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ANF07. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily
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Sec. III.—Ordination and Duties of the Clergy.

Concerning the Ordination of Presbyters—The Constitution of John, Who Was Beloved by the Lord.

XVI. Concerning the ordination of presbyters, I36823682     One V. ms. has this note: “John the evangelist, the brother of James, was banished by Domitian to the island of Patmos, and there composed the Gospel according to him. He died a natural death, in the third year of Trajan’s reign, in Ephesus. His remains were sought, but have not been found.”   who am loved by the Lord make this constitution for you the bishops: When thou ordainest a presbyter, O bishop, lay thy hand upon his head, in the presence of the presbyters and deacons,36833683     The Coptic adds: “While you pray, he is ordained; and thou shalt ordain the deacon also according to this constitution alone.”   and pray, saying: O Lord Almighty, our God, who hast created all things by Christ, and dost in like manner take care of the whole world by Him; for He who had power to make different creatures, has also power to take care of them, according to their different natures; on which account, O God, Thou takest care of immortal beings by bare preservation, but of those that are mortal by succession—of the soul by the provision of laws, of the body by the supply of its wants. Do Thou therefore now also look down upon Thy holy Church, and increase the same, and multiply those that preside in it, and grant them power, that they may labour both in word and work for the edification of Thy people. Do Thou now also look down upon this Thy servant, who is put into the presbytery by the vote and determination of the whole clergy; and do Thou replenish him with the Spirit of grace and counsel, to assist and govern Thy people with a pure heart, in the same manner as Thou didst look down upon Thy chosen people, and didst command Moses to choose elders, whom Thou didst fill with Thy Spirit.36843684     Ex. xviii., , xxviii   Do Thou also now, O Lord, grant this, and preserve in us the Spirit of Thy grace, that this person, being filled with the gifts of healing and the word of teaching, may in meekness instruct Thy people, and sincerely serve Thee with a pure mind and a willing soul, and may fully discharge the holy ministrations for Thy people, through Thy Christ, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee, and to the Holy Ghost, for ever. Amen.  

Concerning the Ordination of Deacons—The Constitution of Philip.

XVII. Concerning the ordination of deacons, I Philip36853685     One V. ms. has the following note: “Philip having proclaimed the life-giving word to the Asiatic diocese, has been buried in Hierapolis of Phrygia along with his daughters, having been crowned with martyrdom in the reign of the Emperor Domitian. Philip, who has the daughters, is one of the seven; it was he also who baptized the eunuch.”   make this constitution: Thou shalt ordain a deacon, O bishop, by laying thy hands upon him in the presence of the whole presbytery, and of the deacons, and shall pray, and say:—  

The Form of Prayer for the Ordination of a Deacon.

XVIII. O God Almighty, the true and faithful God, who art rich unto all that call upon Thee in truth, who art fearful in counsels, and wise in understanding, who art powerful and great, hear our prayer, O Lord, and let Thine ears receive our supplication, and “cause the light of Thy countenance to shine upon this Thy servant,” who is to be ordained for Thee to the office of a deacon; and replenish him with Thy Holy Spirit, and with power, as Thou didst replenish Stephen, who was Thy martyr, and follower of the sufferings of Thy Christ.36863686     Acts vi. and vii.   Do Thou render him worthy to discharge acceptably the ministration of a deacon, steadily, unblameably, and without reproof, that thereby he may attain an higher degree, through the mediation of Thy only begotten Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.  

Concerning the Deaconess—The Constitution of Bartholomew.

XIX. Concerning a deaconess, I Bartholomew36873687     One V. ms. has the following note: “Bartholomew preached the Gospel according to Matthew to the Indians, who also has been buried in India.”   make this constitution: O bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon her in the presence of the presbytery, and of the deacons and deaconesses, and shall say:—  

The Form of Prayer for the Ordination of a Deaconess.

XX. O Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of woman, who didst replenish with the Spirit Miriam, and Deborah, and Anna, and Huldah;36883688     Ex. xv. 20; Judg. iv. 4; Luke ii. 36; 2 Kings xxii. 14.   who didst not disdain that Thy only begotten Son should be born of a woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple, didst ordain women to be keepers of Thy holy gates,—do Thou now also look down upon this Thy servant, who is to be ordained to the office of a deaconess, and grant her Thy Holy Spirit, and “cleanse her from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,”36893689     2 Cor. vii. 1.   that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her to Thy glory, and the praise of Thy Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.  

Concerning the Sub-Deacons—The Constitution of Thomas.

XXI. Concerning the sub-deacons, I Thomas36903690     One V ms. has the following note: “Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Germans, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, Bardians, who also, having been a martyr, lies in Edessa of Osdroene.”   make this constitution for you the bishops:36913691     The words “for you the bishops” are omitted in the Oxford ms.   When thou dost ordain a sub-deacon,36923692     [See vol. v. Elucidation XIV. p. 417.]   O bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon him, and say: O Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things that are therein; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony didst appoint overseers and keepers of Thy holy vessels;36933693     Num. iii.; 1 Chron. vi.   do Thou now look down upon this Thy servant, appointed a sub-deacon; and grant him the Holy Spirit, that he may worthily handle the vessels of Thy ministry, and do Thy will always, through Thy Christ, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and to the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.  

Concerning the Readers—The Constitution of Matthew.

XXII. Concerning readers,36943694     The Oxford ms. has no part of this chapter. It reads: “A reader is appointed when the bishop gives him a book; for there is no imposition of hands.”   I Matthew, also called Levi, who was once a tax-gatherer, make a constitution: Ordain a reader by laying thy hands upon him, and pray unto God, and say: O Eternal God, who art plenteous in mercy and compassions, who hast made manifest the constitution of the world by Thy operations therein, and keepest the number of Thine elect, do Thou also now look down upon Thy servant, who is to be entrusted to read Thy Holy Scriptures to Thy people, and give him Thy Holy Spirit, the prophetic Spirit. Thou who didst instruct Esdras Thy servant to read Thy laws to the people,36953695     Neh. viii.   do Thou now also at our prayers instruct Thy servant, and grant that he may without blame perfect the work committed to him, and thereby be declared worthy of an higher degree, through Christ, with whom glory and worship be to Thee and to the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen.  

Concerning the Confessors—The Constitution of James the Son of Alpheus.

XXIII. And I James, the son of Alphæus, make a constitution in regard to confessors: A confessor is not ordained; for he is so by choice and patience, and is worthy of great honour, as having confessed the name of God, and of His Christ, before nations and kings. But if there be occasion, he is to be ordained36963696     The Coptic reads, “let him be ordained.”   either a bishop, priest, or deacon. But if any one of the confessors who is not ordained snatches to himself any such dignity upon account of his confession, let the same person be deprived and rejected; for he is not in such an office, since he has denied the constitution of Christ, and is “worse than an infidel.”36973697     1 Tim. v. 8.    

The Same Apostle’s Constitution Concerning Virgins.

XXIV. I, the same, make a constitution in regard to virgins: A virgin is not ordained, for we have no such command from the Lord;36983698     1 Cor. vii. 25.   for this is a state of voluntary trial, not for the reproach of marriage, but on account of leisure for piety.  

The Constitution of Lebbæus, Who Was Surnamed Thaddæus, Concerning Widows.

XXV. And I Lebbæus,36993699     The two V. mss. have the following note: “Thaddæus, also called Lebbæus, and who was surnamed Judas the Zealot, preached the truth to the Edessenes and the people of Mesopotamia when Abgarus ruled over Edessa, and has been buried in Berytus of Phoenicia.”   surnamed Thaddæus, make this constitution in regard to widows: A widow is not ordained; yet if she has lost her husband a great while, and has lived soberly and unblameably, and has taken extraordinary care of her family, as Judith37003700     Judith xvi. 21, 23   and Anna37013701     Luke ii. 36, etc.  those women of great reputation—let her be chosen into the order of widows. But if she has lately lost her yokefellow, let her not be believed, but let her youth be judged of by the time; for the affections do sometimes grow aged with men, if they be not restrained by a better bridle.  

The Same Apostle Concerning the Exorcist.

XXVI. I the same make a constitution in regard to an exorcist. An exorcist is not ordained. For it is a trial of voluntary goodness, and of the grace of God through Christ by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For he who has received the gift of healing is declared by revelation from God, the grace which is in him being manifest to all. But if there be occasion for him, he must be ordained37023702     The Coptic has, “let him be ordained.”   a bishop, or a presbyter, or a deacon.  

Simon the Canaanite Concerning the Number Necessary for the Ordination of a Bishop.

XXVII.37033703     Ch. xxvii., xxviii., xxx.-xxxiv., and ch. xlii.-xlvii., occur in Syriac and Coptic, as well as in the Greek mss.   And I Simon the Canaanite37043704     One V. ms. has the following note: “Simon the Canaanite, preacher of the truth, is crowned with martyrdom in Judea in the reign of Domitian.”   make a constitution to determine by how many a bishop ought to be elected. Let a bishop be ordained by three or two bishops; but if any one be ordained by one bishop, let him be deprived, both himself and he that ordained him. But if there be a necessity that he have only one to ordain him, because more bishops cannot come together, as in time of persecution, or for such like causes, let him bring the suffrage of permission from more bishops.  

The Same Apostle’s Canons Concerning Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, and the Rest of the Clergy.

XXVIII. Concerning37053705     The words from “concerning” to “constitution” are omitted in the Oxford ms., in Syriac, and Coptic.   the canons I the same make a constitution. A bishop blesses, but does not receive the blessing. He lays on hands, ordains, offers, receives the blessing from bishops, but by no means from presbyters. A bishop deprives any clergyman who deserves deprivation, excepting a bishop; for of himself he has not power to do that. A presbyter blesses, but does not receive the blessing; yet does he receive the blessing from the bishop or a fellow-presbyter. In like manner does he give it to a fellow-presbyter. He lays on hands, but does not ordain; he does not deprive, yet does he separate those that are under him, if they be liable to such a punishment. A deacon does not bless, does not give the blessing, but receives it from the bishop and presbyter: he does not baptize, he does not offer; but when a bishop or presbyter has offered, he distributes to the people, not as a priest, but as one that ministers to the priests. But it is not lawful for any one of the other clergy to do the work of a deacon. A deaconess does not bless, nor perform anything belonging to the office of presbyters or deacons, but only is to keep the doors, and to minister to the presbyters in the baptizing of women, on account of decency. A deacon separates a sub-deacon, a reader, a singer, and a deaconess, if there be any occasion, in the absence of a presbyter. It is not lawful for a sub-deacon to separate either one of the clergy or laity; nor for a reader, nor for a singer, nor for a deaconess, for they are the ministers to the deacons.  


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