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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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4.

 Let them who sincerely and truly enter upon monastic life be accorded due honor. But inasmuch as some use the monk’s garb to disturb the affairs of the Church and civil government, by going round in the cities negligently disregarding their duties, and even undertaking to build themselves monasteries, it is decreed that no one shall anywhere build or establish any monastery or any oratory (i.e., prayerhouse] without the consent and approval of the Bishop of the city; and that Monks in every city and country be subject to the Bishop, and embrace quietude, and pay heed only to fasting and prayer, while continuing in the places patiently whereunto they have been assigned, without intruding upon or meddling in ecclesiastical affairs, nor leaving their own monasteries, unless at any time they be permitted to do so by the Bishop of the city on account of some exigency; and that no one shall receive a slave into the monasteries to become a monk, without his owner’s consent and approval. We have decreed that anyone transgressing this rule of ours shall be excluded from communion, in order that the name of God be not blasphemed. The Bishop of the city, however, is required to make proper provision for monasteries.

(Regarding this first part of this Canon, cf. c. XXIV of the 4th; c. XXI of the 7th; and c. I of the lst-&-2nd. Regarding the second part, Ap. c. LXXXII; cc. XL, XLII of Basil; cc. LXXIII, XC of Carthage; c. LXXXV of the 6th and c. III of Gangra.)

 

Interpretation.

The following things are prescribed by the present Canon. Those who truly and without any hypocrisy adopt the monastic life deserve to be duly honored. But since some employ the monastic habit as a pretext and lure to get themselves honored, and bring about confusion in ecclesiastical and civil affairs by wanting to meddle therein and by carelessly going about the cities, and make it their endeavor to build monasteries of their own, therefore it has seemed reasonable that no monk, either in a village, or in a city, or in the wilderness, or in a desert, or in any other place shall be allowed to build and establish a monastery or an oratory, without the consent and approval of the bishop of the region in question.[89] Monks living in any city or village shall be subject to the authority of the bishop of the region in question, and shall observe quietness of life and engage in only fasting and praying, and shall remain in those monasteries wherein they were shorn, without leaving them (see c. XXI of the 7th) and involving themselves in ecclesiastical and civil affairs,[90] unless as a matter of need and necessity they be appointed to do so by the bishop, after he has judged them to be fitted for such an undertaking. It has seemed reasonable in addition that no slave be admitted into a monastery to be shorn as a monk without the consent of his owner, lest other men seeing the monks engaged in worldly affairs, and the masters grieved about their slaves, be led to blaspheme the order of the monks, and hence through them the name of God be blasphemed. Anyone that violates this Canon or transgresses it shall be excommunicated. Yet, just as monks ought to confine their activities to the works that belong to monks, so ought also bishops to have diligence and foresight in providing for their monasteries, by protecting the monks and bestowing alms in exigencies either out of their own pocket or out of the poor money of the church, in accordance with Ap. c.XLI and c.XXV of Antioch, for two reasons: 1) in order that the monks may remain quiet and free from temptation; and 2) in order that he may himself derive therefrom something in the way of benefit to his soul.[91]

    Canon XVII of the 7th Ee. C. likewise commands that the bishop shall prohibit monks from leaving their monasteries, and from undertaking to build oratories without having the expenses requisite to finish and furnish them. In addition thereto, c. I of the lst-&-2nd refuses permission to anyone to build a monastery without the consent of the bishop, or after building one to become its owner and lord. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. LXXXII, and c. XXIV of the present Council.

 




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