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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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89.

 The faithful celebrating the days of the soterial Passion with fasting and prayer and contrition must cease their fast about the middle hours of the night after Great Saturday, the divine Evangelists Matthew and Luke having signaled us the lateness of night, the one by adding the words “at the end of the sabbath (Matt. 28:1) and the other by saying “very early in the morning (Luke 24:1).

(c. I of Dionysius.)

 

Interpretation.

This Canon decrees that Christians must celebrate all the Great Week of the Holy Passion with fasting[226] and prayer and contrition of the heartreal contrition, that is to say, and not hypocritical (exceptionally, however, and especially on Great Friday and Great Saturday they ought to be forced to spend the entire day without any nourishment at all); but about midnight — that is to say, after the midnight of the past Great Saturday — of the coming Great Sunday they must cease fasting,[227] since the Lord has already risen, as is plainly evidenced by the divine Evangelists. For St. Matthew by saying that the women came at the end of the Sabbath to inspect the sepulcher revealed that the day of the Sabbath had past as well as a large part of the night after the Sabbath; while Luke, on the other hand, by saying that they came “very early in the morningrevealed that there still remained a large part of the night until Sunday dawned. Hence, from the statements of both of them it may be inferred that the Lord rose about midnight, the sixth hour having passed and the seventh having begun.[228]

 

Concord.

As concerning the precise time of the Lord’s Resurrection c. I of Dionysius goes into the matter more fully; in fact, it was from him that the present Council derived its information on these matters. He adds that those who broke their fast before midnight were accused of being pusillanimous and intemperate, whereas those who waited with fortitude till daybreak were praised as being magnanimous and temperate. But even the Apostolic Injunctions, Book V, ch. 19, say that Christians must cease fasting at the dawn of the first hour of Sabbath, or, more plainly speaking, at the dawning of Sunday. See also the Interpretation and Footnote to c. XXIX of the present 6th and Ap. c. LXIX.

 

 




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