Quinisext Council, Canon 74.previous | next
That so-called agapae, or love-feasts, must not be held at the Lord’s suppers, or at the churches, and that one is not to eat them inside of a house, or to lay a table with accubita (or couches). As for those who dare to do this, let them either cease or be excommunicated.
The present Canon is word for word the same as c. XXVIII of Laodicea, which prohibits Christian people from holding agapae, or so-called love-feasts (i.e., banquets held as a token of love, and designed to lead the banqueters to love and union), on the occasion of the Lord’s suppers, or, as we may say, in the churches. Nor must they provide soft and high couches thereat, which it calls “accubita,” using a Latin word derived from the verb accumbo, which means in Latin to lean or recline upon, and thus to sit at table; for Christians were wont to sit on these when eating. As for any persons that might dare to do this, they must either cease or be excommunicated. We must first note that Balsamon opines that by “Lord’s suppers” the Canon means here any place dedicated to the Lord, including, that is to say, both the Narthex and the Pronaos, reserving the word “church” for the Temple itself. Hence the particle “or” is not to be taken as explanatory, as Zonaras asserts, but as disjunctive: so that, according to him, one must not eat, not only in churches, but not even in the Narthex of churches.
Likewise c. XLIX of Carthage prohibits bishops, clerics, and laymen from holding banquets except when some passing guests have to be entertained. Note that though the Canons forbid the holding of agapae, or love-feasts, they do not forbid their being held at common houses. Hence c. XXVII of the same Council of Laodicea commands that those in holy orders and laymen shall not take any portions of meals away with them as tidbits when they are invited to such love-feasts. Canon XI of Gangra anathematizes those who scorn those who hold such love-feasts (outside of the church, that is to say) and invite the brethren to assemble in honor of the Lord, and those who make light of the affair by refusing to attend them. Canon LXXVI of the present 6th excommunicates those who sell wine and food stuffs or other merchandise within the sacred precincts. But, besides this, c. XCVII of the same deposes clerics and excommunicates laymen who bring any domestic animal into a sacred temple, except as a result of some great necessity. See also the Footnote to c. LXXXIII of this same 6th.
 Christians began the custom of holding love-feasts in the church in Apostolic times. When they were going to commune, especially on Sunday, the richer ones used to bring bread and wine to church, and after partaking of the divine Mysteries, as Zonaras says, and as St. Chrysostom does too in his 27th Homily on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, they would invite the poorer ones, and all of them would sit down and eat. But since the Corinthians spoiled this order, and each of the richer ones would eat his own meal alone, and would not give anything to the poor, things came to such a pass that one man (a poor man, that is to say) would go hungry, while another man would get drunk (a rich man, that is to say), divine St. Paul on this account, in the eleventh chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians censures them both because in so doing they were scorning the Church of God, and because they were disgracing and shaming in a way the poor people who had nothing to eat at such common banquets. Premising these words of the Apostle, St. Basil the Great (in his “Epitomized Definitions”) concludes therefrom that one must not eat the common supper in a church. This is said in agreement with c. XXVIII of Laodicea, that is to say, and with this c. LXXIV of the 6th. Note that the Lord’s supper, which Paul mentions in speaking of these common suppers of the Corinthians was mistaken by St. Paul the Great for the divine Supper of the Mysteries (ibidem) and also by c. XLVIII of Carthage. St. Chrysostom, on the other hand, thought them to be the one common to all and held in imitation of the Lord, who confided and consigned the Mysteries to all His disciples without excepting any of them. See also Eustratius Argentes concerning the Lord’s Supper, p. 308. But the Lord’s suppers mentioned in the present Canon were thus called because the divine liturgy was celebrated at them for the most part on Sundays (called in Greek “the Lord’s days”). In connection with praises bestowed upon the Lord’s suppers by Constantine, Eusebius says that they were called thus after the Lord, to whom they were dedicated: “Holy temples are to be dedicated to the one king of all God, who is indeed also the Lord of all. Hence what has been dedicated is deemed worthy of the appellation of the Lord, as not having acquired its title from human beings but from the Lord of all Himself: on which account they have been accorded the name of Lord’s suppers.” Note that these feasts called agapae, and these common banquets were called in some cases Birthday Suppers, held in memory of martyrs; in other cases Wedding Suppers, held in celebration of nuptials; and others were called Funeral Suppers, held at the burial of the dead (p. 8 of the Book on Religious Toleration).
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