Source. Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14.Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3806.htm. Accessed 15 Nov 2014.
Synod of Laodicea (4th Century)
The Laodicea at which the Synod met is Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, also called Laodicea ad Lycum, and to be carefully distinguished from the Laodicea in Syria. This much is certain, but as to the exact date of the Synod there is much discussion. Peterde Marca fixed it at the year 365, but Pagi in his Critica on Baronius's Annals seems to have overthrown the arguments upon which de Marca rested, and agrees with Gothofred in placing it circa 363. At first sight it would seem that the Seventh Canon gave a clue which would settle the date, inasmuch as the Photinians are mentioned, and Bishop Photinus began to be prominent in the middle of the fourth century and was anathematized by the Eusebians in a synod at Antioch in 344, and by the orthodox at Milan in 345; and finally, after several other condemnations, he died in banishment in 366. But it is not quite certain whether the word Photinians is not an interpolation. Something with regard to the date may perhaps be drawn from the word Πακατιανῆς as descriptive of Phrygia, for it is probable that this division was not yet made at the time of the Sardican Council in 343. Hefele concludes that Under such circumstances, it is best, with Remi Ceillier, Tillemont, and others, to place the meeting of the synod of Laodicea generally somewhere between the years 343 and 381, i.e., between the Sardican and the Second Ecumenical Council— and to give up the attempt to discover a more exact date.
But since the traditional position of the canons of this Council is after those of Antioch and immediately before those of First Constantinople, I have followed this order. Such is their position in very many old collections of the Councils which have had their origin since the sixth or even in the fifth century, says Hefele. It is true thatMatthew Blastares places these canons after those of Sardica, but the Quinisext Synod in its Second Canon and Pope Leo IV., according to the Corpus Juris Canonici, give them the position which they hold in this volume.
The Canons of the Synod Held in the City of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana, in which Many Blessed Fathers from Divers Provinces of Asia Were Gathered Together.
The holy synod which assembled at Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, from various regions of Asia; set forth the ecclesiastical definitions which are hereunder annexed.
It is right, according to the ecclesiastical Canon, that the Communion should by indulgence be given to those who have freely and lawfully joined in second marriages, not having previously made a secret marriage; after a short space, which is to be spent by them in prayer and fasting.
They who have sinned in various particulars, if they have persevered in the prayer of confession and penance, and are wholly converted from their faults, shall be received again to communion, through the mercy and goodness of God, after a time of penance appointed to them, in proportion to the nature of their offense.
He who has been recently baptized ought not to be promoted to the sacerdotal order.
They who are of the sacerdotal order ought not to lend and receive usury, nor what is called hemioliæ.
Dionysius Exiguus and Isidore have numbered this canon v., and our fifth they have as iv.
Ordinations are not to be held in the presence of hearers.
It is not permitted to heretics to enter the house of God while they continue inheresy.
Persons converted from heresies, that is, of the Novatians, Photinians, and Quartodecimans, whether they were catechumens or communicants among them, shall not be received until they shall have anathematized every heresy, and particularly that in which they were held; and afterwards those who among them were called communicants, having thoroughly learned the symbols of the faith, and having been anointed with the holy chrism, shall so communicate in the holy Mysteries.
Persons converted from the heresy of those who are called Phrygians, even should they be among those reputed by them as clergymen, and even should they be called the very chiefest, are with all care to be both instructed and baptized by the bishopsand presbyters of the Church.
The members of the Church are not allowed to meet in the cemeteries, nor attend the so-called martyries of any of the heretics, for prayer or service; but such as so do, if they be communicants, shall be excommunicated for a time; but if they repentand confess that they have sinned they shall be received.
Balsamon: "As canon vi. forbids heretics to enter the house of God, so this canon forbids the faithful to go to the cemeteries of heretics, which are called by them Martyries....For in the days of the persecution, certain of the heretics, calling themselves Christians, suffered even to death, and hence those who shared their opinions called them martyrs."
The members of the Church shall not indiscriminately marry their children to heretics.
Presbytides, as they are called, or female presidents, are not to be appointed in theChurch.
Bishops are to be appointed to the ecclesiastical government by the judgment of themetropolitans and neighbouring bishops, after having been long proved both in the foundation of their faith and in the conversation of an honest life.
The election of those who are to be appointed to the priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.
The holy things are not to be sent into other dioceses at the feast of Easter by way of eulogiæ
No others shall sing in the Church, save only the canonical singers, who go up into the ambo and sing from a book.
The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath [i.e. Saturday], with the other Scriptures.
The Psalms are not to be joined together in the congregations, but a lesson shall intervene after every psalm.
The same service of prayers is to be said always both at nones and at vespers.
Hefele: "Some feasts ended at the ninth hour, others only in the evening, and both alike with prayer. The Synod here wills that in both cases the same prayers should be used. Thus does Van Espen explain the words of the text, and I think rightly. But theGreek commentator understands the Synod to order that the same prayers should be used in all places, thus excluding all individual caprice. According to this, the rule of conformity would refer to places; while, according to Van Espen, the nones and vespers were to be the same. If, however, this interpretation were correct, the Synod would not have only spoken of the prayers at nones and vespers, but would have said in general, all dioceses shall use the same form of prayer."
After the sermons of the Bishops, the prayer for the catechumens is to be made first by itself; and after the catechumens have gone out, the prayer for those who are under penance; and, after these have passed under the hand [of the Bishop] and departed, there should then be offered the three prayers of the faithful, the first to be said entirely in silence, the second and third aloud, and then the [kiss of] peace is to be given. And, after the presbyters have given the [kiss of] peace to the Bishop, then the laity are to give it [to one another], and so the Holy Oblation is to be completed. And it is lawful to the priesthood alone to go to the Altar and [there] communicate.
It is not right for a deacon to sit in the presence of a presbyter, unless he be bidden by the presbyter to sit down. Likewise the deacons shall have worship of the subdeacons and all the [inferior] clergy.
The subdeacons have no right to a place in the Diaconicum, nor to touch the Lord's vessels.
Hefele: It is doubtful whether by diaconicum is here meant the place where the deacons stood during service, or the diaconicum generally so called, which answers to our sacristy of the present day. In thisdiaconicum the sacred vessels and vestments were kept; and as the last part of the canon especially mentions these, I have no doubt that the diaconicum must mean the sacristy. For the rest, this canon is only the concrete expression of the rule, that the subdeacons shall not assume the functions of thedeacons.
The subdeacon has no right to wear an orarium, nor to leave the doors.
In old times, so we are told by Zonaras and Balsamon, it was the place of the subdeacons to stand at the church doors and to bring in and take out the catechumens and the penitents at the proper points in the service. Zonaras remarks that no one need be surprised if this, like many other ancient customs, has been entirely changed and abandoned.
The readers and singers have no right to wear an orarium, and to read or sing thus [habited].
No one of the priesthood, from presbyters to deacons, and so on in the ecclesiastical order to subdeacons, readers, singers, exorcists, door-keepers, or any of the class of the Ascetics, ought to enter a tavern.
A subdeacon must not give the Bread, nor bless the Cup.
Hefele: "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 (εὐλογεῖν). The Greek commentator Aristenus in accordance with this, and quite rightly, gives the meaning of this canon."
They who have not been promoted [to that office] by the bishop, ought not to adjure, either in churches or in private houses.
Neither they of the priesthood, nor clergymen, nor laymen, who are invited to a lovefeast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order.
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.
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.
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.
It is not 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.
It is unlawful to receive the eulogiæ; of heretics, for they are rather ἀλογίαι [i.e., follies], than eulogiæ; [i.e., blessings].
No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is not lawful to feast together with the heathen, and to be partakers of their godlessness.
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.
None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may go on a journey, without the bidding of the Bishop.
None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may travel without letters canonical.
The subdeacons may not leave the doors to engage in the prayer, even for a short time.
Women may not go to the altar.
[Candidates] for baptism are not to be received after the second week in Lent.
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.
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.
They who are baptized must after Baptism be anointed with the heavenly chrism, and be partakers of the Kingdom of Christ.
During Lent the Bread must not be offered except on the Sabbath Day and on the Lord's Day only.
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.
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.
Marriages and birthday feasts are not to be celebrated in Lent.
Christians, when they attend weddings, must not join in wanton dances, but modestly dine or breakfast, as is becoming to Christians.
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.
Neither members of the priesthood nor of the clergy, nor yet laymen, may club together for drinking entertainments.
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.
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.
The Oblation must not be made by bishops or presbyters in any private houses.
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.
[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.