Quinisext Council, Canon 56.previous | next
Likewise we have learned that in the country of the Armenians and in other regions on the Saturdays and on the Sundays of holy Lent some persons eat eggs and cheese. It has therefore seemed best to decree also this, that the Church of God throughout the inhabited earth, carefully following a single procedure, shall carry out fasting, and abstain, precisely as from every kind of thing sacrificed, so and especially from eggs and cheese, which are fruit and produce from which we have to abstain. As for those who fail to observe this rule, if they are Clergymen, let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated.
It would seem that the Christians living in Armenia, being told that the Apostolic Canon forbids one from fasting on Saturday and Sunday, and not understanding it aright, were wont to eat eggs and cheese on the Saturdays and Sundays of Lent. Hence this Council in the present Canon decrees that the entire Church of Christ, which is spread over the whole inhabited face of the earth, must follow one and the same procedure and fast on these days (by consuming on these days only wine, oil, and shellfish), and just as it abstains during Lent from animals that are sacrified, so must it also abstain from cheese and eggs, which are fruit and produce of such animals. As for those who fail to keep this rule, if they are clergymen, let them be deposed from office, but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated. Read also Ap. cc. LXIV and LXIX.
 Note that the Orthodox Church allows the consumption of wine, oil, and shellfish on the Saturdays and Sundays of Lent, as Meletius the Confessor also bears witness by saying: “and to all who are chaste in general, and so on likewise, on Saturday and Sunday we allow a breaking of the fast” (Degree xxxvi). Accordingly, by means of this moderate breaking of the fast, he wisely provides for the keeping of each of the two requirements, to wit, both the respectability of the fasts of Lent, that is to say, by not allowing meat or cheese or eggs and fish, and of Ap. c. LXIV, which decrees that one is not to fast on Saturday and Sunday with complete abstinence from everything, and by making the eating of food on these days to be refrained from.
 Even though one may say that fish too are called things sacrificed (for perhaps they may be), since the divine voice said to Peter, “Rise, Peter, sacrifice, and eat” (Acts 10:13; 11:7). What should he sacrifice? Cattle and wild beasts, and reptiles. But fish too are called reptiles in accordance with the passage saying, “Let the waters bring forth reptiles of living souls” (Gen. 1:20). Therefore we must also abstain from the eggs of fishes, or, to be more explicit, botargo and caviar, during Lent. But if these are not called things sacrificed, this expression being confined to land animals and fowls of the air, we are not prejudicing our case by eating botargo on Saturdays and Sundays of Lent. Nevertheless, those who refrain from eating it are doing better.
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