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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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32.

 Since it has come to our knowledge that in the country of the Armenians those conducting the bloodless sacrifice are wont to offer wine alone at the sacred table, without mixing water with it, on the alleged ground that the teacher of the Church John Chrysostom said in his commentary of the Gospel according to St. Matthew the following: “On what account did He not drink water after He rose, but wine? — another wicked heresy being thus eradicated, roots and all. For since there were some who used water in the Mysteries, He showed both when He delivered the Mysteries and when He rose from the grave, that he set a mere table without mysteries and used wine, derived, he says, from the product of the vine” (Homily 82). But a vine produces wine, not water. Hence they infer that the teacher disallowed the offering of water in the sacred sacrifice (Matt. 26:29). Lest they remain henceforth in ignorance of the facts, we proceed to reveal the father’s meaning Orthodoxically. For, in view of the fact that the wicked heresy of the Aquarians was an old one, wherein they use water alone instead of wine in their own sacrifice,[160] by way of refuting the unlawful doctrine of that particular heresy and showing that they are contravening the Apostolical tradition, this God-bearing man asserted the said words. Since even in the church of his jurisdiction, where he had the pastoral rulership in his hands, he taught that water should be admixed whenever it was requisite to perform the blood sacrifice, pointing out that from the precious flank of our Redeemer and Savior Christ the God there had exuded a mixture of blood and water, which mixture was shed, or poured out, for vivification of all the world and redemption from sins. And in connection with all churches where the spiritual luminaries shone forth, this God-given procedure prevails. For this is also in keeping with the fact that both James the carnal brother of Christ our God, who was the first to be entrusted with the throne of the church of the Jerusalemites, and Basil the Bishop of the Caesareans and one whose renown rapidly spread over the whole inhabited earth, having each of them handed down to us in writing the mystical hierurgy, have given out that the sacred chalice (or cup) is to be filled full of water and wine in the Divine Liturgy. And the devout Fathers assembled in Carthage, too, thus expressly mentioned that in the holy elements nothing more than the body and the blood of the Lord should be offered, just as the Lord Himself taught, that is, bread and wine, mixed with water. If, therefore, any Bishop, or Presbyter, fail to follow the procedure taught by the Apostles, and, mixing water with wine, thus to offer the intemerate sacrifice, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he has been divulging the mystery imperfectly or deficiently and novating the rites handed down.

 

Interpretation.

The present Canon corrects the bad custom which came to prevail in the country of the Armenians — that of conducting the liturgy, that is to say, with wine alone, without combining it with water in accordance with the tradition of the Church. Since they adduce in support of such custom evidence resting upon the explanation which John Chrysostom gives to the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and think that that divine Father, by saying there that both before and after His resurrection the Lord used wine, is denying in these words the admixture of water in the Mysteries, therefore, owing to this mistaken view of theirs, these Fathers are making known the true meaning of the saint’s words, which say that because there was an old heresy called that of the Aquarians, who used water alone in the Eucharistic celebration, and not wine, divine Chrysostom, in refuting this heresy, employed these words thus, and not as one accepting that wicked custom of the Aquarians, since the same Chrysostom himself in his divine Liturgy taught the church of Constantinople that in the bloodless sacrifice of the Mysteries water must be mixed with the wine by way of representing the blood and water which emerged from the precious side of the Lord’s body while it was hanging on the cross, for the remission of the sins and the vivification of all the world, according to that Gospel saying that “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water (John 19:34).[161] But not only St. Chrysostom, but also James the brother of God and first hierarch of Jerusalem,[162] as well as St. Basil the Great in their Liturgies gave directions for the holy chalice to be filled full of wine and water. In addition, the Fathers in Carthage in c. XLIV, which they set forth verbatim, do so too. So if any bishop or priest in the divine service of the hierurgy fails to mix water with the wine, in accordance with the Apostolic tradition, let him be deposed from office. For by failing to do so, he renders the mystery of the divine Eucharist incomplete or imperfect, and upsets what has been handed down. Read also Ap. c. III.

 

 




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