Let none of all the Metropolitans, when a Bishop dies who is under his throne, have any right to remove or to usurp his belongings or those of his church, but let them be under the safe keeping of the Clergy of the church of which the deceased happened to be president until the induction or installation of another Bishop, unless there be no Clergymen left in the same church. For the Metropolitan shall safely keep all such things undiminished and hand all of them over to the Bishop who is to be ordained.
(Ap. c. XL; c. XXII of the 4th; c. XXIV of Antioch; cc. XXX, LXXXIX of Carthage.)
No Metropolitan, says the present Canon, has any right or permission, when any bishop dies, to plunder and appropriate his belongings or those of his episcopate; but, on the contrary, these are to be held for safe keeping by the clergymen of the episcopate until another bishop has been installed. But if no clergymen have been left in that bishopric, then the Metropolitan shall take charge of them and keep them safe and nothing missing until he can turn them over to the bishop who is going to be ordained. See also Ap. c. XL.
Renewing the laws made by the one hundred and fifty Holy Fathers who assembled in this God-guarded imperial capital city, and by the six hundred and thirty of those who assembled in Chalcedon, we decree that the throne of Constantinople shall enjoy equal seniorities (or priorities) with the throne of older Rome, and in ecclesiastical matters shall be magnified like the latter, coming second after the latter; after which the throne of the great city of the Alexandrians shall come next, then that of Antioch, and after this the throne of the city of the Jerusalemites.
(Ap. c. XXXIV; c. III of the 2nd; c. XXVIII of the 4th.)
The present Canon renews c. III of the 2nd Ecum. C. and c. XXVIII of the 4th, which deal with the privileges of the Bishop of Constantinople, prescribing that he shall enjoy equal and same privileges with the one of Rome, and shall be magnified in ecclesiastical affairs in a similar manner to him, coming second after him only in point of order, while the Bishop of Alexandria is third, the one of Antioch fourth, and the one of Jerusalem fifth, solely in the matter of this order of prenumeration and subnumeration so conceived and so called. Read also the above-mentioned Canons, and c. VI of the First Ecum. C. and the Footnote thereto, in which we speak about the five Patriarchs.
Since at various times there have been inroads of barbarians, and many cities have as a result become subject to the iniquitous, so that the President of such a city has been unable after ordination to take possession of his own throne and to be installed therein in sacerdotal state, and thus to act and employ himself in accordance with the prevailing custom of bestowing ordinations and to do everything that pertains to a Bishop, we, being determined to safeguard the rights of the priesthood to honor and respect, and being nowise disposed to consent to any curtailment of ecclesiastical rights or to allow the heathen influence to be exercised over those so ordained, and on account of the cause recited above since they are unable to gain possession of their own thrones, we have seen fit to concur in decreeing that no prejudice shall result therefrom to prevent them from bestowing ordinations canonically upon various Clergymen, and from employing the authority of the presidency in accordance with the same definition; and that any and all administration advanced by them shall be sure and duly established. For the definition of economy shall not be restricted or limited by the circumstances of necessity or be circumscribed as touching its rigor.
(Ap. c. XXXVI; c. XVIII of Ancyra; cc. XVII, XVIII of Antioch.)
The present Canon decrees that inasmuch as some prelates after being duly ordained have been unable to go to their thrones and eparchies, owing to the fact that their thrones have been captured by incursions of barbarians, for this reason, maintaining the respect and honor due to the prelacy, and being unwilling to let the fact of capture by barbarians become an obstacle to thwart ecclesiastical rights, we decree that those who have been thus ordained, and owing to the occasion and fear of barbarians have been unable to seat themselves upon their thrones, shall not be prejudiced as to their right to perform ordinations of various clergymen within their eparchy, even though they are far away from it (and see the Footnote to c. XVI of Antioch), as the Canons prescribe, and to have the honor and authority of the presidency in accordance with the same definition, or, more plainly speaking, according as their eparchy has been defined to be the first, say, or the second, the third, and so on; and anything they may do by virtue of any prelatical right, or, in other words, as prelates, is to be firm and legal. For although rigor, meaning the theoretical possibility of their going to their thrones and doing such things, has been lessened by the necessity of the time and of barbarians, yet the definition of economy, or more plainly speaking the right to do these things on their same throne even though far away from it, shall not be lessened on that account. Read also Ap. c. XXXVI.
We too retain the Canon which was laid down by our Fathers and which reads as follows: If any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities, let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes be followed.
(c. XVII of the 4th.) (The present Canon is included in c. XVII of the 4th, and see the Interpretation of it there.)
Seeing that our brother and fellow minister John the president of the island of the Cyprians has departed thence with his laity and has come to the eparchy of the Hellespont, both because of barbarian assaults and because they have been freed from heathen slavery and have become subject to the ruling powers of the most Christian empire, by the providence of the philanthropic (or man-loving) God, and by the hard work of our Christ-loving and pious emperor, we see fit to concur in decreeing that the privileges conferred upon and granted to the throne of the man aforesaid by the God-bearing Fathers who convened in Ephesus long ago shall be preserved without any innovations, so that the new Justinianopolis shall have the right of Constantinople, and the most God-beloved Bishop appointed over it shall preside over all those in the eparchy of the Hellespontians and be ordained by his own bishops, in accordance with the ancient custom. For our God-bearing Fathers have already decided that the customs obtaining in each Church are to be continued, the Bishop of the city of the Cyzicenians being subject to the president of the said Justinianopolis, in imitation of the rest of all the Bishops who are under the said most God-beloved president John, by whom, if the need arises, the Bishop of the same city of the Cyzicenians shall be ordained.
(Ap. c. XXXIV; cc. VI, XII of the 1st; cc. II, III, VIII of the 2nd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; c. XXXVI of the 6th; c. IX of Antioch.)
In the time of Emperor Justinian II the Archbishop of Cyprus John departed from his eparchy (or province) together with his laity and came to the eparchy of the Hellespont (the Hellespont, according to Balsamon, is the eastern territory extending from Abydus, or, in other words the eastern Castron from the outside, to Thrace; but according to Chrysanthus the strait extending from Tenedus to Callipolis, or Gallipoli), as much on account of incursions of the barbarians as because of the fact that he was freed from their captivity, by the providence of God and through the diligence of the Emperor, and became a subject of the Roman Empire. For this reason the present Canon decrees that the privileges conferred upon the Bishop of Cyprus by c. VIII of the 3rd Council shall be preserved entire, and that this new city of Justinianoplis is to enjoy the right of Constantinople (that is to say, the right to be like her autocephalous, or, just as the Asian, the Pontic, and the Thracian provinces became subject to the Bishop of Constantinople, as we have said in c. XXVIII of the 4th, so and in like manner is the Hellespontian province, or eparchy, subject to Cyprus); and its Archbishop is to be ordained by his own bishops, in accordance with the ancient custom. So that the Metropolitan of the city of Cyzicus shall be subject to him, just as are also all the bishops in Cyprus, and whenever there is need he shall be ordained by him. Read also c. VIII of the Third Council.
Since it is very conducive to salvation for one to become closely attached to God by retiring from the turmoil of life, we must not welcome without examination those who unseasonably choose the solitary (or monastic) life, but must observe the definition handed down to us by the Fathers even in these matters, so as to make it incumbent upon us to welcome the confession (or promise, as we say in English) of a life in accordance with God then, when it is already certain and has been done with consent and judgment, after the completion of the reason. Therefore let anyone who is about to submit to the monastic yoke and who is not less than ten years old, the test for this resting with the president, if he deems the time to be more advantageous for growth as preparation for entrance into and continuance in the solitary life. For even though St. Basil the Great in his sacred Canons welcomes the girl who voluntarily offers herself to God and embraces virginity when passing through her seventeenth year, and makes it a law for her to be enrolled in the battalion of Virgins, yet, even so, following the example with respect to widows and deaconesses closely we have allowed those choosing the solitary life the said time proportionately. For in the divine Apostle it is written: “Let not a widow be taken into the number under sixty years old if she has been the wife of one husband” (1 Tim. 5:9). The sacred Canons, on the other hand, give instructions to the effect that a deaconess can be ordained only when she is at least forty years old, the Church having by the grace of God become mightier and advancing forward, and the tendency of the faithful to keep the divine commandments having become firmly fixed and secure, after exquisitely perceiving which fact quite recently we have seen fit to decree the blessing of grace upon the one about to undertake the struggle of living in accordance with God, impressing it precisely like a seal quickly and hence seeking to prevent him from lingering too long, and urging him forward into the arena, or rather indeed we might say impelling him to the choice and state of what is good.
(c. XIX of the 1st; c. XV of the 4th; c. XIV of the 6th; cc. VI, LI, CXXXV of Carthage; cc. XVIII, XXIV of Basil.)
Those who wish to become monks or nuns ought not, according to the present Canon, to be accepted without examination, and at an unseasonable or improper time and in defiance of the definition prescribed by the divine Fathers (and especially St. Basil the Great), but only then ought the confession and promise they make to God to be accepted as reliable and representative of their state of mind, when the judgment of their reasoning faculty has reached its maturity, as Basil the Great asserts in his c. XVIII and especially in his Definition 15 in extenso. So, in sum, let the one who is about to become a monk be not less than ten years old; but, nevertheless, let it be in the power of the bishop to try him out and to increase the number of years for him (in proportion, that is to say, to his natural knowledge) if he deems it more to the person’s interest. For although Basil the Great specifies in his aforesaid Canon that a virgin girl over sixteen or seventeen years may be admitted to the battalion of virgins, we nevertheless, following the example of the widows and deaconesses, have reduced the sixteen or seventeen years of St. Basil to ten years, because the Apostle prescribes that a widow may be admitted to the Church if she is not less than sixty years old, while the Fathers of the 4th say that a woman may be ordained a deaconess when she is forty years old, in their c. XV, seeing the Church of God to be advancing with the grace of God, and the constancy shown by Christians in the keeping of the divine commandments. Giving these facts due thought, we have decreed this Canon, engraving in the tender soul of the one about to commence the spiritual struggles of monks, as a seal, the blessing of divine grace, and bracing him by means of this Canon, not to neglect the business of virtue for a long time, but rather to choose the good portion so much the sooner. But c. VI of Carthage says also that virgins ought to be consecrated to God by only the bishop; and c. LI of the same Council says that they ought to be provided for by him also, or, in his absence, by the presbyter.
Those wishing to depart from cities or villages where they are living in cloisters, and to look after themselves alone by themselves, must first enter a Monastery, and become duly accustomed to anchoretic conduct, and to submit for three years straight to the Prior of the Monastery in fear of God, and to fulfill obedience fittingly in all respects; and thus while confessing a predilection for such a life, they may embrace this with all their heart, and the fact must appear and be verified by test of trial by the local president. It is wishable, though, that they may spend another year staying outside by waiting with fortitude in the cloister so that their aim may come to light more clearly. For they shall afford such clear evidence that they are not hunting empty glory, i.e., are not in pursuit of vainglory, but are striving after this quietude for the sake of what is really good itself. When such a long time has been completed, those who persist in the same preference shall be shut up and it shall no longer be possible for them to leave this solitary confinement when they want to, except and unless it be for the common advantage and benefit, or some other necessity forcing them towards death, and they are being drawn towards this alternative, and thus, with the blessing of the local Bishop. But apart from the said pretexts, in case they should attempt to make an exit from their resorts (or dungeons), the first formality is that they must be duly imprisoned in the said cloister against their will, and must be forced to fast again and again, and to submit to other hardships, so as to be made well aware of the fact that “No one who, after putting his hand to the plow, looks back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven” (Luke 9:62.)
It is a great and bold stroke for one to depart mundane life right at the very start and be shut up inside of cloisters, and from one extravagation to jump over to another extravagation — from the turbulent sea, I mean, of life into the untoward and difficult sea of quietude. For this reason these Fathers in the present Canon decree that those who wish to do this must go to a monastery, and after showing obedience to the prior in every respect for three years, they must be examined by the bishop and confess that of their own accord and with all their heart they are yearning for such a departure. Afterwards, following this, they are to quietly rest themselves and remain quiet for a year outside of the cloister, in order to furnish still more convincing evidence that it was not out of vainglory, but out of a desire for the good of quietude that they have been longing for this kind of life. And if after all these steps they stand solidly on the same conclusion and eagerness, then they are to be shut up and are no longer to have permission to get out when they wish, except only if this be for the common benefit of the people and on account of a danger of dying. Nevertheless even then they are to come out with the blessing and permission of the local bishop. But if without having any such reasons as these they should try to get out, they are to be forcibly shut up again in their said cloister, and be penanced (or “canonized”) canonically both with fastings and with other kinds of hardships and harsh treatment in order to be taught that, as the Lord said, whoever puts his hand to the plow, or, in other words, whoever commences a career in accordance with God’s way and afterward goes back to a worldly life, cannot succeed in traveling straight to the Kingdom of Heaven.
As touching so-called hermits, who dressed in black and with a growth of hair on their head go about the cities and associate with laymen and women, and insult their own profession, we decree, if they choose to tonsure their hair and adopt the habit (or garb) of other Monks, that they be installed in a Monastery and be enrolled with their brethren there. But if they do not prefer to do so, they must be driven out of the cities altogether and be forced to dwell in deserts, from which they formed the name they have applied to themselves.
Because of the fact that of old many deceivers of the people calling themselves hermits, wearing black and growing hair on their head, roamed round cities, mixing with men and women, and discrediting their monastic profession, the present Canon decrees that if such men are willing to cut off their hair, like the rest of monks who live in monasteries, and to be settled down in a monastery, well and good; but if they are unwilling, let them be driven out of the cities entirely, and let them go and dwell in the deserts, from which they falsely, and not truly and truthfully, came to call themselves “hermits.” (Note of Translator. — This word hermit in English has somehow or other acquired an initial h which does not belong to it. It is derived from the Greek word for desert eremia, whence the Greek word in question is eremites, meaning “(a monk) inhabiting the desert or wilderness.”
It is permissible for a Christian to choose the ascetic mode of life and abandoning the turbulent whirl of ordinary life to enter a Monastery, and to take a tonsure in accordance with monkish habit, even though he should have been found guilty of any offense whatsoever. For our Savior God said: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). As therefore monachal life represents to us a state of repentance as though engraved upon a pillar, we join in sympathizing with anyone that genuinely adopts it, and no manner of means shall prevent him from accomplishing his aim.
(c. II of the lst-&-2nd; c. XXVII of John the Faster.)
It would seem that some persons who wished to lead a monastic life were being prevented from doing so by others, perhaps because of sins they had committed. Hence the present Canon decrees that every Christian (who is under his own control, that is to say, and not under the authority of another person; and see Ap. c. LXXXII) is permitted to renounce and abjure the world, and to go to a monastery and get tonsured, even though he may have committed the greatest sin, seeing that the Lord said, “I won’t chase away anyone that comes to me.” So, then, inasmuch as the life of monks is a picture of repentance, just as a pillar is a picture of what is engraved upon it, therefore and on this account we too are pleased to congratulate those persons who prefer it, and no cause (of any sin, that is to say, and not of any allegiance to authority) shall prevent such persons from carrying out their avowed aim. Canon XXV of Nicephorus, too, says that if anyone who is ill asks for the monachal habit, it must be given to him at once without postponing the time, or procrastinating, and that the grace must not be withheld from it on any account. Both Balsamon and Symeon of Thessalonica say this same thing too. Without an “old man,” however, at hand to welcome into admission and submission, no monk ought to be solemnized, according to c. II of the lst-&-2nd.
Any Monk that is found guilty of the act of fornication, or of accepting a woman for the purpose of matrimony and with a view to living with her (as his wife), shall be compelled to suffer the penalty of undergoing the penances prescribed by the Canons.
(c. XVI of the 4th; c. XIX of Ancyra; cc. VI, XVIII, XIX, XX, LX of Basil.)
If any monk be proved to have committed fornication, or if he marries, he is to be penanced as a fornicator, i.e., for seven years, in accordance with the Canons; the unlawful marriage being first dissolved. That is what the present Canon decrees. As for the Canons it refers to, these are c. XIX of Basil. Read also c. XVI of the 4th.
Since we have learned that in some convents (or nunneries) the women about to be deemed worthy of that sacred habit, first dress themselves up in fine style with silken and all sorts of fancy costumes, and, what is more, worn in worldly fashion and ornamented with gold and precious stones, and show themselves off before those who are inducting them, and that while they are approaching the altar they take off all these materials, and that thereupon and without further ado the blessing of the habit is pronounced upon them and they are clothed in the black garment; we decree that henceforth this shall no longer be done. For it is not pious or meritorious for any woman that has already of her own free will and preference renounced every pleasure of delightfulness of life and has embraced the career modeled after God, and has confirmed this with undeviating strict vows, and thus has come to the Monastery, once more in remembrance to pass through this repetition of that perishable and flowing world whereof she has already committed herself to forgetfulness. As a result thereof she is rendered doubtful, and her soul is agitated, like as though billows were surging over it, and turning it this way and that, so that after all they do not even shed a tear, be it only once in a while, nor do they exhibit any contrition in their heart through their body. But even if a tear do for an instant, as is but natural, well up and leap out, it is less on account of any disposition in favor of the ascetic struggle than for their having abandoned the world and the things in the world, and rather with a thought to having others see it.
(c. CXXXV of Carthage.)
The present Canon prohibits women from adorning themselves in attractive costumes and silk dresses when they are about to become nuns, and with jewelry of gold and gems, and while thus adorned to approach the holy Bema of the church in a convent (or nunnery) for nuns, and there to take off all these vain ornaments and at once put on the black garments of nuns, and receive the blessing of the habit. For it is not becoming in a woman who of her own free will has previously rejected every pleasure of life and has fallen in love with a career modeled after God, and with firm vows has confirmed this choice of hers, and has gone to the monastery thus on a solid basis, to recollect again such ornaments of those things which she previously had scorned and forgotten. And not only this, but also for her soul to be agitated as a result of these ornaments and because worldly imaginations rise up against her like billows, so as not to let her shed even a tear as she is being tonsured and show thereby that contrition which ought to be in her heart. But even if she should let one little tear drop from the corner of her eye, it is perhaps just to make onlookers think that she shed it not so much because of her having been deemed worthy of the angelic habit, as because she has forsaken the world and all that is in the world.
As touching women who prefer the ascetic life and are enrolled in a convent, in general let them not step outside of it, but if they are compelled to do so by any inexorable (or “indispensable”) necessity, let them do so with the blessing and permission of the abbess. Even then let them not go out all alone by themselves, but let them be accompanied by some presbyteresses and mother-superiors in the convent provided with a warrant from the Prioress. They must not be permitted to sleep outside of the building at all. But men who are leading the solitary life (of monasticism) may themselves step out, when there is urgent need of their doing so, only with the blessing of the one in charge of the monastery. So that those who violate the rule which we have now made, whether they be men or women, must be subjected to suitable penances.
(c. XLVII of the 6th.)
These Fathers do not want nuns to go away from their convents at all. But if any unavoidable and urgent need arise that compels them to do so, let them fare forth with the blessing and permission of the Abbess; even then, however, not alone, but with other women who are much older both in point of age and in point of prudence. For them to sleep at night outside of their convents is utterly forbidden them in any case whatsoever. But monks, too, when similarly compelled by some urgent and unavoidable need, may go out from their monasteries only with the blessing of the Prior. All those who do otherwise are to be reprimanded with suitable penances, which the Prior or Prioress is acquainted with, whether the delinquents be men or women.
Let neither any woman sleep in the men’s quarters in a Monastery, nor any man in the women’s quarters of a Convent. For the faithful believers must be remote from any offensiveness of scandal, and must regulate their own life to be seemly and accordant to the Lord. If anyone do this, whether he be a clergyman or a layman, let him be excommunicated.
(cc. XVIII, XX, XXII of the 7th.)
This Canon decrees that neither may any woman in general sleep at night in the monastery of monks, nor may any man in general sleep at a convent mutually with any of the nuns there. For Christians in general must not cause any others any scandal or suspicion, but must pass their life in a seemly manner and in a manner agreeable to the Lord. But much more ought monks to guard themselves against committing this impropriety. As for women sleeping in a monastery of monks, and conversely for men to sleep in a convent of nuns, this should cause them to be scandalized themselves because of its kindling the innate fire of desire both in the men and in the women; and it should scandalize others too still worse because of its inducing them to entertain improper suspicions about them. As for anyone that does this, he is to be excommunicated, no matter whether he be a clergyman or a layman.
As touching any woman who is the wife of a man who is being elevated to the presidency of an Episcopate, and who by mutual agreement gets divorced from her own husband in advance after his ordination to the Episcopate, let her enter a Convent that is in a location far removed from the home city of the Bishop, and let her be taken care of by the Bishop. But if she also appears to be worthy, let her also be elevated to the office of Deaconess.
The present Canon commands that any woman who is the wife of a man who is about to become a bishop must first divorce by common consent of both her and him. And after he has been duly ordained, she must enter a convent (or monastery) that is far away from his eparchy, or province, by which expression it is implied that she is to become a nun in some remote convent, but is to be provided with the necessities of life by him (if, that is to say, she is needy). The Canon commanded this to be done, in order that they might not from seeing each other be led to recollect their former conduct and association in life, and consequently be burned up with a desire for carnal love. But if the wife, however, is worthy, she may be made a deaconess. Read also Ap. c. V, and c. XII of the 6th, and the second Footnote to c. XL of the same 6th. From this Canon Blastaris rightly infers that neither ought the wife of deceased priests marry a second time.
Renewing this sacred Canon too, we decree that Monasteries that have once been consecrated and established in accordance with the consent and approval of a Bishop shall remain Monasteries unto perpetuity, and the property that belongs to them shall be kept safe in the Monastery, and that they can no longer become worldly resorts, nor be let out by anybody whatever to any worldly tenants whatever. Though this has been done up till now, we nevertheless decree that it shall not be continued in any way whatever. Those who attempt to do this hereafter shall be subject to the penances provided by the Canons.
(c. XXIV of the 4th; c. XIII of the 7th.)
The present Canon renews c. XXIV of the 4th, which it repeats verbatim, and see the Interpretation there. All it adds thereto is this, that neither shall monasteries be let out by anybody (whether a clergyman or a layman or a monk, that is to say) to worldly men, to manage them, that is to say; and though this has been the practice hitherto, from now on, however, and hereafter it must not be done.
From now on no one, whether a clergyman or a layman, is permitted to gamble (or to play dice). In case anyone be caught doing this, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office, but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.
(Ap. cc. XLII, XLIII.)
These Fathers forbid everybody to gamble, or, in other words, to play dice, or cards, or draughts, or any other such games, no matter whether he be a clergyman or a layman. Anyone that should play these games after publication of this Canon, if he be a clergyman, shall be deposed from office, but if he be a layman, he shall be excommunicated. See also Ap. c. XLII
The holy and ecumenical Council universally prohibits so-called pantomimes and their theatrical exhibitions; afterwards, in keeping with this, also the spectacles of wild-animal fury and of hunters’ prowess, and the execution of dances on the stage. If anyone flouts the present Canon, and gives himself over to any of the things herein prohibited, in case he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but in case he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.
(cc. XXIV, LXII, LXVI of the 6th; cc. XVII, LXX of Carthage.)
With a vengeance the present Canon prohibits the doings of so-called pantomimes, some of whom were Arabs mimicking gestures, while others were Armenians, at other times slaves, sometimes even slapping each other’s face, and moving the spectators to uncontrollable laughter. What is here called “spectacles of wild-animal fury and of hunters’ prowess” as translated into English (though but two words in Greek, meaning, approximately, “hunting scenes” — translated, however, as above in order to bring out the implications more clearly) are the spectacles beheld when one sees wild beasts, such as, for instance, lion, say, or bears, or other savage animals, fighting, either among themselves, or with human beings who have been condemned to death. For it is a piece of great inhumanity and barbarity to look at such bloodshed and laugh at it. But in addition to these spectacles, the Canon also forbids dances and indecent wriggles performed whether by men or by women on the stage. The stage was a tent within which they used to engage in all kinds of theatrical presentations and pretenses, or where someone would stand up and display examples of skillful acting, according to Title XIII of Photius, ch. 21, and hence they are called actors who at times pretend that they are masters or lords, and at other times that they are slaves or servants. As for anyone that flouts the present Canon and gives himself to watching such displays, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office, but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. Read also c. XXIV of the same 6th.
On all the days of the holy Lent devoted to fasting, with the exception of Saturday and Sunday and the days of the holy Annunciation, let the sacred Liturgy of the Presanctified be celebrated.
(Ap. c. LXIX; cc. XLIX:LI of Laodicea).
The days of holy Lent are days of mourning and of contrition and of penitence. But for a perfect sacrifice to be offered to God, and indeed in the commemorations of saints, is deemed by the majority of people to be a matter of heydey, and of joy, and of festivity. That is why they are wont to indulge in merry-making during this period. For this reason the present Canon commands that on the other days of Lent there shall be a celebration of the liturgy of the presanetified, which is the same as saying the second offering of the finished and offered sacrifice, whereas on Saturdays and Sundays, as more hilarious days and not devoted to fasting, likewise also on Annunciation Day, as being the commencement of our salvation and the exordium, and consequently as a feast day and festival, it allows a perfect sacrifice and liturgy to be celebrated.
Since familiarity with respect to the spirit is superior to the association of bodies, while, on the other hand, we have learned that some persons, after becoming sponsors to children subjected to the formalities of a holy and salvatory baptism, have entered into a marriage contract with the widowed mothers of those children, we decree that henceforth nothing of the kind shall be done. If any persons be detected doing this hereafter, first and foremost let such persons desist from such unlawful state of matrimony, and afterwards let them be compelled to undergo the penances prescribed to be suffered by those guilty of fornication.
The present Canon forbids anybody to take to wife the mother of his goddaughter who has become a widow and whose child he has stood sponsor for at holy baptism, since this relationship based upon the spirit, whereby the godfather and the spiritually related mother of the child he has sponsored become spiritually brother and sister, is superior (superior, however, not in respect of quantity and rank; for blood relationship holds as an obstacle only to the third degree of rank — but in respect of quality and familiarity: and see in the section concerning marriage contract, ch. 8). As for any persons that may dare to do this, they are first of all to be divorced from this unlawful wedding, and next they are to be canonized (i.e., canonically punished) as fornicators on account of that unlawful marriage. This same provision, however, which the Canon makes in regard to sponsorship, ought to apply likewise to adoption solemnized by sacred rites and prayers, according to the twenty-fourth Novel of Leo the Wise.
In view of the fact Holy Scripture clearly teaches us that which is embodied in the following passage, to wit: “Thou shall not intrude upon any relative of thy flesh to expose his private parts” (Lev. 18:6), God-bearing Basil merely enumerated some of the forbidden marriages in his Canons relating thereto, passing over most of them in silence, and pointing out to us on both hands that which is of benefit. For after eschewing the multitude of obscene appellations, as though to avoid defiling his discourse with the words, he dealt with the filth in general terms, in which he pointed out concisely the marriages that are unlawful. But inasmuch as such silence and inability to discern what marriages are prohibited as illicit led nature to get confused, we have concurred in seeing fit to present the facts concerning this matter more nakedly. Accordingly, we decree that henceforth anyone who enters into matrimonial relationship with his own (female) cousin; or any father and his son who likewise take a mother and her daughter, or two sisters; or a mother and her daughter likewise take two brothers; or two brothers take two sisters — shall incur a seven years’ canon (or penance), after they have canceled the unlawful marriage contract.
Since the divine Scripture clearly teaches us by telling us, “O man, thou shalt not take in marriage any carnal relative of thine,” in reference to this saying St. Basil the Great in his c. LXXVI enumerated some marriages forbidden in his Canons (as, for instance, in his c. LXXVI that of a man taking his sister-in-law to wife; in his c. LXXVIII, that of one who takes two sisters; and others in other cc.), but passed over the most in silence, on the ground of their being too shameful to mention, in order to avoid defiling his discourse with the names of them, but concisely alluded to all unlawful marriages by the general designation of them as filth (but as for what the Council says that Basil said, Basil asserts that Scripture has said it — which is to say, divine St. Paul, who said: “But fornication and all (other) filth, let it not even be named among you,” etc. (Eph. 5:3). As a result of this silence men’s nature was confused by consanguinity, and for this reason we define these matters more clearly in the present Canon by decreeing that from this time forth whoever takes to wife his (female) cousin, or any father and his son if they take to wife a mother and her daughter, or two sisters, or if two brothers take a mother and her daughter, or two sisters — all these persons must first be separated from this unlawful marriage contract, and afterwards be canonized (i.e., penanced) seven years. St. Basil, however, in his c. LXVIII decrees generally that marriage within forbidden degrees of relationship is to be canonized with the penalty of adulterers, i.e., 15 years. See also in the teaching concerning marriage contracts.
Since we have learned that those in the city of the Romans during the holy fast of Lent are fasting on the Saturdays thereof, contrary to the ecclesiastical practice handed down, it has seemed best to the holy Council for the Church of the Romans to hold rigorously the Canon saying: “If any Clergyman be found fasting on Sunday, or on Saturday, with the exception of one only let him be deposed from office. If, however, a layman, let him be excommunicated.”
By the present Canon this Council forbids the old Romans to fast (either by abstaining entirely from food of all kinds, that is to say, or by eating only dry food in the ninth hour) on the Saturdays of holy Lent (for on these the consumption of wine, oil, and shellfish is allowed), and decrees that c. LXIV of the Holy Apostles must be kept rigorously in Rome too, iterating it verbatim — read the Interpretation of it.
Likewise we have learned that in the country of the Armenians and in other regions on the Saturdays and on the Sundays of holy Lent some persons eat eggs and cheese. It has therefore seemed best to decree also this, that the Church of God throughout the inhabited earth, carefully following a single procedure, shall carry out fasting, and abstain, precisely as from every kind of thing sacrificed, so and especially from eggs and cheese, which are fruit and produce from which we have to abstain. As for those who fail to observe this rule, if they are Clergymen, let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated.
It would seem that the Christians living in Armenia, being told that the Apostolic Canon forbids one from fasting on Saturday and Sunday, and not understanding it aright, were wont to eat eggs and cheese on the Saturdays and Sundays of Lent. Hence this Council in the present Canon decrees that the entire Church of Christ, which is spread over the whole inhabited face of the earth, must follow one and the same procedure and fast on these days (by consuming on these days only wine, oil, and shellfish), and just as it abstains during Lent from animals that are sacrified, so must it also abstain from cheese and eggs, which are fruit and produce of such animals. As for those who fail to keep this rule, if they are clergymen, let them be deposed from office, but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated. Read also Ap. cc. LXIV and LXIX.
That honey and milk must not be offered at the Altars.
(Ap. c. III.)
The present Canon decrees that milk and honey must not be offered in the holy Bema on the holy Table, in agreement with Ap. c. III; see the Interpretation of the latter. This Canon, however, improves and corrects c. LXIV of Carthage, which decrees that such are to be offered, in accordance with some local custom.
Let no one ranked among Laymen administer the divine Mysteries to himself, when a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon is present. Let anyone that dares to do any such thing be excommunicated for a week on the ground that he is doing contrary to what has been ordered. Thus will he be instructively persuaded “not to think contrary to what he ought to think” (Rom. 12:3).
For a layman himself to partake of the divine Mysteries by himself, i.e., by helping himself thereto, without there being any need of doing so (when a Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, that is to say, is not present, according to Zonaras), is a work of presumption, and whoever does it is usurping unlawfully the office of the priesthood. For this is the function of priests, not of laymen. So for this reason the present Canon excommunicates from the Church for a week anyone that dares to do this, in order to teach him not to think in excess of what he ought to think according to the Apostle.
Let no Baptism be performed for anyone that is in an oratory within a house at the time; but let those who are going to be deemed worthy of the intemerate illumination come to the catholic churches and there enjoy this gift. If, however, anyone be caught not keeping what has been laid down by us as rules, if he should be a Clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he should be a layman, let him be excommunicated.
The present Canon commands that no baptism is to be carried out in an oratory contained in a private house, but only in catholic, and consequently enthroned, churches. As for anyone that fails to keep this rule, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he is a layman, the one who concerned in such a baptism, let him be excommunicated. See also Ap. c. XXXI.
In view of the fact that the Apostle loudly proclaims that “he that cleaves to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17), it is obvious also that he that makes himself intimate with the adversary becomes one with him by association. As touching, therefore, those who pretend to be possessed with demons, and who with their vileness of manners are wont to sham the habits of those persons, it has seemed best to penalize them by all means and to subject them to such hardships and pains as those who are really possessed with demons would be deservedly subjected to for the purpose of ridding them of the demon’s energy.
Some persons, because of the vileness of their frame of mind and with an eye to making a profit, were wont to pretend that they were possessed with a demon, and to go through the gesticulations of persons under the control of demons and make irregular motions by pretense while going about the cities and causing people a disturbance and making a theatrical show of themselves. Hence the present Canon commands that such persons be penalized by all means and be subjected to such great hardships and pains as would be inflicted upon persons really possessed with demons in order to free them from the demon accompanying them, with which these men too who feign themselves to be under the control of demons have become familiar and have become one with them, just as he that cleaves to the Lord and becomes intimate with the Lord becomes one spirit with Him, as St. Paul says. Balsamon states that such persons at various times were actually chained and shut up in prisons by many Patriarchs and Bishops. See also Ap. c. LXXIX