To Amphilochius, the Canons. 2826
On my return from a long journey (for I have been into Pontus on ecclesiastical business, and to visit my relations) with my body weak and ill, and my spirits considerably broken, I took your reverences letter into my hand. No sooner did I receive the tokens of that voice which to me is of all voices the sweetest, and of that hand that I love so well, than I forgot all my troubles. And if I was made so much more cheerful by the receipt of your letter, you ought to be able to conjecture at what value I price your actual presence. May this be granted me by the Holy One, whenever it may be convenient to you and you yourself send me an invitation. And if you were to come to the house at Euphemias it would indeed be pleasant for me to meet you, escaping from my vexations here, and hastening to your unfeigned affection. Possibly also for other reasons I may be compelled to go as far as Nazianzus by the sudden departure of the very God-beloved bishop Gregory. How or why this has come to pass, so far I have no information. 2827 The man about whom I had spoken to your excellency, and whom you expected to be ready by this time, has, you must know, fallen ill of a lingering disease, and is moreover now suffering from an affection of the eyes, arising from his old complaint and from the illness which has now befallen him, and he is quite unfit to do any work. I have no one else with me. It is consequently better, although the matter was left by them to me, for some one to be put forward by them. And indeed one cannot but think that the expressions were used merely as a necessary form, and that what they really wished was what they originally requested, that the person selected for the leadership should be one of themselves. If there is any one of the lately baptized, 2828 whether Macedonius approve or not, let him be appointed. You will instruct him in his duties, the Lord, p. 256 Who in all things cooperates with you, granting you His grace for this work also.
LI. As to the clergy, the Canons have enjoined without making any distinction that one penalty is assigned for the lapsed,—ejection from the ministry, whether they be in orders 2829 or remain in the ministry which is conferred without imposition of hands.
LII. The woman who has given birth to a child and abandoned it in the road, if she was able to save it and neglected it, or thought by this means to hide her sin, or was moved by some brutal and inhuman motive, is to be judged as in a case of murder. If, on the other hand, she was unable to provide for it. and the child perish from exposure and want of the necessities of life, the mother is to be pardoned.
LIII. The widowed slave is not guilty of a serious fall if she adopts a second marriage under colour of rape. She is not on this ground open to accusation. It is rather the object than the pretext which must be taken into account, but it is clear that she is exposed to the punishment of digamy. 2830
LIV. I know that I have already written to your reverence, so far as I can, on the distinctions to be observed in cases of involuntary homicide, 2831 and on this point I can say no more. It rests with your intelligence to increase or lessen the severity of the punishment as each individual case may require.
LV. Assailants of robbers, if they are outside, are prohibited from the communion of the good thing. 2832 If they are clerics they are degraded from their orders. For, it is said, “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” 2833
LVI. The intentional homicide, who has afterwards repented, will be excommunicated from the sacrament 2834 for twenty years. The twenty years will be appointed for him as follows: for four he ought to weep, standing outside the door of the house of prayer, beseeching the faithful as they enter in to offer prayer in his behalf, and confessing his own sin. After four years he will be admitted among the hearers, and during five years will go out with them. During seven years he will go out with the kneelers, 2835 praying. During four years he will only stand with the faithful, and will not take part in the oblation. On the completion of this period he will be admitted to participation of the sacrament.
LVII. The unintentional homicide will be excluded for ten years from the sacrament. The ten years will be arranged as follows: For two years he will weep, for three years he will continue among the hearers; for four he will be a kneeler; and for one he will only stand. Then he will be admitted to the holy rites.
LIX. The fornicator will not be admitted to participation in the sacrament for seven years; 2836 weeping two, hearing two, kneeling two, and standing one: in the eighth he will be received into communion.
LX. The woman who has professed virginity and broken her promise will complete the time appointed in the case of p. 257 adultery in her continence. 2837 The same rule will be observed in the case of men who have professed a solitary life and who lapse.
LXI. The thief, if he have repented of his own accord and charged himself, shall only be prohibited from partaking of the sacrament for a year; if he be convicted, for two years. The period shall be divided between kneeling and standing. Then let him be held worthy of communion.
LXVIII. The union of kindred within the prohibited degrees of marriage, if detected as having taken place in acts of sin, shall receive the punishment of adultery. 2838
LXIX. The Reader who has intercourse with his betrothed before marriage, shall be allowed to read after a years suspension, remaining without advancement. If he has had secret intercourse without betrothal, he shall be deposed from his ministry. So too the minister. 2839
LXX. The deacon who has been polluted in lips, and has confessed his commission of this sin, shall be removed from his ministry. But he shall be permitted to partake of the sacrament together with the deacons. The same holds good in the case of a priest. If any one be detected in a more serious sin, whatever be his degree, he shall be deposed. 2840
LXXI. Whoever is aware of the commission of any one of the aforementioned sins, and is convicted without having confessed, shall be under punishment for the same space of time as the actual perpetrator.
LXXII. He who has entrusted himself 2841 to soothsayers, or any such persons, shall be under discipline for the same time as the homicide.
LXXIII. He who has denied Christ, and sinned against the mystery of salvation, ought to weep all his life long, and is bound to remain in penitence, being deemed worthy of the sacrament in the hour of death, through faith in the mercy of God.
LXXIV. If, however, each man who has committed the former sins is made good, through penitence, 2842 he to whom is comp. 258 mitted by the loving-kindness of God the power of loosing and binding 2843 will not be deserving of condemnation, if he become less severe, as he beholds the exceeding greatness of the penitence of the sinner, so as to lessen the period of punishment, for the history in the Scriptures informs us that all who exercise penitence 2844 with greater zeal quickly receive the loving-kindness of God. 2845
LXXV. The man who has been polluted with his own sister, either on the fathers or the mothers side, must not be allowed to enter the house of prayer, until he has given up his iniquitous and unlawful conduct. And, after he has come to a sense of that fearful sin, let him weep for three years standing at the door of the house of prayer, and entreating the people as they go in to prayer that each and all will mercifully offer on his behalf their prayers with earnestness to the Lord. After this let him be received for another period of three years to hearing alone, and while hearing the Scriptures and the instruction, let him be expelled and not be admitted to prayer. Afterwards, if he has asked it with tears and has fallen before the Lord with contrition of heart and great humiliation, let kneeling be accorded to him during other three years. Thus, when he shall have worthily shown the fruits of repentance, let him be received in the tenth year to the prayer of the faithful without oblation; and after standing with the faithful in prayer for two years, then, and not till then, let him be held worthy of the communion of the good thing.
LXXVII. He who abandons the wife, lawfully united to him, is subject by the sentence of the Lord to the penalty of adultery. But it has been laid down as a canon by our Fathers that such sinners should weep for a year, be hearers for two years, in kneeling for three years, stand with the faithful in the seventh; and thus be deemed worthy of the oblation, if they have repented with tears. 2846
LXXVIII. Let the same rule hold good in the case of those who marry two sisters, although at different times. 2847
LXXIX. Men who rage after their stepmothers are subject to the same canon as those who rage after their sisters. 2848
LXXX. On polygamy the Fathers are silent, as being brutish and altogether inhuman. The sin seems to me worse than fornication. It is therefore reasonable that such sinners should be subject to the canons; namely a years weeping, three years kneeling and then reception. 2849
LXXXI. During the invasion of the barbarians many men have sworn heathen oaths, tasted things unlawfully offered them in magic temples and so have broken their faith in God. Let regulations be made in the case of these men in accordance with the canons laid down by our Fathers. 2850 Those p. 259 who have endured grievous tortures and have been forced to denial, through inability to sustain the anguish, may be excluded for three years, hearers for two, kneelers for three, and so be received into communion. Those who have abandoned their faith in God, laying hands on the tables of the demons and swearing heathen oaths, without under going great violence, should be excluded for three years, hearers for two. When they have prayed for three years as kneelers, and have stood other three with the faithful in supplication, then let them be received into the communion of the good thing.
LXXXII. As to perjurers, if they have broken their oaths under violent compulsion, they are under lighter penalties and may therefore be received after six years. If they break their faith without compulsion, let them be weepers for two years, hearers for three, pray as kneelers for five, during two be received into the communion of prayer, without oblation, and so at last, after giving proof of due repentance, they shall be restored to the communion of the body of Christ.
LXXXIII. Consulters of soothsayers and they who follow heathen customs, or bring persons into their houses to discover remedies and to effect purification, should fall under the canon of six years. After weeping a year, hearing a year, kneeling for three years and standing with the faithful for a year so let them be received.
LXXXIV. I write all this with a view to testing the fruits of repentance. 2851 I do not decide such matters absolutely by time, but I give heed to the manner of penance. If men are in a state in which they find it hard to be weaned from their own ways and choose rather to serve the pleasures of the flesh than to serve the Lord, and refuse to accept the Gospel life, there is no common ground between me and them. In the midst of a disobedient and gainsaying people I have been taught to hear the words “Save thy own soul.” 2852 Do not then let us consent to perish together with such sinners. Let us fear the awful judgment. Let us keep before our eyes the terrible day of the retribution of the Lord. Let us not consent to perish in other mens sins, for if the terrors of the Lord have not taught us, if so great calamities have not brought us to feel that it is because of our iniquity that the Lord has abandoned us, and given us into the hands of barbarians, that the people have been led captive before our foes and given over to dispersion, because the bearers of Christs name have dared such deeds; if they have not known nor understood that it is for these reasons that the wrath of God has come upon us, what common ground of argument have I with them?
But we ought to testify to them day and night, alike in public and in private. Let us not consent to be drawn away with them in their wickedness. Let us above all pray that we may do them good, and rescue them from the snare of the evil one. If we cannot do this, let us at all events do our best to save our own souls from everlasting damnation.
This is the sudden disappearance of Gregory from Nazianzus at the end of 375, which was due at once to his craving for retirement and his anxiety not to complicate the appointment of a successor to his father (who died early in 374) in the see of Nazianzus. He found a refuge in the monastery of Thecla at the Isaurian Seleucia. (Carm. xi. 549.)255:2828
The Ben. note appositely points out that any astonishment, such as expressed by Tillemont, at the consecration of a neophyte, is quite out of place, in view of the exigencies of the times and the practice of postponing baptism. St. Ambrose at Milan and Nectarius at Constantinople were not even “neophytes,” but were actually unbaptized at the time of their appointment to their respective sees. “If there is any one among the lately baptized,” argues the Ben. note, is tantamount to saying “If there is any one fit to be bishop.”256:2829
ἐίτε ἐν βαθυῷ. This is understood by Balsamon and Zonaras to include Presbyters, Deacons, and sub-deacons; while the ministry conferred without imposition of hands refers to Readers, Singers, Sacristans, and the like. Alexius Aristenus ranks Singers and Readers with the higher orders, and understands by the lower, keepers of the sacred vessels, candle-lighters, and chancel door keepers. The Ben. note inclines to the latter view on the ground that the word “remain” indicates a category where there was no advance to a higher grade, as was the case with Readers and Singers.256:2830 256:2831 256:2832
Here reading, punctuation, and sense are obscure. The Ben. Ed. have ἔξω μὲν ὄντες, τῆς κοινωνίας εἴργονται, and render “Si sint quidem laici, a boni communione arcentur.” But ἔξω ὄντες, standing alone, more naturally means non-Christians. Balsamon and Zonaras in Pandects have ἔξω μὲν ὄντες τῆς ᾽Εκκλησιας εἰργονται τῆς κοινωνίας τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ.256:2833 256:2834
ἁγιάσμασι. The Ben. Ed. render Sacramento. In the Sept. (e.g. Amos vii. 13) the word=sanctuary. In patristic usage both S. and P. are found for the Lords Supper, or the consecrated elements; e.g. ἁγίασμα in Greg. Nyss., Ep. Canon. Can. v. The plural as in this place “frequentius.” (Suicer s.v.)256:2835
μετὰ τῶν ἐν ὑποπτώσει. The ὑποπίπτοντες or substrati constituted the third and chief station in the oriental system of penance, the first and second being the προσκλαίοντες, flentes or weepers, and the ἀκροώμενος, audientes, or hearers. In the Western Church it is the substrati who are commonly referred to as being in penitence, and the Latin versions of the Canons of Ancyra by Dionysius Exiguus and Martin of Braga render ὑποπίπτοντες and ὑποπτῶσις by pœnitentis and pœnitentia. In Basils Canon xxii. p. 238, this station is specially styled μετάνοια. cf. D.C.A. ii. 1593. “Μετάνοια notat pœnitentiam eorum qui ob delicta sua in ecclesia ἐπιτιμίοις ἐσωφρονίζοντο (Zonaras, Ad. Can. v. Conc. Antioch, p. 327), quique dicebantur οἰ ἐν μετανοιᾳ ὄντες. Chrysostom, Hom. iii. in Epist. ad Eph. in S. Cœnæ communione clamabat κήρυξ, ὅσοι ἐν μετανοί& 139· ἀπέλθετε πάντες.” Suicer s.v.256:2836
cf. Can. xxii. p. 228. The Ben. note is “Laborant Balsamon et Zonaras in hoc canone conciliando cum vicesimo secundo, atque id causæ afferunt, cur in vicesimo secundo quatuor anni, septem in altero decernantur, quod Basilius in vicesimo secundo antiqua Patrum placita sequatur, suam in altero propriam sententiam exponat. Eundem hunc canonem Alexius Aristenus, ut clarum et perspicuum, negat explicatione indigere. Videbat nimirum doctissimus scriptor duplicem a Basilio distingui fornicationem, leviorem alteram, alteram graviorem levior dicitur, quæ inter personas matrimonio solutas committitur: gravior, cum conjugati hominis libido in mulierem solutam erumpit. Priori anni quatuor, septem alteri imponuntur. Manifesta res est ex canone 21, ubi conjugati peccatum cum soluta fornicationem appellat Basilius, ac longioribus pœnis coerceri, non tamen instar adulterii, testatur. In canone autem 77 eum qui legitiman uxorem dimittit, et aliam ducit, adulterum quidem esse ex Domini sententia testatur, sed tamen ex canonibus Patrum annos septem decernit, non quindecim, ut in adulterio cum aliena uxore commisso. Secum ergo non pugnat cum fornicationi nunc annos quatuor, nunc septem, adulterio nunc septem, nunc quindecim indicit. Eamdem in sententiam videtur accipiendus canon quartus epistolæ Sancti Gregorii Nysseni ad Letoium. Nam cum fornicationi novem annos, adulterio decem et octo imponit, gravior illa intelligenda fornicatio, quam conjugatur cum soluta committit. Hinc ilium adulterium videri fatetur his qui accuratius examinant.257:2837
cf. Can. xviii. Augustine (De Bono Viduitatis, n. 14) represents breaches of the vows of chastity as graver offenses than breaches of the vows of wedlock. The rendering of τῆ ὀικονομί& 139· τῆς καθ᾽ ἑαυτὴν ζωῆς by continency is illustrated in the Ben. note by Hermas ii. 4 as well as by Basil, Canon xiv and xliv.257:2838
This Canon is thus interpreted by Aristenus, Matrimonium cum propinqua legibus prohibitum eadem ac adulterium pœna castigatur: et cum diversæ sint adulterorum pœnœ sic etiam pro ratione propinquitatis tota res temperabitur. Hinc duas sorores ducenti vii. anni pœnitentiœ irrogantur, ut in adulterio cum muliere libera commisso. non xv. ut in graviore adulterio, or does it mean that incestuous fornication shall be treated as adultery?257:2839
By minister Balsamon and Zonaras understand the subdeacon. Aristenus understands all the clergy appointed without imposition of hands. The Ben. ed. approve the latter. cf. n. on Canon li. p. 256, and Letter liv. p. 157.257:2840
On the earlier part of the canon the Ben. note says: “Balsamon, Zonaras, et Aristenus varia commentantur in hunc canonem, sed a mente Basilii multum abludentia. Liquet enim hoc labiorum peccatum, cui remissior pœna infligitur ipsa actione, quam Basilius minime ignoscendam esse judicat, levius existimari debere. Simili ratione sanctus Pater in cap. vi. Isaiæ n. 185, p. 516, labiorum peccata actionibus, ut leviora, opponit, ac prophetæ delecta non ad actionem et operationem erupisse, sed labiis tenus constitisse observat. In eodem commentario n. 170, p. 501, impuritatis peccatum variis gradibus constare demonstrat, inter quos enumerat ῥήματα φθοροποιά, verba ad corruptelam apta, ὁμιλίας μαχράς, longas confabulationes, quibus ad stuprum pervenitur. Ex his perspici arbitror peccatum aliquod in hoc canone designari, quod ipsa actione levius sit: nedum ea suspicari liceat, quæ Basilii interpretibus in mentem venerunt. Sed tamen cum dico Basilium in puniendis labiorum peccatis leniorem esse, non quodlibet turpium sermonum genus, non immunda colloquia (quomodo enim presbyteris hoc vitio pollutis honorem cathedræ reliquisset?), sed ejusmodi intelligenda est peccandi voluntas, quæ foras quidem aliquo sermone prodit, sed tamen quominus in actum erumpat, subeunte meliori cogitatione, reprimitur. Quemadmodum enim peccata, quæ sola cogitatione committuntur, idcirca leviora esse pronuntiat Basilius, comment. in Isaiam n. 115, p. 459, et n. 243, p. 564, qui repressa est actionis turpitudo; ita hoc loco non quælibet labiorum peccata; non calumnias, non blasphemias, sed ea tantum lenius tractat, quæ adeo gravia non erant, vel etiam ob declinatam actionis turpitudinem, ut patet ex his verbis, seque eo usque peccasse confessus est, aliquid indulgentiæ merere videbantur.”
On the word καθαιρεθήσεται it is remarked: “In his canonibus quos de clericorum peccatis edidit Basilius, duo videntur silentio prætermissa. Quæri enim possit 1o cur suspensionis pœnam soli lectori ac ministro, sive subdiacono, imponat, diaconis autem et presbyteris depositionem absque ulla prorsus exceptione infligat, nisi quod eis communionem cum diaconis et presbyteris relinquit, si peccatum non ita grave fuerit. Erat tamen suspensionis pœna in ipsos presbyteros non inusitata, ut patet ex plurimis apostolicis canonibus, in quibus presbyteri ac etiam ipsi episcopi segregantur, ac postea, si sese non emendaverint, deponuntur. Forte hæc reliquit Basilius episcopo dijudicanda quemadmodum ejusdem arbitrio permittet in canonibus 74 et 84, ut pœnitentiæ tempus imminuat, si bonus evasint is qui peccavit. 2o Hæc etiam possit institui quæstio, utrumne in gravissimis quidem criminibus pœnitentiam publicam depositioni adjercerit. Adhibita ratio in Canone 3, cur aliquid discriminis clericos inter et laicos ponendum sit, non solum ad gravia peccata, sed etiam ad gravissima pertinet. Ait enim æquum esse ut, cum laici post pœnitentiam in eumdem locum restituantur, clerici vero non restituantur, liberalius et mitius cum clericis agatur. Nolebat ergo clericos lapsos quadruplicem pœnitentiæ gradum percurrere. Sed quemadmodum lapso in fornicationem diacono non statim communionem reddit, sed ejus conversionem et morum emendationem probandam esse censit, ut ad eumdem canonem tertium observavimus, ita dubium esse non potest quin ad criminis magnitudinem probandi modum et tempus accommodaverit.257:2841 257:2842
ἐξομολογούμενος. “The verb in St. Matt. xi. 25 expresses thanksgiving and praise, and in this sense was used by many Christian writers (Suicer, s.v.). But more generally in the early Fathers it signifies the whole course of penitential discipline, the outward act and performance of penance. From this it came to mean that public acknowledgment of sin which formed so important a part of penitence. Irenæus (c. Hær. i. 13, § 5) speaks of an adulterer who, having been converted, passed her whole life in a state of penitence (ἐξομολογουμένη, in exomologesi); and (ib. iii. 4) of Cerdon often coming into the church and confessing his errors (ἐξομολογούμενος).” D.C.A. i. 644.258:2843
Here we see “binding and loosing” passing from the Scriptural sense of declaring what acts are forbidden and committed (Matt. 16:19, Matt. 23:4. See note of Rev. A. Carr in Cambridge Bible for Schools) into the later ecclesiastical sense of imposing and remitting penalties for sin. The first regards rather moral obligation, and, as is implied in the force of the tenses alike in the passages of St. Matthew cited and in St. John xx. 23, the recognition and announcement of the divine judgment already passed on sins and sinners; the later regards the imposition of disciplinary penalties.258:2844 258:2845 258:2846
The Ben. note points out the St. Basil refers to the repudiation of a lawful wife from some other cause than adultery. It remarks that though Basil does not order it to be punished as severely as adultery there is no doubt that he would not allow communion before the dismissal of the unlawful wife. It proceeds “illud autem difficilius est statuere, quid de matrimonio post ejectam uxorem adulteram contracto senserit. Ratum a Basilio habitum fuisse ejusmodi matrimonium pronuntiat Aristentus. Atque id quidem Basilius, conceptis verbis non declarat; sed tamen videtur hac in re a saniori ac meliori sententia discessisse. Nam 1o maritum injuste dimissum ab alio matrimonio non excludit, ut vidimus in canonibus 9 et 35. Porro non videtur jure dimittenti denegasse, quod injuste dimisso concedebat. 2o Cum jubeat uxorem adulteram ejici, vix dubium est quin matrimonium adulterio uxoris fuisset mariti, ac multo durior, quam uxoris conditio, si nec adulteram retinere, necaliam ducere integrum fuisset.258:2847 258:2848
The Ben. note is Prima specie non omnino perspicuum est utrum sorores ex utroque parente intelligat, an tantum ex alterutro. Nam cum in canone 79 eos qui suas nurus accipiunt non severius puniat, quam cui cum sorore ex matre vel ex patre rem habent, forte videri posset idem statuere de iis qui in novercas insaniunt. Sed tamen multo probabilius est eamdem illis pœnam imponi, ac iis qui cum sorore ex utroque parente contaminantur. Non enim distinctione utitur Basilius ut in canone 75; nec mirum si peccatum cum noverca gravius quam cum nuru, ob factam patri injuriam, judicavit.258:2849
i.e.probably only into the place of standers. Zonaras and Balsamon understand by polygamy a fourth marriage; trigamy being permitted (cf. Canon l. p. 240) though discouraged. The Ben. annotator dissents, pointing out that in Canon iv. Basil calls trigamy, polygamy, and quoting Gregory of Nazianzus (Orat. 31) as calling a third marriage παρανομία . Maran confirms this opinion by the comparison of the imposition on polygamy of the same number of years of penance as are assigned to trigamy in Canon iv. “Theodore of Canterbury a.d. 687 imposes a penance of seven years on trigamists but pronounces the marriages valid (Penitential, lib. 1. c. xiv. § 3). Nicephorus of Constantinople, a.d. 814, suspends trigamists for five years. (Hard. Concil. tom. iv. p. 1052.) Herard of Tours, a.d. 858 declares any greater number of wives than two to be unlawful (Cap cxi. ibid. tom.v. p. 557). Leo the Wise, Emperor of Constantinople, was allowed to marry three wives without public remonstrance, but was suspended from communion by the patriarch Nicholas when he married a fourth. This led to a council being held at Constantinople, a.d. 920, which finally settled the Greek discipline on the subject of third and fourth marriages. It ruled that the penalty for a fourth marriage was to be excommunication and exclusion from the church; for a third marriage, if a man were forty years old, suspension for five years, and admission to communion thereafter only on Easter day. If he were thirty years old, suspension for four years, and admission to communion thereafter only three times a year.” Dict. Christ. Ant. ii. p. 1104.258:2850 259:2851 259:2852
Gen. xix. 17, lxx.