The Following excerpts are taken from the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers concerning the necessity of having no communion with those professing heresies and schismatics. Also
|"And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the law of the Passover: no stranger shall eat of it. And every slave or servant bought with money - him thou shalt circumcise, and then shall he eat of it. A sojourner or hireling shall not eat of it. In one house shall it be eaten." Exodus 12.43-46. St. Apraphat of Syria writes that the "one house" in which the Passover is to be eaten is "the Church of Christ", and that just as the slave could not eat the Passover unless he was circumcised, so the sinner "comes to Baptism, the true Circumcision, and is joined to the People of God, and communicates in the Body and Blood of Christ". Demonstrations 12, 525.8, 525.12.
St. John Chrysostom writes: "Let no-one communicate who is not of the disciples. Let no Judas receive, lest he suffer the fate of Judas. I would give up my life rather than impart of the Lord's Blood to the unworthy; and I will shed my own blood rather than give such awful Blood contrary to what is right." Homilies on Matthew, 83.6.
St. John the Almsgiver said: "We shall not escape sharing in that punishment which, in the world to come, awaits heretics, if we defile Orthodoxy and the holy Faith by adulterous communion with heretics." The Life of St. John the Almsgiver.
St. John of Damascus writes: "With all our strength let us beware lest we receive Communion from or give it to heretics. 'Give not what is holy to the dogs,' says the Lord. 'Neither cast ye your pearls before swine', lest we become partakers in their dishonour and condemnation." Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, IV, 13.
"Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he has permitted them to perform any service as clergymen, let him be deposed." Apostolic Canon 45.
"Let any clergyman or layman who enters a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray be both deposed and excommunicated." Apostolic Canon 65.
"Concerning the necessity of not permitting heretics to come into the house of God, so long as they persist in their heresy." Canon 6 of the Council of Laodicea.
"That one must not accept the blessings of heretics, which are rather misfortunes than blessings." Canon 32 of the Council of Laodicea.
"That one must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics." Canon 33 of the Council of Laodicea.
St. Maximus the Confessor said: "Even if the whole universe holds communion with the [heretical] patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching." The Life of St. Maximus the Confessor.
"Chrysostomos loudly declares not only heretics, but also those who have communion with them, to be enemies of God." St. Theodore the Studite, Epistle of Abbot Theophilus.
"Guard yourselves from soul-destroying heresy, communion with which is alienation from Christ." St. Theodore the Studite, P.G. 99.1216.
"Some have suffered final shipwreck with regard to the faith. Others, though they have not drowned in their thoughts, are nevertheless perishing through communion with heresy." St. Theodore the Studite.
"The divine and sacred canons say: 'He who has communion with an excommunicate, let him be excommunicated, as overthrowing the rule of the Church.' And again: 'He who receives a heretic is subject to the same indictment. The great apostle and evangelist John says: 'If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching with him, do not greet him and do not receive him into your house; for he who greets him communicates with his evil deeds' (II John 10-11). If we are forbidden merely to greet him on the way, and if inviting him into our house is prohibited, how can it be otherwise not in a house, but in the temple of God, in the sanctuary at the mystical and terrible Supper of the Son of God. Whoever belches out the commemoration of him who has been worthily cut off by the Holy Spirit for his arrogance towards God and the Divine things, becomes for that reason an enemy of God and the Divine things." From an Epistle of the Martyred Fathers of the Holy Mountain to Emperor Michael Palaeologus against the heretical Patriarch John Beccus of Constantinople.
"All the teachers of the Church, and all the Councils, and all the Divine Scriptures advise us to flee from the heterodox and separate from their communion." St. Mark of Ephesus.
"Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God." II Corinthians 6.14-16.
"Come out of her, My people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues." Revelation 18.4.
A. The XXX Canons of the Holy and Fourth Synods, of Chalcedon. AD 241
Canon I: WE have judged it right that the canons of the Holy Fathers made in every synod even until now should remain in force. (C. II of the Sixth, C. I of the Seventh).
Ancient Epitome of Canon I. The canons of every Synod of the holy Fathers shall be observed.
B. The Canons of the Holy Sixth Ecumenical Council.
Canon II. It has also seemed good to this holy Council, that the eighty-five canons, received and ratified by the holy and blessed Fathers before us, and also handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles should from this time forth remain firm and unshaken for the cure of souls and the healing of disorders.
And in these canons we are bidden to receive the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles [written] by Clement. But formerly through the agency of those who erred from the faith certain adulterous matter was introduced, clean contrary to piety, for the polluting of the Church, which obscures the elegance and beauty of the divine decrees in their present form. We therefore reject these Constitutions so as the better to make sure of the edification and security of the most Christian flock; by no means admitting the offspring of heretical error, and cleaving to the pure and perfect doctrine of the Apostles.
But we set our seal likewise upon all the other holy canons set forth by our holy and blessed Fathers, that is, by the 318 holy God-bearing Fathers assembled at Nice, and those at Ancyra, further those at NeoCaesarea and likewise those at Gangra, and besides, those at Antioch in Syria: those too at Laodicea in Phrygia: and likewise the 150 who assembled in this heaven-protected royal city: and the 200 who assembled the first time in the metropolis of the Ephesians, and the 630 holy and blessed Fathers at Chalcedon.
In like manner those of Sardica, and those of Carthage: those also who again assembled in this heaven-protected royal city under its bishop Nectarins and Theophilus Archbishop of Alexandria. Likewise too the Canons [i.e. the decretal letters] of Dionysius, formerly Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria; and of Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria and Martyr; of Gregory the Wonder-worker, Bishop of NeoCaesarea; of Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria; of Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia; of Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa; of Gregory Theologus; of Amphilochius of Iconium; of Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria; of Theophilus, Archbishop of the same great city of Alexandria; of Cyril, Archbishop of the same Alexandria; of Gennadius, Patriarch of this heaven-protected royal city.
Moreover the Canon set forth by Cyprian, Archbishop of the country of the Africans and Martyr, and by the Synod under him, which has been kept only in the country of the aforesaid Bishops, according to the custom delivered down to them. And that no one be allowed to transgress or disregard the aforesaid canons, or to receive others beside them, supposititiously set forth by certain who have attempted to make a traffic of the truth.
But should any one be convicted of innovating upon, or attempting to overturn, any of the afore-mentioned canons, he shall be subject to receive the penalty which that canon imposes, and to be cured by it of his transgression.
C. The Canons of the Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council.
Canon I: That the sacred Canons are in all things to be observed. The pattern for those who have received the sacerdotal dignity is found in the testimonies and instructions laid down in the canonical constitutions, which we receiving with a glad mind, sing unto the Lord God in the words of the God-inspired David, saying: "I have had as great delight in the way of thy testimonies as in all manner of riches." "Thou hast commanded righteousness as thy testimonies for ever." "Grant me understanding and I shall live." Now if the word of prophesy bids us keep the testimonies of God forever and to live by them, it is evident that they must abide unshaken and without change. Therefore Moses, the prophet of God, speaketh after this manner: "To them nothing is to be added, and from them nothing is to be taken away." And the divine Apostle glorying in them cries out, "which things the angels desire to look into," and, "if an angel preach to you anything besides that which ye have received, let him be anathema."
Seeing these things are so, being thus well-testified unto us, we rejoice over them as he that hath found great spoil, and press to our bosom with gladness the divine canons, holding fast all the precepts of the same, complete and without change, whether they have been set forth by 1. the holy trumpets of the Spirit, the renowned Apostles, or 2. by the Six Ecumenical Councils, or 3. by Councils locally assembled for promulgating the decrees of the said Ecumenical Councils, or 4. by our holy Fathers. For all these, being illumined by the same Spirit, defined such things as were expedient. Accordingly those whom they placed under anathema, we likewise anathematize; those whom they deposed, we also depose; those whom they excommunicated, we also excommunicate; and those whom they delivered over to punishment, we subject to the same penalty. And now "let your conversation be without covetousness," crieth out Paul the divine Apostle, who was caught up into the third heaven and heard unspeakable words.
Ancient Epitome of Canon I: We gladly embrace the Divine Canons, viz.: those of the Holy Apostles, of the Six Ecumenical Synods, as also of the local synods and of our Holy Fathers, as inspired by one and the same Holy Spirit. Whom they anathematize we also anathematize; whom they depose, we depose; whom they cut off, we cut off ; and whom they subject to penalties, we also so subject.
Canon II. That he who is to be ordained a Bishop must be steadfastly resolved to observe the canons, otherwise he shall not be ordained. When we recite the Psalter, we promise God: "I will meditate upon thy statutes, and will not forget thy words." It is a salutary thing for all Christians to observe this, but it is especially incumbent upon those who have received the sacerdotal dignity. Therefore we decree, that every one who is raised to the rank of the episcopate shall 1. know the Psalter by heart, so that from it he may admonish and instruct all the clergy who are subject to him. And, 2. diligent examination shall be made by the metropolitan whether he be zealously inclined to read diligently, and not merely now and then, the sacred canons, 3. the holy Gospel, and the book of the divine Apostle, and all other divine Scripture; 4. and whether he lives according to Gods commandments, and also teaches the same to his people. For the special treasure (ousia) of our high priesthood is the oracles which have been divinely delivered to us, that is the true science of the Divine Scriptures, as says Dionysius the Great. And if his mind be not set and even glad, so to do and teach, let him not be ordained. For says God by the prophet, "Thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me."
A. The Canonical Epistle of St. Gregory Archbishop of Neocaesarea A.D. 250
Introductory notes: Johnson says this was about the year of grace 240, after the Goths had ravaged Asia, during the reign of Gallienus. The letter, he thinks, was an Encyclical sent to every bishop of his province by Euphrosynus who was one of these bishops and whom he calls his "old friend. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
Canon II. That those Christians who plundered their brethren during the invasion be excommunicated, lest wrath come on the people, and especially on the presidents, who enquire not into these matters. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
Canon VII. That they who joined the barbarians in their murder and ravages, or were guides or informers to them, be not permitted to be hearers (they cannot even stand in the narthex of the temple to hear but not see the liturgy), till holy men assembled together do agree in common upon what shall seem good, first to the Holy Spirit, then to themselves. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV
B. The Canons of the Council of Ancyra A.D. 314.
Introductory notes: Soon after the death of the Emperor Maximin, a council was held at Ancyra, the capital of Galatia. The disciplinary decrees of this council possess a singular interest as being the first enacted after the ceasing of the persecution of the Christians and as providing for the proper treatment of the lapsed. Recently (1950s) two papyri have been recovered, containing the official certificates granted by the Roman government to those who had lapsed. These apostates were obliged to acknowledge in public their adhesion to the national religion of the empire, and then were provided with a document certifying to this fact to keep them from further trouble. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
Canon I. With regard to those presbyters who have offered sacrifices and afterwards returned to the conflict, not with hypocrisy, but in sincerity, it has seemed good that they may retain the honour of their chair; provided they had not used management, arrangement, or persuasion, so as to appear to be subjected to the torture, when it was applied only in seeming
Canon VI. Concerning those who have yielded merely upon threat of penalties and of the confiscation of their goods, or of banishment, and have sacrificed (we could read: those who have signed a declaration of loyalty to a dogmatically atheistic government that was actively persecuting the church), and who till this present time have not repented nor been converted, but who now, at the time of this synod, have approached with a purpose of conversion, it is decreed that they be received as hearers till the Great Day, and that after the Great Day they be prostrators for three years, and for two years more communicate without oblation, and then come to full communion, so as to complete the period of six full years. And if any have been admitted to penance before this synod, let the beginning of the six years be reckoned to them from that time. Nevertheless, if there should be any danger or prospect of death whether from disease or any other cause, let them be received, but under limitation. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
C. The Third Canonical Epistle of Our Holy Father Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium AD 370
Canon LI. That one punishment be inflicted on lapsing clergymen, viz.: deposition, whether they be in dignity, or in the ministry which is given without imposition of hands. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV
B. The Canonical Epistle of St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, to St. Letoius, Bishop of Melitene. A.D. 379
Canon II. They who lapse without any force, so as to deny Christ, or do by choice turn Jews, idolaters, or Manichees, or infidels of any sort, are not to be admitted to communion till the hour of death; and if they chance to recover beyond expectation, to return to their penance. But they who were forced by torments, to do the penance of fornication. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV
Canon X. If any who have lapsed have been ordained through the ignorance, or even with the previous knowledge of the ordainers, this shall not prejudice the canon of the Church for when they are discovered they shall be deposed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
A. Apostolical Canons:
Canon LXXXIII. If a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, shall serve in the army, and wish to retain both the Roman magistracy and the priestly office, let him be deposed; for the things of Caesar belong to Caesar, and those of God to God. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
B. Synod of Laodicea a.d. 364
Canon VII We have decreed that those who have once been enrolled among the clergy, or have been made monks, shall not accept a military charge or any secular dignity; and,
Ancient Epitome of Canon VII. If any cleric or monk arrogantly joins the military or any other secular dignity, let him be cursed. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
A. Apostolic Canons
Canon XXX (XXXI) If any bishop obtain possession of a church by the aid of the temporal powers, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all who communicate with him. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV
B. Synod of Laodicea. a.d. 364
Canon XIII The election of those who are to be appointed to the priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XIII. Whomever is chosen by seculars is ineligible. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV.
C. The Canons of the Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council A.D. 783
Canon III That it does not pertain to princes to choose a Bishop.
Let every election of a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, made by princes stand null, according to the canon which says: If any bishop making use of the secular powers shall by their means obtain jurisdiction over any church, he shall be deposed, and also excom-municated, together with all who remain in communion with him. For he who is raised to the episcopate must be chosen by bishops, as was decreed by the holy fathers of Nice in the canon which says: It is most fitting that a bishop be ordained by all the bishops in the province; but if this is difficult to arrange, either on account of urgent necessity, or because of the length of the journey, three bishops at least having met together and given their votes, those also who are absent having signified their assent by letters, the ordination shall take place. The confirmation of what is thus done, shall in each province be given by the metropolitan thereof. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series: Volume XIV
A. Apostolic Canons:
Canon LVIII If any bishop or presbyter neglects the clergy or the people, and does not instruct them in the way of godliness, let him be excommunicated, and if he persists in his negligence and idleness, let him be deposed.
B. The Canons of the Synod of Carthage a.d. 418-424. These Canons were received by the Council in Trullo and Ratified by II Nicea.
Canon CXXIII. (Greek Rudder CXXXII) That if a bishop neglects his diocese he is to be deprived of communion. IF in the mother cathedrals a bishop should have been negligent against the heretics, let a meeting be held of the neighboring diligent bishops, and let his negligence be pointed out to him, so that he can have no excuse. But if within six months after this meeting, if an execution was in his own province, and he had taken no care to convert them to Catholic unity, no one shall communicate with him till he does his duty. But if no executor shall have come to the places, then the fault shall not be laid to the bishop.
Ancient Epitome of Canon CXXIII. A bishop who spurns the care of heretics, and if after being warned he continues for six months in his contempt, and has no care for their conversion, is to be excommunicated. This is Canon XV of Carthage, a.d. 418.
C. The Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council A.D. 783
Canon XXXVI. (XXXVII.) If any person, having been ordained bishop, does not undertake the ministry, and the care of the people committed to him, let him be excommunicated until he does undertake it. In like manner a presbyter or deacon. But if he has gone and has not been received, not of his own will but from the perverseness of the people, let him continue bishop; and let the clergy of the city be excommunicated, because they have not corrected the disobedient people.
A. Council of Gangra. A.D. 325 Emperor Constantine
Canon XX IF any one shall, from a presumptuous disposition, condemn and abhor the assemblies [in honor] of the martyrs, or the services performed there, and the commemoration of them, let him be anathema.
B. Synod of Laodicea. a.d. 364.
Canon XXXIV 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.
"For that it is a very great crime which persecution has compelled to be committed, they themselves know who have committed it; since our Lord and Judge has said, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven; but whosoever shall deny me, him will I also deny." And again He has said, "All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost shall not have forgiveness, but is guilty of eternal sin." Also the blessed apostle has said, "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lords table and of the table of devils."
"He who withholds these words from our brethren deceives them, wretched that they are; so that they who truly repenting might satisfy God, both as the Father and as merciful, with their prayers and works, are seduced more deeply to perish; and they who might raise themselves up fall the more deeply. For although in smaller sins, sinners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of communion: now with their time still unfulfilled, they are admitted to communion, while persecution is still raging, while the peace of the Church itself is not yet restored, and their name is presented while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands Of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the Eucharist is given to them; although it is written, "Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."
Cyprian to the Lapsed.
1. Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honour of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: "I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this, then, is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church; when the Church is established in the bishop and the clergy, and all who stand fast in the faith. For far be it from the mercy of God and His uncontrolled might to suffer the number of the lapsed to be called the Church; since it is written, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." For we indeed desire that all may be made alive; and we pray that, by our supplications and groans, they may be restored to their original state. But if certain lapsed ones claim to be the Church, and if the Church be among them and in them, what is left but for us to ask of these very persons that they would deign to admit us into the Church? Therefore it behoves them to be submissive and quiet and modest, as those who ought to appease God, in remembrance of their sin, and not to write letters in the name of the Church, when they should rather be aware that they are writing to the Church.
2. But some who are of the lapsed have lately written to me, and are humble and meek and trembling and fearing God, and who have always laboured in the Church gloriously and liberally, and who have never made a boast of their labour to the Lord, knowing that He has said, "When ye shall have done all these things, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." Thinking of which things, and although they had received certificates from the martyrs, nevertheless, that their satisfaction might be admitted by the Lord, these persons beseeching have written to me that they acknowledge their sin, and are truly repentant, and do not hurry rashly or importunately to secure peace; but that they are waiting for my presence, saying that even peace itself, if they should receive it when I was present, would be sweeter to them. How greatly I congratulate these, the Lord is my witness, who hath condescended to tell what such, and such sort of servants deserve of His kindness. Which letters, as I lately received, and now read that yon have written very differently, I beg that you will discriminate between your wishes; and whoever you are who have sent this letter, add your names to the certificate, and transmit the certificate to me with your several names. For I must first know to whom I have to reply; then I will respond to each of the matters that you have written, having regard to the mediocrity of my place and conduct. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell, and live quietly and tranquilly according to the Lords discipline. Fare ye well. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume V