persuading anyone to dissolve a marriage a vinculo.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist, xxx., c. iii., but in Isidore’s version, which misses the sense by implying that a divorce a vinculo is intended. The Roman Correctors do not note this error.
IF anyone shall forsake his own children and shall not nurture them, nor so far as in him lies, rear them in becoming piety, but shall neglect them, under pretence of asceticism, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.
Whosoever they be that desert their children and do not instruct them in the fear of God let them be anathema.
The fathers of this Synod here teach that it is the office and duty of parents to provide for the bodily care of their children, and also, as far as in them lies. to mould them to the practice of piety. And this care for their children is to be preferred by parents to any private exercises of religion. In this connexion should be read the letter of St. Francis de Sales. (Ep. xxxii, Lib. 4).
It may perhaps be noted that this canon has not infrequently been violated by those who are accepted as Saints in the Church.
This canon is found, in Isidore’s version, in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c. 14,
IF, under any pretence of piety, any children shall forsake their parents, particularly [if the parents are] believers, and shall withhold becoming reverence from their parents, on the plea that they honour piety more than them, let them be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVI.
If children leave their parents who are of the faithful let them be anathema.
Zonaras notes that the use of the word “particularly” shews that the obligation is universal. The commentators all refer here to St. Matthew xv., where our Lord speaks of the subterfuge by which the Jews under pretext of piety defrauded their parents and made the law of God of none effect.
Of the last clause this is the meaning; that according to the Eustathians “piety towards God” or “divine worship,” or rather its pretence, should be preferred to the honour and reverence due to parents.
This canon, in Isidore’s version, is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c.i. The Roman correctors advertize the reader that the version of Dionysius Exiguus “is much nearer to the original Greek, although not altogether so.”
IF any woman from pretended asceticism shall cut off her hair, which God gave her as the reminder of her subjection, thus annulling as it were the ordinance of subjection, let her be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVII.
Whatever women shave their hair off, pretending to do so out of reverence for God, let them be anathema.
The apostle Paul, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 11,10, represents the long hair of women, which is given them as a natural veil, as a token of their subjection to man. We learn from the Synod of Gangra, that as many Eustathian women renounced this subjection, and left their husbands, so, as this canon says, they also did away with their long hair, which was the outward token of this subjection. An old proverb says: duo si faciunt idem, non est idem. In the Catholic Church also, when women and girls enter the cloister, they have their hair cut off, but from quite other reasons than those of the Eustathian women. The former give up their hair, because it has gradually become the custom to consider the long hair of women as a special beauty, as their greatest ornament; but the Eustathians, like the ancient Church in general, regarded long hair as the token of subjection to the husband, and, because they renounced marriage and forsook their husbands, they cut it off.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c. ij.
IF any one, under pretence of asceticism, shall fast on Sunday, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVIII.
Whoso fasts on the Lord’s day or on the Sabbath let him be anathema.
Eustathius appointed the Lord’s day as a fast, whereas, because Christ rose from the grave and delivered human nature from sin on that day, we should spend it in offering joyous thanks to God. But fasting carries with it the idea of grief and sorrow. For this reason those who fast on Sunday are subjected to the punishment of anathema.
By many canons we are warned against fasting or grieving on the festal and joyous Lord’s day, in remembrance of the resurrection of the Lord; but that we should celebrate it and offer thanks to God, that we be raised from the fall of sin. But this canon smites the Eustathians with anathema because they taught that the Lord’s days should be fasted. Canon LXIV. of the Apostolic Canons cuts off such of the laity as shall so fast, and deposes such of the clergy. See also Canon LV. of the Council in Trullo.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c. vij.
IF any of the ascetics, without bodily necessity, shall behave with insolence and disregard the fasts commonly prescribed and observed by the Church, because of his perfect understanding in the matter, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIX.
Whoso neglects the fasts of the Church, let him be anathema.
I have followed Hefele’s translation of the last clause, with which Van Espen seems to agree, as well as Zonaras. But Hardouin and Mansi take an entirely different view and translate “if the Eustathian deliberately rejects the Church fasts.” Zonoras and Balsamon both refer to the LXIXth of the Apostolical Canons as being the law the Eustathians violated. Balsamon suggests that the Eustathians shared the error of the Bogomiles on the subject of fasting, but I see no reason to think that this was the case, Eustathius’s action seems rather to be attributable to pride, and a desire to be different and original, “I thank thee that I am not as other men are,” (as Van Espen points out). All that Socrates says (H. E. II., xliii). is that “he commanded that the prescribed fasts should be neglected, and that the Lord’s days should be fasted.”
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xxx., c. viii., in an imperfect translation but not that of either Isidore or Dionysius.
IF any one shall, from a presumptuous disposition, condemn and abhor the assemblies [in honour] of the martyrs, or the services performed there, and the commemoration of them, let him be anathema.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XX.
Whoever thinks lightly of the meetings in honour of the holy martyrs, let him be anathema.
Van Espen is of opinion that the Eustathians had generally rejected the common service as only fit for the less perfect, and that the martyr chapels are only mentioned here, because in old times service was usually held there. According to this view, no especial weight need be attached to the expression. But this canon plainly speaks of a disrespect shown by the Eustathians to the martyrs. Compare the twelfth article of the Synodal Letter. Fuchs thought that, as the Eustathians resembled the Aerians, who rejected the service for the dead, the same views might probably be ascribed to the Eustathians. But, in the first place, the Aerians are to be regarded rather as opposed than related in opinion to the Eustathians, being lax in contrast to these ultra-rigorists. Besides which, Epiphanius only says that they rejected prayer for the salvation of the souls of the departed, but not that they did not honour the martyrs; and there is surely a great difference between a feast in honour of a saint, and a requiem for the good of a departed soul. Why, however, the Eustathians rejected the veneration of martyrs is nowhere stated; perhaps because they considered themselves as saints, katAE ejxochvn, exalted above the martyrs, who were for the most part only ordinary Christians, and many of whom had lived in marriage, while according to Eustathian views no married person could be saved, or consequently could be an object of veneration.
Lastly, it must be observed that the first meaning of suvnaxi", is an assembly for divine service, or the service itself; but here it seems to be taken to mean sunagwghv the place of worship, so that the sunavxei" tw`n martuvrwn seems to be identical with martyria, and different from the leitourgivai held in them, of which the latter words of the canon speak.
These things we write, not to cut off those who wish to lead in the Church of God an ascetic life, according to the Scriptures; but those who carry the pretence of asceticism to superciliousness; both exalting themselves above those who live more simply, and introducing novelties contrary to the Scriptures and the ecclesiastical Canons. We do, assuredly, admire virginity accompanied by humility; and we have regard for continence, accompanied by godliness and gravity; and we praise the leaving of worldly occupations, [when it is made] with lowliness of mind; [but at the same time] we honour the holy companionship of marriage, and we do not contemn wealth enjoyed with uprightness and beneficence; and we commend plainness and frugality in apparel, [which is worn] only from attention, [and that] not over-fastidious, to the body; but dissolute and effeminate excess in dress we eschew; and we reverence the houses of God and embrace the assemblies held therein as holy and helpful, not confining religion within the houses, but reverencing every place built in the name of God; and we approve of gathering together in the Church itself for the common profit; and we bless the exceeding charities done by the brethren to the poor, according to the traditions of the Church; and, to sum up in a word, we wish that all things which have been delivered by the Holy Scriptures and the Apostolical traditions, may be observed in the Church.
This is lacking in the ancient epitome; and while it occurs after Canon XX. in the versions of Dionysius Exiguus and of Isidore Mercator, it is not numbered as a canon. Moreover in Jn of Antioch’s Collection and in Photius’s Nomocanon, the number of canons is said to be 20. Only the Greek Scholiasts number it as Canon XXI., but its genuineness is unquestioned.
It is curiously enough found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, divided into two canons! Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XXX., c. xvj., and Dist. xli., c. 5,
The Fathers of Gangra recognize not only the Holy Scriptures, but also the Apostolical traditions for the rule of morals.
From this [canon] it is by no means doubtful that the fathers of this Synod considered that the Eustathians had violated some already existing ecclesiastical canons. Beveridge is of opinion that these are those commonly called the Canons of the Apostles (Synod. I. 5). Nor is this unlikely to be true, for there can be no doubt that the doctrines of the Eustathians condemned by this synod are directly opposed to those very “Canons of the Apostles”; and no small argument is drawn for the authority and antiquity of the Canons of the Apostles from the large number of Eustathian teachings found to be therein condemned, as Beveridge has pointed out and as can easily be seen by comparing the two).
The Synod of Antioch in Encaeniis.
The Synodal Letter.
(Found in Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. II., col. 559. It really is no part the canons, but I have placed it here, because, as Labbe notes, “it is usually prefixed to the canons in the Greek.”)
The holy and most peaceful Synod which has been gathered together in Antioch from the provinces of Coele-Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Cilicia, and Isauria;1 to our like-minded and holy fellow Ministers in every Province, health in the Lord.
The grace and truth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ hath regarded the holy Church of the Antiochians, and, by joining it together with unity of mind and concord and the Spirit of Peace, hath likewise bettered many other things; and in them all this betterment is wrought by the assistance of the holy and peace-giving Spirit. Wherefore, that which after much examination and investigation, was unanimously agreed upon by us bishops, who coming out of various Provinces have met together in Antioch, we have now brought to your knowledge; trusting in the grace of Christ and in the Holy Spirit of Peace, that ye also will agree with us and stand by us as far as in you lies, striving with us in prayers, and being even more united with us, following the Holy Spirit, uniting in our definitions, and decreeing the same things as we; ye, in the concord which proceedeth of the Holy Spirit, sealing and confirming what has been determined.
Now the Canons of the Church which have been settled are hereto appended).
The Canons of the Blessed and Holy Fathers Assembled at Antioch in Syria.1
Whosoever, shall presume to set aside the decree of the holy and great Synod which was assembled at Nice in the presence of the pious Emperor Constantine, beloved of God, concerning the holy and salutary feast of Easter; if they shall obstinately persist in opposing what was [then] rightly ordained, let them be excommunicated and cast out of the Church; this is said concerning the laity. But if any one of those who preside in the Church, whether he be bishop, presbyter, or deacon, shall presume, after this decree, to exercise his own private judgment to the subversion of the people and to the disturbance of the churches, by observing Easter [at the same time] with the Jews, the holy Synod decrees that he shall thenceforth be an alien from the Church, as one who not only heaps sins upon himself, but who is also the cause of destruction and subversion to many; and it deposes not only such persons themselves from their ministry, but those also who after their deposition shall presume to communicate with them. And the deposed shall be deprived even of that external honour, of which the holy Canon and God’s priesthood partake.
Ancient Epitome of Canon I.
Whoso endeavours to change the lawful tradition of Easter, if he be a layman let him be excommunicated, but if a cleric let him be cast out of the Church.
The connexion between these canons of Antioch and the Apostolical Canons is so evident and so intimate that I shall note it, in each case, for the convenience of the student.
Zonaras and Balsamon both point out that from this first canon it is evident that the Council of Nice did take action upon the Paschal question, and in a form well known to the Church.
From this canon it appears that the fathers did not deem laymen deserving of excommunication who merely broke the decrees, but only those who “obstinately persist in opposing the decrees sanctioned and received by the Church; for by their refusal to obey they are attempting to overturn.” And this being the case, why should such not be repelled or cast forth from the Church as rebels?
Finally this Canon proves that not only bishops and presbyters, but also deacons were reckoned among them who, “preside in the Church.” An argument in favour of the opinion that the deacons of that time were entrusted with hierarchical functions.
It is curious that as a matter of fact the entire clergy and people of the West fell under the anathema of this canon in 1825, when they observed Easter on the same day as the Jews. This was owing to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, and this misfortune while that calendar is followed it is almost impossible to prevent.2
Compare Apostolic Canons; Canon VII.
All who enter the church of God and hear the Holy Scriptures, but do not communicate with the people in prayers, or who turn away, by reason of some disorder, from the holy partaking of the Eucharist, are to be cast out of the Church, until, after they shall have made confession, and having brought forth the fruits of penance, and made earnest entreaty, they shall have obtained forgiveness; and it is unlawful to communicate with excommunicated persons, or to assemble in private houses and pray with those who do not pray in the Church; or to receive in one Church those who do not assemble with another Church. And, if any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or any one in the Canon shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
Whoso comes to church, and attentively hears the holy Scriptures, and then despises, goes forth from, and turns his back upon the Communion, let him be cast out, until after having brought forth fruits of penance, he shall be indulged. And who-so communicates with one excommunicated, shall be excommunicated, and whoso prays with him who prays not with the Church is guilty, and even whoso receives him who does not attend the services of the Church is not without guilt.
In the Eighth and Ninth canons of the Apostles it is set forth how those are to be punished who will not wait for the prayers, and the holy Communion: So, too, in the Tenth canon provision is made with respect to those who communicate with the excommunicated. In pursuance of this the present canon provides that they are to be cut off who come to church and do not wait for the prayer, and through disorder [ajtaxivan1 will not receive the holy Communion; for such are to be cast out until with confession they shew forth worthy penance.
In this canon the Fathers refer to such as go to church but will not tarry to the prayer nor receive holy Communion, held back by some perversity or license, that is to say without any just cause, but petulantly, and by reason of some disorder ajtaxivan; these are forbidden to be expelled from the Church, that is to say cut off from the congregation of the faithful. But the Fathers call it a turning away from, not a hatred of the divine Communion, which holds them back from communion; a certain kind of flight from it, brought about perchance by reverence and lowliness of mind. Those who object to communicate by reason of hatred or disgust, such must be punished not with mere separation, but by an altogether absolute excommunication, and be cursed with anathema.It need hardly be remarked that this canon has no reference to such of the faithful as tarry to the end of the service and yet do not partake of the holy sacrament, being heldback by some good reason, recognized by the Church as such. It will be remembered that the highest grade of Penitents did this habitually, and that it was looked upon as a great privilege to be allowed to be present when the Divine Mysteries were performed, even though those assisting as spectators might not be partakers of them. What this canon condemns is leaving the Church before the service of the Holy Eucharist is done; this much is clear, the difficulty is to understand just why these particular people, against whom the canon is directed, did so. This canon should be compared with the Apostolic canons viii., ix., x., xj. xij. and xiij.
IF any presbyter or deacon, or any one whatever belonging to the priesthood, shall forsake his own parish, and shall depart, and, having wholly changed his residence, shall set himself to remain for a long time in another parish, let him no longer officiate; especially if his own bishop shall summon and urge him to return to his own parish and he shah disobey. And if he persist in his disorder, let him be wholly deposed from his ministry, so that no further room be left for his restoration. And if another bishop shall receive a man deposed for this cause, let him be punished by the Common Synod as one who nullifies the ecclesiastical laws).
Ancient Epitome of Canon III.
If any cleric leaves his own parish and goes off to another, travelling here and there, and stays for a long time in that other, let him not offer the sacrifice (leitourgeivtw), especially if he do not return when called by his own bishop. But if he perseveres in his insolence let him be deposed, neither afterwards let him have any flower to return. And if any bishop shall receive him thus deposed, he shall be punished by the Common Synod for breach of the ecclesiastical laws.
Compare with Canons of the Apostles 15,and xvi.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa VII., Quaest. I., Can. xxiv.1
IF any bishop who has been deposed by a synod, or any presbyter or deacon who has been deposed by his bishop shall presume to execute any part of the ministry, whether it be a bishop according to his former custom, or a presbyter, or a deacon, he shall no longer have any prospect of restoration in another Synod; nor any opportunity of making his defence; but they who communicate with him shall all be cast out of the Church, and particularly if they have presumed to communicate with the persons aforementioned, knowing the sentence pronounced against them.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
If a bishop deposed by a synod shall dare to celebrate the liturgy, let him have no chance of return.
This canon derives its chief interest from the fact that it is usually considered to have been adopted at the instigation of the party opposed to St. Athanasius and that afterwards it was used against St. Chrysostom. But while such may have been the secret reason why some voted for it and others prized it, it must be remembered that its provision is identical with that of the Apostolic Canons, and that it was read at the Council of Chalcedon as Canon eighty-three. Remi Ceillier (Histoire GenHistoire Gnoeral des Autheurs, p. 659) tries to prove that this is not the canon which St. Chrysostom and his friends rejected, but Hefele thinks his position “altogether untenable” (Hist. of the Councils, Vol. II., p. (62, n. 1), and refers to Tillemont (Memories, p. 329, Sur les Arians, and Fuchs’ Bib. der Kirchenversammlungen, P. II., p. 59.1 )
Compare Apostolic Canon xxviij.
This canon is found twice in the Juris Corpus Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XI., Quaest. III., Can. vj., and Can. vij. in the version of Martin Bracarensis. This version is very interesting as expanding the phrase “to execute any part of the ministry” into “to make the oblation, or to perform the morning or evening sacrifice as though he were in office just as before, etc.”
IF any presbyter or deacon, despising this own bishop, has separated himself from the Church, and gathered a private assembly, and set up an altar; and if, when summoned by Iris bishop, he shall refuse to be persuaded and will not obey, even though he summon him a first and a second time, let such an one be wholly deposed and have no further remedy, neither be capable of regaining his rank. And if he persist in troubling and disturbing the Church, let him be corrected, as a seditious person, by the civil power).
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
Any presbyter or deacon who spurns his bishop, and withdraws from him, and sets up another altar, if after being thrice called by the bishop, he shall persist in his arrogancy, let him be deposed and be deprived of all hope of restoration.
It will be noted that the Ancient Epitome mentions three warnings, and the canon only two. The epitome in this evidently follows the Apostolical Canon, number thirty-one. It is somewhat curious that Aristenus in commenting on this canon does not note the discrepancy.
This canon, together with the preceding was read from the Code of Canons at the Council of Chalcedon, at the Fourth Session in connexion with the ease of Carosus and Dorothoeus, and of other monks who adhered to them. And a sentence in accordance with them was conceived in these words against those who would not obey the Council in the condemnation of Eutyches, “Let them know that they together with the monks who are with them, are deprived of grade, and of all dignity, and of communion, as well as he, so that they cease to preside over their monasteries: and if they attempt to escape, this holy and universal great council decrees the same punishment shall attach to them, that is to say the external authority, according to the divine and holy laws of the Fathers, shall carry out the sentence passed against the contumacious.”
This canon shews that monks and clerics who were rebellious were sometimes coerced by the Secular Power, when the ecclesiastical power was not sufficient to coerce them, and hence it was that the secular arm was called in.Compare with this Apostolic Canon XXXI.
The last clause of this canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II. Causa XI., Quaest VIII. Can. vii. (The Latin however for “by the civil power” is, as is pointed out by the Roman Correctors, per forasticam potestatem or per forasticam potestatem.
IF any one has been excommunicated by his own bishop, let him not be received by others until he has either been restored by his own bishop, or until, when a synod is held, he shall have appeared and made his defence, and, having convinced the synod, shall have received a different sentence. And let this decree apply to the laity, and to presbyters and deacons, and all who are enrolled in the clergy-list.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.
The sentence of the greater synod upon a clerk excommunicated by his bishop, whether of acquittal or condemnation, shall stand.
Compare Apostolic Canons numbers XII.and XXXII.
This canon is found in the Corpus Jurisor Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XI., Quaest. III, Can. ij.
No stranger shall be received without letters pacifical.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
A traveller having no letter pacific with him is not to be received.
Comapare the Apostolic Canon number XXXIII For a discussion of the Letters styled pacifici, see notes on next canon.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. lxxi., c. 9,in Isidore’s version. The Roman Corectors the Apostolic note that Dionysius must have had a different reading from the Greek we know).
Let not country presbyters give letters canonical, or let them send such letters only to the neighbouring bishops. But the chorepiscopi of good report may give letters pacifical.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
A country presbyter is not to give canonical letters, or [at most] only to a neighbouring bishop.
These “letters canonical” were called in the West letters “formatoe,” and no greater proof of the great influence they had in the early days of the Church in binding the faithful together can be found than the fact that Julian the Apostate made an attempt to introduce something similar among the pagans of his empire.
“Commendatory letters” (ejpistolai; sustatikai;) are spoken of by St. Paul in 2Co 3,1, and the reader will find some interesting remarks on this and cognate subjects in J. J. Blunt’s, The Christian Church during the first three Centuries (Chapter II).
By means of these letters even the lay people found hospitality and care in every part of the world, and it was thrown up against the Donatists as a mark of their being schismatics that their canonical letters were good only among themselves.
Pseudo-Isidore informs us that it was stated at the Council of Chalcedon by Atticus, bishop of Constantinople, that it was agreed at the Council of Nice that all such letters should be marked II. Y. A. II. (i.e. Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and it is asserted (Herzog, Real-Encyk., s. 5, Literae Format, Real-Encyk., s. 5,Literae Formatae) that this form is found in German documents of the sixth century.
As will be seen among the Canons of Chalcedon, the old name, Letters Commendatory, is continued, but in this canon and in the 41st of Laodicea the expression “Canonical Letters” is used. In the West, at least, these letters received the episcopal seal of the diocese to avoid all possibility of imposture. Dean Plumptre (whom I am following very closely in this note) believes the earliest evidence of this use of the diocesan seal is in Augustine (Epist. 59,al. ccxvij). He also refers to Ducange, s. 5,Formatae.
As these letters admitted their bearers to communion they were sometimes called “Communion letters” (koinwnikai;), and are so described by St. Cyril of Alexandria; and by the Council of Elvira (canon xxv)., and by St. Augustine (Epist. 43,al. clxii).
The “Letters Pacifical” appear to have been of an eleemosynary character, so that the bearers of them obtained bodily help. Chalcedon in its eleventh canon ordains these “Letters pacifical” shall be given to the poor, whether they be clerics or laics. The same expression is used in the preceding canon of the synod.
A later form of ecclesiastical letter is that with which we are so familiar, the “letter dimissory.” This expression first occurs in Carom XVII. of the Council in Trullo. On this expression Suicer (Thesaurus, s. 5,ajpolutikh;) draws from the context the conclusion that “letters dimissory” were given only for permanent change of ecclesiastical residence, while, “letters commendatory” were given to those whose absence from their diocese was. only temporary.
IT behoves the bishops in every province to acknowledge the bishop who presides in the metropolis, and who has to take thought for the whole province; because all men of business come together from every quarter to the metropolis. Wherefore it is decreed that he have precedence in rank, and that the other bishops do nothing extraordinary without him, (according to the ancient canon which prevailed from [the times of] our Fathers) or such things only as pertain to their own particular parishes and the districts subject to them. For each bishop has authority over his own parish, both to manage it with the piety which is incumbent on every one, and to make provision for the whole district which is dependent on his city; to ordain prebysters and deacons; and to settle everything with judgment. But let him undertake nothing further without the bishop of the metropolis; neither the latter without the consent of the others).
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Bishops should bebound to opinion of the metropolitan, and nothing should they do without his knowledge except only such things as have reference to the diocese of each, and let them ordain men free from blame.
From this canon we see that causes of more importance and greater moment are to be considered in the Provincial Synod which consisted of the metropolitan and the other bishops of the province.
By the “ancient canon” of which mention is here made, there can scarcely be a doubt is intended the 34,of the Canons of the Apostles, since in it are read the same provisions (and almost in the same words) as here are set forth somewhat more at length; nor is there any other canon in which these, provisions are found earlier in date than this synod, wherefore from this is deduced a strong argument for the integrity of the Canons of the Apostles.
The wording of this canon should be compared with the famous sentence so often quoted of St. Irenseus. “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam [i.e. of Rome] propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse eat omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est, cos qui aunt undique fideles, in qua sempter ab his, qui aunt undique, conservata eat eaque est ab Apestolis traditio.”
(Is it not likely that in the lost Greek original the words translated convenire ad were (suntrevkein ejn? Vide on the meaning of cone venire ad, F. W. Puller, The Primitive Saints and the See of Rome, pp. 32 et seqq.
Compare Apostolic Canon XXXIV.
The Holy Synod decrees that persons in villages and districts, or those who are called chorepiscopi, even though they may have received ordination to the Episcopate, shall regard their own limits and manage the churches subject to them, and be content with the care and administration of these; but they may ordain readers, sub-deacons and exorcists, and shall be content with promoting these, but shall not presume to ordain either a presbyter or a deacon, without the consent of bishop of the city to which he and his district are subject. And if he shall dare to transgress [these] decrees, he shall be deposed from tile rank which he enjoys. And a chorepiscopus is to be appointed by the bishop of the city to which he is subject.
Ancient Epitome of Canon X
A chorepiscopus makes Exorcists, Lectors, Sub-deacons and Singers, but not a presbyter or a deacon without the bishop of the city. Who dares to transgress this law let him be deposed.The bishop of the city makes the chorpiscopus.
For the Minor Orders in the Early Church see the Excursus on the subject appended to Canon XXIV. of Laodicea.“Ordination to the episcopate.” In translating thus I have followed both Dionysius and Isidore. the former of whom translates “although they had received the impositionof tim hand of the bishop and had been consecreted bishops;” and the latter “althoughthey had received from bishops the imposition of the hand, and had been consecrated bishops.”:
There can be no doubt that the Chorepiscopi, the authority of whom is limited by tiffs canon, are supposed to be endowed with the episcopal character. Among the learned there is a controversy as to whether Chorepiscopi were true bishops by virtue of the ordination to that office, and endowed with the episcopal character or were only bishops when accidentally so. But whatever may be the merits of this controversy, there can be no doubt from the context of this canon that the Fathers of Antioch took it for granted that the chorepiscopi were time bishops by virtue of their ordination, but it is also evident that they were subject to the bishop of the greater city. It must also be noted that these chorepiscopi were not instituted by the canons of the Councils of Ancyra. NeoCaesarea, or even of Nice, for these speak of them and make their decrees as concerning something already existing.
And from the very limitations of this canon it is by no means obscure that the fathers of Antioch supposed these chorepiscopi to be real bishops, for otherwise even with the license of the bishop of the city they could not ordain presbyters or deacons.
IF any bishop, or presbyter, or any one whatever of the canon shall presume to betake himself to the Emperor without the consent and letters of the bishop of the province, and particularly of the bishop of the metropolis, such a one shall be publicly deposed and cast out, not only from communion, but also from the rank which he happens to have; inasmuch as he dares to trouble the ears of our Emperor beloved of God, contrary to the law of the Church. But, if necessary business shall. require any one to go to the Emperor, let him do it with the advice and consent of the metropolitan and other bishops in the province, and let him undertake his journey with letters from them.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XI.
A bishop or presbyter who (of his own motion and not at the bidding of the Metropolitan of the province goes to the Emperor shall be deprived both of communion and dignity.
This canon is one of those magnificent efforts which the early church made to check the already growing inclination to what we have in later times learned to call Erastianism. Not only did the State, as soon as it became Christian, interfere in spiritual matters at its own motion, but there were found bishops and others of the clergy who not being able to attain their ends otherwise, appealed to the civil power, usually to the Emperor himself, and thus the whole discipline of the Church was threatened, and the authority of spiritual synods set aside. How unsuccessful the Church often was in this struggle is only too evident from the remarks of the Greek commentator Balsamon on thisvery canon.
Kellner (Das Buss, und Strafversahren, p. 61) remarks with reference to this, that deposition is here treated as a heavier punishment than exclusion from communion, and therefore the latter cannot mean actual excommunication but only suspension.
IF any presbyter or deacon deposed by his own bishop, or any bishop deposed by a synod, shall dare to trouble the ears of the Emperor, when it is his duty to submit his case to a greater synod of bishops, and to refer to more bishops the things which he thinks right, and to abide by the examination and decision made by them; if, despising these, he shall trouble the Emperor, he shall be entitled to no pardon, neither shall he have an opportunity of defence, nor any hope of future restoration.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII.
One deposed, if he shall have troubled the Emperor, shall seek the greater synod, and submit to its decree. But if he again misbehave himself, he shall not have any chance of restoration.
It is usually supposed that this canon, as well as the fourth, and the fourteenth and fifteenth, was directed against St. Athanasius, and it was used against St. Chrysostom by his enemies. Vide Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, Book II., Chapter viii., and Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History, Book III., chapter 5,; also ibid. Book VII., chapter xx.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XXI., Quest. V., Can. ij., in Isidore’s Version).
No bishop shall presume to pass from one province to another, and ordain persons to the dignity of the ministry in the Church, not even should he have others with him, unless he should go at the written invitation of the metropolitan and bishops into whose country he goes. But if he should, without invitation, proceed irregularly to the ordination of any, or to the regulation of ecclesiastical affairs which do not concern him, the things done by him are null, and he himself shall suffer the due punishment of his irregularity and his unreasonable undertaking, by being forthwith deposed by the holy Synod.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII.
If without invitation a bishop shall go into another province, and shall ordain, and administer affairs, what he does shall be void and he himself The Roman Correctors are not satisfied withshall be deposed.
Compare with this Apostolic Canon xxxv.; also canon 22,of this same synod.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa ix., Quaest. II., Can. vj. in the Versio Prisca. The Roman Correctors are not satisfied with it, however, nor with any version and give the Greek text, to which they add an accurate translation.
IF a bishop shall be tried on any accusations, and it should then happen that the bishops of the province disagree concerning him, some pronouncing the accused innocent, and others guilty; for the settlement of all disputes, the holy Synod decrees that the metropolitan call on some others belonging to the neighbouring province, who shall add their judgment and resolve the dispute, and thus, with those of the province, confirm what is determined.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
If the bishops of the province disagree among themselves as to an accused bishop, that the controversy may be certainly settled, let other neighbouring bishops be called in.
When any bishop shall have been condemned with unanimous consent by all the bishops of the province, the condemnation cannot be called into doubt, as this synod has set forth in its fourth canon. But if all the bishops are not of the same mind, but some contend that he should be condemned and others the contrary, then other bishops may by called in by the metropolitan from the neighbouring provinces, and when their votes are added to one or other of the parties among the bishops, then controversy should be brought to a close. This also is the law of the Synod of Sardica, canons 3,and 5,
Every bishop accused of crimes should be judged by his own synod, but if the bishops of the province differ, some saying that he is innocent and some that he is guilty, the metropolitan can call other bishops from a neighbouring province that they may solve the controversy agitated by the bishops.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa vi., Quaest. iv., can. j. The Roman Correctors note that the Latin translation implies that the neighbouring metropolitan is to be invited and say, “But, in truth, it hardly seems fitting that one metropolitan should come at the call of another, and that there should be two metropolitans in one synod.”
IF any bishop, lying under any accusation, shall be judged by all the bishops in the province, and all shall unanimously deliver the same verdict concerning him, he shah not be again judged by others, but the unanimous sentence of the bishops of the province shall stand firm).
Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.
If all the bishops of a province agree with regard to a bishop already sentenced, a new trial shall not be granted him.
By the phrase “by others” must be understood bishops called from a neighbouring province, of which mention is made in the previous canon, where in the case of an agreement among the bishops, the synod did not wish to be called in, even if it were demanded by the condemned bishop. This canon, therefore, is a supplement as it were to the preceding. And for this reason in the Breviarium and in Cresconius’s Collection of Canons they are placed under a common title, cap. 144, “Concerning the difference of opinion which happens in the judgment of bishops, or when a bishop is cut off by all the bishops of his province.”
From these canons it is manifest that at first the causes of bishops were agitated and decided in provincial synods, and this discipline continued for many centuries, and was little by little departed from in the VIIIth and IXth centuries.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa VI., Quaest. IV., Can. 5,Gratian adds a note which Van Espen remarks smacks of his own date rather than of that of the Synod of Antioch.
IF any bishop without a see shall throw himself upon a vacant church and seize its throne, without a full synod, he shall be cast out, even if all the people over whom he has usurped jurisdiction should choose him. And that shall be [accounted] a full synod, in which the metropolitan is present.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVI.
Whoever without the full synod and without theMetropolitan Council, shall go over to a vacant church, even if he has no position, he shall be ejected.
This, together with the following canon, was recited by Bishop Leontius in the Council of Chalcedon, from the book of the canons,in which this is called the 95th and the following the 96th, according to the order observed in that book of the canons.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XCII., Can. 8,in Isidore’s version, and the Roman Correctors note its departure from the original.
IF any one having received the ordination of a bishop, and having been appointed to preside over a people, shall not accept his ministry, and will not be persuaded to proceed to the Church entrusted to him, he shall be excommunicated until he, being constrained, accept it, or until a full synod of the bishops of the province shall have determined concerning. him.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVII.
Whoso has received orders and abandoned them let him be excommunicated, until he shall have repented and been received.
If any one called to the rule of the people refuse to undertake that office and ministry, let him be removed from communion, that is separated, until he accept the position. But should he persist in his refusal, he can by no means be absolved from his separation, unless perchance the full synod shall take some action in his case. For it is possible that he may assign reasonable causes why he should be excused from accepting the prelature of- fered him, reasons which would meet with the approbation of the synod.
Balsamon explains the canon in the same sense and adds that by “ordination” here is intended ordination proper, not merely election, as some have held.
Compare with this Apostolic Canon XXXVI.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XCII., C. 7,The Roman Correctors note that Dionysius’s version is nearer the Greek.
IF any bishop ordained to a parish shall not proceed to the parish to which he has been ordained, not through any fault of his own, but either because of the rejection of the people, or for any other reason not arising from himself, let him enjoy his rank and ministry; only he shall not disturb the affairs of the Church which he joins; and he shall abide by whatever the full synod of the province shall determine, after judging the ease.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVIII.
Let a bishop ordained but not received by his city have his part of the honour, and offer the liturgy only, waiting for the synod of the province to give judgment.
In canon xvij. the fathers punished him who when ordained could not be persuaded to go to the church to which he was assigned. In the present canon they grant pardon to him who is willing to take the charge of the diocese, for which he was consecrated, but is prevented from doing so by the impudence of the people or else by the incursions of the infidel; and therefore they allow him to enjoy, in whatever province he may happen to be, the honour due his rank, viz., his throne, his title, and the exercise of the episcopal office, with the knowledge and consent of the bishop of the diocese. He must not, however, meddle will, the affairs of the church of which he is a guest, that is to say he must not teach, nor ordain, nor perform any episcopal act without the consent of the bishop of the diocese; but he must observe quiet, until he learns what he ought to do by the determination of the full Synod.
Aristenus explains that by keeping quiet is intended that he should not “use any military help or other power.”
This canon is found twice in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. xcii., c. 4,and 5,; in the versions of Martin Bracarensis and of Dionysius.
A Bishop shall not be ordained without a synod and the presence of the metropolitan of the province. And when he is present, it is by all means better that all his brethren in the ministry of the Province should assemble together with him; and these the metropolitan ought to invite by letter. And it were better that all should meet; but if this be difficult, it is indispensable that a majority should either be present or take part by letter in the election, and that thus the appointment should be made in the presence, or with the consent, of the majority; but if it should be done contrary to these decrees, the ordination shall be of no force. And if the appointment shall be made according to the prescribed canon, and any should object through natural love of contradiction, the decision of the majority shall prevail.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIX.
If there be no synod and metropolitan, let there be no bishop. If on account of some difficulty all do not meet together, at least let the greater number, or let them give their assent by letter. But if after the affair is all settled a few are contentious, let the vote of the majority stand firm).
In the first place it must be noted that by “ordination” in this place is meant election, and the laying on of the bishop’s hand.
The method of choosing a bishop is laid down in the canons of Nice, number iv., but the present canon adds the provision that an election which takes place in violation of the provisions of this decree is null and invalid: and that when those who are electing are divided in opinion as to whom to choose, the votes of the majority shall prevail. But when you hear this canon saying that there should be no election without the presence of the Metropolitan, you must not say that he ought to be present at an election (for this was prohibited, as is found written in other canons) but rather say that his presence here is a permission or persuasion, without which no election could take place.
Compare Apostolic Canon number j.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. LXV., can. iij. Gratian has chosen Isidore’s version, and the Roman Correctors point out that Dionysius’ is preferable.
With a view to the good of the Church and the settlement of disputes, it is decreed to be well that synods of the bishops, (of which the metropolitan shall give notice to the provincials), should be held in every province twice a year, one after the third week of the feast of Easter, so that the synod may be ended in the fourth week of the Pentecost; and the second on the ides of October which is the tenth [or fifteenth] day of the month Hyperberetaeus; so that presbyters and deacons, and all who think themselves unjustly dealt with, may resort to these synods and obtain the judgment of the synod. But it shall be unlawful for any to hold synods by themselves without those who are entrusted with the Metropolitan Sees.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XX.
On account of ecclesiastical necessities the synod in every province shall meet twice a year, in the fourth week of Pentecost and on the tenth day of Hyperbereoeus.
Schelestratius (Cit. Van Espen).
The time fixed by the Council of Nice before Lent for the meeting of the synod was not received in the East, and the bishops kept on in the old custom of celebrating the council in the fourth week after Easter, for the time before Lent often presented the greatest difficulties for those in the far separated cities to come to the provincial metropolis.
In this canon the decree of Nice in canon 5,is renewed, but with this difference that the Nicene synod orders one synod to be held before Lent, but this synod that it should be held the fourth week after Easter.
It will be remembered that the whole period of the great fifty days from Easter to Whitsunday was known as “Pentecost.”
Compare with this Apostolic Canon number XXXVII.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XVIII., c. xv., attributed to a council held by Pope Martin. The Roman Correctors point out that this “Pope Martin” was a bishop of Braga (Bracarensis) from whose collection of the decrees of the Greek synods Gratian often quotes; the Correctors also note, “For bishops in old times were usually called Popes” (Antiquitus enim episcopi Papoe dicebantur).
A Bishop may not be translated from one parish to another, either intruding himself of his own suggestion, or under compulsion by the people, or by constraint of the bishops; but he shall remain in the Church to which he was allotted by God from the beginning, and shall not be translated from it, according to the decree formerly passed on the subject.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXI.
A bishop even if compelled by the people, and compelled by the bishops, must not be translated to another diocese.
See the treatment of the translation of bishops in the Excursus to canon 15,of Nice. Compare this canon with Apostolical Canon number xiv.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa VII., Quaest. I., can. xxv., from Isidore’s version.
Let not a bishop go to a strange city, which is not subject to himself, nor into a district which does not belong to him, either to ordain any one, or to appoint presbyters or deacons to places within the jurisdiction of another bishop, unless with the consent of the proper bishop of the place. And if any one shall presume to do any such thing, the ordination shall be void, and he himself shall be punished by the synod.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXII.
A bishop shall not go from city to city ordaining people, except by the will of the bishop of the city: otherwise the ordination shall be without force, and he himself exposed to censure.
If we do not draw a rash conclusion, we should say that the interference of bishops in dioceses not their own, must have been very frequent in early days. This one synod enacted two canons (number XIII. and this present canon) on the subject. The same prohibition is found in canons XIV. and XXXV. of the Apostolic canons, in canon XV. of Nice, canon ij. of I. Constantinople and in many others. On account of the similarity of this canon to canon xiii. some have supposed it to be spurious, the enactment of some other synod, and this was the opinion of Godefrides Hermantius (Vita S. Athanasii, Lib. IV., cap. xij). as well as of Alexander Natalis (Hist. Sec., IV., Dissert. xxv).. Van Espen, however, is of opinion that the two canons do not cover exactly the same ground, for he says Canon XIII. requires letters both from the Metropolitan and from the other bishops of the province, while this canon XXII. requires only the consent of the diocesan. He concludes that Canon XIII. refers to a diocese sede vacante, when the Metropolitan with the other bishops took care of the widowed church, but that Canon XXII. refers to a diocese with its own bishop, whose will is all that is needed for the performance of episcopal acts by another bishop. And this distinction Schelestratius makes still more evident by his discussion of the matter in his scholion on Canon XIII.
Compare with this canon of the Apostolic Canons number XXXV. also number XIV.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa IX., Quaest. II., can. vij., but in a form differing far from the Greek original, as the Roman Correctors point out; and even Gratian’s present text is not as he wrote it, but amended.
IT shall not be lawful for a bishop, even at the close of life, to appoint another as successor to himself; and if any such thing should be done, the appointment shall be void. But the ecclesiastical law must be observed, that a bishop must not be appointed otherwise than by a synod and with tile judgment of the bishops, who have the authority to promote tile man who is worthy, after the falling asleep of him who has ceased from his labours.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXIII.
A dying bishop shall not appoint another bishop. But when he is dead a worthy successor shall be provided by a synod ofthose who have this power.
Nothing could be more important than the provision of this canon. It is evidently intended to prevent nepotism in every form, and to leave the appointment to the vacant see absolutely to the free choice of the Metropolitan and his synod. The history of the Church, and its present practice, is a curious commentary upon the ancient legislation, and the appointment of coadjutor bishops cure jure successionis, so common in later days, seems to be a somewhat ingenious way of escaping the force of the canon. Van Espen, however, reminds his readers of the most interesting case of St. Augustine of Hippo (which he himself narrates in his Epistle CCXIII). of how he was chosen by his predecessor as bishop of Hippo, both he and the then bishop being ignorant of the fact that it was prohibited by the canons. And how when in his old age the people wished him to have one chosen bishop to help him till his death and to succeed him afterwards, he declined saying: “What was worthy of blame in my own case, shall not be a blot likewise upon my son.” He did not hesitate to say who he thought most worthy to succeed him, but he added, “he shall be a presbyter, as he is, and when God so wills he shall be a bishop.” Van Espen adds; “All this should be read carefully that thence may be learned how St. Augustine set an example to bishops and pastors of taking all the pains possible that after their deaths true pastors, and not thieves and wolves, should enter into their flocks, who in a short time would destroy all they had accomplished by so much labour in so long a time.” (Cf. Eusebius). H. E., Lib. VI., cap. xj. and car. xxxij).
Compare Apostolic Canon number LXXVI.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa VIII., Quaest. I., can. III., in Dionysius’s version, and again Canon IV. in that of Martin Bracarensis.
IT is right that what belongs to the Church be preserved with all care to the Church, with a good conscience and faith in God, the inspector and judge of all. And these things ought to be administered under the judgment and authority of the bishop, who is entrusted with the whole people and with the souls of the congregation. But it should be manifest what is church property, with the knowledge of the presbyters and deacons about him; so that these may know assuredly what things belong to the Church, and that nothing be concealed from them, in order that, when the bishop may happen to depart this life, the property belonging to the Church being well known, may not be embezzled nor lost, and in order that the private property of the bishop may not be disturbed on a pretence that it is part of the ecclesiastical goods. For it is just and well-pleasing to God and man that the private property of the bishop be bequeathed to whomsoever he will, but that for the Church be kept whatever belongs to the Church; so that neither the Church may suffer loss, nor the bishop be injured under pretext of the Church’s interest, nor those who belong to him fall into lawsuits, and himself, after his death, be brought under reproach.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXIV.
All the clergy should be cognizant of ecclesiastical matters; so that when the bishop dies the Church may preserve her own goods; but what belongs to the bishop shall be disposed of according to his directions.
This canon shews the early discipline according to which the presbyters and deacons of the episcopal city, who were said to be “about him” or to pertain to his chair, represented the senate of the church, who together with the bishop administered the church affairs, and, when the see was vacant, had the charge of it. All this Martin of Braga sets forth more clearly in his version, and I have treated of the matter at large in my work on Ecclesiastical Law, Pars I., Tt viii., cap. i., where I have shewn that the Cathedral chapter succeeded to this senate of presbyters and deacons.
Compare with this canon Apostolical Canon XL.
This canon in a somewhat changed form is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XII., Quaest. I., can. xx., and attributed to “Pope Martin’s Council”; also compare with this the ensuing canon, number XXI).
Let the bishop have power over the funds of the Church, so as to dispense them with all piety and in the fear of God to all who need. And if there be occasion, let him take what he requires for his own necessary uses and those of his brethren sojourning with him, so that they may in no way lack, according to the divine Apostle, who says, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content.” And if he shall not be content with these, but shall apply the funds to his own private uses, and not manage the revenues of the Church, or the rent of the farms, with the consent of the presbyters and deacons, but shall give the authority to his own domestics and kinsmen, or brothers, or sons, so that the accounts of the Church are secretly injured, he himself shall submit to an investigation by the synod of the province. But if, on the other hand, the bishop or his presbyters shall be defamed as appropriating to themselves what belongs to the Church, (whether from lands or any other ecclesiastical resources), so that the poor are oppressed, and accusation and infamy are brought upon the account and on those who so administer it, let them also be subject to correction, the holy synod determining what is right.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXV.
The bishop shall have power over ecclesiastical goods. But should he not be content with those things which are sufficient for him but shall alienate the goods and revenues of the church, without the advice of the clergy, penalties shall be I exacted from him in the presence of the synod. But if he has converted to his own uses what was given for the poor, of this also let him give an explanation to the synod.
Compare with this canon Apostolic Canon number XLI.
This Canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XII., Quaest I., can. XXIII. and with this should be compared canon XXII. immediately preceding.
At the end of this canon in Labbe’s version of Dionysius we find these words added. “And thirty bishops signed who were gathered together at this Synod.” Isidore Mercator has a still fuller text, viz.: “I, Eusebius, being present subscribe to all things constituted by this holy Synod. Theodore, Nicetas, Macedonius, Anatolius, Tarcodimantus, Aethe-reus, Narcissus, Eustachius, Hesychius, Mauricius, Paulus, and the rest, thirty bishops agreed and signed.” Van Espen after noting that this addition is not found in the Greek, nor in Martin Bracarensis, adds “there is little probability that this clause is of the same antiquity as the canons.”
Synod of Laodicea.
The Laodicea at which the Synod met is Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, also called Laodicea ad Lycum, and to be carefully distinguished from the Laodicea in Syria. This much is certain, but as to the exact date of the Synod there is much discussion. Peter de Marca fixed it at the year 365, but Pagi in his Critica on Baronius’s Annals1 seems to have overthrown the arguments upon which de Marca rested, and agrees with Gothofred in placing it circa 363. At first sight it would seem that the Seventh Canon gave a clue which would settle the date, inasmuch as the Photinians are mentioned, and Bishop Photinus began to be prominent in the middle of the fourth century and was anathematized by the Eusebians in a synod at Antioch in 344, and by the orthodox at Milan in 345; and finally, after several other condemnations, he died in banishment in 366. But it is not quite certain whether the word “Photinians” is not an interpolation. Something with regard to the date may perhaps be drawn from the word Pakatianh`" as descriptive of Phrygia, for it is probable that this division was not yet made at the time of the Sardican Council in 343. Hefele concludes that “Under such circumstances, it is best, with Remi Ceillier, Tillemont, and others, to place the meeting of the synod of Laodicea generally somewhere between the years 343 and 381, i.e., between the Sardican and the Second Ecumenical Council—and to give up the attempt to discover a more exact date.”2
But since the traditional position of the canons of this Council is after those of Antioch and immediately before those of First Constantinople, I have followed this order. Such is their position in “very many old collections of the Councils which have had their origin since the sixth or even in the fifth century,” says Hefele. It is true that Matthew Blastares places these canons after those of Sardica, but the Quinisext Synod in its Second Canon and Pope Leo IV., according to the Corpus Juris Canonici,3 give them the position which they hold in this volume).
The Canons of the Synod Held in the City of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana
In Which Many Blessed Fathers from Divers Provinces of Asia Were Gathered Together.1
The holy synod which assembled at Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, from divers regions of Asia; set forth the ecclesiastical definitions which are hereunder annexed.
This brief preface, by some ancient collector, is found in the printed editions of Zonaras and of Balsamon and also in the Amerbachian manuscript.
IT is right, according to the ecclesiastical Canon, that the Communion should by indulgence be given to those who have freely and lawfully joined in second marriages, not having previously made a secret marriage; after a short space, which is to be spent by them in prayer and fasting.
Ancient Epitome of Canon I.
A digamist not secretly married, after devoting himself for a short time to praying shall be held blameless afterwards.
Many synods imposed a penance upon digamists, although the Church never condemned second marriages.
On this whole subject of second marriages see notes on Canon VIII. of Nice, on Canons III. and VII. of NeoCaesarea, and on Canon XIX. of Ancyra. In treating of this canon Hefele does little but follow Van Espen, who accepts Bishop Beveridge’s conclusions in opposition to Justellus and refers to him, as follows, “See this observation of Justellus’ refuted more at length by William Beveridge in his notes on this canon,” and Bp. Beveridge adopted and defended the exposition of the Greek commentators, viz.: there is some fault and some punishment, they are to be held back from communion for “a short space,” but after that, it is according to the law of the Church that they should be admitted to communion. The phrase “not having previously made a secret marriage” means that there must not have been intercourse with the woman before the second marriage was “lawfully” contracted, for if so the punishment would have been for fornication, and neither light nor for “a short space.” The person referred to in the canon is a real digamist and not a bigamist, this is proved by the word “lawfully” which could not be used of , the second marriage of a man who already had a living wife.
They who have sinned in divers particulars, if they have persevered in the prayer of confession and penance, and are wholly converted from their faults, shall be received again to communion, through the mercy and goodness of God, after a time of penance appointed to them, in proportion to the nature of their offence.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
Those who have fallen unto various faults and have confessed them with compunction, and done the penance suitable to them, shall be favourably received).
Van Espen and others were of opinion that this canon treated only of those who had themselves been guilty of various criminal acts, and it has been asked whether any one guilty not only of one gross sin, but of several of various kinds, might also be again received into communion. It seems to me, however, that this canon with the words, “those who have sinned in divers particulars,” simply means that “sinners of various kinds shall be treated exactly in proportion to the extent of their fall.” That the question is not necessarily of different sins committed by the same person appears from the words, “in proportion to the nature of their offence,” as the singular, not the plural, is here used.
But Van Espen, with Aubespine, is clearly right in not referring the words, “if they persevere in confession and repentance,” to sacramental confession, to which the expression. “persevere” would not be well suited. Here is evidently meant the oft-repeated contrite confession before God and the congregation in prayer of sins committed, which preceded sacramental confession and absolution.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars II., Causa XXVI., Quest. 7,, can. iv.
HE who has been recently baptized ought not to be promoted to the sacerdotal order.
Ancient Epitome of Canon III.
A neophite is not ordainable.
This rule is laid down in the Second Nicene canon. Balsamon also compares Apostolic Canon lxxx.
Notwithstanding this provision, that great light, Nectarius, just separated from the flock of the catechumens, when he had washed away the sins of his life in the divine font, now pure himself, he put on the most pure dignity of the episcopate, and at the same time became bishop of the Imperial City, and president of the Second Holy Ecumenical Synod.
They who are of the sacerdotal order ought not to lend and receive usury, nor what is called hemioliae.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IV.
A priest is not to receive usury nor hemiolioe.
The same rule is laid down in the seventeenth Canon of Nice. For a treatment of the whole subject of usury see excursus to that canon.
Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore have numbered this canon 5,, and our fifth they have as iv.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XLVI., can. ix.
Ordinations are not to be held in the presence of hearers.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
Ordinations are not to be performed in the presence of hearers.
This canon calls elections “laying on of hands,” and says that since in elections un- worthy things are often said with regard to those who are elected, therefore they should not take place in the presence of any that might happen to come to hear.
Zonaras also agrees that election is here intended, but Aristenus dissents and makes the reference to ordinations properly so-called, as follows:
The prayers of ordination are not to be said out loud so that they may be heard by the people.
IT is not permitted to heretics to enter the house of God while they continue in heresy.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VI.
The holy place is forbidden to heretics.
Heretics are not to be permitted to enter the house of God, and yet Basil the Great, before this canon was set forth, admitted Valens to the perfecting of the faithful [i.e., to the witnessing the celebration of the Divine Mysteries].
A heretic who pertinaciously rejects the doctrine of the Church is rightly not allowed to enter the house of God, in which his doctrine is set forth, so long as he continues in his heresy. For this reason when Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria, was consulted concerning the admission of heretics to church, answered in the IXth Canon of his Canonical Epistle, that unless they were ready to promise to do penance and to abandon their heresy, they could in no way be admitted to the prayers of tile faithful.
Contrast with this Canon lxxxiv., of the so-called IVth Council of Carthage, a.d. 398.
Persons converted from heresies, that is, of the Novatians, Photinians, and Quartodecimans, whether they were catechumens or communicants among them, shall not be received until they shall have anathematized every heresy, and particularly that in which they were held; and afterwards those who among them were called communicants, having thoroughly learned the symbols of the faith, and having been anointed with the holy chrism, shall so communicate in the holy Mysteries.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII.
Novatians and Photinians, and Quartodecimans, unless they anathemathize their own and other heresies, are not to be received. When they have been anointed, after their abjuration, let them communicate.
I have allowed the word “Photinians” to stand in the text although whether it is not an interpolation is by no means certain. They certainly were heretical on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and therefore differed from the other dissidents mentioned in the canon, all of whom were orthodox on this matter. It is also worthy of note that the word is not found in Ferrandus’s Condensation (Breviatio Canonum, n. 177) nor in Isidore’s version. Moreover there is a Latin codex in Lucca, and also one in Paris (as is noted by Mansi, v. 585; ij. 591) in which it is lacking. It was rejected by Baronius, Binius, and Remi Ceillier.
The word “Catechumens” is wanting in many Greek mss. but found in Balsamon, moreover, Dionysius and Isidore had it in their texts.
This canon possesses a great interest and value to the student from a different point of view. Its provisions, both doctrinal and disciplinary, are in contrariety with the provisions of the council held at Carthage in the time of St. Cyprian, and yet both these canons, contradictory as they are, are accepted by the Council in Trullo and are given such ecumenical authority as canons on discipline ever can possess, by the Seventh Ecumenical. This is not the only matter in which the various conciliar actions adopted and ratified do not agree inter se, and from this consideration it would seem evident that it was not intended that to each particular of each canon of each local synod adopted, the express sanction of the Universal Church was given, but that they were received in block as legislation well calculated for the good of the Church. And that this must have been the understanding at tile time is evinced by the fact that while the Trullan canons condemned a number of Western customs and usages, as I shall have occasion to point out in its proper place, no objection was made by the Roman legates to the canon of the Seventh Ecumenical which received them as authoritative.
Persons converted from the heresy of those who are called Phrygians, even should they be among those reputed by their as clergymen, and even should they be called the very chiefest, are with all care to be both instructed and baptized by the bishops and presbyters of the Church.
Ancient Epitome of Canon VIII.
When Phrygians return they are to be baptized anew, even if among them they were reckoned clergymen.
This synod here declares the baptism of the Montanists invalid, while in the preceding canon it recognised as valid the baptism of the Novatians and Quartodecimans. From this, it would appear that the Montanists were suspected of heresy with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. Some other authorities of the ancient Church, however, judged differently, and for a long time it was a question in the Church whether to consider the baptism of the Montanists valid or not. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria was in favour of its validity: but this Synod and the Second General Council rejected it as invalid, not to mention the Synod of Iconium 235, which declared all heretical baptism invalid. This uncertainty of the ancient Church is accounted for thus: (a) On one side the Montanists, and especially Tertullian, asserted that they held the same faith and sacraments, especially the same baptism (eadem lavacri sacramenta) as tile Catholics. St. Epiphanius concurred in this, and testified that the Montanists taught the same regarding the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as did the Catholic Church. (b) Other Fathers, however, thought less favourably of them, and for this reason, that the Montanists often expressed themselves so ambiguously, that they might, nay, must be said completely to identify the Holy Ghost with Montanus. Thus Tertullian in quoting expressions of Montanus, actually says: “the Paraclete speaks”; and therefore Firmilian, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil the Great, and other Fathers, did in fact, reproach the Montanists with this identification, and consequently held their baptism to be invalid. (c) Basil the Great goes to the greatest length in this direction in maintaining that the Montanists had baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of Montanus and Priscilla. But it is very probable, as Tillemont conjectured, that Basil only founded these strange stories of their manner of baptizing upon his assumption that they identified Montanus with the Holy Ghost; and, as Baronius maintains, it is equally “probable that the Montanists did not alter the form of baptism. But, even admitting all this, their ambiguous expressions concerning Montanus and the Holy Ghost would alone have rendered it advisable to declare their baptism invalid.” (d) Besides this, a considerable number of Montanists, namely, the school of Aeschines, fell into Sabellianism, and thus their baptism was decidedly invalid. (Vide Article in Wetzer and Welte Kirchenlexicon s. 5,Montanus; by myself [i.e. Hefele] ).
In conclusion, it must be observed that Balsamon and Zonaras rightly understood the words in our text, “even though they be called the very chiefest,” “though they be held in the highest esteem,” to refer to the most distinguished clergy and teachers of the Montanists).
The members of the Church are not allowed to meet in the cemeteries, nor attend the so-called martyries of any of the heretics, for prayer or service; but such as so do, if they be communicants, shall be excommunicated for a time; but if they repent and confess that they have sinned they shall be received.
Ancient Epitome of Canon IX.
Whoso prayeth in the cemeteries and martyries of heretics is to be excommunicated.
By the word “service” (qerapeiva") in this canon is to be understood the healing of sickness. The canon wishes that the faithful should under no pretence betake themselves to the prayers of heretical pseudo-martyrs nor pay them honour in the hope of obtaining the healing of sickness or the cure of their various temptations. And if any do so, they are to be cut off, that is for a time forbidden communion (and this refers to the faithful who are only laymen), but when they have done penance and made confession of their fault, the canon orders that they are to be received back again.
As canon 6,forbids heretics to enter the house of God, so this canon forbids the faithful to go to the cemeteries of heretics, which are called by them “Martyries.” ... For in the days of the persecution, certain of the heretics, calling themselves Christians, suffered even to death, and hence those who shared their opinions called them “martyrs.”
As Catholics had their martyrs, so too had the heretics, and especially the Montanists or Phrygians, who greatly boasted of them. Apollinaris writes of these as may be seen in Eusebius (H. E., Lib. 5,, cap. xvj).
The places or cemeteries in which rested the bodies of those they boasted of as martyrs, they styled “Martyries” (martyria) as similar places among Catholics were wont to be called by the same name, from the bones of the martyrs that rested there.
From the Greek text, as also from Isidore’s version it is clear that this canon refers to all the faithful generally, and that “the members of the Church” (Lat. Ecclesiastici, the word Dionysius uses) must be taken in this wide signification.
The members of the Church shall not indiscriminately marry their children to heretics.
Ancient Epitome of Canon X.
Thou shalt not marry a heretic.
(Bib. der Kirchenvers., pt. ii., p. 324). “Indiscriminately” means not that they might be given in marriage to some heretics and not to others; but that it should not be considered a matter of indifference whether they were married to heretics or orthodox.
Zonaras and Balsamon, led astray by the similar canon enacted at Chalcedon (number xiv)., suppose this restriction only to apply to the children of the clergy, but Van Espen has shewn that the rule is of general application. He adds, however, the following:
Since by the custom of the Greeks, ecclesiastics are allowed to have wives, there is no doubt that the marriage of their children with heretics would be indecent in a very special degree, although there are many things which go to shew that marriage with heretics was universally deemed a thing to be avoided by Catholics, and was rightly forbidden.
Presbytides, as they are called, or female presidents, are not to be appointed in the Church).
Ancient Epitome of Canon XI.
Widows called presidents shall not be appointed in churches.
In old days certain venerable women (presbuvtide") sat in Catholic churches, and took care that the other women kept good and modest order. But from their habit of using improperly that which was proper, either through their arrogancy or through their base self-seeking, scandal arose. Therefore the Fathers prohibited the existence in the Church thereafter of any more such women as are called presbytides or presidents. And that no one may object that in the monasteries of women one woman must preside over the rest, it should be remembered that the renunciation which they make of themselves to God and the tonsure brings it to pass that they are thought of as one body though many; and all things which are theirs, relate only to the salvation of the soul. But for woman to teach in a Catholic Church, where a multitude of men is gathered together, and women of different opinions, is, in the highest degree, indecorous and pernicious.
It is doubtful what was here intended, and this canon has received very different interpretations. In the first place, what is the meaning of the words presbuvtide" and prokaqhvmenai (“presbytides” and female presidents)? I think the first light is thrown on the subject by Epiphanius, who in his treatise against the Collyridians (Hoer., lxxix. 4) says that “women had never been allowed to offer sacrifice, as the Collyridians presumed to do, but were only allowed to minister. Therefore there were only deaconesses in the Church, and even if the oldest among them were called ‘presbytides,’ this term must be clearly distinguished from presbyteresses. The latter would mean priestesses (iJerivssa"), but ‘presbytides’ only designated their age, as seniors.” According to this, the canon appears to treat of the superior deaconesses who were the overseers (prokaqhvmenai) of the other deaconesses; and the further words of the text may then probably mean that in future no more such superior deaconesses or eldresses were to be appointed, probably because they had often outstepped their authority.
Neander, Fuchs, and others, however, think it more probable that the terms in question are in this canon to be taken as simply meaning deaconesses, for even in the church they had been wont to preside over the female portion of the congregation (whence their name of “presidents”); and, according to St. Paul’s rule, only widows over sixty years of age were to be chosen for this office (hence called “presbytides”). We may add, that this direction of the apostle was not very strictly adhered to subsequently, but still it was repeatedly enjoined that only eider persons should be chosen as deaconesses. Thus, for instance, the Council of Chalcedon, in its fifteenth canon, required that deaconesses should be at least forty years of age, while the Emperor Theodosius even prescribed the age of sixty.
Supposing now that this canon simply treats of deaconesses, a fresh doubt arises as to how the last words— “they are not to be appointed in tim Church” are to be understood. For it may mean that “from henceforth no more deaconesses shall be appointed;” or, that “in future they shall no more be solemnly ordained in the church.” The first interpretation would, however, contradict the fact that the Greek Church had deaconesses long after the Synod of Laodicea. For instance, in 692 the Synod in Trullo (Can. xiv). ordered that “no one under forty years of age should be ordained deaconess.” Consequently the, second interpretation, “they shall not he solemnly ordained in the church,” seems a better one, and Neander decidedly prefers it. It is certainly true that several later synods distinctly forbade the old practice of conferring a sort of ordination upon deaconesses, as, for instance, the first Synod of Orange (Arausicanum I. of 441, Can. xxvj). in the words—diaconoe omnimodis non ordinandoe; also the Synod at Epaon in 517 (Can. xxj)., and the second Synod at Orleans in 533 (Can. xviij).; but in the Greek Church at least, an ordination, a ceirotoneivsqai, took place as late as the Council in Trullo (Can. xiv).. But this Canon of Laodicea does not speak of solemn dedication, and certainly not of ordination, but only of kaqivstasqai. These reasons induce us to return to the first interpretation of this canon, and to understand it as forbidding from that time forward the appointment of any more chief deaconesses or “presbytides.”
Zonaras and Balsamon give yet another explanation. In their opinion, these “presbytides” were not chief deaconesses, but aged women in general (ex populo), to whom was given the supervision of the females, in church. The Synod of Laodicea, however, did away with this arrangement, probably because they had misused their office for purposes of pride, or money-making, bribery, etc.
Compare with the foregoing the Excursus on Deaconesses, appended to Canon XIX. of Nice.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XXXII., c. xix, in Isidore’s version; but Van Espen remarks that the Roman Correctors have pointed out that it departs widely from the Greek original. The Roman Correctors further say “The note of Balsamon on this point. should be seen;” and with this interpretation Morinus also agrees in his work on Holy Orders (De Ordinationibus, Pars III., Exercit. x., cap. iij., n. 3).
Bishops are to be appointed to the ecclesiastical government by the judgment of the metropolitans and neighbouring bishops, after having been long proved both in the foundation of their faith and in the conversation of an honest life.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XII.
Whoever is most approved in faith and life and most learned, he is fit to be chosen bishop.
The first part of this canon is in conformity with the provision in the IV. canon of Nice.
The election of those who are to be appointed to the: priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII.
Whose is chosen by seculars is ineligible.
From this canon it is evident that in ancient times not only bishops but also priests were voted for by the multitude of the people. This is here forbidden.
Bishops are elected by metropolitans and other bishops. If anyone in this manner shall not have been promoted to the Episcopate, but shall have been chosen by the multitude, he is not to be admitted nor elected.
[It is clear from this that by “the Priesthood” Aristenus understands the episcopate, and I think rightly:]
The word in the Greek to which “multitude” corresponds (o[klo") properly signifies a tumult.1
What the fathers intend to forbid are tumultuous elections, that is, that no attention is to be paid to riotous demonstrations on the part of the people, when with acclamations they are demanding the ordination of anyone, with an appearance of sedition. Such a state of affairs St. Augustine admirably describes in his Epistola ad Albinam (Epist. cxxvi., Tom. II, col. 548, Ed. Gaume).
And it is manifest that by this canon the people were not excluded from all share in the election of bishops and priests from what St. Gregory Nazianzen says, in Epistola ad Coesarienses, with regard to the election of St. Basil. From this what could be more evident than that after this canon was put out the people in the East still had their part in the election of a bishop? This also is clear from Justinian’s “Novels” (Novelloe, cxxiij., e.j. and cxxxvij., c. ij).
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I., Dist. lxiii., can. vj,, but in proof of the proposition that laymen were hereby forbidden to have any share in elections. Van Espen notes that Isidore’s version favours Gratian’s misunderstanding, and says that “no doubt that this version did much to exclude the people from the election of bishops.”
The holy things are not to be sent into other dioceses at the feast of Easter by way of eulogiae.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.
It is not right to send the holy gifts to another parish.
It was a custom in the ancient Church, not indeed to consecrate, but to bless such of the several breads of the same form laid on the altar as were not needed for the communion, and to employ them, partly for the maintenance of the clergy, and partly for distributing to those of the faithful who did not communicate at the Mass. The breads thus blessed were called eulogioe. Another very ancient custom was, that bishops as a sign of Church fellowship, should send the consecrated bread to one another. That the Roman Popes of the first and second centuries did so, Irenaeus testifies in his letter to Pope Victor in Eusebius. In course of time, however, instead of the consecrated bread, only bread which had been blessed, or eulogioe, were sent abroad. For instance, Paulinus and Augustine sent one another these eulogioe. But at Easter the older custom still prevailed; and to invest the matter with more solemnity, instead of the eulogioe, the consecrated bread, i.e., the Eucharist, was sent out. The Synod of Laodicea forbids this, probably out of reverence to the holy Sacrament.
Binterim (Denkwurdegkeiten, vol. IV., P. iij., p. 535). gives another explanation. He starts from the fact that, with the Greeks as well as the Latins, the wafer intended for communion is generally called sancta or a\(gia even before the consecration. This is not only perfectly true, but a well-known fact; only it must not be forgotten that these wafers or oblations were only called sancta by anticipation, and because of the sanctificatio to which they were destined. Binterim then states that by a\(gia in the canon is to be understood not the breads already consecrated, but those still unconsecrated. He further conjectures that these unconsecrated breads were often sent about instead of the eulogioe, and that the Synod of Laodicea had forbidden this, not during the whole year, but only at Easter. He cannot, however, give any reason, and his statement is the more doubtful, as he cannot prove that these unconsecrated communion breads really used before to be sent about as eulogioe.
In connection with this, however, he adds another hypothesis. It is known that the Greeks only consecrate a square piece of the little loaf intended for communion, which is first cut out with the so-called holy spear. The remainder of the small loaf is divided into little pieces, which remain on or near the altar during Mass, after which they are distributed to the non-communicants. These remains of the small loaf intended for consecration are called ajntivdwra and Binterim’s second conjecture is, that these ajntivdwra might perhaps have been sent as eulogioe and may be the a\(gia of this canon. But he is unable to prove that these ajntivdwra were sent about, and is, moreover, obliged to confess that they are nowhere called eulogioe, while this canon certainly speaks of eulogioe. To this must be added that, as with regard to the unconsecrated wafer, so we see no sufficient cause why the Synod should have forbidden these ajntivdwra being sent.
No others shall sing in the Church, save only the canonical singers, who go up into the ambo and sing from a book.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XV.
No one should ascend the ambon unless he is tonsured.
The only question [presented by this canon] is whether this synod forbade the laity to take any part in the Church music, as Binius and others have understood the words of the text, or whether it only intended to forbid those who were not cantors taking the lead. Van Espen and Neander in particular were in favour of the latter meaning, pointing to the fact that certainly in the Greek Church after the Synod of Laodicea the people were accustomed to join in the singing, as Chrysostom and Basil the Great sufficiently testify. Bingham propounded a peculiar opinion, namely, that this Synod did indeed forbid the laity, to sing in the church, or even to join in the singing, but this only temporarily, for certain reasons. I have no doubt, however, that Van Espen and Neander take the truer view.
The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath [i.e. Saturday], with the other Scriptures.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVI.
The Gospel, the Epistle [ajpovstolo"] and the other Scriptures are to be read on the Sabbath.
Before the arrangement of the Ecclesiastical Psalmody was settled, neither the Gospel nor the other Scriptures were accustomed to be read on the Sabbath. But out of regard to the canons which forbade fasting or kneeling on the Sabbath, there were no services, so that there might be as much feasting as possible. This the fathers prohibit, and decree that on the Sabbath the whole ecclesiastical office shall be said.
Neander (Kirchengesch., 2d ed., vol. iij., p. 565 et seq). suggests in addition to the interpretation just given another, viz.: that it was the custom in many parts of the ancient Church to keep every Saturday as a feast in commemoration of the Creation. Neander also suggests that possibly some Judaizers read on the Sabbath only the Old Testament; he, however, himself remarks that in this case eujaggeliva and eJtevrwn grafw`nwould require the article.
Among the Greeks the Sabbath was kept exactly as the Lord’s day except so far as the cessation of work was concerned, wherefore the Council wishes that, as on Sundays, after the other lessons there should follow the Gospel.
For it is evident that by the intention of the Church the whole Divine Office was designed for the edification and instruction of the people, and especially was this the case on feast days, when the people were apt to be present in large numbers.
Here we may note the origin of our present [Western] discipline, by which on Sundays and feast days the Gospel is wont to be read with the other Scriptures in the canonical hours, while such is not the case on ferial days, or in the order for ferias and “simples.”1
The Psalms are not to be joined together in the congregations, but a lesson shall intervene after every psalm.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVII.
In time of service lessons shall be interspersed with the Psalms.
It was well to separate the Psalms by lessons when the congregation was gathered in church, and not to keep them continuously singing unbroken psalmody, lest those who had assembled might become careless through weariness.
This was an ancient custom which has been laid aside since the new order of ecclesiastical matters has been instituted.1
Here it may be remarked we find the real reason why in our present rite, the lections, verses, etc., of the nocturns are placed between the Psalms, so as to repel weariness).
The same Service of prayers is to be said always both at hones and at vespers.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVIII.
The same prayers shall be said at nones vespers.
Some feasts ended at the ninth hour, othersonly in the evening, and both alike with prayer. The Synod here wills that in both eases the same prayers should be used. Thus does Van Espen explain the words of the text, and I think rightly. But the Greek commentator understands the Synod to order that the same prayers should be used in all places, thus excluding all individual caprice. According to this, the rule of conformity wouldrefer to places; while, according to Van Espen, the hones and vespers were to be the same. If, however, this interpretation were correct, the Synod would not have only spoken of the prayers at hones and vespers, but would have said in general, “all dioceses shall use the same form of prayer.”
Excursus on the Choir Offices of the Early Church.
Nothing is more marked in the lives of the early followers of Christ than the abiding sense which they had of the Divine Presence. Prayer was not to them an occasional exercise but an unceasing practice. If then the Psalmist sang in the old dispensation “Seven times a day do I praise thee” (Ps cxix. 164), we may be quite certain that the Christians would never fall behind the Jewish example. We know that among the Jews there were the “Hours of Prayer,” and nothing would be, a priori, more likely than that with new and deeper significance these should pass over into the Christian Church. I need not pause here to remind the reader of the observance of “the hour of prayer” which is mentioned in the New Testament, and shall pass on to my more immediate subject.
Most liturgiologists have been agreed that the “Choir Offices” of the Christian Church, that is to say the recitation of the Psalms of David, with lessons from other parts of Holy Scripture and collects,1 was an actual continuation of the Jewish worship, the melodies even of the Psalms being carried over and modified through the ages into the plain song of today. For this view of the Jewish origin of the Canonical Hours there is so much to be said that one hesitates to accept a rival theory, recently set forth with much skill and learning, by a French priest, who had the inestimable happiness of sitting at the feet of De Rossi. M. Pierre Battifol2 is of opinion that tim Canonical Hours in no way come from the Jewish Hours of Prayer but are the outgrowth of the Saturday Vigil service, which was wholly of Christian origin, and which he tells us was divided into three parts, j., the evening service, or lucernarium, which was the service of Vespers; ij., the midnight service, the origin of the Nocturns or Martins; iij., the service at daybreak, the origin of Lauds. Soon vigils were kept for all the martyr commemorations; and by the time of Tertullian, if not before, Wednesdays and Fridays had their vigils. With the growth of monasticism they became daily. This Mr. Battifol thinks was introduced into Antioch about a.d. 350, and soon spread all over the East. The “little hours,” that is Terce, Sext, and None, he thinks were monastic in origin and that Prime and Compline were transferred from the dormitory to the church, just as the martyrology was transferred from the refectory.
Such is the new theory, which, even if rejected, at least is valuable in drawing attention to the great importance of the vigil-service in the Early Church, an importance still attaching to it in Russia on the night of Easter Even).
Of the twilight service we have a most exquisite remains in the hymn to be sung at the lighting of the lamps. This is one of the few Psalmi idiotici which has survived the condemnation of such compositions by the early councils, in fact the only two others are the Gloria in Excelsis and the Te Deum. The hymn at the lighting of the lamps is as follows:
“O gladsome light
Of the Father Immortal,
And of the celestial
Sacred and blessed
Jesus, our Saviour!”
“Now to the sunset
Again hast thou brought us;
And seeing the evening
Twilight, we bless thee,
Praise thee, adore thee!”
Son, the Life-giver!
Spirit, the Comforter!
Worthy at all times
Of worship and wonder!3 ”
Dr. Battifol’s new theory was promptly attacked by P. Suibbert Baumer, a learned German Benedictine who had already written several magazine articles on the subject before Battifol’s book had appeared.
The title of Baumer’s book is Geschichte des Breviers, Versuch einer quellenmassigen Darstellung der Entiivicklung des altkirchen und des romeschen Officiums bis auf unsere Ttage. (Freibug in Briesgau, 1895). The following4 may be taken as a fair resume of the position taken in this work and most ably defended, a position which (if I may be allowed to express an opinion) is more likely to prevail as being most in accordance with the previous researches of the learned.
“The early Christians separated from the Synagogues about a.d. 65; that is, about the same time as the first Epistle to Timothy was written, and at this moment of separation from the Synagogue the Apostles had already established, besides the liturgy, at least one, probably two, canonical hours of prayer, Mattins and Evensong, Besides what we should call sermons, the service of these hours was made up of psalms, readings from Holy Scripture, and extempore prayers. A few pages on (p. 42) Baumer allows that even if this service had been daily in Jerusalem the Apostles’ times, yet it had become limited to Sundays in the sub-Apostolic times, when persecution would not allow the Apostolic custom of daily morning and evening public prayer. Yet the practice of private prayer at the third, sixth, and ninth hours continued, based upon an Apostolic tradition; and thus, when the tyranny of persecution was overpast, the idea of public prayer at these hours was saved and the practice carried on.”
The student should by no means omit to read Dom Prosper Gueranger’s Institutions Liturgiques, which while written in a bitter and most partisan spirit, is yet a work of the most profound learning. Above all anyone professing any familiarity with the literature on the subject must have mastered Cardinal Bona’s invaluable De Divina Psalmodia, a mine of wisdom and a wonder of research).
7 ecumenical councils - THE SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS