Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: Sec. III.—On the Instruction of Catechumens, and Their Initiation into Baptism
Sec. III.—On the Instruction of Catechumens, and Their Initiation into Baptism.
Now, after what manner those ought to live that are initiated into Christ, and what thanksgivings they ought to send up to God through Christ, has been said in the foregoing directions. But it is reasonable not to leave even those who are not yet initiated without assistance.
How the Catechumens are to Be Instructed in the Elements.
XXXIX. Let him, therefore, who is to be taught the truth in regard to piety be instructed before his baptism in the knowledge of the unbegotten God, in the understanding of His only begotten Son, in the assured acknowledgment of the Holy Ghost. Let him learn the order of the several parts of the creation, the series of providence, the different dispensations of Thy laws. Let him be instructed why the world was made, and why man was appointed to be a citizen therein; p. 476 let him also know his own nature, of what sort it is; let him be taught how God punished the wicked with water and fire, and did glorify the saints in every generation—I mean Seth, and Enos, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham and his posterity, and Melchizedek, and Job, and Moses, and Joshua, and Caleb, and Phineas the priest, and those that were holy in every generation; and how God still took care of and did not reject mankind, but called them from their error and vanity to the acknowledgment of the truth at various seasons, reducing them from bondage and impiety unto liberty and piety, from injustice to righteousness, from death eternal to everlasting life. Let him that offers himself to baptism learn these and the like things during the time that he is a catechumen; and let him who lays his hands upon him adore God, the Lord of the whole world, and thank Him for His creation, for His sending Christ His only begotten Son, that He might save man by blotting out his transgressions, and that He might remit ungodliness and sins, and might “purify him from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,” 3527 and sanctify man according to the good pleasure of His kindness, that He might inspire him with the knowledge of His will, and enlighten the eyes of his heart to consider of His wonderful works, and make known to him the judgments of righteousness, that so he might hate every way of iniquity, and walk in the way of truth, that he might be thought worthy of the laver of regeneration, to the adoption of sons, which is in Christ, that “being planted together in the likeness of the death of Christ,” 3528 in hopes of a glorious communication, he may be mortified to sin, and may live to God, as to his mind, and word, and deed, and may be numbered together in the book of the living. And after this thanksgiving, let him instruct him in the doctrines concerning our Lords incarnation, and in those concerning His passion, and resurrection from the dead, and assumption.
A Constitution How the Catechumens are to Be Blessed by the Priests in Their Initiation, and What Things are to Be Taught Them.
XL. And when it remains that the catechumen is to be baptized, let him learn what concerns the renunciation of the devil, and the joining himself with Christ; for it is fit that he should first abstain from things contrary, and then be admitted to the mysteries. He must beforehand purify his heart from all wickedness of disposition, from all spot and wrinkle, and then partake of the holy things; for as the skilfullest husbandman does first purge his ground of the thorns which are grown up therein, and does then sow his wheat, so ought you also to take away all impiety from them, and then to sow the seeds of piety in them, and vouchsafe them baptism. For even our Lord did in this manner exhort us, saying first, “Make disciples of all nations;” 3529 and then He adds this, “and baptize them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Let, therefore, the candidate for baptism declare thus in his renunciation: 3530 —
The Renunciation of the Adversary, and the Dedication to the Christ of God.
XLI. I renounce Satan, and his works, and his pomps, and his worships, and his angels, and his inventions, and all things that are under him. And after his renunciation let him in his consociation say: And I associate myself to Christ, and believe, and am baptized into one unbegotten Being, the only true God Almighty, the Father of Christ, the Creator and Maker of all things, from whom are all things; and into the Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, the First-born of the whole creation, who before the ages was begotten by the good pleasure of the Father, by whom all things were made, both those in heaven and those on earth, visible and invisible; who in the last days descended from heaven, and took flesh, and was born of the holy Virgin Mary, and did converse holily according to the laws of His God and Father, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died for us, and rose again from the dead after His passion the third day, and ascended into the heavens, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and again is to come at the end of the world with glory to judge the quick and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end. And I am baptized into the Holy Ghost, that is, the Comforter, who wrought in all the saints from the beginning of the world, but was afterwards sent to the apostles by the Father, according to the promise of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ; and after the apostles, to all those that believe in the Holy Catholic Church; into the resurrection of the flesh, and into the remission of sins, and into the kingdom of heaven, and into the life of the world to come. And after this vow, he comes in order to the anointing with oil.
A Thanksgiving Concerning the Anointing with the Mystical Oil.
XLII. Now this is blessed by the high priest for the remission of sins, and the first preparation for baptism. For he calls thus upon the unbegotten God, the Father of Christ, the King of all sensible and intelligible natures, that He would sanctify the oil in the name of the Lord p. 477 Jesus, and impart to it spiritual grace and efficacious strength, the remission of sins, and the first preparation for the confession of baptism, that so the candidate for baptism, when he is anointed may be freed from all ungodliness, and may become worthy of initiation, according to the command of the Only-begotten.
A Thanksgiving Concerning the Mystical Water.
XLIII. After this he comes to the water, and blesses and glorifies the Lord God Almighty, the Father of the only begotten God; 3531 and the priest returns thanks that He has sent His Son to become man on our account, that He might save us; that He has permitted that He should in all things become obedient to the laws of that incarnation, to preach the kingdom of heaven, the remission of sins, and the resurrection of the dead. Moreover, he adores the only begotten God Himself, after His Father, and for Him, giving Him thanks that He undertook to die for all men by the cross, the type of which He has appointed to be the baptism of regeneration. He glorifies Him also, for that God who is the Lord of the whole world, in the name of Christ and by His Holy Spirit, has not cast off mankind but has suited His providence to the difference of seasons: at first giving to Adam himself paradise for an habitation of pleasure, and afterwards giving a command on account of providence, and casting out the offender justly, but through His goodness not utterly casting him off, but instructing his posterity in succeeding ages after various manners; on whose account, in the conclusion of the world, He has sent His Son to become man for mans sake, and to undergo all human passions without sin. Him, therefore, let the priest even now call upon in baptism, and let him say: Look down from heaven, and sanctify this water, and give it grace and power, that so he that is to be baptized, according to the command of Thy Christ, may be crucified with Him, and may die with Him, and may be buried with Him, and may rise with Him to the adoption which is in Him, that he may be dead to sin and live to righteousness. And after this, when he has baptized him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, he shall anoint him with ointment, and shall add as follows:—
A Thanksgiving Concerning the Mystical Ointment.
XLIV. O Lord God, who art without generation, and without a superior, the Lord of the whole world, who hast scattered the sweet odour of the knowledge of the Gospel among all nations, do Thou grant at this time that this ointment may be efficacious upon him that is baptized, that so the sweet odour of Thy Christ may continue upon him firm and fixed; and that now he has died with Him, he may arise and live with Him. Let him say these and the like things, for this is the efficacy of the laying on of hands on every one; for unless there be such a recital made by a pious priest over every one of these, the candidate for baptism does only descend into the water as do the Jews, and he only puts off the filth of the body, not the filth of the soul. After this let him stand up, and pray that prayer which the Lord taught us. But, of necessity, he who is risen again ought to stand up and pray, because he that is raised up stands upright. Let him, therefore, who has been dead with Christ, and is raised up with Him, stand up. But let him pray towards the east. 3532 For this also is written in the second book of the Chronicles, that after the temple of the Lord was finished by King Solomon, in the very feast of dedication the priests and the Levites and the singers stood up towards the east, praising and thanking God with cymbals and psalteries, and saying, “Praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.” 3533
A Prayer for the New Fruits.
XLV. But let him pray thus after the foregoing prayer, and say: O God Almighty, the Father of Thy Christ, Thy only begotten Son, give me a body undefiled, a heart pure, a mind watchful, an unerring knowledge, the influence of the Holy Ghost for the obtaining and assured enjoying of the truth, through Thy Christ, by whom 3534 glory be to Thee, in the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen. We have thought it reasonable to make these constitutions concerning the catechumens.
2 Cor. vii. 1.476:3528
Rom. vi. 5.476:3529
Matt. xxviii. 19.476:3530
[Compare Justin Martyr, vol. i. p. 183, this series.]477:3531
One V. ms. has “Son” instead of “God.” Cotelerius remarks that this change was made in the interests of orthodoxy; for the expression “only begotten God” had become common with the Arians. [Comp. John i. 18., where the most weighty ancient authorities read μονογενὴς θεός instead of ὁ μονογενὴς υιός; see Revised Version, margins in loco.—R.]477:3532
[Compare vol. ii. p. 535 and vol. iii. p. 31.]477:3533
2 Chron. v. 13.477:3534
One V. ms. reads, “with whom glory be to Thee, along with the Holy Spirit.”
Next: Sec. IV.—Enumeration Ordained by Apostles
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