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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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13.

 As concerns those who are making their exit, the old and canonical Law shall be kept even now, so that, if anyone is exciting, let him not be deprived of the final and most necessary[25] equipment (or viaticum). If, however, after all hope has fled, and he has been given communion, he again comes to be looked upon as being among the living, let him stay with those who participate in prayer only. In general, moreover, as concerning anyone at all that is on the point of making his exit, if he asks to partake of the Eucharist, let the Bishop impart to him the oblation with a trial.

 

Interpretation.

After these divine Fathers prescribed concerning penance, and in what way, and for how long a time Christ-deniers ought to be excluded from communion, now in the present Canon they are prescribing that all such persons as are in danger of dying are to be accorded the benefit of the old and canonical law (which appears to be c. VI of the Council held in Ancyra, this being an earlier one than the First Ecumenical). So that, in effect, whoever has been despaired of as being about to die, let him not be deprived of the last and final and most necessary equipment for that journey and departure, which equipment consists in partaking of the divine mysteries.[26] If, however, the one who has been thought to be dying, and has already partaken of the mysteries of communion, again becomes alive and regains his health, let him stand only with the faithful, and let him pray with them, not, however, to partake of communion. But Balsamon says that such a person as this one of whom the Canon is speaking here, if he was occupying the place assigned to consistents (or “costanders”), he ought on this account to be ordered to stay in that place again; but if he was in the place assigned to audients (or “listeners”), again he ought to stay there. And, in general, everyone in danger ought to return to that canon after communion in which he had been before communion.[27] And to lay down a catholic and common canon, let the Bishop, or even the spiritual father, with a trial, impart the divine Mysteries to any person that is in mortal danger and asks to partake of the Holy Eucharist.

 




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