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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 As touching women who prefer the ascetic life and are enrolled in a convent, in general let them not step outside of it, but if they are compelled to do so by any inexorable (or “indispensable”) necessity, let them do so with the blessing and permission of the abbess. Even then let them not go out all alone by themselves, but let them be accompanied by some presbyteresses and mother-superiors in the convent provided with a warrant from the Prioress. They must not be permitted to sleep outside of the building at all. But men who are leading the solitary life (of monasticism) may themselves step out, when there is urgent need of their doing so, only with the blessing of the one in charge of the monastery. So that those who violate the rule which we have now made, whether they be men or women, must be subjected to suitable penances.

(c. XLVII of the 6th.)



These Fathers do not want nuns to go away from their convents at all. But if any unavoidable and urgent need arise that compels them to do so, let them fare forth with the blessing and permission of the Abbess; even then, however, not alone, but with other women who are much older both in point of age and in point of prudence. For them to sleep at night outside of their convents is utterly forbidden them in any case whatsoever. But monks, too, when similarly compelled by some urgent and unavoidable need, may go out from their monasteries only with the blessing of the Prior. All those who do otherwise are to be reprimanded with suitable penances, which the Prior or Prioress is acquainted with, whether the delinquents be men or women.



St. Basil the Great also commands (in his Epitome of Definitions, Def. 120) that a monk go to no place without permission of the prior. As for any monk that should go away from the monastery without a blessing, he says for him to be deprived of communion (Penance 1); but not even for the sake of visiting their relatives may monks depart from their brethren, and live an unwitnessed life (in extenso Def. 32). The second ordinance of Title I of the Novels in proceeding forward makes it a law that even with the foresight and diligent care of the bishop neither monks nor nuns ought to go away from their monastery or convent, respectively, and roam about town, but only through the medium of menytae and apoctisiarii make any replies that are necessary, while they themselves stay inside their monasteries (in Photius, Title XI, ch. 4).



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