Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra, Neocæsarea, Antioch and Laodicea, which Canons were Accepted and Received by the Ecumenical Synods.: Canon II
All who enter the church of God and hear the Holy Scriptures, but do not communicate with the people in prayers, or who turn away, by reason of some disorder, from the holy partaking of the Eucharist, are to be cast out of the Church, until, after they shall have made confession, and having brought forth the fruits of penance, and made p. 109 earnest entreaty, they shall have obtained forgiveness; and it is unlawful to communicate with excommunicated persons, or to assemble in private houses and pray with those who do not pray in the Church; or to receive in one Church those who do not assemble with another Church. And, if any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or any one in the Canon shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church.
Ancient Epitome of Canon II.
Whoso comes to church, and attentively hears the holy Scriptures, and then despises, goes forth from, and turns his back upon the Communion, let him be cast out, until after having brought forth fruits of penance, he shall be indulged. And whoso communicates with one excommunicated, shall be excommunicated, and whoso prays with him who prays not with the Church is guilty, and even whoso receives him who does not attend the services of the Church is not without guilt.
In the Eighth and Ninth canons of the Apostles it is set forth how those are to be punished who will not wait for the prayers, and the holy Communion: So, too, in the Tenth canon provision is made with respect to those who communicate with the excommunicated. In pursuance of this the present canon provides that they are to be cut off who come to church and do not wait for the prayer, and through disorder [? ἀταξίαν] 169 will not receive the holy Communion; for such are to be cast out until with confession they shew forth worthy penance.
In this canon the Fathers refer to such as go to church but will not tarry to the prayer nor receive holy Communion, held back by some perversity or license, that is to say without any just cause, but petulantly, and by reason of some disorder [ἀταξίαν]; these are forbidden to be expelled from the Church, that is to say cut off from the congregation of the faithful. But the Fathers call it a turning away from, not a hatred of the divine Communion, which holds them back from communion; a certain kind of flight from it, brought about perchance by reverence and lowliness of mind. Those who object to communicate by reason of hatred or disgust, such must be punished not with mere separation, but by an altogether absolute excommunication, and be cursed with anathema.
It need hardly be remarked that this canon has no reference to such of the faithful as tarry to the end of the service and yet do not partake of the holy sacrament, being held back by some good reason, recognized by the Church as such. It will be remembered that the highest grade of Penitents did this habitually, and that it was looked upon as a great privilege to be allowed to be present when the Divine Mysteries were performed, even though those assisting as spectators might not be partakers of them. What this canon condemns is leaving the Church before the service of the Holy Eucharist is done; this much is clear, the difficulty is to understand just why these particular people, against whom the canon is directed, did so.
This canon should be compared with the Apostolic canons viij., ix., x., xj. xij. and xiij.
I confess I do not know what the phrase κατά τινα ἀταξίαν means, nor do the Greek Commentators give much help. I have translated “by reason of some disorder” in the canon itself, and in the notes, but Beveridge renders it propter aliquam insolentiam, which to me appears very unsatisfactory. The pro quædam intemperantia of the ordinary Latin seems no better. The same word is used in the next canon.
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