The Apostolic Canons

THE APOSTOLIC CANONS

Translated by Henry R. Percival, 1899.

The Canons of the Holy and Altogether August Apostles [Latin version adds: set forth by Clement, Pontiff of the Roman Church]

Canon I.

Let a bishop be ordained by two or three bishops.

Canon II.

Let a presbyter, deacon, and the rest of the clergy, be ordained by one bishop,

Canon III. (III. And IV.)

If any bishop or presbyter offer any other things at the altar, besides that which the Lord ordained for the sacrifice, as honey, or milk, or strong-made drink instead of wine, [the text here varies] or birds, or any living things, or vegetables, besides that which is ordained, let him be deposed. Excepting only new ears of corn, and grapes at the suitable season. Neither is it allowed to bring anything else to the altar at the time of the holy oblation, excepting oil for the lamps, and incense.

Canon IV. (V.)

Let all other fruits be sent home as first-fruits for the bishops and presbyters, but not offered at the altar. But the bishops and presbyters should of course give a share of these things to the deacons, and the rest of the clergy.

Canon V. (VI.)

Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, put away his wife under pretence of religion; but if he put her away, let him be excommunicated; and if he persists, let him be deposed.

Canon VI. (VII.)

Let not a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, undertake worldly business; otherwise let him be deposed. Continue reading “The Apostolic Canons”

The priesthood according to Saint John Chrysostom

by Fr. John Behr,  Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Theological Seminary

In his work on the Priesthood, Saint John does occasionally speak in very high terms of the priest as the liturgical officiant, but his main concern is with the priestly ministry more generally, following the example of Christ, Who came to serve rather than to be served. As he puts it, while the priesthood is ranked among the heavenly ordinances, it is nevertheless enacted on earth. And the tasks of the priest are numerous: he was the teacher and moral guide of the community; he was the liturgical leader, deciding which catechumens should be admitted to baptism, and he presided at the Eucharist; he was the spiritual guide for those who wanted to lead more ascetic lives; he received guests form other churches; he maintained an elaborate system of charity for the care of strangers, the support of widows, orphans and the poor, he cared for the women who were ranked in the order of “virgins”.

Judging from his writings, it was the concern for the widows, the virgins, and the poor which caused him the greatest anxiety: he speaks of the holiness and knowledge necessary for such work, and also the endless patience and ability to steward alms in an irreproachable manner (On the Priesthood 3:12). Elsewhere, he mentions that in Antioch there were some 3,000 widows and virgins who were looked after by the Church. One can only imagine the immense amount of work that this required! Continue reading “The priesthood according to Saint John Chrysostom”

The Mystery of Baptism

We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.” -Nicene Creed

Baptism is the first of the Holy Mysteries, or Sacraments, of the Church.  A Mystery is a sacred and holy act through which God’s saving power, His grace, works upon the recipient.

In Protestant countries, and particularly in North America, the predominant view of Baptism is that of it being a symbolic act.  Baptism, in most Protestant churches, represents an act of obedience to Christ, an outward expression of an inward conviction.  It is generally believed that one must first hear the Gospel, believe in Christ, and then be baptised; that only people of accountable age who have made a profession of faith should be baptised remains the dominant evangelical position.  There are of course some variances and differences in the precise theology and expression, as well as some additional concerns for those Protestant churches that practice infant baptism, such as the Lutheran and Reformed churches.

The historic, and authentic, Orthodox-Catholic understanding of baptism is quite different however.  The Orthodox-Catholic Church maintains the Sacramental efficacy of baptism as a true Mystery of our Lord.  It is essential to our salvation, to our place in the Church, to our walk with Christ.    Baptism is the foundation upon which the Christian life is built, it is the first Sacrament all Christians must receive.  In Baptism the person dies to sin and is born-again into the spiritual life.  As St. John says “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”
Continue reading “The Mystery of Baptism”

Do we read the Bible wrong?

Imagine you are standing in the middle of a vast plain.  It is pitch black out, a cloudy night leaves no starlight and the moon is absent from the sky.  The darkness is such that even your hand is unseen when held before your eyes.  You have but a single light, a small candle that barely illuminates the ground for a few feet around you.  If you move too fast, or the wind blows too hard, the candle extinguishes itself and leaves you in the darkness again.  You relight the candle each time, but still, the light is barely sufficient.  Somewhere out in the distance is your destination, you don’t know how far, or the path, only that it is there.  The plain you walk on is covered with paths, with rivers and groves of trees, so you must find a path, follow it in darkness and hope that somehow you reach your destination.

Eventually perhaps you are lucky enough to meet a pilgrim in the darkness.  This person holds a lantern, a light brighter than your own that lights up a larger area.  The pilgrim seems to know what your destination is, and seems to have a better idea of how to get there.  You talk to the pilgrim and eventually decide to follow this person’s advice to reach your destination.  The pilgrim hands you a lantern of your own and places you on the correct path, then leaves you to find your way.  While the going is easier, eventually you find that you still have to navigate treacherous cliffs and rapid waters.  It is not always easy to determine if the path you follow is the correct one as it splits off often, and many paths seem equally worn. Continue reading “Do we read the Bible wrong?”

On Illness

By Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

Introduction.

Everyone, whether or not he is a Christian, must expect a certain amount of sickness and discomfort to enter his life. Physical pain is universal; no one escapes it. Therefore, how much we suffer from illness, or how intensely, does not matter so much as how we understand these infirmities. The understanding is all.

If a man supposes that life should be one long, luxurious “vacation,” then any amount of suffering that comes to him is unbearable. But if a man views life as a time of sorrows, correction, and purification, then suffering and pain become not only bearable, but even useful.

Saint Ambrose of Milan says of the Christian attitude toward sickness: “If the occasion demands it, a wise man will readily accept bodily infirmity and even offer his whole body up to death for the sake of Christ….This same man is not affected in spirit or broken with bodily pain if his health fails him. He is consoled by his struggle for perfection in the virtues” (Exegetical Works). Hearing this, the man of the world is quite likely to exclaim: “What an idea! How can a man ‘readily accept’ illness and disease?” Continue reading “On Illness”

Old Catholic History

Old Catholics

The vicissitudes of time and the machinations of men give words strange connotations. Often they no longer fit the mental pictures they create. When Woostockians looked up to Overlook Mountain and saw high on its slopes the gray clad figures of a religious community rehabilitating the deserted little chapel below Mead’s Mountain House, they were puzzled to hear the several young men calling themselves “Old”, displaying an evangelistic enthusiasm for a faith they called “Catholic”. They were completely nonplused when one of the older men of the community in overalls addressed a similarly clad younger man “Father”.

With the passage of days, however, Woodstock had grown to know and like these men as they have grown to like Woodstock more and more. Through the first summer Sundays the bell that echoed down the mountainside from the Church of Christ-on-the-Mount called increasing numbers to worship with the young “Old” Catholics and with the advent of winter a place of worship had to be found in the village. Then in an old red barn, adjoining the Woodstock Country Club on the Saugerties-Woodstock road, whose hand hewn beams and weathered boards teem with memories and the romance of bygone days, they prayed for the common healing of the ills of humanity together with people who have been previously unchurched, dechurched or never-before churched. But with the exception of those with whom their activities have grown, and the friendly folk with whom they visit, the paradox of “Old” and “Catholic” and “young” and “evangelistic” still remains. Continue reading “Old Catholic History”

The Creed of Saint Gregory of Narek

Saint Gregory of Narek

Here is my profession of faith, here,
the yearnings of my wretched breath to you
who constitute all things with your Word, God.
What I have discoursed upon before, I set forth again,
these written instructions and interpretations
for the masses of different nations.
I offer these prayers of intercession
in the thanksgiving prayer below.

 

I pray to your unchanging, almighty Spirit:
Send the dew of your sweetness upon my soul
to rule over the impulses of my senses.
Send the all-filling gifts of your merciful grace
and cultivate the reasoning fields hardened by my heart,
that they might bear the fruit of your spiritual seeds.
All gifts that flourish and grow with us, Teacher,
come from your all-encompassing wisdom.
You who laid hands on the apostles,
filled the prophets,
taught the teachers,
made the speechless speak,
and opened the ears of the deaf. Continue reading “The Creed of Saint Gregory of Narek”

The Catholic Doctrine of Justification by Grace

By S.M. Miranda

 

Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

–Acts of the Apostles 2:38

What does Justification mean?

In Catholic theology justification is a term that means the cleansing of sin in a person, and the communication by grace of “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22) ” through Baptism. Catholics believe that mankind has inherited original sin through Adam. The original sin destroyed the righteousness originally attributed to our first parents and created the chasm of sin between God and man. Sin separates us from God and thus by justice causes death of the soul in hell. “For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)”. The Council of Trent affirms that original sin creates a weakness in human nature and calls this weakness of will concupiscence. Concupiscence weakens the will of man toward evil and warps his nature towards selfish passions rather than the love of God. Human nature and the Jewish law of the Old Covenant are incapable of allowing man in his natural faculties to rise above the fall of mankind and the temptations of Satan.

 

Because of the infinite love and mercy of God, Jesus Christ willingly paid for our sins by his suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection and thus merited the redemption of humanity. This means that provided humans cooperate by act of free will with God’s grace, a person can be justified by the grace of God and become a new creature in Christ. Justification of the soul is a work of grace by the Holy Spirit. With this in mind, we can define justification as the transformation of the soul from the state of original sin to that of grace and divine sonship through Jesus Christ.

Continue reading “The Catholic Doctrine of Justification by Grace”