Excursus on the Minor Orders of the Early Church. (Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius, Vol. I., P. 258.)

Excursus on the Minor Orders of the Early Church. (Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius, Vol. I., P. 258.)Excursus on the Minor Orders of the Early Church. (Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, Ignatius, Vol. I., P. 258.)

Some of these lower orders, the subdeacons, readers, door-keepers, and exorcists, are mentioned in the celebrated letter of Cornelius bishop of Rome (a.d. 251) preserved by Eusebius (H.E., vi., 43), and the readers existed at least half a century earlier (Tertull. de Praescr., 41). In the Eastern Church, however, if we except the Apostolic Constitutions, of which the date and country are uncertain, the first reference to such offices is found in a canon of the Council of Antioch, a.d. 341, where readers, subdeacons, and exorcists, are mentioned, this being apparently intended as an exhaustive enumeration of the ecclesiastical orders below the diaconate; and for the first mention of door-keepers in the East, we must go to the still later Council of Laodicea, about a.d. 363, (see III., p. 240, for the references, where also fuller information is given). But while most of these lower orders certainly existed in the West, and probably in the East, as early as the middle of the third century the case is different with the "singers" (ya/ltai) and the "labourers" (kopia=tai). Setting aside the Apostolic Constitutions, the first notice of the "singers" occurs in the canons of the above-mentioned Council of Laodicea. This, however, may be accidental. The history of the word copiatai affords a more precise and conclusive indication of date. The term first occurs in a rescript of Constantius (a.d. 357), "clerici qui copiatai appellantur," and a little later (a.d. 361), the same emperor speaks of them as "hi quos copiatas recens usus instituit nuncupari."

(Adolf Harnack, in his little book ridiculously intituled in the English version Sources of the Apostolic Canons, page 85.)

Exorcists and readers there had been in the Church from old times, subdeacons are not essentially strange, as they participate in a name (deacon) which dates from the earliest days of Christianity. But acolytes and door-keepers (pulwroi/) are quite strange, are really novelties. And these acolytes even at the time of Cornelius stand at the head of the ordines minores: for that the subdeacons follow on the deacons is self-evident. Whence do they come? Now if they do not spring out of the Christian tradition, their origin must be explained from the Roman. It can in fact he shown there with desirable plainness.

With regard to subdeacons the reader may also like to see some of Harnack's speculations. In the volume just quoted he writes as follows (p. 85 note):

According to Cornelius and Cyprian subdeacons were mentioned in the thirtieth canon of the Synod of Elvira (about 305), so that the sub diaconate must then have been acknowledged as a fixed general institution in the whole west (see Dale, The Synod of Elvira, Lond., 1882). The same is seen in the "gesta apud Zenophilum." As the appointment of the lower orders took place at Rome between about the years 222-249, the announcement in the Liber Pontificalis (see Duchesne's edition, fasc. 2, 1885, p. 148) is not to be despised, as according to it Bishop Fabian appointed seven subdeacons: "Hic regiones dividit diaconibus et fecit vii. subdiaconos." The Codex Liberianus indeed (see Duchesne, fasc. 1, pp. 4 and 5; Lipsius, Chronologie d. rom Bischofe, p. 267), only contains the first half of the sentence, and what the Liber Pontif. has added of the account of the appointment of subdeacons (... qui vii notariis imminerent, ut gestas martyrum in integro fideliter colligerent) is, in spite of the explanation of Duchesne, not convincing. According to Probst and other Catholic scholars the subdiaconate existed in Rome a long time before Fabian (Kirchl. Disciplin, p. 109), but Hippolytus is against them. Besides, it should be observed that the officials first, even in Carthage, are called hypo-deacons, though the word subdiaconus was by degrees used in the West. This also points to a Roman origin of the office, for in the Roman church in the first part of the third century the Greek language was the prevailing one, but not at Carthage.

But to return to the Acolythes, and door-keepers, whom Harnack thinks to be copies of the old Roman temple officers. He refers to Marquardt's explanation of the sacrificial system of the Romans, and gives the following resume (page 85 et seqq.):

1. The temples have only partially their own priests, but they all have a superintendent (oedituus-curator templi). These ceditui, who lived in the temple, fall again into two classes. At least "in the most important brotherhoods the chosen oedituus was not in a position to undertake in person the watching and cleaning of the sacellum. He charged therefore with this service a freedman or slave." "In this case the sacellum had two oeditui, the temple-keeper, originally called magister oedituus, and the temple-servant, who appears to be called the oedituus minister." "To both it is common that they live in the temple, although in small chapels the presence of the servant is sufficient. The temple-servant opens, shuts, and cleans the sacred place, and shows to strangers its curiosities, and allows, according to the rules of the temple, those persons to offer up prayers and sacrifices to whom this is permitted, while he sends away the others."

2. "Besides the endowment, the colleges of priests were also supplied with a body of servants"-the under official-; "they were appointed to the priests, ... by all of whom they were used partly as letter-carriers (tabellarii), partly as scribes, partly as assistants at the sacrifices." Marquardt reckons, (page 218 and fol.) the various categories of them among the sacerdotes publici, lictores, pullarii, victimarii, tibicines, viatores, sixthly the calatores, in the priests' colleges free men or freedmen, not slaves, and in fact one for the personal service of each member.

Here we have the forerunners of the Church door-keepers and acolytes. Thus says the fourth Council of Carthage, as far as refers to the former: "Ostiarius cure ordinatur, postquam ab archidiacono instructus fuerit, qualiter in dome dei debeat conversari, ad suggestionem archidiaconi, tradat ei episcopus claves ecclesiae de altari, dicens. Sic age, quasi redditurus deo rationem pro his rebus, quae hisce clavibus recluduntur." The ostiarius (pulwro/j) is thus the aedituus minister. He had to look after the opening and shutting of the doors, to watch over the coming in and going out of the faithful, to refuse entrance to suspicious persons, and, from the date of the more strict separation between the missa catechumenorum and the missa fidelium, to close the doors, after the dismissal of the catechumens, against those doing penance and unbelievers. He first became necessary when there were special church buildings (there were such even in the second century), and they like the temples, together with the ceremonial of divine service, had come to be considered as holy, that is, since about 225. The church acolytes are without difficulty to be recognised in the under officials of the priests, especially in the "calatores," the personal servants of the priests. According to Cyprian the acolytes and others are used by preference as tabellarii. According to Cornelius there were in Rome forty-two acolytes. As he gives the number of priests as forty-six, it may be concluded with something like certainty that the rule was that the number of the priests and of the acolytes should be equal, and that the little difference may have been caused by temporary vacancies. If this view is correct, the identity of the calator with the acolyte is strikingly proved. But the name "acolyte" plainly shows the acolyte was not, like the door-keeper, attached to a sacred thing, but to a sacred person.

(Lightfoot. Apostolic Fathers. Ignatius, ad Antioch, xj., note. Vol. II., Sec. II., p. 240.)

The acolytes were confined to the Western Church and so are not mentioned here. On the other hand the "deaconesses" seem to have been confined to the Eastern Church at this time. See also Apost. Const., iii., 11.; viii., 12; comp. viii., 19-28, 31; Apost. Can., 43; Conc. Laodic., Can. 24; Conc. Antioch, Can. 10. Of these lower orders the "subdeacons" are first mentioned in the middle of the third century, in the passage of Cornelius already quoted and in the contemporary letters of Cyprian. The "readers" occur as early as Tertullian de Proescr. 41 "hodie diaconus, qui cras lecfor," where the language shows that this was already a firmly established order in the Church. Of the "singers" the notices in the Apostolical Constitutions are probably the most ancient. The "door-keepers," like the sub-deacons, seem to be first mentioned in the letter of Cornelius. The kopiw=ntej first appear a full century later; see the next note. The "exorcists," as we have seen, are mentioned as a distinct order by Cornelius, while in Apost. Const., viii., 26, it is ordered that they shall not be ordained, because it is a spiritual function which comes direct from God and manifests itself by its results. The name and the function, however, appear much earlier in the Christian Church; e.g., Justin Mart., Apol. ii., 6 (p. 45). The forms e0porkisth\j and e0corkisth\jare convertible; e.g., Justin Mart., Dial., 85 (p. 311). The "confessors" hardly deserve to be reckoned a distinct order, though accidentally they are mentioned in proximity with the different grades of clergy in Apost. Const., viii., 12, already quoted. Perhaps the accidental connexion in this work has led to their confusion with the offices of the Christian ministry in our false Ignatius. In Apost. Const., viii., 23, they are treated in much the same way as the exorcists, being regarded as in some sense an order and yet not subject to ordination. Possibly, however, the word o9mologhtai; has here a different sense, "chanters," as the corresponding Latin "confessores" seems sometimes to have, e.g., in the Sacramentary of Gregory "Oremus et pro omnibus episcopis, presbyteris, diaconibus, acolythis, exorcistis, lectoribus, ostiariis, confessoribus, virginibus, viduis, et pro omni populo sancto Dei;" see Ducange, Gloss. Lat., s. v. (11. p. 530, Henschel).

In a law of the year 357 (Cod. Theod., xiii., 1) mention is made of "clerici qui copiatae appellantur," and another law of the year 361 (Cod. Theod. xvi., 2, 15) runs "clerici vero vel his quos copiatas recens usus instituit nuncupari," etc. From these passages it is clear that the name kopiw=ntej was not in use much before the middle of the fourth century, though the office under its Latin name "fossores" or "fossarii" appears somewhat earlier. Even later Epiphanius (Expos. Fid., 21) writes as if the word still needed some explanation. In accordance with these facts, Zahn (I. v., A. p. 129), correctly argues with regard to our Ignatian writer, urging that on the one hand he would not have ascribed such language to Ignatius if the word had been quite recent, while on the other hand his using the participle (tou\j kopiw=ntaj) rather than the substantive indicates that it had not yet firmly established itself. For these "copiatae" see especially de Rossi, Roma Sotteranea, III., p. 533 sq., Gothofred on Cod. Theod., II., cc., and for the Latin "fossores" Martigny, Dict. des Antiq. Chret. s.v. See also the inscriptions, C. I, G., 9227, Bull. de Corr. Hellen., vii., p. 238, Journ. of Hellen. Stud., vi., p. 362.

Canon XXV.

A Subdeacon must not give the Bread, nor bless the Cup,


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXV.

A subdeacon may not give the bread and the cup.


Subdeacons are not allowed to perform the work of presbyters and deacons. Wherefore they neither deliver the bread nor the cup to the people.


According to the Apostolic Constitutions, the communion was administered in the following manner: the bishop gave to each the holy bread with the words: "the Body of the Lord," and the recipient said, "Amen." The deacon then gave the chalice with the words: "the Blood of Christ, the chalice of life," and the recipient again answered, "Amen." This giving of the chalice with the words: "the Blood of Christ," etc., is called in the canon of Laodicea a "blessing" (eu0logei=n). The Greek commentator Aristenus in accordance with this, and quite rightly, gives the meaning of this canon.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Diet. XCIII., c. xix.; but reads "Deacons" instead of "Subdeacons." The Roman Correctors point out the error.

Canon XXVI.

They who have not been promoted [to that office] by the bishop, ought not to adjure, either in churches or in private houses.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXVI.

No one shall adjure without the bishop's promotion to that office.


Some were in the habit of "adjuring," that is catechising the unbelievers, who had never received the imposition of the bishop's hands for that purpose; and when they were accused of doing so, contended that as they did not do it in church but only at home, they could not be considered as deserving of any punishment, For this reason the Fathers rule that even to "adjure" (e0forki/zen) is an ecclesiastical ministry, and must not be executed by anyone who shall not have been promoted thereto by a bishop. But the "Exorcist" must be excepted who has been promoted by a Chorepiscopus, for he can indeed properly catechize although not promoted by a bishop; for from Canon X. of Antioch we learn that even a Chorepiscopus can make an Exorcist.

Zonaras notes that from this canon it appears that "Chorepiscopi are considered to be in the number of bishops."

Van Espen.

"Promoted" (proaxqe/ntaj) by the bishops, by which is signified a mere designation or appointment, in conformity with the Greek discipline which never counted exorcism among the orders, but among the simple ministries which were committed to certain persons by the bishops, as Morinus proves at length in his work on Orders (De Ordinationibus, Pars III., Ex. XIV., cap. ij.).

Double is the power of devils over men, the one part internal the other external. The former is when they hold the soul captive by vice and sin. The latter when they disturb the exterior and interior senses and lead anyone on to fury. Those who are subject to the interior evils are the Catechumens and Penitents, and those who are subject to the exterior are the Energumens. Whoever are occupied with the freeing from the power of the devil of either of these kinds, by prayers, exhortations, and exorcisms, are said "to exorcize" them; which seems to be what Balsamon means when he says-"`exorcize' that is `to catechize the unbelievers.'" Vide this matter more at length in Ducange's Glossary (Gloss., s. v. Exorcizare).

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. LXIX. c. ij., Isidore's version.

Canon XXVII.

Neither they of the priesthood, nor clergymen, nor laymen, who are invited to a love feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order.


Ancient Epitome OF Canon XXVII.

A clergyman invited to a love feast shall carry nothing away with him; for this would bring his order into shame.


Van Espen translates: "no one holding any office in the Church, be he cleric or layman," and appeals to the fact that already in early times among the Greeks many held offices in the Church without being ordained, as do now our sacristans and acolytes. I do not think, however, with Van Espen, that by "they of the priesthood" is meant in general any one holding office in the Church, but only the higher ranks of the clergy, priests and deacons, as in the preceding twenty-fourth canon the presbyters and deacons alone are expressly numbered among the i9eratikoi=j and distinguished from the other (minor) clerics. And afterwards, in canon XXX., there is a similar mention of three different grades, i9eratikoi/, klhrikoi/, and askhtai/.

The taking away of the remains of the agape is here forbidden, because, on the one hand, it showed covetousness, and, on the other, was perhaps considered a profanation.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XLII., c. iij.


IT is not permitted to hold love feasts, as they are called, in the Lord's Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God.


Ancient Epitome OF Canon

Beds shall not be set up in churches, nor shall love feasts be held there.


Eusebius (H. E., Lib. IX., Cap. X.) employs the expression kuriaka/ in the same sense as does this canon as identical with churches. The prohibition itself, however, here given, as well as the preceding canon, proves that as early as the time of the Synod of Laodicea, many irregularities had crept into the agape. For the rest, this Synod was not in a position permanently to banish the usage from the Church; for which reason the Trullan Synod in its seventy-fourth canon repeated this rule word for word.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Disk XLII., c. iv.

Canon XXIX.

Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXIX.

A Christian shall not stop work on the Sabbath, but on the Lords Day.


Here the Fathers order that no one of the faithful shall stop work on the Sabbath as do the Jews, but that they should honour the Lord's Day; on account of the Lord's resurrection, and that on that day they should abstain from manual labour and go to church. But thus abstaining from work on Sunday they do not lay down as a necessity, but they add, "if they can." For if through need or any other necessity any one worked on the Lord's day this was not reckoned against him.

Canon XXX.

None of the priesthood, nor clerics [of lower rank] nor ascetics, nor any Christian or layman, shall wash in a bath with women; for this is the greatest reproach among the heathen.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXX.

It is an abomination to bathe with women.

This canon was renewed by the Synod in Trullo, canon lxxvij.

Zonaras explains that the bathers were entirely nude and hence arose the objection which was also felt by the heathen.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. LXXXI, c. xxviij.

Canon XXXI.

IT is riot lawful to make marriages with all [sorts of] heretics, nor to give our sons and daughters to them; but rather to take of them, if they promise to become Christians.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXI.

It is not right to give children in marriage to heretics, but they should be received if they promise to become Christians.

Van Espen.

By this canon the faithful are forbidden to contract marriage with heretics or to join their children in such; for, as both Balsamon and Zonaras remark, "they imbue them with their errors, and lead them to embrace their own perverse opinions."

Canon XXXII.

It is unlawful to receive the eulogiae of heretics, for they are rather a0logi/ai [i.e., fol-lies], than eulogiae [i.e., blessings].


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXII.

The blessings of heretics are cursings.

To keep the Latin play upon the words the translator has used bene-dictiones and male-dictiones, but at the expense of the accuracy of translation.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars IL., Causa II., Quaest. I., Can. lxvj.


No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXIII.

Thou shalt not pray with heretics or schismatics.

Van Espen.

The underlying principle of this canon is the same as the last, for as the receiving of the Eulogiae which were sent by heretics as a the same communion, and therefore to be sign of communion, signified a communion avoided. This is also set forth in Apostolical with them in religious matters, so the sharing Canon number xlv. with them common prayer is a declaration

Canon XXXIV.

No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those, therefore, who go after them, be anathema.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXIV.

Whoso honours an heretical pseudo-martyr let him be anathema.


This canon forbids the honouring of martyrs not belonging to the orthodox church. The number of Montanist martyrs of Phrygia was probably the occasion of this canon.

The phrase which I have translated "to those who formerly were heretics" has caused great difficulty to all translators and scarcely two agree. Hammond reads "those who have been reputed to have been heretics;" and with him Fulton agrees, but wrongly (as I think) by omitting the "to." Lambert translates "to those who before were heretics" and correctly. With him agrees Van Espen, thus, vel eos qui prius heretici fuere.

Canon XXXV.

Christians must not forsake the Church of God, and go away and invoke angels and gather assemblies, which things are forbidden. If, therefore, any one shall be found engaged in this covert idolatry, let him be anathema; for he has forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has gone over to idolatry.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXV.

Whoso calls assemblies in opposition to those of the Church and names angels, is near to idolatry and let him be anathema.

Van Espen.

Whatever the worship of angels condemned by this canon may have been, one thing is manifest, that it was a species of idolatry, and detracted from the worship due to Christ.

Theodoret makes mention of this superstitious cult in his exposition of the Text of St. Paul, Col. ii., 18, and when writing of its condemnation by this synod he says, "they were leading to worship angels such as were defending the Law; for, said they, the Law was given through angels. And this vice lasted for a long time in Phrygia and Pisidia. Therefore it was that the synod which met at Laodicea in Phrygia, prohibited by a canon, that prayer should be offered to angels, and even to-day an oratory of St. Michael can be seen among them, and their neighhours."

In the Capitular of Charlemagne, a.d. 789 (cap. xvi.), it is said, "In that same council (Laodicea) it was ordered that angels should not be given unknown names, and that such should not be affixed to them, but that only they should be named by the names which we have by authority. These are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael." And then is subjoined the present canon. The canon forbids "to name" (o0noma/zein) angels, and this was understood as meaning to give them names instead of to call upon them by name.

Perchance the authors of the Capitular had in mind the Roman Council under Pope Zachary, a.d. 745, against Aidebert, who was found to invoke by name eight angels in his prayers.

It should be noted that some Latin versions of great authority and antiquity read angulos for angelos. This would refer to doing these idolatrous rites in corners, hiddenly, secretly, occulte as in the Latin. But this reading, though so respectable in the Latin, has no Greek authority for it.

This canon has often been used in controversy as condemning the cultus which the Catholic Church has always given to the angels, but those who would make such a use of this canon should explain how these interpretations can be consistent with the cultus of the Martyrs so evidently approved by the same council; and how this canon came to be accepted by the Fathers of the Second Council of Nice, if it condemned the then universal practice of the Church, East and West. Cf. Forbes, Considerationes Modestoe.

Canon XXXVI.

They who are of the priesthood, or of the clergy, shall not be magicians, enchanters, mathematicians, or astrologers; nor shall they make what are called amulets, which are chains for their own souls. And those who wear such, we command to be cast out of the Church.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XXXVI. Whoso will be priest must not be a magician, nor one who uses incantations, or mathematical or astrological charms, nor a putter on of amulets.

Some interesting and valuable information on charms will be found in Ducange (Glossarium, s. v. Phylacterea).


"Magicians" are those who for any purpose call Satan to their aid. "Enchantors" are those who sing charms or incantations, and through them draw demons to obey them. "Mathematicians" are they who holdthe opinion that the celestial bodies rule the universe, and that all earthly things are ruledby their influence. "Astrologers" are they who divine by the stars through the agency of demons, and place their faith in them.

Van Espen.

Zonaras also notes that the science of mathematics or astronomy is not at all hereby forbidden to the clergy, but the excess and abuse of that science, which even more easily may happen in the case of clergymen and consecrated persons than in that of laymen.


IT is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.


IT is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.

Canon XXXIX.

IT is not lawful to feast together with the heathen, and to be partakers of their godlessness.


Ancient Epitome of Canons XXXVII., XXXVIII, and XXXIX.

Thou shalt not keep feasts with Hebrews of heretics, nor receive festival offerings from them.


Read canon lxx. and canon lxxj. of the HolyApostles, and Canon lx(1) of the Synod of Carthage.


Light hath no communion with darkness. Therefore no Christian should celebrate a feast with heretics or Jews, neither should he receive anything connected with these feasts such as azymes and the like.

Canon XL.

Bishops called to a synod must not be guilty of contempt, but must attend, and either teach, or be taught, for the reformation of the Church and of others. And if such an one shall be guilty of contempt, he will condemn himself, unless he be detained by ill health.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XL.

Whoso summoned to a synod shall spurn the invitation, unless hindered by the force of circumstances, shall not be freefrom blame.


By a0nwmali/a, illness is commonly understood, and Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore translated it, the former oegritudinem, and the latter infirmitatem. But Balsamon justly remarks that the term has a wider meaning, and, besides cases of illness includes other unavoidable hinderances or obstacles.

This Canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XVIII., c. v.

Canon XLI.

None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may go on a journey, without the bidding of the Bishop.

Canon XLII.

None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may travel without letters canonical.


Ancient Epitome OF Canons XLI. And XLII.

No clergyman shall undertake a journey without canonical letters or unless he is ordered to doso.

Van Espen.

(On Canon xli.)

It is well known that according to the true discipline of the Church no one should be ordained unless he be attached to some church, which as an ecclesiastical soldier he shall fight for and preserve. As, then, a secular soldier cannot without his prefect's bidding leave his post and go to another, so the canons decree that no one in the ranks of the ecclesiastical military can travel about except at the bidding of the bishop who is in command of the army. A slight trace of this discipline is observed even to-day in the fact that priests of other dioceses are not allowed to celebrate unless they are provided with Canonical letters or testimonials from their own bishops. (On Canon xlii.)

The whole subject of Commendatory and other letters is treated of in the note to Canon VIII. of the Council of Antioch.

Canon xlj. is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars Ill., Dist. V., De Consecrat, can. xxxvj.

Canon xlij. is appended to the preceding, but, curiously enough, limited to laymen, reading as follows: "a layman also without canonical letters," that is "formed letters," should not travel anywhere. The Roman Correctors remark that in the Greek order this last is canon xli., and the former part of Gratian's canon, canon xlij. of the Greek, but such is not the order of the Greek in Zonaras nor in Balsamon. The correctors add that in neither canon is there any mention made of laymen, nor in Dionysius's version; the Prisca, however, read for canon xlj., "It is not right for a minister of the altar, even for a layman, to travel, etc."

Canon XLIII.

The subdeacons may not leave the doors to engage in the prayer, even for a short time.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XLIII.

A subdeacon should not leave the gates, even for a short time, to pray.

On this canon the commentators find nothing to say in addition to their remarks onCanons xxj., and xxij., except that the"prayer" is not their own private prayer, but the prayer of the Liturgy. It has struck methat possibly when them was no deacon tosing the litany outside the Holy Gates whilethe priest was going on with the holy actionwithin, subdeacons may have left their placesat the doors, assumed the deacon's stole and done his part of the office, and that it was to prevent this abuse that this canon was enacted, the "prayer" being the litany. But as this is purely my own suggestion it is probably valueless.

Canon XLIV.

Women may not go to the altar.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XLIV.

The altar must not be approached by women.

Van Espen.

The discipline of this canon was often renewed even in the Latin Church, and therefore Balsamon unjustly attacks the Latins when he says; "Among the Latins women go without any shame up to the altar whenever they wish," For the Latins have forbidden and do forbid this approach of women to thealtar no less than the Greeks; and look uponthe contrary custom as an abuse sprung of the insolence of the women and of the negligence of bishops and pastors.


If it is prohibited to laymen to enter the Sanctuary by the lxixth canon of the Sixth synod [i.e. Quinisext], much more are women forbidden to do so who are unwillingly indeed, but yet truly, polluted by the monthly flux of blood.

Canon XLV.

[Candidates] for baptism are not to be received after the second week in Lent.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XLV.

After two weeks of Lent no one must be admitted for illumination, for all such should fast from its beginning.

Van Espen.

To the understanding of this canon it must be remembered that such of the Gentiles as desired to become Catholics and to be baptized, at first were privately instructed by the catechists. After this, having acquired some knowledge of the Christian religion, they were admitted to the public instructions given by the bishop in church; and were therefore called Andientes and for the first time properly-speaking Catechumens. But when these catechumens had been kept in this rank a sufficient time and had been theretried, they were allowed to go up to the higher grade called Genuflectentes.

And when their exercises had been completed in this order they were brought by the catechists who had had the charge of them, to the bishop, that on the Holy Sabbath [Easter Even] they might receive baptism, and the catechumens gave their names at the same time, so that they might be set down for baptism at the coming Holy Sabbath.

Moreover we learn from St. Augustine (Serm. xiii., Ad Neophitos,) that the time for the giving in of the names was the beginning of Lent.

This council therefore in this canon decreesthat such as do not hand in their names at the beginning of Lent, but after two weeks are past, shall not be admitted to baptism on the next Holy Sabbath.

Canon XLVI.

They who are to be baptized must learn the faith [Creed] by heart, and recite it to the bishop, or to the presbyters, on the fifth day of the week.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XLVI.

Vide infra.


It is doubtful whether by the Thursday of the text was meant only the Thursday of Holy Week, or every Thursday of the time during which the catechumens received instruction. The Greek commentators are in favour of the latter, but Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore, and after them Bingham, are, and probably rightly, in favour of the former meaning. This canon was repeated by the Trullan Synod in its seventy-eighth canon.

Canon XLVII.

They who are baptized in sickness and afterwards recover, must learn the Creed by heart and know that the Divine gifts have been vouchsafed them.


Ancient Epitome of Canons XLVI. And XLVII.

Whoso is baptised by a bishop or presbyter let him recite the faith on the fifth feria of the week. Also anyone baptized clinically a short while afterwards.


Some unbelievers were baptized before they had been catechized, by reason of the urgency of the illness. Now some thought that as their baptism did not follow their being carechumens, they ought to be catechized and baptized over again. And in support of this opinion they urged Canon XII. of NeoCaesarea, which does not permit one clinically baptized to become a priest rashly. For this reason it is that the Fathers decree that such an one shall not be baptized a second time, but as soon as he gets well he shall learn the faith and the mystery of baptism, and to appreciate the divine gifts he has received, viz., the confession of the one true God and the remission of sins which comes to us in holy baptism.


They who are baptized must after Baptism be anointed with the heavenly chrism, and be partakers of the Kingdom of Christ.


Ancient Epitome OF Canon XLVIII.

Those illuminated should after their baptism be anointed.

Van Espen.

That this canon refers to the anointing with chrism on the forehead of the baptized, that is to say of the sacrament of confirmation, is the unanimous opinion of the Greek commentators, and Balsamon notes that this anointing is not simply styled "chrism" but "the heavenly chrism," viz.: "that which is sanctified by holy prayers and through the invocation of the Holy Spirit; and those who are anointed therewith, it sanctifies and makes partakers of the kingdom of heaven."


(Lib. i., Observat. cap. xv.)

Formerly no one was esteemed worthy of the name Christian or reckoned among the perfect who had not been confirmed and endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost.The prayers for the consecration of the Holy Chrism according to the rites of theEast and of the West should be carefully read by the student. Those of the East are found in the Euchologion, and those of the West in the Pontificale Romanum, De Officio in feria v. Coena Domini.

Canon XLIX.

During Lent the Bread must not be offered except on the Sabbath Day and on the Lord's Day only.


Ancient Epitome of Canon XLIX.

In Lent the offering should be made only on the Sabbath and on the Lord's day.


This canon, which was repeated by the Trullan Synod in its fifty-second canon, orders that on ordinary week days during Lent, only a Missa Proesanctificatorum should take place, as is still the custom with the Greeks on all days of penitence and mourning, when it appears to them unsuitable to have the full liturgy, and as Leo Allatius says, for this reason, that the consecration is a joyful act. A comparison of the above sixteenth canon, however, shows that Saturday was a special exception.

To the Saturdays and Sundays mentioned by Hefele must be added the feast of the Annunciation, which is always solemnized with a full celebration of the Liturgy, even whenit falls upon Good Friday.

Canon L.

The fast must not be broken on the fifth day of the last week in Lent [i.e., on Maunday Thursday], and the whole of Lent be dishonoured; but it is necessary to fast during all the Lenten season by eating only dry meats.


Ancient Epitome of Canon L.

It is not right on the fifth feria of the last week of Lent to break the fast, and thus spoil the whole of Lent; but the whole of Lent should be kept with fasting on dry food.

That long before the date of the Quinisext Synod the fasting reception of the Holy Eucharist was the universal law of the Church no one can doubt who has devoted the slightest study to the point. To produce the evidence here would be out of place, but the reader may be referred to the excellent presentation of it in Cardinal Bona's De Rebus Liturgicis.

I shall here cite but one passage, from St. Augustine:

"It is clear that when the disciples first received the body and blood of the Lord they had not been fasting. Must we then censure the Universal Church because the sacrament is everywhere partaken of by persons fasting?Nay, verily; for from that time it pleased the Holy Spirit to appoint, for the honour of so great a sacrament, that the body of the Lord should take the precedence of all other food entering the mouth of a Christian; and it is for this reason that the custom referred to is universally observed. For the fact that the Lord instituted the sacrament after other food had been partaken of does not prove that brethren should come together to partake ofthat sacrament after having dined or supped, or imitate those whom the Apostle reprovedand corrected for not distinguishing between the Lord's Supper and an ordinary meal. The Saviour, indeed, in order to commend thedepths of that mystery more affectingly to his disciples, was pleased to impress it on their hearts and memories by making its in stitution his last act before going from them to his passion. And, therefore, he did notprescribe the order in which it was to be observed, reserving this to be done by the Apestles, through whom he intended to arrange all things pertaining to the churches. Had he appointed that the sacrament should be always partaken of after other food, I believe that no one would have departed from that practice. But when the Apostle, speaking of this sacrament, says, `Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another, and if any man hunger let him eat at home, that ye come not together unto condemnation,' he immediately adds, `And the rest will I set in order when I come.' Whence we are given to understand that, since it was too much for him to prescribe completely in an epistle the method observed by the Universal Church throughout the world it was one of the things set in order by him in person; for we find its observance uniform amid all the variety of other customs."(1)

In fact the utter absurdity of the attemptto maintain the opposite cannot better beseen than in reading Kingdon's Fasting Communion, an example of special pleading and disingenuousness rarely equalled even in controversial theological literature. A brief but crushing refutation of the position taken by that writer will be found in an appendix to a pamphlet by H. P. Liddon, Evening Communions contrary to the Teaching and Practice of the Church in all Ages.

But while this is true, it is also true that in some few places the custom had lingered on of making Maundy Thursday night an exception to this rule, and of having then a feast, in memory of our Lord's Last Supper, and after this having a celebration of the Divine Mysteries. This is the custom which is prohibited by this canon, but it is manifest both from the wording of the canon itself andfrom the remarks of the Greek commentators that the custom was condemned not because it necessitated an unfasting reception of theHoly Eucharist, but because it connoted afeast which was a breaking of the Lenten fast and a dishonour to the whole of the holy season.I.It is somewhat curious and a trifle amusing to read Zonaras gravely arguing the point as to whether the drinking of water is forbidden by this canon because it speaks of "dry meats," which he decides in the negative!


Those, therefore, who without being ill, fast on oil and shell-fish, do contrary to this law; and much more they who eat on the fourth and sixth ferias fish.

Canon LI.

The nativities of Martyrs are not to be celebrated in Lent, but commemorations of the holy Martyrs are to be made on the Sabbaths and Lord's days.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LI.

Commemorations of Martyrs shall only be held on Lord's days and Sabbaths.

By this canon all Saints-days are forbidden to be observed in Lent on the days on which they fall, but must be transferred to a Sabbath or else to the Sunday, when they can be kept with the festival service of the full liturgy and not with the penitential incompleteness of the Mass of the Presanctified. Compare canon xlix. of this Synod, and canon lij. of the Quinisext Council.


The whole of Lent is a time of grief for our sins, and the memories of the Saints are not kept except on the Sabbaths.

Van Espen remarks how in old calendars there are but few Saints-days in those months in which Lent ordinarily falls, andthat the multitude of days now kept by the Roman ordo are mostly of modern introduction.

Canon LII.

Marriages and birthday feasts are not to be celebrated in Lent.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LII.

Marriage shall not be celebrated in Lent, norbirthdays.


By "birthday feasts" in this canon thenatalitia martyrum is not to be understood as in the preceding canon, but the birthday feasts of princes. This, as well as the preceding rule, was renewed in the sixth century by Bishop Martin of Bracara, now Braga, in Portugal.

Canon LIII.

Christians, when they attend weddings, must not join in wanton dances, but modestly dine or breakfast, as is becoming to Christians.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LIII.

It is unsuitable to dance or leap at weddings.

Van Espen.

This canon does not call for explanation it for re reflexion, and greatly it is to be desired that it should be observed by Christians, and that through like improprieties, wedding-days, which should be days of holy joy and blessing, be not turned, even to the bride and groom themselves, into days of cursing. Moreover the Synod of Trent admonishes bishops (Sets. xxiv., De Reform. Mat., cap. x.) to take care that at weddings there be only that which is modest and proper.

Canon LIV.

Members of the priesthood and of the clergy must not witness the plays at weddings or banquets; but, before the players enter, they must rise and depart.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LIV.

Priests and clerics should leave before the play.


Christians are admonished to feast modestly when they go to weddings and not to dance nor balli/zein, that is to clap their hands and make a noise with them. For this is unworthy of the Christian standing. But consecrated persons must not see the play at weddings, but before the thymelici begin, they must go out.

Compare with this Canons XXIV. and LI., of the Synod in Trullo.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars III., De But Consecrat. Dist. v., can. xxxvij.

Canon LV.

Neither members of the priesthood nor of the clergy, nor yet laymen, may club together for drinking entertainments.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LV.

Neither a layman nor a cleric shall celebrate a club feast.

These meals, the expenses of which were defrayed by a number clubbing together and sharing the cost, were called "symbola" by Isidore, and by Melinus and Crabbe "comissalia," although the more ordinary form is "commensalia" or "comessalia." Cf. Ducange Gloss., s.v. Commensalia and Confertum.

This Canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XLIV., c. x. (Isidore's version), and c. xij., (Martin of Braga's version).

Canon LVI.

Presbyters may not enter and take their seats in the bema before the entrance of the Bishop: but they must enter with the Bishop, unless he be at home sick, or absent.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LVI.

A presbyter shall not enter the bema before the bishop, nor sit down.

It is difficult to translate this canon without giving a false idea of its meaning. It does not determine the order of dignity in an ecclesiastical procession, but something entirely different, viz., it provides that when the bishop enters the sanctuary he should not be alone and walk into a place already occupied, but that he should have with him, as a guard of honour, the clergy. Whether these should walk before or after him would be a mere matter of local custom, the rule juniores priores did not universally prevail.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. XCV., can. viij.

Canon LVII.

Bishops must not be appointed in villages or country districts, but visitors; and those who have been already appointed must do nothing without the consent of the bishop of the city. Presbyters, in like manner, must do nothing without the consent of the bishop.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LVII.

A bishop shall not be established in a village or in the country, but a periodeutes. But should one be appointed he shall not perform any function without the bishop of the city.

On the whole subject of Chorepiscopi see the Excursus to Canon VIII. of Nice, in this volume.


Compare the eighth and tenth canons of the Synod of Antioch of 341, the thirteenth of the Synod of Ancyra, and the second clause of the sixth canon of the Synod of Sardica. The above canon orders that from henceforth, in the place of the rural bishops, priests ofhigher rank shall act as visitors of the country dioceses and country clergy. Dionysius Exiguus, Isidore, the Greek commentators, Van Espen, Remi Ceillier, Neander, and others thus interpret this canon; but Herbst, in the Tubingen Review, translates the word (periodeutai;) not visitors but physicians-physicians of the soul,-and for this he appeals to passages from the Fathers of the Church collected by Suicer in his Thesaurus.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars I., Dist. LXXX., c. v.

Canon LVIII.

The Oblation must not be made by bishops or presbyters in any private houses.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LVIII.

Neither a bishop nor a presbyter shall make the offering in private houses.

Van Espen.

By "the oblation" here is intended the oblation of the unbloody sacrifice according to the mind of the Greek interpreters. Zonaras says: "The faithful can pray to God and be intent upon their prayers everywhere, whether in the house, in the field, or in any place they possess: but to offer or perform the oblation must by no means be done except in a church and at an altar."

Canon LIX.

No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LIX.

Psalms of private origin, or books uncanonical are not to be sung in temples; but the canonical writings of the old and new testaments.


Several heretics, for instance Bardesanes, Paul of Samosata, and Apollinaris-had composed psalms, i.e., Church hymns. The Synod of Laodicea forbade the use of any composed by private individuals, namely all unauthorized Church hymns. Luft remarks that by this it was not intended to forbid the use of all but the Bible psalms and hymns, for it is known that even after this Synod many hymns composed by individual Chris- tians, for instance, Prudentius, Clement, Ambrose, came into use in the Church. Only those not sanctioned were to be banished.

This idea was greatly exaggerated by some Gallicans in the seventeenth century who wished that all the Antiphons, etc., should be in the words of Holy Scripture. A learned but somewhat distorted account of this whole matter will be found in the Institutions Liturgiques by Dom Prosper Gueranger, tome ij., and a shorter but more temperate account in Dr. Batiffol's Histoire du Breviaire Romain, Chap. vj.

Canon LX.

[N. B.-This Canon is of most questionable genuineness.]

These are all the books of Old Testament appointed to be read: 1, Genesis of the world; 2, The Exodus from Egypt; 3, Leviticus; 4, Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, Joshua, the son of Nun; 7, Judges, Ruth; 8, Esther; 9, Of the Kings, First and Second; 10, Of the Kings, Third and Fourth; 11, Chronicles, First and Second; 12, Esdras, First and Second; 13, The Book of Psalms; 14, The Proverbs of Solomon; 15, Ecclesiastes; 16, The Song of Songs;17, Job; 18, The Twelve Prophets; 19, Isaiah; 20, Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle; 21, Ezekiel; 22, Daniel.

And these are the books of the New Testament: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Acts of the Apostles; Seven Catholic Epistles, to wit, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon.


Ancient Epitome of Canon LX.

But of the new, the four Gospels-of Matthew, of Mark, of Luke, of John ; Acts; Seven Catholic epistles, viz. of James one, of Peter two, of John three, of Jude one ; of Paul fourteen, viz.: to the Romans one, to the Corinthians two, to the Galatians one, to the Ephesians one, to thePhillipians one, to the Colossians one, to the Thessalonians two, to the Hebrews one, to Timothy two, to Titus one, and to Philemon one.

It will be noticed that while this canon has often been used for controversial purposes it really has little or no value in this connexion, for the absence of the Revelation of St. John from the New Testament to all orthodox Christians is, to say the least, as fatal to its reception as an ecumenical definition of the canon of Holy Scripture, as the absence of the book of Wisdom, etc., from the Old Testament is to its reception by those who accept the books of what we may call for convenience the Greek canon, as distinguished from the Hebrew, as canonical.

We may therefore leave this question wholly out of account, and merely consider the matter from the evidence we possess.

In 1777 Spittler published a special treatise(1) to shew that the list of scriptural books was no part of the original canon adopted by Laodicea. Hefele gives the following resume of his argument:(2)

(a) That Dionysius Exiguus has not this canon in his translation of the Laodicean decrees. It might, indeed, be said with Dallaeus and Van Espen, that Dionysius omitted this list of the books of Scripture because in Rome, where he composed his work, another by Innocent I. was in general use.

(b) But, apart from the fact that Dionysius is always a most faithful translator, this sixtieth canon is also omitted by John of Antioch, one of the most esteemed and oldest Greek collectors of canons, who could have had no such reasons as Dionysius for his omission.

(c) Lastly, Bishop Martin of Braga in the sixth century, though he has the fifty-ninth, has also not included in his collection the sixtieth canon so nearly related to it, nor does the Isidorian translation appear at first to have had this canon.(3) Herbst, in the Tubingen Review, also accedes to these arguments of Spittler's, as did Fuchs and others before him. Mr. Ffoulkes in his article on the Council of Laodicea in Smith and Cheetham's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities at length attempts to refute all objections, and affirms the genuineness of the list, put his conclusions can hardly be accepted when the careful consideration and discussion of the matter by Bishop Westcott is kept in mind. (History of the Canon of the New Testament, IIID. Period, chapter ii. [p. 428 of the 4th Edition.])

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