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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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101.

 The divine Apostle loudly proclaims the man created in the image of God to be a body of Christ and a temple. Standing, therefore, far above all sensible creation, and having attained to a heavenly dignity by virtue of the soterial Passion, by eating and drinking Christ as a source of life, he perpetually readjusts both his eternal soul and his body and by partaking of the divine grace he is continually sanctified. So that if anyone should wish to partake of the intemerate body during the time of a synaxis, and to become one therewith by virtue of transessencc, let him form his hands into the shape of a cross, and, thus approaching, let him receive the communion of grace. For we nowise welcome those men who make certain receptacles out of gold, or any other material, to serve instead of their hand for the reception of the divine gift, demanding to take of the intemerate communion in such containers; because they prefer soulless (i.e., inanimate) matter and an inferior article to the image of God. In case, therefore, any person should be caught in the act of imparting of the intemerate communion to those offering such receptacles, let him be excommunicated, both he himself and the one offering them.

(1 Cor. 12:27; 2Cor.6:16.)

 

Interpretation.

In that time there prevailed a custom of laymen communing, just like priests, by taking the holy bread in their hands, in the manner in which they nowadays receive the antidoron. But since some men, on the pretense of reverence, and of paying greater honor to the divine gifts, used to make gold vessels, or vessels of some other precious material, and were wont to partake of the intemerate body of the Lord by receiving it in such vessels; therefore, and on this account, the present Canon will not admit this procedure, even though it be employed for the sake of reverence. Because, in view of the fact that a man is one who has been made in the image of God, and who eats the body and drinks the blood of Christ, and thereby becomes sanctified, and since he is in fact a body and temple of Christ, according to the Apostle, he transcends all sensible things and inanimate creatures, and consequently his hands are far more precious than any vessel. Hence anyone that wishes to partake of the Lord’s body, let him form his two hands into the shape of a cross,[252] and let him receive it therein. As for any layman that may receive the body of the Lord in a vessel, and any priest who may impart it in any such thing, let both of them be excommunicated, because they prefer an inanimate (i.e., soulless) vessel to the human being molded in the image of God.

 

 




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