The First Ecumenical Council, Canon 2.previous | next
Inasmuch as many things, whether of necessity or otherwise urgently demanded by men, have been done contrary to the ecclesiastical Canon, so that men who have but recently come to the faith from a heathen life, and have been catechized for only a short time, have been conducted directly to the spiritual bath, and as soon as baptized have been given an episcopate or a presbytery, it has seemed well henceforth to have no such thing occur. For the catechumen needs more time and a longer trial after baptism. The Apostolical letter, too, is plain which says, “not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the Devil’s snare” (1 Tim. 3:6). If, on the other hand, in the course of time any psychical (i.e., animal) sin be found against the person, and it is exposed by two or three witnesses, let such a person be dismissed from the clergy. As for anyone acting contrary hereto, as having the hardihood to do things opposed to the great council, he himself shall be in danger of losing his standing in the clergy.
(Ap. c. LXXX; c. XVII of the lst-&-2nd; c. X of Sardican; c. III of Laodicea; c. IV of Cyril.)
The present Canon commands what Ap. c. LXXX ordains. For it says: Since in times past many things have occurred that were contrary to the ecclesiastical Canon (that is to say, Ap. c. LXXX), whether of necessity, or on account of persons motivated by other considerations, so that they have almost immediately baptized persons that before had been converted to the Orthodox faith from the life of a heathen and infidel only a short while before, and had been catechized only a short time in the mystery of piety (i.e., of the Christian religion), and right after baptism they promoted them to an episcopate or a presbytery, which is to say, they ordained them presbyters or bishops; since, I say, these things formerly used to be done thus illegally, it has appeared reasonable that from now on they should not be done. For a catechumen needs sufficient time even before being baptized to be properly catechized and instructed concerning all the dogmas of the faith; and after being baptized he again needs to undergo a long trial as a test of his worthiness. For the Apostle says to Timothy: “Let not a novice (be ordained, that is to say), or one newly catechized and recently planted in the vineyard of Christ, lest, after being puffed up with pride, he fall into the same sin and into the same snare as the Devil fell into, or, in other words, into pride. If, on the other hand, with the passage of time, in the subsequent interval of trial and after he has been catechized and baptized and ordained, it should happen that he is found to have committed any animal (i.e., soul-wrought) sin and is convicted thereof by two or three witnesses, he shall cease officiating in holy orders. As for anyone that does otherwise, he shall be in danger of forfeiting his claim to holy orders, that is to say, he shall be deposed from office, on the ground that he has impudently defied the great council. See also the Interpretation of Ap. c. LXXX.
 The duration of catechization is not fixed the same by all. The Apostolical Injunctions ordain that a catechumen is to be catechized for a year. Canon 42 of the regional council held in Illiberia, a town in Spain, a little before the First Ecumenical Council, prescribed two years. Justinian Novel 144 also prescribed two years for Samaritans joining the faith. Canon 25 of the local council held in Agatha in the year 506 fixed the time as eight months for converted Jews. Canon VIII of the 7th Ecum. C. will not have us accept Jews feigning belief, but only those who really believe and who criticize the practices of the Jews. Some writers, however, think that catechization occupied only as many days as there are in Great Lent, inferring this from c. XLV of Laodicea, and from Jerome’s letter to Pammachius, and from the first catechism of Cyril of Jerusalem. But perhaps from these premises nothing less is to be inferred except the fact that during Great Lent the last and more accurate part of catechization was completed, because at that time catechumens used to be baptized during the night of Great Saturday and of Easter. Sometimes, however, the duration of catechization was curtailed on account of necessary circumstances. That is why catechumens in danger of dying used to be baptized before the time fixed for catechization had expired, according to c. XII of Neocaesarea, c. XLVII of Laodicea, c. LII of Carthage, c. V of Basil, and c. V of Cyril. But the Burgundians, too, a nationality of France, on account of the fervid faith they showed in Christ, and on account of the need they had to fight the Huns, with whom they were at war, were catechized in only seven days, and on the eighth day they were baptized by the bishop in one city of France (Socrates, Book VII, ch. 30). Yet, according to this Canon, it is better to let a long time pass that is sufficient to test the catechumen more efficaciously.
 Zonaras calls every sin a psychical (or animal) sin that is due to an aberrancy of the three faculties of the soul, namely, the reasoning faculty, the affective faculty, and the desiderative faculty. Balsamon says that a psychical (or animal) sin is any sin that causes an injury to the soul (the Greek name of which is psyche, and the Latin anima), whether the origin of it be traceable to an appetite of the body or to a craving of the soul. Others have considered a psychical sin to be one resulting from passions of the soul, such as presumption, waywardness, etc. Properly, however, the psychical sin spoken of in this Canon is the state of being puffed up, and supercilious, and proud. For it is only this passion that belongs to the spiritual and immaterial nature of the soul; and this is the condemnation and snare into which the Devil fell, according to the saying of the Apostle which the Canon mentions here, and according to the interpretation placed upon it by St. Ambrose. That is why St. Augustine (in Book III concerning the City of God) says that the Devil is not a drunkard or anything else of such a nature, but is, in fact, a conceited and witchlike being. So if a bishop falls into the passion of pride and reveals this by what he says or does, and is exposed by two or three witnesses, let him be dismissed from the clergy, perhaps in order that he may be humbled and moderate his sentiment, and thus become entitled to be restored to holy orders. But if he keeps on getting prouder, and refuses to cease, let him be completely deposed from his rank. The fact that open pride is a sufficient cause for deposition is also evident from the Novatians, who were ousted from the Church on this account, because out of presumption and pride they called themselves pure and refused to admit those who had denied in time of persecution and had repented, nor would commune with persons married twice. Some authorities, however, have asserted that by “psychical sin” the Canon means here a cacodoxical and impious sentiment or belief or frame of mind. But if this were meant, anyone entertaining it ought not only to cease therefrom, but also to be sternly deposed and to be outlawed and proscribed from the Church. So, inasmuch as pride is a mortal sin, and those who commit a sin involving death forfeit their rank, according to c. XXXII of Basil (which you are advised to read), the present Canon chastises anyone that has fallen into such a sin by unfrocking him.
previous | next